Canada Slim and the Winnipeg Jets

Eskisehir, Turkey, Monday 17 May 2021

The 17-day full lockdown ended at 0500 this morning as the nation of Turkey returns to the less restrictive overnight and weekend curfews in practice before 29 April.

The Interior Ministry hails this as a gradual return to normal, as shopping malls have reopened, though some businesses remain closed, including gyms and cafés, restaurants can only offer takeaway menus, and adult education schools must continue remote learning.

Nearly half a million teachers and school staffers will be vaccinated against Covid-19, the country’s Education Ministry has said, but this seems to apply only to teachers and staffers whose schools are actually permitted to open.

COVID-19 lockdown pays off, gradual reopening next for Turkey | Daily Sabah

If the Turkish media can be believed, the number of vaccines Turkey has administered since the inoculation drive began on 14 January has neared 26 million doses, making Turkey one of the top vaccinating nations.

We are told that nearly 15 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine while another 10.8 million people have been given both doses.

Turkey imposed the full lockdown after the number of daily Covid-19 cases climbed to above 60,000 and deaths from the outbreak reached record highs.

We are told that in the wake of the lockdown that the number of daily infections declined sharply, easing to below 20,000 on 8 May, hovering around 11,000 since 13 May.

But isn’t 11,000 a day still too high to warrant a cessation of the lockdown?

The logic escapes me.

Illustration of a SARS-CoV-2 virion

More perplexing is the attitude to intercity travel post-lockdown.

People will be able to travel by bus, plane or train between Turkey’s 81 provinces during the curfews, but special permission will be required for intercity travel on private vehicles during the curfews.

I am no medical expert, but isn´t the likelihood of contagion greater in a bus, plane or train rather than in a car?

Turkey weighing gradual reopening after lockdown - Turkey News

Despite the illogic of this policy, people who are returning to big cities are rushing to bus companies to buy tickets now that the lockdown has ended.

The lockdown triggered an exodus from Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, whose residents left those cities for resort towns or their hometowns to spend the days under tight restrictions and the Eid al-Fitr holiday with their relatives or in less crowded places along the country’s coastlines.

My Turkish teacher Nefise went to her hometown, while I went to a less crowded Canukkale.

Residents leaving the big cities before the lockdown began caused huge traffic jams on highways, particularly in Istanbul, home to around 16 million people.

Now it is time for millions of people to hit the roads again to return.

There is, apparently, a huge demand for bus tickets and almost all coach buses are full.

Occupancy rates on buses is already at 80% and no tickets are available to Istanbul for the next three days.

To date, Covid-19 has infected more than 5.1 million and killed over 44,500 people in Turkey.

There is no real reassurance that the numbers won’t climb back up again or that there won’t be another full lockdown should this occur.

Flag of Turkey

My tourist visa expires in 14 days time and it looks like Wall Street will continue until 1 June with remote learning.

The urge to travel, to escape, is strong….

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Monday 15 February 2021

Tropical weather, sandy beaches and turquoise waters await you.

Locals welcome visitors with dazzling grins and a chance to peek into their unqiue Melanesian cultures.

Vanuatu is a Pacific island adventure far beyond any notions of cruise ship ports and flashy resorts.

Location of Vanuatu

Deserted beaches, ancient culture, remote and rugged islands and world-class diving are just a small part of the magnetism of this scattered 80+ island archipelago.

Where else can you hike up a crater to stare down into a magma-filled active volcano then ashboard back down, snorkel in a blue hole and drink kava with the local village chief – all in the same day?

It takes a little time, some effort and a healthy sense of adventure to truly explore Vanuatu’s islands, but those who have swear it is worth every bit of it.

Vanuatu is not on the average traveller’s destination wish list, except perhaps for those with a love for scuba diving, as divers have discovered the underwater treasures of this South Pacific archipelago a long time ago.

However, even if you don’t plan on touching this country’s bright blue waters, it’s a colourful mix of traditional Melanesian culture, friendly people, beautiful tropical beaches, active volcanoes, and all the modern day facilities you’ll need to have a great time.

The many islands rimmed with perfect sandy beaches offer lovely Pacific views.

The Bank Islands boast great beaches combined with rugged terrain.

On the largest of the Banks Islands, Gaua, you’ll find the Siri Waterfall, which gets its water from the country’s biggest crater lake: Lake Letas.

Head to the island of Tanna to see Mount Yasur, the world’s most accessible active volcano.

A tourist favourite, Tanna is also home to waterfalls and men in penis sheaths and grass skirts.

If you get the chance, stay to witness one of their ancient festivals or rituals.

Efate is the place where most visitors begin their encounter with Vanuatu and home to the country’s friendly little capital, Port Vila.

It strives to bring the best of the archipelago together and is the go-to place for fine wining and dining.

Other places well worth visiting include Aoba Island (known for the crater lakes on top of the large volcano that defines the islands) and Pentecost (the spiritual birthplace of bungee jumping).

Meet Vanuatu's land divers, who inspired bungee jumping | CNN Travel

Last but not least, the active volcanoes, lava lakes and local villagers’ artwork are a good reason to stay in one of the traditional style bungalows on Ambrym.

The traditional dish which you will most likely be offered once during your stay is a root vegetable cake called lap lap.

Essentially this is either manioc (cassava), sweet potato, taro or yam shaved into the middle of a banana leaf with island cabbage and sometimes a chicken wing on top.

This is all wrapped up into a flat package and then cooked in hot stones underground till it all melts together into a cake.

Tuluk is a variation of lap lap with the cake rolled into a cylinder with meat in the middle.

It tastes a lot like a sausage roll. 

Vanuatu’s meat is renowned in the Melanesian region.

At the airports, you will see signs reminding you to pack the 25 kg of meat permitted to other nearby island nations.

The reason the meat tastes so good is that the livestock are naturally reared, with no feedlots or other mass production methods used in some Western countries.

This results in a steak that is very good indeed.

Vanuatu beef is one of the best in the world Photo- | |

As you may expect from an island nation, seafood is a common option and the quality is generally excellent.

Reef fish are commonly found in restaurants, along with many varieties of prawns, lobster and the delectable coconut crab.

The coconut crab is only found in parts of the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and has been declining in numbers so rapidly that it is now a protected species in most areas.

There is a minimum legal size requirement in Vanuatu of four centimetres, but the creature can grow to over 8 cm in length with a leg span of up to 90 cm.

The crab gets its name as it climbs palms to cut down and eat coconuts.

Nothing to do with the flavour.

Kava is a local drink, made from the roots of the plant Piper methysticum, a type of pepper.

Kava is intoxicating, but not like alcohol.

Its effects are sedative.

Some travellers have experienced a hangover from its consumption.

Kava is consumed in private homes and in local venues called Nakamal.

