Audrey Hepburn's Poignant Reaction to Anne Frank's Diary

Audrey Hepburn describing her reaction to reading the Anne Frank’s diary in 1946:

I was exactly the same age as Anne Frank. We were both 10 when war broke out and 15 when the war finished. I was given the book in Dutch, in galley form, in 1946 by a friend. I read it—and it destroyed me. It does this to many people when they first read it. But I was not reading it as a book, as printed pages. This was my life. I didn’t know what I was going to read. I’ve never been the same again, it affected me so deeply. We saw reprisals. We saw young men put up against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it, and you could pass by again. If you read the diary, I’ve marked one place where she says, ‘Five hostages shot today.’ That was the day my uncle was shot. And in this child’s words I was reading about what was inside me and is still there. It was a catharsis for me. This child who was locked up in four walls had written a full report of everything I’d experienced and felt.

January 30: “Machtergreifung” - “Seizure of Power”


In the German language, January 30 has been marked by the term “Machtergreifung,” or “seizure of power.” But power was not seized by Hitler; it was instead handed to him when Reich President Paul von Hindenburg appointed the Nazi leader Reich chancellor.

Les Russes Nourrissent Autorité

Toutes les données dont nous disposons nous disent que les Russes nourrissent aujourd’hui un désir de verticalité, c’est-à-dire d’autorité. Si nous voulions recourir aux catégories de la psychanalyse, nous pourrions dire que les Russes attendent un chef qui fasse oublier le langage de la mère et se remette à imposer la langue du père.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Social Media Takes Away From Normal Human Interactions

The 2016 comments of the late Tatjana Patitz on social media in Prestige Hong Kong magazine:

I think social media is going to kill everything, because it has nothing to do with anything. It’s all hashtag-watch-me-on-my-vacation-windblown-and-perfect. It has nothing to do with reality, or art. It’s a feeding frenzy. I feel sorry in one sense, because social media has produced some incredible creative endeavours. But I have a 12-year-old son who is entering this world of social media and hashtags and posts and it’s taking away from people having a normal rhythm of interacting with each other.

When I see a person who hasn’t done shit having millions of followers, having done nothing productive for the planet or otherwise, it pisses me off. I honestly believe it’s going to backfire. People spend so much time on their phones, but they don’t take in moments any more.

Le mage du Kremlin: Greta Garbo

Puis-je vous poser une question ? Savez-vous quelle est la plus grande actrice de tous les temps ? » Poutine, inexpressif, secoua la tête.

« Greta Garbo. Et vous savez pourquoi ? Parce que l’idole qui se refuse renforce son pouvoir. Le mystère génère de l’énergie. La distance alimente la vénération. L’imaginaire de la société russe, de quelque société que ce soit, s’articule sur deux dimensions. L’axe horizontal correspond à la proximité du quotidien, et le vertical à l’autorité.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (pp. 93-94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Le mage du Kremlin: ‘Les Russes jouent avec l’argent’

Les étrangers pensent que les nouveaux Russes sont obsédés par l’argent. Mais ce n’est pas ça. Les Russes jouent avec l’argent. Ils le jettent en l’air comme des confettis. Il est arrivé si vite et si abondamment. Hier il n’y en avait pas. Demain, qui sait ? Autant le claquer tout de suite. Chez vous, l’argent est essentiel, c’est la base de tout. Ici, je vous assure, ce n’est pas comme ça. Seul le privilège compte en Russie, la proximité du pouvoir. Tout le reste est accessoire. C’était comme ça du temps du tsar et pendant les années communistes encore plus. Le système soviétique était fondé sur le statut. L’argent ne comptait pas.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 49). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Certes ce roman, achevé par l’auteur en janvier 2021, éclaire l’actualité géopolitique d’une lumière pénétrante. Mais il lui survivra par son implacable lucidité et son style étincelant.

Le Monde (Macha Séry)

Was 2008 the Breaking Point in the West’s Relationship with Russia?

After [Bill] Clinton and his advisors left office, they could only watch in alarm as Bush’s son, George W. Bush, took the keys to the NATO car and gunned it down that open road. Among other stops, the younger Bush attended the alliance’s summits in 2006 in Latvia, the first such event on former Soviet territory, and in 2008 in Bucharest, where he pushed hard for inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine. For Putin, that Bucharest summit—coming on top of Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and his 2007 decision to erect ballistic missile defenses (in the form of ten ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic), all around the time of “color revolutions” in post-Soviet states—proved to be the breaking point.

Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (p. 348). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted)

On the Importance of Ukraine in 1991

With roughly 52 million inhabitants at the time, Ukraine was, in population terms, both the second-largest Soviet republic and the size of a major European state; the British and French populations were 57 and 58 million, respectively. 135 Ukraine’s history as an East Slavic and predominantly Orthodox state had long been deeply intertwined with Russia’s. There were millions of ethnic Russians living among, and married to, Ukrainians. If Ukraine decided in its referendum of December 1, 1991 to become fully independent, it would at once commence a painful economic and political divorce from its fellow Slavs and also become a greater nuclear power than either Britain or France. Ukraine’s choices would clearly have such far-reaching effects. From Moscow, [U.S.] Ambassador [Robert S.] Strauss advised Washington that “the most revolutionary event of 1991 for Russia may not be the collapse of Communism, but the loss of something Russians of all political stripes think of as part of their own body politic, and near to the heart at that: Ukraine.”

Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (pp. 126-127). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted).

Blogging: ‘A Space of My Own’

Vincent Ritter explaining why he blogs:

This site acts as portal to my past and present self that one day I can look back on, on my steps forward and also missteps along the way. Life isn’t a straight road, so it’s nice to have a space of my own to share and reflect on.

Personal Websites Provide Creative Freedom

Matthias Ott, a web designer from Stuttgart, on the value of personal websites:

Your personal website is a place that provides immense creative freedom and control. It’s a place to write, create, and share whatever you like, without the need to ask for anyone’s permission. It is also the perfect place to explore and try new things, like different types of posts, different styles, and new web technologies. It is your playground, your platform, your personal corner on the Web.

Blogging Just for Yourself

Greg Morris:

I have been blogging for more than a decade, at first trying to make something of myself and become a full-time technology journalist, but now just for myself and to keep in touch with people. I enjoy sharing my thoughts, updating posts on what me and my family are up to, and joining in on conversations.

I do not have a huge presence online anymore because I do not feel the need to join every social network going. 

Timothy Snyder: ‘We speak about the news all day, but pay almost no one to get out and report it.’

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder warns that the lack of true investigative reporting poses a danger for democracies:

The problem is not that media are not alert. The problem is that the correct media are ceasing to exist. Talk shows can only talk about what someone else investigates.  The internet can repeat, but it cannot report.  We speak about the news all day, but pay almost no one to get out and report it.  This rewards people who lie as a way of life. Every political career demands investigation at its beginnings, and most American counties lack a daily newspaper.  That is where we are, and it has to change.

Deep Truth

It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth.

Max Delbrück

Quoted in: Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (p. 1). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

Original Quotation from Delbrück, Mind from Matter?, 167. Delbrück won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1969.

Is a Small Audience Enough?

Greek poet George Seferis :

not having a very large audience has something good in it, too. I mean, that it educates you in a certain way: not to consider that great audiences are the most important reward on this earth. I consider that even if I have three people who read me, I mean really read me, it is enough.

Writing: It’s OK to Have a Tiny Audience

Sophia Efthimiatou , head of writer relations at Substack, explains that it’s ok to start writing with a small audience:

You would think known writers with large audiences have it easy here, but the pressure to succeed is felt more among them. The stakes are low if you are not at all known. There is no audience to lose, only one to gain. And gain you will. Perhaps when you start your only subscribers will be your best friend, your lonely neighbor, and your aunt–who can’t even read English. And then, one day, a fourth subscriber will roll in, a total stranger. That person will be there just to read you.

Netanyahu: Israel Gives Jews the Power to Defend Themselves

The founding of Israel did not stop attacks on the Jews. It merely gave the Jews the power to defend themselves against those attacks.

Netanyahu, Benjamin. Bibi: My Story (p. 652). Threshold Editions. Kindle Edition.

Remembering a High School French Teacher

Ms. Graves, the French teacher, loved talking about Paris. She had one time been married to someone who we thought was rich because she had gone over to France, studied, visited, eaten great food, lived a life that she retold to us with a big smile, reliving each memory before a classroom full of fidgety, pimple-faced high schoolers, passing notes back and forth, trying to do as little as possible. I loved her stories and loved thinking about visiting the places she talked about, the Eiffel Tower of course, but the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Louvre, eating cheese from just one store that sold cheese, salamis from one store that sold meat, croissants from the bread shop, it all sounded so wonderful.

Paris with Scott - explaining his long lasting love of Paris.

For me, my first high school French teacher was Mrs. Stewart. She was always so positive and encouraging. I looked forward to each class.

