David Enzel

Just outside the town of Dachau, about twelve miles from Munich, the first concentration camp was set up in a former powder-mill on 22 March1 . There was no secret about the camp’s existence. Himmler had even held a press conference two days earlier to announce it. It began with 200 prisoners. Its capacity was given as 5,000. It was intended, stated Himmler, to hold the Communist and, if necessary, Reichsbanner and Marxist (i.e. Social Democrat) functionaries. Its establishment was announced in the newspapers. It was meant to serve as a deterrent, and did so. Its dreaded name soon became a byword for the largely unspoken horrifying events known or presumed to take place within its walls. ‘Keep quiet or you’ll end up in Dachau’ was soon to join common parlance. But apart from the political enemies and racial targets of the Nazis, few were disconcerted at the foundation of the camp, and others like it. The middle-class townsfolk of Dachau, watching the column of their Communist fellow-citizens from the town being marched to the nearby camp as political prisoners, thought them troublemakers, revolutionaries, ‘a class apart’, simply not part of their world.

Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris (p. 464). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted).

  1. Dachau opened on March 22, 1933. ↩︎

There was no inevitability about Hitler’s accession to power. Had Hindenburg been prepared to grant to Schleicher1 the dissolution that he had so readily allowed Papen2, and to prorogue the Reichstag for a period beyond the constitutional sixty days, a Hitler Chancellorship might have been avoided. With the corner turning of the economic Depression, and with the Nazi Movement facing potential break-up if power were not soon attained, the future – even if under an authoritarian government – would have been very different. Even as the cabinet argued outside Hindenburg’s door at eleven o’clock on 30 January, keeping the President waiting, there was a possibility that a Hitler Chancellorship might not materialize. Hitler’s rise from humble beginnings to ‘seize’ power by ‘triumph of the will’ was the stuff of Nazi legend. In fact, political miscalculation by those with regular access to the corridors of power rather than any actions on the part of the Nazi leader played a larger role in placing him in the Chancellor’s seat.

Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris (p. 424). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

  1. Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last chancellor of Germany (before Adolf Hitler) during the Weimar Republic. A rival for power with Hitler, Schleicher was murdered by Hitler’s SS during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. ↩︎

  2. Franz von Papen was a German conservative politician, diplomat, Prussian nobleman and General Staff officer. He served as the chancellor of Germany in 1932, and then as the vice-chancellor under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1934. ↩︎

At a press conference in Munich on 20 March [`1933], Heinrich Himmler announced the establishment of a concentration camp in a former munitions factory near the small city of Dachau. Initially, as a state facility, Dachau was guarded by Bavarian police, but on 11 April the SS assumed command. The Dachau camp became the first cell from which a national system of terror germinated. It was a kind of laboratory, under the direction of the SS, where experiments could be carried out with the forms of violence that would soon be used in the other concentration camps within the Reich. The German media reported extensively about Dachau, and the stories that were told about what went on there acted as a powerful deterrent to opposition to the Nazis. “Dear God, strike me numb / Lest to Dachau I do come” was an oft-repeated saying in the Third Reich.

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939, Location 9939. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The second volume of this biography covers Hitler’s “years of downfall.” It encompasses the relatively brief period from his unleashing of the Second World War in the summer of 1939 to his suicide in the air-raid bunker of the Reich Chancellery in the spring of 1945. It has been said, correctly, that Hitler and National Socialism “found themselves” in the war. As a magnifying glass does with sunlight, armed conflict focused the criminal dynamics of the Nazi regime and the man at its head. War gave Hitler the opportunity to act on his ideological obsessions and realise his homicidal aims: the conquering of “living space in the east” as a basis for German domination of first Europe, then the world; and the removal of Jews from Germany and, if possible, the whole European continent. On the other hand, as we will see, Hitler would never have been able to realise these goals as much as he did without willing helpers in almost all the institutions of the Nazi state and broad parts of German society.

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 1). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition (footnote omitted).

