Louise Weiss: Chairwoman by seniority

European Diary, 26.5.2021: Today, the main building of the European Parliament in Strasbourg is named after her. 38 years ago today, Louise Weiss died in Paris.
Born in Arras in 1893, her parents – her mother Jewish, her father Protestant – came from Alsace. Already during the First World War, which was fought between France and the German Reich not least symbolically over Alsace-Lorraine, Louise Weiss – working as a war nurse – began to write under a pseudonym. Many more novels, plays and political writings were to follow, for example about the newly founded Czechoslovakia, to which Weiss was also particularly attached in private relationships. After 1945 she also became known for her documentary films and literary accounts of her travels to Japan, China, India and Vietnam, Kenya and Madagascar, Alaska and the Middle East. Her art and ethnographic collection is now housed in the Chateau de Rohan in Saverne, Alsace.
In 1918, at just 25 years of age, she already founded the magazine L’Europe Nouvelle, in which she promoted Franco-German understanding and the unification of Europe. Its authors included Thomas Mann, Aristide Briand, Gustav Stresemann and Rudolf Breitscheid. In 1930, she founded the École de la Paix, a private institute for international relations – whose dreams were for the time being dashed in 1933 when the National Socialists came to power in Germany. In 1934, Louise Weiss therefore concentrated on another social struggle, the fight for women’s suffrage. Together with Cécile Brunsvig, she founded the association La femme nouvelle; their campaigns caused a public sensation, not only when they chained themselves to a lamppost in Paris with other suffragettes. Their complaint to the French Council of State, the Conseil d’Etat, was unsuccessful. It would be another ten years before women’s suffrage was introduced in France. At this time, Louise Weiss was active in the Resistance against the Nazi occupiers and the French Vichy regime. In 1945, she founded an institute for war and conflict research in London with Gaston Bouthoul. She was denied admission to the Académie Francaise as late as 1975. It was not until 1980 that Marguerite Yourcenar became the first woman to be admitted to this elite circle, which had previously been reserved for men.

In 1979, Louise Weiss was elected as a French MEP for the Gaullists in the first direct elections to the European Parliament. And she was its first “chairwoman by seniority” until her death in 1983. Strangely enough, she does not appear in the many celebrations of the “founding fathers” of Europe. But then, she was not a “father”.


War Without Aim

European diary, 18.5.2021: The Austrian chancellor has packed the flag away again. For days, an Israeli flag hung above the Chancellor’s Office on Ballhausplatz. As it was said out of “solidarity with Israel”, which suffers from the terror attacks of Hamas. The chancellor pushed through this sign against reservations in his own ranks. In fact, it was probably mainly a matter of political bargaining chips. At the expense of the people in Israel and Palestine. Because when it comes to solidarity between Sebastian Kurz and Benjamin Netanyahu, there is no longer any question of Austrian neutrality. Not even in the face of a civil war in which both sides are doing what they can to fuel the conflict. But one side has the more efficient means to do so. This should not be completely forgotten.

If you want to know more about the background of the current Hamas rocket attacks and the air raids on the Gaza Strip, you will find only sporadic information in European newspapers, and if you want to know more, you have to look in the New York Times or in Israeli newspapers like Haaretz. The whole disaster began to unfold as early as April. This year, several occasions for possible provocations coincide. The Israeli “national holidays”, not least the commemoration of heroes on the so-called Yom Hazikaron, the day of remembrance of the fallen soldiers, went hand in hand with the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Elections were once again scheduled in the occupied Palestinian territories. The last ones were held 15 years ago – and once again they were canceled. Once again, Palestinians in East Jerusalem were not to be allowed to participate in the elections. And Fatah feared an election victory for Hamas.
On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu had to fear that a coalition might actually form against him. That alone was enough to play with dynamite. And there was plenty of it in April. Unnoticed by the world public, this new drama, if one is looking for a symbolic turning point, had probably begun on the evening of April 13. The commemoration of Yom Hazikaron is to take place once again at the Wailing Wall. But it is also the first day of Ramadan, the highest Muslim holiday. And Israeli soldiers storm the Al Aqsa Mosque to cut off the juice to the prayer leader and his microphone. There are priorities.
At the same time, six Arab families in East Jersualem are fighting their expulsion from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. The houses they live in have been legally disputed since it became possible after 1967 for Jewish Jerusalemites to reclaim their real estate property lost in 1948 when they were expelled from East Jerusalem, while conversely there is still no chance for Arab expellees from the west of the city to have their lost property returned. The Supreme Court’s decision on the acute case is still pending.
Protests against the expulsion began to gather momentum in April. And a few days after the first incident on the Temple Mount, for Arabs the Haram al-Sharif, the Israeli government has the square at Damascus Gate closed, the main access for the city’s Muslims to the Old City and its main mosques, all this during Ramadan. And there are increasingly brutal police operations against the protests. In Sheikh Jarrah as well as on the Temple Mount. Stun grenades are used, including on the grounds of the Al Aqsa Mosque, and as a result there are serious injuries. Attacks by Arabs on Jews further inflame the atmosphere, and as early as April 21, hundreds of Israeli right-wing extremists from the “Lehava” group parade through the Old City, chanting “Death to Arabs” and indiscriminately attacking Arab passersby.

Hamas is not long in taking advantage of this escalation to play to the fore as the true defenders of Palestinian interests. While the Haram al-Sharif Authority and Abbas’ Palestinian government stand as impotent cardboard cutouts, Hamas unleashes its arsenal of rockets. Twenty-seven days after the April 13 provocation.
In the meantime, however, something else has happened. The coexistence of Jewish and Arab Israelis in the mixed cities of Haifa and Akko, Jaffa and Lydda has turned into a civil war-like situation. For a long time it was pretended to the world public that a harmonious coexistence of the “Jewish state and its minorities” was possible there. And those who were of good will on both sides did everything to ensure that this possibility was lived out as well as possible, despite all resistance and discrimination, prophecies of doom and warning signals.

Now mosques and synagogues, Arab and Jewish houses are burning. Armed gangs roam the streets, spreading a mood of pogroms. But in this conflict, too, the government is making it clear who is the strongest and who actually enjoys the protection of state power in all consequences. Even though many police officers are actually trying to contain the violence of right-wing Jewish mobs as well, and not just to take action against Arabs. The official rhetoric, on the other hand, knows exactly who and what is meant when “pogroms” are mentioned. Only one side. And the Israeli government and its friends, in Europe and the United States, they keep pouring oil on the fire.

While the Israeli flag flies at the Chancellor’s Office in Vienna, as it does at some German town halls and government buildings, international diplomacy tries to persuade both sides to end the violence. But the Israeli government has no plan except to stay in power and prevent a “fall” of Netanyahu. And until that happens, the bombardment against Gaza continues unchecked and aimless. While Hamas has long since achieved “its” war goal. They have already symbolically won, no matter how many houses in Gaza Netanyahu still has reduced to rubble, no matter how many civilians on both sides have to believe in it. In any case, there will be many more on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli side, and the agitators on both sides can live with that.

And something else remains visible in the midst of this absurd and at the same time absolutely expected spiral of violence. For the first time, both Netanyahu and his opponents have actually included something hitherto completely impossible in their calculations, a new hypothesis: neither of the two camps can govern any longer without a partner from among the Arab parties. And no one has ruled out this possibility any longer. In the midst of the madness, a completely paradoxical, tiny option for normality, of a state that will either eventually be a joint state of its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. Or, in the end, will no longer be a state at all.

