Category Archives: Germany

Fear and misery

While I was sorting through stuff in the house I came across another theatre poster, this time for The Fears and Miseries of the Third Reich by Bertolt Brecht.

The poster says August 2-7 but not what year. It must have been 1976 though as it was certainly around that time and August 2-7 in 1976 would have been a run of Monday to Saturday, which makes sense.

I remember we played to packed houses, but that wasn’t difficult as The Little Theatre Club auditorium only held about 50 people. Even though, that was during the 1976 heatwave, so it must have been quite cosy. Most evenings after whatever theatre performance was on there would be jazz, folk or blues until the small hours.

Fear and Misery of the Third Reich Bertolt Brecht
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A Nazi drama in seven characters: Act 3

We looked last time at one ‘character’ from Peter Handke‘s The Ride Across Lake Constance who escaped the Nazi regime and one who didn’t manage to.

To complete the seven we now look at an Austrian actor who portrayed Nazis from the safety of Hollywood, and two twins who were born in Nazi Germany.

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A Nazi drama in seven characters: Act 1

We mentioned last time that in Peter Handke‘s The Ride Across Lake Constance the actors do not play characters as such. Instead they ‘are and play themselves at one and the same time’.

To avoid calling them ‘Actor A’, ‘Actor B’ and so on in the published text Handke names the parts after well-known actors. The dramatis personae therefore reads like a who’s who (or wer ist wer?) of 20th Century Germanic cinema, with all that that entails:

Emil Jannings
Heinrich George
Elisabeth Bergner
Henny Porten
Erich von Stroheim
Alice and Ellen Kessler

More on the first two below.

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On thin ice

I was talking last time about The Ride Across Lake Constance by Peter Handke. Lake Constance, or der Bodensee, sits between Germany, Switzerland and Austria. But the play itself gets its title from a South German legend about a horseman who sets out to ride to a village on the shore of the lake. It is winter, and it is snowing.

Lake Constance der Bodensee
Map of Lake Constance (der Bodensee)
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Brexit, error correction and Germany

I mentioned last time a few qualms I had with David Deutsch’s views on Brexit, and in particular on First Past The Post (FPTP) vs Proportional Representation (PR). I should probably dig more into what Karl Popper had to say about error correction and falsifiability, specifically in relation to political rather than scientific theory. But until then, here are some more of my worries, this time about how Deutsch applies the idea of error correction to modern German history. Continue reading

Things

IMG-2537 copyIf you are in the neighbourhood the Museum der Dinge (‘Museum of Things’) in Kreuzberg, Berlin is well worth a visit. It boasts a huge and articulately presented collection of everyday objects of the 20th and 21st Centuries. The earliest Dinge I saw were from the First World War, but my pictures here are of what seem to be art deco artefacts from the Weimar period, plus a few rather more spooky memorabilia from a bit later.

© Chris Lawrence 2018.

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Pietà

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Mother with her dead son

In the Neue Wache (‘New Guardhouse’) in Berlin is a copy of a small sculpture by Käthe Kollwitz. It stands beneath a circular open skylight, or oculus, which exposes it to the elements.

Kollwitz made the original in the late 1930s as a memorial to her son Peter who was killed in the First World War. In 1993 Chancellor Helmut Kohl commissioned sculptor Harald Haacke to make a considerably enlarged copy which was installed at the centre of the ‘Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Victims of War and Tyranny’ at the reopened Neue Wache.

© Chris Lawrence 2018.