Shadow of the strongman

Paris, France, Thursday 16 February 1899

From Mes Mémoires, Marguerite Steinheil: - Mes mémoires - Steinheil, Marguerite - Livres

Towards midnight (I had been in bed for some time), I was awakened by the bell of the telephone in my room.

It was Bordelongue, a director in the Ministry of Postes et Telegraphes, and an old friend.

La Poste.png

What’s the matter?“, I asked.

And then I heard the news, the dreadful news.

The President is dead.”

Flag of France
Above: Flag of France

I could not believe what I heard.

It’s impossible,” I exclaimed.

I saw him today.

He was tired, weak, upset, but there seemed to be nothing particularly wrong with his health.”

Felix Faure.jpg
Above: Félix Faure (1841 – 1899)

I asked Bordelongue all kinds of questions, but he merely replied:

Nothing is known.

They say the President died of an apoplectic stroke.

The next morning (17 February) at six o’clock I was told that my faithful agent “wished to see me on a matter of importance.”

This “agent” was a private detective who had been specially selected by Félix Faure to keep guard over me wherever I went, and see no harm befell me.

I guessed what the man came about, so I hastily dressed and met him.

Ah! Madame, I see you know the news.

There is some mystery in the President’s death.

They say he died of congestion of the brain, but I hear his agony lasted several hours.

I myself am being shadowed, and it will be better if I do not call again.

But you know my address and if at any time I can be of some use to you I beseech you to apply to me.

Above: Faure’s death, as illustrated by Le Petit Journal

The death of Félix Faure (1841 – 1899), French President during the Affaire Dreyfus, was widely judged to be much less of a mystery than Marguerite Steinheil’s sanitized memoirs suggest.

The fatal moments were credited to overexcitement, at a critical juncture, during his last sexual encounter with Madame Steinheil, his mistress.

Faure died suddenly from apoplexy in the Élysée Palace on 16 February 1899, while engaged in sexual activities in his office with 30-year-old Marguerite Steinheil.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of My Memoirs, by Marguerite Steinheil.
Above: Marguerite Steinheil (1869 – 1954)

Secretary Pompeo Arrives to Meet with French Foreign Minister Le Drian in Paris (50610423656).jpg
Above: Palais de l’Élysée, Paris, France

Berthe Faure was aware of her husband’s reputation as a womanizer but closed her eyes. 

A palace butler, named Clerc, even said about his conquests: 

There were always people coming.” 

Berthe Belluot, épouse du président de la République Félix Faure, visitant une crèche à Paris, en 1896.
Above: Berthe Faure (née Belluot) (1842 – 1920)

On 16 February 1899, Félix Faure called Marguerite by telephone, asking her to come to the Palace at the end of the afternoon.

Briefly after her arrival, servants were rung for and they found the President lying on the couch while Marguerite Steinheil adjusted her disordered clothing.

Félix Faure died several hours later.

It has been widely reported that Félix Faure had his fatal seizure while Steinheil was fellating him, but the exact nature of their sexual congress is unknown and such reports may have stemmed from various jeux de mots (puns) made up afterward by his political opponents.

Scrabble Game French Version | Walmart Canada

One such pun was to nickname Mme Steinheil “la pompe funèbre” (wordplay in French: “pompes funèbres” means “death care business” and “pompe funèbre” could be translated, literally, as “funeral pump“). 

George Clemenceau’s epitaph of Faure, in the same trend, was “Il voulait être César, il ne fut que Pompée” (another wordplay in French, which could mean both “he wished to be Caesar, but ended up as Pompey“, or “he wished to be Caesar and ended up being blown“: the verb “pomper” in French is also slang for performing oral sex).

Above: A denarius depicting Caesar (100 – 44 BC) on one side, the goddess Venus on the obverse

Above: A denarius of Pompey (106 – 48 BC) on one side, “Great Proconsul” on the obverse

Clemenceau, who was also editor of the newspaper L’Aurore, wrote that “upon entering the void, Faure must have felt at home“.

Georges Clemenceau par Nadar.jpg
Above: Georges Clemenceau (1841 – 1929)

After his death, some alleged extracts from his private journals, dealing with French policy, were published in the Paris press.

The manner in which Faure died is more memorable than the manner in which he lived.

He might have been respected as a good President, instead he is remembered as a bad husband.

86 Félix Faure French President Photos and Premium High Res Pictures

Steinheil went on to enjoy other high-profile liasons, before becoming embroiled in a genuinely mysterious crime in 1903 in which she was bound and gagged while her husband and stepmother were suffocated.

The police immediately regarded her as a suspect in the killings but had no hard evidence and made a pretense of abandoning the investigation.

But Steinheil herself would not let the affair rest.

She made an attempt to frame her manservant, Rémy Couillard, by concealing a small pearl which she affirmed had been stolen at the time of the murder in a pocketbook belonging to Couillard.

After that fabrication was discovered, she blamed Alexandre Wolff, the son of her old housekeeper, but he was able to establish an alibi.

She was arrested in November 1908 and taken to St. Lazare Prison.

Image illustrative de l’article Prison Saint-Lazare
Above: Prison Saint-Lazare, 1912

The crime created a sensation in Paris.

It was revealed that she had had a great number of admirers, including even King Sisowath of Cambodia.

Sisowath at the age of 82
Above: Sisawat of Cambodia (1840 – 1927)

Opponents of the government tried to make political capital of the affair, the anti-Semitic Libre Parole even charging her with having poisoned President Faure.

A sensational trial finally ended in her acquittal on 14 November 1909, although the judge called her stories “tissues of lies“.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of My Memoirs, by Marguerite Steinheil.
Above: Marguerite Steinheil, writing her memoirs

Character determines our destiny.

Character is Karma.

Above: Endless knot

Karma symbols such as the endless knot (above) are common cultural motifs in Asia.

Endless knots symbolize interlinking of cause and effect, a Karmic cycle that continues eternally.

Eskisehir, Turkey, Wednesday 28 April 2021

We entered the barbershop almost regally, almost with fanfare.

We were expected.

When we entered Farzad was talking with his assistants and gestures were made indicating where I should sit.

My colleague from work speaks only Farsi and English, Farzad, his friend, speaks only Farsi and Turkish, so Rasool acts as conduit between Farzad and I, who speaks neither Farsi nor Turkish.

As a balding, but not yet completely bald, man, it is critical that what little hair remains is kept short and presentable.

My haircut is accomplished with the same professionalism that I had experienced with my Turkish barber Onur back in St. Gallen.

It is then suggested that I have my face shaved.

Farzad strops his best razor, lathers up his brush, applies the lather to my face, begins to shave off the growth on my face, the blade sharp and true, his grip upon it sure and steady.

The blade catches the light and as inane silent comments come to my mind about him giving me a Van Gogh cut (off with an ear), an old story from Columbian journalist Hernando Téllez (1908 – 1966) comes to mind:

Hernando Téllez - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Above: Hernando Téllez

From Américas, a bimonthly magazine published in English and Spanish by the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS):

Seal of the Organization of American States on a blue background.
Above: Flag of the Organization of American States (OAS)

Lather and Nothing Else

He came in without a word.

I was stropping my best razor.

And when I recognized him, I started to shake.

But he did not notice.

To cover my nervousness, I went on honing the razor.

I tried the edge with the tip of my thumb and took another look at it against the light.

Barber Shop Metal Vector & Photo (Free Trial) | Bigstock

Meanwhile, he was taking off his cartridge-studded belt with the pistol holster
suspended from it.

He put it on a hook in the wardrobe and hung his cap above it.

Shoulder Holster: 8 Pro Up-Top Carry Options (2021) | Gun Digest

Cap National Police of Colombia Army officer Kepi, Cap, army, clothing  Accessories png | PNGEgg

Then he turned full around toward me and, loosening his tie, remarked:

It’s hot as the devil.

I want a shave.”

With that he took his seat.

Colombian president hails military top brass amid controversy | World |  English edition | Agencia EFE

I estimated he had a four-days’ growth of beard — the four days he had been gone on the last foray after our men.

His face looked burnt, tanned by the sun.

I started to work carefully on the shaving soap.

I scraped some slices from the cake, dropped them into the mug, then added a little lukewarm water, and stirred
with the brush.

The lather soon began to rise.

The fellows in the troop must have just about as much beard as I.

I went on stirring up lather.

Shaving Lather Bowl Stainless Steel Hand Forged – MOUNTAIN ELEMENT

But we did very well, you know.

We caught the leaders.

Some of them we brought back dead.

Others are still alive.

But they’ll all be dead soon.”

“How many did you take?”, I asked.


We had to go pretty far in to find them.

But now they’re paying for it.

And not one will escape.

Not a single one.”

Colombian soldiers in desert uniform at a ceremony in Sinai Peninsula  (Instagram @fuerzasmilcol) [1080x800] : MilitaryPorn

He leaned back in the chair when he saw the brush in my hand, full of lather.

I had not yet put the sheet on him.

I was certainly flustered.

Taking a sheet from the drawer, I tied it around my customer’s neck.

He went on talking.

He evidently took it for granted that I was on the side of the existing regime.

The people must have gotten a scare with what happened the other day,” he said.

Yes,” I replied, as I finished tying the knot against his nape, which smelt of sweat.

Good show, wasn’t it?

Very good,” I answered, turning my attention now to the brush.

The controversial role of the armed forces in Colombia

The man closed his eyes wearily and awaited the cool caress of the lather.

I had never had him so close before.

The day he ordered the people to file through the schoolyard to look upon the four rebels hanging there, my path had
crossed his briefly.

But the sight of those mutilated bodies kept me from paying attention to the face of the man who had been directing it all and whom I now had in my hands.

Searching for the dead in Guayaquil, Ecuador - CNN

It was not a disagreeable face, certainly.

And the beard, which aged him a bit, was not unbecoming.

His name was Torres.

Captain Torres.

Combat Beard | Beard, Tactical beard, Beard no mustache

I started to lay on the first coat of lather.

He kept his eyes closed.

I would love to catch a nap,” he said, “but there’s a lot to be done this evening.”

I lifted the brush and asked, with pretended indifference:

A firing party?

Something of the sort,” he replied, “but slower.

All of them?

No, just a few.

Ohio may bring back firing squad executions, Utah still uses them | KUTV

I went on lathering his face.

My hands began to tremble again.

The man could not be aware of this, which was lucky for me.

But I wished he had not come in.

Probably many of our men had seen him enter the shop.

And with the enemy in my house I felt a certain responsibility.

Getting a Haircut at the Old School Barbería Ralf in Cartagena, Colombia -  Cartagena Explorer

I would have to shave his beard just like any other, carefully, neatly, just as though he were a good customer, taking heed that not a single pore should emit a drop of blood.

Seeing to it that the blade did not slip in the small whorls.

Taking care that the skin was left clean, soft, shining, so that when I passed the back of my hand over it, not a single hair should be felt.


I was secretly a revolutionary, but at the same time I was a conscientious barber, proud of the way I did my job.

And that four-day beard presented a challenge.

Grow the Most Attractive Facial Hair Style [5 Quick Steps]

I took up the razor, opened the handle wide, releasing the blade, and started to work, downward from one sideburn.

The blade responded to perfection.

The hair was tough and hard; not very long, but thick.

Little by little the skin began to show through.

The razor gave out its usual sound as it gathered up layers of soap mixed with bits of hair.

I paused to wipe it clean, and taking up the strop once more went about improving its edge, for I am a painstaking barber.

The man, who had kept his eyes closed, now opened them, put a hand out from under the sheet, felt of the part of his face that was emerging from the lather, and said to me:

Come at six o’clock this evening to the school.”

Will it be like the other day?” I asked, stiff with horror.

It may be even better,” he replied.

What are you planning to do?

I’m not sure yet.

But we’ll have a good time.

Abstract Clock Showing 6:00 Am Or Pm. Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free  Image. Image 67019959.

Once more he leaned back and shut his eyes.

I came closer, the razor on high.

Are you going to punish all of them?” I timidly ventured.

Yes, all of them.”


The lather was drying on his face.

I must hurry.

Through the mirror, I took a look at the street.

It appeared about as usual: there was the grocery shop with two or three customers.

Then I glanced at the clock:


George Johnstone - Outlaws of the old west concept art

The razor kept descending.

Now from the other sideburn downward.

It was a blue beard, a thick one.

He should let it grow like some poets, or some priests.

It would suit him well.

Many people would not recognize him.

And that would be a good thing for him, I thought, as I went gently over all the throat line.

At this point you really had to handle your blade skillfully, because the hair, while scantier,
tended to fall into small whorls.

It was a curly beard.

The pores might open, minutely, in this area and let out a tiny drop of blood.

A good barber like myself stakes his reputation on not permitting that to happen to any of his customers.

Just Lather, That's All by Hernando Téllez - YouTube

And this was indeed a special customer.

How many of ours had he sent to their death?

How many had he mutilated?

It was best not to think about it.

Torres did not know I was his enemy.

Neither he nor the others knew it.

It was a secret shared by very few, just because that made it possible for me to inform the revolutionaries about Torres’ activities in the town and what he planned to do every time he went on one of his raids to hunt down rebels.

So it was going to be very difficult to explain how it was that I had him in my hands and then let him go in peace, alive,

The Ancient History of Traditional Shaving | Bulldog Skincare

His beard had now almost entirely disappeared.

He looked younger, several years younger than when he had come in.

I suppose that always happens to men who enter and leave barbershops.

Under the strokes of my razor Torres was rejuvenated; yes, because I am a good barber, the best in this town, and I say this in all modesty.

A little more lather here under the chin, on the Adam’s apple, right near the great vein.

How hot it is!

Torres must be sweating just as I am.

But he is not afraid.

He is a tranquil man, who is not even giving thought to what he will do to his prisoners this evening.

I, on the other hand, polishing his skin with this razor but avoiding the drawing of blood, careful with every stroke.

I cannot keep my thoughts in order.

Is Your Skin "Sensitive" From Shaving? | High End Barbershop

Confound the hour he entered my shop!

I am a revolutionary but not a murderer.

And it would be so easy to kill him.

He deserves it.

Or does he?

No, damn it!

No one deserves the sacrifice others make in becoming assassins.

What is to be gained by it?


Others and still others keep coming, and the first kill the second, and then these kill the next, and so on until everything becomes a sea of blood.

I could cut his throat, so, swish, swish!

He would not even have time to moan, and with his eyes shut he would not even see the shine of the razor or the
gleam in my eye.

Everything About Turkish Barbers | HeyTripster

But I’m shaking like a regular murderer.

From his throat a stream of blood would flow on the sheet, over the chair, down on my hands, onto the floor.

I would have to close the door.

But the blood would go flowing, along the floor, warm, indelible, not to be stanched, until it reached the street, like a small scarlet river.

I’m sure that with a good strong blow, a deep cut, he would feel no pain.

He would not suffer at all.

And what would I do then with the body?

Where would I hide it?

I would have to flee, leave all this behind, take shelter far away, very far away.

But they would follow until they caught up with me.

The murderer of Captain Torres.

He slit his throat while he was shaving him.

What a cowardly thing to do!

And others would say:

The avenger of our people.

A name to remember” — my name here.

He was the town barber.

No one knew he was fighting for our cause.

Retro shaving with foam in barber shop Stock Photo - Alamy

And so, which will it be?

Murderer or hero?

My fate hangs on the edge of this razor blade.

I can turn my wrist slightly, put a bit more pressure on the blade, let it sink in.

The skin will yield like silk, like rubber, like the strop.

There is nothing more tender than a man’s skin, and the blood is always there, ready to burst forth.

A razor like this cannot fail.

It is the best one I have.

But I don’t want to be a murderer.

No, sir.

You came in to be shaved.

And I do my work honorably.

I don’t want to stain my hands with blood.

Just with lather, and nothing else.

Shaving scuttle and badger brush make a nice lather.... :) #barbershop # shave #shaving #brush #blade #bowl #la… | Straight razor shaving, Badger  brush, Mens shaving

You are an executioner.

I am only a barber.

Each one to his job.

That’s it.

Each one to his job.

Barbershop - Shave Soap – Stirling Soap Company

The chin was now clean, polished, soft.

The man got up and looked at himself in the glass.

He ran his hand over the skin and felt its freshness, its newness.

Thanks,” he said.

He walked to the wardrobe for his belt, his pistol, and his cap.

I must have been very pale, and I felt my shirt soaked with sweat.

Torres finished adjusting his belt buckle, straightened his gun in its holster, and, smoothing his hair mechanically, put on his cap.

From his trousers pocket he took some coins to pay for the shave.

And he started toward the door.

On the threshold he stopped for a moment, and turning toward me he said:

They told me you would kill me.

I came to find out if it was true.

But it’s not easy to kill.

I know what I’m talking about.


It is true that we are all created equal, but the men we become, the character traits that define us gives us individual identity.

Téllez’s barber knew who he was and recognized who he wasn’t.

The barber might always remain a barber but he would remain true to whom he was, rather than becoming someone like Captain Torres who would take lives in the name of an autocratic regime.

The choice the barber made, the decision not to kill, despite the benefits of the Captain’s death, defined the man the barber was.

And it was Téllez’s tale that makes me think of an old article which speaks of the 2019 US election and which makes me remember my visit to Chunuk Bair on my 56th birthday…..

Barbershop Shave, 1923 Stock Photo - Alamy

From the Los Angeles Times, Tuesday 25 August 2020

For all their differences, Donald Trump and Joe Biden share a similar view of the 2020 election:

It is more a choice between two men than between competiting agendas.

Seal Of The President Of The United States Of America.svg

Character is on the ballot,” Biden often says.

His acceptance speech (of the Democratic Party nominee for President) last week focused more on the kind of person he is than on what he would do as President.

At the Democratic Convention, the portrait of Biden as a kind, empathetic family man was a studied contrast to the thrice-married, bombastic reality show star who is now President.

Joe Biden presidential portrait (cropped).jpg
Above: President Joe Biden

(From The American President:

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being President of this country was, to a certain extent, about character….

We’ve got serious problems, and we need serious people.

And if you want to talk about character and American values, fine.

Just tell me where and when, and I’ll show up.

This is a time for serious people.”

Film Critics Cast a Vote For Their Favorite Movie Presidents | IndieWire
Above: Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepherd, The American President

Lewis Rothschild: You have a deeper love of this country than any man I’ve ever known.

And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.

President Andrew Shepherd: Look, if the people want to listen to-…

Lewis Rothschild: They don’t have a choice!

Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking!

People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone.

They want leadership.

They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we’ve had Presidents who were beloved who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight.

People don’t drink the sand ’cause they’re thirsty.

They drink the sand ’cause they don’t know the difference.)

The American President (Know the Difference) - YouTube
Above: Michael J. Fox (Lewis Rothschild) and the President, The American President

At this week’s Republican gathering, Trump’s supporters also framed the election as a test of leadership character.

We see the choice clearly,” said Matt Gaetz.

Strength or weakness.

Energy or confusion.

Success or failure.

(In March 2021, it was reported that the Department of Justice was investigating Gaetz for engaging in sex trafficking after an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old.

It is suspected Gaetz engaged in these activities alongside Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector of Seminole County.

Gaetz has consistently denied the anonymous allegations and claims he is the victim of extortion.)

Matt Gaetz, official portrait, 116th Congress.jpg

Above: Matt Gaetz

Trump lost no time putting himself front and centre, appearing Monday (24 August 2020) for an early, preliminary acceptance speech.

But as he has done all year, he made little effort to articulate a second term agenda, instead attacking Biden and rehashing groundless accusations about mail-in voting.

Trump has said so little about his plans for a second term that for the first time since 1856, the GOP (Republicans) decided not to adopt a detailed party platform, instead approving a statement of support for administration policy, whatever it may be.

Donald Trump official portrait (cropped).jpg
Above: Donald Trump

The result in the coming months could be a presidential campaign unusually devoid of policy contrasts – surprisingly given the huge policy differences between the two parties and voters’ clear hunger for solutions to pressing economic, health and social problems.

More than ever before, it is revolving around the character of the two individuals rather than their agendas,” said Peter Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a prominent Trump critic.

Peter Wehner on Republican Party and President Trump |

Some Republicans worry that focus could be disastrous for the GOP and hope this week’s convention will give voters something more substantive to chew on.

If the presidential election is a personality contest, Joe Biden will win walking away,” said Ken Spain, a former GOP campaign official.

If this is a battle over who has the better economic plan and can deliver on kitchen table issues, then Trump has a fighting chance.

Ken Spain (@Ken_Spain) | Twitter
Above: Ken Spain

Trump trails Biden in most national and swing state polls, but those surveys show he still holds a small advantage among voters for his handling of the economy.

That creates an opening for Trump, but whether he can exploit it remains unclear.

The political discourse that is emerging doesn’t match the needs of what Americans want – information about the solutions needed to move this country forward,” GOP pollster David Winston said.

AP-GfK Poll: Working-class whites move toward GOP - The San Diego  Union-Tribune
Above: David Winston

If there is an economic message out of the GOP convention this week, it is a negative one – opposing the Democrats.

Trump began to send that message by portraying Biden as the purveyor of a radical, left-wing agenda.

Our country will never be a socialist country,” he said.

GOP logo.svg

Just as Democrats put heavy emphasis on inspiring fear of giving Trump another term, Republicans portrayed a Democratic takeover in dire terms.

Make no mistake:

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want a cultural revolution,” said Senator Tim Scott.

A fundamentally different America.

US Democratic Party Logo.svg

(Since January 2017, Scott has been one of eleven African-Americans to have served in the US Senate and the first to serve in both chambers of Congress.

He is the 7th African-American to have been elected to the Senate and the 4th from the Republican Party.

He is the first African-American senator from South Carolina, the first African-American senator to be elected from the southern United States since 1881 and the first African-American Republican to serve in the US Senate since 1979.

Scott was re-elected.)

Tim Scott, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
Above: Tim Scott

During the Democratic Convention, the Party did draft and adopt a platform that had been worked out during extensive negotiations between the Party’s moderate and progressive factions.

But during the four-day nationally televised proceedings, the details of those plans got relatively little attention.

Biden’s acceptance speech discussed his plans to contain the spread of Covid-19. combat climate change, and fight racism, but only in broad terms.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Monday’s GOP program did take a stab of humanizing Trump, through testimonials from people who had been helped by his policies or personal efforts.

Videos showed Trump interacting with healthcare and postal workers and with former hostages whose releases were secured by his administration.

Still, it would be hard to close the empathy gap with Biden.

Trump-Pence 2020.svg

The 2020 election, like most involving a President seeking a second term, inevitably is a referendum on the incumbent, both a report card on what he has accomplished and a mandate for what is to come next.

Typically, however, that referendum turns in large part on the incumbent’s plans for the future.

You need a second-term agenda,” said Jim Messina, manager of President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.

Swing voters want to know where you will take the country, especially when the existing economic conditions are problematic.”

Jim Messina (OBAMA 2012) - 8703791069 (cropped).jpg
Above: Jim Messina

A re-election campaign built around “more of the same” is risky when the status quo is a stubborn and profound economic downturn and a global health emergency.

(Trump’s political positions have been described as populist, protectionist, isolationist and nationalist.

He entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and was elected in an upset victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton while losing the popular vote.

He was the first US President without prior military or government service.

His election and policies sparked numerous protests.

Trump made many false and misleading statements during his campaigns and presidency, to a degree unprecedented in American politics.

Trump’s false and misleading statements were documented by fact checkers, including at the Washington Post, which tallied a total of 30,573 false or misleading statements made by Trump over his four-year term.

The Logo of The Washington Post Newspaper.svg

Trump has a history of insulting and belittling women when speaking to media and in tweet.

He made lewd comments, demeaned women’s looks, and called them names like ‘dog‘, ‘crazed, crying lowlife‘, ‘face of a pig‘, or ‘horseface‘.

In October 2016, two days before the second presidential debate, a 2005 “hot mike” recording surfaced in which Trump was heard bragging about kissing and groping women without their consent, saying “when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything… grab ’em by the pussy.”

The incident’s widespread media exposure led to Trump’s first public apology during the campaign and caused outrage across the political spectrum.

At least 26 women have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct as of September 2020, including his ex-wife Ivana.

There were allegations of rape, violence, being kissed and groped without consent, looking under women’s skirts, and walking in on naked women.

In 2016, he denied all accusations, calling them “false smears,” and alleged there was a conspiracy against him.

Ivana Trump cropped retouched.jpg
Above: Ivana Trump (née Zelníčková)

Many of his comments and actions have been characterized as racially charged or racist.

During his presidency, Trump ordered a travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries, citing security concerns.

After legal challenges, the Supreme Court upheld the policy’s 3rd revision.

Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

Research suggests Trump’s rhetoric caused an increased incidence of hate crimes.

During the 2016 campaign, he urged or praised physical attacks against protesters or reporters.

Since then, some defendants prosecuted for hate crimes or violent acts cited Trump’s rhetoric in arguing that they were not culpable or should receive a lighter sentence.

In May 2020, a nationwide review by ABC News identified at least 54 criminal cases from August 2015 to April 2020 in which Trump was invoked in direct connection with violence or threats of violence by mostly white men against mostly members of minority groups.

ABC News solid black logo.svg

As a candidate and as president, Trump frequently accused the press of bias, calling it the “fake news media” and “the enemy of the people.”

In 2018, journalist Lesley Stahl recounted Trump’s saying he intentionally demeaned and discredited the media “so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.

Lesley Stahl (cropped).jpg
Above: Lesley Stahl

As President, Trump privately and publicly mused about revoking the press credentials of journalists he viewed as critical.

His administration moved to revoke the press passes of two White House reporters, which were restored by the courts.

In 2019, a member of the foreign press reported many of the same concerns as those of media in the US, expressing concern that a normalization process by reporters and media results in an inaccurate characterization of Trump.

The Trump White House held about a hundred formal press briefings in 2017, declining by half during 2018 and to two in 2019.

Trump has employed the legal system as an intimidation tactic against the press.

In early 2020, the Trump campaign sued The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and CNN for alleged defamation.

These lawsuits lacked merit and were not likely to succeed, however.

Trump was unsuccessful in his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but rescinded the individual mandate and took measures to hinder the ACA’s functioning.

Trump sought substantial spending cuts to major welfare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

File:Health Care Delivery System Reform and The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act.pdf

He signed the Great American Outdoors Act, pursued energy independence, reversed numerous environmental regulations, and withdrew from the Paris Accord.

Above: Heads of delegations at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The federal deficit increased under Trump due to spending increases and tax cuts.

Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury.svg

He implemented a controversial family separation policy for migrants apprehended at the US–Mexico border.

Above: Children and juveniles, showing sleeping mats and thermal blankets on floor, Ursula Detention Center, McAllen, Texas

Trump’s demand for the federal funding of a border wall resulted in the longest US government shutdown in history.

He deployed federal law enforcement forces in response to protests in 2020.

He enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which cut taxes for individuals and businesses.

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service.svg
Above: Logo of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

He appointed three Supreme Court justices and more than 200 federal judges.

blindfolded lady with sword in right hand held vertically down to floor, and a set of balance scales in her left hand held neck high

In foreign policy, Trump pursued an America First agenda:

Trump’s “America First” foreign policy was characterized by unilateral actions, disregarding traditional allies. : DFLIVE Donald Trump for President 2024 Keep America First Flag  3x5 FT with Grommets

He renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Iran nuclear deal.

North American Agreement (orthographic projection).svg

Leaders of TPP member states.jpg
Above: A summit with leaders of the (then) negotiating states of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP).
Pictured, from left, are Naoto Kan (Japan), Nguyen Minh Triet (Vietnam), Julia Gillard (Australia), Sebastian Pinera (Chile), Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore), Barack Obama (US), John Key (New Zealand), Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei), Alan Garcia (Peru), and Muhyiddin Yassin (Malaysia), 2010.

Flag of Iran
Above: Flag of Iran

He imposed import tariffs that triggered a trade war with China and met three times with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but negotiations on denuclearization eventually broke down.

Flag of China
Above: Flag of China

Kim Jong-un April 2019 (cropped).jpg
Above: Kim Jong-un

His administration implemented a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia, denied citizens from several Muslim-majority countries entry into the US, recognized Jerusalem (rather than Tel Aviv) as the capital of Israel, and brokered the Abraham Accords, a series of normalization agreements between Israel and various Arab states.

His administration withdrew US troops from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to occupy the area.

Trump escalated tensions in the Persian Gulf by ordering the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani.

Above: Map of the Middle East

Qasem Soleimani with Zolfaghar Order.jpg
Above: Qasem Soleimani (1957 – 2020)

Trump reacted slowly to the Covid-19 pandemic, ignored or contradicted many recommendations from health officials in his messaging, and promoted misinformation about unproven treatments and the availability of testing.

He signed the CARES Act and a second stimulus package in response to the economic impact of the pandemic.

Above: President Trump receives a briefing on COVID-19 in the White House Situation Room

A special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of helping Trump’s election chances, but did not find sufficient evidence to establish criminal conspiracy or coordination with Russia.

Mueller also investigated Trump for obstruction of justice and neither indicted nor exonerated him.

Director Robert S. Mueller- III.jpg
Above: Robert Mueller

The House of Representatives impeached Trump on 18 December 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after he solicited Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

The Senate acquitted him of both charges on 5 February 2020.

Flag of Ukraine
Above: Flag of Ukraine

At the time of the 2016 election, polls by Gallup found Trump had a favorable rating around 35% and an unfavorable rating around 60%, while Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton held a favorable rating of 40% and an unfavorable rating of 57%.

2016 was the first election cycle in modern presidential polling in which both major-party candidates were viewed so unfavorably.

By 20 January 2017, Inauguration Day, Trump’s approval rating average was 42%, the lowest rating average for an incoming president in the history of modern polling.

During his entire term it has been an “incredibly stable and historically low” 36% to 40%.

Logo Gallup.svg

Since the beginning of the presidency of Donald Trump, ratings of how well US democracy is functioning sharply plunged.

According to the 2018 Varieties of Democracy Annual Democracy Report, there has been “a significant democratic backsliding in the United States since the inauguration of Donald Trump, attributable to weakening constraints on the executive.

Varieties of Democracy Dataset Released to Public | Kellogg Institute For  International Studies

Independent assessments by Freedom House and Bright Line Watch found a similar significant decline in overall democratic functioning.)

Freedom House.svg

Bright Line Watch (@BrightLineWatch) | Twitter

In 2016, Trump actually was the person of the moment and delivered:

He promised to shake things up and absolutely he shook things up,” said John Del Cacato, a former Obama adviser.

The difference in 2020 is:

This is not simply a referendum on what was promised in 2016:

It is about how the world changed and whether you are equipped to handle that change.

John Del Cecato - Doug McGoldrick Photography.jpeg | City &
Above: John Del Cacato

(The 2020 United States presidential election was the 59th quadrennial (every four years) presidential election, held on Tuesday 3 November 2020.

The Democratic ticket of former Vice President Joe Biden and the junior US Senator from California Kamla Harris defeated the incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and incumbent Vice President Mike Pence.

This is the most recent election in which the incumbent President has failed to win re-election.

Biden Harris logo.svg

The election saw the highest voter turnout by percentage since 1900, with each of the two main tickets receiving more than 74 million votes, surpassing Barack Obama’s record of 69.5 million votes from 2008.

Biden received more than 81 million votes, the most votes ever cast for a candidate in a US presidential election.

Central issues of the election included the public health and economic impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, civil unrest in reaction to the police murder of George Floyd, the US Supreme Court following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, and the future of the Affordable Care Act.

Above: Protest against police violence

Ginsburg seated in her robe
Above: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933 – 2020)

Amy Coney Barrett official portrait.jpg
Above: Amy Coney Barrett

The election saw a record number of ballots cast early and by mail due to the ongoing pandemic.

Many more Democrats voted by mail compared to Republicans.

As a result of a large number of mail-in ballots, some swing states saw delays in vote counting and reporting.

This led to major news outlets delaying their projection of Biden and Harris as the President-elect and Vice President-elect until the morning of 7 November, three and a half days after the election.

Major media networks project a state for a candidate once there is high mathematical confidence that the outstanding vote would be unlikely to prevent the projected winner from ultimately winning that state.

Before, during, and after Election Day, Trump and numerous Republicans attempted to subvert the election and overturn the results, falsely alleging widespread voter fraud and trying to influence the vote counting process in swing states.

Attorney General William Barr and officials in each of the 50 states found no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities in the election.

Federal agencies overseeing election security said it was the most secure in American history.

William Barr.jpg
Above: William Barr

The Trump campaign and its allies, including Republican members of Congress, continued to engage in numerous attempts to overturn the results of the election by filing 63 lawsuits in several states (later withdrawn, dismissed, or overturned by various courts), spreading conspiracy theories alleging fraud, pressuring Republican state electors and legislators, objecting to the Electoral College certification in Congress, making speeches to supporters that resulted in a second impeachment of Trump for incitement of insurrection at the United States Capitol, and refusing to cooperate with the presidential transition of Joe Biden in what was widely described as an attempted coup.

Trump said he would never concede the election.

Above: 2021 storming of the US Capitol

On 7 January 2021, one day after the violent storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters and two months after Biden’s victory was declared, Trump acknowledged the incoming administration without mentioning Biden’s name in a video posted to Twitter.

The election results in each state and the District of Columbia were certified by 9 December.

The presidential electors formally cast their votes for President and Vice President on 14 December, and their votes were officially counted by Congress on 6 -7 January 2021, before and after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol.

Biden and Harris were inaugurated on 20 January 2021.)

Biden oath of office.jpg
Above: Joe Biden takes the Oath of Office

(The presidency of Joe Biden began at noon on 20 January 2021, when Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States.

He is accompanied in office by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman, the first African American, and the first Asian American to hold that office.

Kamala Harris Vice Presidential Portrait.jpg
Above: Kamala Harris

Biden entered office amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the worst infectious disease outbreak to affect the US in a century, as well an accompanying economic crisis and increased political polarization.

Flag of the United States

On his first day in office, Biden took two steps to reverse President Trump’s energy policy by restoring US participation in the Paris Climate Change Accord and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

He also halted funding for expansion of the Mexican border wall.

Keystone Pipeline route
Above: Proposed Keystone Pipeline route

On his second day, he issued a series of executive orders to deal with COVID-19, including activating the Defense Production Act of 1950, and set an early goal of achieving a hundred million US vaccinations in his first 100 days.

File:Facts about COVID-19 vaccines (English).pdf

Early in his presidency, Biden ordered retaliatory airstrikes against Syrian buildings used by Iranian militias to stage rocket attacks against US targets in Iraq.

Syrian Civil War map.svg
Above: Syrian Civil War map, February 2021

(pink) Syrian Arab Republic (SAA), (orange) Syrian Arab Republic / Rojava (SAA / SDF) shared jurisdiction, (yellow) Rojava (SDF), (light green) Syrian Interim Government (SNA) / Turkish occupation, (white) Syrian Salvation Government (HTS),  (turqoise) Revolutionary Commando Army / US occupation,  (purple) opposition groups in reconciliation, (grey) Islamic State (ISIL)

On 11 March 2021, Biden signed his first major bill into law — the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.)


(President Trump gave a farewell address the day prior to the inauguration of Joe Biden.

In it he stressed his economic and foreign policy record, said the country can never tolerate “political violence“.

Breaking from tradition, Trump did not attend Biden’s inauguration, becoming the first departing president in 152 years to refuse to attend his successor’s inauguration.

He did honor another tradition by leaving Biden a letter on the Resolute desk in the White House.

Barack Obama sitting at the ornate Resolute desk in 2009
Above: Barack Obama sitting at the ornate Resolute desk in 2009

After his term ended, Trump went to live at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

As provided for by the Former Presidents Act, he established an office there to handle his post-presidential activities.

Above: Mar-a-Lago

Since leaving the presidency, Trump has been the subject of several probes into both his business dealings and his actions during the presidency.

In February 2021, the District Attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, announced a criminal probe into Trump’s phone calls to Brad Raffensperger, Secretary of State for Georgia.

Brad Raffensperger.jpg

Above: Brad Raffensperger

Separately, the New York State Attorney General’s Office is conducting a civil and criminal investigation into Trump’s business activities.

The criminal investigation is in conjunction with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.)

Trump Tower (7181836700) (cropped).jpg
Above: Trump Tower, New York City

Being President of a country is entirely about character.

Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, Friday 14 May 2021

The Battle of Chunuk Bair (Turkish: Conk Bayırı Muharebesi) was a World War I battle fought between the Ottoman defenders and troops of the British Empire over control of the peak, the high ground of the Gallipoli Peninsula, in August 1915.

The British August Offensive at Anzac Cove and Suvla was an attempt to try to break the stalemate that the Gallipoli Campaign had become.

The capture of Chunuk Bair was the only success for the Allies of the campaign but it was fleeting as the position proved untenable.

Above: The British attack, 6 – 8 August 1915

The Ottomans recaptured the peak for good a few days later.

Above: The Ottoman counterattack, 9 – 10 August 1915

If you stayed at one of the waterfront hotels in Çanakkale and never stepped outside, you would still know why Chunuk Bair mattered.

Above: Çanakkale waterfront

Once the haze lifts, you see it from the hotel window, over the water and far away, high above the white houses and minarets of Eceabat, hulking and black-green.

Kilitbahir Castle built by Mehmed II Fatih in 1452
Above: Kilitbahir Fortress, Eceabat

Chunuk Bair dominates this part of the peninsula.

You look at it every day and realize why the Allies had to hold it and why the Ottomans had to take it back.

Chunuk Bair • Turkey Destinations by ToursCE
Above: Aerial view of Chunuk Bair

On the ground at Chunuk Bair it is hard to visualize what once was.

This was a bald hill in 1915.

Now it is a hodge podge of pine trees, memorials, plaques, statues, cemeteries, stone walls, souvenir stalls and tourist buses (pre- and post-pandemic).

Chunuk Bair is the most popular spot on the battlefield, on the peninsula for visitors.

Here is the primary monument to the sacrifice of the soldiers who laid down their lives to defend their country by keeping the Gallipoli Peninsula out of enemy hands, thus barring access to the Dardanelles, the main entry into the heart of the Ottoman Empire and its capital of Constantinople (Istanbul).

File:The Chunuk Bair New Zealand National memorial (8709569618).jpg -  Wikimedia Commons
Above: New Zealand Memorial and Atatürk Monument, Chunuk Bair

By Christmas 1914, in only its 5th month, the war against Austria and Germany had become a stalemate.

It was about trenches: thousands and thousands of them, thousands of miles of them.

Above: Images of World War One (1914 – 1918)

Frontline trenches, reserve trenches, support trenches, communication trenches, saps and traverses, funk holes and galleries, an underground world from Dante’s Inferno that smelt of piss and shit, rum and sweat, earth and blood, fear and sorrow.

head-and-chest side portrait of Dante in red and white coat and cowl
Above: Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321)

As a German prisoner told his captors:

It is the suicide of nations.

Flag of German Reich
Above: Flag of Germany (1867 – 1918)

One man with a machine gun firing 500 rounds a minute had the power of 40 infantrymen.

Howitzers were more important than bayonets, and just about anything else for that matter.

Weapons of World War I | Britannica

For every man impaled on a bayonet, 70 would die from shrapnel or high explosives or gas.

This was not about one-day battles like Borodino or Waterloo, or even three-day battles like Gettysburg.

Battle of Borodino 1812.png
Above: Battle of Borodino (Russia), 7 September 1812

Battle of Waterloo 1815.PNG
Above: Battle of Waterloo (Belgium), 18 June 1815

Thure de Thulstrup - L. Prang and Co. - Battle of Gettysburg - Restoration by Adam Cuerden.jpg
Above: Battle of Gettysburg (Pennsylvania), 1 – 3 July 1863

This was about attrition.

Machine guns and howitzers had tipped the balance in favour of defenders.

The stalemate was complete.

Two lines of trenches stretched from the North Sea to the borders of Switzerland, which left no opportunities for flanking movements.

Any flanking movement had to be outside western Europe.

The British were attracted to a flanking manoeivre at the Dardanelles.

It was conceived as a naval operation and if it worked it would take the Ottoman Empire out of the war, encouraging the Balkan nations to join the Allied camp and return to the Russians their warm-water supply route through the Black Sea.

Their plan rested on one proposition:

That the Turkish people, misused by their Ottoman rulers for so long, would not fight when British battleships would appear off Constantinople.

The troops to be attached to the naval force would help the Navy smash the forts along the Dardanelles and garrison Constantinople, which would eventually be handed to the Russians.

Dardanelles map2.png

In 1913, after the Second Balkan War (29 June – 10 August 1913) in which the Turks recovered much of the territory they lost in the First Balkan War (8 October 1912 – 30 May 1913), British General Sir Henry Wilson visited Turkey and met Enver Pasha and Djemel Pasha, two of the three revolutionaries running the country.

Henry Hughes Wilson, British general, photo portrait standing in uniform.jpg
Above: Henry Wilson (1864 – 1922)

Enver and Djemal were army officers.

Enver Pasha 1911.jpg
Above: Enver Pasha (1881-1922)

Djemal Pasha2.png
Above: Djemal Pasha (1872 – 1922)

Talat Pasha, the third member of the triumvirate and the shrewdest, had been a telegraph operator.

Talat Pasha cropped.jpg
Above: Talat Pasha (1874 – 1921)

Wilson was not impressed with the officers he met, except for one.

There is a man called Mustafa Kemal,” Wilson said.

Watch him.

He may go far.

Above: Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) (1881 – 1938)

Kemal was a young man who was hard to forget.

He combined an inner sureness with the waft of danger that a predatory animal in a cage gives off.

If he ever got loose, he might be hard to stop.

Kemal was fair-haired and good-looking, slight of build but with a proud air that sometimes amounted to disdain.

What everyone noticed was his stare.

The eyes were hard and blue.

They intimidated.

They saw too much and knew too much.

In group photographs, Kemal is always the one staring down the camera.

Above: Atatürk with Ottoman military officers, Gallipoli Campaign, 1915

He was a loner from boyhood.

It was as if he knew he had to be because he understood things other people didn’t.

His head nearly always ruled his heart.

Sentiment, he thought, led to weakness.

He loved the Turkish people, but always in the abstract.

Above: Atatürk, 1930

Patrick Kinross, his biographer, saw Kemal as an amalgam of East and West.

The Western part was logical and practical and enchanted by ideas.

It knew that Constantinople and its empire had been run by boring old men who wouldn’t acknowledge the rise of science and enlightened thought elsewhere.

It thought the Muslim religion had become an impediment to progress because it supplied too many simple answers.

While still in his early 20s he told people he was a “man of tomorrow”.

The Eastern part of Kemal mostly showed in the way he did things.

His political style was about Byzantine intrigues and a revolver on the bedside table.

He was often overbearing.

Consensus was for timid men..

He didn’t worry too much about the means if the end was good.

As Kinross wrote:

Kemal was a democrat by conviction and a dictator by temperament.

Atatürk / Bir Milletin Yeniden Doğuşu - Lord Kinross Kitabı

By 1915, however, the Lieutenant Colonel, now 34, had not fulfilled General Wilson’s prediction.

He had fallen out with Enver and his cronies.

Kemal’s support was too qualified, too subtle, and they knew he was uneasy about the Ottoman Empire’s embrace of Germany.

Flag of Ottoman Empire
Above: Flag of the Ottoman Empire (1299 – 1922)

As a form of exile Kemal was sent to Sofia (Bulgaria) as military attaché.

When Turkey entered the war Kemal wanted to command a division.

His patriotism was stronger than his distrust of Germany.

Enver eventually gave him the 19th Division, which was being formed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, where Kemal had served during the First Balkan War.

The 19th was a typical Turkish division: three regiments each of three battalions, in all around 10,000 men.

Above: Atatürk in the trenches of Gallipoli

Accounts of the Turkish response at Anzac Beach on 25 April 1915 invariably stress the part played by Kemal, and this is proper.

Kemal accepted more responsibility than he needed to.

He literally rode to the sound of the guns, map and compass in hand.

He brought all his troops into the fight without asking for his superiors’ permission.

Kemal was certain he knew what the Allies were doing.

The Allies were running forward so strongly and dying so carelessly that they had just about cut themselves off from help.

Gallipoli ANZAC Cove 3.JPG
Above: Anzac Cove / Ariburnu Cephesi

Above: Anzac Landing, 25 April 1915

Kemal also realized at once that the Anzac battle was about the high ground.

He had to stop the enemy taking Chunuk Bair.

If that meant sacrificing his division, he would do it.

As his famous order of 25 April read:

I do not order you to attack.

I order you to die.

In the time which passes until we die other troops and commanders can take our places.

A few days later, he issued an order of the day:

Every soldier who fights here with me must realize that he in in honour bound not to retreat one step.

Let me remind you all that if you want to rest there may be no rest for our whole nation throughout eternity.

I am sure that all our comrades agree on this, and that they will show no signs of fatigue until the enemy is finally hurled into the sea.

Chunuk Bair Ataturk Memorial, Gallipoli - Gallipoli - Turkey Central
Above: Atatürk Monument, Chunuk Bair

On 10 August, the day after the Allies thought that the high ground was theirs, that Chunuk Bair was safe, Chunuk Bair fell.

Kemal shouldn’t have succeeded, for his plan was the sort of thing that had already failed all over the Peninsula: a frontal attack with bayonets against a position protected by machine guns and artillery.

Some of his officers tried to talk him out of it.

Too heavy-handed, too risky, they said.

Better to try a flanking attack.

Kemal conceded afterwards that the officers were right.

In theory.

He listened to them and waved away their qualms with the serenity of a man who knows exactly what he is doing, why he is doing it, and what will happen to him if he fails.

Kemal had a conviction rather than a plan.

He wrote in his diary that he could not reconcile the idea with logic and reason.

It sprung “from what we feel in the blood and the fiery moments of battle“.

Kemal invested his hope in surprise.

The British behind Chunuk Bair would not expect the Turks to come surging over the top without an artillery barrage or anything in the way of a softening up.

Terror – thousands of men boiling over the skyline like a storm, wild and fanatical – and surprise.

Kemal wrote:

To achieve this, we needed more than numbers, we needed a cool and courageous command.

Kemal wasn’t that cool.

He still had malaria and he had not slept for four nights., but Chunuk Bair was the biggest threat since the landings of 25 April.

Above: Military positions, 9 August 1915

Kemal rode to Chunuk Bair.

He put one regiment in the front trench, within 20 yards of the British line.

He put another regiment 30 yards behind the first.

All this was done was quietly as possible.

This was the risky part.

If the British thought the Turks were massing and opened up with artillery, Kemal’s tightly packed force would be wiped out.

Bayonets only would be used in the first stage of the attack.

Gökhan Tarkan Karaman på Twitter: "CONKBAYIRI CHUNUK BAIR #çanakkale  #conkbayırı #gallipoli #chunukbair #atatürk… "

Kemal looked at his watch.

Nearly 0430.

Dawn was minutes away.

Kemal moved towards the front of the line.

He spoke softly.

Soldiers, there is no doubt at all we are going to defeat the enemy in front of you.

But do not hurry.

Let me go first.

As soon as you see me raise my whip then you will all leap forward.

Chunuk Bair Atatürk Memorial photo - Mark Hersh photos at
Above: Atatürk Monument, Chunuk Bair

Kemal carried his riding whip with its looped-over flap.

Another officer, knowing what Kemal was about to do, picked up a shovel.

Kemal raised his whip, the officer raised his shovel, and other officers lifted their swords.

The line surged forward.

The men leapt into the darkness like lions.

They would take Chunuk Bair back.

New Zealand troops engaging a Turkish charge at the Battle of Chunuk Bair,  Gallipoli Campaign, WWI | War art, Ww1 art, Nz history
Above: Turkish counterattack, Chunuk Bair

Kemal was hit by shrapnel at the old Turkish frontline.

He wrote:

The heavy naval shells sank into the ground, then burst, opening huge cavities around us.

The whole of Chunuk Bair was enveloped in thick smoke and fire.

The way the story goes, the shrapnel hit Kemal on his breast pocket.

It smashed his watch inside and left Kemal with a minor wound.

What did Ataturk mean when he said 'I am not ordering you to fight, I'm  ordering you to die'? - Quora

Kemal was inspirational, about as quick-witted as a military leader can be when taken by surprise.

Afterwards he became the national hero for routing the vultures who in 1918 finally came down from the trees to start ripping apart the Ottoman corpse.

Every village has a statue of him.

His face is on lapel pins and T-shirts and above the podiums of university lecture halls and on every denomination of Turkish currency.

Above: Ulus Monument, Eskisehir

On Chunuk Bair the silence is almost spooky.

From near the crest of this bloody high ground a huge statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk looks out over these mean valleys.

The statue is massive and intimidating, of Kemal clasping his riding whip.

There is something proprietary about it.

Chunuk Bair • Turkey Destinations by ToursCE

Above: Chunuk Bair

But because of the trees and the tourist buses, this no longer looks like a place where thousands of men (12,000 Allies, 9,000 Turks) died.

Chunuk Bair | Yeni zelanda, Tarih, Savaş

Happy is the one who says, ‘I am a Turk.’” is the much-quoted maxim of a much-quoted man.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s founding president, uttered the words as the emotional finale to a speech in 1933, marking the 10th anniversary of the Republic.

Atatürk's speech at the 10'th anniversary of the Turkish Republic - Ataturk  Society of America
Above: Atatürk, 1933

It is a simple idea.

If you think you are Turkish, then you are.

But this belies a sophisticated approach to nation-building.

You become a Turk by feeling the benefits and obligations of being a citizen of the Republic of Turkey.

In historical context, Atatürk’s emphasis on Turkishness was a way of forging an inclusive national identity out of disparate parts.

In this, he was very successful.

Turkish nationalism remains a very powerful force in Turkish politics and identification with Turkey’s founding father (Atatürk = the father of Turkey) remains a key to political persuasion of the masses.

Flag of Turkey
Above: Flag of the Republic of Turkey

Atatürk was essentially a pragmatist and his founding vision is enshrined as inviolable in the very first sentence of the Turkish Constitution.

Law #5816, which dates from 1951, makes insulting Atatürk’s memory an offense punishable by up to three years in jail.

Even so it is not clear in every circumstance how his legacy applies today.

Nonetheless, that does not stop those in authority from speaking in his name or trying to emulate their perception of his character.

Turks draw a distinction between respect for the historical person of Atatürk and Kemalism, a term often used pejoratively to describe those who would evoke Atatürk’s authority to evoke their own interests.

Nevertheless, different factions fight to appropriate his legacy, for to discredit it would be the equivalent of saying Turkey should not exist.

Above: Atatürk Statue, Ankara

Atatürk represents a common denominator of what modern Turkey is all about:

  • the creation of a nation with secure boundaries
  • a nation that embraces modernity
  • a nation that keeps religion largely confined to the private realm
  • a nation that takes its international responsibilities seriously

Location of Turkey

To be heard echoing the words Atatürk said, or at least to produce words that the Father of Turkey would likely have said had he been in modern circumstances, determines the rhetoric of those who lead the Republic and of those who hope to lead the nation one day.

Take the page 1 top story of today’s Hürriyet Daily News as an example.

Istanbul -Hürriyet- 2000 by RaBoe 02.jpg

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that if there are to be new talks on Cyprus, they should no longer be between the two communities, but between two states.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 2019 (cropped).jpg
Above: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Flag of Cyprus
Above: Flag of the Republic of Cyprus (Greek side)

Flag of Northern Cyprus
Above: Flag of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus

Underlining that the equal status and sovereign equality of Turkish Cypriots must be confirmed before fresh negotiations could begin, Erdoğan said the latest Cyprus talks held informally in Geneva in April had been inconclusive due to the “intransigent attitude of the Greek side, detached from the facts on the Island.”

The President added the recent UN 5+1 Cyprus meeting in Geneva marked a turning point in the struggle for independence and the future, saying that Turkey fully supported the proposals made by Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar there.

No common ground yet' to move ahead on Cyprus: UN chief

Ersin Tatar in 2019.png
Above: Ersin Tatar

Rejecting a two-state solution means rejecting the sovereignty, equality, independence and state of the Turkish Cypriot people,” Erdoğan added.

Neither we, nor North Cyprus consent to such injustice, such usurpation of rights.

In particular, we will never allow the Turkish Cypriots’ existing rights to energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean be defeated,” the Turkish President said.

Satellite image of Cyprus, cropped.jpg
Above: Satellite image of the Island of Cyprus

We have never seen the fate of North Cyprus separate from our own.

The welfare of the people of North Cyprus, their ability to stand on their own feet and their development are our primary goals,” he added.

As the Motherland and guarantor, Turkey will stand by North Cyprus and the Turkish people of Cyprus,” Erdoğan said.

Map indicating locations of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus
Above: Cyprus (green) and Northern Cyprus (orange)

Atatürk’s example peppers Erdoğan’s speeches, seeking to convey the character of the Father of Turkey in Recep’s rhetoric and bearing.

Look at me, Erdoğan appears to say.

We are proud, we are not intimidated, consensus is for the timid.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan.PNG
Above: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Often the key to a person’s attitude towards Atatürk is the picture they hang of him on the wall – the soldier alone before the battle or the urbane president hobnobbing with Edward VIII, the austere death mask or that of a shy man, no longer young, handing sweets to children.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk | MY HERO

Above: Atatürk before the battle

Atatürk İngiltere Kralı VIII. Edward'la İstanbul'da | Flickr
Above: Atatürk and King Edward VIII

Above: Atatürk, bust and death mask

TC100KIDS - Callsign Lookup by QRZ Ham Radio
Above: Atatürk with young fan

I wonder what picture of Atatürk hangs in Erdoğan’s Presidential Palace…..

Ak Saray - Presidential Palace Ankara 2014 002.jpg
Above: Presidential Palace, Ankara

Are there any Atatürk jokes (and, if so, does anyone laugh at them)?

Not many.

Which is odd because Turks have a tradition of political caricature.

And, let’s be honest, there is much about politics and politicians that is derisible and deserving of mockery.

Turkey's President Traces a New Internal Threat: The Way He's Drawn - The  New York Times

Turkish political humour goes back at least as far as Nasreddin Hodja (1208 – 1285) who bad-mouthed the all-powerful Tamerlane (Timur) (1336 – 1405) to a perfect stranger.

(The math doesn’t work, does it?

Let us assume someone else as intimidating as Timur, shall we?)

Timur reconstruction03.jpg
Above: Tamerlane forensic facial reconstruction

Do you know who I am?“, the stranger asked.

When Hodja shook his head “no“, the man replied, “I am Tamerlane.”

Ah! But do you know who I am?“, Hodja asked.

When Tamerlane shook his head “no“, Hodja replied, “Good!” and ran for the hills.

Above: 17th century miniature of Nasreddin Hodja

There is a similar story about Atatürk.

A waiter is collecting orders for Turkish coffee.

One night, the waiter walked the length of an enormous table – at which sat Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – listening to each guest’s involved preference for this or that much sugar, or no sugar at all, yet he never bothered to write anything down.

Eventually, the waiter reappeared and handed out the cups.

Atatürk sipped his coffee and, to his amazement, it was just the way he had requested.

How on Earth did you manage to get the orders straight?“, he asked the waiter.

I remembered yours,” the waiter replied.

Who cares about the rest?

Türk Kahvesi - Bakir Cezve.jpg

And, in a way, the manner in which a modern Turkish politician resembles Atatürk goes a long way in determining the politician’s electoral future, for most schoolbooks closely identify Atatürk’s life with that of the nation.

Atatürk is often spoken of as being “immortal“, living on eternally in his compatriots’ hearts.

His escape in 1919 from Allied-occupied Constantinople (Istanbul) to the Black Sea town of Samsun to initiate a national resistance is celebrated with the Soviet-sounding “Youth and Sports Day” (19 May), acquiring almost a sort of symbolic significance similar to the Prophet Mohammed’s flight to Medina.

To be closely identified with Atatürk is to be closely identified with the nation entire, an identification crucial to governing the Republic.

Festival of Youth and Sports, 1939, Turkey.jpg

It was not the usual run-of-the-mill Crowded House tour.

A bus meant to transport thirty tourists was replaced by a van serving only four.

Two tours (Troy/Truva and Gallipoli/Gelibolu) meant to be done on two separate days were combined into a one-day tour.

Of course, this meant all the stops normally done in a tour were not all visited.

Gallipoli Tours

Troy Tours

Our guide Bulent leads me and an American (David from Colorado), a Frenchman (Brian from Bretagne) and a Russian Bulgarian (Irina) to the Gallipoli Historical National Park’s Beach Cemetery, Anzac Cove, the Respect to Mehmetcik Statue, the Lone Pine Australian Memorial, Johnston’s Jolly, Turkish and Allied trenches and tunnels, the 57th Regiment Turkish Memorial, to arrive at our last stop:

Chunuk Bair / Conk Bayiri.

May be an image of one or more people, people standing and outdoors
Above: Crowded House Tours guide Sukru with tourists Irina, Brian and David at Troy

Private Tours

Above: Crowded House Tours guide Bulent

Above: Beach Cemetery, Gallipoli

Gallipoli, Turkey: Anzac Cove, getting there, when to visit, travel tips |

Respect to Mehmetçik Monument - Wikipedia
Above: Respect to Mehmetcik Monument

Above: Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli

Johnston's Jolly | Ngā Tapuwae Trails
Above: Johnston’s Jolly trench, Gallipoli

Above: 57th Regiment Memorial, Gallipoli

Chunuk Bair:

High ground, the first objective of the Allied Landing in April 1915, the heart of the struggle for the Peninsula from 6 to 10 August 1915, when so many men laid down their lives.