Flashback, 18.5.2020: EU foreign affairs envoy Josep Borrell congratulates the new Israeli government while warning it on behalf of the European Union not to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. The coalition agreement of the new Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz envisages “extending Israel’s sovereignty” to parts of the West Bank. The EU maintains that it would not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders without the mutual consent of Israelis and Palestinians, and that unilateral annexation would violate international law.

Two of the 27 EU states have withheld their consent to the EU foreign affairs envoy’s statement. The anti-Semitic Orban government in Budapest and the Austrian federal government. Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn regrets the two states’ walk-out. The Austrian Foreign Ministry refers to a statement by Foreign Minister Schallenberg that Austria rejects a “prejudgement” of Israel. The Israeli government would be “judged by its actions.

Hersch Lauterpacht and the Convention on Human Rights

by Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek

The Greek Stoic Zeno (336-270 BCE) postulated that all people are equal simply by virtue of being human. In practice, however, this theoretical insight played no role. For the longest time, its reflection was left to the philosophers. It was not until the American Declaration of Independence that human rights found their way into a political format. These rights, however, stopped at the indigenous population and the enslaved. On the European continent, the French Revolution made human rights a political concept. And the French Constitution of 1791 even included Jews – though by no means women. Of course, these rights did not apply to people outside the European continent.

It would take until December 10, 1948, for the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” to be adopted by the United Nations. And it was not until September 3, 1953 that the European Convention on Human Rights was ratified.

Not all of those in authority saw the necessity of a legal approach to international law, human rights, guilt and responsibility in 1945. Fritz Bauer’s work “Die Kriegsverbrecher vor Gericht” (War Criminals on Trial), published in that very year, in which he demanded “a lesson in applicable international law” for the Germans, fell on deaf ears, at least in the perpetrator societies. And yet, the drafting and passing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sprang from a direct reaction to the atrocities committed in connection with World War II, particularly against civilians and especially against European Jews and other minorities. Hersch Lauterpacht played a not insignificant role in the development of a universal human rights code.

Lauterpacht, a native of what is now Ukrainian Shovkva in 1897, studied with the Constitutional Law scholar and legal philosopher Hans Kelsen in Vienna, then at the prestigious London School of Economics. From 1938 to 1955 he held the Chair of International Law at Cambridge, from 1951 to 1954 he was a member of the United Nations International Law Commission, and from 1955 until his death in 1960 he was a judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

As a young man, Hersch Lauterpacht had experienced the catastrophes of the First World War. They were the trigger for his lifelong preoccupation with international law as well as human rights. The parental family of Hersch Lauterpacht had been murdered in the “Old Austrian” city of Lemberg. This may have motivated his focus on the status of the individual in international law and on the question of the proportionality of nation-state supremacy. It was in this context that Lauterpacht developed the terminology “crimes against humanity” to frame the egregious atrocities committed against civilians, a formulation that gave international law a decisive expansion. At the Nuremberg Trials, it legitimized the prosecution and conviction of Nazi actions against millions of civilian citizens. The definition was “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or other inhuman acts committed against any civilian population before or during war; persecution on political, racial or religious grounds, committed in the commission of or in connection with a crime over which the Court has jurisdiction, whether or not the act was contrary to the law of the country in which it was committed.” Since then, the protection of the individual against the state can also be claimed in the EU. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is legally responsible for this.

At the supra-European level, the International Court of Justice in The Hague is responsible for questions and proceedings under international law. When Hersch Lauterpacht, who played a key role in drafting the European and International Conventions on Human Rights, was to be appointed as a judge by the British in 1954, voices were raised criticizing this decision with the argument that the renowned international lawyer was not “British” enough for this office, which was clearly indicated by both his origin and his name.

Hersch Lauterbach died on May 8, 1960, fifteen years after the end of WW II  in London.

Netanjahu, the German Right and Christian Europe

Flashback, 6.5.2020: The far-right AfD (“Alternative for Germany”) in Germany now advertises with the portrait of Yair Netanyahu, the son of the Israeli prime minister who repeatedly stands up for his father.
Yair Netanyahu had tweeted on April 28: “Schengen zone is dead and soon your evil globalist organization will be too, and Europe will return to be free, democratic and Christian!” And further: “The EU is the enemy of Israel and all Christian countries in Europe.” What was meant was the support of the EU representation for the large annual peace event of the Combattants for Peace, which commemorates the victims on both sides on the eve of Israel’s Heroes’ Day.

The new Posterboy of the AfD: Yair Netanjahu

Netanyahu promptly received applause from AfD Member of the European Parliament Joachim Kuhs on his Facebook page. Which Yair Netanyahu answered with an enthusiastic call to Kuhs and the AfD to finally end this “madness” with his “colleagues.” What was meant was EU support for NGOs in Israel and Palestine.
Kuhs, chairman of the “Christians in the AfD” and member of the AfD federal board, has only recently visited Israel together with representatives of the “Jews in the AfD” to meet representatives of Likud – and writes again and again in right-wing and radical right-wing German and Israeli media about the “hostility of the EU towards Israel”, apparently one of his favorite topics.
The AfD, whose members are repeatedly seen with Israeli flags at right-wing demonstrations, also make no secret of the kind of Israel they love: namely the one that finally ensures that the Jews no longer want to be part of Europe – and in this way they can finally be gotten rid of.

Hilde Meisel – Hilda Olday – Hilda Monte: The Unity of Europe

European Diary, 17.4.2021: Today, 76 years ago, Hilda Monte was shot, close to the checkpoint Tisis, at the border between Feldkirch and Liechtenstein.

Hilda Monte was born Hilde Meisel in Vienna on July 31, 1914. In 1915, she and her family — her parents, Rosa and Ernst Meisel and her older sister Margot — moved to Berlin, where her father ran an import-export business. While still a teenager, she joined the International Socialist Fighting League (Internationaler Sozialistischer Kampfbund, or ISK in German), a group founded by German philosopher Leonard Nelson in 1926.

Hilda Monte

In 1929, Hilde traveled to England for the first time to visit her uncle, the composer Edmund Meisel. In 1932 she moved to Paris. She regularly published analyses of the political and economic situation in England, France and Germany, Spain and the colonies. She spent 1933 and 1934 in the German Reich before emigrating again to Paris in 1934 and to London in 1936. She continued to travel illegally to the German Reich several times after that, helping organize workers’ resistance actions. In 1938, in order to prevent her expulsion from England, she entered into a marriage of convenience with the German-British cartoonist John Olday, becoming a British citizen.

During the war, she remained involved in a wide variety of resistance activities, whether as a courier for the International Transport Workers’ Federation or on behalf of Allied intelligence services. In 1940, her book How to conquer Hitler, co-authored with Fritz Eberhard, was published. In the same year, she was involved in the creation of the radio station ” European Revolution” and worked regularly for the German workers’ broadcasts of the BBC. In 1942, she gave a shocking report on the radio about the mass extermination of Jews that had begun in occupied Poland. And she wrote Poems and worked on her novel Where Freedom Perished, that was published only in 1947.

