>The Show Must Go On, Even When the Performers Get Arrested In The First Act.

>I was out of town and missed all this. On the weekend, a Burschenschaft convention was held in Innsbruck. The dictionary translation of Burschenschaft is a fraternity or student league but they are not so similar to American fraternities, in that there a more pronounced ideological and political element to them. In Germany these student leagues are said to be diverse in their political views; in Austria they lean very strongly to the extreme right.
So it was probably inevitable that a Burschenshaft gathering in Austria would be met with demonstrations against rightwing extremism and neo-nazism, and a few thousand lefties did hold a parade through the city, ending with a speech by Rosi Hirschecker (a member of the resistance in Tirol during the Nazi occupation) at the sight of the former Gestapo housing — and interestly close to the convention center. There were, as far as I have heard, no outbreaks of violence between any of the groups, although their local watering holes are uncomfortably close to each other and there are regular fistfights. The Burschenschaftler had their meetings and their flag and sword ceremonies (or whatever it is that they do) up on the Tummelplatz ( a war cemetery up on the hill), met for a picnic on the mountain the next day and dispersed. Police presence in the city was very high.
On that Saturday night, the theater had a performance of an unusual open-air piece which involves the audience taking the Number 6 streetcar, known as the Iglerbahn, to various stops at which there would be scenes in the performance. At one stop (which happens to be a 10 minute hike through the woods from the Burschenschaftler ceremonies), the audience boarded the streetcar and rode to the next stop, and as the performers prepared to board their minibus to get to their next “entrance”, the police arrived, unaware of the theater performance.

What they found: 9 people, all of them foreigners, including 1 man dressed as Snow White (the Drama Head at the theater!) and 7 dancers dressed as dwarves, with some kind of props resembling bombs if you looked at them the right way, and of course no one had any papers on them. Suspicious of the lengths at which political extremists might go in order to carry out an illegal violent act, the police arrested them all.

One hour and several telephone calls later, the artists were released and allowed to move on to their next destination up the hill. Other performers had jumped in for them in the meantime, and a very long intermission evened everything out. The boys in blue even got some nice photos posing with their detainees, some of them female and quite attractive.

>Culture Blogging: Gerhard Aba, Lisa Bufano

>Happened to catch a story on Austrian Television about Gerhard Aba, a photographer who has compiled a series of photographs using amputees as models. While the amputations are what first catches your eye, it is amazing how he draws out real photogenic expression in the models, most* of them non-professionals. You can see some of his works over at his blog.

*One of the women who worked with Aba is Lisa Bufano, and American dancer and performance artist who, at age 21, lost her lower legs and her fingers from a life-threatening infection. In the video linked below, she is on stilts which make her look about 8 feet tall and almost computer-generated. I find that after a few seconds I’m no longer looking at her lack of feet and fingers, but at her face. She’s a captivating artist and you want to know what she’s thinking as she allows people to stare.

Video: Four Legs Good – Lisa Bufano von FreyaFoto – MySpace Video

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>I admit it, I find some cemeteries interesting. On a recent outing we passed by the Pradl Cemetery, the southeast corner of which holds a military section. Above is a monument erected by Italy in memory of the Italian soldiers who died in Tirolean military hospitals. Below, their graves.

A monument erected by the Soviets to honor their fallen victims of the “German Fascists” (Nazis).
The markers below were not immediately recognizable to us from a distance, but their import became clearer when we recognized that each is capped with a red fez. They are the graves of Bosnian Muslims who’d fought for the Austrian Empire in World War I. Their graves face east.

One of several plaques of names of the fallen. Names upon names upon names. Nearby are graves of POWs, victims of the nearby concentration camp (in Reichenau), forced laborers from Poland. It looks to me as if it was first planned that each group have its own separate area, but that as the dead began to add up, they were put here wherever there was room for them — leading to an interesting mish-mash in some corners of soldiers and civilians, equal and side by side in death.
This part of the cemetery, while maintained and spotless, looks as if very few people come here. And why should they — these graves are very old, and their occupants are from far away lands.

>Beate Uhse: Pioneer of Aviation AND Sex Ed.

When you move to a new country as an adult, there are many things from that country’s history that you are expected to know, somehow. For me it was stuff like Sissi (Empress Elisabeth), the partition of Tirol, and Andreas Hofer. But 15 years in, you never stop discovering new things, if you keep looking, I guess.

Recently a book fell into my hands, a pretty little memoir by the actress Luise Ullrich about her time in South America in the 1940s. Knowing nothing about her, we looked her up on Wikipedia, which led us to Elly Beinhorn (Ullrich’s mother-in-law, and an aviation pioneer in Germany — you could call her the German Amelia Earhart, maybe) and from there to other female pilots in the Luftwaffe, including Melitta, Countess of Stauffenberg (sister-in-law of Claus, of “Valkyrie” fame) and Beate Uhse.
Beate Uhse?? That’s the name of a chain of sex shops all over Germany and Austria. Well, it turns out she was also a stunt pilot for UFA, the German film studio, and flew in transport squadrons with the Luftwaffe.
Barred from flying after the war, Uhse, by now a widow and single mother, started her second career with a mail-order business dealing with contraception and sex education. From Wikipedia:

She was selling products door-to-door and met many housewives and learned of their problems: the men returning from the front were impregnating their wives, not caring that there was “no apartment, no income and no future” for the kids. Many of the women went to untrained abortionists to “get rid” of their children. Beate Uhse remembered lectures her mother (who had died during the war) had given her on sexuality, sexual hygiene and contraception. She searched for information on the Knaus-Ogino method of contraception (rhythm method), and put together a brochure which explained to the women how to identify their fertile and infertile days.

Her first “specialty store for marital hygiene” opened in 1962, not without problems from the local law enforcement, but over the years her business grew in such bounds that the name Beate Uhse is now a widely respected brand name. Five years before her death, she fulfilled a long-held dream with the opening of the Beate Uhse Erotic Museum in Berlin.

I will never giggle nervously in front of her store again.

>Glacier First-Aid in Bavaria

>Part of the Schneeferner Glacier on the Zugspitz, Germany’s highest mountain, is getting a big white sunshade put over it for the summer months, to keep it from melting away entirely. The reason for this measure is not purely ecological, but also to help keep the ski slopes up there in business by saving a core section of the ice.
The tarps, 6000 square meters (nearly 65,000 square feet) in total, can be seen in a few photographs at this site (in German.) The Schneeferner has been shrinking considerably in the last 40 years; it is feared that the glacier may disappear by 2030.