See trips hub: Europe Road Ways

For themes of conflict, present in any country, see Studying War.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Buchenwald Inmate. Alfred Dube 1923-2008. A Survivor. Ceramics and Design..

Alfred Dube: An Outsider's Tribute to a Survivor.

Alfred Dube; American citizen. Immigrant. WWII.
A Czech, from Pilsen and Prague.
His extended family members then in Europe died in the Holocaust.
Buchenwald held him as Inmate, briefly; in transit.
He passed from one labor-concentration camp to another.
He was held in 4-5 of them,
Including: Dora, Czestochova, and Bergen Belsen, see chronology. 
He then was involved in liberation, resistance work, and finally arrived in America where he continued to contribute.
Not an easy path, for self, family, skills. But he Did It.
Internet sources here.  Family may have revisions, of course. But this is a well-intentioned gist.*

* Update November 2013:  Mr. Dube's grandson, lawyer and master brewer Paul Hletko, Evanston IL, has opened a craft distillery (FEW Spirits) in memory of Alfred Dube, see  That article, however, does not identify Mr. Dube.  As to this research about Mr. Dube, revisions or corrections requests from Mr. Hletko for this tribute are welcome here. 

I. Alfred Dube, Survivor.


Family ties to confiscated property, perhaps.
Our interest is in his Life.

This is a small tribute by a stranger to one Alfred Dube, who was in successive concentration and labor camps in the Czech Republic, and Germany; survived, and later excelled in his work and community work in America, see tributes.  He died in 2008. Our interest stems from our visits to several concentration or labor camps:  Buchenwald, here in Germany; Jasenovac, in Croatia; Mauthausen, in Austria; and Auschwitz PL. We later visited Bergen-Belsen in Germany, that posting in process.

And our interest stems from a chance hearing of a story:  That this family line in Europe, 37-40 members, died in the Holocaust and may have been part owners before 1900, or otherwise involved in the Pilsen Urquell Brewery interest, or it could be Budweiser, and/or as in Cesky Budojovice, CZ - home of the true Budweis Beer. FN 1  Whatever that issue, we salute Alfred Dube on his own: welcome immigrants. We need the mix here, the talent. Who can prejudge.
  • Here, find a specific skill, a talent, beyond mere perseverance: Brilliance in ceramics design.  The Number 504? That was his place on the emigration list of those who would be allowed out after the War. Maybe the first 100 could get on board.  He made it. The long shot.
  • And Post Traumatic Stress - Anyone would ask now, but no-one paid much attention to it then. Under the rug. Did Alfred escape it. Look at what he lived through.  See this overview of the condition, at ://  
We find his life story from a number of internet and public sources, because that is our inspiration here.

Family would have many corrections.

Still, the tributes online seem to share similar information. We note where there are missteps we find, but basics come from the funeral home narrative, at ://; and at Journal: The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, at ://

There is/may be a difference totally between the Pilsner-Urquell brewery interests, and the Budweis-Interests of Cesky Budovojice,  see Pilsen, Pilsner Urquell Brewery Interests, and Hamburg Connections; that is beyond our deciphering. But the principles remain:  economic interests unjustly confiscated, what next.

  • We were in Pilzen, Pilsen Plzn -- how to spell between linguistic sources.  Alfred Dube would have known it well.
The synagogue, Pilsen, Plzn, Pilzen, CZ. The Synagogue, had been among the largest and most prosperous in Europe, is a museum, asking for contributions. Get a paper yarmulke as you enter, pay a small price,  add more, please.

