We happened to be surfing around TV stations this evening and stumbled over a 1980s comedy series called Kir Royale, which had been filmed in Munich. Tonight’s episode was “Adieu Claire”, about a fictitious famous composer named Friedrich Danziger, very old and near death. Something about him looked familiar, and it wasn’t until about three-quarters of the way through that it dawned on me.
Curt Bois, a successful German Jewish character actor, left Germany in the 1930s, eventually came to the USA, and appeared in supporting roles in many Hollywood films through the 40s. He returned to Germany in 1950 and resumed regular work there in film and on the stage. Perhaps you remember the old man in “Wings of Desire” (1987), looking for Potsdamer Platz, reading in the library. Bois lived to see reunification, but he would probably not recognize Potsdamer Platz today, (nor would he probably like it, but who am I to say).
You’ve probably seen him in at least a dozen films, if you like the old stuff. His most famous film, however, might be Casablanca. Who did he play? The charming pickpocket.
This post brings us to another kind of railroad: the Underground Railroad, neither a railroad nor underground, the unofficial “tracks” of which were laid in the early nineteenth century.
Dieser Beitrag bringt uns zu einer anderen Art von Eisenbahn: Der „Underground Railroad“, weder eine Eisenbahn noch U-Bahn, sondern geheime „Geleise“ (für die Flucht der Sklaven aus den Südstaaten) die im frühen neunzehnten Jahrhundert gelegt wurden.
Several routes passed through the Quaker and German farmlands of southeastern Pennsylvania. Thomas Rutter, an ironmaster who built the first ironworks in Pennsylvania in 1716, was a former Quaker and active opponent of slavery, and although he died in 1730 his heirs must have felt the same way, for the Rutter mansion is said to have been a safehouse for sheltering fugitive slaves on their way to Canada in the 19th century. Pennsylvania’s Quaker reputation for tolerance is not 100% deserved; nearby Boyertown is known to have been a Klan area in the 20th century, so my mother tells me.)
Mehrere Routen führten durch das Anbaugebiet von Quäkern und Deutschen des südöstlichen Pennsylvania. Thomas Rutter, ein Eisenfabrikant, der die ersten Eisenhütte in Pennsylvania im Jahre 1716 errichtete, war ein ehemaliger Quaker und aktiver Gegner der Sklaverei, und obwohl er im Jahr 1730 starb, waren seine Nachfolger der gleichen Meinung, da man sagte, dass das Herrenhaus der Familie Rutter im 19. Jahrhundert eine Unterkunft für flüchtige Sklaven auf ihrem Weg nach Kanada war. Der tolerante Ruf von Pennsylvanias Quäkern ist aber nicht 100% verdient; das nahe Boyertown ist dafür bekannt, im 20.Jhdt. ein (Ku-Klux-) Klan-Bezirk gewesen zu sein, wie mir meinen Mutter sagte.
The Pine Forge Institute (now Pine Forge Academy) was founded on the grounds in 1945 and is in continued use to this day as an African American boarding school, owned and run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The church has expressed interest in turning the Rutter mansion into a museum; at the moment it’s still closed up.
Das Pine Forge Institut (heute Pine Forge Akademie) wurde auf dem Gelände des Herrenhauses im Jahr 1945 gegründet und ist seither als afroamerikanisches Internat in Verwendung, im Besitz und unter Verwaltung der Siebenten-Tags-Adventisten. Die Kirche hat ihr Interesse daran erklärt, das Rutter Herrenhaus in ein Museum umzubauen; im Moment ist es aber immer noch nicht öffentlich zugänglich.
One of my Pennsylvania German ancestors, one Samuel Schaeffer, worked at the Pine Forge ironworks.
Einer meiner Pennsylvania-deutschen Vorfahren, ein Samuel Schaeffer, arbeitete in der Pine Forge Eisenhütte.