Nakamal - Wikipedia

Some of the resorts also offer kava on occasion for visitors to try.

Kava is served in a “shell” or small bowl.

Drink the whole shell-ful down steadily, then spit.

It’s handy to have a soft drink on hand to rinse with afterwards, as the taste of kava is strong and not very pleasant.

It is worth noting that the kava available in Vanuatu is generally a much stronger variety than the kava found in other Pacific islands such as Fiji, where it is comparatively mild.

A Local's Guide to Drinking Vanuatu Kava

Four or five large shells in a typical kava bar will leave the inexperienced drinker reeling (or worse) after a couple of hours, and it can take a day to recover.

Good advice to experience kava as pleasantly as possible is to go with an experienced drinker and follow their lead, take the small shells, and stop after an hour and a half.

It’s quite easy to find a local kava drinking buddy, just ask around your hotel and you’ll find volunteers, maybe at the cost of a shell or two.

Kava bars (or Nakamals) are normally dark places with very dim or no lighting at all.

This is because bright lights and kava intoxication do not go together well:

So be careful with flash photography, which may not be received very well in such venues.

Experience Kava Tasting in Vanuatu's Nakamals

Vanuatu is, on the whole, a safe and friendly environment.

You are unlikely to encounter any trouble unless you do something extremely provocative, though crime rates are said to be increasing, particularly in Port Vila at night.

Take the same precautions you would anywhere else.

There are no seriously poisonous snakes, spiders, or insects on Vanuatu.

However, there are various poisonous aquatic animals that you should beware of if you are swimming, snorkeling, or diving in the area.

The most dangerous of these is the stonefish.

Saltwater crocodiles are present, but the likelihood of an attack is minimal.

Throughout Vanuatu, and especially outside of Port Vila in the villages, life is strongly influenced by “kastom“, a set of traditional customs and taboos that apply to all kinds of matters.

Be aware of this, and respect locals’ requests with regard to “kastom“.

When visiting villages, women should dress modestly, wearing clothes that cover the shoulders and knees.

Pin by Anne Perrott on Colour my world | Vanuatu, West papua, South pacific

Christian religion is very strong.

It seems common to invite and welcome visitors to attend local church services on a Sunday.

Revealing and sexy clothing (especially wearing beachwear in the capital) is not advisable, as over 100 years of missionary work has had its effect on the perception of what is considered as respectable attire in the islands.

Regardless, it’s considered disrespectful to the local people and can be interpreted by some indigenous inhabitants as an invitation for sex.

As Vanuatu is not a ‘fashion conscious’ place no-one will notice or care if you were wearing the latest from ‘the Paris Collection‘ or not.

Vanuatu women rugby 7s team firm on challenge in Suva today | Sports |

You are best off bringing a practical tropical wardrobe, such as light cotton summer clothes that are easy to hand wash, a ‘sloppy joe‘ pullover and a lightweight waterproof wind jacket.

If planning to go to the outer islands, bring a good flashlight (with spare batteries, you will use them), lightweight, walking shoes, sandals or good thongs (flip flops or crocs) for wet weather and old clothes.

When exploring the outer islands take all the older clothes you can carry, wear them and give them away to the islanders when you are finished wearing them.

You and your children will be aptly rewarded in other ways.

Instead of dumping your worn clothes in a charity collection bin at your local shopping centre, your children will interact with the very people who would be the recipients of those clothes.

(Most Vanuatu people buy these second-hand clothes from shops in Port Vila).

200 Vanuatu ideas | port vila, vanuatu, oceana

Sharing and giving is a natural course of daily life in Vanuatu.

The T-shirt you give to one person will be worn by all his friends as well.

Three T-shirts on top of each other will be their winter outfit.

You will provide them things that are hard for them to obtain, save them the expense of buying clothes (basic wages are quite low in Vanuatu) and you will depart with priceless memories, plus have more in your luggage for purchased local arts and crafts.

Pandanus Vanuatu Ltd | South Pacific Vlog

In Vanuatu, the display of anger, displeasure or irritability at a person or situation will reduce the recipient to a stony silence with a lack of co-operation or empathy to your point of view.

Please be patient as it is a waste of time complaining. It will have no bearing on the outcome.

And if you are verbally abusive, you will generate one of three responses: smiling, subdued laughter, or a fist in your face.

Amazing facts about Vanuatu

Don’t ask a question with the answer built into it.

Locals will always agree in order not to contradict you.

Is this the road to X?” will generate a Yes.

Try “Where is the road to X..?“, and you might get a different answer.

Vanuatu Sign With Arrow On Road Background Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty  Free Image. Image 62123539.

Direct eye contact or raised voice level contact may be interpreted as intimidation.

A local person’s voice level combined with body language may be directly opposite to Europeans.

He or she may nod agreement with everything you say in order not to offend you, but may not have understood a word you have said.

The Happy People of Vanuatu – Vanuatu images

If you’re in a bus and people on the footpath are turning their backs to you, don’t be offended:

They’re simply letting the driver know that they don’t require him to stop.

There are few bus stops in Vanuatu, and those that exist don’t get much use.

95 Oceania ideas | micronesia, federated states of micronesia, south pacific

If you see men or women holding hands, it’s not what you may think.

Men hold hands with other men, or women with women, because there is no sexual connotation attached to it.

However, you will very rarely see a man holding a woman’s hand in public because this would be considered as a public exhibition of sexual relations.

People on Vanuatu's Malekula Island speak more than 30 Indigenous  languages. Here's why we must record them

The Island of Tanna is 40 kilometres (25 miles) long and 19 kilometres (12 miles) wide, with a total area of 550 square kilometres (212 square miles).

Its highest point is the 1,084-metre (3,556-foot) summit of Mount Tukosmera in the south of the island.

Siwi Lake was located in the east, northeast of the peak, close to the coast until mid-April 2000 when following unusually heavy rain, the lake burst down the valley into Sulphur Bay, destroying the village with no loss of life. 

Mount Yasur is an accessible active volcano which is located on the southeast coast.

It is the most populous island in Tafea Province, with a population of about 29,000, and one of the most populous islands in the country. 

Isangel,the provincial administrative capital, is on the west coast near the island’s largest town of Lénakel.

Tanna is populated almost entirely by Melanesians and they follow a more traditional lifestyle than many other islands.

Some of the higher altitude villages are known as kastom villages, where modern inventions are restricted, the inhabitants wear penis sheaths (nambas) and grass skirts, and the children do not go to public schools.

According to anthropologist Joel Bonnemaison, author of “The Tree and the Canoe: the history and ethnography of Tanna“, their resistance to change is due to their traditional worldview and how they “perceive, internalise, and account for the dual concepts of space and time.”