  • Alfred Dube:  Born in Pilzen CZ
  • Eagle Scout
  • Engineer, Czechoslovakian Institute of Ceramics
  • Then comes the Reich. Meet hell. There were 37-40 members of Alfred Dube's family alone, killed; or as Yas Vashem says, perished.
  • Lodz Ghetto, in Poland, see ://; and :// we think also known as--
  • Litzmanstadt Ghetto -- (also spelled Litzmannstadt as on the cityoflodz site here) This is apparentlly another name for the Lodz Ghetto, same place, see ://; as a special section of Lodz, set off to be the ghetto, see map and other pages at ://  You can follow the memorial walking trail, read what happened at the various locations, at ://
  • Munitions Factory Hasag #2, we think that is in what is now known as Czestochowa P? Hasag was a privately owned company that used concentration camp prisoners as workers, see :// We don't see #2 there, but understand there were 8 in German, see :// For Czestochowa, see :// 
  • Buchenwald , Germany. See reference to book by Fred Wander, The Seventh Well, there.
  • SA Dora-Mittelbau, see ://  Underground munitions facilities. Quarries. We see reference to assembly plants V/1 and 2
  • Bergen-Belsen, see ://
  • Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, see ://
  • Post-war: Underground to get passports to Jews who wanted to escape occupied territories and emigrate to Palestine, the Joint Distribution Committee, we believe (if so, see it now at  ://, and that involved working against blockades at the time. This work may have cause authorities to delay his emigration.
  • Model for sculpture-skeleton series, Muselman, meaning, we think, the concentration camp word for "last stage before death", see://, by friend artist David Friedman, who also was a Holocaust survivor, and at some of the same locations although perhaps not simultaneously.  Site for David Friedman: ://  Find art at ://  We have not yet found the series.
  • Was married, 2 year old daughter, emigrated to US; this info is scanty.
  • Had $.60 - yes, sixty cents - to start over when he arrived.
  • Spoke five languages
  • Learned English while working as a bowling alley pin setter
  • Professional accomplishments:  Ultimately became director of design research and general manager, president, national sales manager and technical director of a variety of ceramics, brick, tile, china companies, see either site above.
  • Peace and development. The tributes list achievements in these areas. Here we are not sure if this is the same Alfred Dube.  There is one whose last name is pronounced "Dube-uh" but he is a black individual who is on this panel for the Brookings Institution, see ://  Slide the time marker to 35.45 to see him introduced and hear him.  Need info re the listing on the bio sites as consultant to Jamaican Government. We found this same name at this UN site, described as a permanent representative and ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations, but can't get at the rest, think this is accurate description but may not be the same person, see :// but the download is too big to wait for. See also :// (cited in the search, but too big to find exactly where)
  • Presidential commendations.  Tributes also add these, by "every president since 1949". We have not found them yet. Is that the other Alfred Dube?
  • Design.  Called "Father of Modern Dinnerware Design" - book by Michael Pratt, Mid-Century Modern Dinnerware, see :// See full size nesting place setting at Stetson ://; and another at Stetson, ://

    Stetson Hiawatha Or Prim Rose Creamer Mid-century
    This is identified as the Hiawatha pattern or Prim Rose. Fair use thumbnail from ebay qcyjohn. If this next one is the Hiawatha, then the top one has thicker, stubbier lines. Would it be Prim Rose? Is Prim Rose by Alfred Dube? Hiawatha is. Have to get into this. This second one is from ebay labbags. Bid fast.

  • Stetson China 3 Salad Plates Pattern Hiawatha
    We bet the second one.

See this other fair use thumbnail, from :// Alfred Dube. We remember. Stetson China Co. - 4 Nest Plates
  • Author of manuscript, in hands (unpublished, but we have read it) of American family members and the Washington Holocaust Museum: And Where Was God.  Do visit the Holocaust Museum, in Washington, reference RG-02.127, and works from those who had been in Mittelbau-Dora ("Prodkiton des Todes: das KZ Mittlebau-Dora" by Jens-Christian Wagner, Stiftung Gedenkstatten Buchenwald und Mittelbau-Dora)
    See  For all the Holocaust Museum's flaws in whitewashing, say some, the knowledge that our officials had of events as they were occurring and taking no steps to prevent the use of American corporation's materials in facilitating such in transport and record keeping, it is worth your time.
  • Shoah. Interviewed by Shoah Foundation (Shoah - Holocaust - see ://, and visited by Stephen Spielberg in part of that 4-hour interview, Spielberg funded Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, see://
  • Patents - include a ceramics time analyzer (?)
  • Outreach. Supported and held positions in many charitable-educational-community organizations: Boys Town, Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters, Huronia Tourist Association, Canadian and American Ceramic Societies, Rotary
 A peaceful, reconciled end. We hope that was true for Alfred Dube. 

FN 1  Earlier research, that led us to this individual.  We ask:

1.  Did he meet the family of the Prague boy, Petr Ginz, who wrote the matter-of-fact WWII diary of his life with his family there, see Places of Petr Ginz, Lens and Legacy.  Petr writes of individual friends and families, the Nazis, transports of friends and relatives to Theresienstadt or Terezin Ghetto, where Petr also was sent - then to Auschitz Birkenau where he was killed.

2.  Did family members have a historical family interest in Pilsner Urquell, the Brewery. That involvement might be before 1900, and the family story is probably unverifiable, as those who knew, are gone. Pilsner Urquell: History of the Brewery.

  • This topic is beyond our research. 

Any ownership interest must predate 1900, we think, as to the Hamburg brewery interests of the Guggenheims.

As to Pilsner Urquell, in Pilsen,  the connections may not pan out. Of course. What matters is objective, factual information.  Who has it? Who can, wants to, should pursue it. Our interest:  stop confiscations from happening again, without recourse. Recourse deters. Is that so.  Is that possible.

  • Pilsen. And Guggenheims. Two separate brewery interests, or overlap. Pilzen, Cesky Budejovice.
Guggenheim:  One brewery was bought by two German Jewish businessmen in 1900. Is that connected to the Plzen.

Is there clear title now, in the present owners, although it is "stolen property."

