Monday, April 28, 2008

Yes, I am He

An innovative artist - not least marketing-wise - is a refreshing step away from the fake-psychotic, pseudo oppressed stereotype who permanently seem to be on the verge of cutting the odd ear, or set the opus ablaze in an act of impassioned bohemian self-obsession.

A regular on auction site Ebay, the artist himself upon enquiry forwarded me the following:

"Yes, I am Pierre Marcel. You can see lots of paintings and photos on - search for "pierre marcel" there, or click on one of the links within my Ebay pages or my web site at or Thanks, Pierre."

While too surrealistic to ever pass for objective art, the blog is not entirely without appreciation. Keep up the good work, Pierre and leave the dramatics to the talentless wannabe's.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Corporal Hitler's Master of Ceremonies

Sir Winston S. Churchill in his Nobel Prize winning "Memoirs of the Second World War" touches briefly on one of the most colourful people of the interbellum. Without context or further identification - we'll fill that in later - he mentions meeting one Putzi Hanfstaengl during the summer of 1932 while on a research trip for the purposes of his book "Life of Marlborough".

"At the Regina Hotel a gentleman introduced himself (...) and spoke a great deal about "the Fueher", with whom he appeared to be intimate. As he seemed to be a talkative fellow, speaking excellent English, I asked him to dine. (...) After dinner he went to the piano and played and sang many tunes and songs in such a remarkable style (...) He was a great entertainer (...) He said I ought to meet him (the Fuehrer), and that nothing would be easier to arrange. Herr Hitler came every day to the hotel about five o'clock, and would be very glad to see me."

Churchill is giving an account of his considerations, in the process giving us a lesson in patriotism, chivalry, and realism. It just goes to show how 'politically correct' we've all become! We'll come back to the subject later in the post.

"I had no national prejudices against Hitler at the time. I knew little of his doctrine or record and nothing of his character. I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat, even though I am on the other side. He had a perfect right to be a patriotic German if he chose. I always wanted England, Germany and France to be friends."

Then Churchill happened to pass a few adverse remarks, questioning Herr Hitler's "so violent views about the Jews," and the arrangement was stopped short from the German side. "This was the last I saw of 'Putzi' (...) Thus Hitler lost the only chance of seeing me."

Putzi Hanfstaengl resurfaces in another literary master piece. The joy of one of the best books I have come across in years could easily have been spoiled by the politically correct activities of the Dutch publishers who, for reasons best known to themselves, are marketing the book to an audience of multicultis, describing the protagonist as pleading for 'the multicultural society' and 'diversity'. This is a ludicrous notion in the context of the interbellum. Perhaps such a philistine approach to marketing has occurred in other countries as well. The English language 2006 Random House Trade Edition I know for a fact to have escaped the addition of 'narrarives'.

"The Orientalist" by Tom Reiss is not a piece of cheap propaganda for activists to exploit for their own purposes. It is a thoroughly and uniquely researched work that accounts hitherto less known historical and personal facts. It is well written, and chronicles a fascinating and remarkable story, encompassing four empires, three continents, three religions, two revolutions and two world wars. I have already written about it on earlier occasions, in "History Class: of agit-prop, revolution and terror!".

An episode during the early period of the advancing Nazi party, touches the surreal and the absurd in a truly hilarious manner. Reiss describes Putzi - "little squirt" in Bavarian dialect - as Hitler's Harvard educated Press Secretary, creative cheerleader and organiser of Hitler's Flying Circus ......

"the fastest political tour in history, using trains, planes and automobiles to shuttle the führer around the country (...) a three-engine Lufthansa D 2001 and three long, black Mercedes saloons (...) raced together across Germany, with Hitler in the lead car, the top down, a leather flight helmet keeping his hair in place. (...) Hitler thrived on the crazy hours and the speed of it all. It was a political blitzkrieg. But the real how was in the air, when the candidate would descend on German cities (...). The sympathetic German papers took to calling these the Freedom Flights, and they contributed mightily to the growing myth of Hitler as Germany's 'dashing' savior - its redeeming angel from the skies, descending on all parts if the fatherland. (...)."

Churchill must have caught Hanfstaegnl in 1932 during one of the Flying Circus' political road tours. Unbeknownst to Churchill the entertainer's full name was Ernst Sedgwick Hanfstaengl, "mother a Sedgwick from the old New England family. (Two of his grandfathers had been Civil War generals; one of them, a German immigrant 48er, was a pallbearer at Abraham Lincoln's funeral.) (...) His father was one of the most prominent men in Munich in the late nineteenth century, and the Hanfstaengls had visitors such as Mark Twain, Richard Strauss, and Fridtjof Nanson, the famous arctic explorer and passport inventor, to their lavish villa. How on earth had this white-shoe boy gotten involved with a bunch of lower class, anti-Semite beer-hall politicians?"

"Putzi was the Nazi movement's only Harvard man. Though a figure of fun among the hard-core Nazis - Putzi played 'Sam' to Hitler's Bogart, entertaining him at the end of the day with his piano playing - he was instrumental in making Nazism salonfähig (...) Hitler used Hanfstaengl's affable nature and white-shoe pedigree to forge many of his important links to German and American rich people (...) Putzi was the connection to old American, British and German families."