The Tree and the Canoe: History and Ethnogeography of Tanna (South Sea  Book): Penot-Demetry, Josee, Bonnemaison, Joel, Penot-Demetry, Josee:  9780824815257: Books

The island is the centre of the John Frum religious movement, which attracts tourist interest as a cargo cult.

cargo cult is a millenarian belief system in which adherents perform rituals which they believe will cause a more technologically advanced society to deliver goods.

These cults were first described in Melanesia in the wake of contact with allied military forces during the Second World War.

Isolated and pre-industrial island cultures that were lacking technology found soldiers and supplies arriving in large numbers, often by airdrop.

The soldiers would trade with the islanders.

After the war, the soldiers departed.

Cargo cults arose, attempting to imitate the behaviors of the soldiers, thinking that this would cause the soldiers and their cargo to return.

Some cult behaviors involved mimicking the day-to-day activities and dress styles of soldiers, such as performing parade ground drills with wooden or salvaged rifles.

Die zwiespältigen Cargo-Kulte – Schule Social Media

The first John Frum appeared at night as a spirit at a place called Green Point and told the people to return to their traditional way of life, or kastom.

From that time kastom on Tanna has been seen as an alternative to the modernity encouraged by many missionary denominations. 

John Frum is often depicted as an American WWII serviceman who will bring wealth and prosperity to the people if they follow him.

Quoting David Attenborough’s report of an encounter: 

‘E look like you. ‘E got white face. ‘E tall man. ‘E live ‘long South America.

Weston Library Opening by John Cairns 20.3.15-139 (cropped).jpg
Above> David Attenborough

The religion centering on John Frum arose in the late 1930s, when Vanuatu was known as the New Hebrides, although there was a claim in 1949 that it had started in the 1910s.

The movement was influenced by existing religious practice in the Sulphur Bay area of Tanna, particularly the worship of Keraperamun, a god associated with Mount Tukosmera.

Mount Yasur in Tanna, Vanuatu | Stayed in a very basic hut f… | Flickr

In some versions of the story, a native man named Manehivi, using the alias “John Frum“, began appearing among the native people of Tanna dressed in a Western-style coat, assuring the people he would bring them houses, clothes, food, and transport.

Others contend that John Frum was a kava-induced spirit vision.

Said to be a manifestation of Keraperamun, this John Frum promised the dawn of a new age in which all white people, including missionaries, would depart the New Hebrides, leaving behind their goods and property for the native Melanesians.

For this to happen, however, the people of Tanna had to reject all aspects of European society including money, Western education, Christianity and work on copra plantations, and they had to return to traditional kastom.

In 1941, followers of John Frum rid themselves of their money in a frenzy of spending, left the missionary churches, schools, villages and plantations, and moved inland to participate in traditional feasts, dances and rituals.

European colonial authorities sought to suppress the movement, at one point arresting a Tannese man calling himself John Frum, humiliating him publicly, imprisoning and ultimately exiling him along with other leaders of the cult to another island in the archipelago.

Despite this effort, the movement gained popularity in the early 1940s after 50,000 American troops were stationed in the New Hebrides during World War II, bringing with them an enormous amount of supplies (or “cargo”).

During the war, approximately 10,000 Vanuatu men served in the Vanuatu Labor Corps, a labour battalion of the United States Armed Forces.

They provided logistical support to the Allied war effort during the Guadalcanal Campaign.

Flag of the United States

Marines rest in the field on Guadalcanal.jpg

The mass participation of Vanuatu men in the Labor Corps had a significant effect on the John Frum movement, giving it the characteristics of a cargo cult.

After the War and the departure of the Americans, followers of John Frum built symbolic landing strips to encourage American airplanes to land and bring them “cargo“.

Versions of the cult emphasizing the American connection interpret “John Frum” as a corruption of “John from America” (although it could mean John “from anywhere” i.e. not of Vanuatan origin).

In 1957, a leader of the John Frum movement, Nakomaha, created the “Tanna Army“, a non-violent ritualistic society that organised military-style parades of men with faces painted in ritual colours and wearing white T-shirts with the letters “T-A USA” (Tanna Army USA).

This parade takes place every year on 15 February, the date on which followers believe John Frum will return, and which is observed as “John Frum Day” in Vanuatu.

In the late 1970s, John Frum followers opposed the imminent creation of an independent united nation of Vanuatu.

They objected to a centralised government they feared would favour Western modernity and Christianity that would be detrimental to local customs.

However, the John Frum movement has its own political party, led by Song Keaspai.

The party celebrated its 50th anniversary on 15 February 2007.

Chief Isaak Wan Nikiau, its leader, was quoted by the BBC from years past as saying that John Frum was “our God, our Jesus” and would eventually return.

The Quest Continues- Chief Issak Wan Nikiau- by Brian - SV Delos
Above: Chief Isaak Wan Nikiau

In December 2011 it was reported that the “president” of the John Frum movement (and jointly of Nagriamel, a Vanuatu political party) was Thitam Goiset, a woman of Vietnamese origin and sister of businessman Dinh Van Than, despite the leadership of these movements having been “previously held by high ranking male chiefs“.

Thi Tam Goiset Spiritual Leader
Above: Thitam Goiset

In 2013, Thitam Goiset was sacked from her role as Vanuatu’s ambassador to Russia amid evidence of corrupt activities.

Flag of Vanuatu
Above: Flag of Vanuatu

Yaohnanen is the centre of the Prince Philip Movement, which reveres Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, (1921 – 2021) the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

The cult is examined by British writer Matthew Baylis in his 2013 book Man Belong Mrs Queen: Adventures with the Philip Worshippers.

According to ancient Yaohnanen tales, the son of a mountain spirit travelled over the seas to a distant land.

There, he married a powerful woman and in time would return to them.

He was sometimes said to be a brother to John Frum.

The people of the Yaohnanen and Takel area believe in the divinity of Prince Philip.

They had seen the respect accorded to Queen Elizabeth II by the colonial officials and concluded that her husband, Prince Philip, must be the son referred to in their legends.

It is unclear just when this belief came about, but it was probably some time in the 1950s or 1960s.

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

It was strengthened by the royal couple’s official visit to Vanuatu in 1974, when a few villagers had the opportunity to actually see Prince Philip from a distance.

The Prince was not then aware of the sect, but it was brought to his attention several years later by John Champion, the British Resident Commissioner in the New Hebrides.

Champion suggested that Prince Philip send them a portrait of himself.

He agreed and sent a signed official photograph.

photograph of Prince Philip in his seventy-first year
Above: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The villagers responded by sending him a traditional pig-killing club called a nal-nal.

In compliance with their request, the Prince sent a photograph of himself posing with the club.

Pacific tribe who worshipped Prince Philip as a 'god' prepare 'ritual  wailing and dances' to welcome Duke's 'spirit'

Another photograph was sent in 2000.