There was a Dub Zivkovic, who made a clone in 2004, but it was a little thin then, see ://  See Czech Republic Road Ways, Pilsner Urquell. That site tracks the ownership of Pilsner Urquell from 1900, owned by the Jewish Wilhelm Guggenheim The story of it is a microcosm of the upheavals of WWII, families, businesses, decimations. So, a brief look at the Strelows, who got the Brewery in 1938 -- and who we had thought might have something in common with Alfred Dube's family.

In researching Pilsner Urquell, however, we came to issues of confiscation of Jewish property interests that would apply to many situations.  We are not in a position to research a connection to Budweis, however. 

Who benefited from confiscations of Jewish* property?

II.  The Strelow Family

We had thought the Dube interest was also involved here. 
Annexed the Confiscated Guggenheim Brewery Interest 
Ongoing curiosity.

No Dubes involved, in the Hamburg brewery confiscation, we now believe. Were their interests limited to Plzen, Cesky Budojovie.

As a matter of general principal, however, , how did the Strelows who received confiscated property fare in and after WWII.

  • Confiscation.  What does it do to clear or fog title.  Take the issue far enough, and is any forced taking legal. Native Americans want to know.

  • Pilsner Urquell, possibly:

We found a Hans Strelow a pilot; and Siegfried Strelow, a U-Boat captain respectively. Both "elites of the Reich," both killed. Are they of the same Strelow family-company annexed the Brewery after confiscation from Mr. Guggenheim. Strelow: Here is a wartime Hans Strelow who was a hero-pilot for the Reich:  Hans, fair use quote from Related to the beer-getting Strelows?
"Particularly successful was the duo of Lt. Hans Strelow and Ofw. Wilhelm Mink, both of 5. JG 51. They claimed five MiG-3s of 16 IAP on 4 January (Mink claimed three) and 9 days later Mink claimed a Pe-2 and Strelow destroyed two R-Z biplanes for his 30th and 31st victories. On 4 February, Strelow increased his victories to 36 by shooting down four Russian aircraft. The 19 year-old Strelow claimed his 40th victory on 28 February and claimed 4 victories on both 6 March and 17 March. The next day he was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes and also shot down seven Soviet aircraft. He was awarded the Eichenlaub on 24 March, his claims total at 66."
  • Siegfried Strelow.

Siegfried Srelow was a U-Boat commander - Korvettenkapitan - who died in 1943.He had been a torpedo officer on the Graf Spee, and the Schleswig Holstein, see details at ://  Same family as the beer? There is also a town Strelow, near Rostock, toward Sweden.  Here is a Strelow Company (GMBH & Co. but that is a transportation - machine thing perhaps that bought Strelow? No idea.), but maybe we are mistaken.

This Strelow in Hamburg deals wine, liquor, spirits, even soft drinks, see  Then again, SAB (South African Breweries), bought out Pilsner Urquell, that would have taken care of the beer side. Strelow is a common name, and the name of a town in Germany.

It is beyond us as a family to go see Strelows and poke about, but we remain interested in the issue. How long do wrongful acquisitions benefit the usurpers, or does passage of time just lead to another conclusion.  Too late. Current owners had nothing to do with their forbears. Or did they?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bremen. The Mummies We Missed. John Gimlette found.

Mummies Beneath Bremen Cathedral

The world needs travel series that includes more macabre.  More crypt finds, for example. Travel compilers, stop copying each other, and skip all that space on where to eat or sleep.  Wing that. In the newly freed pages, insert history, the odd.  For each specific recommendation on dining or sleeping, a traveler wastes valuable time finding it, passing fine alternatives on the way.  As to the odd bits, some travel guides do include some, too many do not.

Bremen.  In Bremen, I wished we had known of the Bremen Mummies. There apparently are some 8 mummies beneath the Cathedral, dating from 300 years ago.  And in what fine condition -- no botox, but fine hair, nails, teeth, and leathery-dark skin.  As with any mummy, sinews outlast the soft stuff, and as they shrink (rather than just decompose) they pull a face into surprised, shocked, shocked! expressions.  Tripadvisor shows a picture -- see

Read all this in the article by John Gimlette in the Financial Times.  I have the original clipping, and it is reproduced in a Financial Times 2012 travel-bests grouping at  Contributors were asked to submit their personal bests for that year:   My Best Discovery of 2012.

So:  who were the Mummies, when they were at home?

1.  1705:  a student who died in a duel
2.  1730:  The Chancellor of Bremen
3.  Year unk: a Laborer age 80\4.
4.  Year unk: a Swedish officer, in the wrong place at an exposion event
5.  Year unk:  A lady, known as Lady Stanhope

The rest? A soldier, and evidence of surgeries

Then, go under the Town Hall for the Ratskeller from 1409.  Wine. Lots of Wine. A flagon from 1653 will cost some $13,000, rough conversion.

How did we miss the mummies?  Consider accidents of timing.  We arrived during a fine rehearsal by an orchestra in the Cathedral itself, tiptoe, sit, enjoy, but hardly an environment for poking.

We did not seek out the crypt, as we normally would do. With a note in a travel book, we would have returned.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Buchenwald - Forced Labor Camp. Slave Labor. Rabbi Herschel Schacter.