Chunuk Bair is now the site of the New Zealand Cemetery and Memorial and the Conk Bayiri Atatürk Aniti, a huge statue of the Turkish hero.

Gallipoli Tour | Canakkale Anzac Hotels
Above: Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli

It was here the group met The Man Who Might Be the Next President of Turkey, Ekrem Imamoğlu, the Mayor of Istanbul, and perhaps one day the future President of Turkey, came to Gallipoli for a photo op.

To say that he is popular is an understatement, for every Turk around us begged him to pose for a photo with him.

They lost their minds in sheer delight.

The Man Who spoke a few words with me in English expressing his hopes that I would spend the rest of my life in his country.

A promise I could not make but one I said I would consider.

May be an image of 1 person, standing, outdoors and monument
Above: Ekrem İmamoğlu, Gallipoli, 14 May 2021

To get a sense of how one traditionally becomes President of Turkey it is necessary to compare French politics with that of Turkey.

In France it is almost routine that the Mayor of Paris is viewed as a potential French President, for a former Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac (1932 – 2019), Mayor from 1977 to 1995, eventually became French President (1995 – 2007).

If Chirac could do this, why can’t other mayors of Paris have the same potential, the same prospects as Chirac had?

portrait photograph of a 64-year-old President Chirac
Above: Jacques Chirac

In Turkey, the same inspiration applies to being the Mayor of Istanbul and becoming President of Turkey.

Current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was formerly the Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998.

If Erdoğan could rise to the presidency, why can’t other mayors of Istanbul have the same potential, the same prospects as he had?

The fact that Chirac and Erdoğan are the only former mayors of their respective countries’ largest metropoli to rise to the pinnacle of their nations does not necessarily mean that this is the set path for all those with political ambitions, but a precedent set creates a pattern in the minds of many.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a visit in Copenhagen (2002-11-26) (cropped).jpg
Above: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

The Man Who Might One Day Be President is worth watching.

Ekrem Imamoglu (cropped).jpg
Above: Ekrem İmamoğlu

İmamoğlu was born in June 1970, in the town of Akcaabat, west of the city of Trabzon, in Turkey, to a religious family.

During early childhood, he lived in the rural communities Cevizli and Yıldızlı, southwest of Akçaabat.

He graduated from Trabzon High School, where he played amateur soccer and handball.

School of Idadie in Trebizond 2.jpg

In 1987 his family moved to Istanbul.

He attended Istanbul University, and received a Bachelor’s degree in business administration and a Master’s degree in human resources management.

İstanbul Üniversitesi logosu

Following his graduation, he joined his family’s business in construction.

In 1995, he married Dilek Kaya, and together they have three children. 

Dilek İmamoğlu.png
Above: Dilek Kaya

In 2002 he became an administrator with Trabzonspor (a football club), and he was also a vice president of the Trabzonspor B.K. basketball team.

Trabzonspor Emblemi.png
Above: Trabzonspor Emblem

İmamoğlu joined the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in 2008, and was elected as the head of the party’s youth wing in 2009.

On 16 September 2009, he was selected by the CHP as the president of party’s local chapter in the Istanbul district of Beylikdüzü.

Republican People's Party Logo.svg

Above: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi logo

He was then re-elected to this position on 8 March 2012, before resigning on 15 July 2013 to run for mayor of Beylikdüzü.

Above: View of Beylikdüzü from the beach

The election was held on 30 March 2014, as part of the 2014 Turkish local elections, and İmamoğlu won with 50.44% of the vote, defeating the incumbent AKP (Justice and Development Party, the current power in federal politics) candidate Yusuf Uzun.

Justice and Development Party logo.png
Above: Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi logo

Following the announcement of Istanbul Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbas’s resignation on 23 September 2017, İmamoğlu was nominated by the CHP to replace him.

Above: Kadir Topbas (1945 – 2021)

In the Istanbul Municipal Assembly election to fulfill the remainder of Topbaş’ term, İmamoğlu lost to the AKP candidate Meylüt Uysal after three rounds, by a mostly party-line vote of 125 to 179.

Above: Mevlüt Uysal

The CHP again nominated İmamoğlu for the 2019 Istanbul mayoral election on 18 December 2018.

Both the Iyi Party (the Good Party), which formed an alliance with the CHP, and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) declined to nominate candidates, which may have increased support for İmamoğlu.

Logo of the Good Party.svg

Logo of the Peoples' Democratic Party (Turkey).svg
Above:  Halkların Demokratik Partisi logo

In the run-up to the elections, his campaign received worldwide attention for its mild-mannered and unifying approach, resulting in a narrowing of opinion polls against his rival, People’s Alliance candidate Binali Yildirim. 

The election was held on 31 March 2019, with İmamoğlu defeating AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim by roughly 25,000 votes according to the election day totals released by the Supreme Electoral Council.

Following his upset victory in which the ruling AKP significantly outspent him and received more media coverage, İmamoğlu was called a rising star in Turkish politics and a potential candidate to challenge Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the 2023 Turkish presidential election.

The AK Party disputed the election results on behalf of its candidate, alleging that invalid votes may have swayed the election, and erected large posters in the city proclaiming Yıldırım as the election’s winner.

Portrait of Binali Yıldırım (cropped).jpg
Above: Binali Yilidirim

İmamoğlu, in turn, accused the AK Party of being “bad losers.”

Following a government-backed recount, İmamoğlu’s lead was reduced to roughly 16,000 votes.

İmamoğlu was sworn in as Mayor of Istanbul on 17 April, 17 days after the election, following the conclusion of all recounts.

His mayoral tenure came to an end when on 6 May 2019, the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) annulled the election results and removed him as Mayor of Istanbul.

According to the YSK, the decision was taken because some presiding officers and polling staff were not civil servants.

Turkish law stipulates they must be civil servants.

However, many have called this action as a move to undo the will of the voters, who handed a narrow but fiercely contested victory to the opposition candidate.

Yüksek Seçim Kurulu.png

Above: Logo of the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK)

Ali Yerlikaya was named the interim mayor by the Interior Ministry of Turkey on 7 May 2019.

Ali Yerlikaya.png
Above: Ali Yerikaya

A new election was held on 23 June 2019, in which İmamoğlu was re-elected as the mayor of Istanbul with more than a 800,000 lead this time.

Following his second loss to İmamoğlu, Yıldırım conceded defeat and also congratulated İmamoğlu on his re-election as mayor of Istanbul.

Erdoğan also congratulated İmamoğlu and acknowledged that he won the election.

İmamoğlu was then sworn into office on 27 June 2019. 

The same day he also received his mayoral certificate for the second time.

Aerial overview
Above: Bosphorus Bridge and Istanbul

İmamoğlu has been highly critical of the Turkish government’s plans to build the Istanbul Canal, which would link the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea through a second waterway beside the natural Bosphorus.

Istanbul canal map.svg

(The Istanbul Canal (Kanal İstanbul) is a project for the artificial sea level waterway, which is planned by Turkey on East Thrace, connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and thus to the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

The Istanbul Canal would bisect the current European side of Istanbul and thus form an island between Asia and Europe (the island would have a shoreline with the Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, the new canal and the Bosporus).

The new waterway would bypass the current Bosporus.

The Istanbul Canal aims to minimise shipping traffic in the Bosporus.

It is projected to have a capacity of 160 vessel transits a day – similar to the current volume of traffic through the Bosporus, where traffic congestion leaves ships queuing for days off to transit the strait.

Above: The Bosphorus Strait (red) and the Dardanelles Hellespont Strait (yellow)

Some analysts have speculated the main reason for the construction of the canal was to bypass the Montreux Convention, which limits the number and tonnage of war ships from non-Black Sea powers that could enter the sea via the Bosporus.

In January 2018, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced that the Istanbul Canal would not be subject to the Montreux Convention.

(The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits is a 1936 agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits and regulates the transit of naval warships.

The Convention guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime, and restricts the passage of naval ships not belonging to Black Sea (Karadeniz) states.

The terms of the Convention have been a source of controversy over the years, most notably about Russia’s military access to the Mediterranean Sea (Ege Denizi).

Signed on 20 July 1936 at the Montreux Palace in Switzerland, the Convention permitted Turkey to remilitarise the Straits.

Fairmont Le Montreux-Palace.jpg

It went into effect on 9 November 1936 and was registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on 11 December 1936.

It remains in force.

Flag of League of Nations
Above: Flag of the League of Nations (1920 – 1946)

The 21st-century Istanbul Canal project, currently under construction, may be a possible bypass to the Montreux Convention and allow greater Turkish autonomy with respect to the passage of military ships (which are limited in number, tonnage, and weaponry) from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.

The Kanal project, involves the building of a 45 km (28 mi) long artificial waterway through Thrace,, connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea.

While this route will run nearly parallel, but not via the Bosporus, ships in transit through it are arguably not subject to the terms of the Montreux Convention.

Currently shipping traffic through the Dardanelles is heavily congested, with long wait times to pass through the Bosporus.

The Kanal project‘s primary purpose is to clear up shipping traffic and boost revenue by providing an alternate maritime route.

Kanal İstanbul projesinde yeni gelişme - Son dakika haberleri

However, the Kanal’s potential ability to end nearly a century of limitations imposed by the Montreux Convention was never overlooked by both commentators and politicians, and in January 2018, then Turkish Prime Minister and former Transport Minister Binali Yildirim announced that the Kanal would in fact not be subject to the Montreux Convention.

This announcement was received negatively by the Russian media and government and many have disputed the Turkish government‘s interpretation of the convention‘s original terms.)

Flag of Russia
Above: Flag of Russia

In 2013, American research group Stratfor characterized the announced $12 billion construction budget and initial operating date of 2023 as being “not realistic for a project of this magnitude.”

Stratfor logo and tagline-Your World In Context-2017.jpg

The city government of Istanbul and local groups are opposed to the project because it would eliminate Lake Durusu, which is used for a fifth of the city’s drinking water, and because they expect it will cause overcrowding as the local population increases.

Durugol -
Above: Lake Durusu

The project has also been criticized for destroying agricultural and forest land and a walking trail, and potentially contaminating groundwater with salt and increasing flooding.

Other environmental criticism include potential changes to the salinity of Marmara Sea, leading to Istanbul smelling of hydrogen sulfide.

Observers said the plan to charge transit fees to oil and gas tankers is unrealistic as long as free passage is guaranteed through the Bosporous.

Above: Map showing the locations of Sakarya River (Sakarya Nehri), Sapanca Lake (Sapanca Gölü), Izmit Bay (Izmit Körfezi) and Istanbul Canal

Along with members of the royal family of Qatar, Berat Albayrak, the Turkish Minister of Finance and son-in-law of President Erdogan, purchased property along the route, meaning he would personally benefit financially from the resulting real estate development.

Flag of Qatar
Above: Flag of Qatar

Berat Albayrak at the EU-Turkey High Level Economic Dialogue.jpg
Above: Berat Albayrak

Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul’s mayor, said that limited financial resources should be used for getting Istanbul ready for an earthquake and solving economic problems, and that all buildings that have an earthquake risk in Istanbul could be rebuilt with Istanbul Canal’s budget.

According to a survey in Istanbul by MAK, 80.4% of the respondents were against the Istanbul Canal project, while only 7.9% supported it.

In April 2021, ten retired Turkish navy admirals were arrested over public criticism of the Istanbul Canal project.

The arrests followed a day after a group of 104 senior former navy officials signed an open letter warning that the proposed canal could, by invalidating the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, harm Turkish security.)

Seal of the Turkish Navy.svg
Above: Seal of the Turkish Navy

In an act which was deemed as opposition to corruption, he displayed columns with hundreds of cars at the Yenikapı Square which were rented by the administration he succeeded.

Imamoglu exhibits surplus cars as AKP 'extravagance' - IPA NEWS
Above: Yenikapi Square, Istanbul, September 2019

Yenikapi Square, Istanbul, Turkey, 7 September 2019

The 270,000-square-metre Yenikapı Square in a coastal district of Istanbul is best known for the huge political rallies Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has held there since opening the Square in 2013.

The top 5 politically charged squares in Istanbul - Turkey News
Above: AKP rally, Yenikapi Square, Istanbul

But it was a very different display that took place last week on the Square, where the city’s new opposition mayor lined up row upon row of white cars rented by the previous ruling party administration to highlight the scale of its wasteful spending.

İstanbul Municipality Piles up Hundreds of 'Surplus Cars' from AKP Era -  english

The new mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu of the secularist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), had vowed in his election campaign to prove the extent that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had milked the city’s coffers over 25 years in charge.

The 1,717 vehicles İmamoğlu said had been rented from a government-linked business at great taxpayer expense for 643 municipal directors, and the 824 vehicles rented for 124 directors and the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İSKİ), are parts of what the opposition describes as a pyramid scheme.

General Directorate of İstanbul Water and Sewerage Administration(EU Grant  Projects Division) Local Public Authority Partner :: Up2Europe

The new CHP administration says many of these vehicles were rented by the previous municipal administration and then handed over to individuals linked to the AKP for their personal use.

A 2017 audit by Turkey’s Court of Accounts has revealed vastly inflated fuel expenses for the vehicles – a clear sign that municipal funds had been exploited through fraudulent means.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Above: Turkey’s Court of Accounts (Sayıştay) headquarters, Ankara

Half of the vehicles were rented from Platform Tourism.

The company’s owner, Adem Altunsoy, is the son-in-law of Nari Albayrak of Albayrak Holding, a conglomerate that has been among the chief beneficiaries of the AKP’s period in power.

Albayrak'ın damadı Adem Altunsoy, İBB'den 8 yılda 212 ihale aldı"
Above: Adem Altunsoy

The opposition claims that not only were many of the vehicles handed over to people unrelated to the work they were supposedly rented for, but that the municipality paid Platform Tourism more than the going rate for the vehicles.

They were then used in a mechanism to earn more illicit income from municipal funds through inflated fuel costs.

İstanbul Turizm Platformu Çalışmalarını Sürdürüyor. Fuar Turizmi Komitesi  Bu Gün Bir Araya Geliyor | FuarPLUS

The government has so far not responded to these claims, except for a single statement by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on 6 September.

Soylu, however, suggested that it was not the alleged corruption that had caused needless expense to the public, but the fact that the municipality had taken the vehicles out of service.

In one sense, it is difficult at the moment to argue with Soylu’s statement, because the vehicles are still being gathered in Yenikapı, and İmamoğlu is yet to make a final statement on the issue.

Süleyman Soylu in Tehran 01.jpg
Above: Süleyman Soylu

Among the vehicles are work trucks and small vehicles that are unlikely to have been used in the mechanism described above.

These have been the focus of criticism from pro-AKP commentators, who have accused İmamoğlu of needlessly rounding up vehicles to make a show.

The Istanbul mayor is expected to make a statement revealing why those vehicles have been included in the display.

Money Squandered: Anger as Mayor Claims Erdogan Party Excess - Bloomberg

İmamoğlu is undoubtedly playing for high stakes.

The CHP mayor won the 31 March local election with a slim margin, but in a strategic mistake, Erdoğan pushed for an annulment, saying electoral fraud had taken place.

İmamoğlu’s victory in the rerun extended his lead to a huge margin and placed him on the front ranks of Turkey’s political figures.

He is now thought of by many as a main contender in the next presidential elections.

Emblem of the Presidency of Turkey.svg
Above: Turkish Presidential Seal

The revelation of a corruption network in Istanbul could be another great victory for İmamoğlu, and perhaps even more important than his victory in the two elections this year.

For what is coming to light is not only a clear case of corruption, but evidence of the system that the AKP has run the country through for decades.

But if İmamoğlu is unable to make a satisfactory explanation on the vehicles, it will show that the CHP has still made no progress as an opposition party – though it currently looks doubtful that he would make such a mistake.

Turkey finance minister says $1.6 billion on luxury cars “peanuts” | The  Star

Apart from anything else, the ruling party appears vulnerable during a period when it is facing serious foreign policy challenges in the Syrian conflict and in its relations with its allies.

Flag of Syria
Above: Flag of Syria

Above all, the challenges on the domestic front have multiplied this year with the emergence of rebels within Erdoğan’s own party.

On one side is former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was forced to resign and sidelined in 2016 over apparent conflicts with the President.

Presidenta Dilma Rousseff durante encontro bilateral com Primeiro-ministro da Turquia, Ahmet Davutoglu (2) (cropped).jpg
Above: Ahmet Davutoğlu

On the other is Ali Babacan, a well-regarded former Deputy Prime Minister who resigned from the Party to work on a centrist movement with support from former President Abdullah Gül in July.

Both are expected to launch political parties by the year’s end.

Ali Babacan 2020 (cropped).jpg
Above: Ali Babacan

(In September 2019, having long been speculated to be preparing to launch his own party, Davutoğlu resigned from the AKP and accused his former party of no longer being able to provide solutions for Turkey.

On 12 December 2019, he launched the Future Party (GP) and became its first leader.)

Future Party Turkey logo.svg

(In 2019, Babacan left the AKP, citing “deep differences” over the party’s direction as a reason and founded the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) in 2020.)

Deva Party Logo.svg

These are becoming focal points for discontented AKP members who are leaving the party.

With Erdoğan caught in a bind that he is unable to escape, and with his discourse increasingly abandoning logic, it is a near certainty that he will throw everything he has got at the opposition.

Under these conditions, the most painless course that could lead Turkey at least back to a rational political agenda would be for the members of the AKP.

Above: Erdoğan with US President Donald Trump in June 2019

This makes the initiatives of Babacan, Davutoğlu and the others all the more important.

Babacan represents a rational and intelligent economic approach, and he is said to be backed by heavyweights including former President Abdullah Gül and Beşir Atalay, who also served as a Deputy Prime Minister for the AKP.

Abdullah Gül (cropped version).jpg
Above: Abdullah Gül

Beşir Atalay (cropped).jpg
Above: Beşir Atalay

Davutoğlu, meanwhile, has been gradually stepping up his criticism of the government as a spokesman for political ethics and leadership.

In a period when events progress at a dizzying pace, the splinter groups may appear somewhat slow-moving and even ineffectual.

That is far from extraordinary at such a complex and opaque juncture, when a plethora of interrelated factors are in play.

It is not difficult to see that there are great changes coming soon in Turkey.

Not is it difficult to predict that Davutoğlu and Babacan’s factions, despite currently swearing off any relationship, could soon unite with other AKP dissenters.

Coat of arms or logo
Above: Seal of the Turkish Parliament

İmamoğlu has also condemned the government’s ban of a Kurdish-language adaption of Dario Fo’s Trumpets and Raspberries over its alleged support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Dario Fo in Taormina, September 2014
Above: Dario Fo (1926 – 2016)

Istanbul, Turkey, 17 October 2020

The director of a Kurdish-language performance of a 1981 Italian play banned by the Turkish authorities four hours before its stage time is rejecting the government claim that it is a terror propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Beru is a Kurdish adaptation of the Nobel prize-winning Italian playwright Dario Fo’s Trumpets and Raspberries.

Trumpets and Raspberries - by Dario Fo - Drama - First Edition - Nobel  Prize for sale online

The play was performed by the independent company Teatra Jiyana Nu, or New Life Theatre, for at least three years in Turkey and abroad until earlier this week when Turkish authorities said it was promoting the PKK group.

We are not making propaganda but art,” Nazmi Karaman, the director of the play, told VOA.

The ban, he said, was a political move by the government to limit the usage of Kurdish language in public arenas.

Nazmi KARAMAN (@nazmikaraman) | Twitter
Above: Nazmi Karaman

Beru was included in the Istanbul Municipal Theatre’s October program as part of a project by the main opposition-held Istanbul Municipality to support independent theater companies struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would have been the first Kurdish-language play staged in the theater’s 106-year history.

Karaman said police delivered to him a banning notice from Istanbul’s Gaziosmanpasa district governor shortly before the play’s final rehearsal on Tuesday.

Istanbul, Municipal Theatre and Amphitheatre in Tepebasi neighborhood  (Beyoglu district), general view. "Constantinople. Théatre et Amphithéatre  Municipal des petits champs" | Archnet

In the notice seen by VOA (Voice of America), the play was accused of violating public order.

“It was not a public order violation or propaganda since today.

Why now?” he said, adding that his team had submitted permit applications to the police “many times” with Turkish subtitles for review.

VOA logo

Trumpets and Raspberries has been translated into several languages, including Turkish.

The play is a political satire “based upon the richest man and head of the largest car company in Italy at the time,” according to the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Seal of the University of Michigan.svg

Ruges Kirici, one of the actors in the Kurdish play, said she was stunned that authorities labeled an original Italian play as indoctrination for Kurdish insurgents.

How is Dario Fo’s play PKK propaganda?

Actually, I see this as a joke.

Dozens of theater companies have performed this play in Turkey.

Trabzon State Theatre also performed this play in the 2001-2002 season,” Kirici told VOA.

Above: The head office of Turkish State Theatres in Ankara

The ban on Beru has sparked a controversy in the country, with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) considering it an attack on Kurdish language that reportedly has 5 million speakers in Istanbul alone.

The official census in Turkey does not list ethnicities, but Istanbul is often referred to as the country’s largest Kurdish city.

This is the fascist mentality that we challenge,” the HDP said on its official Twitter account.

Flag of the Peoples' Democratic Party

Similarly, Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), condemned the decision in a statement Wednesday.

Official logo of Istanbul
Above: Istanbul City emblem

Referring to a government move to broadcast an interview with PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s brother Osman Ocalan on state TV channel TRT Kurdi before last year’s local elections, Imamoglu said:

It’s allowed for a terrorist group member who is sought with a red notice to make a statement on TV, but it’s banned to stage a play in Kurdish.

This is unacceptable.

Osman Öcalan (cropped).jpg
Above: Osman Öcalan

Turkish authorities, however, have denied that the ban was imposed due to its rendition in Kurdish.

Ismail Catakli, the Interior Ministry spokesperson, on Twitter called the criticism as “another lie, another provocation.”

A theatre play spreading the PKK terror organization’s propaganda will be allowed neither in Kurdish, Turkish nor in Arabic,” Catakli added.

Bakan Yardımcımız Sayın İsmail ÇATAKLI'nın Özgeçmişi
Above: Ismail Catakli

In a press statement released on Wednesday, Istanbul governorate announced it has opened an investigation into the claims that it pushed for the PKK narrative.

The PKK, a designated terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, has fought Turkey since 1984.

The conflict has left more than 40,000 people dead.

The Turkish government over the years has come under criticism from several human rights organizations alleging that it uses the PKK conflict as a broad brush to crack down on the Kurds.

Flag of Kurdistan Workers' Party.svg
Above: Flag of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)

The conflict with the PKK has been used to justify discriminatory measures against Kurds, including the prohibition of Kurdish festivals for security reasons and the reversal of Kurdish municipal officials’ efforts to promote their language and culture,” noted Freedom House in its Freedom in the World 2020 report.

Freedom House.svg

According to Lisel Hintz, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, the suppression of the Kurdish movement through the restriction of arts represents a broader attempt by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) “to police and patrol the kinds of identities that its citizens are able to have.”

I think it’s also representative of a de-democratization movement that is directed particularly at Kurds, at the Peoples’ Democratic Party and at anyone who supports them,” Hintz told VOA.


Last month, Turkey issued arrest warrants for 82 members of the HDP, including the mayor of Kars, over pro-Kurdish protests held in 2014.

Top: Cathedral of Kars, Castle of Kars (left to right) Bottom: Panorama view of Kars, overview of Karacaören from Kars Castle.
Above: Images of Kars

The protests were sparked by the seizure of Kobanî, a mainly Kurdish town in northern Syria, by the Islamic State.

View of Kobanî during the siege of 2014
Above: Kobanî, Syria

Hintz charged that the ban on Beru is likely a tactic by the ruling AKP to portray the main opposition CHP as cozying up to the Kurdish movement.

This represents a way in which the AKP can try to sort of smear the CHP with being associated with Kurds which in and of itself is insulting.

The idea that just being associated with the Kurdish movement is something that is dangerous, unpatriotic or inauthentic is, in itself, reprehensible,” she added.

Trumpets and Raspberries – Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 18 Apr–Sat  10 May | The List

Corruption, racism.

Sound familiar?

A corruption case involving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family has dented his efforts to claim the leadership of Muslim Ummah and has led to a powerful jolt at the domestic level.

A case of brazen corruption has unfolded in Turkey involving Erdoğan and folks indulging in money laundering and corruption.

Kommentar: Der Anfang vom Ende der Ära Erdogan? | Kommentare | DW |  01.04.2019
Above: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who last served as the Finance Minister of Turkey, has come under worldwide criticism for pocketing the money and mastering financial corruption. 

The recent resignation of Albayrak citing his health issues was termed by the opposition party CHP as a ruse to get away after driving the country into a crumbling economy.

Hazine ve Maliye Bakanı Berat Albayrak'ın Instagram hesabından 'istifa  açıklaması' - Sputnik Türkiye
Above: Berat Albayrak

Criticizing the leadership of Erdoğan, it pointed out that he has been running the government and central bank as his family business. 

The public anger against Albayrak was slowly brewing during his tenure because of his downplaying of the Turkish economy, the devaluation of the lira against the dollar, and his insensitive statement on a live broadcast yelling at the public – “whether they get their salaries in dollars?

200 Türk Lirası front.jpg

The report published by the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee–Democrats mentioned that Reza Zarrab used Halkbank with due support from the Turkish government, especially from Berat Albayrak, and laundered Turkish gold in exchange for Iranian oil.

He succeeded in circumventing the US sanctions on Iran by labeling his transactions for humanitarian causes such as food.

The arrest of Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab has put Albayrak in a tough situation.

Zarrab has confessed his crimes related to money laundering in a US court in New York.

Turkey seizes assets of Reza Zarrab, gold trader at center of US trial |  News | DW | 02.12.2017
Above: Reza Zarrab

He revealed before the court that he and his security guard turned associate–Adem Karahan had the backing of Turkish bank Halkbank. 

They had carried suitcases of gold to Iran, Turkey and Dubai.

Later Karahan worked as a proxy for many companies that wired money via banks.

Cumhuriyet Rıza Sarraf'ın milyonlarca Avro'luk belgelerine ulaştı

It was found out that Reza Zarrab laundered a total of 20 billion dollars from 2010-2015 to facilitate Iran in escaping the US sanctions on its oil sales due to its advancement of the nuclear program.

Consequently, it turned out to be a great wealth generation business for Zarrab who used to charge 8% of the laundered amount as the brokerage charge.

His accomplice Adem Karahan mentioned that out of this 8%, Zarrab shared 50% with the Turkish politicians that i.e., 4% of the 20 billion dollars, amounting to 800 million dollars for each stakeholder – Zarrab and the Turkish politicians.

In the aftermath of Zarrab’s arrest in Miami in 2016, Turkey intensified the lobbying to facilitate his release in the US.

Reza Zarrab'ın kuryesi Adem Karahan konuştu! –
Above: Adem Karahan (left) and Reza Zarrab (right)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan contacted American president Donald Trump for his release.

Trump did not release Zarrab but fired Attorney Preet Bharara who brought the matter to light.

Bharara, Preet Headshot.jpg
Above: Preet Bharara

It is worth noting that Zarrab’s family had contacts with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, as his father was a friend of the Iranian leader.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 2019 02.jpg
Above: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

While writing the letters to the former Irani PM Ahmedinejad, Zarrab quoted his half a century old experience in foreign exchange management and directly pitched it to the Central Bank of Iran.

As a follow up of this event, a meeting was arranged between Zarrab and the head of the Central Bank of Iran by his family’s acquaintance.

Standard tableau of the Central Bank of Iran.png

This sanction busting scheme was fully backed by the corrupt Turkish government.

Initially, for the Iranian transactions, Zarrab wanted to open an account in Calik Holding’s Aktif Bank but was unable to do so.

(Aktif Bank serves as the financial institution of Turkish conglomerate Calik Holding.

The business group was owned by Erdoğan’s close friend Ahmet Calik and Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak served as the CEO of the conglomerate).

Çalık Holding logo.svg

Zarrab contacted the Minister for European Union Affairs in the Turkish government, Egemen Bagis for mediation.

Bagis later facilitated a meeting with the Aktif Bank’s manager which led to the opening of the bank account In the bank.

After operating via a bank account in Aktif Bank, Zarrab scaled up the ladders of corruption and started to handle his transactions with a public bank of Turkey – Halkbank.

Egemen Bagis portrait.JPG
Above: Egemen Bagis

Albayrak on his part ordered Halkbank to help Zarrab in his money laundering activities even though he was detained briefly in 2013 in Turkey.

Albaryak was such a cash cow for the Turkish government that he was soon released after his arrest and the Turkish government quashed the investigation against him by punishing the officers involved in his arrest.

Prominent news portal Ahval news criticized US President Donald Trump for his promise to stall any actions of indictment on the Turkish Halkbank.

Halkbank logo.svg

This course of events can be traced back to Trump’s three meetings with Berat Albayrak in 2018 – 2019, when he was the Foreign Minister of Turkey.

Pelin Ünker, who investigated the Paradise Papers leaks, exposed that Berat Albayrak and his brother Serhat Albayrak had opened and operated offshore accounts in Malta.

Foundation run by minister's brother granted tax-exempt status by Turkish  Cabinet - Stockholm Center for Freedom
Above: The Brothers Albayrek – Berat (left) and Serhat (right)

The Papers also named the former Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yildirim for his association with the shell companies.

Above: Pelin Ünker

(The Paradise Papers are a set of over 13.4 million confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investments that were leaked to the German reporters Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer, from the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Bastian Obermayer, Frederik Obermaier: "Panama Papers" - Zähe Lektüre mit  wenig Erkenntnisgewinn (Archiv)
Above: Bastian Obermayer (left) and Frederik Obermaier (right)

Süddeutsche Zeitung.svg

The newspaper shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and a network of more than 380 journalists.

Some of the details were made public on 5 November 2017 and stories are still being released.

ICIJ logo.svg

The documents originate from the legal firm Appleby, the corporate services providers Estera and Asiaciti Trust, and business registries in 19 tax jurisdictions.

Appleby logo.svg

Asiaciti Trust logo.jpg

They contain the names of more than 120,000 people and companies.

Among those whose financial affairs are mentioned are, separately, American International Group (AIG), Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II, President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

The released information resulted in scandal, litigation, and loss of position for some of the named, as well as litigation against the media and journalists who published the papers.)

AIG new logo.svg

A photograph of Prince Charles aged 67
Above: Prince Charles

photograph of the Queen in her eighty-ninth year
Above: Queen Elizabeth II

Juan Manuel Santos and Lula (cropped).jpg
Above: Juan Manuel Santos

Wilbur Ross Official Portrait.jpg
Above: Wilbur Ross

Yildirim later admitted to his son’s involvement in the shell companies in Malta.

The expose of this report led to Albayrak and Yildirim filling cases of defamation against Ünker.

A court sentenced Ünker to 1.5 years of jail term and fined 8,600 Turkish liras.

The public uproar against this decision finally led to the case being dismissed by a court in Istanbul in 2019.

Cumhuriyet logo.svg
Above: The newspaper that Ünker worked for, Cumhuriyet (Republic)

A report published by a Maltese newspaper Malta Today on 22 May 2017, clearly mentions that Berat Albayrak, along with his brother, set up eight shell companies in Malta in 2012 to evade tax for his company Calik Holding.

Malta is a known tax haven for evaders from the European Union.

MaltaToday | The Story Behind The Story

According to the media report published in the European newspaper The Black Sea, Albayrak wanted to route the money from Dubai (Calik Enerji FZE’S holding estimated at 34.7 million dollars) to Turkey.

But it involved paying a 20% tax and profit-sharing with the Turkish authorities. 

Çalık Enerji logo.jpg

The Foreign Affairs Director of Calik Holding, Safak Karaaslan advised Albayrak to use the Maltese route to cut down the tax deduction to 5% from the earlier 20%.

Based on this advice, Albayarak further exploited the provisions of the Wealth Peace Act — an act drafted by Albayrak’s former colleagues from his firm Calik Holding, enabling him to tax-free repatriation of unlimited cash from offshore accounts.

Albayrak is not new to being engaged in a financial system catering to vested interest.

Turkish President Erdoğan's son-in-law in off-shore tax scheme - The Black  Sea

Wikileaks mentioned his involvement in Powertrans, the oil company facing charges of importing oil from the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to generate revenue for their sustenance. 

Above: Flag of the Islamic State

The basis of these allegations was the release of Albayrak’s mails by the cyber activist group Redhack.

Redhack logo.png

In contradiction to Albayrak’s denial of allegations, the mails mentioned his communication with Betul Yilmaz, the HR manager of Calik Holding – where Albayrak served as the CEO, the mails stated Betul asking permission from Albayrak regarding hiring and salary distribution in Powertrans.


The leaked emails spanned over a period of 16 years from 2000 to 2016, clearly mention his influence over the political sphere and business lobbies.

The report also mentioned the state’s patronage to his activities when the Turkish government banned the import-export and transfer of oil and byproducts of the same on 11 November 2011.

The government unilaterally allowed Powertrans to conduct its business without introducing any public tender.

Following this move, Berat Albyarak became the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources in November 2015 and remained till July 2018.

The Paradise Papers: methods and tools for investigating a massive leak |  Réseau international des journalistes

With these exposes of corruption cases, civil liberties groups in Turkey have begun protesting against the practice of sheer nepotism and favouritism in Erdoğan’s government.

It has also provided the opposition an opportunity to demand resignation from Erdoğan.

However, the biggest casualty of these revelations has been the Caliphate Project of Erdoğan.

Map of expansion of Caliphate.svg
Above: Age of the Caliphs – Expansion under Muhammad, 622-632 (brown),  expansion during the Rashidun Caliphate, 632-661 (pink), expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661-750 (orange)

(What is the Caliphate Project?

According to India’s Firstpost, on 21 November 2019, Turkey hosted an international conference on Kashmir that severely criticised India’s revocation of Article 370 and raised serious concerns about the future of Kashmir.

The invitees included Pakistan Senator Sherry Rahman, its former diplomat Shamshad Ahmad Khan and chairman of the Lahore Centre for Peace Research — that jointly organised the conference with Turkey’s Institute of Strategic Thinking.

UK-based Kashmiri lobbyist Lord Nazir Ahmad,was also an invitee.

Erdogan's Caliphate Project and Jihadist Organizations: India Connection -  Usanas Foundation - Decode Diagnose Demystify

Above: Turkish President Erdogan

After the revocation of Article 370, India faced a challenging diplomatic ordeal for over two months on various multilateral platforms.

India successfully navigated the dire diplomatic straits, reasonably convincing most of the western countries of the necessity and legality of its move.

Horizontal tricolour flag bearing, from top to bottom, deep saffron, white, and green horizontal bands. In the centre of the white band is a navy-blue wheel with 24 spokes.
Above: Flag of India

However, it was Turkey that emerged as the most ardent supporter of Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

(Though Firstpost is connected with names like CNN and MSNBC, I am not completely convinced of the complete veracity of all of its accusations, due to the tone of the language it uses in this article.

Thus not all of this article appears here.

The danger of reading (and reprinting) the news is the tendency to believe what fits a preferred world view.

That Erdogan may have caliphate ambitions seems somewhat plausible, but whether Firstpost‘s other claims of the President’s support of radical Islamic groups is supported by evidence remains unclear in my mind.)

Firstpost logo.jpg
Above: Logo of Firstpost

Although Turkey has traditionally supported Pakistan in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) against India on the Kashmir issue, its recent activism in South Asian affairs emanates from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s larger ambitions of leading the Islamic world.

Flag of OIC
Above: Flag of the OIC

Erdogan, it appears, wants to revive the Ottoman Caliphate by 2023 when Turkey celebrates 100 years of becoming a republic.

By reviving the institution of the Caliphate, Erdogan wants to claim the moral, political, spiritual, and religious leadersip of the Islamic world.

The revived Caliphate as an institution is most likely to be symbolic only.

However, it will give Erdogan immense influence over Muslims around the globe.

The declining economic might and legitimacy of Saudi Arabia’s leadership in West Asia are further whetting the revisionist political ambitions of Erdogan.

It is pertinent to mention here that Saudi Arabia, under the rule of the Saud dynasty with its puritan Wahhabi brand of Islam, had wrested the leadership of the Muslim world from Turkey after the First World War with the help of the western powers.

Flag of Saudi Arabia
Above: Flag of Saudi Arabia

Erdogan knows well that his caliphate claims will meet fierce resistance from the Arab Islamic nations, so he is pinning his hopes on the Muslims of the non-Arab countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Malaysia.

He has taken up the causes of Muslims all over the world.)

Above: Abdülmecid II (1868 – 1944) was the last Caliph of Islam from the Ottoman dynasty (1299 – 1922).

To discuss the Kurds is to enter a narrow defile where being attacked on all sides is a clear and present danger, but here as in any political discussion, it is necessary to separate the Kurdish people from the PKK.

Separate the population from its minority of radical elements.

There are anywhere between 28 and 35 million Kurds, inhabiting a region that straddles Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, with smaller populations elsewhere, including Armenia, Azerbaijan and Lebanon.

This geographic diversity suggests that Kurdish identity is shaped by a variety of competing forces and that ethnic solidarity with fellow Kurds across borders is often overshadowed by the concerns and politics of the countries in which Kurds find themselves.

In Turkey, Kurds form a majority in 15 provinces in the southeast and east of the country, with the metropolitan city of Diyarbakir being the unofficial capital of the Kurdish region.

There is also a large diaspora both in Western Europe and in coastal cities like Adana and Izmir.

Istanbul, on the diametrically opposite side of the country from Diyarbakir, is the largest Kurdish city in the world, in the way that New York City is home to the largest number of Jews.

Defining what constitutes Kurdish identity is no less problematic than defining race and ethnicity in other parts of the world in which there have been centuries of migration and shifting political boundaries.

The official Turkish census does not poll ethnicity.

Kurdistan of Turkey (CIA).png
Above: (in orange) Kurdish regions of Turkey

The CIA Fact Book estimates that Kurds make up 18% of Turkey’s population, but if one defines a Kurd as someone who actively identifies himself as Kurdish, then surveys based on sampling suggest that figure is probably nearly to 12.5%, or close to 10 million people.

It is fair to say that much of the rest of Turkey looks at Kurdish society through a glass darkly and sees many Kurds as radicals.

This is not completely false.

For radical Kurdish politcs draws from Kurdish inequalities within Kurdish society and not simply from the denial of Kurdish identity.

WFB emblem.jpg
Above: Logo of The CIA World Factbook

For all its claims to be a melting pot of civilizations and a mosaic of different cultures, Turkey has been continuously blindsided by the problem of accommodating its own ethnic diversity.

A principal reason lies in the foundation of the Turkish Republic and the perceived need to impose a new national identity on a war-stricken nation.

Kurds posed an obvious challenge, first because they formed a distinct and regionally concentrated linguistic group that was not Turkish but also because they were overwhelmingly Muslim and therefore not an “anomalous minority” as defined by the Treaty of Lausanne.

Above: Ethnolinguistic map of Turkey

(The Treaty of Lausanne (Traité de Lausanne) was a peace treaty negotiated during the Lausanne Conference (1922 – 1923) and signed in the Palais de Rumine, Lausanne, Switzerland, on 24 July 1923.

Palais de Rumine 1.jpg
Above: The Palais de Rumine, Lausanne, France

The Treaty officially settled the conflict that had originally existed between the Ottoman Empire and the allied French Republic, the British Empire, the Kingdom of Italy, the Empire of Japan, the Kingdom of Greece and the Kingdom of Romania since the onset of World War I (1914 – 1918).

The original text of the treaty is in French.

It was the result of a second attempt at peace after the failed and unratified Treaty of Sèvres, which aimed to divide Ottoman lands.

The earlier treaty had been signed in 1920, but later rejected by the Turkish national movement who fought against its terms.

As a result of the Greco-Turkish War (1919 – 1922), Izmir was retrieved and the Armistice of Mudanya was signed in October 1922.

It provided for the Greek – Turkish population exchange and allowed unrestricted civilian passage through the Turkish Straits.

Turkey-Greece-Bulgaria on Treaty of Lausanne.png

(But not military.

This would happen with the Montreux Convention).

Montreux (Svizzera) Panoramica del centro della città dal lago.jpg
Above: Montreux, Switzerland

The treaty was ratified by Turkey on 23 August 1923, and all of the other signatories by 16 July 1924.

It came into force on 6 August 1924, when the instruments of ratification were officially deposited in Paris.

A Declaration of Amnesty granted immunity for crimes committed between 1914 and 1922, notably the Armenian Genocide (1915 – 1917) (which Turkey denies ever happened).

Den armenske leder Papasian ved Der-ez-Zor - PA 0699 U 36 150 (restored).jpg
Above: The photo is from the Arkivverket (Norwegian Archives). It depicts the Armenian leader Papasyan seeing what’s left after the horrendous murders near Deir-ez-Zor. Some of the bones have been washed away by the Euphrates River.

Historian Hans-Lukas Kieser states:

Lausanne tacitly endorsed comprehensive policies of expulsion and extermination of hetero-ethnic and hetero-religious groups.”)

Associate Professor Hans Lukas Kieser / Staff Profile / The University of  Newcastle, Australia
Above: Hans-Lukas Kieser

Though Kurds were readily recruited to fight the War of Independence, commanders of Kurdish irregulars felt betrayed by the very secular, highly centralized, and very Turkish character of the new state.

There was a major uprising in 1925, which drew from resentment against the abolition of the Caliphate as much as it did from a nascent Kurdish nationalism.

That rebellion became reason and pretext to reinforce the authoritarian character of the regime in the rest of Turkey.

A loyal (and certainly not Kurdish) opposition party, which counted among its members heroes of the Independence, was abolished.

Newspapers in Istanbul were shut down.

Tribunals were established to eliminate not just Kurdish dissent but opposition in general.

From the beginning of the Republic, the Kurdish issue, and specifically fear of Kurdish secession, has become inextricably linked to the problems of Turkish democratization and of the reliance on forms of repression to keep society under control.

Above: Kurdish Anatolian rug

Turkish officialdom has historically pursued a policy of assimilation, using both carrot and stick.

There is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy at work in Turkey where it is the case that as long as one doesn’t insist on a Kurdish identity, Turkish society does not discriminate.

For those who assert a Kurdish identity, there is legislation denying any semblance of Kurdish cultural rights.

It is not Kurdishness per se the courts have prosecuted, but rather they have pursued incitement to separatism or aiding and abetting terrorism.

Merely writing or singing in Kurdish can be taken as proof of this intent.

Kurdish Language.svg

For example, Leyla Zana, an MP elected in 1991, was stripped of her office and served ten years in jail.

Her conviction for membership in an armed gang was disputed by Amnesty International, which accepted her as a prisoner of conscience.

Her real crime was adding a sentence in Kurdish when swearing her parliamentary oath of allegiance.

Zana (cropped).jpg
Above: Leyla Zana

Turgat Özal, President (1989 – 1993) at the time of the First Gulf War (1991), is credited with realizing that the Turkish establishment had to change its attitude towards its own population if it were to play a role beyond the country’s borders.

Özal was responsible in 1991 for repealing an infamous 1983 law, which in effect made it illegal even to speak Kurdish on the street.

He died in 1993 before he was able to undertake more radical reforms.

(Turgut Özal) Felipe González ofrece una rueda de prensa con el primer ministro de Turquía. Pool Moncloa. 15 de septiembre de 1989 (cropped).jpeg
Above: Turgut Özal (1927 – 1993)

Özal’s more cautious political rival, Süleyman Demirel, spoke of Turkey’s “Kurdish reality” as Prime Minister in 1991, even if he did not act on that perception.

Suleyman Demirel 1998.jpg
Above: Suleyman Demirel (1924 – 2015)

In 2005, then-Prime Minister Erdogan made a “winds of change” speech in Diyarbakir, promising “more democracy, more civil rights and more prosperity“.

Top left: Ali Pasha Mosque, Top right: Nebi Mosque, 2nd: Seyrangeha Parkormanê, 3rd left: Dört Ayaklı Minare Mosque, 3rd upper right: Deriyê Çiyê, 3rd lower right: On Gözlü Bridge (or Silvan Bridge), over Tigris River, Bottom left: Diyarbakır City Wall, Bottom right: Gazi Köşkü (Veterans Pavilion)
Above: Images of Diyarbakir

Later his government promised a “Kurdish overture” to come to terms once and for all with Turkey’s Kurdish problem.

One tangible result is that as of 2009 there is now a Kurdish language state television station, although it steers clear of controversial subjects.

TRT Kurdî logosu.png

Kurdish philology and language courses are being offered in a few Turkish universities.

At the very least, Turkey has managed to decriminalize those who take pride or interest in being Kurdish.

But still there is a widely held view that the Kurdish problem is simply one of terrorism, or of troublemakers trying to scratch an itch where none exists.

Above: Kurdish mother and child

The issue centres on the guerilla campaign conducted by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK was one of many underground revolutionary movements born in the 1970s, but it is unique in that it managed to broaden its support by giving voice to a proscribed Kurdish nationalism.

The PKK has since taken on many different names and incarnations.

It has military and political wings and the air of a popular movement.

In 1984, the PKK first took up arms against not just the military but also “state” targets like schoolteachers and fellow Kurds who cooperated with the authorities.

Turkish security forces, along with teams of counter-guerilla fighters, met force with heavy-handed force.

They sought to deny the PKK room to maneuver by evacuating and burning villages suspected of providing militants with logistical support.

At the same time, the authorities created a “village guard” system of a pro-government rural militia in an attempt to divide and rule the countryside.

Many villagers felt themselves caught between the authorities and the PKK.

If the heavy hand of the authorities acted as the PKK’s recruiting sergeant, the grief of slain Turkish soldiers’ families is often paraded, by contrast, as an argument against making any concessions or even acceding cultural rights.

The Turkish-Kurdish conflict is estimated to have cost over 40,000 lives, including civilians, PKK members and Turkish soldiers.

Above: Thematic map, general view over the Turkey – Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) conflict, 2010

British journalist Robert Fisk, no sympathizer with Turkey, once likened now-imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan to a murderous psychopath.

Robert Fisk at Al Jazeera Forum 2010 (cropped).jpg
Above: Robert Fisk (1946 – 2020)

And Kurdish nationalism, nurtured in the hothouse of émigré politics, does at times appear to be a distorted reflection of the Turkish nationalism it opposes.

But as long as the state restricts channels for identity politics, the PKK retains its legitimacy in some eyes.

In effect, the PKK was the product of a vicious process of natural selection after all other channels of dissent were eliminated.

Abdullah Öcalan.png
Above: Abdullah Öcalan

The events of 9/11 in America created some sympathy for Turkey’s own longstanding fight with terrorism.

The harsh measures adopted by Western states to fight al-Qaeda appeared to confirm a long-cherished Turkish maxim:

National security requires the sacrifice of liberties.

A montage of eight images depicting, from top to bottom, the World Trade Center towers burning, the collapsed section of the Pentagon, the impact explosion in the South Tower, a rescue worker standing in front of rubble of the collapsed towers, an excavator unearthing a smashed jet engine, three frames of video depicting American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon
Above: Images of 9/11, 11 September 2001

The PKK found themselves in a difficult position.

They themselves adopted a carrot-and-stick strategy, punctuating ceasefires with acts of violence, using the threat of instability to kick-start a political process in which they would play a lead.

But this tactic became more difficult to sustain in a world where “no negotiating with terrorism” became the rhetorical norm.

Some Western nations which had tolerated PKK political offices, partly to ensure a quiet life for themselves, ceded to pressure to declare the group a terrorist organization.

Ankara still continues to complain about the level of cooperation the PKK receives from other nations.

Above: Percentage of Kurdish population in Turkey – The darker the region, the more Kurds therein.

On the whole, even those without sympathy for the PKK accept that the people of the southeast of Turkey have legitimate grievances.

Map of Turkey ( | Download Scientific  Diagram

There is a problem of underdevelopment.

The Kurdish regions are considerably poorer than other parts of the country and social indices – such as the number of girls who complete primary school or rates of infant mortality – are among the worst in Turkey.

Successive governments hint that this is not the result of a lack of public spending but of cultural resistance to development.

The problem is not how much is spent but where it is spent.

Huge sums are allocated to hydroelectric projects or to the military counterinsurgency.

Meanwhile a fund used to subsidize families who keep their children in school, and which actually succeeds in getting girls to get a primary school education – a key factor in encouraging women to join the workforce – is trivial by comparison.

Above: Kurdish man jumping the fire during the festival of Newroz

There is a geopolitical problem.

Turkish concern about its own territorial integrity translates into a concern that its neighbours are setting a dangerous example by allowing political autonomy for their own Kurdish populations.

There is a widely-held belief in Turkey that Western powers use Kurdish insurrection to keep Turkey weak.

Turkish politicians often portray PKK attacks not as part of some intractable domestic problem but as “contracted” by outside powers.

At the same time they are only too aware that the Kurdish issue affects Turkish ambitions to play the role of a stabilizing power in the Middle East.

Peace at home, peace in the world” was Atatürk’s much-quoted mission statement of Turkish foreign policy, but this vision will flounder if Turkey cannot come to terms with problems in its own backyard.

Above: Atatürk, 1925

There is a problem of corruption, incompetence and conspiracy.

While Turkey accuses the outside world of exploiting the Kurdish conflict for devious ends, many in Turkey are now troubled by the suspicion that there are those within the country who have long done the same.

The argument goes that if the PKK did not exist, the Turkish military would be forced to invent them – and may have on occasion done just that.

Incidents have been reported where commanders ignored, either deliberately or through sheer incompetence, satellite intelligence of PKK attacks.

As well, some acts of provocation are not in dispute.

To this, I cannot answer, for I do not possess enough knowledge to comment beyond this point.

Above: A Turkish Kurdish girl with blonde hair

Is there a Kurdish solution?

The liberal consensus is that Turkey must at last draw a line in the sand between what is lawful dissent in the demand for cultural and minority rights, and the use or threat of violence.

Perhaps the only solution to the Kurdish problem lies with the Kurds themselves.

Perhaps it is too late for any solution to emerge.

Roj emblem.svg
Above: The roj emblem – symbol of Kurdish nationalism

The Solution Process (Çözüm süreci), also known as  the Peace Process (Barış süreci) or the Kurdish–Turkish peace process, was a peace process which aimed to resolve the Turkey – PKK conflict as part of the Kurdish – Turkish conflict (1978 – present).

Bloodshed has been ongoing since 1984 and resulted in some 40,000 – 100,000 mortal casualties and great economic losses for Turkey as well as high damage to the general population.

Though there was a unilateral ceasefire between 1999 and 2004, the sides failed to gain understanding and the conflict became increasingly violent.

In November 2012 about 10,000 prisoners were in a hunger strike and had the following three demands:

  • To defend themselves in the Kurdish language in court
  • The improvement of the detention conditions of Abdullah Öcalan
  • The start of a peace process between Turkey and the PKK.

The Academics for Peace actively supported those demands.

Barış İçin Akademisyenler'in 1128 imzayla açıkladığı bildirinin tam metni

On 28 December 2012, in a television interview upon a question of whether the government had a project to solve the issue, Erdogan stated that the government was in negotiations with jailed rebel leader Öcalan.

The negotiations were initially named the Solution Process (Çözüm Süreci) in public.

While negotiations were going on, there were numerous events that were regarded as sabotage to derail the talks:

  • The assassinations (by silencer guns) of the PKK administrators Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şöylemez in Paris (10 January 2013)

Sakine Cansız – eine beeindruckende kurdische Revolutionärin — Website
Above: Sakine Cansiz (1958 – 2013)

Fidan Doğan.png
Above: Fidan Doğan (1982 – 2013)

Leyla Söylemez
Above: Leyla Şöylemez (1989 – 2013)

  • The Milliyet (the National)newspaper revelation of Öcalan’s talks with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) (5 March 2013)

Milliyet logo.svg
Above: Logo of Milliyet

  • The bombings of the Justice Ministry of Turkey and Erdoğan’s office at the Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters in Ankara (20 March 2013)

Double bomb attack hits AKP HQ, ministry building in Ankara - Turkey News
Above: AKP Headquarters, Ankara

However, both parties vehemently condemned all three events as they occurred and stated that they were determined anyway.

Finally on 21 March 2013, after months of negotiations with the Turkish Government, Abdullah Ocalan’s message to the people was read both in Turkish and Kurdish during the Nowruz celebrations in Diyarbakir.

The letter called for a cease-fire that included PKK disarmament and withdrawal from Turkish soil and calling for an end to armed struggle.

The PKK announced that they would comply, stating that the year of 2013 was the year of solution either through war or through peace.

Erdogan welcomed the letter stating that concrete steps will follow PKK’s withdrawal.

Drawing of Royal court celebration
Above: Persian Shah Abbas II (1632 – 1666) celebrates Nowruz in the 17th century

The government announced its long-awaited list of “wise men” on 4 April, the members of a seven-region commission tasked with explaining the ongoing settlement process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to the public and promoting the negotiations.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç announced the list of “wise people“, several weeks after the government first announced plans to set up such a commission made up of intellectuals and well-liked public figures.

The list included celebrities who were intellectuals, writers and academics as well as singers.

The commission was made up of groups organized on a regional basis, and was active in seven regions across the country.

Bulent Arinc 2014.jpg
Above: Bülent Arınç

The following Tuesday, while mystery still shrouded the identities of the government’s list of wise people, Erdoğan said:

We will listen to the views and suggestions of the people who are part of this delegation, consult with them and they will organize some events in the country’s regions and get together with our citizens and local public opinion leaders.”

In a speech on 23 March, the Prime Minister defined the role of the commission, saying they would be conducting a “psychological operation“, indicating the wise people would act as public relations agents.

In a speech he made in Ankara on 23 March, Erdoğan stated:

It is important to prepare the public for this and social perceptions should be created by the wise men.” He said only public acceptance can fend off nationalistic shows.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were critical of the wise men list, claiming that the people on the list are all supportive of the government.

On 5 April, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met for the first time with members of the wise men commission. 

After five weeks of work, the Wise Persons Committee gave its first report to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and shared their impressions on the level of support regarding the process.

Is a 'Wise Men Commission' being formed?

Above: The Wise Persons report back to the Turkish parliament

On 25 April 2013, the PKK announced that it was withdrawing all its forces within Turkey to northern Iraq.

According to representatives of the government and the Kurds and to most of the press, this move marked the end of a 30-year-old conflict.

The second phase which included constitutional and legal changes towards the recognition of human rights of the Kurds would start simultaneously with PKK withdrawal.

The 2013 truce was working until September 2014.

But when the relations became strained due to spillover from the Syrian Civil War, the truce fully collapsed in July 2015, following the Ceylanpinar incidents which the Turkish government used as a casus belli to renew full scale warfare in Southeastern Turkey.

Above: Ceylanpinar

(The Ceylanpınar incidents (22–24 July 2015) saw the killing of two policemen in Ceylanpinar, Turkey, which led to the resumption of the Kurdish-Turkish conflict.

Officers Feyyaz Yumusak and Okan Acar were killed at around 06:00 on 22 July 2015, by bullets from a silencer gun.

Derin Kuvvetler on Twitter: "#Ceylanpınar'da şehit edilen polislerimiz  Feyyaz Yumuşak ve Okan Acar'a Allah'tan rahmet diliyoruz."

The attack was used by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government as a reason to resume its war against the PKK.

As the AKP had failed to win a majority in the June 2015 Turkish general election and soon after the resumption of hostilities announced the November 2015 Turkish snap general election, analysts believe that the Ceylanpınar killings and a return to war were used to increase Turkish nationalist fervour and favour the ruling party taking back control over the Turkish parliament.

Other motives have also been advanced, with the Syrian War encouraging extremist parties from both sides to undermine peace efforts by increasing nationalism and readiness for war.)

Emblem of Turkey.svg
Above: Turkish crescent and star

How will the future see Recep Erdoğan?

In fairness, the AKP under Erdogan’s leadership was remarkably successful in transforming Turkey’s situation in its first decade in power.

By judicious appointments to a politically-weakened armed forces, the threat of a coup seemed to have been removed.

The AKP went on to win the elections again in 2007 and 2012.

It turned Turkey’s economy into one that boomed and was able to liquidate its IMF (International Monetary Fund) loans.

International Monetary Fund logo.svg

It used the new resources to improve economic and social conditions inside the country, notably in education and health services.

It sought new ways to overcome long-standing ethnonational divisions with Kurds and Armenians.

It re-entered Middle East politics as a friend to everyone while still being a friend to Israel.

It reopened negotiations with the EU (European Union) for future entry.

And it alleviated constraints on Islamic practice without alarming secularist groups.

Turkey was the model Islamist movement in power.

Circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background
Above: Flag of the European Union

Then suddenly everything fell apart.

The economy began to go downhill.

Turkey was able to sell less on the world market and for reduced prices.

The economic well-being of Turkish citizens declined.

The magnificent gesture of Erdogan to open negotiations with Kurdish militants was terminated.

Erdogan returned to the old policy of repression.

Symbolic gestures to Armenians were revoked.

The EU closed off discussions about a possible entry for Turkey.

Solar eclipse to occur on June 10, some regions to witness 'ring eclipse' |  Hindustan Times

Turkey ceased being everyone’s friend in the Arab world.

