And Now a Word from Luftwaffe HQ
Posted Last Week
Find of the Day. First, a quiz:
- Did you enjoy reading 'Struwelpeter'? Then you're completely barmy. Did you get a chuckle out of 'Max und Moritz'? Okay, then you probably know what a German primer looks like. The German word for primer is 'Fibel'.
- Do you have the slightest curiosity about World War II? I mean, would you watch that war picture if it didn't have Tom Cruise in it?
- Have you always wondered if those guys weren't, in their heart of hearts, a bit more like silly, scared kids than they made out?
Then you're going to love this discovery from the Internet Archive. The person who posted it, bless their heart, didn't know what it was, and commented that it was 'bizarre'. A more experienced reader explained.
It's called 'Horrido: The Fighter Pilot's Primer', and the illustrations alone are worth the read.
This helpful publication was authorised by General Adolf Galland, fighter pilot extraordinaire. He knew what he was talking about: he had one functional eye (memorised eye chart), and smoked cigars while flying. Had a sense of humour, too. And no, he didn't bomb your chippy, because he was a FIGHTER pilot. He may have shot down Uncle Reginald, though.
'Horrido' teaches fighter pilots how to survive and shoot down B-17s. It does this in children's book form, with handy, easy-to-memorise rhymes so beloved of Germans:
'Das Fluchen macht der Kopf nur heiss,
Bist du am Feind - so kalt wie Eis.'
'Cussing just makes your head get hot,
If you're pursuing the enemy - be cold as ice.'
Come to think of it, some of this advice will work in peacetime. And even if you're not in an ME 109 or FW 190. Although you probably don't need the handy chart that tells you which armour-piercing ammo to use on a four-motor enemy bomber plane.
The book warns you NOT to take this book with you into combat. No sense in making MI5 any wiser - there are also charts of the firing panels for Messerschmidts and Focke-Wolfs. Come to think of it, no sense in making them laugh, either - although come to think of it further, did anybody in MI5 ever laugh? Oh, well...
'Horrido' has two good points besides the rhyming:
1. It addresses the pilot as 'Du' throughout. This familiar pronoun dispells the notion that all Germans are stuffy. The Luftwaffe were obviously a friendly, childlike lot.
2. It contains many interesting cartoons. Most of them have nude, semi-nude, or otherwise provocative-looking Maedels (women) in them. This is a very good way to make sure fighter pilots pay attention. Good educational psychology, there.
A note for the non-German speakers: If you find a couplet next to a particularly intriguing picture, just ask any one of our bilingual h2g2ers to help you. When Mala and KB get back from eating yet another piece of Linsertorte, I'm sure they'll be glad to oblige.
Oh, and the title? 'Horrido' is sort of like 'Tally Ho!' It's a hunting cry.
Meditations on a Cold Saturday
Posted Mar 7, 2015
Ah, a snowy Saturday. Determined for once to think my own thoughts, and get a rest from the stresses of moving, and winter, and whatnot, I've been rabbit chasing all afternoon. I won't bore you with the links in the daisy chain, but here are a few titbits I've gleaned that you might enjoy:
- None of this modern religious music can hold a cnadle to a simple song, lyrics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
(I know, I was trying to get ready for choir practice, and I used 'Von guten Maechten' as a mental palate cleanser.) Roughly translated, Bonhoeffer's song's chorus goes, 'Wonderfully surrounded by good powers, we await, comforted, whatever may happen. God is with us, night and morning, and certainly on each new day.' He should know - he wrote that from a Nazi prison, so there. Hitler only outlived him by about three weeks.
- Speaking of Bonhoeffer, which I was, here's a great poem inspired by him, but written by WH Auden:
That poem makes me laugh in all the right places. It might make your head hurt, but in a good way, I think.
- Auden, of course, was the great poet who got fired by Dale Wasserman as lyricist for 'Man of La Mancha'. This is because you can't SING stuff like that.
Think about it. Would you rather sing:
'Once the voice has quietly spoken, every knight
Must ride alone
On the quest appointed him into the unknown.'