What is certain, however, is that without Hitler and his eliminatory anti-Semitism, the genocide of European Jews would not have happened. “If, in a counterfactual experiment, we take Hitler out of the decision-making process, the crucial figure would be lacking for the planning, execution and, especially, the legitimation of the mass murder,” the historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler has written. “Without authority and approval from the Führer, Himmler, Heydrich and their ilk would not have been able to organise, execute and justify the Holocaust as a Europe-wide project of homicide.” We should add that without hundreds of thousands of assistants and accessories who willingly helped the executioners, this epochal crime against humanity would not have happened either.

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 237). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition (footnote omitted).

Without Hitler, this much is certain, there would have been no Holocaust. His fanatical anti-Semitism was the engine driving genocide. While it may have been difficult to tell sometimes when Hitler was play-acting, the Führer was always deadly serious when he vented his maniacal hatred of Jews.

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 611). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Alain de Botton writing in The New York Times:

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

When Did Blogging Become a For-Profit Business?

The current trend in blogging seems to be paid websites or email lists. This is the focus of Substack and Ghost. Substack even calls itself a “new model for publishing.”1

I think Substack and Ghost emails and webpages look beautiful but they always nag the reader to subscribe — either for free or a paid subscription. Medium is similar, except that it nags its readers to subscribe to Medium.

To me, this is sad. I think of blogging as a community in which the members of the community seek to help one another because they want to do so. But I don’t see much of this left.

Micro.blog is trying to keep this sense of one person helping another alive. I am happy to support Micro.blog for that reason.

Paywalls all over the internet lessen the experience for me. There are only so many subscriptions I can afford to pay for or want to pay for.

I have stopped following some blogs that have many posts behind a paywall. Sure, the author is free to charge. But for my part, I miss the days of the more open web.

  1. I have a Subastack but all my posts are free. However, Substack hopes members that don’t charge will build a following and start charging. That’s not my plan. I use Substack to share photos via email. ↩︎

I use both iA Writer and Ulysses and like them both. For me, the main drawback of iA Writer is its inability to convert formatted text to Markdown when copying and pasting text into the Editor. I often want to copy rich text and convert it to Markdown.

Jaron Lanier: Why to Delete Your Social Media Accounts

One of the main reasons to delete your social media accounts is that there isn’t a real choice to move to different social media accounts. Quitting entirely is the only option for change. If you don’t quit, you are not creating the space in which Silicon Valley can act to improve itself.

Lanier, Jaron. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (Kindle Locations 308–310). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Lanier is a pioneer in virtual reality, a term he coined. He now works for Microsoft. Lanier knows from the inside how manipulative social media can be.

You can hear Lanier on this Microsoft podcast entitled “Jaron Lanier: Father of Virtual Reality, Renaissance man.”

I am trying out Glass for sharing photos. The photos look nice but so far seems like a quiet place. Wondering what others think of Glass.

Music: Stacey Kent

Stacey Kent is an American jazz singer with a glorious voice. She was born in 1965 in New Jersey and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. Her paternal grandfather was a Russian who grew up in France. He later moved to the United States where he taught Kent French. Once she learned French, it was the only language she spoke with her grandfather. Kent travelled to England after college to study music in London, where she met saxophonist Jim Tomlinson, whom she married in 1991.

I have the impression Kent is better known in France than in the United States. Her album Raconte-moi was recorded in French and became the second best selling French language album worldwide in 2010.

Kent has also faced serious health challenges. In a 2004 interview with Robert Kaiser of The Washington Post, Kent recounted that she’s been in comas three times caused by brainstem encephalitis:

Each time, baffled doctors were not certain they could bring her back. The last coma was in 1999, and Tomlinson nursed her through it. On doctors' advice, he brought records to her hospital room. When she awoke he was playing Mildred Bailey, one of the great jazz singers of the ’30s. “There’s just so much emotion in that voice,” Kent says. “It’s a cry - even when she’s singing a happy song.”

I love Stacey Kent’s music and discovered this marvelous 2018 interview en français with her.

Apple Music

Book: ‘The Diaries of Friedrich Kellner’

I recently read the second and final volume of the biography of Adolf Hitler by German historian Volker Ullrich. It is entitled Hitler: Downfall: 1939-1945. Roger Abrams, writing in the New York Journal of Books, calls Ullrich’s work “a remarkable treatise on the malevolence of power in modern times.”