Update 3/27/2013. On April 11, 1945, Brooklyn native Rabbi Herschel Schacter drove through Buchenwald's gates just after Patto's tanks breached the camp, the allied Third Army's VIII Corps. He had been attached to that group and was the first Jewish chaplain to enter Buchenwald. His call, repeated, "You are free!" echoed but was met with smells of burnt flesh, bodies by the hundreds He stayed there for months, tending, pastoring, working to resettle thousands in time. See obituary at

 Rabbi Herschel Schacter bore with him memories fast sinking or perhaps never known by a later generation distracted by its own social life.  Can we help them look back. If Germany Road Ways, and other countries' sites where concentration camps have been seen, like Poland Road Ways, Austria Road Ways, can keep issues of our western atrocity heritage at the forefront, can the distractions be tamed.

 Buchenwald, Concentration Camp, Germany; stake, hand ore cart

Buchenwald. See Labor Camp. WWII. Just outside Weimar. Outlines of barracks and buildings. One, reconstructed or preserved, houses the museum - the personal items, the collections of shoes, memorabilia, passports, photos, letters.

Slave labor.  Find it listed at :// This resource is the Slave Labor Class I List, from the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks), Special Master's Proposal, September 11, 2000. Pull up the pdf and do a search or find, at the upper slot, for "Buchenwald" and it will appear.

Labor cart. This was primarily a labor camp, not an extermination camp with gas chambers. Death was an integral part of the setting, however. See historical film footage: Another is This is Alain Resnais' "Night and Fog". Check around yourself and make your own judgments on which films or sources are best in this area. We just lay out some that spoke especially to us. We include in our trips anywhere, time with those parts of history that we prefer to think never happened, and certainly were not and could not be inflicted by people like us. Not? Go there.

Buchenwald, Little Children's Zoo for Germans, outside barbed wire fence, Germany

Little zoo. This stone structure at Buchenwald, with the low walls here, is the little zoo, right outside the fence to the camp itself. It had little bears in it, we were told, to amuse the children and families of the staff. There the children sat with governesses and mothers, and played, and fed the bears.

Buchenwald is near Weimar, some 6-7 miles out perhaps. The people said they didn't know. How much do we block out?

Buchenwald, remembrance pebbles on memorial, GermanyPebbles for remembrance. There are memorial stone slabs for the different countries of origin, with the pebbles remembering. The roots of that fine tradition are at And at

See this site for a virtual tour of Jewish history in Germany. The site also connects to Jewish history in Eastern and Central Europe.

Current topics include holocaust deniers, see the World Association of International Studies site at

For a gallery of photos on Buchenwald, the interiors of some of the buildings, see ://

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Guggenheim File. Die Akte Guggenheim. A German Jewish Family's Story. Sylvia (Guggenheim) Griffiths

Sylvia (Guggenheim) Griffiths.
A Personal Telling:  This German Jewish Family since 1580.

Salute her search into WWII and other trauma, the family's response; and its legacy.

Sylvia (Guggenheim) Griffiths has written a personalized and warm tour de force in The Guggenheim File, Die Akte Guggenheim. The book is autobiography, family history, German Jewish history,  Holocaust and Nazification and the WWII diaspora tracking.  She moves away from the academic and cold timelines of history, see, e.g.,, and describes real people in those situations, her people, family anecdotes, research, discoveries, connections, introspections.  German history becomes animate after being there.  The history was especially meaningful for us because we went to the Guggenheim home(s) in Hamburg, saw Worms, and the ancient Jewish Graveyard there; we went to the transport, labor and death camps -- Theresienstadt, Buchenwald, Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Bergen-Belsen.  Members of her family, or their friends, also passed through that way, only some surviving.  For us, the book was like sitting in a room and hearing first-hand stories filling in what had been statistics, hard facts. Her story is a kind of Beowulf -- a saga of origins -- but here documented well in history, and needing only the "Hwaet!" to get our attention around the fire during the long night. Note to editor:  Add Hwaet.
  • The joy of travel is ongoing deepening interest after return in places, individuals, history.  I have not met Ms. Griffiths, but we spoke by telephone and emailed when she found my reference to her family in a 2008 post regarding the beer business in Plzen, CZ -- see Czech Republic Road Ways:  Pilsener Urquell: The Brew. Who Got Pilsner Urquell after Nazi Confiscation. With her leads, we then went to Germany and found her family home in Hamburg and shared the photos.
So:  How did the Nazis go about divesting prominent Jewish entrepreneurs of their businesses and homes, and assets. Our children are not taught the details, is that so?  It was ruthless and methodical and humiliating, and even killing. And all Germany was complicit. With the information here, how could the reasonable think otherwise. And think of the value of such things if left in original capable hands. A superior-product brewery.  And what pittance, nod, was offered and acceptance forced, just to say a contract had been signed.  Who, me? All so very legal.