Interestingly, Pine Forge was once a stop on the old Colebrookdale Railroad, which serviced several iron forges and plating works (Thomas Rutter also built the Colebrook Dale Furnace). A re-opening of the line is planned for the autumn of 2014 as a tourist ride called the Secret Valley Line. My parents rode it a few years ago when the community was trying to raise funds for the restoration. I look forward to riding it myself on my next visit.
Interessanterweise war Pine Forge einmal ein Halt auf der alten Colebrookdale Eisenbahn, die mehrere Eisenwerke versorgte (Thomas Rutter baute auch die Colebrookdale Hochöfen). Eine Wiedereröffnung der Linie ist für Herbst 2014 als Touristenbahn, genannt Secret Valley Line, geplant. Meine Eltern fuhren sie vor ein paar Jahren, als die Gemeinde versuchte, Mittel für die Wiederherstellung zu lukrieren. Ich freue mich auf eine Fahrt bei meinem nächsten Besuch.
I’m not actually a train buff in the traditional sense of the term. Then again, when I write that, it brings to mind Nick Hornby, in the Bob Dylan chapter in his book “31 Songs”
I’m not a big Dylan fan. I’ve got Blonde On Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited, obviously.
And Bringing It All Back Home and Blood On the Tracks… And I’m interested enough to have bought The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3, and that live album we now know wasn’t recorded at the Royal Albert Hall…There are…around twenty separate Bob Dylan CDs on my shelf; in fact I own more recordings by Dylan than by any other artist. Some people – my mother, say, who may not own twenty CDs in total – would say that I am a Dylan fanatic, but I know Dylan fanatics, and they would not recognize me as one of them.
A recent trip to central Pennsylvania allowed me a chance to swing down to Strasburg, where there is a very popular Railroad Museum and the Strasburg Railroad, a stretch of track where historic engines and cars offer rides through the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside. It was a beautiful day and I was right there in the area, so why not?
Ich bin kein Eisenbahnfan im herkömmlichen Sinn. Während ich das schreibe fällt mir das Bob Dylan Kapitel in Nick Hornby´s Buch „31 Songs“ ein:
Ich bin kein großer Fan Dylan. Augenscheinlich habe ich „Blonde On Blonde“ und „Highway 61 Revisited“. Und „Bringing It All Back Home“ und „Blut Auf den Geleisen“ … Und ich bin interessiert genug, um die Alben zu haben wie, Raubkopien der Serie 3.1, und dieses Live-Album, das wie wir jetzt wissen, nicht in der Royal Albert Hall aufgezeichnet wurde … Es gibt … um zwanzig eigene Bob Dylan CDs in meinem Regal; tatsächlich besitze ich mehr Aufnahmen von Dylan als von jedem anderen Künstler. Einige Leute, z.B. meine Mutter, die insgesamt kaum mehr als zwanzig CDs besitzen dürften – würde sagen, dass ich ein Dylan-Fanatiker bin, aber ich kenne Dylan-Fanatiker, und sie würden mich nicht als einen von den ihren erkennen.
Eine kürzliche Reise ins Zentrum Pennsylvanias eröffneten die Chance eines Abstechers nach Straßburg, wo es eine sehr bekanntes Eisenbahnmuseum und die Strasburg Railroad gibt, eine Bahnstrecke, auf der historische Lokomotiven und Wagen Fahrten durch die holländische Landschaft Pennsylvanias. Es war ein schöner Tag und da ich genau dort in der Gegend war, warum nicht die Gelegenheit ergreifen?