It entered, rightly or wrongly, into an unlimited struggle with Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

Bashar al-Assad (2018-05-17) 03.jpg
Above: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

It defied Israel’s ban on direct delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip.

Location of the Gaza Strip

Israel’s response led to multiple Turkish deaths and Turkey severed diplomatic ties.

Centered blue star within a horizontal triband
Above: Flag of Israel

It was furious at the United States for its endorsement of the military coup against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, whose regime was in Turkish eyes its equivalent.

Mohamed Morsi-05-2013.jpg
Above: Mohamed Morsi (1951 – 2019)

Turkey waffled on fighting the Islamic State, considering action against al-Assad and the Kurdish movement more urgent.

Above: (in blue) Diplomatic missions of Turkey

Are Erdogan and the AKP really strong today?

The US needs Turkey’s cooperation if it is to fight effectively against extremists.

The EU needs Turkey’s cooperation if it is to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

But these strengths are illusionary, at best.

It seems unlikely that Erdogan can stem a bubbling up of internal opposition within Turkey, within the AKP itself, which might lead to a total collapse of his house of cards.

It is anyone’s guess what the future might hold.

Consulting Crystal Ball for Future of Earth - WG COACHING

Certainly whatever his virtues, whatever his vices, I get a sense of “leader fatigue” in Erdoğan from the Turks I meet who are eager to share their political views.

Erdoğan was Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014.

He has been President of Turkey since 2014.

For many, Erdoğan is the only Turkish leader they remember in their lifetime.

AKP are tired favourites – analyst | Ahval
Above: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

There is an election due in 2023.

(As well, the Istanbul Canal is expected to be completed and Turkey is expected to make contact with the Moon.)


Will democracy be respected?

Will Erdoğan be re-elected?

(He is predicted to lose.)

I'm a loserbeatles.jpg

Will The Man Who Could Be become the Man Who Will Be?

Above: Ekrem İmamoğlu

During his term as the Mayor of Istanbul (IMM) (begun 27 June 2019), Imamoglu has introduced: 

  • Discounts on water prices and monthly student card fees
  • Free public transportation for mothers with children aged 0-4
  • Free transportation during religious-official holidays in 2020. 

Maiden's Tower
Above: Maiden’s Tower, Istanbul

Municipality administrators and employees are now served the same meal.

City assembly sessions are broadcast live on social media. 

Labour Day (1 May) was celebrated for the first time in Istanbul. 

Istanbul's Taksim Square is closed to workers again on May Day | soL  InternationaL

The Grand Istanbul Bus Station parking lot was transferred to ISPARK, unused shops were demolished and cleaned, security was increased, and free parking was initiated. 

Istanbul Otogar (Main Bus Terminal). Info. Tickets.| Istanbul7hills

The toilets of the Büyük Istanbul Bus Station were completely renewed and their fees discounted. 

Kemerburgaz City Forest, started in 2015, was opened to public use. 

Kemerburgaz City Forest opens in Istanbul - Turkey News
Above: Kemerburgaz City Forest

A 24-hour transportation service has begun over the weekend. 

A pedestrian connection tunnel for Mecidiyeköy Metrobus and the M2 and M7 subways was put into service.

Metro İstanbul logo.svg

Free public milk was distributed to families in need and scholarships were given to 30,000 university students. 

The Istanbul Statistics Office, Istanbul City Council and Istanbul Investment Agency were established. 

İstiklal Avenue
Above: Istanbul tram

In order to end the use of phaetons (carriages) on the Islands, phaetons were purchased and the horses were taken to a special shelter. 

ISPARK offered the opportunity to pay by credit card and Istanbulcard. 

ispark-logo-square – İSPARK İstanbul Otopark İşletmeleri Tic. AŞ

Suspended bills have been introduced for families who have difficulty paying their water and natural gas bills.

İSKİ Abonelik İptali – İptali ve İadesi
Above: Logo of ISKI, the city’s water supplier

Hacıosman Woods was organized and the Atatürk Urban Forest opened. 

A Trip through Tarabya

Above: Hacioman Woods

Ataturk Urban Forest logo (Istanbul).png

The Ahmet III Fountain (whose water has not flowed for 30 years) and 23 historical fountains were repaired.

Above: Ahmet III Fountain


The facility, which was tendered and ended in 2018, was put into operation to clean the 400 thousand tons of mud accumulated in the Golden Horn.

The Orhanlı TEM South Side Road Project was inaugurated.

Lanes to be Narrowed Due to Bridge Work at TEM

Fifteen kindergartens were opened in 15 districts of Istanbul. 

The M7 Mecidiyeköy – Mahmutbey Metro line was completed and put into service.

The T5 (Eminonu – Alibeyköy Mobile Bus Station) tramline’s first stage has been completed and inaugurated. 

Various criticisms have been made against Ekrem İmamoğlu since he was elected as the Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor.

  • 1,244 of the 2,000 who were hired between the two elections after taking office were dismissed. Workers reacted to the situation on social media and in front of the IMM building. His opponent in the elections, Binali Yilidirim, reminded the public of Imamoglu’s promise that no one would be fired before the election and stated that projects should be dealt with, not with workers. İmamoğlu, on the other hand, said that the dismissals were not political, but legal, and suggested re-applying for a job and said that those who were competent would be hired again.

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) holds a very important place in  local administration organization of Istanbul.  IMM has 27 municipal  enterprises, - ppt download

  • İmamoğlu gave an order for the municipal vehicles to be collected in Yenikapı Square and stated that many official vehicles were wasted. Thereupon, IMM Assembly of the AK Party Group Deputy Chairman Teyfik Goksu, accusing of İmamoğlu of black propaganda and making mountains out of mole hills. Members of the IYI Party and CHP stated that the IMM Assembly Research Commission report does not reflect the truth, and in addition to the 517 luxury vehicles returned between the two elections, a total of 1,247 vehicles were disposed of and savings were achieved. 

Testi pozitif çıkan İmamoğlu için Tevfik Göksu ne dedi?
Above: Mehmet Tevfik Göksu

  • Referring to Imamoglu, who used expressions against the Istanbul Canal, President Erdogan stated that the decision-making authority belongs to the federal government and to the Metropolitan Municipal Council.  İmamoğlu organized the “Istanbul Canal Workshop”, stating that the project directly concerns IMM, as it is a project that concerns Istanbul, and is a waste. 
Turkey's Istanbul canal project explained

  • MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli criticized Ekrem İmamoğlu’s visit to the HDP mayors who were dismissed in Diyarbakır and said, “If you say you went to represent 16 million people, you should have stopped by Mehmetçi who carried out Operation Claw.”  (Operation Claw is a cross-border operation launched by the Turkish Armed Forces against the PKK.)

Above: Devlet Bahçeli

  • An aid campaign has been launched in the fight against COVID-19, the cost of the aid parcel has been determined as 150 TL.  However, there were reactions that the packages could be cheaper. Fox News Turkey presenter Fatih Portakal said that the listed price and the actual price were inconsistent and said: “Is there something I can’t see on the list?” In response to this criticism, İmamoğlu explained that the first parcel had prototypes and deficiencies, and that the content was increased and additions were made. 

FOX News logo.jpg

Fatih Orange (6788432689) .jpg
Above: Fatih Portakal

  • In the fight against COVID-19, the IMM’s removal of 24/7 travel in public transport and reduction of flights caused reactions on the grounds that it would increase passenger density. In some images, social distancing and hygiene rules were not followed and there was a lot of reaction. In response, İmamoğlu considered the crowd in the images taken on a bus and whose occupancy caused reaction, as “organized evil“.  In the criminal complaint of the IMM, it was stated that “47 passengers got into the vehicle at the Fazilet stop on the Kağıthane-Kabataş line no. 62“. The Prosecutor’s Office decided not to prosecute on the grounds that IMM’s complaints and press statements did not reflect the truth and that criminal elements did not occur. After the decision, IMM spokesman Murat Ongun said that they made a mistake regarding the incident. 

Murat Ongun kimdir?
Above: Murat Ongun

  • Saying that before he was elected, Imamoglu had an unnecessary amount of official vehicles in IMM, he was criticized for opening a new tender to rent 750 vehicles. Making an announcement upon these criticisms, İSKİ stated that the tender was made to replace expired service vehicles and that savings were made by reducing the number of vehicles from 990 to 750. 

Reaction to the vehicle sultanate of IMM administration with CHP

Will people remember Erdogan’s accomplishments as national leader or only his nepotism?

Will people reward İmamoğlu with a national mandate or will they choose former AKP leaders with their newly-established political parties?

Time will tell and character will count.

Above: İmamoğlu makes a press release after the March 31 elections, 3 April 2019

As I think about the fate of Faure and his mistress, the election of 2020, the encounter with The Man Who, and the problems that plague Turkey today, I am convinced that it is the question of character that connects them all.

Barring accident, incident or illness, we are who we choose to be.

Character is Karma.

What will your Karma be?

The artists name is on a background with a Apple catalog number

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Facebook / L.A. Carlyon, Gallipoli / Firat Erez, “Turkish opposition gains momentum with corruption display“, Ahval, 7 September 2019 / Andrew Finkel, Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know / Peter Furtado, History Day by Day: 366 Voices From The Past / Lonely Planet Turkey / “Election will turn on the person more than the policy“, Los Angeles Times, 25 August 2020 / Abhinav Pandya, “Erdogan’s recent activism on Kashmir is motivated by Turkish President’s caliphate dreams“, Firstpost, 25 November 2019 / Ezel Schinkaya and Ozem Yascik, “Turkey bans Kurdish rendition of Italian play, saying it promotes PKK“, Voice of America, 17 October 2020 / Manish Shirkla, “Corruption allegations bring embarrassment to Erdogan“, Zee News, 31 December 2020 / “Lather and Nothing Else“, Hernando Téllez, Ashes for the Wind / Immanuel Wallerstein, Chaotic Uncertainty: Reflections on Islam, the Middle East and the World System

Canada Slim and That Which Can’t Be Had

Eskisehir, Turkey, Friday 7 May 2021

It is odd what can get under one’s skin.

On Wednesday morning, just before leaving my apartment to catch a train to Konya, my only practical knife decided to break.

This afternoon I walked over to ES Park shopping centre and the sole store open in this latest “total” lockdown (MMM Migros) (not sure of the reason for the MMM) to buy a knife.

Anything that isn’t edible, save for newspapers, (perhaps they are edible as well?) has been cordoned off with sticky tape resembling that securing a crime scene investigation.

I was somewhat mystified last week as to why all alcoholic beverages were rendered off-limits to consumers and I figure that the rationale must be that alcohol drinking is a social activity and socializing spreads a pandemic.

But I am baffled and bothered as to why buying a frying pan or a knife or a pen constitutes a clear and present danger to the health of the Turkish people.

The argument I hear is that the pandemic is airborne but can be transmitted onto the surfaces of anything that has come into contact with the virus.

But if this is so and a person with the virus comes into the store and shops only in the designated areas, he/she will nevertheless transmit the virus onto the edibles anyway.

The virus’ spread isn’t so much affected by too many tactile surfaces that a person can touch, but rather too many people who won’t wear their masks in the correct manner, with both mouth and nose completely covered.

Honestly, I am not certain if the powers that be truly know what to do in these extraordinary times.

Flag of Turkey

Above: Flag of Turkey

If the media can be believed, people last week continued to violate Turkey’s curfew rules after the country entered a “full” lockdown that will last for 17 days.

COVID-19 in Turkey - Cumulative positive cases per 100k residents.svg
Above: Covid-19 in Turkey – Cumulative positive cases per 100k residents as of 7 May 2021 (The darker the region, the more cases therein) (As of 11 May 2021, there are 5, 059, 033 cases (29% of the population) with 43,589 deaths.)

Some 66,161 people broke curfew rules between 26 April and 3 May, the country’s Interior Ministry said on Monday (3 May).

A man walks on otherwise busy Istiklal Avenue, in Istanbul, Turkey, May 3, 2021. (AA PHOTO)

The Ministry, however, stressed that a majority of citizens obeyed the lockdown which came into effect on the evening of 29 April.

Data provided by the Ministry show that the number of people who violated the weeknight curfews and weekend lockdowns stood at 42,000 between 19 April and 26 April, rising from 33,000 in the previous week.

Ministry of the Interior (Turkey) logo.svg
Above: Logo of the Ministry of the Interior

From 5 April and 12 April, authorities took procedural and administrative actions against a total of 24,400 violators.

The increase in the number of people subjected to actions for violating the curfews could be related to intensified nationwide in the wake of the full lockdown.

Limited violations reported during weekend COVID-19 curfew in Turkey |  Daily Sabah

The government imposed the full lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of the corona virus after the daily infections and deaths from Covid-19 climbed record highs.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

During the 17-day lockdown, most businesses, except for those operating in essential industries, will be closed while intercity travel is also banned and subjected to special permission from authorities.

Authorities are issuing special permits for employees who are exempted from the lockdown.

The Interior Ministry reported on 3 May that nearly 4 million such permission documents have been issued via the online registry system e-Devlet.

Long lockdown triggers exodus from big cities - Turkey News

Police units are carrying our inspections, setting up checkpoints in and around cities and on highways to enforce the travel ban.

The authorities are also issuing special travel exemption permits for certain emergencies.

Curfew violations continue amid full lockdown - Turkey News

I have seen checkpoints.

I have not seen arrests.

I have not read anything about anyone arrested.

Over 2 million exemption permits issued during Turkey's lockdown - Turkey  News

It seems that, if the media is to be believed, more than 10 million people in Turkey have already been given both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, while nearly 14.4 million people have received their first dose of the jab, data from the country’s Health Ministry have shown.

Turkey's COVID-19 vaccination goes on at full speed

Turkey launched its vaccination program against the corona virus on 14 January.

To date, it had administered more than 24.4 million doses of the injection to its citizens, including the first and the second doses.

COVID-19 vaccinations in Turkey exceed 1 million in 1st week | Daily Sabah

Turkey has inked agreements for a total of 240 million doses of the corona virus vaccines developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac, Pfizer/BioNTech and Russia’s Sputnik V, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reminded following a Science Board meeting on 5 May, noting that there is three times the country’s population.

See caption
Above: Russia’s Sputnik 5 vaccine

Fahrettin Koca 20200311 2.jpg
Above: Fahrettin Koca

To date, Turkey has signed deals for 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and another 50 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccines.

Covid19 vaccine biontech pfizer 3.jpg

It has been using the Chinese and the Pfizer/BioNTech injections in its inoculation drive.

SINOVAC COVID-19 vaccine.jpg

Koca also said that the daily number of virus cases has declined over the past 15 days thanks to measures and restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The effects of this decline have also started to be seen in hospitalization with a ten-day lag, he added.

The government introduced a full lockdown from 29 April to 17 May after Covid-19 infections hit record highs, hitting around 60,000 daily cases.

Infections fell below 50,000 starting 23 April and continued to decline gradually in the following days, coming down to some 26,500 on 5 May.

The favourable impact of those measures will also be seen in the numbr of patients in critical condition and fatalities in these days,” Koca said.

COVID-19: Turkey announces full lockdown from Thursday

Talk on the street does not seem to correlate with the media’s spin.

No one seems to know anyone who has received the vaccine.

Rumours suggest that the vaccine may be running out.

No one knows what to believe or whom to trust.

All I know is I cannot buy a knife for my kitchen and must eat meat from my hand and tear it apart with my teeth.

Fortunately, I still have fire and language, so I haven’t completely devolved yet.

Premium Vector | Cartoon caveman eating meat

Still the lockdown has put a number of things into perspective.

Namely, a keen awareness of loss, a disappointment, an anger, a deeply-felt sadness, in the belated recognition that what we once had is now unavailable to us.

We cannot acquire what we once did, cannot celebrate life as we once did, cannot move about as we once did, cannot live as we did before.

We do survive nonetheless.

We learn to do without.

We learn to not do what we once did.

Turkish Lockdown Calls Grow as Epidemic Continues | Voice of America -  English

I am reminded of the movie Down and Out in Beverly Hills.

Imagine a world where you are surrounded by everything you cannot have, seeing others do what you cannot do.

They who have cannot perceive a life of the have-nots until they themselves have not.

You cannot truly comprehend a life of prosperity if you yourself have not prospered.

So we try to find what joys we can within the realities we know.

For some, there comes a time when the reality they know must be abandoned for the chance of finding another reality.

Down and Out in Beverly Hills.jpg

For some, there is a moment when they wonder what Shakespeare really meant when he wrote:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy

– Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 5, Stanzas 167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

Is there more to life, more to living, than what we know, than what we have experienced?

A lockdown puts life into perspective.

We see what we once had and appreciate it only once it is denied us.

It is not without irony that this particular lockdown is happening within the month of Ramadan.

Turkey braces for toughest lockdown against COVID-19 pandemic | Daily Sabah

Ramadan, the month of the fast, whose name comes from the Arabic root r-m-d, “the green heat“, from the soaring heat in the deserts of Arabia, is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar.

It is special month for Muslims, and thus for Turks, as it was during this month that Muhammad received the call to be a prophet, and God (Allah) Himself instructed that this month should be the official month of fasting.

Ramadan is abut remembering to take nothing for granted and about removing daily distractions so that the mind is better able to focus on closeness with Allah.

On a practical level, this means no eating, drinking, smoking or sex from dawn to sunset for an entire month.

In the wider scheme, while fasting it is especially encouraged that the believer avoids sin, such as lying, violence, greed, lust, slander, anger, and evil thoughts.

The fast is about self-discipline and a Muslim is called to make an extra effort to cultivate a more spiritual outlook.

Ramadan montage.jpg
Above: Images of Ramadan

The observance of Ramadan is regarded as a source of blessing and not as a time of trial.

Muslims generally look forward to this time of bodily and spiritual cleansing, and do not view it as being arduous or a chore.

They hold it as a special period that brings them back in touch with the values at the heart of their faith.

They see it as a healthy time, during which rich foods are avoided and their digestive systems can be rested and cleaned.

At Ramadan, Muslims are given the opportunity to master all their natural appetites, mental, spiritual and physical.

It also allows them an opportunity to get together with friends and family, and to share their food after the hour of sunset.

According to Islamic tradition, during this time the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of Hell are closed, and Satan is put into chains.

Hence, fasting during Ramadan is considered thirty times better than at any other time, although many Muslims do fast at other times, some even on a weekly basis.

Mobile Behavior in Turkey During Ramadan - AdColony

(By this standard, I am certain that I could never be a Muslim.)

Muslims welcome holy month of Ramadan

Ramadan observances do vary slightly from culture to culture, but most Muslims begin the fast, according to the Qu’ran‘s instruction, at the moment when dawn makes it possible to distinguish “a white thread from a black thread“.

They then break the fast as soon as possible at sunset, eating a light meal later in the evening, with perhaps a final light meal in the early pre-dawn hours before the next morning’s fast begins – but this all depends on local custom and personal preference.

The evening is a time of relaxation, of visiting, of prayer and Qur’anic recitation.

Printed Qur’ans divide the text into thirty sections to facilitate reading the whole book during Ramadan.

Many Muslims accomplish this.

Sounds of recitation punctuate the evening air.

Many go to the mosque during the evening, especially during the last ten days of the month.

Çay, Dolma and Künefe: A Look into a Delicious Turkish Ramadan | Mvslim

(Or would if the lockdown permitted.)

Government weighing stricter measures during Ramadan - Turkey News

Muslims say that Ramadan demands a certain spiritual attitude towards the body.

The hunger, supplemented by the prohibition on perfume and make-up, brings a Muslim back every year to what is regarded as a more natural state.

Whether it be experiencing the hunger of the less fortunate, expiating one’s sins, forgiving others theirs, renewing contact with one’s nearest and dearest, or simply taming one’s passions, a time of fasting is about reflection and contemplation, a return to the core values of Islam, and a reassessment of what it means to be a Muslim.

Whatever cultural variances exist between customs at Ramadan, overall the month is seen by Muslims as a very special time.

There is a feeling of camarderie.

The fast is a great leveller and brings out the best in everyone, whether rich or poor.

The problem is camarderie breeds contagion and thus the reason for the lockdown.

For our individual survival we must remain apart, separate from one another.

Collective Ramadan prayers cancelled amid virus scare in Turkey | Daily  Sabah

And it was this theme that followed our footsteps this past Valentine’s Day as we prepared ourselves for the separation to come….

Antique Valentine 1909 01.jpg

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Sunday 14 February 2021

I cannot speak of the lives of other married couples, for no man can know of another man’s relationship with his maiden.

Or put another way, in the words of Charlie Rich:

No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.

Cover of the Behind Closed Doors album with the singer Charlie Rich in a cowboy hat.

As well, I am an introverted man from a culture and a generation where men, even the closest of friends, do not share details of intimacy about their significant others.

The secrets of the bedroom are rarely the confessions of the barroom (or the blogpost).

I am not of the generation which tells all online, though I cannot deny that there is within me a certain begruding admiration for those who are courageous enough to reveal themselves so fearlessly and publicly.

I am not as brave.

Above: Photo from Jupiter’s Lair WordPress blog (

On this Valentine’s Day 2021 the headlines were as grim as they ever were with the predominant headlines still those connected with Covid-19.

Stop Reading the News: A Manifesto for a Happier, Calmer and Wiser Life:  Dobelli, Rolf:

Peru’s Foreign Minister Elizabeth Astete resigned amid an uproar over secret vaccination before the country receives one million doses for health workers.

Peru’s Foreign Minister has resigned amid uproar over government officials being secretly vaccinated against corona virus before the country recently received 1 million doses for health workers facing a resurgence in the pandemic.

Esther Astete 02 (cropped).jpg
Above: Elizabeth Astete

President Francisco Sagasti confirmed that Elizabeth Astete had stepped down and told a local television channel that Peruvians should feel “outraged and angry about this situation that jeopardises the enormous effort of many Peruvians working on the frontline against Covid”.

Francisco Sagasti president.jpg
Above: Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti

The scandal erupted on Thursday when the former President Martín Vizcarra, who was dismissed by Congress on 9 November over a corruption allegation, confirmed a newspaper report that he and his wife had secretly received shots of a vaccine from the Chinese state pharmaceutical company Sinopharm in October.

Martin Vizcarra (Presidential Portrait) (cropped).jpg
Above: Martin Vizcarra

Pilar Mazzetti resigned as Health Minister on Friday after legislators accused her of concealing information.

Above: Pilar Mazetti

Sagasti tweeted that during Vizcarra’s administration, an extra 2,000 doses of the vaccine had been received from Sinopharm and that “some senior public officials were vaccinated”.

Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine (2021) K (cropped).jpeg
Above: Sinopharm Coivd-19 vaccine

The new Health Minister, Óscar Ugarte, said on Sunday night that Sagasti had ordered the resignation of all officials who secretly received the Chinese vaccine.

Ugarte said an investigation was under way to identify officials who were secretly vaccinated in September.

Óscar Ugarte.jpg
Above: Óscar Ugarte

Astete, who led the Peruvian negotiations to buy the 1 million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, released a statement on Sunday in which she said she was vaccinated with the first dose on 22 January.

“I am aware of the serious mistake I made, which is why I decided not to receive the second dose.”

Peru bought the vaccines in early January at a price that is secret under the contract.

Doctors and nurses have protested because they were not included in the first lists to be vaccinated with doses received from Sinopharm.

The pandemic has caused the deaths of 306 doctors and 125 nurses, with more than 20,000 doctors and nurses being infected.

Peru has had more than 1.2 million cases of corona virus, with 43,703 deaths related to Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases around the world.

Flag of Peru
Above: Flag of Peru

Myanmar’s new military regime warned the public not to harbour fugitive political activists on Sunday (14 February) after issuing arrest warrants for veteran democracy campaigners supporting massive nationwide anti-coup protests.

Much of the country has been in uproar since the previous week when soldiers detained Aung San Suu Kyi and ousted her government, ending a decade-old fledgeling democracy after generations of junta rule.

Remise du Prix Sakharov à Aung San Suu Kyi Strasbourg 22 octobre 2013-18.jpg
Above: Aung San Suu Kyi

Security forces have stepped up arrests of doctors and others joining a civil disobedience movement that has seen huge crowds throng streets across big urban centres and isolated villages in mountainous frontier communities.

Police are now hunting seven people who have lent vocal support to the protests, including some of the country’s most famous democracy activists.

If you find any fugitives mentioned above or if you have information about them, report to the nearest police station,” said a notice in state media on Sunday.

Those who receive them will face action in accordance with the law.

Above: Thousands of protesters participate in an anti-military rally in Yangon

Among the list of fugitives was Min Ko Naing, who spent more than a decade in prison for helping lead protests against an earlier dictatorship in 1988 while a university student.

They are arresting the people at night and we have to be careful,” he said in a video published Saturday to Facebook, skirting a junta ban on the platform, hours before his arrest warrant was issued.

They could crack down forcefully and we will have to be prepared.”

Above: Min Ko Naing

The 1988 protests vaulted Aung San Suu Kyi to the top of Myanmar’s democracy movement, and the Nobel laureate spent years under house arrest as a prisoner of the generals.

She has not been seen in public since she was detained on 1 February alongside top aides.

Nearly 400 others have been arrested in the days since including many of Aung San Suu Kyi’s top political allies, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners logo.png
Above: Logo of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP)

Military leader Min Aung Hlaing suspended requiring warrants for home searches and limiting detentions without court orders to 24 hours as part of several legal manoeuvres issued on Saturday.

Min Aung Hlaing in April 2019 (cropped).jpg
Above: Min Aung Hlaing

People in some urban neighbourhoods have begun forming neighbourhood watch brigades to monitor their communities overnight – defying a junta curfew – and prevent the arrests of residents participating in the civil disobedience movement.

Crowds returned to the streets of Yangon on Sunday, with hundreds massing on an intersection near the commercial capital’s famed Shwedagon Pagoda.

Shwedagon Pagoda 2017.jpg
Above: Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

A day earlier, Buddhist monks gathered outside the city’s US embassy and chanted the Metta Sutta, a prayer that urges protection from harm.

We wanted them to know most citizens in Myanmar are against the military,” said Vicittalankara, one of the participants.

Anger over arrests in Myanmar at anti-coup protests - News Chant

The country’s new military leadership has so far been unmoved by a torrent of international condemnation.

An emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council on Friday called for the new regime to release all “arbitrarily detained” people and for the military to hand power back to Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration.

United Nations Human Rights Council Logo.svg
Above: Logo for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

Solidarity protests have been staged in neighbouring Thailand, home to a large community of Myanmar migrant workers, as well as the United States, Japan and Australia.

But traditional allies of the country’s armed forces, including Russia and China, have dissociated themselves from what they have described as interference in Myanmar’s “internal affairs“.

The junta insists it took power lawfully and has instructed journalists in the country not to refer to itself as a government that took power in a coup.

We inform journalists and news media organisations not to write to cause public unrest,” said a notice sent by the information ministry to the country’s foreign correspondents’ club late on Saturday.

It also instructed reporters to follow “news media ethics” while reporting events in the country.

Flag of Myanmar
Above: Flag of Myanmar

Guinea has declared an Ebola epidemic after three people died and four others became ill in the country’s southeast.

The seven people fell ill with diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding after attending a burial in Goueke, near the Liberian border.

The infected patients have been isolated in treatment centres, the health ministry said on Sunday.

Faced with this situation and in accordance with international health regulations, the Guinean government declares an Ebola epidemic,” the ministry said in a statement.

The deaths are the first in Guinea since a 2013-2016 epidemic which left 11,300 dead across West Africa [File: Cellou Binani/AFP]

Health Minister Remy Lamah said officials were “really concerned” about the deaths, the first since a 2013 – 2016 epidemic  – which began in Guinea – left 11,300 dead across West Africa.

The vast majority of cases were in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A second round of tests is being carried out to confirm the latest Ebola diagnosis and health workers are working to trace and isolate the contacts of the cases, state health agency ANSS said.

Pourquoi les travailleurs de la santé sont importants, par Dr. Col. Rémy  Lamah - YouTube
Above: Remy Lamah

It reported Guinea would contact the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international health agencies to acquire Ebola vaccines.

The vaccines have greatly improved survival rates in recent years.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the resurgence of Ebola in Guinea was a “huge concern”.

Health teams in Guinea are on the move to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections,” she said.

WHO is supporting the authorities to set up testing, contact-tracing and treatment structures and to bring the overall response to full speed.”

World Health Organization Logo.svg

Speaking to Al Jazeera from the Guinean capital, Conakry, Dr Yuma Taido – of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – said it was not clear how people had come into contact with the virus.

We are preparing to manage the outbreak.

We can’t explain yet how this epidemic came about.

The response team are heading to the epicentre of the outbreak from today,” Taido said.

Two flags waving
Above: Flags of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent

Meanwhile next door in Liberia, President George Weah on Sunday put his country’s health authorities on heightened alert.

Weah “has mandated the Liberian health authorities and related stakeholders in the sector to heighten the country’s surveillance and preventative activities in the wake of reports of the emergence of the deadly Ebola virus disease in neighbouring Guinea”, his office said in a statement.

President George Weah in 2019 (cropped).jpg
Above: Liberian President George Weah

Neighouring DRC has faced several outbreaks of the illness, with the WHO on Thursday confirming a resurgence three months after authorities declared the end of the country’s latest outbreak.

DRC, which declared the six-month epidemic over in November, confirmed a fourth case in North Kivu province on Sunday.

The widespread use of Ebola vaccinations, which were administered to more than 40,000 people, helped curb the disease.

Flag of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Above: Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The 2013 – 2016 spread sped up the development of the vaccine against Ebola, with a global emergency stockpile of 500,000 doses planned to respond quickly to future outbreaks, the vaccine alliance Gavi said in January.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Insurgents killed at least 11 civilians and three soldiers in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, the army said.

Fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked the town of Ndalya in Ituri region, killing at least 11 civilians, Ituri province army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Ngongo told AFP.

He added that in the ensuing fighting “three members of the armed forces fell on the battlefield” and the troops “neutralised four ADF elements“.

The enemy retreated into the bush,” he said.

We are still pursuing them so that we can put the people out of danger.

Ndalya is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the Ituri capital Bunia.

16 Killed, Church Burned When Suspected Islamic Terrorists Attack Village  in Africa's DRC - Tendo Radio

After a month of relative calm, a resurgence of attacks attributed to the ADF began earlier this month.

Originally Muslim rebels from neighbouring Uganda, the ADF settled in the DRC in 1995.

Flag of the Allied Democratic Forces.svg
Above: Flag of the Allied Democratic Forces

The UN has said 468 deaths in the east were attributed to the ADF in the second half of 2020, including 108 women and 15 children.

Flag of United Nations Arabic: منظمة الأمم المتحدة‎ Chinese: 联合国 French: Organisation des Nations unies Russian: Организация Объединённых Наций Spanish: Organización de las Naciones Unidas
Above: Flag of the United Nations

Militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have executed 13 kidnapped Turks, including military and police personnel, in a cave in northern Iraq, Turkish officials said on Sunday, amid a military operation against the group.

Forty eight PKK militants were killed during the military operation, while three Turkish soldiers were killed and three wounded, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement.

Twelve of the kidnapped Turks had been shot in the head and one in the shoulder, he said.

Turkey launched the military operation against the PKK in northern Iraq’s Gara region, some 35 km (22 miles) south of the Turkish border, on 10 February to secure its frontier and find citizens who had been kidnapped previously, he said.

The governor of Malatya province in southeast Turkey named six soldiers and two police officers, kidnapped in separate incidents in 2015 and 2016, as being among those killed in the cave.

Three of the dead have yet to be identified in autopsies being carried out in Malatya.

One senior security source told Reuters that Turkish intelligence personnel were among the dead.

According to initial information given by two terrorists captured alive, our citizens were martyred at the start of the operation by the terrorist responsible for the cave,” Akar said at the operation’s control centre near the Iraq border.

Hulusi Akar (cropped, 2019).jpg
Above: Hulusi Akar

A statement on a PKK website said some prisoners it was holding, including Turkish intelligence, police and military personnel, had died during clashes in the area.

The group denied it had ever hurt prisoners.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, launched its armed insurgency in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

In the last two years Turkey’s fight against the PKK has increasingly focused on northern Iraq, where the group has its stronghold in the Qandil mountains on the Iranian border.

Flag of Kurdistan Workers' Party.svg
Above: Flag of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)

The presidency’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter that as Turkey mourns it dead it also reiterates its commitment to “chase down every last terrorist hiding in their caves and safe houses”.

Our revenge will be painful.

Our justice will be swift,” he said, slamming the West’s “deafening silence” in the face of PKK attacks and pledging “steps against individuals and groups glorifying and encouraging terrorism at home and abroad”.

Fahrettin Altun'un paylaşımlarını yayan 'sahte hesap ordusu' ortaya çıktı
Above: Fahrettin Altun

In 2017, Turkey’s foreign minister said Ankara was working to bring back citizens he said had been kidnapped by the PKK, after Turkish media reported two Turkish intelligence officers had been captured by the PKK in Iraq.

Mevlut Cavusoglu portrait.jpg
Above: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Not in Peru, Myanmar, the Congo or in Turkey did the day seem to be expressive of love.

Where Is the Love - Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway.jpg

As I have written in my last blogpost, Germans (of which my wife is one) generally do not celebrate Valentine’s Day in the manner in which my North American, British or Australasian friends do, but under my influence she has compromised over the years to the point where we would have a Valentine’s Day dinner, usually over the border in Konstanz, Germany.

But Valentine’s Day 2021 meant restaurants in both Switzerland and Germany were closed and though mask wearing outdoors was no longer practiced in Switzerland, dining out still remained impossible at this time.

Unable to dine out as we formerly did, we did something we often do when we wish to engage in discussion with one another.

We went for a walk.

Flag of Germany
Above: Flag of Germany

I will never claim to be an expert on relationships, despite having been in a long-term one with my wife for a quarter of a century.

But there seems to be a certain truism in the notion that they rarely evolve in the manner in which one had expected.


Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.

(I find the inclusion of “lock” in combination with “wed” interesting.)

Above: Love padlocks, Butchers’ Bridge, Ljubljana, Slovenia

And it is in this definition where problems arise between couples in the individual interpretation of what precisely is meant by “rights and obligations“, what one should get from the marriage, what one should give to the marriage.

Above: The ancient Germanic married couple Arminius (18 BC – 21 AD) and Thusnelda engaged in a romantic encounter

It is considered a cultural universal, but the definition of marriage varies between cultures and religions, and over time.

Above: Nepali wedding

I cannot speak to the variation of marriages between religions, though I am acquainted with couples from different faiths.

Ute and I are, statistically, of the same Christian faith, but beyond our origins she remains a good Catholic and I, at best, could be considered an uncommitted agnostic if not faithless barbarian.

R.E.M. - Losing My Religion.jpg

Our different cultural roots have caused tensions between us.

There are indeed differences between those raised as Canadians and those raised as Germans.

If I had to choose one main difference between our cultures it would be in our approaches to decision-making.

A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.
Above: Flag of Canada

Generally speaking, from my perspective, a German will make a decision only if he / she has meticulously planned the outcome and has prepared for the inevitable result that was calculated.

A Canadian, on the other hand, while no less wise, is more laissez-faire in this regard, assuming that even the best-laid plans can, and probably will, go astray.

Embassy and Consulates of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canada | So  German!
Above: German Embassy, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

A German will do a thing only when he / she is certain that it is a wise and permissible thing to do.

A Canadian will do a thing until he / she is certain that it is not wise or permissible to do something.

Canadian Embassy Berlin / KPMB Architects with Gagnon + Gagnon Letellier  Cyr architectes + Smith Carter Architects + Engineers | ArchDaily
Above: Canadian Embassy, Berlin, Germany

A German will try something and will be utterly shocked when things do not go according to plan.

A Canadian will try and sometimes fail but is mostly undaunted by the setback and will simply try, try again.

At the top there is a rendition of St. Edward's Crown, with the crest of a crowned gold lion standing on a twisted wreath of red and white silk and holding a maple leaf in its right paw underneath. The lion is standing on top of a helm, which is above the escutcheon, ribbon, motto and compartment. There is a supporter of either side of the escutcheon and ribbon; an English lion on the left and a Scottish unicorn on the right.
Above: Coat of arms of Canada

As pairings go, it is unsurprisingly that there are marriages between Canadians and Germans, for their differences compliment one another.

Coat of arms of Germany
Above: Coat of arms of Germany

This Canadian should be more disciplined, more calculating in his life planning.

My German wife should have more faith in the instinct and intuition that make Canadians resilient to change.

A projection of North America with Canada highlighted in green
Above: Canada (in green)

Germans have a history where doing what is expected of them has led them down dark alleys in their past.

Canadians, though not without blemishes or mistakes, continue to evolve into compassionate humanists that have earned the world’s respect through hard, but brave, experimentation, trial and error, challenge and success.

EU-Germany (orthographic projection).svg
Above: Germany (in dark green) and the European Union (light green)

Typically, marriage is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned.

Above: Newlyweds leaving for their honeymoon boarding a Trans-Canada Air Lines plane, Montreal, 1946

I do not wish to discuss my intimate relations in such an open forum as this, but it does seem to me that there is pressure upon couples that sexual congress should eventually lead to matrimony.

In fact, a theme that is shared in both national cultures is the question:

So, where is this relationship going?

There is the notion that sex must lead to marriage, but nowhere is there written the promise that marriage will lead to the continuation of the intimacy that led them to the altar.

In a way I think that it is this expectation of result, that a relationship must be going somewhere, that it must be controlled and driven rather than simply evolving on its own, that is the cause of much of the tension that exists between couples.

The marriage of Inanna and Dumuzid
Above: Ancient Sumerian depiction of the marriage of the goddess Inanna and the god Dumuzid

In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity.

As much as I can see some wisdom in this thinking, for sex carries with it not only risks of contagion or pregnancy, along with the argument that the intimate act may be more than simply an intermingling of bodies but as well could be an intertwining of minds and souls, but there may also be wisdom in finding out before the commitment of matrimony whether or not there is an intimate compatability between the partners.

How important intimacy is to each partner, how intimacy should be experienced, is a bone of contention for many couples.

There are couples wherein sex is the pivot point upon which its continuance is predetermined, where there are expectations of quantity and quality that must be met for the relationship to survive.

A situation where one spouse demands from the other an obligation to meet certain standards of intimacy or else.

But I think when sex becomes an obligation rather than a spontaneous desire then the spark that founded the relationship no longer generates the heat that it once did.

Above: Wedding of Louis XIV of France (1638 – 1715) and Maria Theresa of Spain (1638 – 1683), an arranged marriage

I cannot nor will not speak for any other person but myself.

I consider the sharing of intimacy an amazing gift that is bestowed upon me.

I consider it a privilege, not a right.

If intimacy is not occuring in the frequency or intensity one hopes this is not the sole fault or responsibility of one’s partner to meet the other’s expectations.

Happiness is not given.

It is shared.

If a relationship hinges solely upon intimacy then perhaps the foundations of that relationship are not as strong as they could be.

Sex may be the spark that lit the flames, but it takes more than sex to keep the home fires burning.

A marriage ceremony is called a wedding.

And this is what a wedding is:

Ceremony, pomp lending, bestowing, significance to the circumstances.

How much planning, how much expense, is put into this (in theory) a once-in-a-lifetime event!

How much attention is given to making every bride’s whim realized!

From the moment a couple decides to make their union a formal affair comes the implicit understanding that formality has standards, expectations, that must be met.

What once was casual, natural and spontaneous, is transformed into demand and obligation.

Game over.

Time to get serious.

Above: White wedding, Pennsylvania, USA

Individuals may marry for several reasons, including legal, social, libidinal, emotional, financial, spiritual and religious purposes.

Marriage allows certain rights, creates social settings, adds permissiveness to intimacy and legitimacy to offspring, offers tax advantages and economic security, and makes the moral happy that the union has taken ethics into consideration.

Above: Roman Catholic white wedding, the Philippines

Whom they marry may be influenced by gender, socially determined rules of incest, prescriptive marriage rules, parental choice and individual desire.

Above: Muslim wedding, Tunisia

Certainly I am all for genetic sensibility.

There is both a physical and psychological wrongness in intimacy within one’s family.

Above: Family chart showing relatives who, in Islamic Sharia law, would be considered mahrim (or maharem): unmarriageable kin with whom sexual intercourse would be considered incestuous

And, yes, there are definitely prohibitions of behaviour that marriage dictates, many of them hinging upon avoiding the legal, social, emotional, financial and moral complications that violations of these dictates may produce.

As well, though the relationship should really be only about the wishes and desires of the partners, there are many influences upon the couple to conform and confirm the expectations of others, usually family and friends.

The word “should” is frequently inserted into these discussions.

Above: Hindu wedding, India

In an ideal world, the opinions of the world regarding the relationship of the couple should not matter to the couple.

Alas, this is not so.

Too often the opinions of others matter too much, sometimes to the point of mattering more than the stability of the marriage.

How often I have heard of partners not respecting one another’s opinion until confirmed by others outside the relationship!

Above: Wedding party, Lillienhoff Palace, Stockholm, Sweden

I have no parental role models to whom I have been able to seek counsel or comfort, so it has been difficult for me to fully comprehend those who do depend upon their families in steering the course of the relationship.

I assume that a family ultimately supports their members and seeks only their happiness.

I have been informed that this is not always the case in some families.

Where I think marriage becomes questionable is the division between what is good for the separate individuals within the union and what is good for the union.

It is this last upon which this blogpost hinges.

Above: Khmer wedding, Cambodia

In some areas of the world arranged marriage, child marriage, polygamy and forced marriage are practiced.

In other areas such practices are outlawed to preserve women’s rights or children’s rights (both female and male) or as a result of international law.

Above: Kandyan wedding, Sri Lanka

I cannot tell another culture how they should behave, for I know not enough about other cultures for me to act as judge and jury over others.

When it comes to arranged or forced marriages, personally, I want to accept the blame for my marriage.

I am not looking for others to blame!

I am against any union that is not made by the two consenting adults within that relationship.

Above: traditional wedding, Jomala, Äland, Finland

As for what constitutes a child, I am referring to not only physical maturity but emotional maturity as well.

Frankly, there are a number of adults for whom emotional maturity remains elusive.

Depending upon whom one speaks to, even I in my 50s might be considered less mature than I should be!

Above: Shinto wedding, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo, Japan

As for polygamy and promiscuity, I confess to being too lazy for infidelity or being involved with more than one woman.

Honestly, I can barely cope with one woman at a time.

I cannot imagine the complexity of more than one.

Above: The Harem Fountain, Frederick Arthur Bridgeman

Marriage has historically restricted the rights of women, who are sometimes considered the property of the husband.

I must confess that I have never been a fan of “my” to describe someone’s connection with me, for “my” does indeed infer ownership.

My” wife does not belong to me, no matter how much I might wish her to be with me.

It has always been, remains, and shall always be a woman’s choice to remain with me or not, to do as she will or not, regardless of how I may feel.

She makes her own choices.

It is up to me to decide if I can live with those choices.

I do not have the right to dictate what those choices should be.

Above: Assyrian wedding, Mechelen, Belgium

Around the world, primarily in developed democracies, there has been a general trend towards ensuring equal rights for women within marriage (including abolishing coverture, liberalizing divorce laws, and reforming reproductive and sexual rights) and legally recognizing the marriages of interfaith, interracial, and same sex couples.

Above: Jewish wedding

I am all for equal rights for women, for a relationship should be based on mutual respect for one another.

Above: Criticism about the Azeri (Azerbajan) society tradition from domestic violence to the social and political participation of women in the community – Azerbaijani magazine criticising the practice of forced marriage, domestic violence, and the social and political participation of women in society. Forced marriage is the theme for the cartoon with the caption in Russian Svobodnaya lyubov – Free love. The image should be read from right to left as Arabic script was used to write Azeri at the time. 
On the right: If you do not want to go voluntarily, I will take you by force. 
On the left: The akhun – cleric says: “Lady, since you don’t say anything, it seems that you agree. By the order of God I marry you to this gentleman.”

How a woman chooses to cover or not cover herself must always be her choice.

I do believe a woman is too easily influenced by what she thinks others think she should appear, but how she wishes to appear must remain her choice.

Woman wearing a niqab with baby
Above: Woman in niqab, Aleppo, Syria

Above: Young woman in a bikini, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, USA

(Sadly, this is not a two-way street.

Too many women believe their men are fashionably stunted idiots when it comes to dressing themselves and are quick to tell their menfolk what they should or shouldn’t wear.)

MU Fashion Police (@MUFashionPolice) | Twitter

In respect to divorce, there is no question that marriage is not only a romantic liaison, but as well it is a financial arrangement, and it is in the division of assets that divorce can truly become a messy affair.

If marriage were not intertwined with emotions then discussion of its dissolution would be something that could be done dispassionately.

But fear and anger are invariably part and parcel of a marriage’s demise.

We live in a world where too often the disparity between a man’s wealth and a woman’s wealth is greatly in his favour.

This was a situation I never sought.

I have never wanted the reason a woman remains by my side, or the reason I remain by hers, to be financial.

A couple should not remain together because the financial consequences of their separation are too frightening to contemplate.

I married a doctor.

She married a freelance contract teacher and would-be writer.

Inequality of income between us was inherently clear from the start.

I do not want to be financially dependent on her and the nature of my chosen profession has meant that I have had to be.

Finances were never the reason for my seeking her hand in marriage nor my reason for remaining.

I have felt only pride in her accomplishments and I have done my best to contribute to our union despite the disparity of our incomes.

I have never wanted her to remain with me out of fear that a divorce would demand from her to financially recompense me for that disparity.

Above: Parsi wedding, Iran

Certainly living with a woman lends to a man’s life a home of comfort and luxuries that he might not otherwise have desired without her influence.

But of all that I might label as my possessions the only thing I truly value has been my library.

Our separation has taught me not only what it is that I need to live, but as well that which I must learn to live without.

As I age certainly I enjoy creature comforts like any other social animal, but the problem with possessions is that we don’t only possess them, they also possess us.

There is a kind of liberty, an intangible sense of freedom, to having the extent of your wealth defined only by what you can physically carry.

It is a liberty I once knew in my travelling days.

It was an insecure life, an uncertain life, but never have I felt so free.

I seek nothing from my wife except that which she voluntarily wishes to give me.

I have always sought a relationship of compassion, never compulsion.

Carefree Highway - Gordon Lightfoot.jpg

As for sexual and reproductive rights, I believe that a woman has a right over her own body and over whether she wishes to produce children or not.

Though our marriage was not blessed with children, I never felt that marriage must hinge upon them.

And intimacy is the icing on the cake, but it is not the cake itself.

As much as we desire exclusivity from and access to our significant partners’ form, ultimately we need to respect the other’s right to decide with whom or how often one wishes to be intimate.

Again, it all boils down to what one can live with and what one can live without.

Remaining with someone should always be a choice, never an obligation.

Above: Minangkabau wedding, Indonesia

As for matters of interfaith, interracial or diverse interpretations of sexual compatibility, I believe that in this crazy old violent world that we live in if two consenting adults can, against all odds, find love and companionship, then I have no right to tell them whether or not I think they should be together.

For example, I may not fully understand same sex couples, but they need neither my understanding nor my consent to live their lives as they so choose.

All that is needed is my respect and compassion for all human beings, regardless of whether their lives are similar to my own or not.

Above: Armenian wedding, Khor Virap, Armenia

Controversies continue regarding the legal status of married women, leniency towards violence within marriage, customs such as dowry and bride price, forced marriage, marrigeable age, and criminalization of premarital and extramarital sex.

Above: Catholic wedding, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

I cannot comment on legal status as I am untrained in legal matters, but I find myself thinking that what I wish for myself should be the same for others.

Above: Statue of Lady Justice –  a symbolic personification of the coercive power of a tribunal: a sword representing state authority, scales representing an objective standard and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial.

I cannot condone or justify violence of any kind towards anyone, whether this violence is physical or psychological.

Marriage does not give a person the right to injure their spouse.

Purple ribbon.svg
Above: A purple ribbon to promote awareness of Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Prevention

I cannor comprehend the notions of dowry and bride price, for they feel too much like the bride is a commodity to be traded.

Truth be told, a woman’s value is beyond measure, and to be loved by a woman is to be truly blessed.

A blessing does not carry a price tag.

Venus symbol
Above: Venus symbol, representing woman

As for the criminalization of premarital and extramarital sex, I feel that the government does not belong in the bedrooms of the nation, that the human body is not the province of legislation or compulsion, that the sharing of intimacy should remain a matter of personal choice and not a matter determined by obligation or fear of punishment.

No Place For The State In The Bedrooms Of The Nation - Pierre Trudeau  (1967) - YouTube

Marriage can be recognized by a state, an organization, a religious authority, a tribal group, a local community, or peers.

Above: 2004 California wedding between a Filipina bride and a Nigerian groom

I find this notion that something is not valid until it is recongized as such by others saddening.

I was married in a civil ceremony at the Freiburg im Breisgau City Hall.

The ceremony was conducted solely in German, a language I had not as yet learned.

As I stood there beside my bride, as the clerk spoke of our commitment to one another, I understood not a word of what was uttered.

An elbow in the ribs was a reminder of when it was appropriate to emit gutteral noises of consent.

The vows I took were words within my thoughts and meant with all my heart and soul.

They were unspoken then and remain unspoken now.

That is the burden and the price of being a man of my generation.

So much goes without saying.

Above: Freiburg im Breisgau Rathaus (City Hall), Baden.Württemberg, Germany

Marriage is often viewed as a contract.

And sadly it is.

A contract infers the idea of something legally binding.

Perhaps this is the origin of the word “wedlock“?

Above: An open-air wedding in Hong Kong of a British man and an Italian lady: the wedding was conducted by a Hong Kong-authorised lawyer.

A religious marriage is performed by a religious institution to recognize and create the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony in that religion.

Religious marriage is known variously as sacramental marriage in Catholicism, nikah in Islam, nissuin in Judaism, and various other names in other faith traditions, each with their own constraints as to what constitutes, and who can enter into, a valid religious marriage.

Above: Sundanese wedding inside a mosque, West Java, Indonesia

In a sense, the couple is seeking the counsel and consent of their faith granting validity to their union.

And herein lies the question of how important faith is in the lives of the couple.

There is much about religion for which I have the highest regard and the utmost respect.

But where others choose to follow a pilgrim’s progress I find that religion is constraining through its use of fear and compulsion.

I find that faith loses its free will when bound by the restraints of religion.

When a marriage is performed and carried out by a government institution in accordance with the marriage laws of the jurisdiction, without religious content, it is a civil marriage.

Civil marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony in the eyes of the state.

Above: Civil marriage by country: State recognizes civil marriages only (turqoise), State recognizes both civil and certain religious marriages (green),  State recognizes civil marriages (light blue),  State recognizes religious marriages only (red),  Civil marriages only for foreigners (pink),  Civil marriages only for non-Muslims (yellow)

How wonderful it is that the state allows a couple to marry, for now the opportunity to contribute to the state is assured.

Married people are such stable taxpayers and stable taxpayers keep a nation afloat.

Above: The civil wedding, 19th century Switzerland, Albert Anker

Some countries do not recognize locally performed religious marriage on its own and require a separate civil marriage for official purposes.

Above: A couple waiting to be married, Alghero, Sardinia, Italy

Without recognition, without sanction, just because we think and feel, do we actually exist as individuals, as a couple?

Black Suit White Shirt Mannequins Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos  from Dreamstime

Conversely, civil marriage does not exist in some countries governed by a religious legal system, such as Saudi Arabia, where marriages contracted abroad might not be recognized if they were contracted contrary to Saudi interpretations of Islamic religious law.

Flag of Saudi Arabia
Above: Flag of Saudi Arabia

Ah, religious law!

A group of men who decided that they represent God and thus their will is not to be questioned.

Above: Verses from the Quran. The Quran is the official constitution of the country and a primary source of law. Saudi Arabia is unique in enshrining a religious text as a political document.

In countries governed by a mixed secular – religious legal system, such as Lebanon and Israel, locally performed civil marriage does not exist within the country, which prevents interfaith and various other marriages that contradict religious laws from being entered into in the country.

Flag of Lebanon
Above: Flag of Lebanon

However, civil marriages performed abroad may be recognized by the state even if they conflict with religious laws.

For example, in the case of recognition of marriage in Israel, this includes recognition of not only interfaith civil marriages performed abroad, but also overseas same-sex civil marriages.

Centered blue star within a horizontal triband
Above: Flag of Israel

I have on occasion been asked how I view same sex marriage.

I respond:

Why should straight people be the only fools?

Above: Street art by Niall O’Loughlin in Dublin encouraging people to vote yes in 2015’s Irish referendum

She pulls the walk from the Internet, for even here technology is insiduous, directing the free man to follow the calculating mind, the physical following the path of the artificial.

The map suggests a walk above the Lake of Constance (Bodensee) from west to east and back again, from Ermatigen to Gottlieben and return, 11 klicks, 11 kilometres.

Bodensee satellit.jpg
Above: Satellite image of the Lake of Constance (Bodensee)

A walk through shuttered streets and forest shadows and dappled sunlight above rippling waters.

We drive without commentary to the starting point at Ermatigen Station, for it is the pace of walking that sets the pace of talking.

White building with red tiled roof
Above: Ermatigen Station

This has been our way over the past few years.

We live together, we live apart.

She has her computer which she is invested in upon the sofa in the living room.

I have mine in a room we have dubbed my study by nature of the clutter with which I have filled it.

Separate Lives by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin UK vinyl handwriting.png

She is a doctor and a damned good one at that.

She is needed, she is valued, her life makes a difference in the lives of others, and there have been so many children she has helped restore to health.


It is February 2021 and a year has passed since I have been any use of all.

I am a teacher by profession, by training, by qualifications, but these are not as valued by Switzerland as those of my wife.

Flag of Switzerland
Above: Flag of Switzerland

Nine months have passed since I abandoned the steady income of Starbucks.

Starbucks Corporation Logo 2011.svg
Above: Logo of Starbucks

Four months have passed since I have done any work at all.

Income from teaching is an embarrassing trickle.

Not for seven years have I worked fulltime as a teacher.

I am not a victim, but neither am I victorious in my career endeavours.

Above: Old houses of St. Gallen – Much of my working life in Switzerland has been in this town.

Her star rises above the clouds while mine has sunk into forgotten oblivion and obscurity.

I do not, will not blame her, for where I am is the result of decisions I have made and the consequences of those acts.

That and a little thing known as a pandemic.

The buck stops here: why leadership requires taking responsibility
Above: US President Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972)

A job is waiting for me in Turkey and this may be our last walk together for a long time.

This is her chance to gauge the temperature of the relationship.

This is her chance to sway me from my course, if I can indeed be swayed.

The sun is bright and the winter air is a balmy 2°.

Ermatingen village
Above: the village of Ermatingen

I have a hamstring injury that refuses to heal, that defies description, with a pain that comes and goes.

I do not if what ails my body is physical or psychological, but I do that my pace is no longer the same as it once was and no longer matches her own.

Already in the gentle climb from Ermatigen street to hillside pathway my hamstring bothers me.

Above: Aerial view of Ermatingen

She is younger than I, less patient than I, less tolerant than I of the weakness of men.

Her desire to speak with me, to insert herself into my thoughts, to impress herself within my feelings, lies beneath the surface of her countenance like an itch she cannot scratch.

She marches on ahead of me, simultaneously enjoying her physical independence and cursing her emotional dependence upon me.

Wanderung Thurgauer Seerücken (Müllheim – Steckborn, Bodensee) |

She marches on, ever present in my horizon and yet out of my reach.

I am holding her back as she is holding me.

Portfolio - Geriatrix 3D | Foundry Community
Above: Geriatrix and Myopia (Asterix comics)

I look around me as if today might the last day I will ever see what can be seen.

For who knows what tomorrow brings?

The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.

These are the days of contagion.

These are the days of uncertainty.

And soon I will leave.

There are aspects of Switzerland I will miss: the landscape geographical and historical and literary, some friends I have made through teaching and Starbucks, and, in spite of everything, the presence of a woman who has filled my days and has haunted my thoughts for 25 years.

But it is the Swiss themselves, their mentality, their soullessness, that I will not miss.

I am not saying that all who are Swiss are to be painted with the same jaundiced brush nor would I suggest that there are not some amongst them who are decent, warm and wonderful folks.

But living as I have here in the past decade, one begins to get a general impression of things and of how people are.

Switzerland may be where I have lived but it has never truly felt like home.

I have lived here, but I will be damned if I want to die here, ever struggling to find my dignity, ever denied the hope of conforming to a place that merely tolerates foreigners rather than welcoming them with warmth and compassion.

Matterhorn from Domhütte - 2.jpg
Above: The Matterhorn, Valais, Switzerland

These thoughts follow me as I lag behind, following in my wife’s footsteps.

I seek in the heritage of the towns we view some glimpse of memories worth preserving.

The police - every breath you take.jpg

Ermatingen is located on the southern shore of Lake Constance opposite the Island of Reichenau and consists of the districts Ermatingen and Triboltingen.

The lowest point of the municipality is the lake shore in the north and lies at approximately 396 metres above sea level, the highest point is on the lake ridge at the southern border of the municipality at 613 metres above sea level.

Above: Ermatingen

Ermatigen is a town that will not die, though not for lack of its foes trying.

