Memory and memorial

Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’

Mary McCarthy, a  New York writer and Trotskyite, speaking of Lillian Hellman, a New York writer and Stalinist, on the Dick Cavett show (January, 1980)

Dresden, Germany

Dresden view from apartment window, June 2014

View of Dresden from apartment window, June 2014

Dresden after night of 13-14 USAAF and RAF bombing.

Dresden after night of 13-14 Feb 1945 USAAF and RAF bombing and the.

 I am in Dresden until late summer. We have rented a fourth floor apartment in Dölzschen (This is in German, but should translate automatically), a village a mile SSE in the foothills with an amphitheater view of Dresden’s city center.  Often I forget how close the German city is to the German countryside. Though German towns are now merging into one another like in the United States, this five- or six-hundred year old farm village still, if not for much longer, has a sense of the country.  The town hall (rathaus) borders the barn yard (bauerhof).  It is as if in the morning and evening cows still walk to pasture down the main street.

Our apartment has high-stadium view of the downtown where the 13-14 February 1945 Dresden firestorm gutted the city. One can almost feel, having finished the milking that evening sixty years ago, the farmer hears the horses, agitated, their heavy hooves striking the pen boards a few times, resonance to the first few bombs the pathfinders dropped to mark the target zone, then the silence, then down along the Elbe River,  the city beneath the clouds lights up in fire and explosions.  The resultant firestorm killing thousands. In the conflagration the innocent, half-innocent and guilty alike perished (see note below). Such was the first half of Europe’s twentieth century that the number barely registered a blip. [Read more...]


Camouflage, Concealment and Deception

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming

God protect and preserve our Nature.

Atonement Cross:       God Protect and Preserve our Nature.

I have been taking long walks in the Upper Swabian countryside this spring. The Alps like the Rockies advance or retreat as is their wont and per the air’s clarity. This is a rich and well watered land, tended these last several hundred years with respect and honor.  I am a northern Wisconsin farm boy; I’ve worked long hours in the fields and in the woods.  I marvel here at how meticulously the woodsmen harvest the timber, quickly (and in straight rows) replant, then fastidiously control weeds until the young trees themselves shade the competition.  I could similarly go on for pages about the crops, and then the farm animals.  The German farmer himself may speak haltingly about his inner feelings for the land, which is perhaps why he has paid his poets and musicians, those who homage this visually and in actuality fecund land, so well.

Forest monument, A young pole executed, 1941

Memorial to  to a young Pole executed for love, 1941

…and built a lot of Feldkreuze.  This monument,  God Protect and Preserve our Nature, lies across the farm track from the memorial to the Polish student the Nazis executed for his betrothal to the local German girl. Each marker is well-tended. The locals I question (don’t for a moment think farm folks, German or American, are reluctant to tell a story), think the placement is random, but perhaps we can let it symbolize duality in the human soul, eh?  We are each capable of sublime generosity and base cruelty. My own motives have been on occasion pristine, often enough, base. [Read more...]


Germany, Great Dreams

Great Nightmares

I am a Germanophile. There is not much about this land I do not admire.

Rheinland-Pfalz family friends, I've often hoisted those boys into the air. No more.

(May 2014) Rheinland-Pfalz family friends, I’ve often hoisted those boys into the air. No more.

When I first lived in Germany (Berlin, 1970-75), I was young, inexperienced and busy; my goal was to have a good time. The second time I lived in Germany (Rheinland-Pfalz, 1978-82), married with children, my goals were to be a good father and good soldier. Those struggles no longer constrain me. I have time. My goal is to write good novels.  My novels are concerned with camouflage, concealment and deception (denial and deception); they describe a ‘smoke and mirrors’ world. Truth is conditional.  Great dreams distort, nicht wahr?  So, Fair warning.  This is a self-teaching blog.  [Read more...]