In 1943, her book The Unity of Europe was published in London, in which she developed the vision of a socialist Europe and its common institutions as an independent union between the USA and the Soviet Union. In 1944, together with her friend and ISK comrade Anna Beyer, she was parachuted over occupied France to make resistance contacts on behalf of the American intelligence service OSS and Austrian socialists. Soon after, she was taken to Switzerland by René and Hanna Bertholet, were they discussed political theories with socialist émigrés for the period after liberation. When she had time for it, Hilda Monte contemplated the idea to go to China to engage in the development of socialist cooperatives – and produced little sculptures from clay.

In April 1945, Hilda Monte again crossed the border illegally to establish contact with socialists in Vorarlberg and to gather information about resistance groups there and their relationship to each other. A questionnaire she had prepared for this purpose is now in the archives of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Bonn.

On her way back, she was stopped by the border guard in Feldkirch on April 17, 1945, a few days before the end of the war. She tried to escape but was shot and died of her injury on the spot. Austrian socialists placed a tombstone on her grave with the inscription: “Here rests our unforgettable comrade Hilde Monte-Olday. Born 31.7. 1914 in Vienna. Died 17.4.1945 in Feldkirch. She lived and died in the service of the socialist idea.”

After the war, many of her comrades became prominent members of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, pioneers of the emerging European Union and founders of intellectual periodicals, educational institutions and publishing houses, such as the Europäische Verlagsanstalt.

Hilda Monte, born at the beginning of World War I and shot to death a few days before the second one ended, did not live to that.

Today, representatives of the Protestant congregation of Feldkirch, the Jewish Museum Hohenems and the Social Democratic Party of Austria inaugurated a memorial plaque next to her recently restored grave.

Hilda Monte’s grave in Feldkirch

Lucian Brunner: Language Struggle and Nationality Conflict 1900

European Diary, 15.4.2021: 107 years ago today, the former Viennese councillor Lucian Brunner died in Vienna. He was born in Hohenems on September 29, 1850, the son of Marco Brunner and Regina Brettauer. Lucian’s father, like most of his brothers and cousins, had left for Trieste in their youth to participate in the lively textile trade between St. Gallen and the Mediterranean, with which the Brunner family began its steep economic rise. Later Marco Brunner went to St. Gallen, where he represented the family’s business in Switzerland and soon also managed the “Bankhaus Jakob Brunner”, from which UBS was later to emerge.
In 1883, Lucian Brunner also joined his father’s private bank in St. Gallen as a partner. Soon after, in 1889, Lucian and his wife Malwine Mandel settled in Vienna, where he founded his own banking business but also became active as an industrialist and politician. He was active in a small liberal party, the “Vienna Democrats,” for which he was a member of the Vienna City Council from 1896 to 1901, as well as chairman of the “Democratic Central Association” and publisher of the associated newspaper “Volksstimme. In the Vienna Municipal Council he repeatedly opposed the anti-Semitic mayor Karl Lueger, where he contradicted the ever louder nationalist slogans. In the dispute over the Baden language ordinance, he took a moderating stance in the face of the surging hostility toward the Czechs. He took the view that the German lingua franca should be defended not with nationalist resentment but on the grounds of reason, without devaluing the language minorities in the Reich. “The representation of the city of Vienna (…) must keep in mind that it is not merely the center of a country inhabited by one nationality, but by many nationalities, and it should therefore be prevented that any other nationality of the Empire believes that this resolution contains a point, a hostility against it. (…) It has been customary in Austria for years that a policy of slogans is pursued, and one of the quickest of these slogans is the nationality dispute and the nationality quarrel. When a political party doesn’t know what to do, it starts to provoke nationality quarrels.” When representatives of the Czech minority in Vienna demanded a new school for themselves in October 1897, he also distanced himself from the national furor and called for pluralism to be allowed – referring to his own experiences as a member of the German minority in Trieste. Instead, he was insulted as a “Jew” in the local council. “It is precisely the coercion with which one wanted to force the peoples of Austria to become German that has damaged Germanism. (…) We want the right for our minorities, therefore we ourselves must nowhere suppress the right of a minority! Moreover, it does not befit the great German cultural nation to say that we are afraid of this Czech school in Favoriten. (…) I am a Jew, as you quite rightly say, and gentlemen, I am glad that I am one.”
He became a complete bogeyman of the Christian Socialists with his protest against a planned church building subsidy of the Christian Socialist majority. Lucian Brunner filed a lawsuit against this breach of the state’s religious neutrality, which was ultimately successful before the Supreme Court. He thus defended the constitutionally guaranteed separation of church and state – and now became a popular target of ongoing anti-Semitic attacks, in Vienna as well as in Vorarlberg. Lucian Brunner’s first wife, Malwine, died during these campaigns, which also affected the Brunner family personally.
Brunner always remained in close contact with his home community of Hohenems. For example, he donated considerable sums for the construction of the hospital and the gymnasium. On several occasions he also tried, in cooperation with Hohenems liberals and the Rosenthal family of factory owners, to realize tramway projects in Hohenems that would connect Hohenems with the Swiss railroad on the other side of the Rhine or even with Lustenau. A final tramway project, which in 1911 was to connect the Hohenems train station with the Rosenthal factory in the south of the market town, also failed to materialize, as the economic situation had in the meantime taken a heavy toll on the Rosenthal company. In Hohenems, too, the Christian Socialists were meanwhile agitating against the “Jew” Brunner-and against the Rosenthals, who would “cram” the school with Italian children.

Brunner remained a liberal throughout his life, even though at the end of his life he supported the Zionist movement in Vienna, probably out of disappointment with the political developments in Austria. When he died in Vienna on April 15, 1914, he left a legacy for an interdenominational school in his home community. The Hohenems municipal council did not accept the bequest. An interdenominational school was not desired.

Flashback, April 15, 2020: U.S. President Trump declares that the peak of the Corona pandemic has passed. And announces that the USA will stop its payments to the World Health Organization (WHO). German Development Minister Müller, on the other hand, declares that he will increase payments to the WHO: “The WHO must now be strengthened, not weakened. Cutting funding in the midst of a pandemic is absolutely the wrong way to go.”

Trump also decides that the “emergency checks” announced by the U.S. government to some 70 million needy people in the U.S. – to the tune of $1200 – should bear his name, in the midst of an election campaign that is about to begin. This has never happened before in American history.
Trump is threatening to send Parliament into forced recess on the grounds that he wants to fill vacancies without parliamentary participation. The possibility of ordering a parliamentary recess has also never been used by an American president. Trump plays on circulating conspiracy theories at a press conference, e.g. that the virus came from a Chinese lab.

EU Commission President van der Leyen, meanwhile, is calling for more commonality among EU members, saying, “A lack of coordination in lifting restrictions risks negative effects for all member states and would likely lead to an increase in tensions among member states. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the crisis, but member states should at least keep each other informed,” the EU authority in Brussels warns. Van der Leyen announces a recovery plan for Europe that will include a common fund.

On the Greek islands, 40,000 refugees continue to be held in camps under inhumane conditions. Today, 12 (in words TWELVE) children from Syria and Afghanistan will be flown out of Athens to Luxembourg. Luxembourg is thus the first of eleven countries to show willingness to take in a few unaccompanied or sick minors from the camps. In addition to Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Croatia, Finland, Ireland, Portugal and Lithuania are participating in the rescue operation. On Saturday, 58 children are to follow to Germany. The Austrian government still refuses to help, although many mayors have now offered to take in new refugees.