This was the Open Air car, between rides. There was also the options of Coach (3rd class), First Class and the President’s Car, the last two with plush decor and air conditioning. I soon had found a new friend in B., a 6-year-old with a season pass, who was in the process of learning everything he could about this particular engine. His mother said they’ve been on this ride more times than she could count. Finding a new victim, he quickly took to me as his Favorite Aunt For This Ride, which also worked out for me as even the train fanatics with big cameras had friends or wives with them. Das war der offene Wagen, zwischen zwei Fahrten. Es gab auch die Optionen Waggon (3. Klasse), 1. Klasse und Salonwagen, letzter zwei mit Plüsch-Dekor und Klimaanlage. Ich hatte bald einen neuen Freund in B. gefunden, einem 6-jährigen mit einer Saisonkarte, der gerade dabei war alles Erreichbare über eine bestimmte Lokomotive in Erfahrung zu bringen. Seine Mutter sagte, sie hätten diese Fahrt bereits unzählige Male gemacht. Nachdem er nun ein neue Opfer gefunden hatte, nahm er mich schnell als seine „Lieblings-Tante für diese Fahrt“, was mir auch gepasst hat, nachdem auch die Zug-Fanatiker mit großen Kameras von Freunden oder Ehefrauen begleitet wurden.
We rode through the fields and farmlands of Amish Country, through acres of corn and (above) tobacco.
There were several small highlights for the passengers, including a passing loop for the next scheduled ride. B. could barely contain himself, waiting for the next steam locomotive to pass. Wir fuhren durch die Felder und Ackerland von Amish Country, hektarweise Mais und (oben) Tabak.
Es gab mehrere kleine Highlights für die Passagiere, darunter Zugkreuzung mit dem nächsten fahrplanmäßigen Zug. B. konnte die Vorbeifahrt der nächsteb Dampflokomotive kaum erwarten.
The rail yard near the station was populated with engines and cars of all shapes and sizes. These bear a strong resemblance to the old Lionel train set we kids used to set up in the living room. Der Rangierbahnhof in der Nähe der Station ist mit Lokomotive und Wagen in allen Formen und Größen bevölkert. Diese haben eine starke Ähnlichkeit mit dem alten Lionel Zug, den wir als Kinder gerne im Wohnzimmer fahren ließen. (die US Firma Lionel war ein ähnlich altehrwürdiger Modellbahnproduzent, wie z.B. Märklin oder Trix.)
A Good Humor Man, in full retro garb and an old authentic truck near the museum entrance. Of course I bought an ice cream bar from him. Ein Good Humor Man (ein Berühmtheit aus dem 60-er und 70-er Jahre) ähnlich zu einem Langnese Eisverkäufer), in voller Retro-Uniform vor einem alten authentischen LKW in der Nähe des Museumseingang. Natürlich kaufte ich mir einen Eisriegel von ihm.
Nearby, the Red Caboose Motel in Ronks, PA. Instead of rooms, guests stay in individual, restored, air conditioned caboose cars. In their restaurant (in the dining car, natürlich), diners can watch the passing Strasburg Railroad trains from the windows. In der Nähe befindet sich in Ronks, PA das Red Caboose Motel. Anstatt in Zimmern, wohnen die Gäste in individuellen restaurierten Güterzugbegleitwagen mit Klimaanlage. In ihrem Restaurant (im Speisewagen, natürlich), können die Gäste die Vorbeifahrenden Züge der Strasburg-Bahn beobachten.
Just poking around the internet for information on the Via Raetia (the Roman Road from northern Italy to Augsburg) and exactly where it would have joined the Via Julia (the Roman Road from Salzburg to Augsburg). I found this, and normally would not repost an image if I could otherwise manage to go there myself and take my own photo. But … can you find the reason I posted this?
In Munich today, we found ourselves in front of this:
A perfectly respectable monument of the composer Orlando di Lasso (who died in Munich in 1594) has been re-purposed into a memorial to Michael Jackson, who did not die here, but who did stay in the hotel just beyond, the luxurious Hotel Bayerischer Hof. No, it’s not the German hotel where he recklessly dangled a baby from the balcony; that happened at the more famous Hotel Adlon, in Berlin.