Tracing Quotations: The Results May Surprise You

I recently discovered Quote Investigator, a website that fact-checks the reported origins of widely circulated quotations. According to Wikipedia, the website was started in 2010 by Gregory F. Sullivan, a former Johns Hopkins University computer scientist who runs the site under the pseudonym Garson O’Toole. Many of the quotes examined on the site are emailed to him by readers.

O’Toole is also the author of a book entitled Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations. The New York Times reviewed the book in 2017 and confirmed that Gregory F. Sullivan is indeed the author of the website.

He “tries to track down correct information about the provenance of sayings by utilizing the massive text databases that are being constructed right now along with other quotation history resources.”

The site reports that it had more than 4.2 million visitors between June 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022. It’s a free site.

The Library of Congress also hosts a list of quotation reference websites. However, many of these websites, unlike Quote Investigator, do not cite an original source. Even so, it is a good resource.

‘You Come From the Right, I Come From the Left’

In July 2008, Barack Obama, then-presidential candidate and United States Senator, visited Israel and met with Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then opposition leader, at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Netanyahu recounts that:

First Obama and I met with our staff present, then he asked to remain alone with me.

Before I could say anything, he literally took the words out of my mouth.

“Look, Bibi,” he began, “you come from the right, I come from the left. But I’m a pragmatist and so are you, so there’s no reason we can’t work together.”

Netanyahu, Benjamin. Bibi: My Story (p. 417). Threshold Editions. Kindle Edition.

A look back: Obama’s 2008 Israel trip

Blogging Makes My Writing Better

Steve Hodgson explains why he blogs rather than just writing in a diary or a journal:

I think the answer is that writing to publish, and the idea of someone reading it, helps me to make it the best writing I can. I don’t actually know how many people read these little articles but you (whether you are real or not) are important to help me distill these thoughts down to their essence.

Steve has been blogging for more than ten years. He calls his blog “Sulluzzu” because it is his wife’s favorite word. It means hiccups which Steve says seems to fit with how regularly he updates his blog.

It’s interesting to learn what motivates bloggers.

Steve is on as @BestofTimes.

George Will: Holocaust Museum Showcases Lessons for Today

George Will writing in The Washington Post on the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington:

Nothing — nothing — is unthinkable, and political institutions by themselves provide no permanent safety from barbarism, which permanently lurks beneath civilization’s thin, brittle crust.

This is why the Holocaust is the dark sun into which this democracy should peer.

Netanyahu Recounts Conversation with Bill Clinton After His 1996 Election Victory

In 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the age of 46, became prime minister of Israel. Netanyahu writes that:

Among the first to call and congratulate me on my election victory was President Clinton. “Bibi, I’ve got to hand it to you.” He chuckled. “We did everything we could to bring you down, but you beat us fair and square.”


He wasn’t telling me something I didn’t know, but here was the president of the United States admitting without batting an eyelash to a brazen intervention in another country’s elections. Clinton’s frankness was refreshingly politically incorrect. You could see how the famous Clinton charm carried him through a myriad of minefields. I let it go and said I looked forward to working with him.

Netanyahu, Benjamin. Bibi: My Story (p. 253). Threshold Editions. Kindle Edition.

Hitler’s Last Direct Order

The last direct order to be personally signed by Hitler in the bunker was transmitted to Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner at 04.50 on 24 April [1945] . Now in private hands, the original reads:

“I shall remain in Berlin, so as to play a part, in honourable fashion, in the decisive battle for Germany, and to set a good example to all the rest. I believe that in this way I shall be rendering Germany the best service. For the rest, every effort must be made to win the struggle for Berlin. You can therefore help decisively, by pushing northwards as early as possible.

With kind regards, Yours, Adolf Hitler”

The signature, in red pencil, looks remarkably normal, considering the circumstances.

Roberts, Andrew. The Storm of War (p. 553). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition (footnote omitted).

‘ What Makes You Come Alive’

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”

— Harold Whitman

swissmiss | Come Alive

Need for Jewish Homeland Recognized Long Before the Holocaust

Theodor Herzl wrote in 1896, more than 40 years before the Holocaust:

My happier co-religionists will not believe me till Jew-baiting teaches them the truth; for the longer Anti-Semitism lies in abeyance the more fiercely will it break out.

Herzl, Theodor. Der Judenstaat. English, Location 873 . Kindle Edition.

Herzl envisioned the founding of a future independent Jewish state during the 20th century. He argued that the best way to avoid antisemitism in Europe was to create this independent Jewish state.