Combattants for Peace

European Diary, 14.4.2021: Beyond all the terrible nonsense that is talked about Israel and Palestine, beyond all the demagogy and fanaticism, there are other voices. 200,000 people participated yesterday online in the annual ceremony of the Combattants for Peace, on the eve of Israel’s National Day, when above all memory is suppressed, the memory of the Palestinian catastrophe. Instead of singing the praises of heroes and martyrs, this evening commemorates the victims on BOTH sides. It is therefore no wonder that our “free press” in Europe hardly reports about this event. There, plain language is spoken. And worked on it, to break the logic of the conflict, at which large parts of the world, from all sides (!) used to feast. Here is the recording of this moving evening:



Marcus Samuel: Of shell collectors and oil

European diary, 4.4.2021: The history of many a multinational enterprise begins with pioneers on unknown terrain. And many a detour in a biography: Marcus Samuel was born 222 years ago today.

By Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek

Since ancient times, the sea has exerted a specific attraction on man. It is dangerous and tempting, it separates and connects, it has murderous power and it gives food. Special and peculiar treasures of the seas have always exerted their own fascination on man. Spectacular sea finds were objects of princely desires, who could live out their fantasies of power with their possessions in their cabinets of curiosities. In the modern age, exoticism as well as natural science are attracting ever broader interest. Inspired by literary fantasy travel, wanderlust and real vacation memories, shells in particular appeared as souvenirs in Central Europe during the “Adria Exhibition”, the most important maritime show in Vienna. The “Adria Exhibition” of 1913 was the last major exhibition in Austria before the outbreak of World War I and the last major exhibition of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. [1] Souvenir shells had already been big sellers at the legendary “Venice in Vienna” show in 1885, where “ornamental and gallantry objects made of lava, coral, shells and tortoiseshell” had been offered.[2] But some time earlier, a businessman had already cleverly exploited the magic of vastness, depth and distance that shells exude: Marcus Samuel (April 4, 1799 – November 24, 1872).

As early as 1833, Marcus Samuel opened an antique store in London – some called it a colonial goods store, others say it was more of a curio store. In favor of the latter assessment is the fact that Samuel did not belong to the Sephardic elite of London, but rather came from modest Bavarian-Dutch migrant backgrounds. Another curiosity-shop variant is that one of his early best-sellers was a souvenir object, namely “knickknack boxes” with glued-on shells, which he sold on the beach in Brighton. However, in his store Marcus Samuel also offered the public interested in natural history and marine biology sea shells that sailors brought him from their voyages. The business flourished to such an extent that Marcus Samuel was able to persuade his sons to travel ever further distances by ship themselves in order to find – from an English perspective – ever more unusual shells. As the supply and demand grew, so did Samuel’s small fleet. Each of the ships was given a logo of sorts, each of which was a different shell.

Marcus Samuel Jr. eventually discovered that there was something else in the sea besides shells that could be exploited: Mineral resources. His brother Samuel Samuel also realized the importance of the oil trade during a trip to the Black Sea. And so the brothers switched from shellfish to kerosene and oil. Business skyrocketed and the Samuels formed a company, which was registered in 1897 under the obvious name of “Shell”. Of the various shells, they chose the crested shell or pecten as the final company logo in 1904. In 1907, the company merged with the Royal Dutch Company of the Netherlands and the Shell Group in its present form was born.[3]

Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted. London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company, 1902

In 1902, Marcus Samuel Jr. was raised to the peerage of Baronet and became the second Jewish Lord Mayor of London. In recognition of his services in supplying fuel to the British Empire during World War I, he was finally honored with the newly created title of Viscount Bearsted in 1925.

His son Colonel Walter Horace Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted MC (March 13, 1882 – November 8, 1948) was chairman of the Shell Transport and Trading Company. In addition, he was a dedicated art connoisseur and collector. His works of art included works by Rembrandt, Canaletto, George Stubbs, Hans Holbein the Younger and Hogarth. He was also a trustee of the National Gallery as well as the Tate Gallery and chairman of the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.

His house and collection were donated to the National Trust in 1948, making them public. He served in World War I, but made his mark especially in World War II, working with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS aka MI6) and then Special Operations Executive (SOE). As an officer in Section D of the SIS, he was initially involved in early attempts to establish resistance networks in Scandinavia from 1939 and was then a key figure in plans to establish a British resistance organization – the Home Defence Scheme. In the summer of 1940, he oversaw the transfer of some of the SIS intelligence to the new auxiliary units. Walter Samuel was a member of the anti-Zionist Jewish Fellowship, founded in 1942. Nevertheless, in the 1930s he advocated the emigration of Jews from Nazi Germany to Palestine while maintaining a peace there.[4]


[1] Unter dem höchsten Protektorat Seiner k.u.k. Hoheit des durchlauchtigsten Herrn Erzherzogs Franz Ferdinand von Österreich-Este. Österr. Adria-Ausstellung Wien 1913. Hrsg. von der Ausstellungskommission. – Wien, 1913. (Under the highest protectorate of His Imperial and Royal Highness the Most Serene Lord. Highness of the Most Serene Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este. Austrian Adriatic Exhibition Vienna 1913. ed. by the Exhibition Commission. – Vienna, 1913.)

[2] Norbert Rubey/Peter Schoenwald, Venedig in Wien. Theater- und Vergnügungsstadt der Jahrhundertwende , Vienna 1996.

[3] http://www.gilthserano.de/businesswissen/011202.html; http://www.shell.com/home/Framework?siteId=ch-de&FC2=/ch-de/html/iwgen/zzz_lhn.html&FC3=/ch-de/html/iwgen/sitemap.html

[4] https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-62461;jsessionid=A80F57D8CA3484776EB356F441160DE9

„Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism“: About the new struggle about defining Antisemitism

More than 200 scholars from around the world have signed the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism. Most of them are Jews who have dedicated their lives to the study of Jewish history, anti-Semitism or the Holocaust. And who are united by a growing sense of unease that prompted me to sign as well.