Family in maelstrom of Holocaust. The places of the stories extend into Britain, where Jewish children were sent by panicking parents as other routes to safety for adults were cut off.  Names were changed to protect the children.  Some were reunited. Parents then fled, if they could, and the Guggenheims, this branch, went to Brazil, after high hurdles in countries' foreign policies, and what to do with the Jews.  The Final Solution:  For many, it was.

The horrors and injustices, and the accomplishments and deep ties, of this one German Jewish family are recorded beginning in 1580 or so, a time of riots in Jugenheim. Then came family branchings (another branch is known for the Museum, for example), and then the panic and disbelief and expulsions of Nazification and the Holocaust.

Ms. Griffiths' last entry is in 2011, with her return to her family's home in Hamburg. There is a ripple effect when someone records, particularly in this unpolished, honest way. Others are drawn in and appreciate the history through others' experience.  The directness shows no sign of overarching editor interfering with tone, feeling, the writer's own words, a unique voice.  You can hear it., visualize the  impact of the whirlpool of dislocation, destruction, and then the heriosm and love that emerges despite it.

This interest in the German Jewish experience is not from my own background, but has become a living part of my every day.  When you are there, do go to the State Records office in Hamburg where the Guggenheim files were found.  The Germans were methodical and meticulous in safeguarding records despite bombings.

We found a non-ancestor at the Hamburg Archive, we are sure there is no relation, but someone with with our name, his will from the 1100's. Who here can read German Gothic?  Family history.  Worth exploring.
Transformative events.  Trauma.  TTT.  Ms. Griffiths looks briefly into this field, that hovers in the backs of our minds but cannot be "evidenced."  Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma, was/is an inquiry that apparently focused in research and scientific examination entirely on the Holocaust experience.*  Does the trauma that transformed their lives, have an effect on others, and later generations?  Ms. Griffiths was a child whose father experienced the whirlpool, separated from his parents, then reunited and lived with them in Brazil. He spoke little of it. Are we really looking at transgenerational transmission of the response to trauma.  A parent not talking; a child moved to fill in needed information, to heal.  See the examination of origin stories in our own pop heroes in  Smithsonian Magazine February 2013, article, We Need a Hero. Those experienced trauma, felt a sense of "destiny"in that there is no escaping what is happening, or perhaps the change in their lives was sheer chance. They were changed and reinvigorated, focused on making good out of evil.  What of the trauma they experienced be passed on to their children? 

Although there is not a scientific answer to the issue of transmission of the trauma, ask on an anecdotal, recollection level with your own family in mind: whether trauma alone is the issue.  Are transformative events transmitted not as the experience itself, but the response to it.  Is you family like ours, where successive generations do seem to grapple with a recurrent problem or pattern, as though this treadmill must recur until somebody gets it right.  Or is that too Eastern for the West?

Thank you for your work, Ms. Griffiths.  It helps makes us whole.


*  Search for Transmission of Transgenerational Trauma, See

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kassel - and the Fairy Tale Road. German Prefab Tourist Routes.

2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Grimm's Fairy Tales.  Bremen is at the northern end of Germany's tourist-friendly Fairy Tale Road: move south from the Musicians at Bremen, standing on each other to see into the robbers' house; and find Hamelin, and the Pied Piper, then Sababurg with its Sleeping Beauty castle (others are found in other countries), Kassel and the Grimm Museum, Waldeck and Marburg where the famous medieval university -- the first Lutheran university --  still lures. The Brothers Grimm attended there.  Frankfurt, near where the brothers Grimm were born, is at the southern end.  Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the eldest of the five Grimm children, were sent to live in Kassel with their aunt, when their father died and their mother was in dire straits.

Following any prefab tourist road is good for the nervous, and useful as a side benefit for the rovers. The Financial Times lays it all out at its Life & Arts section p. 9, from April 21-22, 2012.  See also

Other kits for travel:

 These get overwhelming.  Best to go, and see what happens in your path.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Itineraries: After the fact: 2006, 2010 (as part of larger Scandinavian trip)

Germany is ideal for trips that include other countries.  Do the central-south on one circular trip, begin and end in Frankfurt; then, second trip, begin and end in Copenhagen.  We veered down from Denmark to Germany in the north, enjoyed the Baltic areas of Germany, then boarded an overnight car-ferry back to Scandinavia, this time to Sweden, ultimately back to Copenhagen.  In this way we have enjoyed two improvised road trips in Germany, and without repeats.   Towns and places follow in summary. Itinerary road trip 2006, itinerary road trip 2010.

A thematic undercurrent in Germany is the violence of war, and the Holocaust against not only Jews, but other minorities, conditions;  a study in means of persuasion to convince people it is justified, and then the fairy tales and castles, with their lessons of rewards for ingenuity, time lapses for justice to be done. 