Early in the volume, Ullrich commends the diaries of Friedrich Kellner. Kellner was a court official in the western German town of Laubach who had no special access to wartime information. Kellner was repulsed by the Nazi regime and kept detailed diaries based on what he read in the German press and by talking to people. He hoped his diaries would be a warning to future generations about blind faith.

Ullrich explains that Kellner’s diaries:

show that it was entirely possible for normal people in small-town Germany to see through the lies of Nazi propaganda and learn of things like the ‘euthanasia’ murders of patients in psychiatric institutions and the mass executions carried out in occupied parts of eastern Europe."1

The Kellner diaries were published in 2011 in German and now are available in English. The diaries are also the subject of a touching 2007 TV documentary on YouTube created by Kellner’s American grandson.

  1. Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 6). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. ↩︎

Film: ‘Ida’

Anna, a young woman training to be a nun in 1960s Poland is on the verge of taking her vows when she meets her only living relative for the first time and learns that she is Jewish and that her real name is Ida Lebenstein. Together they discover what happened to Anna/Ida’s family.

This jewel is only 82 minutes long and every moment makes good use of the viewer’s time. The story is one example of the decimation of Poland’s Jews during World War II. But in the end, this is not a film about Poland or the Holocaust – but about life.

The film, which came out in 2013, is in black and white. The places photographed are ordinary yet the cinematography is stunning. Each scene looks like a black and white photograph made by a Magnum photographer using a Leica camera. Łukasz Żal is a superb, young cinemaphotographer born in Koszalin, Poland.

Ida is played by Agata Trzebuchowska. Her character is sweet, innocent and beautiful. Her aunt Wanda – Agata Kulesza – is also a fine actress.

Pawel Pawlikowski directed the film. He was born in Warsaw in 1957. At the age of 14, Pawlikowski left Poland to live in Germany and Italy, before settling in Britain. In 2004, he directed My Summer of Love with Emily Blunt and Natalie Press.

This film touched me deeply and left me thinking for a long time about what’s important and what’s not. It is among the best films I have seen.

Julieanne Kost of Adobe is the best Lightroom and Photoshop trainer I know. She has published over 225 shortcuts, tips, and tricks for using Adobe Camera Raw. These shortcuts are also available as a PDF.

Photography ‘Takes Me to Another World’

Patrik Seiler is a talented Swiss photographer who mainly makes photographs of landscapes and cities:

Every time I pick up my camera, I forget the time and everyday life. The camera and the pictures take me to another world. I concentrate on the moment and try to get the best out of that very moment, the conditions, the subject, the location, the light and so on.

You can follow Patrik on Instagram or Flickr. His photos are also featured here.

Preserving Memories

The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.

― Andy Warhol

Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, my hometown, in 1928. He was educated at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh.

TV Series: ‘The Honourable Woman’

The Honourable Woman’ is a 2014 British political spy thriller miniseries in eight parts. It was directed and written by Hugo Blick for the BBC and SundanceTV.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is the beautiful, immaculately dressed star of the series. She portrays Nessa Stein, a London heiress whose father was a big-time arms manufacturer and Zionist. Gyllenhaal, an American, does a convincing job of portraying an English woman.

Most of Nessa’s family perished in the Holocaust. She and her older brother, Ephra (Andrew Buchan), are dual citizens of Israel and Britain. On top of this, their mother died in childbirth and their father was murdered in front of their eyes in Jerusalem when they were young children.

The story includes the Holocaust, the Arab-Israeli conflict, kidnapping, rape, chronic trauma and high stakes philanthropy and investment.

The New York Times called the series a “smart, moodily complex thriller” and a “lavish homage to John le Carré.”

I had to watch the series more than once to follow all the twists and turns and loved every minute.

Audiobook: ‘An Officer and a Spy’

Before listening to An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, I knew only the broad outline of the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal that divided France from from 1894 until 1906. The twists and turns during this 12-year period are amazing.

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason.1 Dreyfus was a 35-year-old French officer and a Jew. He was falsely convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, and was imprisoned on Devil’s Island in French Guiana, where he spent nearly five years.