The fight against anti-Semitism has been hijacked, by political interests that have little to do with defending Jewish life and culture, with defending Jewish self-determination. We live in a world in which an authoritarian nationalist like Victor Orban, who owes his power not least to an anti-Semitic campaign, can declare himself a friend of Israel. His propaganda is based on an effective strategy: he combines racism against Muslim migrants (of which there are none in Hungary) with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the alleged power of a “Jewish capitalist” who wants to rob Europe of its Christian identity by flooding it with “Oriental” immigrants. In the same vein, last year “King Bibi’s” heir to the throne Yair Netanyahu joined the AFD in calling for the end of the “globalist EU” and a “Christian Europe.” The world in which we fight anti-Semitism today has become more complicated.
But when German politicians talk about anti-Semitism today, there is almost only one topic: BDS, the Palestinian boycott movement and its friends – or, precisely, people who are accused of it, but who in fact are not. The dispute over this has various dimensions. It is about whether we understand Europe, whether we understand Germany as open societies in which we may be ethnically, culturally and religiously different, but live together in compliance with common rules, or whether we define identities and territories homogeneously, thus perpetuating the catastrophe of nationalism. This then also includes: to refer the Jews to “their” territory.
At the same time, it is about a painful inner-Jewish dispute: Can we still – or finally – live self-confidently and self-determined in the Diaspora after Auschwitz? Or, after the national delusion of the 20th century, must we all entrench ourselves in a “safe haven” that may turn into a self-imposed ghetto, only this time behind walls of our own making?
And finally, an internal Israeli dispute is becoming ever more apparent, over whether this country should be an ethno-religiously exclusive castle to which Jews can retreat, or whether the country should be “liberated” from “foreign occupation,” as BDS demands. Or whether it can become a common state of its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, which must find what these people can share with each other, but cannot be based on what separates them.
How and why one positions oneself in these conflicts also determines which definition of anti-Semitism one leans towards. And what and whom one fights under this sign. Only a few days ago, Germany’s “anti-Semitism commissioner” Klein uttered the strange sentence that there is no wrong and right understanding of anti-Semitism. Could he mean anything other than: there is no need for a proper concept of what we mean by defining something as anti-Semitism, because he alone decides that anyway? “Who is an anti-Semite, I decide”.
The “working definition” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which is now used by many governments as a yardstick for such judgments, was launched with noble motives, and is proving to be a boomerang. It oscillates between meaningless generality: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews”, and a focus on the issue of Israel that invites political abuse, an abuse that one of the definition’s first authors, Kenneth Stern, has since strongly deplored. To date, it is not really clear what the IHRA actually decided at its 2016 Bucharest conference. Just the skinny four lines posted on the Alliance’s website as a “working definition”? Or also the examples positioned below it, which, it literally says, may serve as an “illustration?
In 2017, the German government eagerly quoted the first sentence of the working definition as an allegedly decided part of the definition: “Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

With this “illustration”, which from now on will be colocated as a resolution, the IHRA definition produces above all a misunderstanding.

In fact the reverse is true. It is not primarily anti-Semites, but the self-proclaimed “defenders” of Israel, who want to define this state as a “Jewish state”, and thus as the core of the “Jewish collective”. And who can thus declare any criticism of this state, its policies, and its exclusive definition “as a Jewish state” to be a case of “anti-Semitism” when the Israeli “Ministry of Strategic Affairs”, set up specifically for this purpose, decides that this criticism is not appropriate.
No, the dispute about BDS is not really about BDS at all, it is about whether one is allowed to discuss a different constitution of Israel, and about whether Jews are allowed to make self-determined decisions about their lives in the Diaspora or not.

The fact that the debate about Israel and Palestine leads to all kinds of injustice, to double standards, and to a toxicity in the debates that can hardly be surpassed, is not primarily due to anti-Semitism. It has to do with the fact that the adherents of the two largest world religions assume that the fate of the world is decided in Jerusalem. This is an attitude that is often not even conscious and does little to resolve the conflict. To declare the respective opponent an anti-Semite or a racist only leads further in a hopeless spiral of violence and non-recognition of the other. The Jerusalem Declaration could help to bring the discussion about Israel and the discussion about anti-Semitism back into more rational waters, and that means, above all, to separate them a bit. Even if the storm of “indignation” or its seconder, the gloating, will not be long in coming.



European Diary, March 23, 2021: Apparently, Austria’s Chancellor Kurz has now completely lost his way. Here is the current summary of a week of Austrian own goals. One more grotesque than the other.

Not quite two weeks ago, Kurz announced a “European scandal.” Looking at the different vaccination progress in various EU states, it was apparent that some states were moving faster than others. And that was indeed, due to different delivery rates. Kurz linked this to an alleged “bazaar” that favored some countries. The accusation had been around for barely half a day before it was exposed as a propaganda lie. There was a simple reason for the differences in supply volumes. Some countries wanted more of the more expensive Biontech, others more of the cheaper Astra Zeneca vaccine. And then there were the well-known supply problems at Astra Zeneca. You can work out the result for yourself.
It also quickly became clear that it was not least governments with a – how shall we put it – pronounced “EU skepticism” (e.g. Austria’s) that had prevented the EU Commission from simply distributing the vaccines evenly according to population size. No, they wanted to determine for themselves who received how much of which vaccine.

Austria, by the way, happened to be right in the middle on the overall balance of deliveries. Compared with the other countries, Austria had received neither too little nor too much.

But then the next gust burst. The chancellor heard that the Austrian representative on the EU steering committee had apparently missed an opportunity to secure a few additional orders. The fact that Kurz did not want to know anything about this prompted the otherwise calm political scientist Peter Filzmaier to ask on Austrian radio what “Chancellor Kurz actually does for a living”. Now the “culprit, an old ÖVP veteran, was fittingly sitting in the Green Ministry of Health, which gave the chancellor the opportunity to publicly show off the Minister of Health, who had just been prevented from attending due to illness. And to have nothing to do with it himself. All this without anyone noticing that there is now a significant gap between “order” and “deliver. In other words, if Clemens Martin Auer had placed his additional order, no more vaccines would have arrived in Austria in the foreseeable future. In any case, more vaccines have already been ordered than Austria needs.

After this “scandal” also vanished into thin air faster than anyone could watch, Kurz became the advocate of the “short-changed” and categorically demanded an EU summit. Which, however, was just around the corner anyway.

In view of the truly unequal supply volumes affecting some Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria, Croatia and Lithuania, the EU Commission now wanted to show action on its part. And announced a negotiating success with Biontech.
10 million doses are now to be brought forward from the fall and will benefit the countries with poorer supplies in particular, even though they may basically have only themselves to blame for their malaise. But what does one not do to calm the spirits.
As soon as this warm rain of additional cans appeared on the horizon, the Austrian chancellor changed his shirt again and proudly announced that Austria (so far neither disadvantaged nor advantaged) would be entitled to 400,000 from these new deliveries and let himself be celebrated for it. But even this celebration lasted only a short time. After all, Austria would now enrich itself at the expense of the previously disadvantaged. The announcement from Brussels, but also from other EU countries, was not long in coming. Austria is to expect times at the moment exactly zero additional doses. Now the Austrian chancellor stands before the shambles of his own scandal. And threatens with a veto.

At least he has managed to distract from things that could have really gotten in the way of his anti-EU rhetoric. The scandal and Hygiene Austria and other problems with “message control.” And then there’s the South African mutation in Tyrol. Not at all bureaucratic, the EU had reacted to the hotspot of the South African mutation in Tyrol. And led the district of Schwaz out of the crisis with a generous emergency supply of vaccines. Now, of course, everyone wants that, too. But this actual favoritism of Austria has really not lent itself to scoring points in Austria with anti-EU propaganda. In any case, Kurz got this problem out of the way in the short term.

Flashback, 23.3.2020: Two Boeing of the airline AUA fly in 130 tons of medical protection material from China for Tyrol and South Tyrol. The airlift is celebrated with great media attention as a spectacular success by Chancellor Kurz and South Tyrol’s Governor Kompatscher. The mountain sports outfitter Oberalp Group is also celebrating itself for the relief action. A total of 20 million protective masks are to be delivered. A short time later, however, the protective masks delivered turn out to be largely unusable. Certificates, without which the goods should not have been imported, are completely missing. Only 1.7 million masks out of 20 million already paid for are finally delivered at all.

The EU Commission asks the member states to ensure that the flow of goods within the EU is maintained by setting up green lanes with priority for freight traffic, in view of the threat of further border closures that could lead to supply bottlenecks for vital goods.