All three photographs were kept by Chief Jack Naiva, who died in 2009.

One's getting on a bit, dear: while the Queen and Prince Philip appear as  sprightly as ever, the same can't be said of Charles and Camilla | Daily  Mail Online
Above: Chief Jack Naiva

Princess Anne visited Tanna Island in October 2014.

She is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

She had visited Vanuatu in 1974, but had not previously travelled to Tanna. 

Anne speaking
Above: Princess Anne

Prince Charles visited the island in 2018.

A photograph of Prince Charles aged 67
Above: Prince Charles

On 27 September 2007, Channel 4 broadcast Meet the Natives, a reality show about five Tanna men from the Prince Philip Movement on a visit to Britain.

Their trip culminated in an off-screen audience with Philip, where gifts were exchanged, including a new photograph of the Prince.

Meet the Natives - All 4

The sect celebrated the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by holding a party, where they hoisted the Union Jack, danced, and ate pigs.

The villagers were initially unaware of the wedding, until a travel agent for the island, who was contacted by The Times, relayed the message.

Prince Harry and Meghan’s carriage procession through streets of Windsor 05.jpg
Above: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

In April 2021 the sect mourned Prince Philip’s death.

Village Chief Albi said that he was “terribly, terribly sorry” that he died and tribal leader Chief Yapa sent his condolences to the Royal Family and the people of the UK.

The Union Jack was flown at half mast on the grounds of the nakamal.

A formal mourning period was declared and many tribespeople gathered on 12 April in a ceremony to remember the Duke, where men took turns to speak and pay tribute to him.

For the next few weeks, villagers met periodically to conduct rites for him, who they see as a “recycled descendant of a very powerful spirit or god that lives on one of their mountains“.

They conducted ritualistic dance, held a procession, and displayed memorabilia of the Duke, while the men drank kava.

The period of mourning culminated with a “significant gathering” where a great deal of yams and kava plants were on display.

Numerous pigs were also killed for the ceremony.

Westminster - Houses of Parliament (geograph 6802738).jpg

Referring to the Queen, Chief Jack Malia said though the Duke is dead, they still have a connection with the ‘mother‘ of the Royal Family.

Many of the tribesmen believe that while his body lies at rest, the Duke’s soul will return to “its spiritual home, the island of Tanna“.


Kirk Huffman, an anthropologist familiar with the group, said that after their period of mourning the group would probably transfer their veneration to Prince Charles, who had visited Vanuatu in 2018 and met with some of the tribal leaders.

Kastom: Art of Vanuatu - ABC (none) - Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Above: Kirk Huffman

Telling this story of Vanuatu and its cargo cults is not my way of praising or ridiculing the beliefs of the Tanna people.

Nor is it any endorsement whatsoever of the notion of “the white man’s burden” to justify imperial conquest as a mission of bringing civilization to other lands.

Rather I mention the cargo cults of Tanna as an illustration of how each and everyone of us has a great impact upon others whether we are aware of it or not.

We simply don’t know how our actions (or inactions) will affect others.

Aboard the caravel Nina, near the Azores Islands, Wednesday 15 February 1493

Columbus’s letter on the first voyage is the first known document announcing the results of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus that set out in 1492 and reached the Americas.

Viajes de colon en.svg

The letter was ostensibly written by Columbus himself, on 15 February 1493, aboard the caravel Nina, while still at sea, on the return leg of his voyage.

A post-script was added upon his arrival in Lisbon on 4 March 1493, and it was probably from there that Columbus dispatched two copies of his letter to the Spanish court.

The letter was instrumental in spreading the news throughout Europe about Columbus’s voyage.

Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus.jpg
Above: Christopher Columbus (1451 – 1506)

Almost immediately after Columbus’s arrival in Spain, printed versions of the letter began to appear.

A Spanish version of the letter (presumably addressed to Luis de Santángel), was printed in Barcelona by early April 1493, and a Latin translation (addressed to Gabriel Sanchez) was published in Rome around a month later (May 1493).

Above: Statue of Luis de Santangel

The Latin version was swiftly disseminated and reprinted in many other locations — Basel, Paris, Antwerp, etc. — within the first year of his arrival.

In his letter, Christopher Columbus claimed to have discovered and taken possession of a series of islands on the edge of the Indian Ocean in Asia.

Columbus was not aware that he had stumbled upon a new continent.

He described the islands, particularly Hispanola and Cuba, exaggerating their size and wealth, and suggested that mainland China probably lay nearby.

Hispaniola (NASA World Wind).jpg
Above: Satellite image of Hispaniola

He also gave a brief description of the native Arawaks (whom he called “Indians“), emphasizing their docility and amenability, and the prospects of their conversion to Catholicism.

Above: Arowak village

However, the letter also revealed local rumors about a fierce man-eating tribe of “monsters” in the area (probably Caribs), although Columbus himself disbelieved the stories, and dismissed them as a myth.

Carib indian family by John Gabriel Stedman.jpg
Above: Carib family

The letter provides very few details of the oceanic voyage itself, and covers up the loss of the flagship of his fleet, the Santa Maria (agrounded 25 December 1492), by suggesting Columbus left it behind with some colonists, in a fort he erected at La Navidad in Hispaniola.

In the letter, Columbus urges the Catholic monarchs to sponsor a second, larger expedition to the Indies, promising to bring back immense riches.

The rapid dissemination of Columbus’s letter was enabled by the printing press, a new invention that had established itself only recently.

Above: Replica of the Santa Maria

Columbus’s letter (particularly the Latin edition) forged the initial public perception of the newly discovered lands.

Indeed, until the discovery of Columbus’s on-board journal, first published in the 19th century, this letter was the only known direct testimony by Columbus of his experiences on the first voyage of 1492.

It is estimated that, on the whole, between 1493 and 1500, some 3,000 copies of the Columbus letter were published, half of them in Italy, making it something of a best-seller for the times.

By contrast, Columbus’s 1495 letter of his second voyage and his 1505 letter of his fourth voyage had only one printing each, probably not exceeding 200 copies.

Original versions of Columbus’s letter, written by his hand, have never been found.

Only the printed editions—Spanish and Latin—are known.

However, a third version of the letter, contained in a 16th-century manuscript collection known as the Libro Copiador, was discovered in 1985.

This manuscript version differs in several significant ways from the printed editions and, although its authenticity is still tentative, many believe the Copiador version to be a closer rendition of Columbus’s original missive.

In the letter, Christopher Columbus does not describe the journey itself, saying only that he travelled 33 days and arrived at the islands of “the Indies” (las Indias), “all of which I took possession for our Highnesses, with proclaiming heralds and flying royal standards, and no one objecting“.

He describes the islands as being inhabited by “Indians” (Indios).