In 1896, evidence came to light—primarily through an investigation made by Georges Picquart, head of counter-espionage—which identified the real culprit as a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy.

When high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after a trial lasting only two days. The Army laid additional charges against Dreyfus, based on forged documents. Subsequently, Émile Zola’s open letter J’Accuse…! on the newspaper L’Aurore led to a growing movement of support for Dreyfus, putting pressure on the government to reopen the case.

In 1899, Dreyfus was returned to France for a new trial. The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued divided French society between those who supported Dreyfus (now called “Dreyfusards”), such as Sarah BernhardtAnatole France and Georges Clemenceau, and those who condemned him (the anti-Dreyfusards), such as Édouard Drumont, the director and publisher of the antisemitic newspaper La Libre Parole.

The new trial resulted in another conviction and a 10-year sentence, but Dreyfus was pardoned and released. In 1906, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He died in 1935.

Robert Harris’s writing is superb and based upon through research. The book has a lot of detail which added to my enjoyment. As a result of this detail, I felt as though I was actually in France. The ending is amazing and left me wanting more, despite the length of the audiobook — a little over 16 hours.

The audiobook is narrated by David Rintoul, an accomplished Scottish actor. His intonation and pronunciation are exceptional and added greatly to my enjoyment of the audiobook.

  1. This summary is from Wikipedia↩︎

Audiobook: ‘The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light’

The Liberation of Paris is a gripping book that is packed full of interesting details about Nazi-occupied Paris and its last commander Dietrich von Choltitz.

At the end of WWII, Adolf Hitler ordered Choltitz to hold Paris, but if that wasn’t possible, to destroy it. Although General Choltitz had been very loyal to Hitler, he could not bring himself to obliterate the City of Light. He ultimately surrendered Paris to French forces on August 25, 1944. He’s been called the “Saviour of Paris” for preventing the destruction Paris.

After his surrender, Choltitz was held for the remainder of the war in London and the United States and was ultimately released from captivity in 1947. He died in Baden-Baden in 1966.

The author of this exceptional book was the distinguished political scientist and biographer Jean Edward Smith. Smith’s work includes highly regarded biographies of Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He died on September 1, 2019 at the age of 86.

The audiobook is ably narrated by Fred Sanders, who has narrated many fine audiobooks including Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.

Audiobook: ‘Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations’

Retired Admiral William H. McRaven was involved in high profile special operations missions, including the capture of Saddam Hussein, the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, and the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. 

Admiral McRaven narrates his audiobook entitled Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations skillfully. I felt as though I was sitting in my living room hearing a brave, articulate person telling a story. His tales made me feel proud to be an American.

You can get a sense of the author in this podcast.

Bing Crosby Singing in French

Bing Crosby (1903-1977) sings mainly in French about Paris in this wonderful album. Crosby recorded the album in Paris on May 16, 1953. The orchestrations were by Paul Durand (1907-1977) who wrote Je suis seule ce soir which is in the soundtrack of Midnight in Paris. Crosby’s accent isn’t great but it really doesn’t matter. The love comes through.

Apple Music

Text-only Websites

Sijmen J. Mulder has a wonderful directory of websites composed simple, marked up, hyperlinked text. These sites load quickly, scroll smoothly, spare your battery.

For example the full CNN site uses 13.4 MB of data, makes 426 requests and loads in 3.53 seconds. In contrast, CNN Lite uses 486 kB of data, makes 9 requests and loads in 530 milliseconds.

There are some great light sites on Mulder’s list including Pinboard and the blog of Pinboard’s founder Maciej Cegłowski. Try them they load lickety-split.

Why Blog: Save Quotations

Steve Mays started blogging in 2002 in large part to have place to save quotations:

I wanted a place to write down lines from movies and books. I was forever searching through my library or scraps of paper. These are just the ones I remembered to post. The others… are here someplace. You’ll see a link (tag) below some posts called Quotable and, when I remember, I add them to this page as well. A few of the links below just take me back to something wrote and wanted to be able to find again.

On November 30, 2022, President Biden and his wife Jill brought French President Emmanuel Macron and wife Brigitte Macron to Fiola Mare an Italian restaurant at Washington Harbour on the Georgetown waterfront for dinner.