>Beer You Won’t See Stateside

>The Beer That Dare Not Speak Its Name — at least, if it ever gets imported to the US.

This news is from a month ago, but I’d missed it. A couple of German marketing executives have won the right to use the name “Fucking Hell” for a not-yet-existent beer — referring to the Austrian town of Fucking (yes, there is one) and to the German word for light ale, “Hell”. (Hell is an adjective meaning light or bright. The German word for Hell, the place, is Die Hölle.)
There are some issues — there is no brewery in the town of Fucking, and the mayor is not altogether pleased (people keep stealing his town’s signs for souvenirs.) A complaint was filed that the phrase is “upsetting, accusatory and derogatory”, but the EU Trademark office rejected the complaint, saying that

Fucking Hell” was an “an interjection used to express a deprecation, but it does not indicate against whom the deprecation is directed,” the Office added. “Nor can it be considered as reprehensible to use existing place names in a targeted manner (as a reference to the place), merely because this may have an ambiguous meaning in other languages.

According to the article in Der Spiegel, the brand should be on the shelves by the end of the summer. I’ll keep my eyes open for it.

>Up In The Border Guard Tower

>On the way back from Freiberg, we took a detour off the Autobahn and went hunting for the old East-West border, which is now just a state line again. We knew there were still guard towers standing, we could see them in the distance from the highway. After a few miles of country roads and a a farm path or two, we found them.
Twenty one years of neglect had taken its toll on the towers, but it was clear that we weren’t the only ones to have come up here. Probably the local kids use it as a secret hangout. We were delighted to find them open and climbed up to the top floor.
Nice view up here. I keep telling the beau that this area reminds me of Pennsylvania.
In the photo above, you can see the next tower, center right on the horizon. (It has a satellite dish erected on the roof.) So the space between this tower and that one would have been part of the border, complete with barbed wire and death strip. Not a trace of it is left except for the towers, which are probably too much trouble to dismantle.

>”A Massacre… Would Have Been More Humane”

>ARD, Germany’s “first” national television station, aired an extraordinary documentary last night about the Armenian Genocide. It mixed rare photos and film footage with “clips” of “interviews” — using well-known German actors portraying contemporary witnesses, their lines from those witnesses’ actual reports. The figures included American diplomats and journalists abroad as well as Germans, Swiss, and other Europeans working in Turkey at the time. The actors, all delivering respectfully understated performances, give you the impression that you’re watching actually memories coming to the fore.
The details of the atrocities, culled from collections of reports in the German Archives, are overwhelming in their multitude. The western foreign representatives don’t come off very well either, the implication being that looking away in disapproval was no less than complicity (which is an old story, and probably a very human one, as these things — the crimes and the looking on — are still going on today, aren’t they?)
The documentary makes clear that the Nazis picked up a few things about extermination from the Turk’s actions, like putting deportees into cattle cars (and making them pay for their fares), inventing conspiracy plots in order to brand an entire people “traitors”, executing their own soldiers who did not show enough “mercilessness”, and sending their victims off to some unknown fate with vague words of “resettlement” (death marches into the Syrian steppes), making government seizure of “abandoned property” legal. Hitler’s own word’s, “Who speaks today of the Armenian extermination?”, makes it clear how easy they thought they’d have it, treating their own “undesirables” in the same way (and, later, much worse, when they realized that they could.)
The documentary also discusses how the German government assisted in the flight of the leaders responsible for the genocide, with Grand Vizier Mehmed Talat (Talat Pasha) ending up living comfortably in Berlin until his assassination in 1921. Buried in Berlin, his body was exhumed in 1943 and transferred, with full pomp and ceremony, to Istanbul.
Interestingly, the Turkish courts-martial of 1919-1920 brought death sentences (in absentia) for those responsible, specifically mentioning the Armenian deportations. The new question is why, today, so many Turks experience rage and indignation at the mere mention of the word “genocide”. It’s not universal, of course. After the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink by a Turkish nationalist, over a hundred thousand people marched on Istanbul, carrying signs that read “We Are All Armenian”. Dink’s murderer was following the nationalist line, that even speaking of what happened then is an insult to Turkishness. It would be interesting to know how they got that far away from being able to look at things objectively.

>Weekend Mountain Blogging: Wildblümchen

>I went out to look for an endangered flower called the Innsbrucker Küchenschellen, or Innsbruck Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla oenipontana,) for which there are areas set aside on the sunny slopes north of the town. This unusual flower only grows around here, being a hybrid from two other types of Pasque Flower, which happened to have a Tirolean rendez-vous. Being so particular about where it will and won’t grow, it’s facing extinction. The reserved areas above the villages of Arzl, Rum and Thaur and the tireless work of reasearchers is helping to keep that from happening.
Unfortunately, my timing was off, or they just bloomed early, because there was nothing but grass. It may also be so well hidden that I did not find the right spot. But here is a photo from the web:
Being up there, and having a sunny, free afternoon before me, I climbed up into the woods and followed the trails back toward Innsbruck via the Hungerburg. On the way I learned about a few more woodland wildflowers.
Weisse Pestwurz, or Butterbur (Petasites albus), was growing right along the trail in shaded areas.
A close relative of Butterbur is Huflattich, or Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), which, like Butterbur, has medicinal properties and is used to make cough suppressant.
One flower that’s certainly not about to die out is the Wood Anemone, which at this time of year covers a great deal of the forest floor. I found mostly violet colored flowers, but there were also many whites and a few dark pinks.

A good place to find information on European wildflowers (in German):