Stone Age shoreline settlements were discovered in 1861 and studied extensively (1981 – 1983, with finds from the Pfyn, Horgen and Corded Ware cultures (4000 – 2500 BC.)

Above: Stone Age arrowhead

An Alamanni graveyard has also been found outside the early medieval village.

Above: Alemannic belt mountings, 7th century

There is nothing more conclusive than the bones of the dead to prove that there were lives of the living.

The village of Ermatingen is first mentioned in 724 as Erfmotingas.

(Which for all the world sounds to me like “Erf! Mounting gas!” and like mounting gas much of what was has vanished like a fart in a whirlwind.)

Ermatigen was part of the land owned by the Monastery of Reichenau, though why monks who have foresworn wealth and the company of chlidbearing women need property for is unclear to me.

The abbot was the landlord, judge and appointed the priest for the village.

Above: Monastery and cloisters of Reichenau Island

During the Council of Constance (1414 – 1418), one of the three counter-popes (or Antipopes), John XXIII, is said to have secretly fled Constance and came to Ermatingen.

Above: Council Hall, Konstanz

According to tradition, the Pope, as a thank you for the hospitality he received, allowed the Ermatinians to celebrate carnival again at this time.

The Ermatinger histories therefore attribute the Groppenfasnacht (known as the latest or last Carnival in the world) which takes place every three years on Sunday Laetare (Black Sunday) three weeks before Easter, to this Pope’s visit.

Above: Pope John XXIII (1370 – 1419)

Even after the conquest of Thurgau by the Swiss Confederation in 1460, the lower jurisdiction remained with the Abbot.

In the Swabian War of 1499 the village was destroyed by the Swabian army.

Above: Theatre of the Swabian War of 1499

Beyond the borders of Canton Thurgau (Switzerland) and the State of Baden-Württemberg (Germany), few have heard of and fewer have cared about a war that lasted only nine months.

But Thurgau has never forgotten nor forgiven Germany for this War.

Though Thurgau is heavily dependent upon trade with the German state on its northern flank, little excuse is needed to roundly curse the Germans time and time again in local newspaper editorials.

Flag of Thurgau
Above: Flag of Canton Thurgau

(The Swabian War of 1499 (Alemannic German (my wife’s dialect): Schwoobechrieg, Schwabenkrieg or Schweizerkrieg (“the Swiss War“) in Germany and Engadiner Krieg (“the War of the Engadin“) in Austria) was the last major armed conflict between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the House of Habsburg.

What had begun as a local conflict over the control of the Val Müstair and the Umbrail Pass in Graubünden soon got out of hand when both parties called upon their allies for help: the Habsburgs demanding the support of the Swabian League of Germany, and the Federation of the Three Leagues of Graubünden turning to the Swiss Eidgenossenschaft (Swiss Confederacy).

Santa Maria Val Muestair.JPG
Above: Santa Maria, Val Müstair, Graubünden, Switzerland

Above: Umbrail Pass, Val Müstair

Hostilities quickly spread from Graubünden through the Rhine valley to Lake Constance and even to the Sundgau in southern Alsace (France), and the westernmost part of Habsburg Austria.

Many battles were fought from January to July 1499, and in all but a few minor skirmishes, the experienced Swiss soldiers defeated the Swabian and Habsburg armies.

Battle of Hard.jpg
Above: The Battle of Hard (Austria) (Monday 20 February 1499), one of the battles of the Swabian War, as depicted in the Luzerner Schilling (1513)

After their victories in the Burgundian Wars (1474 – 1477), the Swiss had battle tested troops and commanders.

Flag of Swiss Confederacy
Above: Flag of the Old Swiss Confederacy (1300 – 1798)

On the Swabian side, distrust between the knights and their foot soldiers, disagreements amongst the military leadership, and a general reluctance to fight a war that even the Swabian Counts considered to be more in the interests of the powerful Habsburgs than in the interest of the Holy Roman Empire proved fatal handicaps.

When his military high commander fell in the Battle of Dornach, where the Swiss won a final decisive victory,

Above: The Battle of Dornach (Austria) (Saturday 22 July 1499) – The picture shows several phases of the battle: in the middle the main battle underneath the castle of Dorneck (on the left the cavalry of the Swabian League under the banner of the red Saint Andrew’s Cross, on the right the Swiss infantry under the banners of Bern, Thun, Zurich and Solothurn); underneath the slaughtering of the fleeing troups by the Swiss at the river Birs.

Emperor Maxmilian I had no choice but to agree to a peace treaty signed on 22 September 1499, in Basel.

Above: Albrecht Dürer portrait of Emperor Maxmilian I (1459 – 1519)

The treaty granted the Confederacy far-reaching independence from the Empire.

Although the Eidgenossenschaft officially remained a part of the Empire until the Treaty of Westphalia (that ended the Thirty Years War) in 1648, the Peace of Basel (Friday 22 September 1499) exempted the Swiss from imperial jurisdiction and taxes, thus de facto acknowledged it as a separate political entity.)

Above: The Milanese envoy presents his peace proposals to Maximilian’s delegation at the city hall of Basel.
A delegate from Lucerne (front left, in the blue-white dress) translates. (Luzerner Schilling).

By the 16th century, Ermatingen was on the way to becoming a town, with a high and low council, a court and various privileges.

In 1660 the town was granted market rights.

After the incorporation of the Abbey of Reichenau into the Diocese of Constance (Konstanz) in 1540, the lower court rights were held by the Bishop, until 1798.

Above: Ermatingen and Reichenau Island

The parish originally ran by the lake to the Seerücken Mountains, and, in the High Middle Ages, included Mannenbach and Triboltingen.

The church of Ermatingen was built in 1359 and was incorporated into the Abbey of Reichenau.

In 1528 it turned to the Protestant Reformation.

This meant that the Catholic Abbey (and after 1540 the Catholic Bishop of Constance) had the right to appoint the town priest in the mainly Reformed parish.

This situation remained until 1804, when the town acquired the right to appoint their own priest.

The town church became a shared church in 1546.


Above: The Parity Church of St. Albin, Ermatingen

In 1756 the community acquired rights to most itself, except for the mills and water rights.

In 1763 the guild of master shoemakers opened in Ermatingen.

By the end of the 18th century, it possessed the internal customs and navigation rights.

In the 19th century, fishing, cereals grains, fruit, hemp and viticulture were the basis of the villagers economy.

After the defeat of Napoleon I, many French nobles settled at the Untersee (the Lower Lake of the Bodensee).

Above: Jacques-Louis David portrait of Napoleon I (1769 – 1821)

With the expansion of the Seestrasse (Lake Road) (1823), the steamship company on the Lake (since 1825) and the railway (1875), the town saw increased traffic.

In 1835, the Ermatinger Hartmann Friedrich Ammann founded the Cantonal Rifle Association together with Prince Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) (in the Restaurant Hirschen (Stag).

Above: Alexandre Cabanel portrait of Napoleon III (1808 – 1873)

Ermatingen Hotel Hirschen: Ansichtskarten-Center Onlineshop
Above: Restaurant Hirschen, Ermatigen

After 1870, tourism became a major industry in Ermatingen.

At the end of the 19th century the mechanical embroidery and trans-shipping industries entered the town.

In 1848 a carpentry factory moved into the town, and in 1936 it became the Jacques Goldinger AG company.

In 1875 a tin can and aluminum products factory (Louis Sauter AG) opened in Ermatingen, followed by several other manufacturing companies.

Pack Aktuell | Gruppo ASA erwirbt italienisches Werk für  chemisch-technische Weissblechverpackungen von Crown

The Swiss National Railway station opened on 17 July 1875 on the Etzwilen–Konstanz/Kreuzlingen Hafen railway line, part of the sea line.

This connected Ermatingen to the national rail network. 

Above: Logo of Swiss National Railways

During the 20th century agriculture became increasingly less important.

The commercial fisheries have mostly vanished, though some fish breeding and the traditional “Gropp Carnival” remain in town.

Sallelujah Gugge Zürich

The UBS (United Bank of Switzerland) Training Center at Schloss Wolfsberg (Wolf Mountain Castle)(opened in 1975) and the Entrepreneurs’ Forum Lilienberg (since 1989) have turned Ermatingen into a nationally known training site (in 2000 almost two thirds of jobs were in the services sector).


Schloss Wolfsberg – Michael's Beers & Beans
Above: Schloss Wolfsberg (Wolf Mountain Castle)

Above: Villa Lilienberg

In summer, the village can also be reached by cruise ship (line Schaffhausen-Kreuzlingen of the Swiss ship company Untersee & Rhein.

Ermatingen and the surrounding area are supplied with radio programmes by Swisscom from the German Lake Constance Island of Reichenau via the Reichenau broadcasting station.


An important custom here is “gangfish shooting“.

This was first carried out in 1937 and is the largest winter shooting in Switzerland.

It attracts hundreds of gunmen to Ermatingen every December.

The gangfish, prepared according to a special recipe, is eaten at this time.

What a gangfish actually is, neither Wikipedia nor Google can tell me.


In winter, Ermatinger fishermen lived from water bird hunting.

After constant denunciation of this hunt, nature and bird conservation associations launched a popular initiative to abolish it.

In the following voting campaign there was a lot of controversy about this hunt, which was called “Belchenschlacht” (the basin battle) by conservationists.

The initiative was adopted in 1984 as the first ever popular initiative in the canton of Thurgau with a majority of 1,000 votes.

Since the winter of 1984/1985, patent hunting (hunting season), the so-called “hunting of the little man“, has been prohibited.

Contrary to the promises made to conservationists, the waterbird reserve Ermatinger Becken was created for the purpose of the annual hunt.

Since then, thousands of ornithologists (bird watchers) have visited the Ermatiger Basin every winter.

File:Rostgänse im Ermatinger Becken.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The eye spies a number of buildings of particular significance in Ermatigen.

The origins of the Joint Church of Ermatigen (also known as the Joint Church of St. Albin), date back to the 12th century.

In the Swabian War of 1499, it was burned.

In the course of the Reformation, the paintings and altars were removed from the church.

After the Second Kappel Peace (1531), the equal relationship between Catholics and Protestants was restored.

Since then it has been shared by the Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths.

Above: St. Albin Church, Ermatingen

The Adler (Eagle) is one of the oldest inns in the canton of Thurgau.

It was first mentioned in 1270.

Today’s stately bar building dates back to the 16th century.

It has also served as an audience for the Federal Landvogt (offices).

Above: Hotel Adler, Ermatingen

Famous guests among others have been: 

  • Prince Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III)

Above: Franz Xavier Winterhalter portrait of Napoleon III

  • French writer, politician and diplomat Francois René de Chateaubriand
Above: Francois René de Chateaubriand (1768 – 1848)

  • French writer Alexandre Dumas (the Elder)  

Above: Alexandre Dumas the Elder (1802 – 1870)

  • German writer Thomas Mann  

Above: Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955)

  • German inventor Graf (Count) Zeppelin  

Above: Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838 – 1917)

  • German writer / poet / painter Hermann Hesse

Above: Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962)

  • German author / biographer / founder of the Dada art movement Hugo Ball  

Above: Hugo Ball (1886 – 1927)

  • German writer Leonhard Frank

Above: Leonhard Frank (1882 – 1961)

  • French writer René Schickele  

Above: René Schickele (1883 – 1940)

  • German writer Ferdinand Hardekopf  

Above: John Höxter portrait of Ferdinand Hardekopf (1876 – 1954)

  • German writer Alfred Neumann

Künste im Exil - Personen - Alfred Neumann
Above: Alfred Neumann (1895 – 1952)

  • General Guisan

Above: General Henri Guisan

Far above the village, Wolf Walter von Gryffenberg built a cube-shaped castle building in 1571. 

Johann Friedrich Geldrich von Sigmarshofen, who bought it in 1595, received the lower jurisdiction for his estate and Wolfsberg became a free seat.

In 1731, Johannes Zollikofer bought it and rebuilt it as the form that Wolfsberg still shows today.

In 1795, St. Gallen banker Jean Jacques Hoegger (1747-1812) acquired the castle and had the Parquin House built southwest of the castle in 1797.

After Hoegger’s death, his daughter Juliane Wilhelmine (1776-1829), sold the estate in 1815 to Baron Ignaz von Wechingen from Feldkirch. 

In 1824, the castle came into the possession of the French Colonel Charles Parquin, who had Wolfsburg Castle rebuilt and set up a guesthouse here in 1839.

Other owners were the Englishman Joseph Martin Parry, who converted the estate into a model agricultural farm, and Karl Bürgi, who built a spa house in 1865, which remained until 1918.

Under the crime writer Wolf Schwertenbach, Wolfsberg was the meeting place of SS Brigadeführer Walter Schellenberg (1910-1952) and Oberstbrigadier Roger Masson.  

Grabenkämpfe, Spione und geheime Treffen im Zweiten Weltkrieg – und welche  Rolle der Wolfsberg ob Ermatingen spielte
Above: Paul Eduard Meyer (aka Wolf Schwertenbach) (1894 – 1966)

Above: Walter Schellenberg (1910 – 1952), German secret police

Colonel brigadier Roger Masson (1894-1967) | Revue Militaire Suisse
Above: Roger Masson (1894 – 1967), Swiss intelligence officer

In 1970, the castle was acquired by the Swiss bank UBS, which renovated it and expanded it into a training centre on the site with further buildings. 

On the west wall of the library building is an iron clockwork from the old castle, which was made around 1540 by Laurentius Liechti.

Above: Schloss Wolfsberg

I cannot decide what frightens me more about Ermatigen: the Nazis or the bankers.

Flag of Nazi Germany
Above: Flag of Nazi Germany (1935 – 1945)

Villa Lilienberg was built around 1840 by the Prussian Baroness Caroline von Waldau.

In 1848 she sold it to Baroness Betty von Fingerlin.

Her husband, Count Johann Baptist Zappi, was a friend of Napoleon III. 

The stately villa in the style of late Classicism went in 1897 to the Winterthur company Gebrüder Volkart, and in 1935 to the Reinhart family

Kulturgelder aus Britisch-Indien | WOZ Die Wochenzeitung

Werner Reinhart renovated the Villa and hosted Wilhelm Furtwängler and Othmar Schoek among others.

Werner Reinhart — Google Arts & Culture
Above: Swiss industrialist and patron of the arts Werner Reinhart (1884 – 1950)

Above: German composer/conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886 – 1954)

Today I sing of Othmar Schoeck – Musica Kaleidoskopea
Above: Swiss composer / conductor Othmar Schoek (1886 – 1957)

The art patron Oskar Reinhart (1885 – 1965) (of Winterthur museum fame) also lived here.

Oskar Reinhart: 9783725309849: Books

The site was acquired in 1985 by the Lilienberg Entrepreneurs Forum Foundation, and is now a meeting place for entrepreneurs.

Above: Lillienberg

The Villa am See (Villa by the Lake), in the style of a Appenzeller house, was built in 1798 by the Appenzell builder Grubenmann on the site of the former public bath house, which was demolished in 1782.

The house became known as the “Toblerhaus” and was owned by the entrepreneur Louis Sauter (Villa Sauter) since 1918. 

The German textile entrepreneur Uwe Holy acquired the building in 2005, making extensive renovations.

Louis Sauter - Vinorama Museum Ermatingen
Above: Louis Sauter

Uwe Holy | BILANZ
Above: Uwe Holy

Villa - Vinorama Museum Ermatingen
Above: Villa am See / Vinorama Museum, Ermatingen

Relling’s Castle, estimated to date back to the 12th century, burned down during the Swabian War, was rebuilt in 1501 and served as the free seat of Jechonias Rellingen von Feder from 1579.

The eastern part of the house stands as a square tower on high wall bases, it was extended in 1686 by the stairwell.

The western part of the house was later added as a trotte (wine press). 

Even today, the oak posts stand in the former trotte, which survived the fire of 1499.

Thanks to the adjustments of the owners for their needs, this building has been preserved and maintained.

It is probably the oldest surviving building in Ermatingen.

Above: Rellingsches Schlössli, Ermatingen

Famous folks who have lived in Ermatingen include:

  • Marie Espérance von Schwartz (1818 – 1899), a German-English writer who had her last residence here

Above: Marie Espérance von Schwartz

  • Ferenc Fricsay (1914 – 1963), Austrian conductor who lived here and is buried in the cemetery in Ermatingen

Above: Ferenc Fricsay

  • Oskar Naegeli (1885 – 1959), Swiss dermatologist and chess master, born in Ermatigen

Abb. 9 Unbekannt, Prof. Dr. Oskar Nägeli (1885-1959), Dermatologe und... |  Download Scientific Diagram
Above: Professor Dr. Oskar Naegeli

A remarkable thing about Switzerland is that it attracts and carefully conceals the rich and famous who to wish to live their lives out of the spotlight.

Among these hiding in plain sight in Switzerland are:

  • Phil Collins (Féchy)

Phil Collins 1 (cropped).jpg
Above: Phil Collins

  • Tina Turner (Küsnacht)

Tina Turner 50th Anniversary Tour.jpg
Above: Tina Turner

  • Shania Twain (Corseaux)

Shania Twain March 2020.png
Above: Shania Twain

  • ABBA’s Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad (Zermatt)

Anni-Frid Lyngstad, May 2013.jpg
Above: Anni-Frid Lyngstad

That entertainers and sports people reside in Ermatigen is such a commonplace occurence in Switzerland as to be almost unremarkable.

Above: Hauptstrasse (Main Street), Ermatingen

Marie Espérance von Schwartz, née Brandt (born in Southgate, England, died in Ermatingen), also known as Marie Esperance Kalm de SchwartzMarie Speranza von Schwartz, and best known by her gritty name Elpis Melena was a writer of German origin and English nationality. 

Above: Marie Espérance von Schwartz

She was a friend of the Italian freedom fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi and the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and became known mainly in the field of travel and memoir literature.

Born in England to a Hamburg banker, she was brought up mainly in Geneva.

After an early short marriage to a cousin, she settled in Rome.

With her second husband, the Hamburg banker Ferdinand von Schwartz (1813 – 1883), whom she had met in Italy, she made adventurous journeys through Greece, Turkey, Asia Minor, Egypt and North Africa, but this marriage ended in divorce in 1854.

In Rome, the wealthy and educated, especially linguistically talented (a cunning linguist?), (She is said to have mastered eight languages.) Marie led a literary salon where numerous artists and aristocrats frequented. 

She maintained a lively exchange of letters with Franz Liszt for many years.

In addition, she continued to indulge in her desire to travel.

Above: Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886)

Since 1849, Marie Esperance von Schwartz had been interested in Garibaldi.

In the autumn of 1857, she entered into personal relations with Garibaldi on the island of Caprera (off the coast of Sardinia).

File:Caprera casa di Giuseppe Garibaldi.jpg - Wikipedia

Above: Giuseppe Garibaldi House, Caprera

melena elpis - Used - AbeBooks

She lived with him, cared for his children, supported his cause financially and through her writings, and cared for him during his captivity and after his wounding.

She was generally regarded as his mistress.

Garibaldi is said to have asked several times for her hand in marriage.

Out of gratitude for her sacrificial friendship, Garibaldi gave her the manuscript of his memoirs, which she quickly translated into German and was able to publish in 1861 before her competitor Alexandre Dumas the Elder.

Above: Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 – 1882)

At the end of 1865, Marie moved her residence to Crete, where, undeterred by the fighting raging on the Island during the Cretan uprising (21 August 1866 – 20 January 1869), she had a charming villa built in the vineyards in Chalepa near Chania. 

(Crete was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1646 to 1898.)

Above: Marie astride her horse Huney in Crete

Her sympathy, unsurprisingly, belonged to the insurgents.

At her request, Garibaldi sent a contingent of 500 men to Crete to support the uprising.

Arkadi Cretan flag.png
Above: Flag of the Cretan rebellion

She devoted a lot of time and money to charitable institutions, founded hospitals, asylums, schools, translated German textbooks into modern Greek and Cretan folk songs, legends and folklore into German. 

She gained a great deal of respect from both Christian and Muslim Cretans.

Above: Ethnic map of Crete, 1861 – (blue) Christians / (red) Muslims

She developed a lively commitment in the field of animal welfare, her influence extending throughout Europe.

In Chania she founded an animal hospital for horses and donkeys.

Countless street dogs were fed daily.

Above: Chania, Crete, Greece

In numerous brochures in many languages, she campaigned for animal welfare and campaigned against animal testing.

After 20 years in Crete, she settled in Ermatingen, where she died at the age of 80.

Tierschutz auf Kreta - Marie Espérance von Schwartz. | Radio Kreta

Ferenc Karl Fricsay (born in Budapest, died in Basel and buried in Ermatigen) was a conductor, who worked mainly in Hungary, Austria and Germany.

Ferenc Fricsay - Télécharger et écouter les albums.
Above: Ferenc Fricsay

He came from a musical family and was the son of the Hungarian military chapel master Richard Fricsay and Berta Lengyel.

His father gave him his first music lessons.

Fricsay joined the Budapest Academy of Music at the age of 6, the famous Franz Liszt Academy of Music, where at the time, among others, Béla Bartik (pianist), Zoltan Kodély (composer) and Ernst von Dohnsnyi (pianist) taught.

Above: Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945)

Above: Zoltán Kodály (1882 – 1967)

Above: Ernó Dohnányi (1877 – 1960)

He learned almost all the orchestral instruments and also studied composition.

At the age of 15, he jumped in for his father and made his conductor’s debut.

Above: Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary

In 1933, after a successful final examination at the Academy, he refused a job at the Budapest Opera (now the Hungarian State Opera House) and received his first permanent position as Kapellmeister of the military chapel in the university and garrison town of Szeged.

Hungarian State Opera House(PDXdj).jpg
Above: Hungarian State Opera House, Budapest

In 1934, he also became conductor of the local municipal Philharmonic Orchestra.

He married for the first time this year.

They had three children.

Above: Aerial view of Szegedin, Hungary

In 1939, he made his first guest appearance at the Budapest Opera.

The following year he conducted for the first time in the Szegedin Opera (“Rigoletto” by Verdi).

In 1942, a military court case was opened against Fricsay for wanting to engage Jewish artists.

In mid-March 1944, German troops occupied Hungary in Operation Margarethe.

In the summer of this year, he warned friends and acquaintances of impending arrests by the Gestapo and thus put he himself in danger of being arrested.

Because of this and also because of his Jewish origin (his mother was Jewish, he himself was Roman Catholic) he had to flee Szeged with his wife and three children and go into hiding in Budapest.

Above: German Bf 110s flying over Budapest, January 1944.

In January 1945 he was offered the post of First Kapellmeister at the Budapest State Opera.

He also shared the chief conducting of the Budapest Capital Orchestra, (today’s Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra) and conducted a concert with this orchestra at the end of January 1945.

He left military service as a captain.

The State Opera was reopened in March 1945, the same month Fricsay’s father died.

In April 1945, Fricsay conducted a performance of Verdi’s La traviata.

At the end of 1946 he accepted an invitation to the Vienna State Opera and then the offer to take over the assistance of Otto Klemperer at the Salzburg Festival. 

Fricsay gave a concert in the summer of 1947 with the Budapest Capital Orchestra in Vienna.

Above: Otto Klemperer (1885 – 1973)

In August 1947, his international breakthrough came when he took over the world premiere of Danton’s Death of Gottfried von Einem at the Salzburg Festival for Otto Klemperer, who had a brain tumour.

Szenenbild der Hamburger Produktion, 1948
Above: Danton’s Death, Hamburg production, 1948

The invitation was also made at the suggestion of Herbert von Karajan, who assured the composer of the talent of the young Hungarian, having attended the aforementioned Vienna concert of 1947.

Invitations from everywhere followed, including those for the Salzburg Festival in 1948 and 1949.

Above: Herbert von Karajan (1908 – 1989)

From 1947 he was guest conductor at the Staatsoper in Vienna, where he conducted repertory operas.

After his experiences there, Fricsay made it a principle to conduct only productions that he had rehearsed himself.

Architektur STOP Front 20150922 C MichaelPoehn.jpg
Above: Vienna State Opera

In the following years Fricsay placed particular emphasis on the ensemble idea, (i.e. the development of a work and its performance with a solid core of like-minded performers).

Ferenc Fricsay – Primephonic
Above: Ferenc Fricsay

(Think of a classical music version of the Traveling Wilburys.)

The Traveling Wilburys in May 1988 (top: Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty; bottom: Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison)
Above: The Traveling Wilburys in May 1988 (top: Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty; bottom: Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison)

These ensembles included Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Riza Streich, Maria Stader, Ernst Haefliger, Josef Greindl, and, until his accidental death in 1954, Peter Anders.

Above: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925 – 2012)

Above: Rita Streich as Olympia in the Opera Hoffmanns Erzählungen (Hoffmann’s Tales) (1946)

Above: Maria Stader (1911 – 1999)

Ernst Haefliger – Ernst Haefliger Singt Opernarien (1962, Vinyl) - Discogs
Above: Ernst Haefliger (1919 – 2007)

Josef Greindl | Discography | Discogs
Above: Josef Greindl (1912 – 1993)

Above: Peter Anders (1908 – 1954)

(Think of these performers as superstars of their time in classical music.)

Preferred instrumental soloists of Fricsay were Yehudi Menuhin, Géza Anda, Clara Haskil and Anne Fischer.

Above: Yehudi Menuhin (1916 – 1999)

Above: Géza Anda (1921 – 1976)

Above: Clara Haskil (1895 – 1960)

Above: Annie Fischer (1914 – 1995)

(All names that this country boy from St. Philippe d’Argenteuil has nary a notion about.)

He worked with these artists again and again until the end of his career as a conductor.

In 1948 he conducted the scenic premiere of Frank Martin’s Le vin herbé (Der Zaubertrank / The Magic Potion) at the Salzburg Festival and the performance of Carl Orff’s Antigonae in 1949.

Above: Frank Martin (1890 – 1974)

Above: Carl Orff

(Clearly, there is more in Heaven and on Earth than previously dreamed in my philosophy.)

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in  your philosophy.” ― Will… | Hamlet quotes, William shakespeare quotes,  Shakespeare quotes

He received great international acclaim for both performances.

Already by 1948 he was invited to an opera and concert guest performance in Berlin.

Aussicht von der Siegessäule auf die Straße des 17. Juni Richtung Berliner Mitte (Oktober 2013)
Above: Berlin

He made his debut in November 1948 at the Städtische Oper Berlin (now the Deutsche Oper Berlin) with Verdi’s “Don Carlos“, in the same month with the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin and in December 1948 with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the RIAS Symphony Orchestra (since 1993 Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin).

Deutsche Oper Berlin. Ansicht von Südosten.jpg
Above: German Opera Berlin

Above: Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin

After these successes, Fricsay was appointed General Music Director of the Städtische Oper Berlin and chief conductor of the RIAS Symphony Orchestra.

Fricsay re-formed the orchestra and within a few years led it to international prestige.

By 1949, he brought almost 30 of the best musicians of the famous Staatsoper Unter den Linden to the RIAS Symphony Orchestra, which became famous in the following years for its brass section.

From then on, Fricsay played a central role in the reconstruction of musical life in post-war Germany, especially in Berlin.

Above: Staatsoper Unten den Linden, Berlin

At the end of December 1948 he signed an exclusive contract with the Deutsch Grammophon Gesellsschaft, for which he recorded his first long-playing record in September 1949 (5th Symphony by Tchaikovskywith the Berliner Philharmoniker).

This also heralded the beginning of a productive phase of recording.

Ferenc Fricsay - Ferenc Fricsay: Complete Recordings on Deutsche  Grammophon, Vol.1 - Orchestral Works - Music

In 1948, in place of the ill Otto Klemperer, he conducted the world premiere of Gottfried von Einem’s opera “Dantons Tod” at the Salzburg Festival in place of the ill Otto Klemperer. 

Above: Gottfried von Einem (1918 – 1996)

In 1950 he conducted “Le nozze di Figaro” (Mozart) at the Edinburgh Festival and made his debut in Buenos Aires with the “Carmina Burana” (Orff).

He married his second wife Silvia, née Valeanu, (1913 – 2003), the divorced sister-in-law of the skier Horst Scheeser, who brought a son into the marriage.

In April 1951, he conducted the Italian premiere of “Duke Blaubart’s Castle” at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. 

Above: Teatro San Carlo, Napoli, Italy

In November 1951 he gave his first concert with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Munich / München) and in the spring of 1952 with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.

Above: The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Logo des Concertgebouw-Orchesters

In May 1952, probably because of the strain of the double obligation, he asked for the resolution of his contract with the Städtische Oper Berlin.

This year he took over his concerts at the Salzburg Festival for the ill Wilhelm Furtwängler.

Above: Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886 – 1954)

He was the director of the RIAS Symphony Orchestra until 1954.

In the following years, however, he remained closely connected to the Orchestra through numerous guest performance, touring and record commitments.

Above: Logo of the RIAS (Radiofunk im Amerikan Sektor)

In 1952 Fricsay and his family moved into Westerfeld Haus in Ermatigen as a permanent residence.

Above: Houses on the Oberen Seestrasse (Upper Lake Street), Ermatingen

Since that time he was a permanent guest at the Lucerne Music Festival Weeks.

Where there he took over the concerts of the ill Wilhelm Fürtwangler.

Above: Luzerner Kultur- und Kongresszentrum (KKL) (Lucerne Cultural and Convention Centre), Vierwaldstättersee (Lake of Lucerne), Luzern (Lucerne), Schweiz (Switzerland) – site of the Lucerne Music Festival

And also that same year he gave a guest concert with the Cologne (Köln) Radio Symphony Orchestra (now the WDR Sinfonie Orchester) and performed at the Salzburg Festival with the Vienna Philharmonic (Wiener Philharmoniker).

Above: Logo of the West Deutscher Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester


In 1953 he began an extensive travel conductorship (in Paris, at the Scala in Milan, in Lucerne), which also took him to the US (Boston, Houston and San Francisco) in November of that year.

Due to the very successful concert in Houston, he was hired there for the next season (1954/55) as music director and principal conductor.

In June 1954 he made his Israel debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The work he performed there with great success was Verdi’s Requiem.

Requiem (Verdi) Titelblatt (1874).jpg

At the end of October 1954, Fricsay came to Houston to take over the Houston Symphony Orchestra, which ultimately failed.

The Orchestra did not keep to its promises, so he terminated the contract in January 1955.

Above: Houston Symphony Orchestra

After a second concert tour through Israel, Fricsay became General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera (Munich) from 1956 to 1958.

However, resounding success did not come about, mainly due to the fact that he did not grant a more prominent position to the music of Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner, as is customary there.

Above: Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)

Above: Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

In addition, Fricsay insisted on having an important say in production issues.

Instead of focusing on Wagner or Strauss, he pursued his main goal of rebuilding the Italian repertoire and setting new performances of “Otello” (Verdi), “Chowanschtschina” (Mussorgski), “Lucia di Lammermoor” (Donizetti), “Wozzeck” (Berg), “Le Roi David” (Honegger), “Un ballo in maschera” (Verdi), and “Oedipus Rex” (Stravinsky).

Above: Guiseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901)

Above: Modest Musorgskiy (1839 – 1881)

Above: Gaetano Donizetti (1797 – 1848)

Above: Alban Berg (1885 – 1935)

Above: Arthur Honegger (1892 – 1955)

Above: Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971)

In 1957 he recorded “Fidelio” (Beethoven) for the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft in Munich, the first stereo recording of the German record industry.

In 1958 he conducted a charity concert for the reconstruction of the National Theatre in Munich.

Above: National Theatre, Munich

On this occasion, the first Eurovision live broadcast of a public concert from Germany took place.

In the same year he conducted the performance of “Le Nozze di Figaro” (Mozart) in June for the reopening of the Munich Cuvilliés (today: Altes Residenztheater).

He then converted his General Music Director’s contract into a guest performance contract.

Above: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

Außenansicht des Theaters
Above: Residenztheater, Munich

In 1958, Fricsay began a series of recordings of all Beethoven’s symphonies, which remained unfinished due to his early death.

Above: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1829)

At the end of November 1958 Fricsay was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer, for which he underwent surgery in Zürich the same month, followed by a second operation in January.

The result was a recovery period of several months until September 1959.

Altstadt Zürich
Above: Zürich, Switzerland

From 1959 until his death, Fricsay was chief conductor of the RIAS Symphony Orchestra (now called the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin). 

Fricsay conducted the Orchestra in September 1959 in the first concert after his illness break and then in the reopening concert for the Great Broadcasting Hall of the broadcaster Sender Freies Berlin (SFB), the post-war start of German radio into stereophony.


In 1960, Fricsay was granted Austrian citizenship after the failed Hungarian uprising of October 1956 permanently denied him access to his homeland.

Hole in flag - Budapest 1956.jpg
Above: Symbol of the revolution: Hungarian flag with the 1949–1956 Communist emblem cut out

In April he was again engaged as General Music Director in Berlin for the 1961/1962 season.

In the spring of 1961, the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin under Fricsay’s direction, together with Yehudi Menuhin as soloist, undertook a European tour through Germany, to Copenhagen, London and Paris. 

At the Salzburg Festival in 1961, Fricsay conducted Mozart’s “Idomeneo” three times at the Großer Festspielhaus Great Festival Hall) in Salzburg, which was intended as the beginning of a new Mozart cycle under his musical direction.

Above: Great Festival Hall, Salzburg, Austria

A few days after the construction of the Berlin Wall, he opened the newly built Deutsche Oper Berlin in Bismarckstraße on 24 September 1961 with a re-enduation of the “Don Giovanni” (Mozart).

This was also the first time that an opera has been broadcast live on television.

In October 1961, Fricsay was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and made his last record recording with the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Berlin.

Berliner Mauer
Above: The Berlin Wall (1961 – 1989)

In November 1961 Fricsay gave his last concert with this orchestra in Bonn.

That month, his last concert recording was recorded.

Above: Beethoven Hall, site of the Bonn Orchestra

After several guest performances in London, Fricsay fell seriously ill again in December 1961, which led to further surgeries.

On 7 December 1961, Fricsay gave his last concert ever.

He cancelled all other commitments.

In the summer of 1962, the disease also seemed to have been overcome, but this turned out to be wrong.

This year he published a book he wrote, “About Mozart and Bartik“, in which he set out his basic views on classical music in general and on the music of the composers named in the title in particular.

Ferenc Fricsay, Dukas • Kodály • Shostakovich • Hindemith • J. Strauss •  Beethoven • Mozart – Great Conductors Of The 20th Century (2002, CD) -  Discogs

Fricsay died in Basel in February 1963 at the age of only 48 from the consequences of a gall bladder perforation, which was not detected in time.

He is buried in the cemetery in Ermatigen.

Das Vogelnestli des Stardirigenten

Fricsay was a rehearsal conductor and orchestral educator who tried extensively and often rigorously, which sometimes did not make the orchestral musicians’ dealings with him easy.

However, he produced positive results in technical play and led to undoubtedly outstanding artistic achievements.

He also benefited from the fact that he had mastered all orchestral instruments (except the harp), a knowledge he brought to the fore as part of his always intensive rehearsal work.

The television recording of the rehearsal for “Moldova” illustrates another special feature of Fricsay’s rehearsal work, namely that he described the musical events to the orchestra in a vivid, lively and pictorial manner, and, if necessary, also sang in passages to illustrate his musical ideas and to achieve the tonal result he wanted.

This underlines that his rehearsals were always based on a comprehensive concept of the respective work and he knew exactly what he wanted.

Ferenc Fricsay - A Life in Music - DG: 4743832 - download | Presto Classical

Fricsay preferred a clear, transparent orchestral sound that was taut, elastic and precise.

At the same time, he had an excellent sense of rhythm. 

Especially his recordings from a young age testify to great strength, energy and vitality.

However, this was also a subject of criticism, as some of his early performances were acknowledged to be too emotionally cold with a certain rigidity.

Too much external brilliance and mere effect were complained about, as well as too little relaxation and detachment. This was an accusation that was not made in later years.

Since the beginning of 1959, Fricsay has been increasingly plagued by severe illness, which was often associated with simply another new conducting gesture of Fricsay’s.

Thus his recordings from this time seem more “spiritual“, at least they are almost always slower than those from the time before the outbreak of the disease.

Although this is often seen as a direct consequence of the disease, this is probably also a process of maturity of the artist and the person Fricsay as a whole, which only now had a full effect.

Ferenc Karl Fricsay - Vinorama Museum Ermatingen
Above: Ferenc Fricsay

His repertoire was extensive, from Georg Friedrich Handel to Bernd Alois Zimmerman.

Above: Georg Friedrich Handel (1685 – 1759)

Work of the Week – Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Ich wandte mich und sah an alles  Unrecht, das geschah unter der Sonne (Ecclesiastical Action) - Schott Music  (EN)
Above: Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918 – 1970)

Mozart’s work was particularly focused.

From the very beginning, he also put the music of Joseph Haydn and music of the 20th century, which had been rather neglected in the concert hall, on the program.

Above: Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)

Despite his early death, he managed to record interpretations of more than 200 classical works for posterity and bring the RIAS Symphony Orchestra to a standard comparable to that of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

From the abundance of his recordings, in addition to his Bartik, Kodoly and Mozart recordings, the Tchaikovsky symphonies and those of the Strauss waltzes are particularly highlighted.

His recordings of the three piano concertos by Béla Bartik with Géza Anda as soloist became well-known.

Fricsay is regarded as the “first media artist of European standing” (Ulrich Schreiber) and decisively promoted both broadcasting and record recording technology.

Unlike many other conductors, he was very interested in recording technology.

Fricsay carried out an uncompromising quality control of his recordings and released them only when the tonal reproduction fully corresponded to his ideas.

Otherwise, he insisted on re-recordings.

He advocated stereophony early on, both on records and on the radio.

Fricsay became known to a wider public mainly through a television documentary, which shows him in 1960 during the rehearsal of “Moldova” by Smetana with the Südfunk Symphony Orchestra.

This was also the first attempt on European television to bring classical music to a wide audience through a workshop experience.

Ferenc Fricsay | Hall of fame | Zeneakadémia

Above: Ferenc Fricsay

Fricsay’s work, however, did not have adequate repercussions.

In addition to the circumstance of his early death, this is probably mainly due to the fact that Deutsche Grammophon immediately elevated another conductor as the figurehead in the succession to Fricsay after his death, who was a “media professional” and knew best about the art of self-staging: Herbert von Karajan.

Fricsay’s person and his merits were eclipsed, his legacy forgotten, his grave unvisited.

In November 1974, the Ferenc Fricsay Society was founded and constituted on the occasion of the Berlin Festival in 1975.

It is dedicated to preserving the conductor’s memory and promotes the publication of his recordings.

L'art de Ferenc Fricsay. - La Boîte à Musique

Sadly, a man these days is judged only by his publicity.

The dead are dreadful at self-marketing.

And those who do not engage in self-marketing might as well be dead.

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and  that is

In the field of dermatology, the Naegeli syndrome is named after Oskar Naegeli.

Abb. 9 Unbekannt, Prof. Dr. Oskar Nägeli (1885-1959), Dermatologe und... |  Download Scientific Diagram
Above: Prof. Dr. Oskar Nägeli (1885 – 1959)

Naegeli syndrome is a rare and curious condition characterized by reticular skin pigmentation, diminished function of the sweat glands, a lack of teeth and the absence of fingerprint lines on the fingers.

A crime story just waiting in the wings to be written.

Above: Symptom of the Naegeli – Franceschetti – Jadassohn Syndrome

As we tramp the hills above Ermatigen and descend down to Triboltingen, Ute has slowed her pace impatiently waiting for me to accompany her.

Ever aware that a mere fortnight will soon separate us, the never-ending jukebox that resides within my mind finds itself playing lyrics from Kenny Rogers’ “Lucille” and Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat“.

In a bar in Toledo, across from the depot,
On a barstool, she took off her ring.
I thought I’d get closer, so I walked on over.
I sat down and asked her name.
When the drinks finally hit her she said: “I’m no quitter
But I finally quit livin’ on dreams.
I’m hungry for laughter and here ever after
I’m after whatever the other life brings

In the mirror, I saw him, and I closely watched him.
I thought how he looked out of place.
He came to the woman who sat there beside me.
He had a strange look on his face.
The big hands were calloused. He looked like a mountain.
For a minute I thought I was dead.
But he started shaking, his big heart was breaking.
He turned to the woman and said:

You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.
With four hungry children and a crop in the field.
I’ve had some bad times, lived through some sad times,
But this time your hurting won’t heal.
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille

After he left us, I ordered more whiskey
I thought how she’d made him look small
From the lights of the barroom
To a rented hotel room
We walked without talking at all.

She was a beauty, but when she came to me,
She must have thought I’d lost my mind.
I couldn’t hold her. ’cause the words that he told her
Kept coming back time after time.

You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.
With four hungry children and a crop in the field.
I’ve had some bad times, lived through some sad times,
But this time your hurting won’t heal.
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.

Kenny Rogers - Lucille single.jpg

It’s four in the morning, the end of December,
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better.
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living.
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You’d been to the station to meet every train, and
You came home without Lili Marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody’s wife

Well, I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief

Well, I see Jane’s awake
She sends her regards

And what can I tell you, my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you,
I’m glad you stood in my way

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Well, your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free

And thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good, so I never tried

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear

Sincerely, L Cohen

Songs of love and hate.jpg

The wife always says she likes my voice and likes to listen to me sing.

But I don’t feel much like singing this day, despite the music in my mind.

These are tunes that do not soothe the mood, though they reflect my inner turmoil.

Our path, printed out from the walkers’ website, leads us through the streets of the village of Triboltingen, a place wherein I once taught a schoolteacher the English she needed to pass a Cambridge course required by her school board.

It was not then and nor was it now a welcoming warren.

I taught her in the heart of a cold winter and I have returned to this town in the chill of a heartless pandemic.

Though cars speed by upon the main street that is merely a midpoint of Highway 13, the village feels nonetheless empty and devoid of cheer or life.

I point out to my wife where the schoolteacher lived and the path I took from the whistlestop of Triboltingen to reach her house.

It is an unremarkable account listened to with unremarkable inattentiveness.

Above: Hauptstrasse (Main Street), Triboltingen

The Strassendorf (“road village“) is located at the foot of the Lake Ridge (the Seerücken hills) and at the Untersee between Tägerwilen and Ermatingen.

Above: Hauptstrasse (Main Street), Triboltingen

(A Strassendorf is a village form of settlement and a special kind of terraced village.

There are both regulated (planned by systematic colonization as in the province of Québec) and unregulated (naturally formed).

Road villages are widespread in Europe, especially in Central Europe.

The courtyards are usually laid out at regular intervals, usually with residential buildings and ancillary facilities, such as stables, barns, walls, fences, gardens, lying on the traffic route. 

Like a terraced village, the street village is characterized by the fact that, if the local conditions and terrain make it possible to settle even further at the beginning and at the end of the street village, then further farmland or residential plots can be created.

In more recent times, other roads, often running in parallel, are also being built if necessary.)

Above: An example of a Strassendorf – Champlain, Québec, Canada

Triboltingen is served by Highway 13, the main road between Schaffhausen and Kreuzlingen, and it has been, since 1998, a stop on the parallel sea line of the aforementioned Untersee & Rhein cruise ship route.

Above: Hauptstrasse (Main Street), Triboltingen

A discovered incendiary moat from the 1st century indicates an early Roman settlement.

The village itself was founded by the Alemanns. 

Together with Salenstein, Fruthwilen, Mannenbach and Ermatingen, Triboltingen formed a market cooperative selling the yield of surrounding forest and pastures.

Around 950, Duke Hermann of Swabia donated the village to the Monastery of Reichenau.

According to one chronicle, the Triboltinger fled in the famine of 1146 with his belongings to the nearby Monastery of Petershausen in Konstanz.

The village was first mentioned in the Middle Ages.

Above: Triboltingen and Reichenau Island

(It may have been a Tuesday, but I am unsure of the particulars.) 

Tuesday Afternoon.jpg

The Monastery of Reichenau was the village’s most important landlord and courtmaster.

From 1540 to 1798, the village was under the jurisdiction of the Prince Bishop of Konstanz. 

Wappen Bistum Konstanz.png
Above: Coat of arms of the Prince Bishop of Konstanz

Above: Konstanz Cathedral

East of Triboltingen, a bloody battle of the Swabian War took place on 11 April 1499 in the nearby hamlet of Schwaderloh.

Die Schlacht im Schwaderloh aus der Chronik des Johannes Stumpf
Above: The Battle of Schwaderloh from the Chronicle of Johannes Stumpf

(In the early hours of Tuesday 11 April 1499, between 6,000 and 7,000 Swabian landsmen marched out of Konstanz to attack the Swiss federal division positioned near Ermatingen.

However, a simultaneous attack with boats from the Island of Reichenau did not bring the desired surprise effect, so that the attacked could prepare themselves in time.

The Swiss Confederates threw themselves at the attackers, as they suspected only a minor attack, but had to retreat to the nearby forests because of the attackers’ greater supremacy.

The Swiss lost around 80 men and had to leave behind the two Luzern guns which were taken to Reichenau from Ermatingen.

Swabian troops occupied the villages of Ermatingen, Triboltingen and Mannenbach and began to plunder.

Apparently, the daily goal for the commanders had already been reached.

In the meantime, the federal contingent of Ermatingen merged with the forces that had joined forces at Schwaderloh.

It was decided, despite the inferiority of numbers, to attack the Swabian troops before they could bring their prizes to safety in Constance.

Together with another Thurgau contingent of about 400 men, who arrived from Scherzingen (part of the Municipality of Münsterlingen of which Landschlacht is a part), around 1,800 Swiss Confederates marched directly through the forest between Schwaderloh and Triboltingen into the plain at the Untersee.

When the Swabian troops made their way back from Konstanz, a lot of wine had already been drunk, the Confederates attack came as a surprise.

Above: On the left, the onslaught of the Confederates, in the middle, the battle, on the right, the flight of the slain. Chronicle of Diebold Schilling (1513)

Niklaus Schradin reports in his chronicle of the Swabian War (1500) that the Confederates advanced with great noise, whistles and drums from the forest down the slope to Triboltingen.

The Swabian troops were able to form a battle just in time under the protection of the cavalry around a few pieces of artillery.

According to contemporary information, the Swabian artillery fired at the advancing Confederates, but aimed too high.

The resulting cover of smoke then allowed the Confederates to approach the fog-lost Swabian battle formation unseen and to overrun it by force.

When the Swabian battle order disintegrated and the foot soldiers began to flee, the federal formation split up.

The Swiss fought the Swabian knights on horseback, while spearmen and swordsmen chased the fugitive footmen.

The bloody pursuit reached the walls of Gottlieben, the Tägermoos (a German district administered by the Swiss town of Tägerwilen), and the very walls of Konstanz itself. 

Many Swabians were forced into Lake Constance and had to leave all their armor and equipment on the shore to swim to safety or be rescued by boats in a pre-Dunkirk scenario.

Most of the 2,000 men that the Swabian side had to mourn as a loss drowned in the swamps of the Tägermoos or in the Lake of Constance.

Added to this was the cruel warfare of the Confederates.

According to the decision of the Daily Statute (the orders) of 11 March, no prisoners were allowed to be made in this war, a condition to which the troops had to swear to obey.

So, anyone who was left injured was put down.

The 130 dead from Konstanz were recovered after the Battle, the remaining 1,000 dead remained on the battlefield deprived of their equipment and clothes.

The spoils of the Confederates were considerable:

The entire artillery of the Swabian federal troops, numerous field weapons, and the loot of the raids in and around Ermatingen fell into their hands.

The federal victory caused a considerable weakening of the troops of the Swabian League in Konstanz and until July 1499 stopped any efforts to make any serious success in Thurgau.)

Above: After the battle, women and clergy gather the bodies of the citizens of Konstanz on the battlefield in front of the city – Diebold Schilling

Though the majority of the town is comprised of followers of the Swiss Reformed Church, Triboltingen itself has always belonged to the parish of Ermatingen.

In the 18th century Triboltingen owned a town hall, the “Zwingwald” and vineyards, among other municipal estates.

In the 19th century, vine growing was the basis of the village’s prosperity.

Around 1900, embroidery was also practised.

After 1950, the decommissioning of farms began.

Converted into residential buildings, they shape the townscape with the resulting single-family houses found here since the beginning of the 21st century.

The numerous half-timbered buildings date from the 17th century.

The village of Triboltingen is listed in the Inventory of the Places Worth Protecting in Switzerland.

Wappen von Triboltingen
Above: Coat of arms of Triboltingen

Triboltingen’s Joint Chapel of St. Nicholas and the residence Zur Post/Haus Schwarz (of the Post / Black House) are listed in the List of Cultural Objects of Ermatigen.

The Chapel of St. Nikolas was probably built in the 13th century.

From this time, the high-altitude arched windows are still preserved.

The choir was constructed around 1500.

One outstanding feature of the Chapel is the roof rider built in 1602 with an expansive pointed helmet.

Inside, remnants of medieval murals can be seen in three layers.

On the north wall of the nave are rubella drawings and pilgrim inscriptions from the late 15th century.

After the Reformation, the chapel was no longer used for services.

In the Second World War it was used as a powder magazine.

It was renovated in 1957.

Today, the Chapel hosts occasional divine services and is also used for small concerts.

Above: Church of St. Niklaus, Triboltingen

Curiously, Triboltigen does not boast about personalities it has harboured, for what secrets it conceals are covered by the shadows of Ermatingen.

Above: Zum Weinberg Inn, Triboltingen

The trail leads us across the railroad tracks close to the Triboltingen whistlestop and finds us crossing fields and moor around and away from the town of Tägerwilen.

Shelter on concrete platform

In Tägerwilen there were traces of a Neolithic settlement from around 4000 BC.

In the 7th century, the Alemanns settled in Tägerwilen on the village streams, near the Roman road Konstanz – Winterthur.

The first documentary mention dates back to 990 as Tegirwilare.

The history of Tägerwilen is strongly connected with that of neighbouring Konstanz.

Officials of the Bishop of Konstanz also founded Tägerwilen Castle and the Castle Castell, which was later built next to it.

In the early Middle Ages, Tägerwilen belonged to the Konstanz Bischofshöri (bishop’s horn) – (The Bischofshöri was an area between Konstanz and Berg as well as Münsterlingen and Gottlieben in Canton Thurgau, in which the peasants belonging to the Bishopric of Konstanz had to pay the Bishop and his clerics levies.) –  from about 1300.

During the Swabian War in 1499 and after the Battle of Schwaderloh, the village of Tägerwilen was burned down and Castell Castle destroyed.

Above: Schloss Castell (Castell Castle), Tägerwilen

In addition to agriculture and cattle breeding, vine and fruit growing were also practised, and the large civic forest was important.

In Tägerwilen there were nine mills, a poorhouse and a school.

After the opening of the Etzwilen – Konstanz railway line in 1875 and the Konstanz – Wil line in 1911, the village expanded towards the stations.

Towards the end of the 19th century, numerous commercial enterprises were established, including an automobile manufacturer.

In 2005, industry and commerce provided a quarter of the jobs in the municipality, while agriculture still represented 10%. 

Above: Tägerwilen Dorf Station

Tägerwilen, nay, the entire district of Kreuzlingen, has never been a place I could embrace.

It is a charmless place of charmless people, at least for those who only visit and never linger.

This is not a place that draws the traveller in.

It does not whisper to the heart:

Wander, explore, seek.

Instead it is a place where the locals look at the visitor with skepticism and disdain asking you the question that you yourself have already asked:

Why are you here?

Wappen von Tägerwilen (mit Tägermoos)

Above: Coat of arms of Tägerwilen

And yet the place has produced its own personalities:

  • Elise Egloff (1821-1848), literary model for writers Berthold Auerbach, Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer, Gottfried Keller and George Bernard Shaw – Think of her as Eliza Doolittle of My Fair Lady.
  • Hermann Müller – Thurgau (1850-1927), a botanist who loved Canton Thurgau so much he adopted its name as his own

Above: Tägerwilen and Konstanz

Elise Egloff was born in Tägerwilen as an illegitimate daughter and grew up in the house of her grandfather, the butcher and community landlord Hans Jakob Egloff.

After his death in 1836 she did an apprenticeship as a seamstress and in 1841 came to Zürich as a child and sewing girl in the household of the German professor of chemistry Carl Löwig, to where the German anatomist Jacob Henle also travelled.

Above: Carl Jacob Loewig (1803 – 1890)

From their initially random encounters developed a deep love affair, about which Jacob Henle wrote:

…..and so the most ridiculous thing that can happen to a cavalier of the world in such a relationship happened to me: I was not only interested in her body, but also in the soul of the girl.” 

Above: Elise Egloff

When Henle received the call for a professorship in Heidelberg in the autumn of 1843, he wanted to finance Elise Egloff a small shop in Küsnacht (Canton Zürich). 

Above: Küsnacht, Canton Zürich

Her resulting desperation and love led Henle to the plan to bring Egloff to the point of being accepted in bourgeois society as his lover and as a bride.

Henle attached particular importance to his family’s judgment.

Above: Jakob Henle (1809 – 1885)

Initially, only his two brothers-in-law Carl Matthieu and Adolf Schöll were informed of Henle’s intentions.

In April 1844, Elise Egloff disappeared from Zurich without leaving any messages to family and acquaintances.

Jacob Henle put her in the care of his brother-in-law Carl Gustav August Mathieu, who in turn introduced her under a pseudonym to a girls’ boarding school for “higher daughters” in Traben (on the Moselle River), where Egloff went through the usual bourgeois educational program in the circle of significantly younger classmates: language education, religion, literature, mythology, declamation, piano playing, drawing and dance.

After targeted indiscretions by Adolf Schöll, who was driven by pity for Elise Egloff – who also collaborated the still secret story early on with Berthold Auerbach  – Jacob Henle inaugurated his sister Marie and instructed her a key role in the educational experiment:

From your hand I want to welcome her as my bride or never see her again.

Marie Mathieu immediately travelled to Traben to see Elise.

Her impression was unfavorable, so she tried to dampen her brother’s hopes for a successful outcome of the experiment.

On the intervention of Henle’s sister, the written contact between Jacob Henle and Elise Egloff was interrupted in August 1844, and a visit by the prominent scholar to Traben was ruled out. 

Traben-Trarbach, 2012-08 CN-01.jpg
Above: Traben-Trarbach

After a year of civic education in Traben without contact with Jacob Henle, Elise Egloff came to the house of the childless couple Mathieu in Trier in May 1845.

Here she was allowed to write letters to Henle again.

The upbringing in the house of Mathieu was marked by conflicts with Marie Mathieu, who was often overwhelmed and initially considered Egloff to be unsuitable.

Henle later wrote to Mathieu (in May 1846):

The mistake was less in the people than in the situations and I didn’t want to advise anyone to repeat the experiment.

A less tender sister and a less in love bride would not have done it.” 

At times it looked as if “the educational experiment has become a sustained character test and heart research that overwhelmed all participants.

Although Henle still thought in the autumn of 1845 that he could pull himself out of the affair without any major problems if the experiment failed, his tone in the letters to Egloff became more loving, and his reluctant sister asked for more objectivity in reporting on Elise.

Above: Porta Nigra, Trier

At the end of September 1845, Elise Egloff wrote to Jacob Henle:

Let me not live in uncertainty for years, but in everything I feel good and know it too well that you deserve a higher person who has more spirit and merit.

In October 1845, Elise Egloff and Jacob Henle met for the first time after a year and a half, and Henle informed his father.

Driven by another targeted indiscretion by Adolf Schöll, the engagement was publicly announced in December 1845, Henle wrote (partly ironically):

….and so I am now the groom of a girl from Thurgau, who I met in Zürich, parentless, poor but beautiful and good, named Elise Egloff, who has been living with my sister for a year, in order to acquire some German education, because the Swiss one was not enough for my high rank.” 

In February 1846 Jacob Henle wrote to Schöll:

I have a certainty that I will be loved with an insensitivity that I can hardly live by myself, and I have a rather extensive heart.

In Trier, I felt this happiness in full, which means to possess a being completely and to be everything to him.

That is why I look forward to the future with joyful confidence.

In March 1846 the wedding ceremony took place in Trier.

Above: Trier, 1900

Already on her honeymoon to Vienna the bride suffered from coughing fits and “blood cough” (tuberculosis).

The couple lived at the Henles school in Heidelberg.

Above: Heidelberg

In December 1846 their son Karl Henle was born, on 20 January 1848, the daughter Elise Henle.

Her mother died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 21 February 1848.

Already in time one wondered whether the “experimental arrangement of this educational experiment had an unfavorable influence on the course of the disease.

This is how the Henle biographer Friedrich Merkel reports:

Although Elise may have carried the germ around her for a long time, it is very possible, even probable, that the excitement and the tremendous spiritual work of the last two years had accelerated the ominous outbreak of suffering.” 

Jacob Henle himself made great accusations about the two-year apprenticeship he had expected his late wife to “ate social capacity“:

He was tortured by the remorse that he had not spared Elise the two-year detour, and that she had married immediately, and the idea tormented him that her body was weakened and no longer resilient to the treacherous disease by the longing she suffered in the Trier period with Marie Mathieu.” 

The physician Jacob Henle wrote to his siblings on the anniversary of her death:

Sooner than I would expect, I must say, Hope, death has redeemed my good poor Elise from her sufferings and spared her worse.

Today at 5 o’clock she died in my arms.