In 1922 Putzi talks to a young American military attaché in Germany, Captain Truman-Smith, because "all the revolutionary nonsense down in Bavaria had the embassy concerned". "Putzi wrote in his 1957 memoir 'Unheard Witness' how Truman-Smith provides him with a Press ticket to a meeting with "the most remarkable fellow I've ever come across", Adolf Hitler. Truman-Smith requests him to have a look and report back. He heard Hitler speak at the Kindlkeller about Kemal Ataturk and the example of Mussolini, and ... joined the movement."

An inventive cheerleader for the Harvard football team, Putzi transferred that position to Hitler's Nazi entourage. (...) According to Putzi's memoir, he and Hitler were together at the house of the Nazi's semiofficial photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, in Munich at the time:

I started playing some of the football marches I had picked up at Harvard. I explained to Hitler all the business about cheerleaders and marches, counter-marches and deliberate whipping up of hysterical enthusiasm. I told him about the thousands of spectators being made to roar Harvard, Harvard, Harvard, rah, rah, rah!" in unison and of the hypnotic effect of this sort of thing. I played him some of the Sousa marches and then my own Falarah [Putzi's contribution to the Harvard cheerleading repertoire], to show how it could be done by adapting German tunes, and gave them all that boyant beat so characteristic of American brass-band music. I had Hitler fairly shouting with enthusiasm. "That is it, Hanfstaengl, that is what we need for the movement, marvelous, and he pranced up and down the room like a drum majorette.

After that he had the SA band practicing the same thing. I even wrote a dozen marches or so myself over the course of the years, including the one that was played by the brown-shirt columns as they marched through the Brandenburger Tor on the day he took over power (...) that is the origin of it and I suppose I must take my share of the blame."

That summer (of 1932) saw daily gun battles between Nazis and Communists on the streets of Berlin. Christopher Isherwood, living in Berlin at the time, thought there was something false and ritualistic about the street fighting, as though both parties were in it mainly for publicity purposes."

(...) There was no doubt that both sides (...) had an interest in breaking down public order and scaring everyone away from the center parties (...) a second round of national elections proved the extremists' violence making strategies effective: both Nazis and Communists gained at the expense of moderate parties (...)."

After the elections of November 1932 "even the pretense of fighting between the Nazis and Communists was dropped. It was time to deliver the coup de grâce to the bourgeois center - the German democracy (...) Communists and Nazis stood arm in arm, one shouting 'Red Front,' the other 'Heil Hitler!" (...) rows of low-rent housing hung with alternating rows of fluttering swastika and hammer-and-sickle flags."

We forget the methods and purposes of terrorism and violence at our peril. Here's the news from Athens a few weekens ago.

- More excerpts from "The Orientalist" by Tom Reiss on the history of the two Socialist movements in future postings.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

La Vie Nazi en Rose ... II

- Continued from Part I -

Our post "La Vie Nazi en Rose" needs urgent updating. A problem has been detected that is reflected in the latter part of the post's title. Apparently André Zucca's colour photos of Paris during Nazi occupation were a bit too much, well ... en rose. This is hardly surprising given that Zucca was requisitioned by the Nazis to work for propaganda magazine Signal.

EURSOC is reporting on the fall-out of the recent exhibition "Parisians under the Occupation" at the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris. It would seem that the shadow of World War II is still too overpowering to allow an objective, historical perspective. Either that, or ...

The People's Cube recently commented on the postmodern inability to take emotional distance - even from events as remote as Biblical times. Enjoy the Cube's correct opinions for progressive liberals in "The Renegade Exodus and Other Crimes of Moses". But now back to the Zucca exhibit:
EURSOC: "Don't Mention The War"

It seems the exhibition has caused red cheeks in the Paris city hall. The assistant cultural affairs mayor said that it the expo was "embarrassing, ambiguous and badly explained." The mayor's office quickly released a leaflet claiming that Zucca's photographs gave a "distorted" picture of life under Nazi rule. The work, it added, "chooses to show nothing, or little, of the reality of Occupation and its terrible consequences." The problem seems to be that Zucca depicted life as carrying on much as normal.

It's true, some of the images are almost glamorous. Little is seen of the suffering of the city's Jews (just two yellow stars in the show) and there isn't much in the way of the jackboot of Nazi oppression. According to the Paris city hall, this is because Zucca was following his German masters' brief to show Paris life continuing much as normal - hence his use of colour film for German magazines, a rare commodity in wartime France.