'...that one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable stars...'?
I rest my case. Come to think of it, that song pretty much describes Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
- Bonhoeffer dodged the draft by joining the Abwehr. O-kay...that kind of sounds odd. Kind of like avoiding going to Vietnam by joining the CIA. Of course, the CIA probably doesn't usually hire theologians, anyway. Of course, it was 1944 before Hitler found out the Abwehr's main objective WASN'T to defeat the Allies. It was to kill Hitler. (They weren't very good at it, unfortunately.) When Hitler read Admiral Canaris' diary (You're head of a secret service. You keep a diary? And it's not in unbreakable CODE? I'm speechless. Couldn't you score a spare Enigma machine, Herr Admiral?), the Fuehrer apparently had a conniption fit.
- Two days after Hitler came to power, Bonhoeffer went on the radio and made a very good pun about their Fearless Leader. He said Germans had better watch out: the Fuehrer might become a Verfuehrer. Get a German to explain this to you...
Oh, and Bonhoeffer's broadcast was cut off in mid-sentence. I guess Goebbels was listening.
- On the memorial to those executed in Flossenburg, including Bonhoeffer and Canaris, is inscribed 2 Timothy 1:7, 'For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.' I always liked that verse, for personal reasons. You know, if everyone around you is worried you might not be too tightly wrapped, you appreciate the offer of 'a sound mind' from a spiritual quarter. 'Von guten Maechten wunderbar geborgen,' indeed...
Yawn. I really ought to move. It's cold outside, and I'd better check on the snow situation...
May the invisible spirit that guided Bonhoeffer be with you all, in saecula saeculorum.
Intellectual Joke Break
Posted Mar 5, 2015
What else is there to do while waiting for an email, all alone in the house on a snowy March day?
Why, watch 'Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life' again, naturally. I thought I'd share the link in case it hit the spot for you, too.
'Doctor Who' fans, take note: this award-winning (and hilarious) film won awards for its writer/director, the 12th Doctor, Mr Peter Capaldi. Which explains why BBC Scotland was involved in strange German Expressionism.
Somehow, I can envision The Doctor writing this. Poor Franz, imagining Gregor waking up as a banana, a kangaroo, etc,...could you hear Tom Baker narrating this? Or David Tennant? I could.
If you've seen it before, take a few minutes to watch it again. Ken Stott is wonderfully menacing as the knife sharpener with the pet cockroach, too. He pulls off those mood swings.
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTMHUIN6ciM
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUDD7j8p9RE
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eccLAZvTpk
I'm sure my email will arrive soon, and I'll get back to work. But that was a refreshing imagination break.
Life in the Snowy Boondocks
Posted Feb 25, 2015
This is a beautiful little town. Think Mayberry. It would be even more beautiful, in my humble opinion, were it not currently buried under several FEET of snow.
More of which fell this morning - though, thankfully, only about an inch. A light dusting, here.
You know that sense of awed wonder you feel as a child when it snows? This disappears quickly when the sight of snowflakes means one thing: snow shovels in your future.
My greatniece and greatnephew thought the best feature of this house was that we had...wait for it...
A Harry Potter closet. We decided to keep our extra wands and magick books in it.
The worst feature? Upstairs rooms with low ceilings. Elektra can put her hand on them. Our box springs wouldn't go up the stairs... however, the house warms up easily. These people obviously built on the model of Rekjavik: snug and small.
Elektra's convinced they were Scandinavians. Some of the kitchen cupboards are too high, even for her to reach. I see ladders in our future...
So, greetings from the snowy forests of Penn's Woods. I hope the rest of you are all snug.
A Word from DG
Posted Feb 23, 2015
Just a quick note to let you know that we've arrived and are online.
I'm typing this from the northern Appalachians. In other words, we are still hillbillies, only with slightly different accents.
The view from my window showeth sun, gleaming on snow. LOTS of snow...
As Mr Micawber said, 'In short, we have arrived.'