Now, in fact, I feel my abandonment not so much as the happiness of seeing the poor lover escape from some of the horrors of the disease that were still ahead of her.” 

After the death of Elise Egloff, there seemed to have been repeated discussions within the Henle family about the “educational experiment“.

Merkel wrote that Henle himself or his family often wondered whether his marriage to Elise would have been “satisfactory” permanently if she had not died at the birth of her second child.

The question is answered at least by the chronicler Merkel as such:

Although it is now very understandable to us that this question has arisen, it is, of course, a idle one.

After all, no one knows how she would have developed if she had lived longer.

It possessed three qualities which would have been able to continue to and continue to educate, promote and exalt them.

Above all, she fulfilled an unlimited love for her husband and she could never get enough evidence of how cordially she had approached him to please him, for her nothing was too much.

A second characteristic that adorned Mrs Elise was her extraordinary energy, and one can be sure that by the same one that had already lifted her so high, she would continue to fill the gaps that, of course, still attached to her education.

She felt very vividly that she was not yet fully at the height of her husband and once played out in her presence a little battle of words, which was conducted with all the weapons of spirit, wit and reading, then she became silent and was annoyed that she could not follow it.

She would no doubt have set all her ambition to get to the point where she could have given up the role of silent listener in any case.

A third characteristic, which she had to bring to her husband’s attention, was the ability to enjoy a cheerful life, which was so completely his own and which he had to appreciate to the utmost with his wife.”

Elise Egloff was buried on 23 February 1848 in the Bergfriedhof (mountain cemetery) in Heidelberg in the presence of witnesses Reinhard Blum and Ludwig Häusser, both professors and colleagues of Jacob Henle at the University of Heidelberg.

Henle himself was unable to attend his wife’s funeral due to illness.

The Kaufgräberbuch contains an entry of February 24, 1848 about the completion of the grave for “Henle, Anna, Frau Hofrat, Grabreihe E, Grab 21.”

In 1958, the tomb of Elise Henle was confiscated, according to the dissolution decision of 25 February 1958. 

Above: Bergfriedhof Haupteingang (main gate of Mountain Cemetery), Heidelberg

(It is customary after a time in Germany to “recycle” gravesites.

Only the truly famous are guaranteed a permanent resting place.)

Berthold Auerbach learned from Adolf Schöll the then still secret history of the relationship between Elise Egloff and Jacob Henle in 1845, and later he also met Elise Egloff personally.

Auerbach was inspired by this to create the story Die Frau Professorin (1846) as part of his Black Forest Village Stories in which Reinhard, a professor of the academy of art, and Lorle, a host daughter from a rural village, fall in love.

They get married and move to a residence town.

Here, however, it becomes apparent that the fresh natural child Lorle does not find her way around in the urban world and in the courtly educational bourgeoisie, is rude and simple.

Reinhard, who initially raved about the naturalness of village life and of his wife, is increasingly falling into the city life and the Residence Cabal and is tired of his wife “pre-spelling the ABC of education.

He withdraws from her inwardly and increasingly takes refuge in alcohol.

The attempt to strike a balance between the worlds of life fails, Lorle comes to this conclusion and returns to her village.

The Black Forest Village Stories are considered to be the authoritative foundation of the genre of village history.

Above: Berthold Auerbach (1812 – 1882)

Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer worked on Auerbach’s village history in 1847 and turned The Woman Professor into a successful stage play entitled Village and Town. 

Auerbach sued (unsuccessfully) Birch-Pfeiffer for copyright infringement.

Despite, or precisely because of, the resulting sensation, the play contributed significantly to the popularity of this village history.

Auerbach had meanwhile moved to Heidelberg and was friendly with Jacob Henle, who stayed at the same time as Elise Henle (née Egloff) for the cure in Badenweiler (July 1847).

After Elise’s death, he became closer with Jacob Henle, because Auerbach had also lost his wife in his bed at about the same time. 

It was only through the success of the Village and Town that Henle learned of Auerbach’s story and felt deceived:

I was really outraged by the way he [Auerbach] used my tragic marriage almost only for jewellery and side work.

That is not to rise above human suffering, but to make a profit out of them.” 

In his pain, Henle had apparently not taken note of the fact that Auerbach had completed the story before Elise’s death.

Above: Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer (1800 – 1868)

Thematically related to Auerbach’s story is The Lost Handwriting (1864) by Gustav Freytag, a friend of Auerbach’s:

A professor wins a farmer’s daughter as a partner, and the problem of the peasant girl transplanted into the city and in farm circles arises. 

Above: Gustav Freytag (1816 – 1895)

Ludwig Anzengruber tells a story in Der Sternsteinhof (1885), presumably consciously meant as a contrast to Auerbach and probably also to Die Frau Professorin: 

A poor girl decides that she will become the mistress of the rich Sternsteinhof.

She ruthlessly realizes her dream and then becomes an exemplary farmer.

The naturalistic, neither romantic nor sentimental depiction of a peasant character stands in contrast to Auerbach’s tendency (especially after 1848) to the transfigured village romanticism, in whose tradition the local novels still stand today as trivial literature.

Above: Ludwig Anzengruber (1839 – 1889)

Gottfried Keller’s Regine in the novella of the same name is regarded in literary research as a “poetic monument” of Elise Egloff.

Keller had met Henle and his wife in Zürich in 1846 and left a rather bizarre impression on the couple.

Two years later Keller visited Henle’s anthropological college in Heidelberg, which he described in Der Grüne Heinrich

(Keller on the lecture:

The first hour had such an effect on me that I forgot the purpose that brought me and everything and was alone curious about the coming experience.”)

Like other authors, Keller took a critical view of the Village Stories of Auerbach.

Above: Gottfried Keller (1819 – 1890)

In 1851, he began in Berlin with conceptions for a Galatea novella cycle, which turned against “this miserable Reinhard” and also referred generally polemically to Auerbach, who was accused in the later literary review of “natural swarming“, “clichéd trivial basic constellations” in the plot and a characteristic “shield against the problem contents of the time” (Fritz Martini).

Above all, Keller originally objected to the irreconcilability of culture and nature, or town and village, which was dealt with in The Woman Professor.

Keller, however, held back the story for 30 years, perhaps because he met Berthold Auerbach in 1856, made friends with him and was supported by Auerbach, who was even better known at the time.

It was not until 1880, at the urging of his publisher, that he began to work on the work, and the novella cycle Das Sinngedicht was created:

Keller contrasts the art professor Reinhard with the naturalist Reinhart, the “Mrs. Professor” Lorle with his art creations Lucie and Regine.

Above: Pygmalion creates Galatea

The frame narrative begins with the naturalist Reinhart deciding in his laboratory to ride into the vast country due to signs of fatigue and to test an epigram of Friedrich von Logaus  – The Poem of Meaning (Sinngedicht)– in reality:

How do you want to turn white lilies into red roses? / Kiss a white Galatea: she will laugh blushingly

The Pygmalion – Galatea complex is thus laid out as a basic theme, but is then dissolved in the 8th chapter (out of a total of 13) with Regine. 

Lucie engages her interlocutor Reinhart in a narrative contest about problems of partner choice and the understanding of roles of the sexes.

In the context of the competition, Reinhart reproduces, among other things, the story of Regine, which is much closer to the true events of Elise Egloff and Jacob Henle than Auerbach’s The Woman Professor:

The embassy attaché Erwin Altenauer, a wealthy and art-loving American of German origin, falls in love with the maid Regine.

Erwin successfully promotes the catching-up education of Regine when he is suddenly recalled to America.

However, he does not want to take Regine with him until she knows how to behave in all respects.

She is subjected to an educational program to overcome the boundaries of the status, and it leaves Regine in the society of three women who are enthusiastic about the art and culture scene, but of whom Keller paints a rather negative picture.

After Erwin’s return, the experiment fails in distrust and alienation, which, however, for the time being has nothing to do with the educational experiment itself, but above all – as Keller points out – are determined by fate:

Regine’s shame for her brother’s murder and Erwin’s suspicion that Regine is unfaithful to him, as well as the inability to talk about both, lead to tragedy.

In her perplexity, the “beautiful upstart” (Gunhild Kübler) takes her own life. 

Keller Gottfried, Regine“ – Bücher gebraucht, antiquarisch & neu kaufen

Kübler interprets as follows:

Behind Altenauer’s attempt to educate a woman according to her own conceptions of noble femininity, a mythical figure that shimmers in the ‘sense poem’ becomes visible:

Galatea, the statue created by the ancient sculptor Pygmalion and, at his request, animated by the love goddess – the woman who exists by man’s graces.

With Galatea-Regine’s death, the myth is torn, and in the refractions of the narrative duel between Reinhart and Lucie, he is said to be out of date.

As a pattern of a relationship between a man and a woman, he has become obsolete, because the role instructions corresponding to him are no longer playable for both sexes.

In its place are new, enlightening-egalitarian notions of eroticism and marital love, as they are unique in the literature of this time.”

Above: Pygmalion and Galatea

The comedy Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw was premiered in German on 16 October 1913, and Shaw published the play anonymously in England in 1913.

Against Shaw’s express will, after his death, it underwent a reworking into the musical My Fair Lady.

My fair lady poster.jpg

Shaw himself gave no indication of a reference by Pygmalion to the historical event surrounding Elise Egloff or to the literary German-language translations.

A random analogy in content seems rather unlikely to some authors, however, given the many similarities,  the flower girl Eliza Doolittle takes on the role of the sewing girl Elise Egloff in this interpretation.

Shaw wrote in his foreword to Pygmalion that Professor Higgins’ character had a connection to the English linguist Henry Sweet.

Above: Henry Sweet (1845 – 1912)

Sweet specialized in Germanic languages and studied several times in Germany, in 1864 also at the University of Heidelberg, where the couple Henle had lived and where he might have experienced the well-known and literary mirrored love story of Elise Egloff and Jacob Henle.

Above: Logo of the University of Heidelberg

Perhaps Shaw came across the subject by reading Gottfried Keller’s poem or its review:

The London weekly Saturday Review, in which Shaw later worked (from 1895 to 1898), brought a longer review of the entire work in 1882, with Regine being highlighted as the most powerful narrative.

Another British weekly magazine, The Spectator, reviewed the poem in more detail a short time later, saying:

A new book from the pen of Gottfried Keller is an event not to be passed over.

He is, besides, the most genial, original novel-writer at present wielding the German language.

Both in the English press and in the circles of German studies, superlatives were used very early on, with Keller named as the greatest German-speaking author after Goethe.

Comparisons were initially drawn with Berthold Auerbach, who had already been well introduced in England and America, and the success of his Village Stories was largely due to the positive acceptance of the Keller novels.

Auerbach’s Die Frau Professorin appeared several times in English (first published in 1850).

Unlike Auerbach, interest in Keller did not dry up even after his death, even the term “Shakespeare of the Novelle“, coined by Paul Heyse on Keller, was adopted. 

Above: Paul Heyse (1830 – 1914)

It is not yet possible, but it is quite conceivable, that Shaw became aware of the material, especially since he spoke German well:

For the premiere in Vienna, Shaw translated the text of Pygmalion himself into German, but Siegfried Trebitsch then took over the translation of the printed book version.

Above: Siegfried Trebitsch (1868 – 1956)

In the comedy Pygmalion, the linguist Professor Henry Higgins notices the distinctive alley jargon of the flower girl Eliza Doolittle.

Convinced that the social position of an Englishman depends solely on his accent, he bets with his colleague Colonel Pickering that he can make Eliza appear in the best company as a fine lady, alone by freeing her from her Cockney accent and her poor manners.

But the comfort of Higgins’s bachelor household doesn’t long deceive Eliza about the humiliating fact that the self-deserving Higgins abuses her as a guinea pig without thinking about the consequences for Eliza.

The debut in society at a reception shows that Higgins has only addressed her accent and manners of a lady, shocking her vulgar phrases in the best pronunciation, and exhilarating those present, including Freddy Eynsford Hill, to the Eliza’s naturalness.

It is thanks not so much to the rude Professor Higgins, but to the gentleman Pickering – whose role resembles that of  Adolf Schöll in the historical event – that the experiment still succeeds:

It passes the decisive test, a message reception, brilliant.

Higgins basks in his triumph and is completely unable to understand Eliza’s despair.

Eliza realizes that she is now unfit for her previous life and that Higgins is also indifferent to her future.

She flees to Freddy, reckons with her “creator” Higgins in a big scene and demonstrates that it is not education but self-respect that makes up her personality.

Higgins sets out his selfish-self-serving attitude for the first time.

Shaw avoids a happy ending, however, so as not to (partially) undo the emancipation of his Galatea – much to the disappointment of theatergoers and readers who expected a final domestic idyll between Higgins and Eliza.

This request of the audience was only granted – against the express will of Shaw – with My Fair Lady.

Above: George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)

There is much in Elise’s story with which I can relate, but beyond these stirrings there is nothing that compels us to drift from our programmed progress.

No compulsion is no deviation.

Tägerwilen, gegen Norden
Above: Tägerwilen from a distance

Meanwhile my mental jukebox has changed its tune from Cohen to the soundtrack of My Fair Lady.

I’m an ordinary man
Who desires nothing more than just an ordinary chance
To live exactly as he likes and do precisely what he wants
An average man am I, of no eccentric whim,
Who likes to live his life free of strife
Doing whatever he thinks is best for him
Well, just an ordinary man

But, let a woman in your life
And your serenity is through
She’ll redecorate your home, from the cellar to the dome
And then go on to the enthralling fun of overhauling you

Let a woman in your life
And you’re up against a wall
Make a plan and you will find she has something else in mind
And so rather than do either, you do something else that neither likes at all

You want to talk of Keats or Milton
She only wants to talk of love
You go to see a play or ballet
And spend it searching for her glove

Let a woman in your life
And you invite eternal strife
Let them buy their wedding bands
For those anxious little hands
I’d be equally as willing
For a dentist to be drilling
Than to ever let a woman in my life

I’m a very gentle man
Even-tempered and good-natured who you never hear complain
Who has the milk of human kindness by the quart in every vein
A patient man am I, down to my fingertips,
The sort who never would, never could
Let an insulting remark escape his lips
A very gentle man

But, let a woman in your life
And patience hasn’t got a chance
She will beg you for advice, your reply will be concise
And she’ll listen very nicely, and then go out and do precisely what she wants

You are a man of grace and polish
Who never spoke above a hush
Now all at once you’re using language
That would make a sailor blush

Let a woman in your life
And you’re plunging in a knife
Let the others of my sex tie the knot around their necks
I prefer a new edition of the Spanish Inquisition
Than to ever let a woman in my life

I’m a quiet living man
Who prefers to spend the evening in the silence of his room
Who likes an atmosphere as restful as an undiscovered tomb
A pensive man am I, of philosophical joys,
Who likes to meditate, contemplate,
Free from humanity’s mad inhuman noise
Just a quiet living man

But, let a woman in your life
And your sabbatical is through
In a line that never ends comes an army of her friends
Come to jabber and to chatter
And to tell her what the matter is with you!

She’ll have a booming boisterous family
Who will descend on you en masse
She’ll have a large Wagnarian mother
With a voice that shatters glass
Let a woman in your life
Let a woman in your life

I shall never let a woman in my life

I'm An Ordinary Man Paroles – MY FAIR LADY – GreatSong
Above: Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady

But the problem is that I already have.

Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!
I’ve grown accustomed to her face
She almost makes the day begin
I’ve grown accustomed to the tune that
She whistles night and noon

Her smiles, her frowns
Her ups, her downs
Are second nature to me now
Like breathing out and breathing in

I was serenely independent and content before we met
Surely I could always be that way again
And yet
I’ve grown accustomed to her look
Accustomed to her voice
Accustomed to her face

But I’m so used to hear her say
Good morning” everyday
Her joys, her woes
Her highs, her lows

Are second nature to me now
Like breathing out and breathing in
I’m very grateful she’s a woman
And so easy to forget

Rather like a habit
One can always break
And yet
I’ve grown accustomed to the trace
Of something in the air
Accustomed to her face

My Fair Lady (1964) - I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face - YouTube
Above: Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady

The path leads us to the heart of Gottlieben, a town with a name that translates into English as “God’s love”.

Gottlieben was first mentioned as Agoiliubon at the end of the 10th century.

In 1251 Bishop Eberhard II of Waldburg built Castle Gottlieben, which served as a residence for the Bishops of Konstance, in Gottlieben.

The former water castle with two towers was built, together with a wooden bridge over the Rhine.

In doing so, the Bishop wanted to compete with the nearby city of Konstanz, with whose citizens he was at odds.

Above: Seal of Bishop Eberhard II (r. 1248 – 1274)

The two land-side corner towers of the middle 13th century, together with the palace added in 1346, the east wing from 1434 to 1446 and the north wing from 1475 to 1491, formed a mighty water castle, which was surrounded by a fortification.

In 1355, Gottlieben was attacked and burned down by Konrad von Homburg.

At the time of the Council of Konstanz in 1415, the reformer Jan Hus, Jerome of Prague and the deposed Pope John XXIII, who originally convened the Council and had invited Hus, were imprisoned together in the western tower of Castle Gottlieben. 

Above: Jan Hus (1370 – 1415)

Hieronymus prag a.jpg
Above: Jerome of Prague (1365—1416)

Above: John XXIII (1370 – 1419)

Above: Gottlieben Castle

After the Swabian War in 1499, the episcopal Obervogt (authorities) managed from Castle Gottlieben until 1798 the legal administration of the communnities of Gottlieben, Engwilen, Siegershausen and Tägerwilen.

In 1526, the Bishop left Gottlieben and built his residence in Meersburg. 

Above: Meersburg Castle

In the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648), Swedish Field Marshal Gustaf Horn set up his headquarters in the fight against Konstanz in Gottlieben.

Above: Gustaf Horn (1592 – 1657)

On 24 February 1692, three houses sank into the Rhine during a storm.

In 1808, Gottlieben Castle came into private ownership.

After the death of his mother Hortense de Beauharnais, Prince Louis Napoleon (later Napoleon III) thought of an alternative residence to Arenenberg Castle and bought Gottlieben Castle, which he lived in only very briefly.

Above: Arenenberg

In 1837, the complex was redesigned in neo-Gothic style.

During the reconstruction, massive windows from the cloister of Konstanz Cathedral, which had burnt down in 1824, were used.

Above: Gottlieben Castle

Originally, Gottlieben was located in the parish of Tägerwilen.

During the Reformation in 1529, the whole congregation converted to the new faith.

From 1734 to 1735 the church was built and the reformed parish of Gottlieben was formed, which has been associated with Tägerwilen since 1912. 

Above: Gottlieben Reformed Church

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Gottlieben experienced an economic boom as a trading and transshipment point, especially salt, iron and wine, due to its favourable traffic situation on the Rhine.

In 1678 Gottlieben was granted market rights.

Although smaller industries settled in Gottlieben as early as the 19th century (button factory, horse-hair spinning mill), until after the middle of the 20th century, fishing, crafts and commerce formed the main acquisition of the population.

Above: Riegelhaus, Gottlieben

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century there was an artist colony in Gottlieben, initiated by German writer Emanuel von Bodman (1874-1946) and German writer, painter and sculptor Heinrich Ernst Kromer (1866-1948).

Emanuel von Bodman - Liebesgedichte und Biographie
Above: Emanuel von Bodman

Portraits von und mit Heinrich Ernst Kromer | Biosphärengebiet Schwarzwald  Veranstaltungen
Above: Self portrait of Heinrich Ernst Kromer

There was a lively exchange with cultural figures of the turn of the century, such as: 

  • German poet Richard Dehmel

Above: Richard Dehmel (1863 – 1920)

  • Alsatian writer René Schickele 

Above: René Schickle (1883 – 1940)

  • German writer Wilhelm von Scholz 

Above: Wilhelm von Scholz (1874 – 1969)

  • Czech poet Rainer Maria Rilke

Above: Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926)

  • German writer / physician Ludwig Finckh  (1876 – 1964)

  • German philosopher / psychologist Ludwig Klages

Ludwig Klages - Wikipedia
Above: Ludwig Klages (1872 – 1956)

  • German writer Hermann Hesse
Above: Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962)


  • German writer Thomas Mann 

Above: Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955)

In 1926, the German diplomat Wilhelm Muehlom, who emigrated to Switzerland in 1916, acquired Gottlieben Castle.

In the long run, however, Muehlon’s proximity to the border seemed too dangerous and he gave up this residence in September 1939 in favour of a domicile in Klosters in the Grisons Mountains of Graubünden.

Above: Klosters in winter

After 1945, tourism developed, so that today, besides two boatyards and the well-known Hüppen Bakery, gastronomy in Gottlieben is the most important employer.

Gottlieben is home to a bakery whose Göttlieber Hüppen (filled waffle rolls) are an internationally renowned pastry speciality.

In 1950, the Swiss opera singer Lisa della Casa and her husband Dragan Debeljevic acquired Gottlieben Castle.

Lisa Della Casa
Above: Lisa della Casa (1919 – 2012)

In 2000, a memorial and cultural site was opened with the Bodman House, the former residence of the poet Emanuel von Bodman.

Above: Bodman House (left) and the Old Schoolhouse (right), Gottlieben

Among the personalities that Gottlieben has known:

  • Robert Hallum (1360 -1417), Chancellor of the University of Oxford (1403-1405), Bishop of Salisbury (1407-1417)

Robert Hallum studied at the University of Oxford, served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1381 and was Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1403 to 1405.

Above: Coat of arms of the University of Oxford

In 1406 he was appointed Archbishop of York, but King Henry IV did not accept it.

Above: King Henry IV of England (1366 – 1413)

In 1407 he was appointed Bishop of Salisbury by Pope Gregory XII.

Above: Pope Gregory XII (1335 – 1417)

On June 6, 1411, he was created a Cardinal by Pope John XXIII, but Hallum did not take the position.

Above: Coat of arms of Pope John XXIII

At the Council of Pisa in 1409 he represented the English Church.

Above: Leaning Tower and the Cathedral, Pisa, Italy

At the Council of Konstanz he was the chief ambassador of the English embassy.

Above: Council of Konstanz (1414 – 1418) in discussion with Konstanz Cathedral

For King Henry V he represented a course of church reform.

Above: King Henry V of England (1387 – 1422)

During the Council he died unexpectedly in Gottlieben and was buried at his request in Konstanz Cathedral, where a relief plaque in front of the steps to the high choir commemorates him.

Above: Grave slab of Robert Hallum in Konstanz Cathedral

  • Lisa della Casa (1919 – 2012), opera singer, owner of Gottlieben Castle

OPERA NEWS - Lisa Della Casa, 93, Nonpareil Interpreter of Mozart and  Strauss Heroines, Has Died
Above: Lisa della Casa

Lisa Della Casa was the second child of the ophthalmologist Dr. Francesco Roberto Della Casa (1879 – 1949) and his wife Magarete (1877-1948).

From the age of 15 she received singing lessons.

After studying singing in Bern and Zürich, she made her first appearance in 1941 as an opera singer in Solothurn – Biel in the role of Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly“.

Madama Butterfly, Illustration von Adolfo Hohenstein

From then, her career path was mapped out.

She made her debut at the Stadttheater Zürich (now Opernhaus Zürich) in 1943, where she was a member of the ensemble until 1950, and sang for the first time at the Salzburg Festival in 1947.

Above: Zürich Opera House

In the film Füsilier Wipf (1938), della Casa played the Vreneli (speaking role).

Fuesilier Wipf - DVD - online kaufen | Ex Libris

Della Casa starred in the 1940 film Mier lönd nöd lugg.

Lisa Della Casa (1919–2012) Opernsängerin, Theater-Schauspielerin. Dialekt Theateraufführung «Mier lönd nöd lugg» von Regisseur H.Haller. Von links nach rechts: Häddy Wettstein, Nelly Ruff, Hauptarstellerin Lisa Della Casa und Lilo Aufdermaur. (1940)
Above: Lisa Della Casa in the leading role of the theatrical performance Mier lönd nöd lugg (1940)

Della Casa was from 1947 a member of the Vienna State Opera, from 1953 to 1968 a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as well as a permanent guest of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and of the Salzburg Festival.

Architektur STOP Front 20150922 C MichaelPoehn.jpg
Above: Vienna State Opera

Above: Metropolitan Opera, New York City

Above: Bavarian State Opera, Munich

In 1951 she performed at the Glyndebourne Festival.

Above: Glyndebourne Opera House, Sussex, England

A year later she made her debut in Bayreuth, but she felt the atmosphere there as stiff and pretentious. 

Above: Richard Wagner Festival House, Bayreuth, Germany

In 1952 she was appointed chamber singer.

In 1944 Lisa della Casa married Ernst Geiser from Langenthal and divorced him five years later.

At the end of 1949 she married the Serbian art historian, musicologist and publicist Dragan Debeljevic (1921-2014).

In 1950, she and her second husband, Dragan Debeljevic, acquired Gottlieben Castle, where she lived in complete seclusion until her death.

Above: Gottlieben Castle

Their daughter Vesna-Rajka was born in 1951.

Surprisingly, she retired from the stage in 1974.

The end of her career had to do with a personal stroke of fate – the serious illness of her daughter Vesna.

Dragan Debeljevic published her biography a year later under the title “A Life with Lisa Della Casa“.

Ein Leben mit Lisa Della Casa oder "In dem Schatten ihrer Locken"“ – Bücher  gebraucht, antiquarisch & neu kaufen

The parents of Lisa della Casa founded a well-known restaurant in Bern under the surname, which still exists today.

Restaurants - della-casas Webseite!
Above: Restaurant Della Casa, Bern

On 10 December 2012, Lisa Della Casa died in Münsterlingen on Lake Constance.

Lisa della Casa was one of the leading figures of the post-war period, especially in the Mozart and Richard Strauss discipline.

The beauty of her appearance, the aristocratic nobility of her appearance, the silver timbre, the almost incorporeal immaculateness of her vocal line and the credibility of her design, which combined elegance with intensity, made her exceptional.

Lisa Della Casa | Female singers, Opera singers, Sopranos
Above: Lisa della Casa

  • Udo Jürgens (1934 – 2014), Austrian composer, pianist and singer, had a second home in Gottlieben and died while walking on the lake promenade

Udo Jürgens (born Jürgen Udo Bockelmann) was a composer, pianist and singer of mainly German-language songs. 

In addition to Austrian citizenship, he also held Swiss citizenship from 2007 until his death.

With over 100 million records sold, Udo Jürgens was one of the most commercially successful entertainment musicians in the German-speaking world.

His career spanned nearly 60 years.

He is stylistically between hits, chanson, jazz and pop music.

He was the first Austrian to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 1966.

Above: Udo Jürgens

Udo Jürgens was born in Klagenfurt to German parents.

Jürgens grew up in his parents’ castle Ottmanach on the Magdalensberg (Magdalen Mountain) in Carinthia together with his two brothers John (1931 – 2006) and Manfred.

Above: Ottmanach Castle, Magdalensberg, Carinthia, Austria

He taught himself how to play the piano.

He received systematic instruction only later.

According to his biography The Man with the Bassoon, he received a violent slap from a Hitler Youth group leader which resulted in a reduction in his hearing ability on one ear. 

He left high school one year before graduation.

Later he studied music at the Carinthian State Conservatory (now the Gustav Mahler Private University of Music) in Klagenfurt and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Above: Concert Hall, Gustav Mahler Private University of Music, Klagenfurt, Austria

Above: Logo of the Mozarteum

From 1964 to 1989 Jürgens was married to former model Erika Meier, called Panja.

They had two children, John and Jenny.

In addition, Udo Jürgens had two daughters out of wedlock, Sonja Jürgens and Gloria Burda.

Udo und Panja Jürgens - Allgemeines - Die Udo Jürgens Fan-Site
Above: Jürgens, John, Jenny and Panja

In June 1977, Jürgens moved into a penthouse apartment at the Bellevue in Zürich.

Above: Bellevue Place, Zürich

Since at that time both Austria and Germany had tax debts, this move was interpreted in various media as tax evasion.

Jürgens, however, saw this debt covered by a “seven-figure amount” deposited in a Munich blocked account. 

On July 4, 1999 he married his long-term partner Corinna Reinhold (from Mönchengladbach – Rheydt) in New York.

Together they moved into a house in Zumikon, Switzerland, in 1997.

They divorced in 2006.

Udo Jürgens: Der Sänger war keiner seiner Frauen treu |
Above: Corinna Reinhold and Udo Jürgens

In February 2007, Udo Jürgens obtained Swiss citizenship.

He was allowed to retain his Austrian citizenship, so that he was a dual citizen.

In July 2012, Jürgens acquired a villa in the municipality of Meilen, which Migros founder Gottlieb Duttweiler had built in 1930.

Above: Gottlieb Duttweiler


The Gottlieb-Duttweiler-Villa was completely renovated between 2012 and 2016.

He lived in Gottlieben during the reconstruction period.

In 2015, he wanted to move into the villa in Meilen, but his death prevented this.

Kirche Meilen, Fähre
Above: Meilen

Udo Jürgens repeatedly referred to himself as an atheist in public. 

After the Swiss initiative “Against Mass Immigration” was decided by a narrow majority in February 2014, Jürgens was quoted in the German-language media after an interview with the Bild newspaper as saying:

That shocked me and deeply disappointed me.

Europe is the best idea this continent has had for a thousand years.

I was ashamed of the decision for Switzerland” and that he “no longer felt welcome in Switzerland”, which subsequently led to controversial reactions.

Logo der Bild-Zeitung

In another interview with Bluewin Entertainment, he put these statements into perspective as a misunderstanding, noting:

“I’m sorry for this statement, I honestly admit that.” 

On 21 December 2014, Udo Jürgens collapsed unconscious during a walk in Gottlieben and died of heart failure at the age of 80 despite an attempt to resuscitate him in the hospital in Münsterlingen.

Two weeks earlier, he had completed the first part of his 25th concert tour in Zürich, which was under the motto “Mitten im Leben“.

He made his last public appearance on 12 December 2014 at the Berlin Velodrome in the Helene Fischer Show.

Above: Helene Fischer

The performance was televised shortly after his death at Christmas.

According to his own wishes, his body was cremated.

The cremation was carried out on 23 December 2014, two days after his death.

On 15 January 2015, around 200 friends and companions bid farewell to Udo Jürgens at a memorial service in Zürich.

On 23 January, Jürgens’ urn was erected in the Volkshalle of the Vienna City Hall, where the public was able to pay their last respects to the musician.

Above: Vienna City Hall (Wiener Rathaus)

Officials such as Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann entered their names in the condolence books.

Above: Heinz Fischer

Above: Werner Faymann

He was buried on 9 May 2015 in an honorary grave of the city of Vienna (group 33 G, grave no. 85) in the Central Cemetery.

The tombstone represents a wing wrapped in a white mourning cloth.

One of the tombstone’s passages reads:

You are the sheet of music that was all for me. 

I’ll leave you everything.

I’ll leave you all there.” 

Above: Final resting place of Udo Jürgens

Udo Jürgens is considered one of the most important entertainers of the 20th and early 21st century.

He composed more than 1,000 songs, released more than 50 music albums and sold more than 105 million records during his more than sixty-year career. 

He is one of the most successful male solo artists in the world.

Since 2015, he has also held the world record as the longest successful artist in the charts with over 57 years, from his first entry in 1958 to 2015.

Jürgens holds the record as the most frequently represented German-speaking singer with 61 rankings in the album charts and has a total of 616 album placements and 411 single rankings by the end of 2014.

Above: Udo Jürgens

In his early years he was mostly seen as a pop singer, later he pushed his boundaries with his extensive compositional work.

His lyrics, which come from various lyricists and from himself, often addressed social themes, for example, decadence in his Café Größenwahn (1993).

Udo Jürgens – Café Grössenwahn (1993, CD) - Discogs

With An Honourable House (1975) he caricatured the bourgeois bigotry in relation to “wild marriage“, which was often still perceived as problematic at the time – the “marriage without a marriage certificate“.

Udo Jürgens - Ein ehrenwertes Haus - - YouTube

He also commented on the problem of guest workers (Greek Wine, 1974), on the environment (5 minutes before 12, 1982), on the arms race (Dream Dancer,1983) and on the drug problem (Red blooms the poppy, 1984). - Udo Jürgens - Griechischer Wein

Udo Jürgens – 5 Minuten Vor 12 (1982, Vinyl) - Discogs

Udo Jürgens – Rot Blüht Der Mohn (1984, Vinyl) - Discogs

In the title Go and multiply from The Blue Album (1988), he created a connection between the Pope and a Biblical quotation.

The radio programmers of the Bayerischer Rundfunk therefore included the song on their non-play list.

Jurgens, Udo - Das Blaue Album - Music

Also on this album is the song Moscow – New York, in which Jürgens sings of the fall of the Berlin Wall a year earlier.

His wide-ranging work also includes symphonic compositions, such as Word and The Crown of Creation, which were recorded with the Berliner Philharmoniker.

On 2 December 2007 was the premiere of the Udo Jürgens musical Ich war noch niemals in New York at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg.

Since then, the musical has been performed in Vienna (from 2010), Stuttgart (from 2010), Tokyo (from 2011), Oberhausen and Zurich (from 2012) and in Berlin (from 2015).

In 1992 Jürgens played on the Donauinsel (Danube Island) in Vienna in front of 220,000 spectators.

A hallmark of his live concerts were the encores, which he always sang in a white bathrobe.

Udo Jürgens: Ich war noch niemals in New York

Gottlieben is home to two boatyards as well as hotel and restoration companies are located here.

The location of the municipality on the shipping line and the picturesque townscape, which is characterized by half-timbered houses, make the municipality a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer months.

Gottlieben is a stop of the shipping company Untersee & Rhein.

Hafen von Gottlieben |

It is the bakery’s café that makes us yearn for an end to the lockdown, for the café setting on the shore, their wonderful drinks and yummy desserts, and their impeccable service have also attracted us to Gottlieben.

The café is closed.

Above: The dessert, Lubin Baugin

We brought some snacks with us and a thermos of tea and so we sit on a bench near the cruise ship landing.

So much should be said, so much goes unsaid.

Gottlieben - Kleiner Ort, große Schätze

I long to tell her how I feel like a latter-day male Eliza Doolittle in trying to fit in a society that is unwelcoming and judgmental.

I long to tell how even when I was teaching fulltime that Switzerland never felt like home.

I long to tell her of the music running through my mind (usually 80s hits) and how like John Waite’s song “Missing You” in all its ironic denial of loss (playing at that moment) I really feel.

To make the song accurate only requires switching “I” with “you”

I spend my time
Thinking about you
And it’s almost driving me wild
And that’s my heart that’s breaking
Down this long distance line tonight

I ain’t missing you at all
Since you’ve been gone away
I ain’t missing you
No matter
What my friends say

There’s a message in the wire
And I’m sending you this signal tonight
You don’t know how desperate I’ve become
And it looks like I’m losing this fight

In your world I have no meaning
Though I’m trying hard to understand
And it’s my heart that’s breaking
Down this long distance line tonight

But I ain’t missing you at all
Since you’ve been gone away
I ain’t missing you
No matter what I might say

John Waite - Missing You.jpg

I need to go to Turkey.

I need to rediscover the joy of doing a job I love.

But doing what I love means a separation of months and possibly years.

I long for her happiness but I can no longer sacrifice my own desires for hers.

The song changes to Jim Croce’s “Lover’s Cross” as the descending sun encourages our walking back to Ermatingen before darkness claims the remains of the day.

I guess that it was bound to happen
Was just a matter of time
Now I’ve come to my decision
And it’s a one of the painful kind
‘Cause now it seems that you wanted a martyr
Just a regular guy wouldn’t do
But baby, I can’t hang upon no lover’s cross for you

I really gotta hand it to ya
‘Cause girl you really tried
But for every time that we spent laughin’
There were two times that I cried
And you were tryin’ to make me your martyr
And that’s the one thing I just couldn’t do
‘Cause baby, I can’t hang upon no lover’s cross for you

‘Cause tables are meant for turnin’
And people are bound to change
And bridges are meant for burnin’
When the people and memories
They join aren’t the same

Still I hope that you can find another
Who can take what I could not
He’ll have to be a super guy
Or maybe a super god
‘Cause I never was much of a martyr before
And I ain’t ’bout to start nothin’ new
And baby, I can’t hang upon no lover’s cross for you.

Jim Croce – Lover's Cross (1985, Vinyl) - Discogs

I don’t expect her to be a martyr for me nor I for her.

I cannot stop loving her, but I must start loving myself.

Love : Buscaglia, Leo F : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet  Archive

We say what does not matter.

What matters we do not say.

The path follows the railroad and in two weeks’ time this railroad will lead to the airport.

Bild: Bahnhof "Ermatingen" •

I am not remotely religious but I identify with Moses in one respect:

A faltering tongue.

As a child I stuttered.

As a man I struggle to find the words to express myself in speech.

As a man in a discussion with a woman I am at a disadvantage.

Guido Reni - Moses with the Tables of the Law - WGA19289.jpg
Above: Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments, Guido Reni

I want to tell her that just because I am leaving her behind doesn’t not mean that she is out of my life.

The difficulty is not in that I don’t care.

The difficulty is that I care too damn much.

Murray McLauchlan – Try Walking Away / Don't Put Your Faith In Men (1979,  Vinyl) - Discogs

The wind tosses the grasses barely covered by remnants of snow.

The Lake softly murmurs.

The only other sound is the crunching of pebbles beneath our feet.

The murmuring and crunching can barely conceal the racing beat of my heart.

Something else she cannot hear.

Damit die aussergewöhnliche Vogelwelt am Untersee nicht gestört wird: Hunde  gehören an die Leine zwischen Ermatingen und Gottlieben | St.Galler Tagblatt

Baby, I’ve been waiting,
I’ve been waiting night and day
I didn’t see the time,
I waited half my life away
There were lots of invitations
And I know you sent me some
But I was waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come

I know you really loved me
But, you see, my hands were tied
And I know it must have hurt you,
It must have hurt your pride
To have to stand beneath my window
With your bugle and your drum
And me I’m up there waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come

Ah I don’t believe you’d like it,
You wouldn’t like it here
There ain’t no entertainment
And the judgments are severe
The Maestro says it’s Mozart
But it sounds like bubble gum
When you’re waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come

Waiting for the miracle
There’s nothing left to do
I haven’t been this happy
Since the end of World War II

Nothing left to do
When you know that you’ve been taken
Nothing left to do
When you’re begging for a crumb
Nothing left to do
When you’ve got to go on waiting
Waiting for the miracle to come

I dreamed about you, baby
It was just the other night
Most of you was naked
Ah but some of you was light
The sands of time were falling
From your fingers and your thumb
And you were waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come

Ah baby, let’s get married
We’ve been alone too long
Let’s be alone together
Let’s see if we’re that strong
Yeah let’s do something crazy,
Something absolutely wrong
While we’re waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come

Nothing left to do
When you know that you’ve been taken
Nothing left to do
When you’re begging for a crumb
Nothing left to do
When you’ve got to go on waiting
Waiting for the miracle to come

When you’ve fallen on the highway
And you’re lying in the rain,
And they ask you how you’re doing
Of course you’ll say you can’t complain
If you’re squeezed for information,
That’s when you’ve got to play it dumb
You just say you’re out there waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come


THere are many things I should say and many things that I cannot say.

Of all that goes unsaid are the words:

Happy Valentine’s Day

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Hürriyet Daily News, 7 May 2021 / “Peru’s foreign minister resigns in scandal over early vaccination of official“, The Guardian, 15 February 2021 / “Myanmar junta warns public not to hide fugitive protestors“, Channel News Asia, 14 February 2021 / “Guinea declares Ebola epidemic after three deaths“, Al-Jazeera, 14 February 2021 / “DR Congo militia kills 11 civilians: army“, Manila Standard, 15 February 2021 / “Turkey says militants executed 13, including soldiers in Iraq“, Reuters, 14 February 2021 / Soundtrack, My Fair Lady / Lucille, Kenny Rogers / Famous Blue Raincoat, Leonard Cohen / Missing You, John Waite / Waiting for the Miracle, Leonard Cohen

What it is, isn’t

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Friday 12 February 2021 / Eskisehir, Turkey, Tuesday 13 April 2021 (or Day 1 of the month of Ramadan 1444 AH)

The further one travels back in time, the more alien the landscape seems to us.

Part of the problem is that we find it difficult to accept that the ways in which we think today were not always so in the past.

For us, the revelations and the sensation that these revelations created then seem almost passé and bizarre to us these days.

Take the name and work of the French philosopher René Descartes as an example.

I will be direct here.

Descartes is not an easy read – in truth, I have never read anything written by those of a mathematical mind, scientific spirit or engineerial enterprise (all three of which Descartes possessed) that I wouldn’t instantly recommend as a cure for insomnia.

(Which is why I tell my students never to study, never to read, in bed or in a prone position on the sofa.)

To read Descartes, to read anyone from the time before computers, requires an alert mind, a free spirit and an open heart.

I mention Descartes, for it was he who questioned the reliability of perception, the idea that what is, really isn’t.

And it is this notion, this idea of creating illusion to disguise reality, this habit of seeing what we want to see rather than what actually is, that is simultaneously the theme of events of 12 February as recorded in Landschlacht and my present set of circumstances here in Eskisehir.

Frans Hals - Portret van René Descartes.jpg
Above: René Descartes (1596-1650)

First, a few words about the man himself, for I have always found his life immensely more thrilling than his writing, despite the importance of the works he produced.

René Descartes was born in La Haye en Touraine, France, on 31 March 1596.

His mother, Jeanne Brochard, died soon after giving birth to him, and so he was not expected to survive.

Descartes’ father, Joachim, was a member of the Parlement of Brittany at Rennes.

René lived with his grandmother and with his great-uncle.

Although the Descartes family was Roman Catholic, the Poitou region was controlled by the Protestant Huguenots.

Above: René Descartes’ birthplace, La Haye en Touraine

In 1607, late because of his fragile health, he entered the Jesuit College Royal Henri-le Grand (now the Prytanée national militaire) at La Fleche, where he was introduced to mathematics and physics.

La Fleche - Prytanee 06.jpg
Above: The entrance gate of the Prytanée national militaire

After graduation in 1614, he studied for two years (1615–16) at the University of Poitiers, earning a Baccalauréat and Licence in canon and civil law in 1616, in accordance with his father’s wishes that he should become a lawyer.

Above: Graduation registry for Descartes at the University of Poitiers, 1616

From there, he moved to Paris.

In his Discourse on the Method, Descartes recalls:

I entirely abandoned the study of letters.

Resolving to seek no knowledge other than that of which could be found in myself or else in the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth travelling, visiting courts and armies, mixing with people of diverse temperaments and ranks, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the situations which fortune offered me, and at all times reflecting upon whatever came my way to derive some profit from it.

Descartes Discours de la Methode.jpg

In accordance with his ambition to become a professional military officer in 1618, Descartes joined, as a mercenary, the Protestant Dutch States Army in Breda, and undertook a formal study of military engineering.

Above: Uniform of the Dutch States Army

Descartes, therefore, received much encouragement in Breda to advance his knowledge of mathematics. 

Docks in the city centre
Above: modern Breda, Netherlands

In this way, he became acquainted with Isaac Beeckman, the principal of a Dordrecht school, for whom he wrote the Compendium of Music (1618).

Both believed that it was necessary to create a method that thoroughly linked mathematics and physics.

Above: From Beeckman’s diary, 18 July 1612: How to get a bucket of water out of the well with half a stroke

While in the service of the Catholic Duke Maximilian of Bavaria since 1619, Descartes was present at the Battle of the White Mountain near Prague, on 8 November 1620.

Schlacht am Weißen Berg C-K 063.jpg
Above: Battle of White Mountain

On the night of 10–11 November 1619 (St. Martin’s Day), while stationed in Neuburg an der Donau, Descartes shut himself in a room with an oven to escape the cold.

Residenzschloss, the seat of Palatine Electors.
Above: Neuburg Castle, Neuburg an der Donau, Bavaria, Germany

While within, he had three dreams, and believed that a divine spirit revealed to him a new philosophy.

Upon exiting, he had formulated analytical geometry and the idea of applying the mathematical method to philosophy.

He concluded from these visions that the pursuit of science would prove to be, for him, the pursuit of true wisdom and a central part of his life’s work.

Descartes also saw very clearly that all truths were linked with one another, so that finding a fundamental truth and proceeding with logic would open the way to all science.

Descartes discovered this basic truth quite soon:

His famous “I think, therefore I am.”


In 1620, Descartes left the army.

He visited the Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto, then visited various countries before returning to France.

Basilica Pontificia della Santa Casa di Loreto.jpg

Above: Basilica della Santa Casa, Loreto, Italy

During the next few years, he spent time in Paris.

It was there that he composed his first essay on method: Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii (Rules for the Direction of the Mind).

He arrived in La Haye in 1623, selling all of his property to invest in bonds, which provided a comfortable income for the rest of his life.

Descartes (Indre-et-Loire)
Above: Descartes statue, Town Hall, Descartes (formerly La Haye en Touraine)

Descartes was present at the siege of La Rochelle by Cardinal Richelieu in 1627.

Above: The siege of La Rochelle (September 1627 – October 1628)

In the fall of the same year, in the residence of the Papal Nuncio Guidi di Bagno, where he came to listen to a lecture given by the alchemist, Nicolas de Villiers, Sieur de Chandoux, on the principles of a supposed new philosophy, Cardinal Bérulle urged Descartes to write an exposition of his new philosophy in some location beyond the reach of the Inquisition.

Giovanni Guidi di Bagno.jpg
Above: Giovanni Guido di Bagno (1578–1641)

Above: Cardinal Pierre de Berulle (1575 – 1629)

Descartes returned to the Dutch Republic in 1628. 

In April 1629, he joined the University of Franeker (1585–1811).

Above: University of Franeker

The next year, under the name “Poitevin“, he enrolled at Leiden University to study both mathematics and astronomy.

Leiden University seal.svg
Above: Seal of the University of Leiden

In October 1630, he had a falling-out with Beeckman, whom he accused of plagiarizing some of his ideas.

In Amsterdam, he had a relationship with a servant girl, Helena Jans van der Strom, with whom he had a daughter, Francine, who was born in 1635 in Deventer.

Homme et femme devant une cheminée

She died of scarlet fever at the age of 5.

Unlike many moralists of the time, Descartes did not deprecate the passions but rather defended them.

He wept upon Francine’s death in 1640. 

According to a recent biography by Jason Porterfield, “Descartes said that he did not believe that one must refrain from tears to prove oneself a man.” 

Russell Shorto speculates that the experience of fatherhood and losing a child formed a turning point in Descartes’s work, changing its focus from medicine to a quest for universal answers.

gravure d'un homme au chevet d'une petite fille
Above: Descartes mourning his daughter (1635 – 1640), engraving (1790)

Despite frequent moves, he wrote all of his major work during his 20-plus years in the Netherlands, initiating a revolution in mathematics and philosophy.

In 1633, Galileo was condemned by the Italian Inquisition, compelling Descartes to abandon his plans to publish Treatise on the World, his work of the previous four years.

Justus Sustermans - Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1636.jpg
Above: Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)

Above: Treatise of the World (1664)

Nevertheless, in 1637, Descartes published parts of this work in three essays: “Les Météores” (The Meteors), “La Dioptrique” (Dioptrics) and La Géometrie (Geometry), preceded by an introduction, his famous Discours de la méthode (Discourse on the Method).

In it, Descartes lays out four rules of thought, meant to ensure that our knowledge rests upon a firm foundation:

The first was never to accept anything for true which I did not know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more in my judgment than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly as to exclude all ground of doubt.

In La Géométrie, Descartes exploited the discoveries he made with Pierre de Fermat, having been able to do so because his paper, Introduction to Loci, was published posthumously in 1679.

Pierre de Fermat.jpg
Above: Pierre de Fermat (1607 – 1665)

This later became known as Cartesian Geometry.

Descartes continued to publish works concerning both mathematics and philosophy for the rest of his life.

In 1641, he published a metaphysics treatise, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (Meditations on First Philosophy), written in Latin and thus addressed to the learned.

It was followed in 1644 by Principia Philosophiae (Principles of Philosophy), a kind of synthesis of the Discourse on the Method and Meditations on First Philosophy.

Principia philosophiae.tif

In 1643, Cartesian philosophy was condemned at the University of Utrecht, and Descartes was obliged to flee to the Hague, settling in Egmond-Binnen.

Utrecht University logo.svg
Above: Logo of the University of Utrecht

Historic farm near Egmond-Binnen
Above: Historic farm, Egmond-Binnen, Netherlands

Descartes began a six-year correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, devoted mainly to moral and psychological subjects.

1636 Elisabeth of Bohemia.jpg
Above: Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618 – 1680)

Connected with this correspondence, in 1649 he published Les Passions de l’âme (Passions of the Soul), which he dedicated to the Princess.

In 1647, he was awarded a pension by King Lousi XIV of France, though it was never paid.

Portrait of Louis XIV aged 63
Above: Louis XIV of France (1638 – 1715)

A French translation of Principia Philosophiae was published in 1647.

This edition was also dedicated to Princess Elisabeth.

In the preface to the French edition, Descartes praised true philosophy as a means to attain wisdom.

He identifies four ordinary sources to reach wisdom and finally says that there is a fifth, better and more secure, consisting in the search for first causes.


By 1649, Descartes had become one of Europe’s most famous philosophers and scientists.

That year, Queen Christina of Sweden invited him to her court to organize a new scientific academy and tutor her in his ideas about love.

She was interested in and stimulated Descartes to publish the Passions of the Soul, a work based on his correspondence with Princess Elisabeth.

Descartes accepted, and moved to Sweden in the middle of winter.

Swedish queen Drottning Kristina portrait by Sébastien Bourdon stor.jpg
Above: Christina of Sweden (1626 – 1689)

Descartes arranged to give lessons to Queen Christina after her birthday, three times a week at 5 am, in her cold and draughty castle.

It soon became clear they did not like each other.

She did not care for his mechanical philosophy, nor did he share her interest in Ancient Greek.

By 15 January 1650, Descartes had seen Christina only four or five times.

On 1 February, he contracted pneumonia and died on 11 February.

Above: Kronor Castle, Stockholm

Descartes did not believe that the information we receive through our senses is necessarily accurate.

After the revelation he experienced on 10 November 1619, Descartes undertook his own intellectual rebirth.

His first step was to throw out everything he thought he knew, refusing to believe in even the most basic premises before proving them to himself satisfactorily.

In this act of demolition and reconstruction, Descartes felt it would be a waste of time to tear down each idea individually.

Instead, he attacked what he considered the very foundation: the idea that sense perception conveys accurate information.

He developed several arguments to illustrate this point.

In his Dream argument, Descartes argues that he often dreams of things that seem real to him while he is asleep.

In one dream, he sits by a fire in his room, and it seems he can feel the warmth of the fire, just as he feels it in his waking life, even though there is no fire.

The fact that he feels the fire doesn’t really allow him to tell when he is awake and when he is dreaming.

Moreover, if his senses can convey to him the heat of the fire when he does not really feel it, he can’t trust that the fire exists when he feels it in his waking life. Fireplace Burning Wood HD: Appstore for Android

Likewise, in his Deceiving God and Evil Demon arguments, Descartes suggests that, for all he knows, he may be under the control of an all-powerful being bent on deceiving him.

In that case, he does not have a body at all but is merely a brain fed information and illusions by the all-powerful being.

(Fans of the Matrix films may recognize this concept.)

Ultimate Matrix Collection poster.jpg

Descartes does not intend these arguments to be taken literally.

His point is to demonstrate that the senses can be deceived.

If we cannot trust our senses to convey true information about the world around us, then we also can’t trust deductions we’ve made on the grounds of sense perception.

Above: René Descartes monument, Adolf Fredriks Kyrka (church), Stockholm

At the time Descartes cast doubt on the reliability of sense perception, it was a radical position.

He was proposing that scientific observation had to be an interpretive act requiring careful monitoring.

The proponents of the British empiricist movement especially opposed Descartes’ ideas.

They believed that all knowledge comes to us through the senses.

Descartes and his followers argued the opposite, that true knowledge comes only through the application of pure reason.

Although Descartes mistrusted the information received through the senses, he did believe that certain knowledge can be acquired by other means, arguing that the strict application of reason to all problems is the only way to achieve certainty in science.

In Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Descartes argues that all problems should be broken up into their simplest parts and that problems can be expressed as abstract equations.

Descartes hopes to minimize or remove the role of unreliable sense perception in the sciences.

If all problems are reduced to their least sense-dependent and most abstract elements, then objective reason can be put to work to solve the problem.

Rules for the Direction of the Mind: Descartes, René, Anderson, Taylor:  9781978280434: Books

Descartes’ most famous statement is:

Cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I exist.”

With this argument, Descartes proposes that the very act of thinking offers a proof of individual human existence.

Because thoughts must have a source, there must be an “I” that exists to do the thinking.

In arguments that follow from this premise, Descartes points out that although he can be sure of nothing else about his existence—he can’t prove beyond a doubt that he has hands or hair or a body—he is certain that he has thoughts and the ability to use reason.

Descartes asserts that these facts come to him as “clear and distinct perceptions.”

He argues that anything that can be observed through clear and distinct perceptions is part of the essence of what is observed.

Thought and reason, because they are clearly perceived, must be the essence of humanity.

Consequently, Descartes asserts that a human would still be a human without hands or hair or a face.

He also asserts that other things that are not human may have hair, hands, or faces, but a human would not be a human without reason, and only humans possess the ability to reason.

Man of the woods.JPG

Descartes firmly believed that reason is a native gift of humans and that true knowledge can be directly gleaned not from books but only through the methodical application of reason.

The expressed aim of many of his books was to present complex scientific and philosophical matters in such a way that the least sophisticated readers could understand them.

Because Descartes believed that every human possesses the “natural light” of reason, he believed that if he presented all his arguments as logical trains of thought, then anyone could understand them and nobody could help but be swayed.

In the original edition of Discourse on the Method, in fact, Descartes declares his aim with the subtitle “In which the Author… explains the most abstruse Topics he could choose, and does so in such a way that even persons who have never studied can understand them.

In an attempt to reach a wider audience, Descartes occasionally wrote in French, the language of his countrymen, rather than Latin, the language of scholars, so that people without a formal education could understand him.

Discourse on Method

Perhaps a Cartesian way of thinking is sorely needed in these times we live in, for so often what some folks say is true may not necessarily be as true as they say.

Take a gander at what this day (12 February) is famous for….

1404: Italian Professor Galeazzo di Santa Sophie performed the first post-mortem autopsy for the purposes of teaching and demonstration at the Heiligen–Geist Spital in Vienna.

Rembrandt - The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp.jpg
Above: Rembrandt – The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp

The principal aims of an autopsy are to determine the cause of death, mode of death, manner of death, the state of health of the person before he or she died, and whether any medical diagnosis and treatment before death was appropriate.

In most Western countries the number of autopsies performed in hospitals has been decreasing every year since 1955.

Critics have charged that the reduction in autopsies is negatively affecting the care delivered in hospitals, because when mistakes result in death, they are often not investigated and lessons therefore remain unlearned.

When a person has given permission in advance of their death, autopsies may also be carried out for the purposes of teaching or medical research.

An autopsy is frequently performed in cases of sudden death, where a doctor is not able to write a death certificate, or when death is believed to result from an unnatural cause.

These examinations are performed under a legal authority (Medical Examiner or Coroner or Procurator Fiscal) and do not require the consent of relatives of the deceased.

The most extreme example is the examination of murder victims, especially when medical examiners are looking for signs of death or the murder method, such as bullet wounds and exit points, signs of strangulation, or traces of poison.

Above: Autopsy room, La Charité, Berlin

Some religions including Judaism and Islam usually discourage the performing of autopsies on their adherents. 

Organizations such as ZAKA in Israel and Misaskim in the United States generally guide families how to ensure that an unnecessary autopsy is not made.

Above: Logo of ZAKA (“disaster victim identification“)

Autopsies are used in clinical medicine to identify medical error, or a previously unnoticed condition that may endanger the living, such as infectious diseases or exposure to hazardous materials.

A study that focused on myocardial infarction (heart attack) as a cause of death found significant errors of omission and commission, i.e. a sizable number of cases ascribed to myocardial infarctions (MIs) were not MIs and a significant number of non-MIs were actually MIs.

Above: Cadaver dissection table

I am torn in knowing what to think about autopsies.

I comprehend the wish for the loved ones of the dearly departed to wish to maintain the dignity of the deceased, but death, which is the absence of awareness, including self-awareness, is not felt by those whom death has claimed.

And, perhaps, even a nameless form on an autopsy table has tales to tell of how their life was lived and how that life ended, and perhaps has value in its parts that can aid in the continuation of other lives.

I think, therefore I am?


But when thought ceases and all that remains are remains and other people’s memories of the person that once inhabited this now emptied shell, eventually for most of us (at least for those with tombstones upon their final resting places) all that will mark the moment of our lives will be a name that means nothing to anyone anymore).

So, have at it, hack at it, seek the secrets of the past in the remnants that lie before you.

For, what is in a name when the spirit of the man is no longer caring of the reputation that name may hold?

A man is dead upon a slab.

He is, and yet….

He isn’t.

Autopsy (1890) by Enrique Simonet

The forced conversions of Muslims in Spain were enacted through a series of edicts outlawing Islam in the lands of the Spanish Monarchy.