Above: Landing of Columbus

In his letter, Columbus describes how he sailed along the northern coast of Juana (Cuba) for a spell, searching for cities and rulers, but found only small villages “without any sort of government” (“no cosa de regimiento“).

He notes that the natives usually fled when approached.

Finding this track fruitless, he decided to double-back and head southeast, eventually sighting the large island of Hispaniola, and explored along its northern coast.

Columbus exaggerates the size of these lands, claiming Juana is greater in size than Great Britain (“maior que Inglaterra y Escocia juntas“) and Hispaniola larger than the Iberian peninsula (“en cierco tiene mas que la Espana toda“).

Above: Cuba

In his letter, Columbus seems to attempt to present the islands of the Indies as suitable for future colonization.

Columbus’s descriptions of the natural habitat in his letters emphasize the rivers, woodlands, pastures, and fields “very suitable for planting and cultivating, for raising all sorts of livestock herds and erecting towns and farms” (“gruesas para plantar y senbrar, para criar ganados de todas suertes, para hedificios de villas e lugares“).

He also proclaims that Hispaniola “abounds in many spices, and great mines of gold, and other metals” (“ay mucha especiarias y grandes minas de oros y otros metales“).

He compares lush and well-watered Hispaniola as more favorable to settlement than mountainous Cuba.

Above: Columbus landing on Hispaniola, 6 December 1492

Columbus characterizes the native inhabitants of the Indies islands as primitive, innocent, without reason (“like beasts“, “como bestias“), and unthreatening.

He describes how they go about largely naked, that they lack iron and weapons, and are by nature fearful and timid (“son asi temerosos sin remedio“), even “excessively cowardly” (“en demasiado grado cobardes“).

According to Columbus, when persuaded to interact, the natives are quite generous and naïve, willing to exchange significant amounts of valuable gold and cotton for useless glass trinkets, broken crockery, and even shoelace tips (“cabos de agugetas“).

In the printed editions (albeit not in the Copiador version) Columbus notes that he tried to prevent his own sailors from exploiting the Indians’ naïveté, and that he even gave away things of value, like cloth, to the natives as gifts, in order to make them well-disposed “so that they might be made Christians and incline full of love and service towards Our Highnesses and all the Castilian nation“.

Columbus makes particular note that the natives lack organized religion, not even idolatry (“no conocian ninguna seta nin idolatria“).

He claims the natives believed the Spaniards and their ships had “come down from heaven” (“que yo…venia del cielo“).

Columbus notes that the natives of different islands seem to all speak the same language (the Arawaks of the region all spoke Taino), which he conjectures will facilitate “conversion to the holy religion of Christ, to which in truth, as far as I can perceive, they are very ready and favorably inclined“.

Possibly worried that his characterization might make it appear that the natives are unsuitable for useful labour, Columbus notes that the Indians are “not slow or unskilled, but of excellent and acute understanding“.

He also notes that the “women appear to work more than the men“.

Columbus’s physical descriptions are brief, noting only that the natives have straight hair and “nor are they black like those in Guinea“.

They go around usually naked, although sometimes they wear a small cotton loincloth.

They often carry a hollow cane, which they use to both till and fight.

They eat their food “with many spices which are far too hot” (“comen con especias muchas y muy calientes en demasía“.

(In the Copiador version Columbus refers to a red hot chili pepper by its Taíno name, agís).

Madame Jeanette and other chillies.jpg

Columbus claims the Indians practice monogamy (“each man is content with only one wife“), “except for the rulers and kings” (who can have as many as twenty wives).

He confesses he is uncertain if they have a notion of private property (“Ni he podido entender si tenian bienes proprios“).

In a more detailed passage, Columbus describes the Indian oar-driven canoe (canoa, the first known written appearance of this word, originally from the Taino language).

Columbus compares the Indian canoe to the European fusta (small galley).

Towards the end of the letter, Columbus reveals that local Indians told him about the possible existence of cannibals, which he refers to as “monsters” (“monstruos“).

This is a probable reference to the Caribs from the Leeward Islands, although neither the word “cannibal” nor “Carib” appears in the printed editions (however, in the Copiador letter, he claims the “monsters” come from an island called “Caribo“, possibly Dominica).

Columbus says the monsters are reported to be long-haired, very ferocious, and “eat human flesh” (“los quales comen carne humana“).

Columbus has not seen them himself, but says that local Indians claim the monsters have many canoes, and that they sail from island to island, raiding everywhere.

However, Columbus proclaims disbelief in the existence of these “monsters“, or rather suggests this is likely just a local Indian myth pertaining to some distant Indian seafaring tribe who are probably not unlike themselves (“I regard them as of no more account than the others“, “yo no los tengo en nada mas que a los otros“).

Above: Carib warrior

Columbus connects the monsters story to another local legend about a tribe of female warriors, who are said to inhabit the island of “Matinino” east of Hispaniola (“first island of the Indies, closest to Spain“, possibly referring to Guadeloupe).

Columbus speculates that the aforesaid canoe-borne monsters are merely the “husbands” of these warrior women, who visit the island intermittently for mating.

The island of women reportedly abounds in copper, which the warrior-women forge into weapons and shields.

Lest his readers begin to get wary, Columbus rounds off with a more optimistic report, saying the local Indians of Hispaniola also told him about a very large island nearby which “abounds in countless gold” (“en esta ay oro sin cuenta“).

(He doesn’t give this gold island a name in the printed letters, but in the Copiador version, this island is identified and named as “Jamaica“.)

In the printed letters, Columbus claims to be bringing back some of the gold island’s “bald-headed” inhabitants with him.

Location of Jamaica

Earlier in the letter, Columbus had spoken also of the land of “Avan” (“Faba” in the Copiador letter), in the western parts of Juana, where men are said to be “born with tails” (“donde nacan la gente con cola“) — probably a reference to the Guanajatabey of western Cuba.

The Libro Copiador version of the letter contains more native names of islands than the printed editions.

For instance, in the Copiador letter, Columbus notes that island of “monsters” is called “Caribo“, and explains how the warrior-women of Matinino send away their male children to be raised there.

It also refers to an island called “Borinque” (Puerto Rico), unmentioned in the printed editions, that the natives report to lie between Hispaniola and Caribo.

The Copiador letter notes Juana is called “Cuba” by the natives (“aquéllos llaman de Cuba“).

He also gives more details about the gold island, saying it is “larger than Juana“, and lying on the other side of it, “which they call Jamaica”, where “all the people have no hair and there is gold without measure” (“que llaman Jamaica; adonde toda la gente della son si cabellos, en ésta ay oro sin medida“).

In the Copiador letter, Columbus suggests that he is bringing normal (full-haired) Indians back to Spain who have been to Jamaica, who will report more about it (rather than bringing the island’s own bald-headed inhabitants, as claimed in the printed letters).