When you spend more than a couple of years in another country, you may begin to realize how much the people around you, while possibly being very much like you, grew up on different pop culture. The American entertainment industry being what it is, they are sure to know many of our well-known pop singers, film actors, athletes and the like, but underneath that they have a whole trove of memories of other famous and successful figures, may of which we Americans have either never heard of, or have forgotten, or whom we did not notice because they worked on the peripheries in the international scene (such as Susanne Lothar). We may not call them minor, because they were not. They just didn’t have a large American following. (Many might leap to the conclusion that, if you’re not big in the USA, you haven’t “made it”, to which I say, open your eyes.)
So it is with Hildegard Knef. I knew that she had done some work in Hollywood (as “Hildegard Neff”) but did not know that her handprints are there in the concrete, with those of many other stars, in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
She started out by being discovered at 18, while training to be an animation artist for the UFA film studio in Berlin, by the head of that studio. A year later she was having an affair with the Reich’s Chief Dramaturg, Ewald von Demandowsky (this would be 1944). She was gorgeous, extremely photogenic, highly intelligent, and one assumes that powerful men were falling over themselves to advance her career.
In a nutshell, her career was tempestuous. In 1948 she signed a 7-year contract with David O. Selznick, wherein she was paid lucratively for English lessons and screen tests, but was cast in no roles. In 1950 (now with American citizenship), she returned to Germany to appear in the film Die Sünderin. With its taboo themes of prostitution and suicide, not to mention a brief nude scene, the film scandalized the country: protests, counter-protests, banning in many cinemas. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany protested primarily that the gist of the film resembled the infamous Nazi euthanasia propaganda film Ich klage an. Twenty five years later in America, a mercy killing could be shown in a film like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but coming right out of the Nazi years in Germany, it was apparently too soon.
She began a genuine singing career with the release of her first album in 1951. Her voice is clear (if unusually low, probably from all the cigarettes) and her singing style is confident and breezy, in that speaking/singing mix that was so popular in the day, but lets out a sort of dignified containment of emotion, a way of revealing pain without the least bit wallowing in it. Ella Fitzgerald later called her “the best singer without a voice”.
Here a song in English, “Too Bad” from 1969. The person who uploaded this put together an amusing collage of internet images to accompany the song.
Ostracized in Germany from the fallout from Die Sünderin, Knef returned to Hollywood and finally got to appear in a row of films, some good, some forgettable. She was the first (perhaps still the only) German to appear in a leading role on Broadway, in Cole Porter’s Silk Stockings. On the success of her international singing career, she returned to Berlin, enjoyed the spotlight on German television appearances, had a child, battled breast cancer, wrote a few memoirs, and generally made for constant headlines in the tabloids.
Here Knef singing “Aber schön war es doch”, from a television broadcast in 1963. The song lyrics tell of bittersweet memories of a last meeting, (“but it was beautiful”), and every detail — with bench, the trees in bloom, the words he’d spoken — is lovingly remembered.
“Written off” in Germany, she fled back to Hollywood where she did some film work but never really got her foot back in the door. In the 80s she played Fräulein Schneider in the musical Cabaret at the Theater des Westens in Berlin, and in 1989 moved back to German for good, heavily in debt. In her 60s, she began to be seen as one of those living legends (as so often happens to people who manage to still be around after the dust has settled), was awarded lifetime achievement prizes, appeared on talk shows, put out a (very successful) album of songs. In 2001 she got her German citizenship back. In 2003, she died of pneumonia, at the age of 76, just two weeks after her last televised interview. Working — and being in demand — until the end.
I realized too late that I had this photograph in my computer, and that it would fit nicely for Memorial Day.
This plaque is recessed into the wall between Franziskanerplatz and the courtyard behind the Hofkirche. In my 13 years’ residence in Innsbruck, I had never noticed it, until one day I did. If you’re having trouble reading the text, it says:
Zum Gedenken an die in den letzten Tagen des 2. Weltkrieges bei der Befreiung Tirols gefallenen Soldaten der U.S.-Armee.