This effort was overseen by three Spanish kingdoms during the early 16th century: the Crown of Castille (1500–1502), followed by Navarre (1515–1516), and lastly the Crown of Aragon (1523–1526).

After Christian kingdoms finished their reconquest of Al-Andalus (the Iberian peninsula) on 2 January 1492, the Muslim population stood between 500,000 and 600,000 people.

At this time Muslims who lived under Christian rule were given the status of Mudéjar, legally allowing the open practice of Islam.

In 1499, the Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros began a campaign in the city of Granada to force religious compliance with Christianity with torture and imprisonment.

This triggered a Muslim rebellion.

The rebellion was eventually quelled and then used to justify revoking the Muslims’ legal and treaty protections.

Conversion efforts were redoubled, and by 1501, officially, no Muslim remained in Granada.

Encouraged by the success in Granada, Castile Queen Isabella issued an edict on 12 February 1502 which banned Islam for all of Castile. 

While adhering to Christianity in public was required by the royal edicts and enforced by the Spanish Inquisition, evidence indicated that most of the forcibly converted (known as the “Moriscos“) clung to Islam in secret.

In daily public life, traditional Islamic law could no longer be followed without persecution by the Inquistion.

As a result, the Oran Fatwa was issued to acknowledge the necessity of relaxing sharia, as well as detailing the ways in which Muslims were to do so.

This Fatwa become the basis for the cypto-Islam practiced by the Moriscos until their expulsions (1609 – 1614).

Some Muslims, many near the coast, emigrated in response to the conversion.

However, restrictions placed by the authorities on emigration meant leaving Spain was not an option for many.

Rebellions also broke out in some areas, especially those with defensible mountainous terrain, but they were all unsuccessful.

Ultimately, the edicts created a society in which devout Muslims who secretly refused conversion coexisted with former Muslims who became genuine practicing Christians, up until the expulsion.

The Moriscos were Christians, but yet….

They weren’t.

Above: Moorish Proselytes of Archbishop Ximenes, Granada, 1500, Edwin Long, depicting a mass baptism of Muslims

On 12 February 1825, the Creek Nation ceded the last of their lands in Georgia to the US government by the Treaty of Indian Springs, and migrated west.

Old Indian Springs Hotel.JPG
Above: the old Indian Springs Hotel, where the Treaty was signed

The treaty that was agreed was negotiated with six chiefs of the Lower Creek, led by William McIntosh.

McIntosh agreed to cede all Muscogee lands east of the Chattahoochee River, including the sacred Ocmulgee National Monument, to Georgia and Alabama, and accepted relocation west of the Mississippi River to an equivalent parcel of land along the Arkansas River.

In compensation for the move to unimproved land, and to aid in obtaining supplies, the Muscogee nation would receive $200,000 paid in decreasing installments over a period of years.

Above: Creek cessions of the Treaty of Indian Springs

The treaty was popular with Georgians, who reelected George Troup governor in the state’s first popular election in 1825.

It was signed by only six chiefs.

The Creek National Council denounced it, ordering the execution of McIntosh and the other Muscogee signatories, as it was a capital crime to alienate tribal land.

On 29 April, the Upper Creek Chief Menawa took 200 warriors to attack McIntosh at his plantation (McIntosh Reserve) on the Chattahoochee River in present-day Carroll County, Georgia.

They killed him and two other signatories, and set fire to the house.

Both his sons-in-law, Samuel and Benjamin Hawkins, Jr. were slated for execution.

Samuel was hanged but Benjamin escaped and lived for another decade.

William McIntosh from- M'Intosh, a Creek chief (cropped).jpg
Above: Creek Chief William McIntosh (1775 – 1825)

A delegation from the Creek National Council, led by Chief Opothleyahola, travelled to Washington, DC with a petition to the American President John Quincy Adams to have it revoked.

They negotiated the 1826 Treaty of Washington, in which the Muscogee surrendered most of the lands sought by Georgia under more generous terms, retaining a small piece of land on the Georgia-Alabama border and the Ocmulgee National Monument.

Mounds at Ocmulgee National Monument, Bibb County, GA, US.jpg
Above: Sacred mounds of the Ocmulgee National Monuments, Bibb County, Georgia

They were, moreover, not required to move west.

Opothle Yaholo.jpg
Above: Creek Chief Opothleyaholo (1778 – 1863)

Troup refused to recognize the new treaty, and ordered the Muscogee lands surveyed for a land lottery.

He began forcibly evicting the Lower Creek.

George M. Troup.jpg
Above: George Troup (1780 – 1856)

Adams threatened federal intervention, but backed down after Troup mobilized Georgia militia.

John Q. Adams.jpg
Above: John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848)

Like the Cherokee in northeastern Alabama, most of the Muscogee people were forcibly removed by the federal government from their original lands in the 1830s during the Trail of Tears to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

The Indian removal in 1838 (the last forced removal east of the Mississippi) was brought on by the discovery of gold near Dahlonega, Georgia in 1828, resulting in the Georgia Gold Rush.

The relocated peoples suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route to their newly designated reserve.

Thousands died before reaching their destinations or shortly after from disease.

They had signed a treaty that meant that justice would prevail, except….

It didn’t.

Above: Creek bandolier and bag

Émile Henry grew up in a liberal, aristocratic family with anarchist sympathies.

An anarchist, by definition, is a person who is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy.

Above: Émile Henry (1872 – 1894)

(I am not an anarchist, for despite my inborn scepticism of authority, I believe that society cannot function properly without some form of organization, thus requiring those that lead and those that follow.

My scepticism arises from observing those that lead and those that follow failing to do what they should.)

"Circle-A" anarchy symbol
Above: Anarchy symbol

The Henry family were exiled to Spain for a time because his father, Fortune Henry, was a Communard (a supporter of the 1871 Paris Commune).

Above: A barricade thrown up by Communard National Guards on 18 March 1871

(The Paris Commune (Commune de Paris) was a revolutionary socialist government that controlled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871.

During the events of the Franco-Prussian War (1870), Paris had been defended by the National Guard where working class radicalism grew among soldiers.

Logo de la Garde Nationale Française (2016).svg

Above: Revolutionary units of the National Guard briefly seized the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) on 31 October 1870, but the uprising failed.

In March 1871, during the establishment of the Third Republic under French chief executive Adolphe Thiers, soldiers of the National Guard seized control of the city and then refused to accept the authority of the French government, instead attempting to establish an independent government.

Picture of Adolphe Thiers.jpg
Above: Adolphe Thiers (1797 – 1877)

The Commune governed Paris for two months, establishing policies that tended toward a progressive, secular system of social democracy, including the separation of church and state, self-policing, the remission of rent during the siege, the abolition of child labour, and the right of employees to take over an enterprise deserted by its owner. 

Feminist, socialist and anarchist currents played important roles in the Commune.

The Commune was eventually suppressed by the national French Army during La semaine sanglante (“The Bloody Week“) beginning on 21 May 1871.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 Communards are confirmed to have been killed in battle or executed, though some estimates tend as high as 20,000.

The Archbishop of Paris, Georges Darboy, and other hostages were shot by the Commune in retaliation.

Debates over the policies and outcome of the Commune had significant influence on the ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who described it as the first example of the dictatorship of the proletariat (worker).)

Description de cette image, également commentée ci-après
Above: Battle of the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux

As a result, Émile Henry was born in Barcelona and regaled from an early age with stories of state oppression.

These anti-state attitudes were confirmed when the Spanish authorities confiscated the Henry family’s property due to their political beliefs.

Henry’s father was forced to take a miserable factory job and died of mercury poisoning when Henry was only 10 years old.

Above: Castle of the Three Dragons, Barcelona, Spain

The family returned to France and Henry’s brother, an anarchist, eventually helped him establish connections with French revolutionary circles.

Émile passed the writing portion of the entrance exam for the prestigious École Polytechnique, but he failed his oral exams and went on to find work as a trainee for an engineering firm.


Émile was furious over the state execution of fellow anarchist Auguste Vaillant.


(Auguste Vaillant (1861 – 1894) was a French anarchist, most famous for his bomb attack on the French Chamber of Deputies on 9 December 1893.

The government’s reaction to this attack was the passing of the infamous repressive Lois scélérates (villainous laws) – a set of three French laws passed from 1893 to 1894 under the Third Republic (1870 – 1940) that restricted freedom of the press, after several bombings and assassination attempts carried out by anarchists.

(The term “villainous laws” has since entered popular language to designate any harsh or unjust laws, in particular anti-terrorism legislation which often broadly represses whole social movements.)

Image dans Infobox.
Above: Auguste Vailliant

Vaillant threw the home-made device from the public gallery and was immediately arrested.

The weakness of the device meant that the explosion only caused slight injuries to twenty deputies. 

At his trial in Paris, Vaillant claimed that his aim was not to kill but to wound as many deputies as possible in revenge for the execution of Ravachol.

(François Claudius Koenigstein, also known as Ravachol (1859–1892), was a French anarchist, who died by being guillotined on 11 July 1892, at Montbrison after being found guilty of complicity in bombings.

On 1 May 1891, at Fourmies, a workers’ demonstration took place for the eight-hour day; confrontations with the police followed.

The police opened fire on the crowd, resulting in nine deaths amongst the demonstrators.

The same day, at Clichy, serious incidents erupted in a procession in which anarchists were taking part.

Three men were arrested and taken to the commissariat of police.

There they were interrogated (and brutalised with beatings, resulting in injuries).

A trial (the Clichy Affair) ensued, in which two of the three anarchists were sentenced to prison terms (despite their abuse in jail.)

In addition to these events, authorities kept up repression of the Communards, which had continued from the time of the insurrection of the Paris Commune of 1871.

Ravachol was aroused to take action in 1892 against members of the judiciary.

He placed bombs in the living quarters of the Advocate General, Léon Bulot (executive of the Public Ministry), and Edmond Benoît, the councillor who had presided over the Assises Court during the Clichy Affair.

An informant told of his actions, and Ravachol was arrested on 30 March 1892 for his bombings at the Restaurant Véry. 

The day before the trial, anarchists bombed the restaurant where the informant worked.

Ravachol became a somewhat romanticised symbol of desperate revolt.)

RAVACHOL face (cropped).jpg
Above: François Claudius Koënigstein, aka Ravachol

Vaillant was put to death by the guillotine on 5 February 1894.)

Above: Vailliant being led to the guillotine

Émile Henry took it upon himself to avenge Vaillant’s death.

He saw the café as a representation of the bourgeoisie itself and his intent was to kill as many people as possible in the bombing.

When brought to trial for these acts, he was asked by the courts why he had needlessly harmed so many innocent people, to which he replied, “there are no innocent bourgeois“, adding that his acts caused the “insolent triumphs” of the bourgeoisie to be shattered, and “its golden calf would shake violently on its pedestal, until the final blow knocks it into the gutter and pools of blood.”

On 12 February 1894, Émile detonated a bomb at the Café Terminus in the Parisian Gare Saint Lazare, killing one person and wounding twenty.

This was not Henry’s first terrorist act.

On 8 November 1892, he had placed a time bomb at the offices of the Carmaux Mining Company, which exploded when the police removed it, killing five officers in the Commissariat on the rue des Bons-Enfants.

Above: Attack on Rue des Bons-Enfants, 8 November 1892

Indeed, after his arrest for the Terminus bombing, Henry took credit for a series of other bombings in Paris, and in his apartment was found material to make many more explosive devices.

Above: Interrogation of Émile Henry

Image dans Infobox.
Above: Émile Henry

This was his address at his trial:

Above: Émile Henry (top) and his lawyer Nicholas Hornbostel

I became an anarchist only recently.

It was no longer ago than around mid-1891 that I threw myself into the revolutionary movement.

Previously, I had lived in circles wholly permeated with the established morality.

I had been accustomed to respecting and even cherishing the principles of the nation, family, authority and property.

But those educating the present generation all too often forget one thing – that life, indiscreet with its struggles and setbacks, its injustices and iniquities, sees to it that the scales are removed from the eyes of the ignorant and that they are opened to reality.

Which was the case with me, as it is with everyone.

I had been told that this life was easy and largely open to intelligent, vagarious people, and experience showed me that only cynics and lackeys can get a good seat at the banquet.

I had been told that society’s institutions were founded on justice and equality, and all around me I could see nothing but lies and treachery.

Everyday I was disabused further.

Everywhere I went, I witnessed the same pain in some, the same delights in others.

It did not take me long to realize that the same great words that I had been raised to venerate: honor, devotion, duty were merely a mask hiding the most shameful turpitude.

The factory-owner amassing a huge fortune on the back of the labour of his workers who lacked everything was an upright gentleman.

The deputy, the minister whose hands were forever outstretched for bribes were committed to the public good.

The officer testing his new model rifle on seven-year-old children had done his duty well, and in open Parliament the Premier offered him his congratulation.

Everything I could see turned my stomach and my mind fastened on criticism of social organization.

The criticism has been voiced too often to need rehearsing by me.

Suffice it say that I turned into an enemy of a society which I held to be criminal.

Momentarily attracted by socialism, I wasted no time in distancing myself from that party.

My love of liberty was too great, my regard for individual initiative too great, my repudiation for feathering one’s nest too definite for me to enlist in the numbered army of the fourth estate.

Also, I saw that, essentially, socialism changes the established order not one jot.

It retains the authoritarian principle, and this principle, despite what supposed free-thinkers may say about it, is nothing but an ancient relic of the belief in a higher power.

In the merciless war that we have declared on the bourgeoisie, we ask no mercy.

We mete out death and we must face it.

For that reason I await your verdict with indifference.

I know that mine will not be the last head you will sever.

You will add more names to the bloody roll call of our dead.

Hanged in Chicago, beheaded in Germany, garroted in Xerez, shot in Barcelona, guillotined in Montbrison and in Paris, our dead are many; but you have not been able to destroy anarchy.

Above: the hanging of the Haymarket Massacre accused – George Engel, Adolph Fischer, Albert Parsons, and August Spies

The Haymarket massacre (also known as the Haymarket affairHaymarket riot, or Haymarket Square riot) was the aftermath of a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration on 4 May 1886, at Haymarket Square in Chicago.

It began as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an 8-hour workday, the day after police killed one and injured several workers.

An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at the police as they acted to disperse the meeting, and the bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians.

Dozens of others were wounded.

Illustration of Haymarket square bombing and riot
Above: The Haymarket Riot

Ernst Max Hödel (1857 – 1878) used a revolver to shoot at German Emperor Wilhelm I (1797 – 1888) on 11 May 1878, while the 81-year-old and his daughter, Princess Louise of Prussia (1838 – 1923), paraded in their carriage.

Hödel was seized immediately.

He was tried and convicted of high treason, and sentenced to death on 10 July by the Prussian State Court. 

The Prussian state executioner beheaded Hödel on 16 August 1878 in Moabit Prison.

Above: Max Hödel

The night of 8 January 1892, between 500 and 600 fieldworkers (campesinos) entered Jerez with their agricultural tools to spark a rebellion.

Alcázar, Jerez de la Frontera, España, 2015-12-07, DD 66-71 PAN.JPG
Above: Alcazar, Jerez (Xerez) de la Frontera, Spain

While the uprising had no particular motivating factor, their demands included the release of prisoners and changes to regional economic circumstances.

The uprising was suppressed within hours after receiving no support from the townspeople and military.

Three people were killed: a tax official and wine salesman, who were mobbed for their bourgeois associations, and a Cuban army soldier, who was shot by mistake.

The case of anarchist association with the Jerez uprising has been a longstanding histriographical debate.

The Jerez fieldworkers included some anarchists but were not anarchists in their entirety.

The group had concrete demands based on their living conditions, and were not possessed by a collective urge for destruction.

Historian James Michael Yeoman writes that some participants’ desire for revolution was as much a factor as the rain that night that kept potential participants at home.

While the resulting popular violence is associated with anarchism, where ideology and material need coincided, the ideology does not explain its entirety.

The repression of the otherwise unexceptional uprising was disproportionately severe.

The Cádiz province labour movement was sent underground as its organizations were shuttered, publishing abated, and militants arrested.

Local authorities did not question the uprising’s connection to the anarchist movement.

Tasked with restoring order, the army strongly repressed what it considered a military insurrection.

The Spanish Civil Guard gathered anarchists and labour activists from the countryside over months, prioritizing the authors and distributors of the anarchist press, which it considered the key vehicle for transmitting ideas of revolt with the working class.

At trial, the ability to identify issues of the anarchist press was treated as incriminating.

A total of 315 detainees from this period were mostly fieldworkers who identified as anarchists.

The regional repression outpaced the anarchist press’ ability to report on the uprising, leading anarchists to rely on official and mainstream reporting.

Some anarchist papers followed the official reports of the uprising as revolutionary violence, the type of spontaneous and inevitable reaction to debilitating regional poverty.

The Seville anarchist paper La Tribuna Libre was suppressed after affirming its support for subsequent revolutionary action.

More often, anarchist papers denied the uprising’s affiliation with anarchism yet did not decry it.

Le Corsair justified the fieldworkers’ rage as the result of farm owner exploitation.

The publication condemned the “bourgeois press” as using the opportunity to defame anarchism.

The largest Spanish, non-Catalan anarchist newspaper, La Anarquía, doubted the uprising’s revolutionary potential as either a political or social revolution based on its organization and location.

All refuted the mainstream claim that anarchists had sparked the uprising, whether to avoid press censorship or because anarchists believed that anarchist revolutions would not have leaders, only instructional propaganda.

The first trial — two military tribunals on charges of sedition and murder — was held a month after the uprising, in February.

The main evidence came through an informant and forced confessions.

Of the eight on trial, four were executed by garrote on 10 February 1892: self-declared anarchists Antonio Zarzuela and Jesús Fernández Lamela for starting the uprising, and Manuel Fernández Reina and Manuel Silva Leal for the murder of Manuel Castro Palomino. 

On 24 September 1893, and in celebration of the day of the Saint of the Princess of Asturias, General Martínez Campos had arranged a military parade in the Gran Via de Barcelona. 

Paulino Pallás dropped two Orsini bombs against the horse’s legs and side of the Captain General’s chariot to the cry of “Viva la Anarquía”, causing minor injuries to him and Generals Castellví and Clement and killing the civil guard Jaime Tous.

There were also a dozen wounded.

Above:  The bombing of Paulino Pallás

After dropping the two bombs, Paulino Pallás threw his hat aloft and continued to shout Viva la Anarquía. 

He was immediately arrested, tried and convicted on 29 September and shot on 6 October in the prison yard of Montjuich Castle in Barcelona.

Above: The execution of Paulino Pallás

Its roots go deep:

It sprouts from the bosom of a rotten society that is falling apart.

It is a violent backlash against the established order.

It stands for the aspirations to equality and liberty which have entered the lists against the current authoritarianism.

It is everywhere.

That is what makes it indomitable, and it will end by defeating you and killing you.”

Émile Henry was executed by guillotine on 21 May 1894.

His last words were reputed to be “Courage, camarades! Vive l’anarchie!

Though his activity in the anarchist movement was limited, he garnered much attention as a result of his crimes and of his age.

He was also seen as one of the first people of a growing group of revolutionaries (largely anarchist) who subscribed to the doctrine of the “propaganda of the deed“, which would later take the life of many governmental figures.

Émile believed himself to be a hero, but yet….

He wasn’t.

I see no honour, no glory, no justification, in the acts of Émile Henry (or his ilk), despite the soundness of some of his arguments.

Violence begets violence, a lesson that repressive regimes and those who rally against them never seem to realize.

The violence of the Franco-Prussian War inspired violence from soldiers of the National Guard who were the military might of the Paris Commune.

The Paris Commune inspired violence from the government of the Third Republic in La semaine sanglante.

The repression of the Commune inspired the violence of worker demonstrations.

The demonstrations inspired the police to gun down people in the street and the government to create repressive laws.

This violence and repression inspired Ravachol who was bloodily executed.

His execution inspired Vaillant who was bloodily executed.

Vaillant’s execution inspired Émile Henry who was bloodily executed.

Henry’s execution inspired others to commit acts of violence which were in return met with bloody reprisals.

An endless cycle of death and violence, whatever it is in the name of, always ends in death and violence.

Ideals of human rights and dignities need to be fought for and defended, but violence is never the answer.

Above: Gandhi leading his followers on the famous salt march to break the British Salt Laws (12 March – 6 April 1930)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, founded on 12 February 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W.E.B. DuBois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey and Ida B. Wells.

Its mission in the 21st century is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination“.

National NAACP initiatives include political lobbying, publicity efforts and litigation strategies developed by its legal team.

The group enlarged its mission in the late 20th century by considering issues such as police misconduct, the status of black foreign refugees and questions of economic development.

Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term colored people, referring to those with some African ancestry.

NAACP seal.svg

37 years later to the day, African American US Army veteran Isaac Woodard is severely beaten by a South Carolina police officer to the point where he loses his vision in both eyes.

The incident galvanizes the civil rights monument.

Above: Isaac Woodard (1919 – 1992)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Such is how the US Declaration of Independence begins.

United States Declaration of Independence.jpg

In America, all men are equal, except….

They are not, in the way in which they are treated.

Flag of the United States

As I write these words in Eskisehir (13 April), as the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd continues, protests have again erupted across America over the police killing of Daunte Wright.

Above: The Estram, Eskisehir

George Floyd'u öldüren polis memuru Derek Chauvin serbest bırakıldı - Son  dakika dünya haberleri
Above: George Floyd (left) and Derek Chauvin (right)

Two days ago (11 April), Daunte Demetrius Wright, a 20-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot by white police officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop and attempted arrest for an outstanding arrest warrant in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

After a brief struggle with officers, Wright was shot, and then drove off but crashed his vehicle into another and hit a concrete barrier.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A lovable young man': Daunte Wright was a doting father with big life  dreams | Daunte Wright | The Guardian
Above: Daunte Wright (2001 – 2021) (with son)

Yesterday (12 April), police said that Potter meant to use her Taser but accidentally grabbed her gun instead, striking Wright with one shot to his chest.

Officer who shot Daunte Wright makes first court appearance | Black Lives  Matter News | Al Jazeera
Above: Kimberly Potter

The shooting has sparked protests in Brooklyn Center and renewed ongoing demonstrations against police brutality in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul metropolitan area, leading to citywide and regional curfews.

Demonstrations have also spread to cities across the United States.

Above: Protests outside Brooklyn Center Police Station, 13 April 2021

All men are equal, except….

They are not.

Animal Farm - 1st edition.jpg

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918 – 2008) was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, short story writer and political prisoner.

One of the most famous Soviet dissidents, Solzhenitsyn was an outspoken critic of Communism and helped to raise global awareness of human rights abuses, the Gulag concentration camp system and political repression in the Soviet Union.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in February 1974
Above: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Solzhenitsyn was born into a family that defied the Soviet anti-religious campaign and remained devout members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

While still very young, however, Solzhenitsyn lost his faith in Christianity and became a firm believer in both athieism and Marxist – Leninism.

While serving as a captain in the Red Army during World War II, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by the SMERSH and sentenced to eight years in the Gulag and then internal exile for criticizing Josef Stalin in a private letter.

By the time of his release, Solzhenitsyn had returned to the religion of his childhood and was determined to expose the countless human rights abuses committed by the Soviet state.

He was allowed to publish only one work in the Soviet Union, the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962).

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich cover.jpg

Although the reforms brought by Nikita Khruschchev freed him from exile in 1956, the publication of Cancer Ward (1968), August 1914 (1971), and The Gulag Archipelago (1973) outraged the Soviet authorities, and Solzhenitsyn lost his Soviet citizenship on 12 February 1974 and was flown to West Germany.

In 1976 he moved with his family to the US, where he continued to write.

In 1990, shortly before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, his citizenship was restored, and four years later he returned to Russia, where he remained until his death in 2008.

Gulag Archipelago.jpg

In totalitarian governments, officially everyone is equal, Comrades, except…..

They aren’t.

The Soviet flag being lowered from the Moscow Kremlin and replaced with the flag of Russia

Nice, France, Friday 22 January 1892

One evening I was walking along a path, the city (Oslo) was on one side and the fjord below.

I felt tired and ill.

I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red.

I sensed a scream passing through nature.

It seemed to me that I heard the scream.

I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood.

The color shrieked.

This became The Scream.

I was walking along the road with two friends.

The sun was setting.

Suddenly the sky turned blood red.

I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence.

There was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city.

My friends walked on.

I stood there trembling with anxiety and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

Above: Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944)

It has been suggested that the proximity of both a slaughterhouse and a lunatic asylum to the site depicted in the painting may have offered some inspiration.

The scene was identified as being the view from a road overlooking Oslo, by the Oslofjord and Hovedoya, from the hill of Ekeberg.

At the time of painting the work, Edvard Munch’s manic depressive sister Laura Catherine was a patient at the mental asylum at the foot of Ekeberg.

The imagery of The Scream has been compared to that which an individual suffering from depersonalization disorder experiences, a feeling of distortion of the environment and one’s self.

(Perhaps a feeling that what is, isn’t?)

Figure on cliffside walkway holding head with hands
Above: The Scream, Edvard Munch

Arthur Lubow has described The Scream as “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time.”

It has been widely interpreted as representing the universal anxiety of modern humanity.

(Perhaps what should be, isn’t?)

Above: Mask from Scream, inspired by Munch’s painting

The version held by the National Museum of Norway has a pencil inscription, in small lettering, in the upper left corner, saying “Kan kun være malet af en gal Mand!” (“could only have been painted by a madman“).

It can only be seen on close examination of the painting.

This had been presumed to be a comment by a critic or a visitor to an exhibition.

It was first noticed when the painting was exhibited in Copenhagen in 1904, eleven years after this version was painted.

Following infrared photography, study of the handwriting now shows that the comment was added by Munch.

The theory has been put forward that Munch added the inscription after the critical comments made when the painting was first exhibited in Norway in October 1895.

There is good evidence that Munch was deeply hurt by that criticism, being sensitive to the mental illness that was prevalent in his family.

Above: The pencil inscription

On 12 February 1994, the same day as the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer (Norway), two men broke into the National Gallery, Oslo, and stole its version of The Scream, leaving a note reading:

Thanks for the poor security.” 

The painting had been moved down to a second-story gallery as part of the Olympic festivities.

After the gallery refused to pay a ransom demand of US$1 million in March 1994, Norwegian police set up a sting operation with assistance from the British police covert operation group and Los Angeles’ Getty Museum. 

The painting was recovered undamaged on 7 May 1994.

In January 1996, four men were convicted in connection with the theft, including Pal Enger, who had been convicted of stealing Munch’s Vampire in 1988.

They were released on appeal on legal grounds:

The British agents involved in the sting operation had entered Norway under false identities.

Above: Photo footage of the 1994 theft

(Perhaps who they claimed to be, they weren’t?)

Flag of Norway
Above: Flag of Norway

For centuries, it seems the Greeks and the Turks have had the greatest difficulty getting along with one another and as is often the case rivals usually have more in common than they would like to admit.

One of these similarities is the presence of other ethnic peoples within and without their borders that cause them no end of anxiety, haunted by the possibility that the ethnic minority within will seek to unite with the similar ethnic minority beyond the border to form a united front.

Akin to Turkey’s Kurdish conundrum wherein the Kurds within Turkey are perceived to long to unite with Kurds in the neighbouring nations of Syria, Iraq and Iran, the Greeks have worried about ethnic Macedonians in the areas of Greek Macedonia, in the Republic of (North) Macedonia and in southern Bulgaria.

Kurdish-inhabited area by CIA (1992) box inset removed.jpg

For nearly a thousand years the name of “Macedonia” had different meanings for Western Europeans and for the Balkan people.

For Westerners, “Macedonia” denoted the territory of ancient Macedonia (the western and central parts of modern Greece), but for Balkan Christians, when rarely used, it covered the territories of the former Byzantine Theme (province) of Macedonia, situated between modern Turkish Edirne and the river Nestos, in present-day Thrace.

The Ottoman Empire (1299 – 1922) absorbed the area in the 14th century.

There was no Ottoman province called “Macedonia“.

Coat of arms of the Ottoman Empire (1882–1922).svg
Above: Coat of arms of the Ottoman Empire (1882 – 1922)

In the early 19th century the name of “Macedonia” was almost forgotten in the modern-day area, but within the decades after the Greek independence (1830) it was revived by Greek propaganda.

In 1912 rivalries resulted in the First Balkan War (1912 – 1913) and the Ottomans lost most of their European lands.

Balkanskata voina Photobox.jpg
Above: Scenes of the First Balkan War

In 1913, the Second Balkan War began in the aftermath of the division of the Balkans among five entities to have secured control over these territories: Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Montenegro (all hitherto recognized). 

Albania, in conflict with Serbia, Montenegro and Greece, declared its independence in 1912, striving for recognition.

The Treaty of London (1913) assigned the region of the future Republic of (North) Macedonia to Serbia. 

Second Balkan War.png
Above: Map of the Second Balkan War (1913)

The outbreak of the First World War allowed Bulgaria to occupy eastern Macedonia (Thrace) and Vardar Macedonia (today’s Republic of North Macedonia), helping Austria-Hungary defeat the Serbs by the end of 1915, and leading to the opening of the Macedonian front against the Greek part of Macedonia.

Bulgaria would maintain control over the area until their capitulation in September 1918, at which point the borders reverted (with small adjustments) to the situation of 1913, and the present-day Republic of North Macedonia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

This period saw the rise of ideals of a separate Macedonian state in Greece.

Above: Scenes of the First World War (1914 – 1918)

The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes changed its name in 1929 to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the present-day Republic of North Macedonia was included as South Serbia in a province named Varder Banovina.

During World War II, Axis forces occupied much of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia from 1941.

Bulgaria as an associate of the Axis powers advanced into the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Greek province of Macedonia in 1941.

The territory of the Republic of North Macedonia was divided between Bulgaria and Italian Albania in June 1941.

The Yugoslav Communist Resistance began officially in 1941 in what is now the Republic of North Macedonia.

On 2 August 1944 (St. Elias’s Day), the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM), meeting in the Bulgarian occupation zone, proclaimed clandestinely the Macedonian state (Democratic Federal Macedonia) as a federal state within the framework of the future Yugoslav federation. 

Flag of Nazi Germany
Above: Flag of Nazi Germany (1935 – 1945)

In 1946 the People’s Republic of Macedonia was recognized by the new Communist constitution as a federal component of the newly proclaimed federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito.

The issue of the Republic’s name immediately sparked controversy with Greece over Greek concerns that it presaged a territorial claim on the Greek coastal region of Macedonia.

The US Roosevelt administration expressed the same concern in 1944.

The Greek press and the government of Andreas Papandreou continued to express the above concerns confronting the views of Yugoslavia during the 1980s and until the Revolutions of 1989.

Andreas Papandreou (1968).jpg
Above: Andreas Papandreou (1919 – 1996)

In 1963 the People’s Republic of Macedonia was renamed the “Socialist Republic of Macedonia” when the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was renamed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

It dropped the “Socialist” from its name a few months before declaring independence from Yugoslavia in September 1991.

Flag of Macedonia
Above: Flag of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia (1946 – 1991)

Strong Greek opposition delayed the newly independent republic’s accession to the United Nations and its recognition by the European Community (EC).

Although the Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on the former Yugoslavia declared that the Republic of Macedonia met the conditions set by the EC for international recognition, Greece opposed the international community recognizing the Republic due to a number of objections concerning the country’s name, flag and constitution.

In an effort to block the European Community from recognizing the Republic, the Greek government persuaded the EC to adopt a common declaration establishing conditions for recognition which included a ban on “territorial claims towards a neighboring Community state, hostile propaganda and the use of a denomination that implies territorial claims”.

Flag of EEC/ECM
Above: Flag of the European Community (1958 – 2009)

In Greece, about 1 million Greek Macedonians participated in the “Rally for Macedonia“, a very large demonstration that took place in the streets of Thessaloniki in 1992.

The rally aimed to object to “Macedonia” being a part of the name of the newly established Republic of Macedonia.

In a following major rally in Australia, held in Melbourne and organised by the Macedonians of the Greek Diaspora (which has a strong presence there), about 100,000 people protested.

Above: Macedonian Greeks protest in Melbourne

The major slogan of these rallies was “Macedonia is Greek“.

Greece’s major political parties agreed on 13 April 1992 not to accept the word “Macedonia” in any way in the new Republic’s name.

This became the cornerstone of the Greek position on the issue.

The Greek diaspora also mobilized in the naming controversy.

Coat of arms of Greece
Above: Coat of arms of Greece

A US Greek group, Americans for the Just Resolution of the Macedonian Issue, placed a full-page advertisement in the 26 April and 10 May 1992 editions of the New York Times, urging President George H.W. Bush “not to discount the concerns of the Greek people” by recognizing the “Republic of Skopje” as Macedonia.

Greek Canadians mounted a similar campaign.

Above: The Greek Diaspora: the darker the region, the more Greek heritage therein

The EC subsequently issued a declaration expressing a willingness “to recognize that republic within its existing borders under a name which does not include the term Macedonia“.

Greek objections likewise held up the wider international recognition of the then Republic of Macedonia.

Although the Republic applied for membership of the United Nations on 30 July 1992, its application languished in diplomatic limbo for nearly a year.

A few states — Bulgaria, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, Belarus and Lithuania — recognized the Republic under its constitutional name before its admission to the United Nations.

Most, however, waited to see what the United Nations would do.

The delay had a serious effect on the Republic, as it led to a worsening of its already precarious economic and political conditions.

With war raging in nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia, the need to ensure the country’s stability became an urgent priority for the international community.

The deteriorating security situation led to the UN’s first-ever preventative peacekeeping deployment in December 1992, when units of the United Nations Protection Force deployed to monitor possible border violations from Serbia.

Flag of United Nations Arabic: منظمة الأمم المتحدة‎ Chinese: 联合国 French: Organisation des Nations unies Russian: Организация Объединённых Наций Spanish: Organización de las Naciones Unidas
Above: Flag of the United Nations

During 1992, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia all adopted the appellation “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” to refer to the Republic in their discussions and dealings with it.

The same terminology was proposed in January 1993 by France, Spain and the United Kingdom, the three EC members of the UN Security Council, to enable the Republic to join the United Nations.

The proposal was circulated on 22 January 1993 by the UN Secretary General.

Above: UN member flags, UN Headquartersm New York City

However, it was initially rejected by both sides in the dispute.

It was immediately opposed by the Greek Foreign Minister, Michalis Papakonstantinou.

In a letter to the Secretary General dated 25 January 1993, he argued that admitting the Republic “prior to meeting the necessary prerequisites, and in particular abandoning the use of the denomination ‘Republic of Macedonia’, would perpetuate and increase friction and tension and would not be conducive to peace and stability in an already troubled region.

United Nations UN Audiovisual Library
Above: Michalis Papakonstantinou (1919 – 2010)

The president of the Republic of Macedonia, Kiro Gligorov, also opposed the proposed formula. In a letter of 24 March 1993, he informed the President of the United Nations Security Council that “the Republic of Macedonia will in no circumstances be prepared to accept ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ as the name of the country.”

He declared that “we refuse to be associated in any way with the present connotation of the term ‘Yugoslavia’“.

Kiro Gligorov.jpg
Above: Kiro Gligorov (1917 – 2012)

The issue of possible Serbian territorial ambitions had been a long-running concern in the Republic of Macedonia, which some Serbian nationalists still called “South Serbia” after its pre-World War II name.

The government in the Republic of Macedonia was consequently nervous of any naming formula which might be seen to endorse a possible Serbian territorial claim.

Flag of Serbia
Above: Flag of Serbia

Both sides came under intense diplomatic pressure to compromise.

The support that Greece had received initially from its allies and partners in NATO and the EC had begun to wane due to a combination of factors that included irritation in some quarters at Greece’s hard line on the issue and a belief that Greece had flouted sanctions against Slobodan Milosevic’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Stevan Kragujevic, Slobodan Milosevic, portret.jpg
Above: Slobodan Milosevic (1941 – 2006)

The intra-Community tensions were publicly exposed on 20 January 1993 by the Danish foreign minister, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, who attracted the ire of Greek members of the European Parliament when he described the Greek position as “ridiculous” and expressed the hope that “the Security Council will very quickly recognise Macedonia and that many of the member states of the Community will support this.

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen.jpg
Above: Uffe Ellemann – Jensen

The Greek Prime Minister, Konstantionos Mitsotakis, took a much more moderate line on the issue than many of his colleagues in the governing New Democracy party.

Despite opposition from hardliners, he endorsed the proposal in March 1993.

Mitsotakis 1992.jpg
Above: Konstantinos Mitsotakis (1918 – 2017)

The acceptance of the formula by Athens also led to the reluctant acquiescence of the government in Skopje, though it too was divided between moderates and hardliners on the issue.

On 7 April 1993, the UN Security Council endorsed the admission of the Republic in UN Security Council Resolution 817.

It recommended to the UN General Assembly “that the State be admitted to membership in the United Nations, this State being provisionally referred to for all purposes within the United Nations as ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ pending settlement of the difference that has arisen over the name of the State.”

The recommendation was agreed by the General Assembly, which passed Resolution 225 on the following day, 8 April, using virtually the same language as the Security Council.

The Republic of Macedonia thus became the 181st member of the United Nations.

Emblem of North Macedonia
Above: Emblem of North Macedonia

One additional concern that had to be taken care of was the seating of the Republic of Macedonia in the General Assembly.

Greece rejected seating the Republic’s representative under M [as in “Macedonia“], and the Republic rejected sitting under F (as in “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia“).

Instead, it was seated under T as “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and placed next to Thailand.

In due course, the same convention was adopted by many other international organisations and states but they did so independently, not as the result of being instructed by the UN.

For its part, Greece did not adopt the UN terminology at this stage and did not recognise the Republic under any name.

Flag of Greece
Above: Flag of Greece

The rest of the international community did not immediately recognise the Republic, but this did eventually happen at the end of 1993 and start of 1994. 

The People’s Republic of China was the first major power to act, recognising the Republic under its constitutional name on 13 October 1993.

On 16 December 1993, two weeks before Greece was due to take up the European Union presidency, six key EC countries — Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom — recognised the Republic under its UN designation.

Other EC countries followed suit in quick succession and by the end of December, all EC member states except Greece had recognised the Republic.

Japan, Russia and the United States followed suit on 21 December 1993, 3 February 1994, and 9 February 1994 respectively.

The Blue Marble photograph of Earth, taken by the Apollo 17 mission. The Arabian peninsula, Africa and Madagascar lie in the upper half of the disc, whereas Antarctica is at the bottom.

Despite the apparent success of the compromise agreement, it led to an upsurge in nationalist agitation in both countries.

Anti-Western and anti-American feelings came to the fore in Greece, in response to a perception that Greece’s partners in the EC and NATO had betrayed it.

The government of Constantine Mitsotakis was highly vulnerable.

It had a majority of only a couple of seats and was under considerable pressure from ultra-nationalists.

After the country’s admission to the UN, the hardline former foreign minister Antonis Samaras broke away from the governing New Democracy (ND) party along with three like-minded deputies who resented what they saw as the Prime Minister’s unacceptable weakness on the Macedonian issue.

This defection deprived ND of its slim parliamentary majority and ultimately caused the fall of the government, which suffered a landslide defeat in the general election of October 1993.

Antonis Samaras October 2014.jpg
Above: Antonis Samaras

It was replaced by the PASOK party under Andreas Papandreou, who introduced an even more hardline policy on Macedonia and withdrew from the UN-sponsored negotiations on the naming issue in late October.

The government of the Republic of Macedonia also faced domestic opposition for its part in the agreement.

Protest rallies against the UN’s temporary reference were held in the cities of Skopje, Kocani and Resen.

Parliament only accepted the agreement by a narrow margin, with 30 deputies voting in favour, 28 voting against and 13 abstaining.

Flag of North Macedonia
Above: Flag of North Macedonia

The nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party (then in opposition) called a vote of no confidence over the naming issue, but the government survived with 62 deputies voting in its favour.

The naming dispute has not been confined to the Balkans, as immigrant communities from both countries have actively defended the positions of their respective homelands around the world, organising large protest rallies in major European, North American and Australian cities.

After Australia recognised the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in early 1994, tensions between the two communities reached a climax, with churches and properties hit by a series of tit-for-tat bomb and arson attacks in Melbourne.

A blue field with the Union Flag in the upper hoist quarter, a large white seven-pointed star in the lower hoist quarter, and constellation of five white stars in the fly – one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed stars.
Above: Flag of Australia

The relations between the two countries further worsened in February 1994 when Greece imposed a trade embargo on Macedonia which coincided with the UN embargo on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on its northern border.

The combined blockade denied Macedonia access to its closest and most accessible sea port, Thessaloniki, and rendered its main north-south trade route useless.

The country was forced to supply itself through the undeveloped east-west route.

Above: Port of Thessaloniki, Greece

During the embargo oil was imported to Macedonia via the Bulgarian port of Varna, which is located over 700 km from Skopje, on tank trucks using a mountain road.

It has been estimated that Macedonia suffered damages of around US$2 billion due to the trade embargo.

Greece received heavy international criticism.

The embargo lasted for 18 months, and was lifted after the interim accord between the two countries was signed in October 1995.

Above: Port of Varna, Bulgaria

Greece and the Republic of Macedonia eventually formalised bilateral relations in an interim accord signed in New York on 13 September 1995.

Under the agreement, the Republic removed the Vergina Sun from its flag and allegedly irredentist (desires to reclaim lost territory) clauses from its constitution, and both countries committed to continuing negotiations on the naming issue under UN auspices.

Above: Flag of Greek Macedonia with the Vergina Sun

For its part, Greece agreed that it would not object to any application by the Republic so long as it used only the appellation set out in “paragraph 2 of the United Nations Security Council resolution 817” (i.e. “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia“).

This opened the door for the Republic to join a variety of international organisations and initiatives, including the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Partnership for Peace (a NATO program).

The accord was not a conventional perpetual treaty, as it can be superseded or revoked, but its provisions are legally binding in terms of international law.

Most unusually, it did not use the names of either party.

UN-Sicherheitsrat - UN Security Council - New York City - 2014 01 06.jpg
Above: United Nations Security Council Chamber

Greece, “the Party of the First Part“, recognised the Republic of Macedonia under the term “the Party of the Second Part“.

The accord did not specifically identify either party by name (thus avoiding the awkwardness of Greece having to use the term “Macedonia” in reference to its northern neighbour).

Instead, it identified the two parties elliptically by describing the Party of the First Part as having Athens as its capital and the Party of the Second Part having its capital at Skopje.

Subsequent declarations have continued this practice of referring to the parties without naming them.

The Acropolis of Athens viewed from the Hill of the Muses (14220794964).jpg
Above: Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Goce Delčev Bridge (42230632835).jpg
Above: Skopje, North Macedonia

The naming issue was effectively at a stalemate until the 2018 agreement.

Various names had been proposed over the years, for instance “New Macedonia“, “Upper Macedonia“, “Slavo-Macedonia“, “Nova Makedonija“, “Macedonia (Skopje)” and so on.

However, these had invariably fallen foul of the initial Greek position that no permanent formula incorporating the term “Macedonia” was acceptable.

Athens had counter-proposed the names “Vardar Republic” or “Republic of Skopje“, but the government and opposition parties in Skopje had consistently rejected any solution that eliminated the term “Macedonia” from the country’s name.

Following these developments, Greece has gradually revised its position and demonstrated its acceptance of a composite appellation, with a geographical qualifier, erga omnes (i.e. the incorporation of the term “Macedonia” in the name, but with the use of a disambiguating name specification, for international and intergovernmental use).

The inhabitants of the Republic were overwhelmingly opposed to changing the country’s name.

A June 2007 opinion poll found that 77% of the population were against a change in the country’s constitutional name, and 72% supported the Republic’s accession to NATO only if it was admitted under its constitutional name.

Only 8% supported accession under the reference “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia“.

What's In A Name? - Love, Justine

A number of states recognized the Republic of Macedonia by its constitutional name.

A few had recognised it by this name from the start, while most others had switched from recognising it under its UN reference.

By September 2007, 118 countries (61% of all UN member states) had recognised the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name, including the likes of the United States, Russia and China.

Above: List of countries/entities: (green) that used “Republic of Macedonia” in bilateral diplomatic relations / (red) that used “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” for all official purposes / (dark blue) whose official position on the issue was unknown / (light blue) that have no diplomatic relations with the country

Some observers had suggested that the gradual revision of the Greek position means that “the question appears destined to die” in due course.

On the other hand, attempts by the Republic to persuade international organisations to drop the provisional reference have met with limited success.

A recent example was the rejection by the Parliamentary Assmebly of the Council of Europe of a draft proposal to replace the provisional reference with the constitutional name in Council of Europe documents.

The compromise reference is always used in relations when states not recognising the constitutional name are present.

This is because the UN refers to the country only as “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia“.

Council of Europe logo (2013 revised version).png

Moscow’s ambassador to Athens, Andrei Vdovin, stated that Russia will support whichever solution stems from the UN compromise talks, while hinting that “it is some other countries that seem to have a problem in doing so“.

Vdovin returns to Russia after advancing ties | New Europe
Above: Andrei Vdovin

Most Greeks reject the use of the word “Macedonia” to describe the Republic of Macedonia, instead calling it “Skopje“, after the country’s capital.

The latter name is not used by non-Greeks, and many inhabitants of the Republic regard it as insulting.

Greeks also call the country’s inhabitants Skopians, a derogatory term.

Greek official sources sometimes also use the term “Slavomacedonian“.

The US Department of State has used the term side by side with “Macedonian” in context of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Greek Macedonia and their inability to self-determine as Macedonians due to pressure by the Greek government.

Both terms were used by the US Department of State in quotation marks to reflect nomenclature being used in Greek Macedonia.

U.S. Department of State official seal.svg

The name “Macedonian Slavs” is another term used to refer to the ethnic Macedonians, though this term can be viewed as derogatory by ethnic Macedonians, including those in Greek Macedonia.

A number of news agencies have used it, and it is used by the Encarta Encyclopaedia.

Encarta logo.png

The name has been occasionally used in early ethnic Macedonian literary sources as in Krste Misirkov’s work On Macedonian Matters (Za Makedonckite Raboti) in 1903.

Although the two countries continue to argue over the name, in practice they deal pragmatically with each other.

Economic relations and cooperation have resumed to such an extent that Greece is now considered one of the Republic’s most important foreign economic partners and investors.

On Macedonian Matters - Wikipedia
Above: On Macedonian Matters

Since coming to power in 2006, the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE government pursued a policy of “Antiquisation” (“Antikvizatzija“) as a way of putting pressure on Greece and for domestic identity-building.

Above: Logo of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity

Antiquisation is also spreading due to a very intensive lobbying of the Macedonian Diaspora from the US, Canada, Germany and Australia.

As part of this policy, stations and airports were renamed after ancient Macedonian figures.

Statues of Alexander the Great and Philip II of Macedon were built in several cities across the country.

In 2011, a massive, 22-metre tall statue of Alexander the Great (called “Warrior on a Horse” because of the dispute with Greece) was inaugurated in Macedonia Square in Skopje, as part of the 2014 remodelling of the city.

Above: Warrior on a Horse

An even larger statue of Philip II was under construction at the other end of the square.

Statues of Alexander also adorn the town squares of Prilep and Stip, while a statue to Philip II of Macedon was recently built in Bitola.

Above: Philip II Square, Bitola, North Macedonia

A triumphal arch named Porta Macedonia, constructed in the same square, features images of historical figures including Alexander the Great, causing the Greek Foreign Ministry to lodge an official complaint to authorities in the Republic of Macedonia.

Additionally, many pieces of public infrastructure, such as airports, highways, and stadiums, have been named after them.

Porta Macedonia, Skopie, Macedonia del Norte, 2014-04-16, DD 105.jpg
Above: Porta Macedonia, Pella Square, Skopje, North Macedonia

Skopje’s airport was renamed “Alexander the Great Airport” and features antique objects moved from Skopje’s archeological museum.

Skopje Airport - View of the main entrance by night (2018).jpg
Above: Skopje Airport

One of Skopje’s main squares has been renamed Pella Square (after Pella, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon, which falls within modern Greece), while the main highway to Greece was renamed to “Alexander of Macedon” and Skopje’s largest stadium was renamed “Philip II Arena“.

Night shot
Above: Philip II Arena, Skopje

These actions were seen as deliberate provocations in neighboring Greece, exacerbating the dispute and further stalling Macedonia’s EU and NATO applications.

Antiquisation faced criticism by academics as it demonstrated feebleness of archaeology and of other historical disciplines in public discourse, as well as a danger of marginalization.

The policy also attracted criticism domestically, by ethnic Macedonians within the country, who saw it as dangerously dividing the country between those who identify with classical antiquity and those who identify with the country’s Slavic culture.

Ethnic Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia saw it as an attempt to marginalise them and exclude them from the national narrative.

Red flag with a black double-headed eagle in the center.
Above: Flag of Albania

The policy, which also claims as ethnic Macedonians figures considered national heroes in Bulgaria, such as Dame Gruey and Gotse Delchev, also drew criticism from Bulgaria.

Above: Dame Gruev (1871 – 1906)

Above: Gotse Delchev (1872 – 1903)

Flag of Bulgaria
Above: Flag of Bulgaria

Foreign diplomats warned that the policy reduced international sympathy for the Republic of Macedonia in the naming dispute with Greece.

Foreign diplomats warned that the policy reduced international sympathy for the Republic of Macedonia in the naming dispute with Greece.

In early April 2010, it emerged that the Greek government considered “Northern Macedonia” a possible compromise name, indicating it was up to the Republic of Macedonia to decide whether to accept that proposal.

The Macedonian Prime Minister Nicola Gruevski declared he would reject this proposition and called for a vote on the new name.

Nikola Gruevski EPP Summmit, Brussels; October 2014 (14987734924) (cropped).jpg
Above: Nikola Gruevski

The 13 June 2010 issue of Kathimerini reported that sources claim that Greece and the Republic of Macedonia appeared to be close to a solution to their name dispute, and were set to agree on using the name of the Vardar river (the longest river in the Republic of Macedonia) to differentiate the Republic of Macedonia from Greek Macedonia.

It was not clear at this stage if this would mean Republic of Macedonia would be called “Republic of Macedonia of Vardar“, “Republic of Vardar Macedonia“, “Vardar Republic of Macedonia” or “Republic of Macedonia (Vardar)“.

Macedonian Diaspora organizations, such as the Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) and the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC), launched a campaign placing advertisements in newspapers and billboards across Macedonia “demanding an end to all negotiations with Greece over its name“.

Above: Banner of Kathimerini newspaper

On 12 June 2018, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that an agreement had been reached with his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev on the dispute, “which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side“.

Alexis Tsipras, prime minister of Greece.jpg
Above: Alexis Tsipras

Zoran Zaev official portrait 2020 (cropped).jpg
Above: Zoran Zaev

The proposal would result in the Republic of Macedonia being renamed the Republic of North Macedonia, with the new name being used for all purposes (erga omnes), that is, domestically, in all bilateral relations and in all regional and international organizations and institutions.

The agreement, effective 12 February 2019, was signed at Lake Prespa, a body of water which is divided between the Republic of Macedonia, Greece and Albania.

Ohrid Prespa lakes map.png

The deal includes recognition of the Macedonian language in the United Nations, noting that it is within the group of South Slavic languages, and that the citizenship of the country will be called Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia.

Also, there is an explicit clarification that the citizens of the country are not related to the ancient Macedonians.

Specifically, Article 7 mentions that both countries acknowledge that their respective understanding of the terms “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” refers to a different historical context and cultural heritage.

When reference is made to Greece, these terms denote the area and people of its northern region, as well as the Hellenic civilization, history and culture of that region.

When reference is made to Republic of Macedonia, these terms denote its territory, language and people, with their own, distinctly different, history and culture.

Additionally, the agreement stipulates the removal of the Vergina Sun from public use in the Republic of Macedonia and the formation of a committee for the review of school textbooks and maps in both countries for the removal of irredentist content and to align them with UNESCO and Council of Europe’s standards.

UNESCO logo English.svg

The historian Eugene Borza summarises historic controversy surrounding the naming dispute as “one of the enduring characteristics of modern Greek life: a desperate attempt to regain a past glory, rooted in cultural accomplishments of antiquity and the religious and political might of Byzantium.

An identification with the ancient Macedonians is part of that attempt.”

While, on the other hand, the ethnic Macedonians, being “a newly emergent people in search of a past to help legitimise their precarious present” whose ethnicity developed in the twentieth century, had no history and needed one.

Makedonika - Eugene N. Borza - Google Books

As sympathetic as I am to both sides of this endless debate, it strikes me as similar to two bald men fighting over a comb using their former manes of glory as justification for the struggle over the question of whether they are heirs to the hair they once had.

Kath's Arty Blog: "Two Bald Men Fighting Over a Comb"; Jorge Luis Borges,  1982

The question of the name of Macedonia has been a real issue for decades, and yet…..

It isn’t.

Imagine if all the energy and expenditure that was put into this issue had instead been put into improving the economic and social welfare of both nations?

Billete de diez denar de Macedonia.jpg
Above: North Macedonian dinar

Meanwhile, this day (12 February 2021) sees Facebook announcing they are limiting content posted by the Myanmar military, in the wake of the coup that overturned the elected government earlier in the month.

In a post, Facebook said they have taken multiple steps to reduce the reach of some military accounts to stop the ‘spread of misinformation’.

Facebook Logo (2019).svg

They also called the ongoing situation in Myanmar an “emergency“.

Myanmar’s military staged a coup on 1 February in the Southeast Asian country and arrested de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior politicians.

They were detained on the grounds of claims of widespread voter fraud and foreign interference in last November’s election, triggering global condemnation.

Facebook has pledged to reduce the distribution of all content on Facebook pages and profiles run by the Myanmar Military “Tatmadaw”, as well as accounts linked to the armed forces spokesperson Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun.

The social media company also said they will protect content, including political speech, that allows the people of Myanmar to express themselves and to show the world what is transpiring within the country.

They have also suspended the ability for Myanmar government agencies to send content removal requests to Facebook through normal channels reserved for authorities around the world.

These efforts build on our work since 2018 to keep people safe and reduce the risk of political violence in Myanmar,” Facebook said in a statement.

Myanmar has experienced nationwide internet blackouts as a wave of anti-military protests gripped the country, according to NetBlocks.

Flag of Myanmar
Above: Flag of Myanmar

Protests continued for a second week, demanding that power be restored to Suu Kyi’s deposed civilian government, despite security forces ratcheting up their use of force against them.

Facebook is the latest to join governments, the UN and people around the world in calling for Internet services in Myanmar to be restored immediately, so that people can communicate and express their political views, access important information and run their businesses.

A coup d’état in Myanmar began on the morning of 1 February 2021, when democratically elected members of the country’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were deposed by the Tatmadaw — Myanmar’s military — which then vested power in a stratocracy (military rule).

Flag of National League for Democracy.svg
Above: Flag of the National League for Democracy

The Tatmadaw proclaimed a year-long state of emergency and declared power had been transferred to Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing.

It declared the results of the November 2020 general election invalid and stated its intent to hold a new election at the end of the state of emergency even though most of Myanmar’s people are satisfied with the results of the election.

Flag of the Myanmar Armed Forces.svg
Above: Flag of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw)

The coup d’état occurred the day before the Parliament of Myanmar was due to swear in the members elected at the 2020 election, thereby preventing this from occurring.

President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were detained, along with ministers, their deputies and Members of Parliament.

On 3 February 2021, Win Myint was charged with breaching campaign guidelines and Covid-19 pandemic restrictions under Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law.

Win Myint 2020.png
Above: Win Myint

Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with breaching emergency COVID-19 laws and for illegally importing and using radio and communication devices, specifically six ICOM devices from her security team and a walkie-talkie, which are restricted in Myanmar and need clearance from military-related agencies before acquisition.

Both were remanded in custody for two weeks.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Suu Kyi received an additional criminal charge for violating the National Disaster Act on 16 February, two additional charges for violating communications laws and an intent to incite public unrest on 1 March and another of violating the official secrets act on 1 April.

As of 31 March 2021, at least 520 civilians, including children, have been killed by military or police forces and at least 3,070 people detained.

Three prominent NLD members also died while in police custody in March 2021.

Above: Anti-military protests in Yangon

According to the Tatmadaw, everything that has been done has been for the benefit of the people.

Few see the benefit of martial law.

Aung San Suu Kyi & Min Aung Hlaing collage.jpg
Above: Aung San Suu Kyi (left), Min Aung Hlaing (right)

The head of the Tokyo Olympics resigned Friday (12 February) after a scandal over sexist remarks he made about women threatened to overshadow preparations for the pandemic-hit games.

As of today I will resign from the president’s position,” Yoshiro Mori said to open a meeting of the Olympic Committee’s executive board and council.

It was unclear who would succeed him.

Mori’s departure comes after outcry both at home and abroad after he reportedly said women talk too much and have a “strong sense of rivalry” during a board meeting earlier this month.

After a wave of criticism, Mori, 83, apologized and retracted his remarks, acknowledging they were inappropriate and against the Olympic spirit.

He apologized again Friday as he announced he was stepping down.

My inappropriate comments caused big trouble.

I am sorry,” he said.

Mori added that he felt his comments were misinterpreted by the media and that he was not prejudiced against women.

Yoshiro Mori 20000405.jpg
Above: Yoshiro Mori

The IOC fully respects President Mori’s decision to step down and understands his reasons for doing so,” its President, Thomas Bach, said in a statement later Friday.