Vaccination Nationalism

European Diary, 20.3.2021: The dispute over the distribution of vaccines in the EU is further fueled by the Austrian Chancellor. Last year, the EU Commission’s plan to distribute vaccines fairly among all EU countries was torpedoed, not least by countries like Austria, which wanted to choose their own vaccines – within the limits of the total quantities allocated according to population size. As a result, countries that relied on the cheap vaccine from Astra Zeneca, such as Bulgaria or Croatia, are currently losing out due to the production and delivery difficulties of the British supplier. And those that relied on the expensive Biontech vaccine, such as Malta or Denmark, are currently doing better.
Austria, however, has so far received neither too much nor too little vaccine, measured against the quantities available. But that did not stop the Austrian chancellor from proclaiming himself the spokesman for the “too short”. And to publicly attack his own Ministry of Health.

Apparently, the Austrian representative on the EU vaccine panel, Clemens Martin Auer, a veteran ÖVP man, missed an opportunity to do exactly what Chancellor Kurz is now accusing others of doing, namely placing another extra order at the “bazaar.” Whether this would have led to a faster delivery of vaccine doses may be doubted. Austria and the entire EU have already ordered far more vaccine doses than would be needed to vaccinate the population this year. The current delays are obviously not due to hesitant orders, but to slow deliveries.

A few days before the next EU summit, Kurz is calling for an EU summit. This demand sounds as if he were emphatically calling for sunrise after sunset, only to announce a success a few hours later.

EU Commission President von der Leyen announced a few days ago that the delivery of a further 10 million doses from Biontech-Pfizer could now be brought forward, after there were delivery problems from this manufacturer just a few weeks ago. With these doses now countries could be preferred, which bet with their orders in the last year on the wrong map. The fact that Austria, which has so far neither benefited nor been disadvantaged, is now making additional demands does not go down well with them, of course. After all, the attempt to compensate for the different delivery quantities with these additional Biontech vaccine doses depends on the willingness of some countries to voluntarily forego part of the deliveries to which they are entitled as agreed. The vaccination nationalism fomented by Austria is not really helpful in this regard.

Lithuania, meanwhile, is making a grand gesture of announcing that it will now allow its citizens to decide which vaccine they want to be vaccinated with. This, too, is obviously just a propaganda coup. Because the choice between Astra Zeneca and Biontech apparently consists primarily of getting vaccinated now or sometime later. Since there is too little of both, the Lithuanian government is at least gaining a little time – and its citizens: nothing.

Flashback 20.3.2020: Israeli historian Yuval Harari sees “the first coronavirus dictatorship” emerging in Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu is apparently using the Corona crisis and the imposed lockdown to secure a fifth term and break opposition to his reappointment, while the trial for fraud, embezzlement and bribery waits and waits for him.

Boris Johnson, meanwhile, is announcing what appears to him to be the toughest anti-Corona measure yet on the British Isle: “We’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub.”

In an interview with the German Bild-Zeitung, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz explains that it was a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that woke him up. He probably means the telephone conference of numerous EU prime ministers on March 9, in which Netanyahu had also participated. Netanyahu would have meant, Kurz said, “you underestimate this in Europe.” The dramatic situation in neighboring Italy since early March apparently has not been enough to wake up the Austrian chancellor.

The EU Commission is reacting to the expected economic problems in the wake of the pandemic and its control. It is now allowing exceptions to the strict rules designed to limit distortions of competition caused by government subsidies. It has adopted a temporary framework that allows member states to grant economic aid within a short period of time.


European Diary, 12.3.2021: In a specially convened press conference, Austria’s Chancellor Kurz claims to have uncovered a European scandal. According to Kurz, the distribution of vaccines was like a “bazaar,” and individual European countries had secured additional supplies of vaccine doses through secret side agreements. As a result, some European countries were favored and others disadvantaged: “The delivery was not based on a population key.” But apparently as with “the Orientals.” Or what do you think Kurz is trying to say with his choice of words?

The vaccination progress in Malta and Denmark is much faster than in countries like Bulgaria, Latvia or Croatia. This could not only be due to the speed of vaccination. Kurz senses secret contracts for additional supplies and demands “transparency.”
But the accusations made with grandiose gestures have already collapsed within a few hours, like a house of cards. And a lot of porcelain has been smashed in the process.

Perhaps he could have asked the deputy chairman of the responsible “Steering Board” of the EU beforehand how the different delivery speeds to the various EU states come about, namely the Austrian representative on the “Steering Board”: Clemens-Martin Auer?
The answers to the Chancellor’s murmuring questions are staggeringly simple. The EU signed framework agreements with most of the pharmaceutical companies working on vaccines at an early stage, long before it was clear which ones could be approved first. They have had to back different horses in the process, and some of their order volumes have made vaccine research possible in the first place. Since some EU member states were basically on the brakes when it came to spending (we remember the “frugal four”, first and foremost Austria), there was probably also an attempt to push down prices. This is now taking its revenge.
And then the EU gave the member states the opportunity – within the limits of their respective delivery volumes – to opt more for one vaccine or another, for example for the more expensive Biontech-Pfizer or the cheaper AstraZeneca vaccines. Malta, for example, booked as much as possible Biontech-Pfizer and Bulgaria as much as possible AstraZeneca, whose deliveries have just been slowed by massive production and export problems.

But what do such banal realities interest a chancellor who is just dealing with the fact that “message control” is slipping away from him. Hans Rauscher speaks in the Standard of the “biggest smoke grenade since the beginning of the Corona crisis.” That could turn out to be an understatement. For if the incitement of vaccination nationalism spreads, we would be dealing with an even more dangerous pandemic.

So far, however, the Austrian chancellor stands alone with his tall tales. Neither the EU Commission, nor the Austrian Ministry of Health, neither Germany nor allegedly disadvantaged Croatia have hesitated even for a day to distance themselves from this rampage. And have factually and diplomatically clarified the little sensational facts. After all, this is a day on which secret side agreements, the exploitation of illegal workers or the obscure supply chains of “Hygiene Austria” do not make the headlines. That is a “good day” for the chancellor.

Review 12.3.2020: Contrary to the decisions of the video conference of 10.3.2020, Austria surprised its Italian neighbors yesterday with border controls at the Brenner Pass. Apparently without having previously agreed with the Italian government.

The WHO has now declared the rampant Covid-19 disease a pandemic.
U.S. President Donald Trump has it all figured out. He announced a ban on Europeans entering the country: “Because we responded very early, we’re seeing significantly fewer cases of the virus in America than in Europe.”

Boris Johnson and the British government’s chief scientific adviser today publicly announced their strategy for fighting Corona: “It is now impossible to prevent almost everyone from contracting the disease. (…) That is not at all what is wanted. After all, the population is supposed to build up immunity to the virus.” They expect the epidemic to peak in May and June and only then want to take drastic measures. To delay the wave of infection, first of all, starting immediately, any person who gets a cough and/or fever should stay at home for seven days, not go to the doctor and not call the emergency services, which are already overloaded.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

About the freedom of the dissenter: Rosa Luxemburg

European Diary, 5.3.2021: 150 years ago today, the socialist Rosa Luxemburg was born in Zamosc, Poland, which was then part of Russia. When she was two years old, her family moved to Warsaw. A hip ailment suffered by the three-year-old was mistakenly diagnosed as tuberculosis and incorrectly treated. She would suffer from limping all her life. Sentenced to nearly a year of bed rest at age five, she learned to read and write self-taught, remained dwarfed, and at age nine began translating German texts into Polish, writing poetry and novellas. She wrote a Polish mocking poem about Kaiser Wilhelm, who visited Warsaw when she was 13, saying, “Tell your cunning rag Bismarck / Do it for Europe, Emperor of the West / Command him not to shame the pants of peace.”