Illmensee, Germany, May Day 2014


The garden next door, Obere Dorf Str. 20, Illmensee, Germany

o The garden next door, Obere Dorf Str. 20, Illmensee, Germany

Patrice and I have been in Illmensee, Germany these few weeks.  I was stationed eight years in Germany. Christopher and Michelle were born here, Robert, Marcia and Deborah had their escapades and I count myself a Germanophile.  I can remember only one unpleasant day, a wet snowstorm in 1972 when my car broke down on the Berlin Ringstrass and learned the word  Abschleppdienst.   [Read more...]


The Slavs, Tragically

 It seems idyllic

We are in Ljubljana today and tomorrow, 14 & 15 April 2014, passing through Slovenia on our way to six-months in Germany; it will be research, more or less,  for me, a pilgrimage, more or less, for Patrice.  Patrice’s mother lived her adolescence and teen-age years in  WWII Berlin; her father escaped Germany in 1938.

WWII Massacre, Bosnia

WWII Massacre, Bosnia

Crossroad Massacre, Istria

Crossroad Massacre, Istria

Until I revisit Suzdal, the Balkans provide sufficient sense of done to death by definition. I had described in an earlier post Balkan crossroads and town squares commemorating massacres.  One keeps stumbling over others. My grandparent, Francis Grivic and Frank Lavrich, two Slovenian peasants  immigrated to Joliet, Illinois, in 1905.  [Read more...]


Leaving Rovinj

Departing Istria,  14 April 2014

Rovinj storm

Storm off Rovinj, Early April, 2014


Lonely Tree

We are leaving the Istria Peninsula this week-end after a six-month stay. On the apartment floor is a mailing box, Hrvatska posta, Extra Large. We over-packed and are mailing things back to America before we leave for Germany.  Patrice is sending back a pair of stylish shoes; I am sending back the McIntosh Airport Time Capsule.   Dropbox, ICloud and Google Mail provide all the computer back-up we need (well, backing up IPhoto to Dropbox makes me nervous). Our fundamental requirement is high-speed internet. Our possessions fit into two large and one medium rolling suitcases.

[Read more...]


An EU Visa

So this redneck and Central European Jew get married…

Redneck RobertPatrice ElegantPatrice and I will spend the spring, summer and fall in Germany. We will require a long-term visa. Patrice anticipates the outcome darkly; I optimistically.

European Union visa rules interpret ‘foreigner’ with national, state and local variation. The European Union rule is thus: [Read more...]


A Letter from Istria to an American Friend

 I apologize

Tom, I’ve reread this morning the article by Naomi Oreske’s The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future that you’ve posted on your Facebook page some time ago. My initial opinion, that she misinterprets the evidence, stands. However, my initial response was ill-tempered and  snarky.  You noted:

coming from someone who spent his professional life in counterintelligence and who has since taken up fiction, I’m not sure what to make of your comment.

 I behaved as a Scheisskopf.  In so many ways I was wrong. Herewith is my critique of Ms. Oreske’s paper, but hopefully with better manners. [Read more...]


Istria, February 2014, In the Morning

 Istria, February 2014

Grisia at night

Grisia St. at Night

In December and January, Rovinj sleeps.  The days are overcast and rainy. The streets are quiet and empty. On the rare sunny day (or hour), the cafes on the square fill, and when the sun disappears, so too do the natives.   On 1 February, one hardly notice a change.  A few tourists arrive––three buses the first week of Feb, four, the third week––and leave, but always, it seems, more.  There is some date on which everything must be in order.  [Read more...]


Istria, January 2014

Bihac, Bosnia-Herzogovina

WWII Massacres, Bosnia

WWII Massacres, Bosnia

Last week Patrice and I went to Bihac, Bosnia-Herzegovina for our ninth wedding anniversary. Driving from Bihac to Velika Kladusia (border town between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina) one encounters roadside memorials commemorating WWII tit-for-tat mass executions, chetniks and partisans, this village massacred in reprisal for that massacre, the memorials erected during the Communist era, thus those massacred by partisans as yet unacknowledged.  [Read more...]