The IOC will continue working hand-in-hand with his successor to deliver safe and secure Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021.”

2020 Summer Olympics logo new.svg

Let me tread carefully here.

Do women talk more than men?


Do they talk too much?

Some might.

But no one is asking Mori what provoked his remarks.

Could he have been referring to a particular woman (or women) rather than all women?

Perhaps there was a contentious woman in the midst of the board meeting.

It was my understanding that board meetings tend to involve only board members.

Which disgruntled or manipulative board meeting participant decided to attack Mori through the press?

Was agism at work here with chauvinism used as the excuse to dismiss Mori?

I think what is presented as the entire picture, isn’t.

Olympic Rings

China barred Britain’s BBC World News from its television networks on Friday and Hong Kong’s public broadcaster said it would stop relaying BBC World Service radio, a week after Britain revoked Chinese state television’s broadcast licence.

China’s National Radio and Television Administration said BBC World News’ reports on China had “seriously violated” a requirement to be “truthful and fair“, harmed China’s interests and undermined national unity.

Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), the publicly funded broadcaster in the former British territory, said it was suspending the relay of BBC radio news programming.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said it appeared that China was trying to force foreign media to follow the Chinese government line, while China’s embassy in London accused the BBC of “relentless fabrication“.

Foreign Correspondents' Club of China ‹ International Association of Press  Clubs

RTHK’s Radio 4 (R4) station had carried BBC World Service radio for eight hours each night and the R1 station had carried a one-hour BBC programme once a week.

The private Hong Kong platforms Cable TV and Now TV were still carrying BBC World News as of Friday.

Before the ban, BBC World News had not been included in most TV packages in mainland China, but had been available in some hotels and homes.

Two Reuters journalists in Beijing found that the channel had disappeared.

The BBC, which is a public corporation, said it was “the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster and reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favour“.

BBC World News 2019.svg

British foreign minister Dominic Raab called the ban “an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom“, adding:

China has some of the most severe restrictions on media and internet freedoms across the globe, and this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world.”

Portrait photograph of Dominic Raab aged 46
Above: Dominic Raab

China’s embassy in London responded with a stinging statement, attributed to an unnamed spokesperson:

BBC’s relentless fabrication of ‘lies of the century’ in reporting China runs counter to the professional ethics of journalism, and reeks of double standards and ideological bias,” it said.

“The so-called ‘media freedom’ is nothing but a pretext and disguise to churn out disinformation and slanders against other countries.”

Flag of China
Above: Flag of China

RTHK’s decision underlines how Beijing’s tightening grip on Hong Kong extends to media.

Last year, when Beijing expelled about a dozen journalists working for US news outlets, it also barred them from relocating to Hong Kong.

RTHK, founded in 1928 and sometimes compared with the BBC, is the only independent, publicly funded media outlet on Chinese soil and has a charter guaranteeing editorial independence.

It had angered both the Hong Kong government and Beijing with its coverage of anti-government protests that shook the city in 2019.

A flag with a white 5-petalled flower design on solid red background
Above: Flag of Hong Kong

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular briefing on Thursday that it was “troubling that as (China) restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China, Beijing’s leaders use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinformation“.

Ned Price official photo.jpg
Above: Ned Price

This month, the State Department said it was “deeply disturbed” by a BBC report of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.

China denies accusations of abuses in Xinjiang and said the report was “wholly without factual basis“.

The FCCC noted the explanations for the ban, in particular the accusations of harming Chinese national interests and undermining national unity.

The FCCC is concerned that such language is intended to send a warning to foreign media operating in China that they may face sanctions if their reporting does not follow the Chinese party line about Xinjiang and other ethnic minority regions,” it said in a statement.

Map showing the location of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
Above: (in red) Xinjiang in China

On 4 February, the British media regulator Ofcom revoked China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) licence after an investigation found the licence was wrongfully held by Star China Media Ltd.

China said the ruling was political, and reserved the right to make a “necessary response“.


It bothers me immensely that we live in times when we are uncertain as the legitimacy of that which we are told.

We want to believe the media, for a responsible press is the cornerstone and the guardian of the people’s rights and is essential in keeping the public informed on all that they need to know.

(At least, in theory.)

We want to believe that those that govern us truly have our best interests in mind and seek not only to protect us but as well endeavour to improve the moral, economic and social lives of its citizenry.

(Though this seems difficult an illusion to believe it as those who seek power do so for their benefit rather than for the benefit of those they claim to represent.)

If anything my time in Turkey is teaching me is that how a nation is seen by outsiders is not always accurate with the reality of life therein.

Turkey is not as democratic as it should be but nor is it as autocratic as it could be, as portrayed by foreign media.

The truth lies in between.

How it is seen is not always how it is.

Flag of Turkey
Above: Turkey

As I write these words in Eskisehir (13 April), I find myself wondering at the wisdom of a part of Émile Henry’s address to the jury during his trial.

I wonder that Émile’s words of the dangers of education what worry governments.

For though education is crucial to the development of a society, it also exposes the weaknesses and injustices of that society through the knowledge that is revealed.

It is no accident that many of the protests demanding societal change often originate on the campuses of a nation’s academic institutions.

It is no accident that there are nations that prefer to keep the costs of higher education exorbantly expensive so that only the ruling élite can afford to be educated and are unlikely to protest the status quo that benefits them.

There are those in Turkey who wonder whether the peculiar way in which the pandemic restrictions are applied might not be connected to the inherant dangers that an educated populace threatens the infallibility and justification of the powers that be.

Above: Library of Anadolu University, Eskisehir

I never thought I would find myself longing for a proper lockdown, but with numbers of cases climbing and other countries suggesting that their citizens wait a while before visiting Turkey, I find myself wondering if the powers that be are taking things seriously enough.

It seems that during the week everywhere is open, but schools.

Only the weekend shows a lockdown half-heartedly attempted.

Our Monday street market, for example, is business as usual.

The nearby ES Park shopping centre where I do the bulk of my grocery shopping: no lockdown apparent.

Schools are, on the other hand, the breeding ground of contagion, whilst crowded shopping centres are not.

I guess the gathering of folks seeking to develop independent thought is more threatening than thoughtless consumption.

To be fair, the imposition of mask wearing and contact tracing are strictly enforced everywhere one goes, but the unevenness of how further necessary restrictions are being applied strikes the cynically minded as rather suspicious.

Yes, there is a lockdown, and yet….

There isn’t.

Above: ES Park Shopping Mall, Eskisehir

Today (13 April / 13 Nisan), Turkey and the greater Islamic world embarked upon the largest communal fasting ritual in history.

For 30 days and nights, devout Muslims will take part in a time-restricted fasting tradition, which dictates nothing is to be consumed from dawn to disk.

This means, no water or other beverages, no food and no smoking from sunrise until sunset.

At approximately 8 pm every day Muslims will break their fast with the iftar meal followed by the early morning sahur before starting the daily fast at around 4 am.

While it may feel like a sacrifice to some, it is a time of introspection, gratitude and being charitable to others.

Ramadan montage.jpg
Above: Images of the holy month of Ramadan

This year’s holy month of Ramadan began on 12 April and will end on 11 May, followed by the three-day Ramadan Bayram, also known as Eid al-Fitr in Turkey.

While the 30-day duration of fasting is not an official holiday, Eid al-Fitr is.

It is traditionally a time in which elder family members are paid visits and younger members are given gifts, but the bottom line is that family, neighbours and loved ones come together at this time.

Above: Ramadan of the poor

Unfortunately, yet understandably, this year, like last year, things will be a bit different due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Certain traditions will not take place for safety reasons.

This includes taking part in the Tarawih prayer ceremony at mosques and attending iftar dinners with others outside of the immediate family, both integral elements of this holy month.

In the past, municipalities, businesses and individuals would host elaborate fast-breaking meals that were open to one and all, and everyone would sit together at long communal tables to break the fast as a community.

Above: Iftar at Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul (pre-pandemic)

In Turkey, however, a series of measures were introduced today that has necessitated the curtailing of such joyous events and thus altering how the holy month of Ramadan will be practiced this year.

Some of the most striking amendments to the safety measures in place thus far include no more dining at cafés and restaurants, which are only open for take away or delivery, while the 9 pm curfew in place on weekdays has been brought down to 7 pm.

Both of these and in fact all of the measures now in place are in an effort to curb the further spread of the virus during this holy month.

In past years, restaurants would offer elaborate iftar and sahur meals and people would scramble in line for freshly baked flatbread to share at a dinner with their loved ones.

Muslims begin holy month of Ramadan - Turkey News

The mention of lines to buy bread may seem trivial until one remembers that this is the only month a very special rounnd flatbread, the Ramadan pide, is made from an oven-baked enriched dough and sprinkled with nigella and sesame seeds on top.

It used to be tradition to line up for this beloved bread that would be sold straight out of the over, still piping hot, just in time to make it to the table for iftar.

This month with the curfew being brought down to 7 pm, bread bakers have been encouraged to prepare the Ramadan pide earlier than usual and are required to finish baking the bread at least an hour before the fast-breaking meal begins.

Turkish Ramadan Pide / Ramadan Pidesi - Zesty South Indian Kitchen
Above: Ramadan pide

One tradition that will not be foregone this year, however, (and the reason why I am typing these words at 4 am in the morning), is that of the dusk drummers tasked with wandering the streets (including outside my window) and playing handheld drums at around 3 am and even earlier to wake people up for the predawn sahur meal.

For foreign visitors, this is a rude awakening.

One can easily assume that a tribal war of sorts has begun in the neighbourhood.

It is customary to tip these drummers, who used to even pound on the door for the task.

However this year it is advised that any tipping be done from the windows, when possible.

Municipalities strive to maintain tradition of Ramadan drummers - Kusadasi  News

The month of Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar, which consists of 12 months and 354 days, meaning it is 11 days short of the Gregorian calendar we are used to.

This means that not only do the dates in which Ramadan takes place change, moving back 11 days each year, but the precise time of the start and breaking fast also alters a few minutes each day.

This holy month is considered the 9th in the Muslim calendar and taking part in the fast is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with faith, prayer, pilgrimage and alms, the latter of which is also a critical part of this annual custom.

Five Pillars of Islam

A major part of the month of Ramadan is for those who have the means to pay “zakat“, which are alms for the less fortunate, and it can even be calculated as a percentage of annual income.

Meanwhile, the fast is welcomed as a challenge by those who take part in it and is intended to offer insight into what life is like for the needy.

Only those of sound body and mind (I wonder if I qualify?) are expected to fast.

Pregnant women, the elderly, children and those that are chronically ill are all exempt from this practice.

The majority of the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide will be taking part in the fast and thus as foreigners residing or visiting Turkey, it is important to be conscientious of this fact.

The fast is still a sacrifice of daily comforts.

African students enjoy Ramadan in Turkey

Thus, it is important to be aware that visibly drinking water or consuming foods with wafting aromas makes the Ramadan experience that much more challenging for our Muslim brethren.

Muslims also choose to refrain from negativity, such as arguing and gossip, and thus it is important to make every effort to heed that fact and be extra understanding.

It is also extremely welcoming to wish people a happy fasting experience by stating Ramadan Mubarak (Have a blessed Ramadan.).

Above: Iftar serving for fasting people at Imam Reza Shrine, Mashhad, Iran

Yes, it is the holy month of Ramadan, and yet…..

It isn’t.

Above: Men praying during Ramadan, Shrine of Ali (or “Blue Mosque“) in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan (pre-pandemic)

Funnily enough, all of this post was prompted by the question of tea.

Above: Tea plant

There have been more severe transatlantic bust-ups over a brew, such as the American Revolution, but few can have been quite so twee.

Nearly 250 years after the Boston Tea Party, the British ambassador in Washington and her American counterpart in London are going at it over how to make a decent hot drink.

Boston Tea Party w.jpg
Above: Boston Tea Party, 16 December 1773

Like many tense diplomatic standoffs, it began with a deliberate provocation.

An American TikTok user going by the name of Michelle from North Carolina posted a video showing how to make what she describes as “hot tea“, which entails mixing milk with powdered lemonade, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and Tang (the soft drink).

As an afterthought, Michelle dunked a teabag and then put the whole thing in the microwave.

Her subsequent attempt at “British tea” involved cold water first.

The British Internet lost its marbles.

TikTok logo.svg

Michelle from North Carolina, who actually lives in Britain, quickly amassed 5 million TikTok likes.

Meanwhile, the UK’s powerful ability to get on its high horse about elevenses kicked into gear.

Inevitably, Dame Karen Pierce, the British ambassador to Washington, was obliged to weigh in.

She posted a viral video of her own, explaining that “the Anglo-American relationship is defined by tea“, a reference to the Boston Tea Party of 1773 that eventually led to US independence.

Meet Karen Pierce: Britain's fiercely intelligent, flamboyant first female  Ambassador to the United States
Above: Dame Karen Pierce

Then, in what Twitter banter enthusiasts viewed as a thrilling escalation, Dame Pierce threw to three branches of the Armed Forces, who took it in turns to demonstrate to Americans how to make what one Royal Navy sailor called a “proper British cup of tea“.

The war, the Ambassador must have presumed, was over.

Logo of the Royal Navy.svg

If so, she reckoned without the cunning of the US ambassador in London, Woody Johnson, who recognized the impossibility of his position on the tea front and quickly shifted his forces to a classic British weakness:


I’m going to make an American cup of coffee, the way I make it every day, responding to Ambassador Pierce’s perfect cup of tea and her instructions,” he deadpanned.

Woody Johnson: NFL owner and Trump ambassador to UK sparks watchdog probe  over alleged racist and sexist remarks and a push to promote Trump business  - CNNPolitics
Above: Woody Johnson

Johnson proceeded to pour a bottle of water into a kettle, stick a spoon of instant coffee in a mug, splash in some milk, and say “have a nice day“.

If he then told his social media assistant that no, he didn’t have time for a second take, he had some chlorinated chicken to sell, history did not record the interaction.

Above: Instant coffee

Johnson’s intervention appears to have stunned his British counterpart into silence for the time being.

But there may now be questions as to whether he committed a serious strategic error.

On Wednesday evening (24 June 2020), a source at the Italian embassy asked for a view on the US video replied:

What he made was American coffee.

And I stress:

American coffee.

In winning one war, it appears that Johnson may have inadvertedly started another.

Tazzina di caffè a Ventimiglia.jpg

I was reminded of this old article by memories of my 27 March visit to the city of Kütahhya and discussions I have had with Turkish friends in St. Gallen and Eskisehir.

For five years I worked for Starbucks in St. Gallen (Switzerland) at all three (now two) stores there.

Above: Old houses of St. Gallen, Switzerland

At the time of my employment I became friends with most of my colleagues (and a few customers) including two Turkish gentlemen Sinan and Volkan.

(Sinan has since moved on to other career options while Volkan is a shift manager / assistant manager at the store in the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) in St. Gallen.)

May be an image of Funda Sinan Yilmaz, standing, sunglasses and outdoors
Above: Sinan

I am very much the North American in that, like Ambassador Johnson, my habitual coffee is instant coffee (Maxwell House from a store over the Swiss border in Konstanz (Germany) when I lived in Switzerland, Nescafé here in Turkey).

I have never been a huge fan of Starbucks coffee unless something is added to it, like within a Toffeenut Latté, a Pumpkin Spice Latté or a Caramel Macchiato.

In fact, in the year prior to my employment at Starbucks, as a regular customer of Starbucks- when I worked as Head Teacher for Wall Street English (now gone from St. Gallen) – I never ordered coffee per se but rather a “dirty chai” (a chai tea latté with two shots of espresso).

Starbucks Corporation Logo 2011.svg
Above: Starbucks logo

When this rat felt WSE St. Gallen was a sinking ship, I was persuaded by two employees of the Bahnhof shop to work there as a Barista.

What was intended as a temp job lasted five years.

Volkan, Sinan and I often debated as to how Starbucks coffee compares to Turkish coffee.

May be an image of Volkan Tanyer
Above: Volkan

In Turkey, meals are events to be celebrated.

The national cuisine is made memorable by the use of fresh seasonal ingredients and a local expertise in grilling meat and fish that has been perfected over centuries.

Here, kebabs are succulent – (though strangely I have yet to have one as mouth-watering as those made by the kebab kiosk Euphrat in the Black Forest (Germany) city of Freiburg im Breisgau) – and the meze dips are made with the best seasonal seasonings and freshly caught fish is expertly cooked and served unadorned, accompanied by Turkey’s famous aniseed-flavored drink, raki.

(I have yet to try raki, but my employer Cem is determined that I will not leave Turkey before I do.)

Turkey is one of the few countries that can feed itself from its own produce and have leftovers, which means that produce makes its way from ground to table quickly, ensuring freshness and flavour.

Türk kahve is a thick and powerful brew drunk in a couple of short sips, which when compared to Starbucks coffee is like comparing real Italian espresso with weak watery coffee that has been filtered through a dirty gym sock.

When you order a kahve, you are asked how sweet you like it – chok shekerli (very sweet), orta shekerli (middling), az shekerli (slightly sweet) and shekersiz or sade (not at all).

Turkish coffee is very finely ground coffee brewed by boiling.

Any coffee bean may be used. 

Arabica varieties are considered best, but robusta or a blend is also used.

The coffee grounds are left in the coffee when served.

The coffee may be ground at home in a manual grinder made for the very fine grind, ground to order by coffee merchants in most parts of the world, or bought ready-ground from many shops.

Coffee and water, usually with added sugar, is brought to the boil in a special pot called cezve in Turkey, and often called ibrik elsewhere.

As soon as the mixture begins to froth, and before it boils over, it is taken off the heat.

It may be briefly reheated twice more to increase the desired froth.

Sometimes about one-third of the coffee is distributed to individual cups.

The remaining amount is returned to the fire and distributed to the cups as soon as it comes to the boil. 

Turkish Coffee Pot Cezve Copper with Nickle Lining 3/4 Cup | eBay | Coffee  pot, Cezve, Turkish coffee

The coffee is traditionally served in a small porcelain cup called a kahve fincanı ‘coffee cup‘.

Türk Kahvesi - Bakir Cezve.jpg

Coffee is often served with something small and sweet to eat, such as a Turkish delight (a type of candy that is a gel of starch and sugar).

Kahve is sometimes flavoured with cardamom, mastic, salep, or ambergris.

A lot of the powdered coffee grounds are transferred from the “cezve” to the cup.

In the cup, some settle on the bottom but much remains in suspension and is consumed with the coffee.

Korkmaz Freedom 6'Lı Kahve Fincan Takımı A8631 |

First appearing in the Ottoman Empire, under the strictest interpretations of the Quran the strong coffee was considered a drug and its consumption was forbidden.

Due to the immense popularity of the beverage, the sultan eventually lifted this prohibition.

Turkish coffee culture had reached Britain and France by the mid to late 17th century.

The first coffee house in Britain was opened by an Ottoman Jew in the mid 17th century.

In the 1680s, the Turkish ambassador to France reportedly threw lavish parties for the city’s elite where African slaves served coffee to guests in porcelain finjans on gold or silver saucers.

As well as being an everyday beverage, Turkish coffee is also a part of the traditional Turkish wedding custom.

TURKISH/Suryoyo wedding entry in LOS ANGELES! - YouTube

As a prologue to marriage, the bridegroom’s parents (in the lack of his father, his mother and an elderly member of his family) must visit the young girl’s family to ask the hand of the bride-to-be and the blessings of her parents upon the upcoming marriage.

During this meeting, the bride-to-be must prepare and serve Turkish coffee to the guests.

For the groom’s coffee, the bride-to-be sometimes uses salt instead of sugar to gauge his character.

If the bridegroom drinks his coffee without any sign of displeasure, the bride-to-be assumes that the groom is good-tempered and patient.

As the groom already comes as the demanding party to the girl’s house, in fact it is the boy who is passing an exam and etiquette requires him to receive with all smiles this particular present from the girl, although in some parts of the country this may be considered as a lack of desire on the part of the girl for marriage with that candidate.

Zeynab Musayeva Küçük @zmkmiami #gelin #guzellik ...Instagram photo |  Websta | Turkish coffee, Coffee serving, Coffee recipes

The grounds left after drinking Turkish coffee are sometimes used to tell fortunes, a practice known as tasseography.

The cup is turned over into the saucer to cool, and the patterns of the coffee grounds are interpreted.

Above: Coffeereading

In Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia (all visited by your humble blogger) it is called “Turkish coffee“, “domestic coffee” or simply “coffee“.

It is nearly identical to the Turkish version.

Reason enough for me to love Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia.

SERBIAN BLACK COFFEE: Here is what you need to know before you order this  drink | Belgrade Restaurants

Volkan encouraged me to try Turkish coffee (as did Nesha in Serbia) and Sinan sent me a video of how to prepare kahve using a cezve.

But for me, as much as I prefer Turkish coffee to Starbucks or instant coffee, kahve is best experienced communally with friends within a coffeehouse.

The novelty of my life in Turkey and the restrictions placed upon me by both my employer and Covid-19 restrictions, I have yet to find myself in a communal situation with my colleagues.

Türk kahvesi sunum.JPG

Meanwhile, drinking chay is more the national pastime than kahve.

Turkey’s cup of choice is made with leaves from the Black Sea region.

Sugar cubes are the only accompaniment and the visitor finds these are needed to counter the effects of long brewing, although you can always try asking for it achuk (weaker).

The wholly chemical elma chay (apple tea) is caffeine-free and only for tourists.

Locals wouldn’t be caught dead drinking the stuff.

(In my sole visit to Istanbul years ago – as part of a visit to Turkey four years ago for the wedding of friends – I bought elma chay.

Neither my wife nor I ever drank a drop.)

Buy Turkish Apple Tea, Dogus - Grand Bazaar Istanbul Online Shopping

Every street corner one turns in Eskisehir (and in all the places I have so far visited in the Republic) the sight of old men drinking chay at tiny tables upon the sidewalk is a very common scene.

The solo heart longs to plop oneself down and join them, but as charming as I can be I feel that it is unwise to do without an invitation.

And generally if a tourist is invited into an establishment for a cup of tea it is usually as a preamble to a sales pitch, as experienced from carpet sales vendors in Istanbul and Antalya.

President Erdogan: Don't smoke, drink Turkish tea instead | The National

Kütahya, Turkey, Saturday 24 March 2021

Prior to the closure of WSE and the necessity to do all my teaching online, the only opportunity that presented itself to explore Turkey bit by bit has been exclusively Saturdays, my one day off per week.

Since my arrival in Turkey, I have Saturday explored the Posuk River through Eskisehir, taken the train to Ankara and have taken buses to Kütahya and Bursa.

(All subjects of future posts…..)

Above: Eskisehir Train Station

In Kütahya (population: 225,000), there are historical attractions on its central pedestrianized boulevards.

Shops around town sell tiles and ceramics, but this industrialized city is said to merit little more than a day trip (1.5 hours from Eskisehir), and, I might have been tempted to agree with this assessment.

Kütahya view
Above: View of Kütahya

I saw Zafer Meyam, Kütahya’s main fountain, overlooked by the vilayet (provincial government building) and the belediye (the town hall).

Kutahya - Premium Travel
Above: Kütahya Fountain

I visited the Tile Museum with pottery beyond pondering, jugs and plates, tiles and embroidery.


The Archaeology Museum and the Dönenler Cami (mosque) seemed closed, the Kütahya Fortress felt too distant and the Kossuth House impossible to find.

Kutahya Archeology Museum – Paradises of Turkey
Above: Archaeology Museum, Kütahya

Tarihi Yerler - T.C. Kütahya Belediyesi
Above: Dönenler Cami and Whirling Dervish Monument

Above: Kütahya Fortress

A frustration with modern times that I have, especially in regards to Turkey (save for cities frequented by international travellers like Istanbul and Antalya), is the inability to find street maps.

It seems to be simply assumed that everyone carries a mobile phone and that every mobile phone carries Google Maps.

It is also assumed that Google Maps can be useful in navigating oneself through the bazaars of the Middle East without problems.

The reality is starkly different for me.

Yes, I do have a mobile phone and, yes, it does have Google Maps, but the app is only as good as the information it contains and the ability of the app user to use that information successfully.

I often find myself more lost using Google Maps than if I simply left my phone in my pocket.

I don’t blame Google as much as I blame myself and invariably I spend a portion of any time spent in a new town being totally and completely lost.

Google Maps Logo.svg

So, generally, if I have no pressing appointments, I simply give into my confusion and just let my feet wander where they will.

A Field Guide To Getting Lost: Rebecca Solnit: 9781841957456:  Books

As I wander lost through the old quarter of Kütahya I stumble across a courtyard of men roughly dressed standing or sitting arouns a gravel courtyard.

They seem to be waiting for something, but I know not what.

Racks of clothes hanging outside against the wall of the house whose courtyard this is give the place the feeling of a charity.

Perhaps it is a clothing bank, maybe even a soup kitchen.

I do not know.

May be an image of outdoors

The gentlemen do not appear Kurdish and far too many Kurds I have seen are those who collect recycleables from neighbourhoods, for which they are presumedly paid.

Kurdish waste paper collectors face financial hardship in Ankara – MedyaNews

I am easy to identify as a foreigner, baseball cap on my head, bright red sweater with the letters Canada strewn across my chest.

Not to hard to come to the conclusion that this tall man ain’t from around these parts.

May be an image of 1 person
Above: Your humble blogger in Perth, Australia, 5 April 2014, but you get the idea…..

A man (42, I learn later) comes out of an almost teahouse and invites me for a glass of tea.

Muhammed speaks a little English, which is still a great deal more than the three words of Turkish that I know (Merhaba: hello / Lötfen: please / Teshekkür ederim: thank you).

An ancient copper tea stove (I don’t know how else to describe it.) continually brews as men of all ages sit around the tables viewing me much like an alien had suddenly dropped into their midst.

The tea is hot, the thin glass burns my fingers, the strong concoction inflames my lips and warms my stomach.

They are as curious about me as I am about them, but the lack of language between us hinders conversation.

These are working men of hardy stock, all have jobs in local factories.

Mustafa runs the teahouse, but I suspect more out of love for the people he serves than for the monies they provide.

My glass of tea is free.

I am an honoured guest.

Invariably the same question that I have already heard a hundred times before is asked of me again.

Why am I, a Canadian, in Turkey?

For once, my answer isn’t quippy, isn’t glib, isn’t formulaic nor forced.

I answer simply.

I just wanted to see the place.

May be an image of outdoors
Above: Kütahya

Somehow, I know they understand me, not just my words, but the silence that surrounds them.

Few words are spoken.

Few words are needed.

The tea is strong, the room is warm, the camarderie quiet.

Old oil lanterns hang from the walls next to ceramic plates.

Shelves of bottles of all sizes and shapes stare back at me through their glass case.

A gleaming metal pot holds the cleaning liquid and scouring brush for the remains of the day to be washed before closing.

They compliment me in surprise finding out my age is 55 but my manner much younger, but, in fairness, a senior in a baseball cap always looks deceptively younger.

This room in this anonymous teahouse in a back street of a city few foreigners visit, for me, right here, right now, is Turkey.

Folks in the West, back in Switzerland and Germany and Canada have many things to say about this country.

They say that Turkey is a dangerous country, but I feel no threat here.

They say that Turkey is a poor country, but here and now…..

No, it isn’t.

May be an image of outdoors
Above: Kütahya

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Facebook / Bhargav Acharya and Tom Daly, “BBC World News Barred in Mainland China, Radio Dropped by HK Public Broadcaster“, US News and World Report, 12 February 2021 / Archie Bland, “US woman sparks transatlantic tea war“, The Guardian, 24 June 2020 / Hebe Campbell, “Facebook limits content shared by Myanmar military to stop the spread of misinformation“, Euronews, 12 February 2021 / Arata Yamamoto and Yuliya Talmazan, “Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori resigns after sexist remarks“, 12 February 2021 / Leyla Yvonne Ergil, “Pandemic 2.0: The Do’s and Don’ts of Ramadan for Expats“, Daily Sabah, 16 April 2021

Canada Slim and the Hungry Hollow

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Thursday 11 February 2021 / Eskisehir, Turkey, Wednesday 7 April 2021

Hindsight, they say, is 20/20 (perfect vision) and as a more determined lockdown begins today across Turkey (more determined than the half measures set this past weekend) I find myself wondering if the events of 11 February read back in Landschlacht have proven to be prophetic when compared to events of 7 April in Eskisehir.

Solarsystem-Bälle, Galaxie-Kristallkugel – Kristallkugel für Kinder Galaxy Crystal  Ball farblos: Spielzeug

Hospitals and clinics across Turkey have been busy lately with the inoculation drive against COVID-19.

More than 2.8 million people have now received the vaccine as part of the drive, and health care workers, who were first to receive jabs last month, started receiving the second dose of CoronaVac on Thursday.

The inactive vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac is the only one available in the country, which plans to receive its first doses of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech later this month.

Turkey: China's CoronaVac vaccine '91.25% effective' - CGTN

While health care workers received their second jabs, people at the age of 70 and above are being administered their first shots starting Thursday.

On Friday, people at the age of 65 or above will receive their first shots.

The country’s oldest citizens were vaccinated with their first jabs shortly after the first doses were administered to health care workers.

After completing the vaccination of senior citizens, the country will move to age-independent vaccination in the next phase of the plan.

These people include soldiers, police officers, teachers and people working in sectors critical for daily life, from logistics to the food sector.

Inoculation is also planned this weekend for members of the Cabinet, in a bid to set an example for the public.

Vaccine skeptics and anti-vaxxers thrive on social media, looking to deter inoculation, though surveys show a large majority of people are willing to be vaccinated.

Turkey received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on 30 December 2020 and gave them an emergency usage approval on 13 January 2021, one day before administering them to health care workers.

A health care worker gets a second jab of CoronaVac at a hospital in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, Feb. 11, 2021. (AA Photo)

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, members of the ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were also vaccinated with the first dose.

Turkey, Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca Pre | IMAGO
Above: Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca

Erdoğan announced on his Telegram account Thursday that he had his second jab.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 2019 (cropped).jpg
Above: Turkish President Recep Erdogan

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also had his second dose administered.

After health care workers, nursing home residents and staff were inoculated.

Devlet Bahçeli ve Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (cropped).jpg
Above: Devlet Bahceli

The country received an additional batch of 10 million doses later in January, in two shipments.

Overall, Turkey has acquired about 15 million doses.

Authorities have signed deals to obtain more than 100 million doses of vaccine for the country of more than 83 million people.

Koca announced Wednesday that a shipment of “500,000 to 800,000” doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would arrive in the coming weeks while warning about new virus variants.

By the end of March, the country planned to acquire a total of 5 million doses of this vaccine, which is the brainchild of a Turkish couple living in Germany.

BioNTech-Pfizer originally demanded €54 per vaccine dose | News | DW |  18.02.2021

The vaccination rollout is an appointment-only process.

Every citizen is required to make an online appointment or arrange a vaccination time via a Health Ministry hotline.

This practice aims to prevent crowding at clinics and hospitals.

However, health care crews still vaccinate those unable to leave their residences at home, especially in remote rural areas without nearby clinics.

The age limit will gradually drop to younger people, and the penultimate group to be inoculated will be those between the ages of 18 and 29.

Those who missed their scheduled period for vaccination will be the last to be inoculated.

Human trials of Turkish-made COVID-19 vaccines to start in late October |  Daily Sabah

We had an opportunity to get familiar with the vaccine,” associate professor Nurettin Yiyit, who received his second jab on Thursday, told Anadolu Agency (AA).

Yiyit is the chief physician of Sancaktepe Şehit Prof. Dr. Ilhan Varank Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul.

The pandemic hospital has long been on the front line of efforts for the treatment of thousands infected with the virus since last year.

About 4,500 people have been vaccinated at the hospital.

Yiyit said they did not encounter any serious side effects, except a minor rash in three health care workers.

No one who received jabs was infected with the virus so far,” he underlined.

COVID-19 in Turkey - Cumulative positive cases per 100k residents.svg
Above: Covid-19 in Turkey: the darker the region, the more cases therein

Asım Ocaklı, a surgeon at the hospital who received his second jab, said he did not suffer any problems.

Ayşegül Erdal, a staff member at the maternity clinic, said she felt “safer” after vaccination.

“People should trust the vaccine,” she said.

Nurse Esra Zindanoğlu said they were looking forward to the vaccine, and she almost “ran” to get her shot.

This is currently the only solution against the pandemic,” she said.

BBC World Service - BBC OS, Coronavirus: One year of a pandemic

Turkey seeks to diversify its options for vaccines, and authorities hope a locally made vaccine will also be available soon for citizens.

An inactive vaccine candidate, similar to CoronaVac, leads the domestic vaccine race.

Developed by scientists at Erciyes University in the central province of Kayseri, ERUCOV-VAC moved to phase two human trials on Wednesday, two months after the beginning of phase one trials.

Some 250 volunteers will be inoculated with the vaccine.

Scientists hope to make it available for use in June after the completion of the analysis and approval processes that follow trials.

The university cooperates with a local pharmaceuticals company for its plans to produce 10 million doses monthly.

أهم أطباء وخبراء أمريكا يعلق عن لقاح "سبوتنيك V" الروسي - Sputnik Arabic

Authorities say three more local vaccines will likely receive approval for phase one trials in the coming weeks.

Among them are an inactive vaccine developed by Selçuk University in the central province of Konya, a vaccine based on virus-like particles (VLP) developed by Middle East Technical University (METU) and an adenovirus-based vaccine from Ankara University in the Turkish capital.

Selçuk Üniversitesi logosu.png

I have been in Turkey a total of 38 days and I have not heard a whisper of when I or my colleagues will ever be vaccinated.

Medical staff, politicians and seniors have all been protected, but it seems the younger you are, the longer you must wait.

Flag of Turkey
Above: Flag of Turkey

It is the young that concern me in this post.

As much as I may moan about bones that ache and weight that remains and attitudes that annoy about getting older, it is easy to forget that being young ain’t no picnic either.

The powerlessness to choose how you spend your days, the helplessness of being ignorant of how to fend for yourself, the vulnerability from those who seek to use you for their own purposes, the assumption that youth means idiocy, the pressures to meet everyone’s standards regardless of your feelings about this.

When I consider 11 February 2021, I remember that it is the grim anniversary of the murder of Özgecan Aslan.

Ozgecan Aslan.jpg
Above: Özgecan Aslan

Özgecan Aslan (22 October 1995 – 11 February 2015) was a Turkish university student (age 19) who was murdered while resisting attempted rape on 11 February 2015 on a minibus in Mersin, Turkey.

Mersin Yenişehir shore to west
Above: Mersin

Her burnt body was discovered on 13 February.

The murder was committed by minibus driver Ahmet Suphi Altındöken.

His father Necmettin Altındöken and friend Fatih Gökçe were accomplices in covering up the murder.

All perpetrators were handed aggravated life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Özgecan Aslan'ın Katilinin Cezası Belli Oldu!

The murder caused nationwide outrage and sparked protests across the country on the following days.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in several provinces, with some criticizing the government for its “insufficient response” and alleged normalization of the rape of non-conservative women.

The protests were described as the first mass movement for Turkish women.

It also provoked calls for reforms to combat violence against women more effectively.

The case received great attention on social media and prompted women to share their experiences of harassment, with 16 February being dubbed as “Black Monday” due to protests.

The murder was described as a catalyst for women to speak out about their long-withheld suffering, but The Guardian expected also a rift between women who defend silence and patriarchal status quo and those refusing to keep quiet.

Women hold pictures of murder victim Ozgecan Aslan during protests in Istanbul on Saturday

Özgecan was born into a poor Alevi Turkish family, who traced their origins to Tunceli.

She was a first-year psychology student in Caq University in Tarsus.

She was born and raised in Mersin, and wanted to study psychology, for which she had developed a strong passion while she was studying at high school.

Her parents were supportive of her, with her mother returning to the workforce in order to fund her education, to augment the 50% scholarship she had earned.

Her father is a graphic designer, but he lacked a permanent job at the time of the murder, while her mother had previously retired from a cargo company.

She was also planning to work at a hotel in Northern Cyprus during the summer to help with her fees.

Flag of Northern Cyprus
Above: Flag of Northern Cyprus

She had an elder sister who was studying opera and singing in Adana.

Özgecan was also described as an avid opera listener and reader.

Top: A view from Çukurova, 1st left: Adana station, 1st right: Taşköprü, 2nd left: Sheraton Adana, 2nd right: Sabancı Central Mosque, Bottom: White Houses neighborhood.
Above: Images of Adana

The perpetrator’s father, who assisted him, hailed from a wealthy family in Tarsus and was at one time a jeweller.

However, he had since gone bankrupt and started to work with his son as a minibus driver.

He had previous records of smuggling.

The perpetrator’s wife (married to him five years prior to the murder) claimed that he had continuously inflicted violence on her, and that he had forced her to withdraw her suit for divorce a few months before the incident as he allegedly had threatened to kill her and their son.

A friend of Özgecan claimed that they had been afraid to use the minibuses in the area, and that the drivers and some passengers had stared at them through mirrors and windows whenever they left the bus several times before the incident.


On the day of the murder, Özgecan went to a shopping centre with her friend.

After eating, the women took the minibus to return home.

Özgecan was last seen by her friend when she alighted at her stop, leaving Özgecan alone in the minibus.

As Özgecan did not return home after nightfall, she was reported missing.

Above: Mersin

Meanwhile, the minibus driver stopped at a Gendarmerie checkpoint to ask for directions, but instead of following the directions, diverted into a forest.

The gendarme became suspicious and stopped the vehicle to find smears of blood, which the driver claimed had been caused by a fight between passengers.

After a brief investigation, the suspects were released.

After Özgecan was reported missing, the gendarme looked for the minibus again.

Emblem of the Gendarmerie General Command

It was captured with two of the suspects.

Özgecan’s hat (confirmed as hers by her father) was found inside.

The two suspects subsequently admitted the murder, and the search for the third suspect began.

According to news reports, the driver of the minibus attempted to rape Özgecan, but she resisted by using pepper spray.

Massive protests in Turkey after student murdered & burnt in attempted rape

Following this, he stabbed her multiple times, and beat her to death with an iron rod.

He returned to Tarsus following the murder and asked for help from his father and a friend.

The three men burnt Özgecan’s body together in a forest and cut off her hands, as Özgecan had scratched the perpetrator’s face during the struggle, and they feared that his DNA would be identified on the fingernails.

Later, the post-mortem examination revealed that she had not been raped and DNA of the prime suspect was indeed found on her fingernails.

The trio is then alleged to have disposed of the burnt body into a creek near the village of Camalan.

Çamalan, Mersin Province.jpg
Above: Village of Camalan

The body was discovered by the police on 13 February and was transported to the Tarsus State Hospital.

The body and Özgecan’s face were burnt to the point that it rendered identification impossible.

Clothes found with the body were used in identification.

Medical Park Tarsus Hospital - Medical Center Turkey
Above: Tarsus State Hospital

As a high school student in Turkey, whenever journalist Elif Shafak took the bus she would make sure to keep an open safety pin in her hand – to poke molesters with.

By the time she started university, she was carrying pepper spray in her bag, as did many of her female friends.

They spoke about these things among ourselves, quietly.

Interview with Turkish author Elif Shafak: Democracy in a downward spiral -
Above: Elif Shafak

Today, Turkey’s women are publicly sharing stories of sexual harassment, opening up and speaking out.

They are worried.

They are mourning.

At the same time, they are angry.

Istanbul protest against murder of Ozgecan Aslan

Aslan’s brutal murder unleashed an unprecedented storm of protest throughout Turkey.

The head of the Mersin Bar Association announced that none of the 1,600 lawyers licensed to work in the region would represent the murderer and his accomplices.

University students dressed head to toe in black and women went to work wearing black ribbons.

Women protesting about the murder of Ozgecan Aslan

In her hometown of Mersin, Aslan’s funeral was attended by thousands of women.

According to the understanding of Islam prevalent in Turkey, women stay at the back of the funeral crowd and let the men carry the coffin and lead the prayers.

This time it was different.

Despite repeated warnings from the Imam, women refused to step back and said they were determined “no other man’s hands would touch her again”. 

Women carried her coffin. 

Women buried her.

Women’s advocacy groups have for years been warning the government about the sharp deterioration in gender equality and freedoms.

But for the most part their voices have fallen on deaf ears.

In the Global Gender Gap report Turkey ranks 125th among 142 countries.

It still holds the lowest position among OECD countries.

OECD logo new.svg
Above: Logo for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

The AKP replaced the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs with the Ministry of Family and Social Policy.

The renaming, seemingly small, is rather telling:

The word “women” has been taken out and the emphasis has been placed on “family”.

While visiting a maternity hospital in January, the minister of health, Mehmet Müezzinoglu, said a woman’s primary career was motherhood and that Turkish women should focus only on this career.

The statement provoked a major backlash.

Justice and Development Party (Turkey) logo.svg
Above: Justice and Development Party (Turkey) logo

Even though a new law to “protect family and prevent violence against women” was enacted in 2012, few concrete steps have so far been taken to provide actual financial, psychological or social aid to abused women.

A panic-button project, which was introduced with much fanfare, has proven to be ineffective.

There are still fewer than 100 shelters in the entire country.

Women’s NGOs say the number should be at least 7,500.

Feminist protest from Turkey.jpg

Speaking at a political rally, the Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, vowed to launch a new campaign to make sure this kind of violence is eradicated.

Secretary Kerry Meets With Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu (2) (cropped).jpg
Above: Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu

President Erdoğan has spoken out about Aslan’s murder, saying:

“I will personally follow the case so that they [the perpetrators] will be given the heaviest penalty.

I am already following the case.”

Strengere Kontrolle von Social Media in der Türkei | BR24
Above: President Recep Erdogan

But at the same time several AKP members have made incendiary statements, adding insult to the injury.

The head of the Human Rights Investigation commission, Ayhan Sefer Üstün, went as far as to declare that “killing the baby in the mother’s womb is a greater crime than the deeds of the rapist”.

AK Parti'den ihracı istenen Ayhan Sefer Üstün'den ilk açıklama: Kendi öz  evlatlarını yiyorlar - Internet Haber
Above: Ayhan Sefer Üstün

There are two main factors behind the government’s poor handling of the situation.

Firstly, it is, structurally and ideologically, just like many other political parties in Turkey past and present, deeply patriarchal.

Turkey has one of the lowest rates of female representation in politics.

Above: Tansu Ciller is the first and only female Prime Minister of Turkey (1993 – 1996)

Secondly, the AKP has so sharply estranged itself from one half of its people that it now doesn’t know how to collaborate with women’s advocacy and civil society groups.

But gender violence is such a widespread and deeply rooted problem that it can only be improved via efforts that transcend ideological lines.

Turkey, however, is so deeply politicised and polarised that no one is willing to do that.

In the meantime, a social transformation is taking place.

A change that many analysts, focused primarily on politics rather than culture, are failing to notice.

Turkey’s women are becoming more openly politicised than its men.

Half of the protesters at the Gezi Park demonstrations (27 May – 20 August 2013) were women.

Each day protestants return to the square. Events of June 7, 2013.jpg
Above: Protests on 6 June 2013, with the slogan “Do not submit!

(A wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Turkey began on 28 May 2013, initially to contest the urban development plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park.

Above: Teksim Gezi Park

The protests were sparked by outrage at the violent eviction of a sit-in at the park protesting the plan.

Subsequently, supporting protests and strikes took place across Turkey, protesting a wide range of concerns at the core of which were issues of freedom of the press, expression, and assembly, as well as the political Islamist government’s erosion of Turkey’s secularism.

With no centralised leadership beyond the small assembly that organized the original environmental protest, the protests have been compared to the Occupy Movement and the May 1968 events (a period of civil unrest across France). 

Social media played a key part in the protests, not least because much of the Turkish media downplayed the protests, particularly in the early stages.

Three and a half million people (out of Turkey’s population of 80 million) are estimated to have taken an active part in almost 5,000 demonstrations across Turkey connected with the original Gezi Park protest.

Above: Protesters on Istikal Avenue in Beyoglu, Istanbul

Twenty-two people were killed and more than 8,000 were injured, many critically.

Above: Many women in headscarves attended the protests, despite the fact that pro-AKP media spread disinformation that they were being attacked by the protesters

The sit-in at Taksim Gezi Park was restored after police withdrew from Taksim Square on 1 June, and developed into a protest camp, with thousands of protesters in tents, organising a library, medical center, food distribution, and their own media.

Above: Gezi Park encampment map

After the Gezi Park camp was cleared by riot police on 15 June, protesters began to meet in other parks all around Turkey and organised public forums to discuss ways forward for the protests.

Then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan dismissed the protesters as “a few looters” on 2 June.

Police suppressed the protests with tear gas and water cannons.

In addition to the 11 deaths and over 8,000 injuries, more than 3,000 arrests were made

Police brutality and the overall absence of government dialogue with the protesters was criticized by some foreign governments and international organisations.

Above: Unarmed woman protester pepper sprayed by police

The range of the protesters was described as being broad, encompassing both right- and left-wing individuals.

Their complaints ranged from the original local environmental concerns to such issues as the authoritarianism of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, curbs on alcohol, a recent row about kissing in public, and the war in Syria.

Protesters called themselves çapulcu (looters), reappropriating Erdoğan’s insult for themselves (and coined the derivative “chapulling“, given the meaning of “fighting for your rights”).

Many users on Twitter also changed their screen name and used çapulcu instead.

According to various analysts, the protests were the most challenging events for Erdoğan’s ten-year term and the most significant nationwide disquiet in decades.)

Above: A damaged NTV broadcast van and a car at Taksim Square, Istanbul

In social media most of the critical campaigns are led by women.

Women’s bodies and lifestyles have turned into an ideological battleground.

President Erdogan slammed the women who protested against domestic violence and sexual harassment in Turkey for singing songs and dancing together.

In the pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak, some columnists have said that rape also happens in America and therefore people should shut up about it.

Another columnist argued “keep quiet and go to a doctor”.


Just like the society they come from, Turkey’s women are divided.

Not as Turks and Kurds.

Not as Muslims and non-Muslims.

Not even as conservatives and secularists.

From now on the biggest rift will be between those who defend silence and the status quo, and those who refuse to keep quiet in the face of growing gender violence.


While serving life sentence at a high-security prison in Adana, Özgecan Aslan’s killer Ahmet Suphi Altindoken and his father were gunned down by an inmate in their own cell on 11 April 2016.

Severely wounded, they were rushed to hospital.

Ahmet Suphi Altındöken died.

His father survived the attack.

Gültekin Alan, a 46-year-old inmate serving a 50-year sentence, was found guilty.

He was transferred to the high-security prison in Diyarbakir.

No cemetery in Tarsus or Adana accepted Ahmet Suphi Altındöken’s funeral.

The crisis lasted five days.

Finally, the corpse was taken out of the hospital morgue in a midnight undercover operation masked as a woman, and was interred at an undisclosed burial site.)

Above. The grave of Özgecan Aslan, Mersin Interfaith Cemetery

As the oldest and largest male at my school, I see not only the bevy of beauties that comprise more than half of the staff, but as well how many of our students that are young ladies.

The Dad part of my nature sees them not as women but as children in women’s bodies.

So vulnerable, despite their courage and steady resolve, they are, compared to myself, young enough to be my daughters or even my granddaughters, and the parent (that never was) persona within me wishes to protect them without treading over that fine line that doesn’t respect their independent free will.

I cannot, nor will not, ever suggest to them any course of behaviour that is not in keeping with their free will, but I worry that there are those who are not so tolerant of their exuberance or that there are those who take women’s liberty of thought as a signal of sexual availability and thus wish to do them harm.

Eskişehir İngilizce Kursu - Şubelerimiz | Wall Street English

As a large man I am aware that I am less threatened by those who seek to harm the vulnerable.

As a large man I am also aware that I can also be seen as a symbol of those of whom women must be wary.

Therapy for Fear, Therapist for Fear

It is so damned easy to cross that line between gentleman and creep in a woman’s mind because of the potential danger a man represents.

I compliment a woman’s fashion sense but consciously veer away from description of her physical form.

I seek to be seen as someone safe so I consciously avoid physical contact or too intimate proximity with my female colleagues so they can feel that their personal space remains respected.

Radiohead original creep cover.jpg

(Being in the midst of a pandemic does make this distancing easier.)

Ubudu - Social Distancing Assistant for enterprises to provide a safe  workplace until Covid-19 goes away

Do I find women I see desirable?

Of course.

But I think to myself of how I desire to be treated as an individual and thus I control any overt signs or any inappropriate behaviour my quickening pulse might suggest.

Top 10 Most Desirable Women in the World - 2019 (updated)

As an older man, I also view the young ladies that come across my path less as enticements and more as (too) young people worthy of respect, support and a feeling of security whenever they are within my orbit.

I weep inside when I think of so many young women whose lives have been taken and/or their bodies ravaged for the sole reason they are vulnerable young women.

I curse the complexity of a world that compels young women to flaunt their feminity (which is their right) and yet simultaneously makes it unsafe for them to do so.

I curse the fates that compel men to desire women without granting so many men the wisdom and respect that desire demands.

I wish men would view women not merely as objects of gratification but as people worthy of the respect one gives (or should give) to mothers and daughters, wives and sisters.

So many men seem to think that danger delights the dames, but fail to see that it is safety that ultimately seduces.

Women are a gift to men and should be viewed as such.

A woman gives her body to a lover.

It should never be taken by a thief.

Top 10 Most Desirable Women in the World - 2019 (updated)

At my school, my mind walks the tightrope of viewing those who surround me as mature-looking children and simultaneously treating them with the respect that adults deserve.

A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers | Greenbiz

It is also too easy to forget that children, regardless of their maturity (or lack thereof), should be accorded respect and protection as well.

But history is replete with examples of how often children have suffered when that respect and protection failed….

At the time of the tragedy, Malta was under British rule and experiencing a famine, and it had become a tradition to gather 8- to 15-year-old boys from the lower classes of Valletta and the Three Cities (the three fortified cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua) to participate in a procession during the last few days of Carnival.

Datei:Carnival in Valletta - Trucks in Street of Valletta.jpg – Wikipedia
Above: Carnival in Valetta

After the procession, they would attend Mass, and they would be given some bread afterwards.

This activity was arranged by ecclesiastical directors who taught catechism (the teaching of Christianity), and its main aim was to keep children out of the riots and confusion of Carnival.

This activity was organized on 10 February 1823, when children attended mass at Floriana (a fortified town outside of Valetta) and then went to the Convent of the Minori Osservanti (a Franciscan church in Valetta, now better known as ta’ Ġieżu) where they were given bread.

Everything went as planned, and the same procedure was planned for the following day.

Franciscan Church of St Mary of Jesus.jpg
Above: the Franciscan Church of St. Mary of Jesus, Valetta, Malta

The same procedure took place on 11 February 1823.

Children were gathered and attended mass at Floriana, but the ceremony lasted an hour longer than usual.

From top: Malta Memorial, St. Publius Parish Church, Porte des Bombes, Christ the King Monument, Valletta Waterfront
Above: Images of Floriana

The children’s procession to the convent in Valletta occurred at the same time as the carnival celebrations had ended, so they met with many people who were returning home.

At this point, some adults and children from the crowd mixed in with the boys in order to receive some free bread.

The boys entered one of the convent’s corridors from the vestry door in the church, and were to be let out through another door in St. Ursula Street.

The bread was to be distributed at the latter door.

Although the vestry door was usually locked to prevent boys from reentering to receive more bread, this time the door was left open since the boys were late.

Due to this, more men and boys entered without anyone realizing.

Those who had entered began to push the boys queuing in the corridor, who were shoved to the end of the corridor near a half-open door.

At this point, a lamp went out leaving the corridor in darkness, and the people inside began to push forward even more.

The boys at the front fell down a flight of steps, blocking the door in the process.

Those who were distributing the bread as well as some neighbours rushed to assist the children after they heard screams.

They managed to open the doors, and many boys got out and were revived.

However, a number of boys had already died due to suffocation or being trampled upon.

The exact number of casualties is not known.

Records of the Sacra Infermeria show that 94 bodies of boys aged between 15 and 16 were brought to the hospital on 11 February, and they were buried the following day.

However, contemporary records, such as The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle, reveal that “no less than 110 boys perished on this occasion“.

Ta Giezu Church 14.jpg
Above: The corridor with stairs where the incident took place

An investigation led by the Lieutenant Governor took place after the disaster, and a report about the findings was published a few days after the incident.

The investigation concluded that the stampede took place as a result of a succession of errors.

No one was accused for the deaths of the children.

Sacra Infermeria in 2016.jpg
Above: The Sarca Infermeria, now the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valetta

There should have been culpability assigned to this tragedy.

Where was the forethought when it was needed that allowed boys to be thrown into a crowd of Carnival celebrants?

Was the sermon so significant that it needed to be expanded and the essence of timing forgotten?

Where was the forethought when it was needed to prevent access through the vestry door for anyone other than the boys and those of the church?

Where is the sanctity of the church respected if one invades it with no decorum or respect for the faith it represents?

Where is the love of Christ for others if the lives of boys matter less than the stomachs of men?

Why was there a famine in Malta and why were the authorities not feeding the populace?

Flag of Malta
Above: Flag of modern Malta

Were the stomachs of the stampeding men so hollow, were their souls so empty, that children would be crushed to death because they stood in the way of food?

Was the church sustaining the lives of a few to the detriment of the many?

Were the souls of the authorities so hollow that no one was held responsible for the deaths of these innocents?

Or would fingers pointed at others lead to questions of their own incompetence?

When the life of a child matters less to me than my own then I have truly become unworthy of my life that I have so desperately tried to preserve.

It is a law of nature that the old must give way for the young, for such is the circle of life.

An old man dies, a little girl lives. Fair trade | Picture Quotes

St. Thomas, Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada), Monday 13 January 2020

It was the last significant stop before Brampton and Toronto that my train from London (Ontario) would make that morning and like the towns I have described within previous posts of this blog, Georgetown would, as well, leave an impression on my thoughts and emotions when I considered what the place represented to me.

Georgetown, like the aforementioned St. Marys, Stratford, Kitchener and Guelph, is, at first glance, unremarkable.

Above: Georgetown Station

Georgetown is a community in the town of Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada and is part of the Regional Municipality of Halton.

The town includes several small villages or settlements, such as Norval, Limehouse, Stewarttown and Glen Williams, near Georgetown, and another large population centre, Acton.

In 2016, the population of Georgetown was 42,123.

It sits on the banks of the Credit River, approximately 60 km west of Toronto, and is part of the Greater Toronto Area.

Georgetown was named after entrepreneur George Kennedy, who settled in the area in 1821 and built several mills and other businesses.

Main Street
Above: Main Street, Georgetown

The Wikipedia description alone is a great cure for insomnia.

The Wikipedia wordmark which displays the name Wikipedia, written in all caps. The W and the A are the same height and both are taller than the other letters which are also all the same height. It also displays Wikipedia's slogan: "The Free Encyclopedia".

By 1650, the Hurons had been wiped out by European diseases and the Iroquois.

The region was now open to the Algonquian Ojibwa (also known as the Mississauga).

By 1850 the remaining Mississauga natives were removed to the Six Nations Reserve, where the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Reserve was established.

Huron moccasins, c. 1880 - Bata Shoe Museum - DSC00641.JPG

Commencing in 1781, the British government purchased blocks of land from the Mississauga Nation.

In 1818, they purchased land that later became the townships of Esquesing and Nassagaweya.

The task of laying out the townships fell to Timothy Street and Abraham Nelles.

Datei:Flag of Great Britain (1707–1800).svg – Wikipedia
Above: British flag, 1781

Charles Kennedy was hired by Nelles to survey the northern part of Esquesing Township in 1819, and Charles Kennedy received a significant parcel of land as payment for his work.

The brothers of Charles Kennedy, John, Morris, Samuel and George, all acquired land close to each another in the Silver Creek Valley.

Charles Kennedy built a sawmill in a location where Main Street meets Wildwood Road today.

Photo Gallery #2 : The Mills | Esquesing Historical Society

George Kennedy took advantage of the Silver Creek in the early 1820s to power a sawmill, and later a gristmill and foundry and then a woolen mill.

A small settlement formed around the mills, often called “Hungry Hollow“.

Town Completes the Hungry Hollow Trail - Halton Hills

In 1828, John Galt of the Canada Company opened the York to Guelph Road (now Highway 7) which connected the settlement around George Kennedy’s mill with other settlements in the area.

The road also extended to Galt, Guelph and Goderich.

John Galt - Charles Grey 1835 (cropped).jpg
Above: John Galt (1779 – 1839)

In 1837 the Barber brothers, including William and James, purchased land and the woolen mill and foundry from Kennedy in 1837.

They renamed the settlement Georgetown.

The brothers started the paper-making industry in 1854, using electricity produced by a dynamo at the Credit River.

Their products included large volumes of wallpaper.

Above: William Barber (1808 – 1887)

John R. Barber’s home, Berwick Hall, still stands at Main and Park Streets.

The business prospered for over 100 years.

Other entrepreneurs arrived including Philo Dayfoot in the early 1840s, who started the local leather industry.

In the 1850s, George Kennedy subdivided his land into small lots for sale to new settlers.

George Kennedy (Georgetown, Ontario) | This is a mural found… | Flickr

Esquesing Village (Stewarttown) was settled around 1818 and became the seat of the Township of Esquesing.