Rosa grew up multilingual, speaking Polish and German at home, Russian and French, reading English, understanding Italian, and learning Latin and ancient Greek. At the age of 15 she joined revolutionary circles, a group called “Proletariat” founded in 1882. In 1888 she fled from the tsarist police to Switzerland.
In Zurich, women are allowed to study on an equal footing with men. The only place in Europe where this is possible. Many young Jewish women from Eastern Europe take advantage of this opportunity. Rosa studies philosophy, mathematics, botany and zoology, then international law and constitutional law, economics, political science and history. Soon she joins the Polish Socialist Party. But contrary to the party line, she advocates a resolute internationalism, founds the Polish exile newspaper Arbeitersache in Paris with her partner Leo Jogiches and other comrades, and opposes Polish nationalism. She is expelled from the party and founds a new Social Democratic Party that advocates democratic reforms in Russia instead of Poland’s independence. An independent Poland, she argues, is a mirage that would only distract the Polish proletariat from the class struggle, just as in other countries. From then on, as a Jew, she became the target of constant anti-Semitic attacks, insulted as a “Jewish spawn” whose “diabolical work of destruction” was aimed at the “murder of Poland”.
Her fight against the growing nationalism also in the labor movement brought her into fierce conflict with many leading Social Democrats, later also with Lenin. As a Jew and as a woman, she was repeatedly confronted with degrading undertones, also in statements by comrades. Nevertheless, living in Germany from 1897, she became one of the spokeswomen for the left wing of the SPD. She rejected reformism as well as Lenin’s authoritarian party centralism. Nevertheless, she succeeded in persuading leading Western European Social Democrats to make a decisive statement against growing anti-Semitism. Of course, she herself did not want to be thrown back on her Jewishness.  “What do you want with the special Jewish pains? Just as close to me are the poor victims of the rubber plantations in Putumayo, the Negroes in Africa, with whose bodies the Europeans play catch ball.” Her internationalism goes beyond Europe. “I don’t have a special corner in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home in the whole world, where there are clouds and birds and human tears.”
She foresaw the coming world war and all the bestialities it would bring, the catastrophe of Europe, with great clarity. In 1913, in Frankfurt, on September 25, at the “Titania” in the Basaltstrasse (Basaltstreet) – a few steps away from where I am writing these lines – she makes a courageous speech against the war that would land her in jail: “If we are expected to raise the weapons of murder against our French or other foreign brothers, we declare: ‘No, we won’t do it!'” Less than a year later, she was sobered to discover that nationalism had washed away all reason – and all dreams of international class consciousness – in the European workers’ parties as well. In August 1914, together with other opponents of the war in the SPD, she founded the “Gruppe Internationale,” from which the “Spartacus Group” would later emerge.

As early as February 1914, Luxemburg was sentenced to fourteen months in prison for her Frankfurt speech on charges of “inciting disobedience to laws and orders of the authorities.” In February 1915 she had to begin her imprisonment in the Berlin “Weibergefängnis”. Her letters from her imprisonment are among the most moving writings she was to leave behind.

Released in 1916, she was arrested again just three months later. She spent more than three years in prison until 1918. In her theses written there under the pseudonym Junius, she drew a fatalistic and at the same time defiant balance in 1917: “The world war has destroyed the results of forty years of work of European socialism.” It was not by a greater power that the socialists had been destroyed; they had “blown themselves up.” The main task in this situation was: “to unite the proletariat of all countries into a living revolutionary power, to make it, through a strong international organization with a unified conception of its interests and tasks, with unified tactics and political capacity for action in peace as in war, the decisive factor in political life to whose role it is called by history.” And at the same time she criticized the totalitarian tendencies of the Russian Revolution: “Freedom is always the freedom of dissent.”
All this remained utopia. In November 1918, the workers’ movement and the short-lived soviet republic in Germany split. In the civil war, the majority of Social Democrats under Ebert allied themselves with right wing Freikorps and imperial troops to suppress the weak revolutionary forces of the Spartacus uprising.

In these days of spiraling events, Rosa Luxemburg also came into sharp opposition to the leadership of the Spartacists around Karl Liebknecht. She warned in vain against the futile attempt at armed revolution and demanded that democratic elections be held. But her admonitions went down. The last weeks of her life must have been marked by helplessness and a desperate will to hold on to the armed revolution publicly in the newspaper Die rote Fahne (The Red Flag), against her own convictions – while calls were made in the streets of Berlin for her and Liebknecht to be murdered.
On January 15, 1919, on the same day as Karl Liebknecht, she was arrested in Berlin by soldiers of the “Guard-Cavalry-Rifle Division” and murdered in a bestial manner. She was tortured in a posh Berlin hotel where the militia had set up their quarters, then dragged to a car. Her killers tried to smash her in the head with a rifle butt, drove the unconscious woman to the Landwehr Canal, shot her in the head on the way, wrapped her body in barbed wire and threw her into the water. At the end of May, her remains were found at a lock. Thousands attended her funeral on June 13, 1919.

Julius Gumbel, a Social Democrat from Heidelberg, later researched political murders in Germany. He arrived at the following figures: From 1918 to 1922, leftists murdered 22 people. There were 38 convictions. Right wing perpetrators committed 354 murders in the same period. There were 24 convictions. In 23 cases, the courts acquitted even confessed perpetrators who openly boasted of their deeds.


On a Tower of Skulls: Gerald Reitlinger

European Diary, 2.3.2021: Gerald Reitlinger was born 121 years ago today. The youngest son of Albert Reitlinger and Emma Brunner – who came from the Hohenems family of the same name – he studied cultural studies at Oxford and art at two academies in London. From 1930 to 1931 he took part in excavations in Iraq, subsequently made several research trips to Iran, Turkey and China, and wrote books about his excursions – in 1932 A Tower of Skulls. A Journey Through Persia and Turkish Armenia. In addition, Reitlinger was an avid collector of both Syrian and Persian ceramics.
During World War II, he served in the British Army in air defense and as an instructor.

Portrait of Gerald Reitlinger by Christopher Wood, 1926 (Source: Wikipedia)

But after 1945 he devoted his life to researching the Holocaust. In 1953, he published his book The Final Solution in London, the first comprehensive account of the Shoah. Affected and skeptical, he questioned the national loss of memory that soon swept the former perpetrator countries. The Munich Institute of Contemporary History refused to publish Reitlinger’s book. It did not want to be disturbed by the “outside” in the process of coming to terms with National Socialism. Nevertheless, the book was published in German under the title Endlösung, as was Reitlinger’s 1956 study The SS. Alibi of a Nation 1922-1945, which was given a less sarcastic title by the publisher in order to make it more palatable to the German audience: The SS – Tragedy of a German Era. A third book on Nazi crimes followed: The House Built on Sand. The Conflicts of German Policy in Russia 1939-1945 was published in London in 1960, and under the title Ein Haus auf Sand gebaut. Hitler’s Violent Policy in Russia 1941-1944 in German.
Reitlinger then returned to art and cultural history. His three-volume work The Economics of Taste (1961-1970) is devoted to the history of the art market from 1760 to the present.
He bequeathed his collection, which was damaged by fire shortly before his death in 1978, to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, where it now forms the Gerald Reitlinger Gallery.

