Stalag Luft III

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The Landscape


Fox News’ three top shows, hosted by Carlson, Sean Hannity and Ingraham, are among the most-watched programs in cable news. Carlson’s show averages 525,000 viewers a night aged between 25 and 54, figures that walk over ratings for CNN and MSNBC at the similar 8pm timeslot.

According to the Fox News consultant Jason Klarman more than two-thirds of Fox’s audience is there for news itself, not opinion programming like Hannity and Carlson. “News is transcending its own genre and becoming popular culture, thanks in part to the Trump presidency,” Klarman told Variety.

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Wir diskutierten nächtelang über das imperialistische System und seine verheerenden Konsequenzen. Ich entdeckte, daß die US-Truppen nicht nur in Vietnam einen grausamen Krieg führten, weil sie glaubten, das Recht zu haben zu entscheiden, wie andere Völker zu denken und zu leben hatten. Die Geschichte der weltweiten US-Interventionen war lang, davon hatte ich bis dahin kaum eine Ahnung gehabt. Warum wußte ich davon so wenig? Warum gab es dagegen nicht schon immer und viel mehr Widerstand? Um den Einmarsch von 30.000 US-amerikanischen Soldaten in der Dominikanischen Republik zu begründen, hatte US-Präsident Johnson erklärt: »Wir dürfen und werden die Etablierung eines weiteren kommunistischen Staates in der westlichen Hemisphäre nicht zulassen!« Immer führten sie das Wort Demokratie spazieren, aber wenn es um ihre ökonomischen und politischen Interessen ging, kamen sie mit Bomben, Panzern, Folterern. Ich merkte, wie sich in mir Wut und Haß entwikkelten: Ich war mein Leben lang belogen worden. Jetzt entdeckte ich Ursachen und Zusammenhänge, und dagegen wollte ich etwas tun.

—Margrit Schiller, »Es war ein harter Kampf um meine Erinnerung«, (Hamburg: Konkret Literatur Verlag, 2000), 54-55.

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Greatness, Empiricism, Withstanding Anything

CBS News:

Asked if she agreed with those who “feel the nation’s institutions are in a perilous state,” Pelosi said she didn’t share that concern, but emphasized the importance of the coming presidential election.

“Our country is great. It’s a great country. Our founders gave us the strongest foundation,” she said. “All the challenges we have faced, we can withstand anything. But maybe not two [Trump] terms. So we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

As twelve and thirteen-year-olds in my junior high school Social Studies class forty-six years ago I remember we discussed the continuing revelations around a burglary of the DNC headquarters the previous summer. Social Studies fascinated me. It fascinated a few of us, and discussions were lively, though I imagine the majority of the class was bored. I wasn’t bored. Who were Madison, Hamilton, Jay? You say they were influenced by the Enlightenment, by people like John Locke: what was that? Who was he?

In our suburbs of Philadelphia we grew up in the birthplace of American independence. Independence Hall, where the US Declaration of Independence was signed and the US Constitution was drafted, was only a few miles away. At that time the Liberty Bell was displayed on the floor of Independence Hall, and school kids could touch it. We toured Betsy Ross’s house, and on weekends played in the grass at Valley Forge. Icons of the nation’s founding were physically familar to us, and we were versed in what was present and what absent: here is the brick building where George Washington wintered. These log cabins are reproductions — the actual huts where soldiers froze have long been demolished.

Discussions of Watergate and threats to the American Constitution took place for us in the context of familarity with the remnants of the revolutionary struggle for independence, and a constant exposure to red brick buildings in Philadelphia being destroyed to make way for newer establishments. During my childhood it was easy to see William Penn’s statue atop Philadelphia City Hall from miles away, as the city legally forbade constructing buildings taller than Penn’s hat. This changed in the years ahead, of course. Penn is now dwarfed by the glass, chrome, and steel of insurance and cable television monoliths.

Constitutional questions were quite real those junior high school years. The War Powers Act was passed in 1973, not long after the “secret bombing” (secret from the American people) of Cambodia, the invasion of Cambodia, Kent State, the invasion of Laos. Roe v. Wade was issued in 1973. The ERA was passed by Congress in 1971, by the Senate in 1972. Ratification of the ERA and thus modification of the Constitution was a very real possibility, and something we kids, especially some of the brighter girls, discussed. The separation of powers we saw contested before us, with no guarantee of who would triumph.