2006:  Frankfurt, Marburg, Fritzlar, Kassel, Wartburg, Weimar and Buchenwald, Wittenberg, Potsdam, Berlin, Dresden, Chemnitz, Bamburg, Nurnberg, Regensburg, Altotting, Berchtesgaden, Munich, Oberammergau, Garmisch, Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, Schongau, Wies-Kirche, Augsburg, Dinkelsbuhl, Rothenburg, Wurzburg, Schwabisch Hall, Heidelberg, Speyer, Trier, Aaachen, Koln, Burg Eltz, Koblenz, Rhine castles, Mainz and Frankfurt.

2010:  From Denmark.  Hamburg, Bremen, Verden, Osnabruck, Teutoburg (Varusschlacht), Hanover, Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp at Loheide, Luneburg, Schwerin, Rostock (and ferry overnight to Trelleborg, Sweden)

See also

Kalkreise. Varusschlacht. Germanic Chieftain Arminius and Roman General Varus. Clades Variana

Varus' Battle. Battle of Teutoborg Forest.
Roman General, Varus, and Turncoat Germanic Chieftain, Arminius.
An insurgency.
Clades Variana: The Varus Battle.
Many names to research, many spellings.


Famous battles assume a place in history for their strategy and impact; with individual identities and roles often subsumed.  Here, focus on the Roman general Varus, in 9 CE, who, with his three legions, was defeated by Arminius and local Germanic tribes.  Varusschlacht.  Kalkreise. Search all the terms.  A broad overview is found at Archeology Magazine, not only as shown below in 1992, but in 2005 with a review of books on the topic.  See Saga of the Lost Roman Legions, Nov-Dec 2005, review of book on how the site was located, identified;  by Tony Clunn, The Quest for the Lost Roman Legions.  One Marcus Aius emerges as a Roman soldier, killed, and identified through a clasp for armor with his name.  Other fictional elements may be less reliable; the review is only available by archive order.  Think Afghanistan, Russia and America fallen before local dedicated chiefs and their loyal tribes against incursion. 

This was a case of ambush; our account building on an earlier post,  The ambush stemmed from the betrayal of the Romans, by one who had set himself out as an ally of Rome.  A book have depicted it:  The Quest for the Lost Roman Legion, by Tony Clunn in 2005, see; and an earlier article, "Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, Sept-Oct 1992, Archeology Magazine. The magazine's archives do not reach back to 1992, however.

Weather -- rains; difficult terrain;  and thousands of Germanic tribesmen, all laid out in an interpretation combining archeological finds with a story line in fiction about one Marcus Aius, whose name is actual and stems from the finding of a unique cloak clasp.

Varusschlacht.  The Varus Battle; Clades Variana

  • Varus -- Publius Quinctilius Varus.  After years of service in various parts of the Roman Empire, see biography at, Varus became governor of Germania, perhaps in 6 BCE.   By 9 CE, Rome was again planning a campaign against Bohemia (Czechia) and, with Germania under Roman control, had imposed taxes and tribute obligations upon the Germanic tribes of the area, as was customary.  The tribes sought freedom, conspired against the Romans, and united under Arminius.  His father-in-law betrayed them, but was not believed.  Varus at the time had 3 legions, heard of another insurrection, and headed to meet it.  That meant passing through forest and marsh areas, with only a narrow road accessible through.

The area is north of Osnabruck, between the Elbe and the Rhine. The first reports are known as the Clades Variana.


Arminius was a chieftain of the Cheruscian Tribe, see He had been an auxiliary to the Romans from 1-6 CE, learning military skills as part of the Roman effective absorption and use of indigenous persons.  Whether Arminius joined with intent to use those skills against Rome is not clear.  Perhaps Arminius had already earned Roman citizenship status, see site.  The area, however, was subject to intertribal conflict, warfare, and machinations for power, and Arminius some 15 years later was killed by members of his own extended family.

He came to embody Germany unity and independence, however, and for that the battle is largely known to Germans at the site now.  

Some 20,000 people died, the Romans, strung out in a line, were slaughtered, and Varus committed suicide. The Germans decapitated the body, hoping to incite more Germans to join the effort to oust Rome.  However, that failed, and the head was returned to Rome and Augustus buried it in his own family mausoleum.

Although later treaties were made, the Romans never regained the area between the Elbe and the Rhine at Kalkreise.  See also overview at

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dresden: Survivor Lessons of Loss. Vonnegut, Klemperer

The firebombing of Dresden was stated as necessary for the Allied war effort, strategic.  But Germany was about to surrender anyway, there was little manufacturing there, and the real purpose seems to be the punishment of Germany, by virtually leveling this culturally rich area.  Demoralize a defeated people further.  See  Was the bombing also to impress Russia of the mighty Allies' power?  To tilt negotiations? See

An additional consideration, not measurable in the same way as numbers of factories destroyed, is the annihilation of people, their talents, what they might have been.