More sceptical souls, including the Independent's John Lichfield, suggest that Zucca was merely showing what he saw: In his defence, Lichfield quotes philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who was scathing about the myth of Parisians being ordered about by gun-toting Nazi officers. Sartre wrote that Parisians invented this fantasy in order to assuage their guilt at not doing enough to resist the Occupation: In the years since the war ended, France has cultivated the image of suffering Paris, doubtless inspired by General de Gaulle's myth that during the war, Frenchmen were either Resistance (the vast majority) or collaborators. (...) >>>

Jean-Paul Sartre was a persistent Mao apologist in the face of genocide towards Rousseauian agrarianism. He should know about myths and self-delusion ...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Luminous American Riot

ArtDaily: "The Golden Age of American Impressionism on view at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester"

The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester through June 15. This major traveling exhibition showcases 54 rarely-seen paintings from the golden age of American Impressionism (ca. 1880–1920), from one of the country’s premier museums. Included are luminous works by such masters as William Merritt Chase, William Glackens, Lilian Westcott Hale, Childe Hassam, Maurice Prendergast and John Henry Twachtman.

Members of the first generation to absorb the aesthetics of French Impressionism, these artists applied the brighter palette and broken brushwork of their European counterparts to the American landscape. Also on view is American Impressionism from the Permanent Collection, which brings together fourteen works from MAG’s collection, including many on view for the first time. Many of the artists, among them George Leonard Herdle (the Gallery’s first director) and Emma Lampert Cooper, have Rochester connections. (...) >>>

- Caption: Maurice Prendergast (1859-1924) - Ponte della Palia (1898-99 and 1922) -

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Feed Frenzy

Much as we tried, quick fixes and disinfestation proved no match for the bug that nestled itself in the old feed. It has now been ground into the cat's breakfast and is no longer available.

We apologize to subscribers for what turned out to be quite a lengthy glitch.

In the Feedburner chicklet is a new feed-link available which to date is running smoothly. We kindly request you to renew your subscription, using that link.

We appreciate your feedback.

Cheers to all readers and thanks for taking an interest in our posts,


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Postmodern Anti-War Hero: "The Red Baron"

The hypocrisy of the postmodern let's-pretend-there's-no-reality brigade reaches Jagdgeschwader height in the latest anti-war product, "The Red Baron"! Instead of breaching the taboo against German war heroism, another one is erected by means of political correctness, against the reality of war and its place in human existence. One barely dares mention its name for all the tut-tuts and feigned indignation towards the facts of history.

To the postmodern cohort in Hollywood modern Western history serves but one purpose only: a showcase for the embarrassing caricature that it is collection of 'continual conflict, wars of almost unimaginable destruction, colonialism and despair and religious persecution', 'wave after wave of ethnic cleansing', culminating in the conclusion that 'war and genocide are not part of the history of Europe, but constitute the whole of its history'.

This rhetorical parlour trick aims to deflect attention away from the 110 million or so victims that were butchered on the altars of the postmodern forebears, to wit the essentially anti-modern, anti-liberal and anti-human ideologies of nationalism, communism and National Socialism.

The rape of reality is well illustrated by the German World War I hero portrayed as the typical post counter-culture anti-war dialectician àvant la lettre: "He says he's not going to be the immortal god that Berlin wants him to be; he knew millions were lured into the trenches with such propaganda," he said.

Postmodernists are also blissfully unaware that sentimentality has nothing to do with empathy or sensitivity towards others, but according to the grandfather of psychology C.G. Jung, is a superstructure overlaying brutality. But of this deontological feature (the ethics of good-intention-bad-result-never-mind), of the aim justifying the means, we were already aware ...
BBC: "German war film challenges taboo", by Tristana Moore

He is a handsome, blond, young pilot - and he's not your typical baddie. In the new film The Red Baron, which had its premiere in Berlin on Monday night, Germany's legendary flying ace, Manfred von Richthofen, is portrayed as an emotional, sensitive man. (...)

Manfred von Richthofen, who shot down 80 British, Canadian and Australian pilots during World War I, is played by the dashing German actor, Matthias Schweighoefer. The film shows how 24-year-old Von Richthofen and his fellow airmen treat the war like a sport, hunting down the enemy in lively air-battle scenes. (...)

The film, with its sentimental touch, makes you aware of Von Richthofen's humanity. The young officer falls to pieces when his friends die, he buys a harmonica for a friend, and he feels embarrassed because he cannot dance well. (...) >>>

- Caption: Von Richthofen Squadron - Hat tip "The House of Gutenberg" -

- IMb slideshow of the movie
- "The Death of von Richthofen"
- "The Red Baron: Rittmeister Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen"

Of Diplomatic Heritage and Panography

Czech Daily Monitor: "Senate opens gifts gallery"

The Czech Senate has opened a part of its underground area under the Valdstejnsky Palace as it transformed it into the Trcka gallery with a permanent exhibition of the gifts to and by senators (...) The cellar rooms with the original floor made of stones and bricks include commemorative plaques, ornamented vases and china from tens of countries such as the far-away Philippines. (...)

Visitors will be attracted by an icon from Georgian Patriarch Ilya II made of tiny stones of various colours, daggers from Yemen and a silver bust of Mother Theresa by chairwoman of Albanian parliament Jozefina Topalli.

The biggest exhibits are the Kazakh and South African national costumes that filled the showcase in the entry room. (...) Along with putting the gifts on display, the gallery will also serve for the projection of documentary films from 1918, 1938, 1948 and 1968, all significant years in the country's history. (...) >>>

- Caption: Wallenstein Palace in a remarkable panograph by CorBas -