In memory of the soldiers of the U.S. Army killed in action for the liberation of the Tyrol during the last days of World War II.
(I don’t know what the symbols represent, I assume the service organizations who sponsored the plaque. The cactus is particularly charming.)
UPDATE: I found them! The symbols are division insignia of the US Army. Top left, 44th Infantry (a mirrored “four”). Bottom left, 36th Infantry “Arrowhead”. Bottom right, 42nd Infantry, “Rainbow”. Top right, 103rd Infantry, “Cactus”.
When Theophilus Gates, the founder of the Battle-Axe religious movement, passed away in 1846, the “indomitable” Hannah Williamson succeeded him as leader among the saints. She was already well-known in “Free Love Valley”, preaching and prophecying in the fields and roads.
She also became attached to the Stubblebine family. One mate, however, could not suffice for this remarkable woman. In the long log house near the Cold Springs, lived young Dave, Dan and Hannah. Dave was a carpenter, Dan a smith. The brothers farmed a little, but their specialty was small hand coffee mills. Dave did the woodwork, Dan the iron, and when they had a supply they took them to Philadelphia. The carpenter shop was in the log house, the smithy back in the woods, and there was a springhouse over which Hannah had a room for herself.
The state had already seized a thousand dollars in cash, cattle and farm goods for the support of Dave’s discarded wife. When his brother-in-law had endeavored to inform Dave of the hearing at Court upon this question of who was to provide for the upkeep of Catherine Stubblebine, he had refused to receive the paper, or to hear it read, observing that it might as well have been left in West Chester, and that no honest man would have anything to do with it. Catherine continues to live with her brother in the valley, and was an important witness at the trials of 1843, where her husband was dealt a sentence of eighteen months imprisonment.*
Hannah, as the world was learning, thought and acted in superlatives, measured life in the grand proportions which her torrential emotions demanded. When she found herself with child, it was a new messiah that was to be born, and when the baby died, it was laid away to await a mighty resurrection. Twice “Christ” was born in the log house, and buried, once under a great Chestnut tree nearby, once in a field by the road.
Valley children used to pick through for the log house’s rubbish heap for discarded round pieces of wood, cut from the tops of the coffee mills, to make wheels for their wagons.
But it was always with a thrill of terror that they passed the small hollows in the ground that marked the graves. At night, with the tangled shadows and the ghostly rustling of the woods about one, it was a difficult matter to get past at all. Even older people had a solemn stare for the places “where they buried Christ.” The neighbors feared both the place and its people. Israel Miller said he would not go to the log house for the best horse you could give him.
Text from “Theophilus The Battle-Axe”, Charles Sellers, 1930. Patterson & White, Philadelphia.
* Along with several others, for disregard of marriage law.
So, I finally made good on my promise and took my young friend to the still-new Tirol Panorama Museum on Bergisel. It’s connected to the Kaiserjäger Museum, which is dedicated to the Empire’s local militia regiments from the 19th century, so we wandered through that too, just looking at the paintings and the weapons with mild interest.
In one room my eyes rested on a large painting of soldiers greeting Kaiser Karl, the last Emperor of Austria. I found interesting the one soldier turning to look directly at the painter, and so my eyes dropped down to read the artist’s signature.
Say what? “John Quincy Adams, began in 1916. Lois Alton rest[ored?] and finished in 1935.”
Not the U.S. President, but a descendant, 1874-1933. Interesting what Wikipedia (the German site) tells me — his father, Carl Adams, was a Heldentenor at the Vienna Court Opera for ten years, then brought his family back to America when John Quincy was four years old. At age twenty-six he enrolled in the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, and went on to have a pretty successful career on both continents. He’s even got a grave of honor in Vienna’s central cemetery.
Here is another work, to show that it wasn’t all war paintings for him. Of Countess Michael Karolyi, from 1918. Very nice.
The restorer Lois, or Luis (short for Alois) Alton was a local artist of landscapes and portraits.