Estatua de Agüeybaná II, El Bravo, en el Parque Monumento a Agüeybaná II, El Bravo, en Ponce, Puerto Rico (DSC02672C).jpg

Columbus also gives an account of some of his own activities in the letters.

In the letter, he notes that he ordered the erection of the Fort of La Navidad on the island of Hispaniola, leaving behind some Spanish colonists and traders.

Columbus reports he also left behind a caravel — evidently covering up the loss of his flagship, the Santa Maria.

He reports that La Navidad is located near reported gold mines, and is a well-placed entrepot for the commerce that will doubtlessly soon be opened with the Great Khan (“gran Can“) on the mainland.

He speaks of a local king near Navidad whom he befriended and treated him as a brother (“y grand amistad con el Rey de aquella tierra en tanto grado que se preciava de me lhamar e tener por hermano“)—almost certainly a reference to Guacanagarix, Cacique of Marién.

In the Copiador version (but not the printed editions), Columbus alludes to the treachery of “one from Palos” (“uno de Palos“), who made off with one of the ships, evidently a complaint about Martín Alonso Pinzón, the captain of the Pinta (although this portion of the Copiador manuscript is damaged and hard to read).

Above: Statue of Martin Alonso Pinzón (1441 – 1493)

The Copiador version also mentions other points of personal friction not contained in the printed editions, e.g. references to the ridicule Columbus suffered in the Spanish Court prior to his departure, his bowing to pressure to use large ships for ocean navigation, rather than the small caravels he preferred, which would have been more convenient for exploring.

Above: Columbus in the Spanish Court

At the end of his printed letter, Columbus promises that if the Catholic monarchs back his bid to return with a larger fleet, he will bring back a lot of gold, spices, cotton (repeatedly referenced in the letter), mastic gum, aloe, slaves, and possibly rhubarb and cinnamon (“of which I heard about here“).

Columbus ends the letter urging their majesties, the Church, and the people of Spain to give thanks to God for allowing him to find so many souls, hitherto lost, ready for conversion to Christianity and eternal salvation.

He also urges them to give thanks in advance for all the temporal goods found in abundance in the Indies that shall soon be made available to Castile and the rest of Christendom.

The Copiador version (but not the printed Spanish or Latin editions) also contains a somewhat bizarre detour into messianic fantasy, where Columbus suggests the monarchs should use the wealth of the Indies to finance a new crusade to conquer Jerusalem, Columbus himself offering to underwrite a large army of 10,000 cavalry and 100,000 infantry to that end.

Medieval illustration of a battle during the Second Crusade

In his summary of the on-board journal, Columbus’s son, Ferdinand Columbus (corroborated by Bartolomé de las Casas), reports that his father wrote two letters to the Catholic monarchs in the middle of a storm around the Azores on Tuesday 14 February, and sealed them in watertight casks, one thrown overboard, another tied to the stern, so that if the ships foundered, the letters would drift on their own to land.

It is nearly impossible to suppose the letters were dispatched in this manner.

The casks were probably fished back when the storm subsided, and the postscript confirms they were sent later.

Hernando Colón.jpg
Above: Ferdinand Columbus (1488 – 1539)

Fray Bartolomé de las Casas.jpg
Above: Bartolomé de las Casas (1484 – 1566)

(It is also unlikely Columbus initiated the long letter in the middle of the storm.

He surely had more urgent matters to attend to.

He probably wrote the main body of the letter in the calm period before the storm began on Saturday 12 February, and hurried to finish them when the storm hit.)

There is some uncertainty over whether Christopher Columbus sent the letters directly from Lisbon, after docking there on Saturday 4 March 1493, or held on to them until he reached Spain, dispatching the letters only after his arrival at Palos de la Frontera on Wednesday 15 March 1493.

Panoramic view of downtown Palos de la Frontera
Above: modern Palos de la Frontera, Spain

It is highly probable, albeit uncertain, that Columbus sent the letter from Lisbon to the Spanish court, probably by courier.

Columbus’s journal says that upon docking in Lisbon, Bartolomew Dias (on behalf of King John II of Portugal) demanded that Columbus deliver his report to him, which Columbus strenuously refused, saying his report was for the monarchs of Spain alone.

Columbus probably realized time was of the essence.

Bartolomeu Dias, South Africa House (cut).JPG
Above: Statue of Bartolomeu Dias (1450 – 1500)

It was common for royal and commercial agents to accost and interview returning sailors in the docks, so the Portuguese king would likely have the information he sought soon enough.

Once he determined the location of the islands discovered by Columbus, John II might initiate a legal offensive or dispatch his own ships, to claim them for Portugal.

So Columbus realized the Spanish court needed to be informed of the results of his voyage as soon as possible.

Had Columbus decided to wait until he reached Palos to dispatch his letter, it might have been received too late for the Spanish monarchs to react and forestall any Portuguese actions.

IOANNES QVARTVS PORTVGALIAE REX (Kunsthistorisches Museum).png
Above: John II of Portugal (1455 – 1495)

The earliest Spanish record of the news, reporting that Columbus “had arrived in Lisbon and found all that he went to seek“, is contained in a letter by Luis de la Cerda y de la Vega, Duke of Medinaceli, in Madrid, dated Sunday 19 March 1493.

It was possibly fear of the interception of the courier from Lisbon by Portuguese agents that prompted Columbus to introduce some disinformation in his letter.

Above: Lisbon, 1500

For instance, Columbus claims he wrote the letter on a caravel while he was around the Canary Islands (rather than the Azores) probably in order to conceal that he had been sailing in Portuguese territorial waters.

(The manuscript letter to the monarchs writes the location as “Mar de España“.)

In the letter, Columbus also locates the islands at 26°N, quite north of their actual location, probably trying to set them above the latitude line designated by the Treaty of Alcácovas of 1479 as the boundary of the exclusive dominions of the Portuguese crown.

(He fell a little short.

The treaty latitude was set at the Canary Islands latitude, approximately 27°50′, which cuts around the middle of the Florida peninsula.)

Above: Treaty of Alcacovas

He gives no details of his bearing, no mention of whether he sailed west, north or south, or whether the waters were shallow or deep.

Columbus’s letters “say much and reveal nothing“.

Moreover, he is unclear about the length of the trip, claiming it took “33 days“, which is roughly correct if measured from the Canaries, but it was 71 days since he left Spain itself.

Columbus’s letter leaves it ambiguous.

Finally, his emphatic statement that he formally “took possession” of the islands for the Catholic monarchs, and left men (and a ship) at La Navidad, may have been emphasized to forestall any Portuguese claim.