Something I don’t remember ever being discussed was what loss would look like, nor is this subject any part of American public discourse today, nearly five decades later. What would a perilous state for the nation’s institutions look like? How might a condition where the US Congress no longer retains the power to declare war be recognized? How does one recognize a country’s greatness, or its lack of greatness? How might this be tested? The country’s institutions can withstand “anything” yet not two terms of a particular individual as head of the executive. Does this not indicate that the institutions are then not capable of with­standing “anything”? What are the other exceptions? How does one test for this: if the country’s institutions might potentially be destroyed by a man’s re-election, and the man is then re-elected, how does one determine whether the institutions are intact? How does one decide if the institutions are fundamentally intact to begin with, at this moment? When they are not, what might that look like?

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Waffenhandel weltweit nimmt zu – USA weiter führend

Süddeutsche Zeitung:

  • Der weltweite Waffenhandel hat dem Stockholmer Friedens­forschungs­institut Sipri zufolge in den vergangenen fünf Jahren weiter zugenommen.
  • Die USA behaupten sich mit großem Abstand als größter Waffen­exporteur. Deutschland liegt auf Rang vier.
  • Saudi-Arabien steht an der Spitze der Waffenimporteure.

Die USA haben ihre Position als weltweit größter Waffenexporteur weiter ausgebaut. 36 Prozent aller Waffen­ausfuhren gingen in den vergangenen fünf Jahren auf das Konto der Vereinigten Staaten, teilte das Stockholmer Friedens­forschungs­institut Sipri in einem am Montag veröffentlichten Bericht mit. Im Vergleich zum vorherigen Fünf­jahres­zeitraum stiegen diese demnach um 29 Prozent. Mehr als jede zweite exportierte Waffe aus den USA wurde in den Jahren 2014 bis 2018 in den Nahen Osten geliefert.


I realized reading the Süddeutsche Zeitung piece that I was citing SIPRI on US arms exports in leaflets, letters-to-the-editor, letters to Congress, the White House, over 40 years ago. The US ramps up its arms sales, yet is without ambassadors throughout the Middle East. What do Americans imagine will happen? Where does this end?

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After visiting Am Großen Wannsee 56-58


Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is “not a state of all its citizens”, in a reference to the country’s Arab population.

In comments on Instagram, the prime minister went on to say all citizens, including Arabs, had equal rights, but he referred to a deeply controversial law passed last year declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people.

“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” he wrote in response to comments from an Israeli actor, Rotem Sela. “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.

As the comments caused waves in Israel, Netanyahu again spoke of the issue at the start of a cabinet meeting. He called Israel a “Jewish, democratic state” with equal rights, but “the nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people”.

New York Times:

The resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance,” which passed the House by an overwhelming 407-to-23 vote Thursday afternoon, was as much a state­ment of Democrats’ values as their factionalism. Caught in the middle was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who worked for days to quell the internal uproar that erupted after a freshman Democrat, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, insinuated that backers of Israel exhibit dual loyalty.

“I see everything as an opportunity,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters Thursday morning as she announced the vote. “This is an opportunity once again to declare as strongly as possible opposition to anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim statements” and “white supremacist attitudes.”

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The Heimat Museum proudly displays Rudi Dutschke’s pullover. Another native son is clothier Carl Ottow, who with his wife Wilhelmine moved to Papua New Guinea to Christianize the natives.

I found these newspaper clipping displays fascinating! On the left are clippings from October 1989 detailing the oppression of the west, the propaganda campaign carried out by the west against the DDR, and the troubles faced by those from the east foolish enough to head west.

The following panels detail various stages of public consciousness following the Wende, including euphoria at the wall being down and shock and anger at the extent of Stasi activity and complicity. I especially liked the Würde statt Anschluß piece. I remember Günter Grass and others championing the idea of a third way, rather than simply subsuming the DDR into the west.

I spent some time talking with the museum docent about her experiences. I mentioned the articles and she said look, before the wall came down all they wanted was freedom, like the freedom to travel — what would happen with the economy wasn’t something she and people she knew were thinking about at all. That quickly changed as factories shut down and people’s already meager incomes disappeared. I told her about driving through the east in the 1990s and seeing the decay. She said now enough time has gone by that people have forgotten, and there is a nostalgia for the days when there was work for all, with people saying they wish the wall hadn’t come down. She pointed out that while sure, you had work, and the rents were low, you had to wait for years to buy a car, and the goods you could get were shoddy. She said people don’t remember that now.

Dutschke Elternhaus

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Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz

Dining room of the villa where the 90 minute meeting took place.

I have walked those cobblestones. My apartment was near here.

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Evangelischer Kirchhof Nikolassee

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Witzlebenstraße 4-10

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