Here some paragraphs from “Final Solution”:
“The inquest is over, but it is not the business of the coroner to find the culprits or to judge them. Nevertheless, the reader, who has had the patience to follow even a fraction of this somber narrative, will have asked himself a dozen questions, and some of these must be discussed even if they cannot be answered.

How much did the man in the street in Germany know and how much did he care? How was it possible that so many hundreds or even thousands of hard-working bureaucrats of all grades went daily to their offices to compose, copy, or pass on the obvious correspondence of race-murder? Why, seeing that every ministry was fighting with every other ministry and that Hitler never knew in the least what was happening, any more than Tolstoi’s generals at the battle of Borodino, did not one of the righteous men, who said their piece at Nuremberg, make a single active Protest? (…)
Is the discarding of selected victims endemic in the overgrown modern ‘democratic’ State? Can it happen again and can it happen here? It may be very long before we know the answers to these questions, which recur throughout this inquest on the Final Solution in the form of a sort of repeat design or chintz.

It is difficult to believe that there existed any fully conscious beings in Germany or German-occupied Europe in the last two years of the war who did not know that most of the Jews had disappeared and who had not heard some story that they had been shot or gassed. Nor do I suppose that there was anybody who did not have a friend who knew somebody else who had seen a massacre. More than a hundred million people must have known such things and whispered about them, and yet they could not make the climate unpleasant for the few thousands who carried them out. (…)

And the higher the Germans rose, the more frightened they became till we reach the case of Heinrich Himmler, who was made head of the Police State almost by chance and whom Hitler retained just because he was a frightened man who could be informed on and intimidated. (…)

But before the July 1944 plot to murder Hitler, not even the obscurest of wartime officials was ever taken away and shot. (…) Were these the me to stand up for the rights of humanity? They were, it is probable, mostly no more cruel and callous than the Germans or, indeed, the human race as a whole. (…)

The German of 1933 was a sort of caricature of European civilization which had grown more frivolous, greedier, and less critical, as material progress undermined some of the older disciplines. (…)

Hiob on his dunghill wished ‘that mine adversary had written a book’ and his prayer has been answered, for indeed there is nothing that this adversary did not commit on paper. I have spent close to four years among these documents and I have found their company neither gloomy nor depressing. For on many pages darts and gleams that thing which prevents all government becoming a living hell – human fallibility. (…) It is possible that murderous racialism is something ineradicable in the nature of ants and men, but the Robot State which will give it full effect cannot exist and never will.”


Supply Chaines

European Diary, 3.3.2021: Austria’s Chancellor Kurz says he no longer wants to be dependent on the EU and wants to look into producing his own vaccines together with Denmark and Israel. The science editor of the ORF (Austrian Broadcast), Günter Mayer, comments dryly on this move, saying that this is “not a matter of squeezing an apple”. Such complex production could not be ramped up in a short time by decree, and here Austria would have to deal with pharmaceutical companies whose sales are higher than the Austrian national budget. Not to go into further painful detail: the Chancellor’s grandiose announcements are obviously hot air intended to distract from other problems. E.g. from the following: On the same day it became known that in an Austrian showpiece enterprise, the company “Hygiene Austria”, which manufactures mouth nose protective masks, a house search took place. This is actually the company about which Sebastian Kurz proudly tweeted in May 2020: “The Corona crisis has shown that we must not rely entirely on international supply chains for the production of important protective equipment.”

The raid was carried out on suspicion that masks supplied from China had been relabeled in Austria by workers employed illegally without social security contributions and sold at a higher price than Chinese masks. Hygiene Austria’ has firmly denied this and of course the presumption of innocence applies. Piquantly, there is a close relationship of the company to a close associate of the chancellor, as already reported on August 4, 2020, the research platform Addendum: the husband of Sebastian Kurz’ head of office has a 25% stake in one of the two companies to which “Hygiene Austria” belongs, and which is now to ensure Austria’s mask self-sufficiency with large government contracts. And managing director Tino Wieser of “Hygiene Austria” is their brother-in-law. (https://www.addendum.org/coronavirus/vertragsdetails-geheim/)

The vaunted autarky seems to be faltering. But as a slogan for national awakening – and for distraction from the slowly accumulating investigations and house searches in the closer political circle of confidants of the chancellor – relabeled Chinese masks are probably also suitable. Or perhaps in the future also relabeled vaccines?

The number of corona deaths continues to grow. In the U.S., more than 500,000 people have long since died from the pandemic. New reports of irregularities in the disclosure of deaths in shelters, such as those just shaking the hitherto heroic reputation of New York State’s Democratic governor, Mario Cuomo, suggest an unknown dark figure of dead. Which are likely to exist in other states as well. These dark figures appear to be particularly high in Russia and Mexico when excess mortality is considered as a factor. Even the Russian government does not trust their own official figures. it is said that only 57,000 people in Russia had died from covid-19 by the end of 2020 and about 81,000 by mid-February, whereas excess mortality in Russia in 2020 claimed 323,000 lives. Shortly before the turn of the year, even Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova declared that 81 percent of excess mortality was due to Covid-19. This would correspond to almost 261,000 deaths from Covid-19 by the end of 2020, while other calculations put the number of deaths at well over 300,000.
Russia, which is proud of having introduced the first vaccine, “Sputnik V,” is using the apparently highly effective vaccine primarily as an export hit, for example to Mexico and Serbia, Paraguay and Egypt, while vaccinating its own population is taking a back seat. This leads to the paradoxical result that Sputnik V will possibly help to combat Covid-19 in poorer countries. At least, if it succeeds in ramping up planned production in Brazil and India. In Russia itself, especially beyond the metropolis of Moscow, it appears that herd immunity by infection continues to be the most common prescription for acquiring antibodies.

Addendum on March 9, 2021: In the meantime, the allegations against “Hygiene Austria” and the two parent companies Lenzing and Palmers have been substantiated. While “Hygiene Austria” CEO Tino Wieser still talks about how “proud” he is to have created 200 jobs in Austria, it has become known that these are mainly in dummy companies. Bogus companies that either employ workers officially on a “marginal” basis, but actually have them work full time on the black market, or that get rid of social security contributions by going bankrupt in time. Also subsidies for not effected short-time work had been raked in. Also the suspicion that the “domestic” production partly took place in China, but that the masks were then repacked by illegal workers in “Hygiene Austria” cartons, now seems to be confirmed.

Flashback, early March, 2020: the EU is co-financing the delivery of 25 tons of protective equipment to China. The European Commission reminds national governments in Europe to report their needs for protective masks, test kits and respirators. But it will be weeks before the first requirements come through.
The first cases of Covid-19 are being reported in the United Kingdom. Dominic Cummings, advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, summarizes the British government’s strategy as “herd immunity, protect the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.” No. 10 Downing Street denies.

Donald Trump has also spoken out again on Covid-19: “It’s a flu, like a flu.”