Above: The Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452 – 1516) and Queen Isabella I of Castille (1451 – 1504)

Columbus is both criticized for his alleged brutality and initiating the depopulation of the indigenous Americans, whether by disease or intentional genocide.

Some defend his alleged actions or say the worst of them are not based in fact.

As a result of both the protests and riots that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020, many public monuments of Christopher Columbus began to be removed.

Historians have criticized Columbus for initiating colonization and for abuse of natives.

Above: The remains of the pedestal base of the Columbus statue in the Baltimore inner harbor area. The statue was thrown into the harbor on 4 July 2020, as part of the George Floyd protests.

On St. Croix, Columbus’s friend Michele da Cuneo — according to his own account — kept an indigenous woman he captured, whom Columbus “gave to him“, then brutally raped her.

The punishment for an indigenous person failing to fill their hawk’s bell of gold dust every three months was cutting off the hands of those without tokens, letting them bleed to death.

Thousands of natives are thought to have committed suicide by poison to escape their persecution.

Above: Fort Frederik, Frederiksted, St. Croix

Columbus had an economic interest in the enslavement of the Hispaniola natives and for that reason was not eager to baptize them, which attracted criticism from some churchmen.

Consuelo Varela, a Spanish historian who has seen the report, states that “Columbus’s government was characterised by a form of tyranny.

Even those who loved him had to admit the atrocities that had taken place.”

Consuelo Varela Bueno - Wikidata
Above: Consuelo Varela

Some accounts of the alleged brutality of Columbus and his brothers may be part of the Black Legend, an alleged intentional defamation of Spain, while others challenge the genocide narrative.

Some historians have argued that, while brutal, Columbus was simply a product of his time, and being a figure of the 15th century, should not be judged by the morality of the 20th century.

Others openly defend colonization.

Above: Christopher Columbus

Spanish ambassador María Jesús Figa López-Palop claims:

Normally we melded with the cultures in America, we stayed there, we spread our language and culture and religion.”

María Jesús Figa López-Palop: "La Iglesia ha atravesado momentos más  difíciles que los actuales"
Above: María Jesús Figa López-Palop

Estimates for the pre-Columbian population of Hispaniola range from 250,000 and 2,000,000, with recent genetic analysis supporting smaller figures.

Some estimate that a third to half of the natives in Haiti (perhaps totaling 250,000–300,000) were dead within the first two years of Columbus’s governorship.

Contributors to depopulation included disease, warfare, and harsh enslavement.

Indirect evidence suggests that some serious illness may have arrived with the 1,500 colonists who accompanied Columbus’s second expedition in 1493.

Hispaniola | Geography, History, & Facts | Britannica

Above: Hispaniola

Charles C. Mann writes that:

It was as if the suffering these diseases had caused in Eurasia over the past millennia were concentrated into the span of decades.

Charles C. Mann | Penguin Random House

Forced labour in the mines caused about a third of the workers to die every six months.

Within three to six decades, the surviving Arawak population numbered only in the hundreds.

The indigenous population of the Americas overall is thought to have been reduced by about 90% in the century after Columbus’s arrival.

Within indigenous circles, Columbus is often viewed as a key agent of genocide.

1493 Buch von Charles C. Mann versandkostenfrei bei bestellen

Samuel Eliot Morison, a Harvard historian and author of a multivolume biography on Columbus, writes:

The cruel policy initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in complete genocide.”

Samuel Eliot Morison | Discography | Discogs
Above: Samuel Eliot Morison

According to Noble David Cook:

There were too few Spaniards to have killed the millions who were reported to have died in the first century after Old and New World contact.”


He instead estimates that the death toll was caused by smallpox, which may have only caused a pandemic after the arrival of Hernán Cortés (1485 – 1547) in 1519.

According to some estimates, smallpox had an 80% – 90% fatality rate in Native American populations.

The natives had no acquired immunity to these new diseases and suffered high fatalities.

There is also evidence that they had poor diets and were overworked.

Retrato de Hernán Cortés.jpg

Historian Andrés Reséndez, of the University of California (Davis), says the available evidence suggests “slavery has emerged as the major killer” of the indigenous populations of the Caribbean between 1492 and 1550, more so than diseases such as smallpox, influenza and malaria.

He says that indigenous populations did not experience a rebound like European populations did following the Black Death, because unlike the latter, the former were subjected to deadly forced labour in gold and silver mines on a massive scale.

The diseases that devastated the Native Americans came in multiple waves at different times, sometimes as much as centuries apart, which would mean that survivors of one disease may have been killed by others, preventing the population from recovering.

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America  (English Edition) eBook: Reséndez, Andrés:

Montréal, Québec, Canada, Friday 15 February 1839

On 11 January 1839, Francois de Lorimier (1803 – 1839) and three of his comrades (two of whom managed to escape before being executed; the other was Chevrier Bénard) appeared before the British Council of War.

Refused his request for a trial in a civilian court, de Lorimier apparently effectively defended himself and challenged the Crown’s evidence.

However, Jean-Baptiste-Henri Brien, one of his co-accused and terrified of the scaffold, signed a confession incriminating de Lorimier and others and the British authorities, having failed to seize the main leaders of the Rebellion of 1837, arguably pursued his death to make an example.

On 21 January, de Lorimier and his companions were found guilty of high treason and sentenced to be hanged which took place on 15 February 1839, together with Charles Hindelang, Amable Daunais, François Nicolas and Pierre-Rémi Narbonne.

The day before, de Lorimier wrote his political testament:

I die without remorse.

In the insurrection I only desired the well-being and independence from Britain of my country.

My views and my actions were sincere and were innocent of any of the crimes which dishonour mankind, and which are too common when released passions boil up.

In spite of so many mishaps, my heart still keeps its courage and its hopes for the future.

My children and my friends will see better days.

Looking tranquilly ahead, I am sure that they will win freedom.

That is what fills me with joy when all around me is sorrow and desolation.

I leave behind me children whose only heritage is the memory of my misfortune.

Poor orphans, it is you who are to be pitied, you whom the bloody and arbitrary hand of the law strikes through my death.

You will have no gentle and affectionate memories of happy days with your father.

When you are old enough to reflect, you will see in your father a man who has paid on the scaffold for actions such as have immortalized other happier men.

The only crime of your father was his failure.

Above: Francois Marie Thomas de Lorimier

Havana (Habana), Cuba, Tuesday 15 February 1898

In January 1898, Maine was sent from Key West, Florida to Havana, Cuba, to protect US interests during the Cuban War of Independence (1895 – 1898).

USS Maine (ACR-1) starboard bow view, 1898 (26510673494).jpg
Above: The USS Maine

Three weeks later, at 21:40, on 15 February, an explosion on board Maine occurred in the Havana Harbour.

Later investigations revealed that more than five long tons (5.1 t) of powder charges for the vessel’s six- and ten-inch guns had detonated, obliterating the forward third of the ship.