In Dresden, we do have some measure of otherwise-losses that survived,

1.  Here, provided in an unlikely way.  An American, Kurt Vonnegut, was there as a prisoner, captured at the Battle of the Bulge.  With other soldiers, he was working at the time of the bombing in an underground meat locker, making vitamins.  See

He died on April 13, 2007.  Vonnegut poem Worship. a The NYT published earlier in 2005, but not well known. Vonnegut's poem, Worship.  Find it at  His religion:  disorganized, an unholy disorder. 

Sect name: "Our Lady of Perpetual  Astonishment."  Read it all.  I'll join!  I'll join!

2.  Victor Klemperer, professor of Romance Languages at the Dresden Technical University: I Will Bear Witness. A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-1941, translated by Martin Chalmers.  See  A review in the New York Times Book Review is challenged on some points, see  What remains is the overview, the daily affronts, the progress that a crusading dictatorship makes in small ways accelerating, humiliating, the unbelievable becoming real.  Klemperer wanted a better post for his scholarship, more ranking than at a technical school.  But he got life, even through decisions made on flawed (short-sighted, inadequate judgement as to changing circumstances) grounds to stay, forego dependencies, his loyalty to his homeland.

The divestment of property, dignity, pension, yet his marriage to a non-Jew saved him from deportation west, to the camps.

He died, in Dresden, in 1960.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Hamburg. Clergy, scribes, and church wealth? The will of Johan Widingh.

 Medieval Script Translation Effort

A.  Translating the Johan Widingh Will.
B.   The Script possibilities
C.   The setting for wills
FN 1   A start at translating.  An ongoing effort.
A.  Translating the Johan Widingh Will

In Hamburg, we looked up a medieval will disposing of part of the estate (land passed by deed, not will, we understand) of one Johes Widingh.  In records, the name is given as Johan, but the script is hard to read, and looks more like Johes. Here, mentally rotate this until I can find it and edit. Top is lower left.  About 2" into the first line, see Johes Widingh.

B. The script looks like

1. Early or Later Curialis,  see that at Medieval Writing, at  The style is also known as Littera Romana from the 11th Century, location, "the papal curia in Rome".   It was to be used for papal bulls, and also (at the site) the example appoints an abbot with privileges.Pass the cursor over the English letters to see the Curialis equivalent.  The home page at Medieval Writing sets the stage, and the difficulties. see

2.  Or German Gothic, see 

3.  Or, Late Caroline or Carolingian script, German 13th Century, see Script Samples from Manuscript Leaves at; also called Caroline Minuscule at the medievalwriting site, glossary. It was developed from various sources, but "established" at the Court of Charlemagne. A/k/a Carolingian minuscule, free download available they say at This sample is similar to ours Other samples look too Gaelic.

4.  Or Romanesque Documentary, see example at;

5.  Or Pointed Anglo-Saxon Minuscule, with the lines above letters but an earlier script, see

Find our efforts at translating at FN 1. 

C.  The process of drafting and executing and authenticating medieval wills: was there room for skulduggery (of course, as now).  Is there a way to determine what and where and why centuries later?  Probably not. See an overview of the bequest process and implementation at Medieval Sources Bibliography at, wills as proven in ecclesiastical courts and executed among the well to do.

 How educated were people then? Was literacy generalized, were wills made in advance by themselves by prudent folk, who then authenticated the document in some way;  or written at death's door, and, if so, by whom.  How to authenticate the desires of the dying, in extremis.When did the sacrament of last rites become "enacted" so that someone would be bound to call in the priest at the end lest the dying lose paradise. Was there a conflict of interest, if the priest, there for last rites, or a healing even, chose to write down some bequests other than the dying had directed; or if the priest told the dying one that leaving property to the church would unlock the gates of paradise very well.
The issue arose later when we were at a large Cistercian monastery in Denmark, Esrom or Esrum Abbey, see, where the information given stated that the Cistercians in the space of, say, 200 years, had acquired huge holdings of land, farm after farm after farm was left to them.  How easy to pass a deed to a dying person for signature. Did that happen?This followed the directives of Bernard of Clairvaux, to firm up the institution.  The materials describe the life of the monks within the Rule.

At the bottom of this is our Johan Widingh. What did he leave, and to whom, in his will. Does the "h" suggest hof or farm?

The setting:  In 1376, there was no whiff of a Reformation.  That came in the 16th Century, with a series of reformers like Martin Luther.  See a timeline of German history at House of Names,  In 1439, the doctrine of purgatory was confirmed, and the seven sacraments fixed, see Dogma Timeline. Earlier, in 1215, the doctrine of auricular confession, the priest as necessary confessor, confess in the priest's ear, became doctrine. See a negative view of that at Cutting Edge, So, the Roman branch of Christianity was moving ahead with firm ideologies. Johan Widingh would have needed the priest as confessor, if he was a believer.  And we do not know the circumstances of his will.


FN 1.  Translating the will, best efforts. Nothing quite fits the alphabet forms, so individual styles make deciphering difficult.  We think we have a d with top fancy loop, and with that, and ignoring lines and ovals over letters and gaps in spacing syllables. We include as is the capitalizations.