It was also on the main north-south route to the steamships at Oakville.

Our Town

In 1846, Norval had a population of about 200 inhabitants, served by two churches, various tradesmen, a grist mill, an oatmeal mill, a distillery, two stores and a tavern.

Author Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874 – 1942), who wrote the Anne of Green Gables series lived in Norval from 1926 to 1935 and considered it to be “one of the prettiest villages in all Ontario“.

Main Street, Georgetown
Above: Main Street, Georgetown

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in Clifton (now New London) in Prince Edward Island (PEI) on 30 November 1874.

Above: Birthplace of LM Montgomery, Clifton, PEI

L. M. Montgomery
Above: Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874 – 1942)

Her mother, Clara Woolner Macneill Montgomery, died of tuberculosis (TB) when Lucy was 21 months old.

Stricken with grief, her father, Hugh John Montgomery, placed Lucy in the custody of her maternal grandparents, though he remained in the vicinity.

However, when Lucy was seven, he moved to Prince Albert, North-West Territories (now Prince Albert, Saskatchewan).

From then on Lucy was raised by her grandparents, Alexander Marquis Macneill and Lucy Woolner Macneill, in the community of Cavendish, PEI.

Cavendish Beach in Prince Edward Island National Park
Above: Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island

Montgomery’s early life in Cavendish was very lonely.

LM at age 9

Despite having relatives nearby, much of her childhood was spent alone.

She created imaginary friends and worlds to cope with her loneliness, and Montgomery credited this time of her life with developing her creativity.

Above: Cavendish Beach

Montgomery’s imaginary friends were named Katie Maurice and Lucy Gray who lived in the “fairy room” behind the bookcase in the drawing room.

During a church service, Montgomery asked her aunt where her dead mother was, leading her to point upwards.

Montgomery saw a trap door in the church’s ceiling, which led her to wonder why the minister did not just get a ladder to retrieve her mother up in the church’s ceiling.

Avonlea Village Church in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island |

In 1887, at age 13, Montgomery wrote in her diary that she had “early dreams of future fame.”

She submitted a poem for publication, writing:

“I saw myself the wonder of my schoolmates – a little local celebrity.” 

Upon rejection, Montgomery wrote:

“Tears of disappointment would come in spite of myself, as I crept away to hide the poor crumpled manuscript in the depths of my trunk.”

She would later write:

“Down, deep down under all the discouragement and rebuff, I knew I would ‘arrive’ some day.”

505 Victorian Era 1880s 1890s Restored Dome Top Antique Trunk For Sale and  Available

After completing her education in Cavendish, Montgomery spent one year (1890) in Prince Albert with her father and her stepmother, Mary Ann McRae.

While in Prince Albert, Montgomery’s first work, a poem titled “On Cape LeForce“, was published in the Charlottetown paper, The Daily Patriot. 

She was as excited about this as she was about her return to her beloved Prince Edward Island in 1891.

Before returning to Cavendish, Montgomery had another article published in the newspaper, describing her visit to a First Nations camp on the Great Plains.

Montgomery often saw Blackfeet and Plains Cree in Prince Albert, writing that she saw many Indians on the Prairies who were much more handsome and attractive than the ones she had seen in the Maritimes.

However, her return to Cavendish was a great relief to her.

Her time in Prince Albert was unhappy, for she did not get along with her stepmother.

According to Montgomery, her father’s marriage was not a happy one.

Prince Albert Saskatchewan in fall 01.JPG
Above: modern Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

In 1893, she attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown to obtain a teacher’s license.

Holland College Prince Edward Island.jpg
Above: Prince of Wales College, now Holland College, Charlottetown

Montgomery loved Prince Edward Island.

Flag of Prince Edward Island
Above: Flag of Prince Edward Island

During solitary walks through the peaceful island countryside, Montgomery started to experience what she called “the flash” – a moment of tranquility and clarity when she felt an emotional ecstasy, and was inspired by the awareness of a higher spiritual power running through nature.

Above: Landscape of PEI

Montgomery’s accounts of this “flash” were later given to character Emily Byrd Starr in the “Emily of New Moon” trilogy, and also served as the basis for her descriptions of Anne Shirley’s sense of emotional communion with nature. 

Emily of New Moon Children's continuous series : 1 Emily Novels: Montgomery, L. M.: Books

In 1905, Montgomery wrote in her journal that:

“Amid the commonplaces of life, I was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty.

Between it and me hung only a thin veil.

I could never quite draw it aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I seemed to catch a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond–only a glimpse–but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.”

A deeply spiritual woman, Montgomery found the moments when she experienced “the flash” some of the most beautiful, moving and intense of her life.

The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery - Wikipedia

She completed the two-year teaching program in Charlottetown in one year.

Subsequently, in 1895 and 1896, she studied literature at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Dalhousie University Seal.svg
Above: Logo of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Upon leaving Dalhousie, Montgomery worked as a teacher in various Prince Edward Island schools.

Though she did not enjoy teaching, it afforded her time to write.

Beginning in 1897, her short stories were published in magazines and newspapers.

A prolific writer, Montgomery published over 100 stories between 1897 and 1907.

The Paris Review - The Strange Note at Lucy Maud Montgomery's Bedside

During her teaching years, Montgomery had numerous love interests.

As a highly fashionable young woman, she enjoyed “slim, good looks” and won the attention of several young men.

In 1889, at 14, Montgomery began a relationship with a Cavendish boy named Nate Lockhart.

To Montgomery, the relationship was merely a humorous and witty friendship.

It ended abruptly when Montgomery refused his marriage proposal.

Lucy Maud Montgomery – Wikipedia
Above: young LM Montgomery

The early 1890s brought unwelcome advances from John A. Mustard and Will Pritchard.

Mustard, her teacher, quickly became her suitor.

He tried to impress her with his knowledge of religious matters.

His best topics of conversation were his thoughts on predestination and “other dry points of theology“, which held little appeal for Montgomery.

During the period when Mustard’s interest became more pronounced, Montgomery found a new interest in Will Pritchard, the brother of her friend Laura Pritchard.

This friendship was more amiable, but, again, he felt more for Montgomery than she did for him.

When Pritchard sought to take their friendship further, Montgomery resisted.

Montgomery refused both marriage proposals:

The former was too narrow-minded and the latter was merely a good chum.

She ended the period of flirtation when she moved to Prince Edward Island.

However, she and Pritchard did continue to correspond for over six years, until Pritchard died of influenza in 1897.

Das faszinierende, herzzerreißende Leben von "Anne of Green Gables" Autor

In 1897, Montgomery received a proposal from Edwin Simpson, who was a student in French River near Cavendish.

Montgomery wrote that she accepted his proposal out of a desire for “love and protection“, and because she felt her prospects were rather poor.

Montgomery came to dislike Simpson, whom she regarded as intolerably self-centred and vain to the extent of feeling nauseated in his presence.

View of French River, PEI. | Lugares maravilhosos, Lugares para visitar,  Destinos
Above: French River, PEI

While teaching in Lower Bedeque, she had a brief but passionate affair with Herman Leard, a member of the family with which she boarded.

Reading to Know: Visiting Lower Bedeque Schoolhouse
Above: Lower Bedeque schoolhouse

School museum where L.M. Montgomery taught forced to close its doors | CBC  News
Above: Lower Bedeque Schoolhouse Museum

Of the men she loved, it was Leard she loved the most, writing in her diary:

Hermann suddenly bent his head and his lips touched my face.

I cannot tell what possessed me – I seemed swayed by a power utterly beyond my control – I turned my head – our lips met in one long passionate pressure – a kiss of fire and rapture such I had never experienced or imagined.

Ed’s kisses at the best left me cold as ice – Hermann’s sent flame through every fibre of my being.”

On 8 April 1898, Montgomery wrote she had to stay faithful towards Simpson as “for the sake of my self respect I must not stoop to any sort of an affair with another man” which was followed by:

If I had – or rather if I could have – kept this resolve I would have saved myself incalculable suffering.

For it was but a few days later that I found myself face to face with the burning consciousness that I loved Herman Leard with a wild, passionate, unreasoning love that dominated my entire being and possessed me like a flame – a love I could neither quell nor control – a love that in its intensity seemed little short of absolute madness.



Photos, Journals, Scrapbooks, and the Past | Lucy maud montgomery, Angel  books, Montgomery

In Victorian Canada, premarital sex was rare for women (although it was common for unmarried men seeking sex to visit brothels), and Montgomery had been brought up in strict Presbyterian household where she had been taught that all who sinned in “fornication” were among the “damned” who burned in Hell forever, a message she had taken to heart.

Despite this upbringing, Montgomery often invited Leard into her bedroom when everybody else was out, and though she refused to have sex with him as she wanted to be a virgin bride, she and Leard engaged in kissing and “preliminary lovemaking.”

Montgomery called Leard in her diary only “a very nice, attractive young animal!“, albeit one with “magnetic blue eyes” as she wrote in another entry.

Following objections from her family and friends that Leard was not “good enough” for her, Montgomery broke off her relationship with him.

He died shortly afterwards of the flu.

Lucy Maud Montgomery connection celebrated in Leard home restoration | CBC  News
Above: Photo of Herman Leard

In 1898, after much unhappiness and disillusionment, Montgomery broke off her engagement to Simpson.

Montgomery no longer sought romantic love.

Montgomery was greatly upset when she learned of Leard’s death in June 1899, writing in her diary:

“It is easier to think him as dead, mine, all mine in death, as he could never be in life, mine when no other women could ever lie on his heart or kiss his lips.”

L.M. Montgomery's Letters to Scotland: Reading Between the Lines | Journal  of L.M. Montgomery Studies

In 1898, Montgomery moved back to Cavendish to live with her widowed grandmother.

Site of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish Home
Above: LMM House, Cavendish, PEI

For a nine-month period between 1901 and 1902, she worked in Halifax as a substitute proofreader for the newspapers Morning Chronicle and The Daily Echo.

Clockwise from top: Downtown Halifax skyline, Crystal Crescent Beach, Central Library, Sullivan's Pond, Peggy's Cove, Macdonald Bridge
Above: Images of modern Halifax

Montgomery was inspired to write her first books during this time on Prince Edward Island.

Until her grandmother’s death in March 1911, Montgomery stayed in Cavendish to take care of her.

This coincided with a period of considerable income from her publications.

Although she enjoyed this income, she was aware that “marriage was a necessary choice for women in Canada.”

Site of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish Home
Above: LMM House, Cavendish

In 1908, Montgomery published her first book, Anne of Green Gables. 

An immediate success, it established Montgomery’s career, and she would write and publish material (including numerous sequels to Anne) continuously for the rest of her life. 

Anne of Green Gables was published in June 1908 and by November 1909, the book had already gone through six printings.

The Canadian press made much of Montgomery’s roots in Prince Edward Island, which was portrayed as a charming part of Canada where the people retained old-fashioned values and everything moved at a much slower pace.

The American press suggested that all of Canada was backward and slow, arguing that a book like Anne of Green Gables was only possible in a rustic country like Canada, where the people were nowhere near as advanced as the United States.

Typical of the American coverage of Montgomery was a 1911 newspaper article in Boston, which asserted:

“Recently a new and exceedingly brilliant star arose on the literacy horizon in the person of a previously unknown writer of ‘heart interest’ stories, Miss Lucy M. Montgomery, and presently the astronomers located her in the latitude of Prince Edward Island.

No one would ever imagined that such a remote and unassertive speck on the map would ever produce such a writer whose first three books should one and all be included in the ‘six best sellers.’

But it was on this unemotional island that Anne of Green Gables was born.

This story was the work of a modest young school teacher, who was doubtless as surprised as any of her neighbors when she found her sweetly simple tale of childish joys and sorrows of a diminutive red-haired girl had made the literary hit of the season with the American public.

Miss Montgomery, who is entirely unspoiled by her unexpected stroke of fame and fortune, made her first visit to Boston last winter and was lionized to quite an extent, her pleasing personality making a decidedly favourable impression on all who met her.

It was all very nice and novel, but the young lady confided to her friends that she would be more than glad to get back to her quiet and uneventful country life and she would far prefer it as a regular thing even to a residence in Boston.

One of the most delightful of her Boston experiences was a lunch that was given her by a local publishing house that issues her books, a thoroughly Bostonian idea as well as a most creditable one.

Britain possesses as a cherished literacy shrine, the Isle of Man, but on this side of the ocean we have our Isle St. Jean, where, in good old summer time, as Anne Shirley found it on the day of her arrival, the gulf-cooled air is ‘sweet with the breath of many apple orchards’ and the meadows slope away in the romantic distance to ‘horizon mist of pearl and purple.'”

In contrast to this publisher’s ideal image of her, Montgomery stated in a letter to a friend:

“I am frankly in literature to make a living out of it.”

Brick rowhouses along Acorn Street
Above: Beacon Hill, Boston

Furthermore, the British scholar Faye Hammill noted that in the books Anne is a tall girl and Montgomery was 37 at the time, which hardly made for a “young school teacher.”

Hammill also noted the author of the piece chose to present Montgomery as the idealised female author, who was most happy in a domestic/rural environment, and who disliked fame and celebrity, which was seen at the time as conflicting with femininity. 

In emphasizing Montgomery’s modesty and desire to remain anonymous, the author was portraying Montgomery as the ideal woman writer, who wanted to preserve her femininity by not embarking on a professional career, with writing only as a part-time job at best. 

At the same time, Hammill noted the author was using the anachronistic French name for Prince Edward Island, to add to his picture of a romantic, mist-shrouded fantasy island, where the old ways of life continued “unspoiled“, as just Montgomery herself was portrayed as an “unspoiled” woman.

Canadian Literature (Buch (kartoniert)), Faye Hammill

Shortly after her grandmother’s death in 1911, she married Ewen (spelled in her notes and letters as “Ewan“) Macdonald (1870–1943), a Presbyterian minister, and they moved to Ontario where he had taken the position of minister of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Leaskdale in present-day Uxbridge Township, also affiliated with the congregation in nearby Zephyr.

Montgomery wrote her next eleven books from the Leaskdale Manse that she complained had neither a bathroom nor a toilet.

The structure was subsequently sold by the congregation and is now the Lucy Maud Montgomery Leaskdale Manse Museum.

Above: Leaskdale Manse

The Reverend Macdonald was not especially intelligent, nor was he interested in literature as Montgomery was.

Montgomery wrote in her diary:

“I would not want him for a lover but I hope at first that I might find a friend in him.”

File:Ewan macdonald 1900.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Above: Ewen Macdonald

After their marriage, Montgomery took her honeymoon in England and Scotland, the latter being a particular point of interest to her, as Scotland was for her the “Old Country” — the romantic land of castles, rugged mountains, shining glens, lakes and waterfalls that was her ancestral homeland.

Flag of Scotland.svg
Above: Flag of Scotland

By contrast, the Reverend Macdonald’s parents had come to Canada after being evicted in the Highland Clearances, and he had no desire to visit the “Old Country“, most notably having to be dragged by his wife to the Isle of Skye, the home of the Clan MacDonald, where the Macdonalds had once reigned as the Lords of the Isles. 

The MacDonalds had been Gaelic-speaking Highlanders while the Montgomerys and Macneils had been English-speaking Lowlanders, which might explain the differing attitudes held by the couple to Scotland, as Montgomery was more proud of her Scottish heritage than her husband.

MacDonald of the Isles tartan (Vestiarium Scoticum).png
Above: Tartan of the Clan Macdonald

Furthermore, Montgomery had read the works of Scottish writers like Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott, whereas her husband did not read literature at all, forcing his wife to explain to him who Burns and Scott were.

Portrait of Robert Burns by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787, Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Above: Robbie Burns (1759 – 1796)

Portrait of Sir Walter Scott and his deerhound, "Bran" in 1830 by John Watson Gordon
Above: Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)

In England, Montgomery visited places associated with her favourite writers: going to the Lake District made famous by William Wordsworth, to William Shakespeare’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon, and to the Haworth House in the Yorkshire Moors where the Brontës (Anne, Charlotte, Emily and Branwell) had lived.

Keswick Panorama - Oct 2009.jpg
Above: Keswick, the Lake District

Wordsworth on Helvellyn by Benjamin Robert Haydon.jpg
Above: William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

Above: John Shakespeare’s house, believed to be William Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratofrd-upon-Avon

Above: William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

Above: Brontë Parsonage, Haworth

Above: Anne (1820 – 1849), Emily (1818 – 1848) and Charlotte Brontë (1816 – 1855) by their brother Branwell. He painted himself among his sisters, but later removed his image so as not to clutter the picture. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Branwell Brontë, self-portrait, 1840
Above: Self-portrait, Branwell Brontë (1817 – 1848)

The Macdonalds had three sons.

The second was stillborn.

Montgomery believed it was her duty as a woman to make her marriage work, though she quipped to a reporter during a visit to Scotland that:

“Those women whom God wanted to destroy He would make into the wives of ministers.”

The great increase of Montgomery’s writings in Leaskdale is the result of her need to escape the hardships of real life.

The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 2: 1910-1921 by L.M.  Montgomery

In 1909 – 1910, Montgomery drew upon her Scottish Canadian heritage and her memories of her teenage years to write her 1911 novel The Story Girl

Montgomery’s youth had been spent among a Scottish Canadian family where Scottish tales, myths and legends had often been recounted, and Montgomery used this background to create the character of 14-year old Sara Stanley, a skilled storyteller, who was merely an “idealized” version of her adolescent self. 

The character of Peter Craig in The Story Girl very much resembles Herman Leard, the great love of Montgomery’s life, the man she wished she had married, but did not, right down to having blonde curly hair just as Leard did. 

As with her relationship with Leard, the other characters object to the lower-class Craig as he is not “good enough” for her, but unlike her real-life relationship with Leard, which was broken off because he was not “good enough“, Felicity King chooses Peter Craig.

The Story Girl (The Story Girl, #1) by L.M. Montgomery

During the First World War, Montgomery, horrified by reports of the “Rape of Belgium” in 1914, was an intense supporter of the war effort, seeing the war as a crusade to save civilization, regularly writing articles urging men to volunteer for the Canadian Expeditionary Force and for people on the home front to buy victory bonds.

Above: Ruins of Louvain Library, 1914

Above; The ruins of Louvain, 1915

Montgomery wrote in her diary on 12 September 1914 about the reports of the “Rape of Belgium“:

But oh, there have been such hideous stories in the papers lately of their cutting off the hands of little children in Belgium.

Can they be true?

They have committed terrible outrages and crimes, that is too surely true, but I hope desperately that these stories of the mutilation of children are false.

They harrow my soul.

I walk the floor in my agony over them.

I cry myself to sleep about them and wake again in the darkness to cringe with the horror of it.

If it were Chester!

In Leaskdale, like everywhere else in Canada, recruiting meetings were held where ministers, such as the Reverend MacDonald, would speak of Kaiser Wilhelm II as the personification of evil, described the “Rape of Belgium” in graphic detail, and asked for young men to step up to volunteer to fight for Canada, the British Empire, and for justice, in what was described at the time as a crusade against evil.

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany - 1902.jpg
Above: Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859 – 1941)

In a 1915 essay appealing for volunteers, Montgomery wrote:

“I am not one of those who believe that this war will put an end to war.

War is horrible, but there are things that are more horrible still, just as there are fates worse than death.”

Above: Images of World War I (1914 – 1918)

Montgomery argued prior to the war that Canada had been slipping into atheism, materialism and “moral decay” and the War had brought about a welcome revival of Christianity, patriotism and moral strength as the Canadian people faced the challenge of the greatest war yet fought in history.

Montgomery ended her essay by stating that women on the home front were playing a crucial role in the war effort, which led her to ask for women’s suffrage.

The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery's Reflections on The First World  War (2014) | L. M. Montgomery Institute

On 7 October 1915, Montgomery gave birth to her third child and was thrown into depression when she discovered she could not produce breast milk to feed her son, who was given cow’s milk instead, which was a health risk in the days before pasteurization.

Montgomery identified very strongly with the Allied cause, leading her on 10 March 1916 to write in her diary:

“All my misery seemed to centre around Verdun where the snow was no longer white.

I seemed in my own soul to embrace all the anguish and strain of France.” 

In the same diary entry, Montgomery wrote of a strange experience:

“A great calm seemed to descend upon me and envelop me.

I was at peace.

The conviction seized upon me that Verdun was safe-that the Germans would not pass the grim barrier of desperate France.

I was as a woman from whom some evil spirit had been driven-or can it be as a priestess of old, who out of depths of agony wins some strange foresight of the future?” 

The Battle of Vimy Ridge.jpg
Above: The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 9 – 12 April 1917

Montgomery celebrated every Allied victory at her house, for instance running up the Russian flag when she heard that the Russians had captured the supposedly impregnable Ottoman city-fortress of Trebizond in April 1916.

Flag of Russia
Above: Flag of Russia

Every Allied defeat depressed her.

When she heard of the fall of Kut-al-Amara (7 December 1915 – 29 April 1916), she wrote in her diary on 1 May 1916:

“Kut-el-Amara has been compelled to surrender at last.

We have expected it for some time, but that did not prevent us from feeling very blue over it all.

It is an encouragement to the Germans and a blow to Britain’s prestige.

I feel too depressed tonight to do anything.”

Above: Siege of Kut-al-Amara by Ottoman forces, 1915

Much to Montgomery’s disgust, Ewen refused to preach about the War.

As it went on, Lucy wrote in her diary:

“It unsettles him and he cannot do his work properly.”

The Reverend Macdonald had developed doubts about the justice of the War as it went along, and had come to believe that by encouraging young men to enlist, he had sinned grievously.

Montgomery, a deeply religious woman, wrote in her diary:

“I believe in a God who is good, but not omnipotent.

I also believe in a principle of Evil, equal to God in power… darkness to His light.

I believe an infinite ceaseless struggle goes on between them.”

Biography – MONTGOMERY, LUCY MAUD (Macdonald) – Volume XVII (1941-1950) –  Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Above: Ewen Macdonald and Lucy Maud Montgomery

In a letter, Montgomery dismissed Kaiser Wilhelm II’s claim that God was on the side of Germany, stating that the power responsible for the death of “little Hugh” (her stillborn son) was the same power responsible for the “Rape of Belgium“, and for this reason she believed the Allies were destined to win the War.

Flag of German Reich
Above: Flag of Germany (1867 – 1918)

Montgomery had worked as a Sunday School teacher at her husband’s church, and many of the men from Uxbridge County who were killed or wounded in the war had once been her students, causing her much emotional distress. 

Uxbridge County lost 21 men in the Great War from 1915, when Canadian troops first saw action at the Second Battle of Ypres, until the War’s end in 1918.

Coat of arms of Uxbridge
Above: Uxbridge coat of arms

Montgomery’s biographer Mary Henley Rubio observed:

“Increasingly, the war was all that she thought of and wanted to talk about.

Her journals show she was absolutely consumed by it, wracked by it, tortured by it, obsessed by it — even addicted to it.”

Montgomery was sometimes annoyed if her husband did not buy a daily newspaper from the corner store because she always wanted to read the latest war news.

Lucy Maud Montgomery by Mary Henley Rubio: 9780385667609 | Books

Montgomery underwent several periods of depression while trying to cope with the duties of motherhood and church life and with her husband’s attacks of religious melancholia (endogenous major depressive disorder) and deteriorating health:

“For a woman who had given the world so much joy, life was mostly an unhappy one.

Lucy Maud Montgomery - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

In 1918, Montgomery was stricken with and was almost killed by the “Spanish flu” pandemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people all over the world in 1918–1919, spending ten days bed-ridden with the Spanish flu.

Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, ill with Spanish flu at a hospital ward at Camp Funston
Above: Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, ill with Spanish flu at a hospital ward at Camp Funston

In her diary on 1 December 1918, Montgomery wrote after a visit to Toronto in November:

“Toronto was then beginning to be panic stricken over the outbreak of the terrible “Spanish flu.”

The drug counters were besieged with frantic people seeking remedies and safeguards”.

Montgomery wrote in her diary about being infected with Spanish flu:

“I was in bed for ten days.

I never felt so sick or weak in my life”, going on to express thanks to God and her friends for helping her survive the ordeal.

Above: Nurses tend to flu patients in temporary wards

Montgomery’s best friend Frederica Campbell MacFarlane was not so lucky and died after contracting the Spanish flu on 20 January 1919.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, Frede, Ewan and baby at dining table. Leaskdale, ON.:  University of Guelph Library Digital Collections
Above: Frederica, Lucy and Ewen

Montgomery was upset that her husband had been indifferent to her as she was dying of the Spanish flu, which drove her to think about divorce:

(Something very difficult to obtain in Canada until 1967.

Between 1873 and 1901, there were only 263 divorces out of a population of six million).

Ultimately, Montgomery decided it was her Christian duty to make her marriage work.

After the First World War, a recurring character in Montgomery’s journal that was to obsess her for the rest of her life was “the Piper“, who at first appeared as a heroic Highlander piper from Scotland, leading men into battle while playing traditional Highland tunes, but who turned out to be the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a trickster taking children away from their parents forever.

The figure of “the Piper” reflected Montgomery’s own disillusionment with World War One and her guilt at her ardent support for the war.

To inspire men to volunteer for the war, a piper had marched through the centre of Leaskdale daily for all four years of World War I, playing Highland war tunes, which had given Montgomery the inspiration of the figure of “the Piper“.

Behind Their Lines: The Piper

The Piper” first appears in the Anne books in Rainbow Valley (1919), inspiring the future grown children of Glen St. Mary with his courage. 

Rainbow Valley (Anne of Green Gables, #7) by L.M. Montgomery

In Rilla of Ingleside (1921), “the Piper” returns as a more sinister figure, inspiring Anne’s son Walter to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, while taking on the appearance and personality of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables, No. 8): Montgomery, L. M.:  9780553269222: Books

The Reverend Ewen MacDonald, a good Calvinist who believed in predestination, had become convinced that he was not one of “the Elect” chosen by God to go to Heaven, leading him to spend hours depressed and staring into space.

The Reverend MacDonald often told his wife that he wished she and their children had never been born as they were also not of “the Elect” and all of them were going to Hell when they died as he believed that they were all predestined to be among the “damned“.

MacDonald refused to assist with raising the children or the housework, and was given over to erratic, reckless driving as if he was deliberately trying to get himself killed in a car crash, as perhaps he was.

Montgomery herself was driven to depression by her husband’s conduct, often writing that she wished she had married somebody else.

Montgomery wrote in her diary that she could not stand looking at her husband’s face, when he had that “horrible imbecile expression on his face” as he starred blankly into space for hours.

Who is Lucy Maud Montgomery dating? Lucy Maud Montgomery boyfriend, husband

In February 1920, Montgomery wrote in her diary about having to deal with:

“A letter from some pathetic ten-year old in New York who implores me to send her my photo because she lies awake in her bed wondering what I look like.

Well, if she had a picture of me in my old dress, wresting with the furniture this morning, “cussing” the ashes and clinkers, she would die of disillusionment.

However, I shall send her a reprint of my last photo in which I sat in rapt inspiration – apparently – at my desk, with pen in my hand, in gown of lace and silk with hair so – Amen.

A quite passable woman, of no kin whatever to the dusty, ash-covered Cinderella of the furnace-cellar.” Cinderella ansehen | Prime Video

For much of her life, writing was her one great solace.

In 1920, Montgomery wrote in her diary a quotation from the South African writer Olive Schreiner’s book The Story of an African Farm which defined different types of love, including a “love without wisdom, sweet as life, bitter as death, lasting only a hour“, leading her to write:

“But it is worth having lived a whole life for that hour.”

Montgomery concluded:

My love for Hermann Leard, though so incomplete, is a memory which I would not barter for anything save the lives of my children and the return of Frede.” [Frederica Campbell MacFarlane, her best friend]

Montgomery believed her spells of depression and migraine headaches she suffered from were both expressions of her suppressed romantic passions and Leard’s ghost haunting her.

The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner

Starting in 1917, Montgomery was engaged in five bitter, costly, and burdensome lawsuits with Louis Coues Page, owner of the publishing house L.C. Page and Compnay, that continued until she finally won in 1928. 

Page had a well-deserved reputation as one of the most tyrannical figures in American publishing, a bully with a ferocious temper who signed his authors to exploitative contracts and liked to humiliate his subordinates, including his mild-mannered younger brother George, in public.

Above: Louis Coues Page (1869 – 1956)

Montgomery received 7 cents on the dollar on the sale of every one of the Anne books, instead of the 19 cents on the dollar that she was entitled to, which led her to switch publishers in 1917 when she finally discovered that Page was cheating her. 

When Montgomery left the firm of L.C. Page & Company, Page demanded she sign over the American rights to Anne’s House of Dreams.

When she refused he cut off the royalties from the earlier Anne books.

Even though he did not own the US rights to Anne’s House of Dreams, Page sold those rights to the disreputable publishing house of Grosset & Dunlap, as a way of creating more pressure on Montgomery to capitulate.

Instead, Montgomery sued Grosset & Dunlap.

Page was counting on the fact that he was a millionaire and Montgomery was not, and that the prospect of having to spend thousands in legal fees would force her to give in.

Much to his surprise, she did not.

Montgomery hired a lawyer in Boston and sued Page in the Massachusetts Court of Equity for illegally withholding royalties due her and for selling the US rights to Anne’s House of Dreams, which he did not possess.

Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

In 1920, the house where Montgomery grew up in Cavendish was torn down by her uncle, who complained that too many tourists were coming on to the property to see the house that inspired the house in which Anne was depicted as growing up.

Montgomery was very sentimental about that house, and the news of its destruction caused her great pain.

The foundation of L.M. Montgomery's home - Picture of L.M. Montgomery's  Cavendish National Historic Site of Canada, Cavendish - Tripadvisor

Between May and July 1920, Montgomery was in Boston to attend court sessions with Page, who taunted her by telling her the Anne books were still selling well, making him millions.

Downtown Boston from the Boston Harbor
Above: Modern Boston

In 1920, Montgomery was infuriated with the 1919 film version of Anne of Green Gables for changing Anne from a Canadian to an American, writing in her diary:

“It was a pretty little play well photographed, but I think if I hadn’t already known it was from my book, that I would never have recognized it.

The landscape and folks were ‘New England’, never PEI.

A skunk and an American flag were introduced – both equally unknown on PEI.

I could have shrieked with rage over the latter.

Such crass, blatant Yankeeism!”

Flag of the United States

Reporting on the film’s premiere in Los Angeles, one American journalist described Anne of Green Gables as written by a “Mr. Montgomery“, who is only mentioned in passing two-thirds into the article with the major focus being on the film’s star Mary Miles Minter, who was presented as the true embodiment of Anne.

Montgomery disapproved of Minter’s performance, writing she portrayed “a sweet, sugary heroine utterly unlike my gingerly Anne” and complained about a scene in the film where Anne used a shotgun to threaten people with, writing that her Anne would never do such a thing.

Anne of Green Gables (1919 film).jpg

Montgomery had no say in either the 1919 or 1934 versions of Anne of Green Gables as the publisher, L.C. Page had acquired the film rights to the story in 1908, and as such, all of the royalties paid by Hollywood for both versions of Anne of Green Gables went to him, not Montgomery.

Anne of Green.jpg

Montgomery stopped writing about Anne in about 1920, writing in her journal that she had tired of the character.

By February 1921, Montgomery estimated that she had made about $100,000 from the sales of the Anne books while declaring in her diary:

“It’s a pity it doesn’t buy happiness.”

She preferred instead to create books about other young, female characters, feeling that her strength was writing about characters who were either very young or very old.

1921 US Morgan Silver Dollar Philadelphia About Uncirculated |

Other series written by Montgomery include the “Emily” and “Pat” books, which, while successful, did not reach the same level of public acceptance as the “Anne” volumes. MISTRESS PAT (Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories Book 6) eBook:  Montgomery, Lucy Maud: Kindle Store

She also wrote a number of stand-alone novels, which were also generally successful, if not as successful as her Anne books.

A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery

On 20 August 1921, Montgomery started writing what became the novel Emily of New Moon, as she planned to replace Anne with Emily as the star of new series of novels.

The character Emily was partly autobiographical, as Emily’s dream was to be a writer when she grew up. 

Unlike Anne, who does not have clear goals about what she wants to be when she grows up, Emily Starr knows she wants to be a writer, a characteristic she shared with Montgomery.

One aspect that Emily, Anne and Montgomery all shared was “the flash“—the mystical power that Montgomery called in Emily of New Moon “the wonderful moment when the soul seemed to cast aside the bonds of the flesh and spring upward towards the stars“, allowing the soul to see “behind the veil” to a transcendent beauty.

Emily of New Moon Children's continuous series : 1 Emily Novels: Montgomery, L. M.: Books

In 1925, a Massachusetts court ruled in favour of Montgomery against her publisher, Louis Coues Page, as the judge found that he had systemically cheated her out of the profits from the Anne books since 1908.

Page used every conceivable excuse to avoid paying Montgomery what he owed her and, after his brother George died of a heart attack in 1927, accused Montgomery of causing his brother’s death by suing him for her rightful shares of the royalties.

In fact, Louis Page was not close to George, who had just left the firm of L.C. Page & Company to get away from his abrasive and arrogant brother before he died of a heart attack, aged 52.

In October 1928, Montgomery finally won while Page, a sore loser to the end, continued to insist in public that she had caused the death of his brother, which he used as a reason why he should not have to pay Montgomery anything.

Page, who was a notorious bully, waged a campaign of harassment against Montgomery, sending her telegrams accusing her of causing his brother’s death and the subsequent mental breakdown of his widow by defeating him in court, asking her if she was pleased with what she had allegedly done.

Page’s behavior badly damaged his business, as no author chose to publish with a publisher who had revealed himself to be both dishonest and vindictive, and after the 1920s Page’s publishing house largely depended upon reissuing older books rather than issuing new books as authors took their business elsewhere.

On 7 November 1928, Montgomery received a cheque for the $15,000 US dollars that auditors had established Page had cheated her out of.

Chronicles of Avonlea | L. M. MONTGOMERY, Lucy Maud

In terms of sales, both in her lifetime and since, Montgomery was the most successful Canadian author of all time, but because her books were seen as children’s books and as women’s books, she was often dismissed by the critics, who saw Montgomery as merely a writer for schoolgirls, and not as a serious writer.

In 1924, the Maple Leaf magazine asked its readers to nominate the 14 greatest living Canadians, and all of the winners were men.

Montgomery only made the runners-up list to the 14 greatest Canadians, coming in at #16.

However, Montgomery did make it onto another list of the 12 greatest living Canadian women. 

Hammill argued that Montgomery was successful at managing her fame, but the media’s fixation on presenting her as the idealised woman writer, together with her desire to hide her unhappy home life with her husband, meant that her creation Anne, whose “life” was more “knowable” and easier to relate to, overshadowed her both in her lifetime and after.

Lucy Maud Montgomery & Anne of Green Gables - Owlcation - Education

In 1925, Ewen MacDonald became estranged from his flock when he opposed his church joining the United Church of Canada, and was involved in an incident when he nearly ran over a Methodist minister who was promoting the union.

Montgomery as the minister’s wife had been a prominent member of the Leaskdale community and had been a much loved figure who organized community events.

Rubio wrote the people of Leaskdale “liked” the Reverend MacDonald, but “loved” Montgomery.

At the same time, she complained in her diary her husband had a “medieval mind” when it came to women as to him:

A woman is a thing of no importance intellectually — the plaything and servant of man — and couldn’t possibly do anything that would be worthy of a real tribute.”

In 1926, the family moved into the Norval Presbyterian Charge, in present-day Halton Hills, Ontario, where today the Lucy Maud Montgomery Memorial Garden can be seen from Highway 7.

Ontario manse where L.M. Montgomery lived to become museum | CBC News

In 1934, Montgomery’s extremely depressed husband signed himself into a sanatorium in Guelph.

After his release, the drug store gave Montgomery a “blue pill” intended to treat her husband’s depression that was accidentally laced with insecticide (a mistake on the part of the drug store clerk) that almost killed him.

The Reverend Macdonald became notably paranoid after this incident, as his mental health continued to deteriorate.

Red pill and blue pill - Wikipedia

In 1933, Montgomery published Pat of Silver Bush, which reflected a move towards more “adult” stories for young people.

Unlike Anne with her sense of optimism and vibrancy, Pat is a “queer” moody girl who is noted for being a “loner“. 

Pat’s best friend, Elizabeth “Bets” Wilcox, dies of the Spanish flu, giving the book a darker tone than Montgomery’s previous books.

In a letter to a fan in 1934 who complained about the dark mood of Pat of Silver Bush, Montgomery replied:

“I gave Anne my imagination and Emily Starr my knack for scribbling, but the girl who is more myself than any other is ‘Pat of Silver Bush’.

Not externally, but spiritually she is I“.

Pat of Silver Bush (Pat of Silver Bush, #1) by L.M. Montgomery

Pat’s deep attachment to the countryside of Prince Edward Island, especially her family farm, Silver Bush, mirrored Montgomery’s own attachment to the countryside of her home province, and the farm that she grew up on.

Above: Green Gables, PEI

In 1935, upon her husband’s retirement, Montgomery moved to Swansea, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, buying a house which she named Journey’s End, situated on Riverside Drive along the east bank of the Humber River.

The tragic final days of Lucy Maud Montgomery - Spacing Toronto
Above: Journey’s End, Swansea

Montgomery continued to write, and (in addition to writing other material) returned to writing about Anne after a 15-year hiatus, filling in previously unexplored gaps in the chronology she had developed for the character. The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery: Volume IV: 1929-1935  (9780195423044): Montgomery, Lucy Maud, Rubio, Mary, Waterston, Elizabeth:  Books

She published Anne of Windy Poplars in 1936 and Anne of Ingleside in 1939.

Anne of Windy Poplars - Kindle edition by Maud Montgomery, Lucy . Children  Kindle eBooks @

Anne of Ingleside (Anne Shirley Series #6) - Kindle edition by Montgomery, Lucy  Maud. Romance Kindle eBooks @

Jane of Lantern Hill, a non-Anne novel, was also composed around this time and published in 1937. Jane of Lantern Hill (9780770423148): L. M. Montgomery: Books

On 3 June 1935, King George V named Montgomery to the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and on 8 September 1935 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, the ceremony of investiture giving her an OBE was held with the Governor-General, Lord Bessborough, conducting the ceremony.

Above: Sir Vere Brabazon Ponsonby (1880 – 1956), 9th Earl of Bessborough, Governor-General of Canada from 1931 to 1935

Ottawa - Rideau Hall.JPG
Above: Rideau Hall, Ottawa

As a member of the Order of the British Empire, Montgomery was given a special medal, which could only be worn in public in the presence of the King or one of his representatives like the Governor-General.

CBE AEAColl.jpg

Her husband did not attend the ceremony, but Montgomery was by all accounts greatly honoured to be appointed an OBE.

George V is pale-eyed, grey-bearded, of slim build and wearing a uniform and medals
Above: King George V (1865 – 1936)

Writing kept up Montgomery’s spirits as she battled depression while taking various pills to improve her mood, but in public she presented a happy, smiling face, giving speeches to various professional groups all over Canada.


At the Toronto Book Fair, held on 9 November 1936 to promote Canadian literature, Montgomery met the pseudo-Ojibwe author and environmentalist Grey Owl.

During her speech to the assembled authors, Montgomery spoke of hearing an “owl’s laughter” in Leaskdale, causing Grey Owl to jump up and interrupt her, saying:

“You are the first white person I have ever met who has heard an owl’s laughter.

I thought nobody but Indians ever heard it.

We hear it often because we are a silent race.

My full name is Laughing Grey Owl.”

Eastern Barn Owl (Tyto javanica stertens), Raigad, Maharashtra.jpg

Grey Owl’s remark made the front page of The Toronto Mail and Empire newspaper the next day.

Montgomery described Grey Owl in her diary:

“Grey Owl was looking quite the Indian of romance, with his long black braids of hair, his feather headdress and a genuine scalping knife — at least he told us it was genuine.”

Montgomery liked Grey Owl’s speech the same evening stating Canada’s “greatest asset is her forest lands” saying that most Canadians were too proud of “skyscrapers on Yonge Street” rather than the “natural resources we are destroying as fast as we can“.

After Grey Owl’s death in 1938, and the revelation that the supposed Ojibwe was actually the Englishman Archie Belaney, Montgomery stated that though Belaney lied about being an Ojibwe his concern for the environment, nature, and animals were real, and for this reason Grey Owl’s message was worth cherishing.

A black-and-white photo of Grey Owl looking sideways
Above: Archie Bellany (aka Laughing Grey Owl) (1888 – 1938)

On 10 November 1937, Montgomery gave a speech in Toronto at another annual gathering of the Toronto Book Fair calling for Canadian writers to write more stories about Canada, arguing Canadians had great stories worth writing.

Despite her efforts to raise the profile of Canadian literature through the Canadian Author’s Association, the male avant garde of Canadian literature, led by Frederick Philip Grove, F.R. Scott, Morley Callaghan and Raymond Knister, complained about the mostly female membership of the CAA, whom they felt had overly glorified someone like Montgomery who was not a “serious” writer.

Black and white photo of Grove seated at a desk, looking down and writing.
Above: Frederick Philip Grove (1879 – 1948)

What would F.R. Scott say? - Michael's Essay | CBC Radio
Above: F.R. (Francis Reginald) Scott (1899 – 1985)

Morley Callaghan - Ontario Heritage Trust
Above: Morley Callaghan (1903 – 1990)

D.M.R. Bentley | The Canadian Encyclopedia
Above: Raymond Knister (1899 – 1932)

Canadian Authors Association | Canadian Authors Association

Over time, Montgomery became addicted to bromides and barbiturates that the doctors had given her to help treat her depression.

Montgomery was greatly upset by World War II, calling the war in a 1940 letter:

This nightmare that has been loosed on the world… unfair that we should have to go through it again.

In her only diary entry for 1941, Montgomery wrote on 8 July 1941:

Oh God, such an end to life.

Such suffering and wretchedness.”

On 28 December 1941, Montgomery wrote to a friend:

This past year has been one of constant blows to me.

My oldest son has made a mess of his life and his wife has left him.

My husband’s nerves are even worse than mine.

I have kept the nature of his attacks from you for over 20 years but they have broken me at last.

I could not go out to select a book for you this year.

Pardon me. I could not even write this if I had not been a hypodermic.

The war situation kills me along with many other things.

I expect conscription will come in and they will take my second son and then I will give up all effort to recover because I shall have nothing to live for.

The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery: 1935 - 1942:  Montgomery, L. M., Rubio, Mary, Waterston, Elizabeth: Fremdsprachige Bücher

In 1940, the Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King introduced conscription under the National Resources Mobilization Act, but with the caveat that conscripts could only be used in the defence of North America, and only volunteers would be sent overseas.

Mackenzie King scheduled a referendum for 27 April 1942, to ask the voters to release him from his promise to only send volunteers overseas, which Montgomery alluded to in her letter mentioning “conscription will come in.”

Above: William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874 – 1950)

In her last entry in her diary on 23 March 1942, Montgomery wrote:

Since then my life has been hell, hell, hell.

My mind is gone – everything in the world I lived for has gone – the world has gone mad.

I shall be driven to end my life.

Oh God, forgive me.

Nobody dreams of what my awful position is.”

In the last year of her life, Montgomery completed what she intended to be a ninth book featuring Anne, titled The Blythes Are Quoted.

It included fifteen short stories (many of which were previously published) that she revised to include Anne and her family as mainly peripheral characters; forty-one poems (most of which were previously published) that she attributed to Anne and to her son Walter, who died as a soldier in the Great War; and vignettes featuring the Blythe family members discussing the poems.

The book was delivered to Montgomery’s publisher on the day of her death, but for reasons unexplained, the publisher declined to issue the book at the time.

Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre speculates that the book’s dark tone and anti-war message (Anne speaks very bitterly of WWI in one passage) may have made the volume unsuitable to publish in the midst of the Second World War.

An abridged version of this book, which shortened and reorganized the stories and omitted all the vignettes and all but one of the poems, was published as a collection of short stories called The Road to Yesterday in 1974, more than 30 years after the original work had been submitted.

The Blythes are Quoted by L.M. Montgomery – Consumed by Ink

A complete edition of The Blythes Are Quoted, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre, was finally published in its entirety by Viking Canada in October 2009, more than 67 years after it was composed.

The Blythes Are Quoted - Kindle edition by Montgomery, L. M., Benjamin  Lefebvre. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @

On 24 April 1942, Montgomery was found dead in her bed in her Toronto home.

The primary cause of death recorded on her death certificate was coronary thrombosis.

However, in September 2008, her granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler, revealed that Montgomery suffered from depression — possibly as a result of caring for her mentally ill husband for decades — and may have taken her own life through a drug overdose.

A note was found on Montgomery’s bedside table which read, in part:

“I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells.

May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand.

My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it.

What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best. ”

An alternative explanation of this document is provided in Mary Henley Rubio’s 2008 biography Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, which suggests that Montgomery may have intended it as an entry in part of a journal now lost, rather than a suicide note.

Read the Plaque - Lucy Maud Montgomery

Montgomery was buried at the Cavendish Community Cemetery in Cavendish following her wake in the green Gable Gables farmhouse and funeral in the Cavendish United Church (formerly Cavendish Presbyterian Church).

During her lifetime, Montgomery had published twenty novels, over 500 short stories, an autobiography, and a book of poetry.

Aware of her fame, by 1920 Montgomery began editing and recopying her journals, presenting her life as she wanted it remembered.

In doing so, certain episodes were changed or omitted.

The End is Just a Transition | Legacy Hunting

Reading of Montgomery’s life as the train idles by the Georgetown station, I am struck by a number of thoughts: - Marcus W. Stevens Photo: VIA train 84 makes a station  stop at Georgetown' s shared VIA and GO station. | –  Canadian Railway Photography – photographie ferroviaire Canadienne.

Lucy should never have left PEI.

It was her home and she was happiest there.

Green Gables 02.jpg
Above: Green Gables, PEI

I comprehend the urge of many Canadian writers to live close to the publishing houses of Toronto, but I believe that only those who have known the Toronto area as their childhood abode truly feel that the region is “Home“.

Above: Toronto

As for me, Landschlacht, despite the presence of wife and library, has never truly felt like home.

Above: Landschlacht

I have felt more at home in the winter I visited Dawson City in the Yukon than I ever felt in either Lachute or Landschlacht, for there is something about a mighty river at the foot of majestic mountains that speaks to me more than the foothills of the Laurentians or the shores of Lake Constance.

Aerial view of Dawson City and the Yukon River
Above: Dawson City

(As for Eskisehir, I live here now, but, like Switzerland, I hope not to retire and die in Turkey, despite all the positive things I could say about both nations.)

Above: Ottoman Quarter, Eskisehir

Lucy, like many people still do, married not so much for passion, as for fear of not finding love, protection and respect.

I married for love, but whether this afforded my wife protection and respect is something only she can say.

Certainly, my wife could have chosen more wisely than me, but then again perhaps she could have done a lot worse.

A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex and the Mind by  Siri Hustvedt – review | Siri Hustvedt | The Guardian

I look at the marriage of Lucy and Ewen and I find myself asking how responsible are we as spouses to one another.

Too often it seems we place so much of our happiness in the hands of another and wonder why the other is unable or unwilling to do as we desire.

Where the water gets murky is when an sense of obligation denies us the freedom to choose.

Lucy was more concerned with the appearance of happiness than the courage to seek its possibilities beyond respectability.


Lucy’s need to write is a thirst I fully understand and certainly it would please me to no end to be able to make a living from what I write, but the very evidence of my blogs, wherein I use the writing of others to supplement and fuel my thoughts, is proof that the need to produce words has always outweighed my drive to produce profits from my “pen“.

Red Barber Quote: “Writing is easy. Just sit down and open a vein.”

The sense of isolation that Lucy felt both as a child abandoned by her parents (mother dead, father fled) and as an adult in a world that demands we feel joy in joyless adherence to codes of behaviour we never made nor were never consulted in their creation is a feeling with which I can identify with.

As a toddler, I too had a mother who died and a father who chose to place my care in the hands of others, in my case, the Province of Québec.

Flag of Quebec
Above: Flag of Québec

My first decade of life saw me shunted from foster home to foster home wherein each reminded me that my primary purpose was to be the income the Province provided for my care if I remained unadopted.

My family name is that of my parents not of my guardians.

That sense of isolation was magnified as a ward of an Anglophone woman who hated and was hated by her Francophone neighbours in a Francophone province where Anglos represented centuries of inequality.

Above: Battle of the Plains of Abraham, 13 September 1759

And I have since carried that sense of isolation as a foreigner in foreign lands, as a stranger in strange lands.

It is that isolation that creates a blindness in recognizing love even when one is wrapped within in.

And no Heraclean labour can cleanse the filth of failure one feels at not fully feeling loved.

It is only in realizing that the flaw is for the isolated one to self-diagnose and self-correct, in realizing that no one can heal a heart from the outside, only then can recovery begin.

Perhaps it is only in isolation can this realization be achieved.

I think I understand Lucy’s moral dilemma with war.

Lucy understood, for example with her publisher Louis Page, that the only way to defeat a bully is to stand up to him, and certainly it seems that (at least from the victors’ perspective) that the Kaiser of World War I and the Führer of World War II were both bullies bent on conquest.

War should never be something that is sought, though it should be prepared for, but rather it should be avoided and postponed and reluctantly entered into, as the death and destruction that war wields are horrific.

The image of the Piper, deliberately similiar to that of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, is truly fitting, for how many young men have sacrificed their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their futures, to the clarion call of combat, on a kind of Children’s Crusade?

And then there is Anne Shirley.

Anne of Green Gables museum actor (cropped).jpg

Anne Shirley was born in the fictional town of Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia to school teachers Walter and Bertha Shirley (née Willis).

No specific birthdate is given, but references in later works suggest her date of birth is 5 March 1865.

Anne was orphaned as an infant of three months, when her parents died of typhoid fever.

Without any other relations, Anne was taken in by the Shirleys’ housekeeper, Mrs. Thomas.

After the death of her husband, Mr. Thomas, Anne lived with the troubled Hammond family for some years and was treated as little more than a servant until Mr. Hammond died, whereupon Mrs. Hammond divided her children amongst relatives and Anne was sent to the orphanage at Hopetown.

She considered herself as “cursed” by twins — Mrs. Hammond had three sets of twins whom Anne helped raise.

Anne taking care of a child at Mrs. Hammond's. | Anne of green, Anne of green  gables, Green gables
Above: Anne with one of the twins

At the age of eleven, Anne was taken from the Hopetown orphanage to the neighbouring province of PEI, which she regarded as her true home ever after.

Unfortunately, she arrived by mistake — her sponsors, the siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, wanted to adopt a boy to help them on their farm, but the neighbour with whom they had sent the message was certain they had requested a girl instead.

Matthew quickly became fascinated by the girl’s good-hearted spirit, charming enthusiasm, and lively imagination, and wanted her to stay at Green Gables from the very first.

The Ultimate Guide to Anne of Green Gables Film Adaptations - Tea and Ink  Society
Above: Anne and Matthew

Marilla’s reaction was to send her back to the orphanage, but she was eventually won over by Anne’s quirky joie de vivre — and by the fact that another woman, much harder than herself, was set to take Anne should Marilla decline to keep her.

Life Lessons from Green Gables: Mellow Like Marilla Cuthbert
Above: Anne and Marilla

The American scholar Joseph Brennan noted that for Anne “all things are alive“, as she imagines trees by the roadside welcoming her to Green Gables while a leaning plum tree makes her think that it is offering a veil just for her.

Anne at one point says “Maples are such social things” and likes Lover’s Lane because “… you can think out loud there without people calling you crazy.

Anne has great powers of imagination, fed by books of poetry and romance, and a passion for “romantic” and beautiful names and places.

When she sees a road lined with apple trees in bloom, she falls silent for a moment before naming the road the “White Way of Delight“.

When spying a pond at the Barry homestead, she christens it the “Lake of Shining Waters.”

Anne had been starved of love at the orphanages she has lived at, and for her, Green Gables is the only home she has ever known.

Anne’s imaginative nature matches well with her passionate, warm side, full of bubbly optimism and enthusiasm.

Anne has an impulsive nature which leads her into all sorts of “scrapes“, and she alternates between being carried away with enthusiasm or being in the “depths of despair“.

Above: The portrait of model Evelyn Nesbit (1885 – 1967) by Rudolf Eickemeyer Jr. (1862 – 1932) which was the inspiration of Anne for Montgomery

One scholar Elizabeth Watson has observed a recurring theme, noting Anne’s observations of sunsets mirror her own development.

Under the White Way of Delight, Anne watches the sun set which is to her a glory where “a painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle“. 

By the end of the novel, when Anne watches the sun set, it set across a backdrop of “flowers of quiet happiness“, as Anne is slowly falling in love with Gilbert.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES : THE SEQUEL - Sullivan Entertainment
Above: Gilbert and Anne

Anne initially made a poor impression on the townsfolk of Avonlea with an outburst at the Cuthberts’ neighbour, the outspoken gossip Mrs. Rachel Lynde, but this was amended by an equally impassioned apology.

Rachel Lynde
Above: Mrs. Rachel Lynde

Anne soon became ‘bosom friends‘ with a girl from a neighbouring farm, Diana Barry.

Together with Matthew, Diana is Anne’s “kindred spirit“.

Image result for diana barry anne of green gables | Anne of green gables, Green  gables, Diana barry
Above: Anne and Diana

The friendship was disrupted by the temporary enmity of Diana’s mother, after Anne mistakenly made Diana drunk with Marilla’s homemade currant wine, mistaking it for raspberry cordial.

I'm Diana From Anne of Green Gables and I am Fucking Drunk - McSweeney's  Internet Tendency
Above: Diana and the currant wine

Anne was soon restored to Mrs. Barry’s good graces by saving the life of Diana’s little sister, Minnie May.

Minnie May had an attack of the croup, which Anne was able to cure with a bottle of ipecac and knowledge acquired while caring for the numerous Hammond twins.

Minnie May Barry | Cena de filme, Green gables, Anne de green gables
Above: Minnie May

Throughout her childhood, Anne continued to find herself in similar “scrapes“, often through mistakes and misunderstandings, and no fault of her own.

8 beauty lessons from 'Anne of Green Gables' | Revelist
Above: Anne’s hair to dye for

At one point Anne “admires to the point of nuttiness” an amethyst brooch, which she is falsely accused of stealing, a crime she has to confess to in order to attend a picnic.

YARN | Have you seen my amethyst brooch? | Anne of Green Gables (1985) -  S01E01 Part 1 | Video clips by quotes | 22739ad4 | 紗
Above: “Have you seen my amethyst brooch?

Anne tends to define herself in opposition to older people via humour, and forges a relationship with Marilla Cuthbert via humour. 

Revealing Secrets About Anne Of Green Gables
Above: Marilla

The dreamy and imaginative Anne asks that Marilla call her “Cordelia” and “Geraldine” as Anne likes to imagine herself as somebody that she is not.

Anne also formed a complex relationship with Gilbert Blythe, who was two years older than Anne but studying at her level, having had his schooling interrupted when his father became ill.

On their first meeting as schoolmates, Gilbert teased Anne with the nickname “Carrots“.

Jonathan Crombie, Gilbert Blythe, and the "Perfect Man Archetype" | Quill  and Quire

Above: Anne and Gilbert

Anne, perceiving it as a personal insult due to sensitivity over her hair colour, became so angry that she broke her slate over his head.

Gazebo TV- Anne of Green Gables: Slate Scene - YouTube
Above: Slate meets head

When her teacher punished her by making her stand in front of the class, and then later punishes her for tardiness by making her sit with “the boys“, specifically Gilbert Blythe, Anne forms a long-lasting hatred of Gilbert Blythe.

Anne tells Diana that “Gilbert Blythe has hurt me excruciatingly“. 

Throughout Anne of Green Gables, Gilbert repeatedly displays admiration for Anne, but she coldly rebuffs him.

25 Times Gilbert Blythe From "Anne Of Green Gables" Melted Your Heart
Above: Anne rebuffs Gilbert

Her grudge persisted even after he saved her from a near-disastrous reenactment of Tennyson’s “Lancelot and Elaine” when her leaky boat sank into the pond.

620 Mad about Anne.....and LMM ideas | anne of green gables, green gables,  anne
Above: Anne’s reenactment

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson by George Frederic Watts.jpg
Above: Alfred Tennyson (1809 – 1892)

After this almost fatal accident, Gilbert pleaded with Anne to become his friend but she refused, although she soon came to regret it.

Anne of Green Gables: Gilbert Rescues Anne - YouTube
Above: Anne is rescued by Gilbert

For the rest of their school years in Avonlea, they competed as intellectual rivals for the top of the class, although the competition was entirely good-natured on Gilbert’s side.

However, Anne forms the “Story Club” at the age of 13, which she tells the story of two girls named Cordelia and Geraldine (both of which were aliases she had adopted earlier) who both love Bertram – a variant of Gilbert.

The story ends with Cordelia pushing Geraldine into a river to drown with Bertram, which suggests subconsciously Anne is attracted to Gilbert. 

Near the end, Anne and Gilbert walk together to Green Gables, where Gilbert only jokingly says:

You’ve thwarted destiny long enough.

What is "Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story?”
Above: Gilbert and Anne

At the end of Anne of Green Gables<