In noie Dmime (domine?) Ego Johes Widingh hret corpore debilis mentis--- [no, this takes an expert -- have to quit].

[there is a] Margarete mee sororis in Lubeck(?)
[and is there a/an]  Albertj Widingh filho '

The low long f's could be s's

[I know some Latin  but just can't make this out]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Germany Timeline: Nationalism. The German Sense of Self.

National, Territorial Identity,
How it Develops.  Perspectives on Germany.
The First Millennium Sets the Stage, Starts the Lessons.
Romans Fail to Conquer Germanic Tribes. See Teutoburg. Lesson: Distance conquest cannot hold. Rome gives up. Then, 400 years later, local Franks under Charlemagne, and with the church's resources and motivators, does. 
Holy Roman Empire forces conversions, with death as the alternative; even that does not last.
How to visit another country and come away with a coherent idea of its history.  It often takes a timeline of major invasions, military or religious; with the dominant characters and movements.
9 CE:  Germanic tribes, allied under command of one Arminius, defeat the Roman army, the 17th, 18th and 19th Legions, at Teutoburg Forest, see  This place is also known as Varusschlacht, for the Roman General, Publius Quintilius Varus.  The name of the forest is Kalkreise; and the word for it, forest, is more properly translated as "narrows" -- the Teutoburg Narrows. The museum exhibits proclaim the fear that the tribes inspired in the Romans, and fed later brutalities of the Holy Roman Empire in moving north yet again; even fear of Germans inspiring the rest of Europe's reluctance to engage Germany in World Wars.
Test the theory.
400 CE :  Roman Empire never conquers the German tribes. Rome extended to north of the Alps, to Augsburg and the Danube, and north-west only to the Rhone River, including areas of  Triere, Worms, Strasburg, see  That left cultures such as the Alamani, Saxons, Angles, Thuringians, Franks, Burgundians, Lombards, and the Vandals still independent.
782 CE:  Charlemagne, King of the Franks goes on the march to conquer tribes for Christianity,  slaughtered 4,000 Saxon prisoners in Northern Germany who would not convert.  How much of history is a data-record; and how much laid out to create or make a point. History itself is a grain of salt. Take it that way.
793 CE:  Vikings raid Lindisfarne, Christian Monastery. What did that have to do with the Franks on the march in German lands?  For scholars:  was the Viking violence against Christians, especially monasteries with their riches, and so suddenly bursting on the scene, related to knowledge of Christian slaughters in Germany, Northern Europe, Saxons and others often trafficking with the Scandinavian tribes, and having migrated already to Britain.
Read that site carefully, past the predictable outrage against attack, to the "un-Christian" acts that led to it, according to Alcuin, That still leaves unaddressed the "un-Christian" slaughters in compelling conversions, something
814 CE.  Charlemagne was first the King of the Franks, and then the Frankish Emperor (Tribe of the Franks) and later Holy Roman Emperor,  and the Holy Roman Empire.  By 814 AD or so, they had fought their way north and east.  This resulted in substantial geographic area increases for the heirs of the Roman Empire, the one under the guise of "God's Will", the Holy Roman Empire.  Empire just the same. 
By 843 CE, however, the Frankish empire shattered, and Germany emerged as a concept on in its own direction, see  They were still, although not dominated by the Franks, part of the Holy Roman Empire, is that so?
In 845 CE, the area subdivisions showed many tribes, accordingly, most already subdued and allocated by the HRE, see
962 CE:  German King Otto, the new Holy Roman Emperor, gained control of Northern Italy and centered the Empire in Germany, with expansion efforts north into Denmark. See
By 1000 CE, this "Holy" Roman Empire had spread from the border at roughly Poland to France.
1250 CE- Empire collapses into Princely Territories.
By the 14th Century, territories had fractured back.  The Empire could not hold. See
1517 CE - Martin Luther and the Reformation; further diminution of Roman presencce.
1618-1648 CE -- Thirty Years' War.  Roman presence reasserted. The Habsburgs try to reinstate Roman Catholicism.  At Osnabruck, photo at top,  Treaty of Westphalia is signed in 1649 and affirms independence of the individual states.
1806 CE - Napoleon imposes French rule over most of Germany.  In 1814, Napoleon was defeated, Battle of Leipzig.
1848-1890 CE- Revolutions, industrialization Bismarck unifies much, Kaiser Wilhelm continues, with colonial expansion and militarism, workers' movements (SDS).

1914-1918 -- WWI; defeat; heavy reparations ordered
1923 - See site for rise of Hitler, economic collapse, depression, unemployment, and, in 1933, The Third Reich under Hitler as Chancellor. Increase in persecutions of Jews, other minorities. Weimar Republic to a one-party state, and so on into modern history, see


With that framework, all the sites that appear on the way as they happen on a road trip, make sense. Don't try to learn it before you go: when you return, lay out photos and places with the milestones in mind.