The remaining wreckage rapidly settled to the bottom of the harbor.

Most of Maine‘s crew were sleeping or resting in the enlisted quarters, in the forward part of the ship, when the explosion occurred.

The 1898 US Navy Surgeon General Reported that the ship’s crew consisted of 355:

  • 26 officers
  • 290 enlisted sailors
  • 39 marines

Of these, there were 261 fatalities:

  • Two officers and 251 enlisted sailors and marines either killed by the explosion or drowned
  • Seven others were rescued but soon died of their injuries
  • One officer later died of “cerebral affection” (shock)
  • Of the 94 survivors, 16 were uninjured.
  • In total, 260 men lost their lives as a result of the explosion or shortly thereafter, and six more died later from injuries.
  • Captain Sigsbee and most of the officers survived, because their quarters were in the aft portion of the ship.
  • Altogether there were 89 survivors, 18 of whom were officers.
  • The City of Washington, an American merchant steamship, aided in rescuing the crew.

Above: Crew of the USS Maine, 1889

The cause of the accident was immediately debated.

Waking up President McKinley to break the news, Commander Francis W. Dickins referred to it as an “accident“.

McKinley (cropped).jpg
Above: William McKinley (1843 – 1901)

Commodore George Dewey, Commander of the Asiatic Squadron, “feared at first that she had been destroyed by the Spanish, which of course meant war, and I was getting ready for it when a later dispatch said it was an accident.”

Above: George Dewey (1837 – 1917)

Navy Captain Philip R. Alger, an expert on ordnance and explosives, posted a bulletin at the Navy Department the next day saying that the explosion had been caused by a spontaneous fire in the coal bunkers.

Above: Ship’s coal bunker

Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt wrote a letter protesting this statement, which he viewed as premature.

Roosevelt argued that Alger should not have commented on an ongoing investigation, saying:

Mr. Alger cannot possibly know anything about the accident.

All the best men in the Department agree that, whether probable or not, it certainly is possible that the ship was blown up by a mine.

President Roosevelt - Pach Bros (cropped).jpg
Above: Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)

The New York Journal and the New York World, owned respectively by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, gave Maine intense press coverage, employing tactics that would later be labeled “yellow journalism“.

Both papers exaggerated and distorted any information they could obtain, sometimes even fabricating news when none that fitted their agenda was available. For a week following the sinking, the Journal devoted a daily average of eight and a half pages of news, editorials and pictures to the event.

Its editors sent a full team of reporters and artists to Havana, including Frederic Remington, and Hearst announced a reward of $50,000 “for the conviction of the criminals who sent 258 American sailors to their deaths“.


The World, while overall not as lurid or shrill in tone as the Journal, nevertheless indulged in similar theatrics, insisting continually that Maine had been bombed or mined.

Privately, Pulitzer believed that “nobody outside a lunatic asylum” really believed that Spain sanctioned Maine‘s destruction.

Nevertheless, this did not stop the World from insisting that the only “atonement” Spain could offer the US for the loss of ship and life, was the granting of complete Cuban independence.

Nor did it stop the paper from accusing Spain of “treachery, willingness, or laxness” for failing to ensure the safety of Havana Harbour.

The American public, already agitated over reported Spanish atrocities in Cuba, was driven to increased hysteria.

Above: Joseph Pulitzer (1847 – 1911)

William Randolph Hearst’s reporting on the Maine whipped up support for military action against the Spanish in Cuba regardless of their actual involvement in the sinking.

He frequently cited various naval officers saying that the explosion could not have been an on-board accident.

He quoted an “officer high in authority” as saying:

The idea that the catastrophe resulted from an internal accident is preposterous.

In the first place, such a thing has never occurred before that I have ever heard of either in the British navy or ours.”

Hearst’s sources never had to be specifically named because he just needed them to support the narrative that the explosion was caused by an attack by the Spanish.

Above: William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951)

Maine‘s destruction did not result in an immediate declaration of war with Spain, but the event created an atmosphere that precluded a peaceful solution.

The Spanish investigation found that the explosion had been caused by spontaneous combustion of the coal bunkers, but the Sampson Board ruled that the explosion had been caused by an external explosion from a torpedo.

The episode focused national attention on the crisis in Cuba.

The McKinley administration did not cite the explosion as a casus belli, but others were already inclined to go to war with Spain over perceived atrocities and loss of control in Cuba.

Advocates of war used the rallying cry:

Remember the Maine! 

To hell with Spain!

Above: This cartoon followed the explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor on 15 February 1898. King Alphonso XIII of Spain is shown playing with toy boats in Cuba and is about to suffer “Retribution“.

The Spanish–American War began on Thursday 21 April 1898, two months after the sinking.


Crawfordsville, Indiana, Wednesday 15 February 1905

Lewis Wallace (1827 – 1905) was an American lawyer, Union general in the American Civil War, governor of the New Mexico territory, politician, diplomat, and author.

Wallace, who attained the rank of major general, participated in the Battle of Fort Donelson, the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Monocacy.

Lewis Wallace.jpg
Above: Lew Wallace

The Battle of Shiloh (6 – 7 April 1862) was the bloodiest engagement of the Civil War up to that point, with nearly twice as many casualties as the previous major battles of the war combined.

(13,047 Union casualities, 10,699 Confederate casualities)

At first, the battle was viewed by the North as a victory.

However, on 23 April, after civilians began hearing news of the high number of casualties, the Lincoln administration asked the Union Army for further explanation.

Thure de Thulstrup - Battle of Shiloh (cropped).jpg
Above: the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee

Grant, who was accused of poor leadership at Shiloh, and his superior, Halleck, placed the blame on Wallace by asserting that his failure to follow orders and the delay in moving up the reserves on 6 April had nearly cost them the battle.

Grant had placed much of the blame on General Wallace, to whom he had sent verbal orders to bring his troops forward, accusing Wallace of failure in following those orders, which he believed resulted in the delay in moving up reserves, nearly costing the Union the loss of the battle.

After hearing reports that Wallace refused to obey anything but written orders, an angry General Grant asserted that “a division general ought to take his troops to wherever the firing may be, even without orders“, and first sent Colonel William R. Rowley, ordering him to “tell him to come up at once” and that “if he should require a written order of you, you will give it to him at once.”

Ulysses S. Grant 1870-1880.jpg
Above: Ulysses S. Grant (1822 – 1885)

When Rowley caught up to where Wallace’s division last was, there was only a supply wagon departing the scene. Riding on further, Rowley found Wallace at the head of his column near Clear Creek, positioned on high ground.

Rowley pulled Wallace off to the side and warned him of the danger that lay just ahead, exclaiming:

Don’t you know that Sherman has been driven back?

Why, the whole army is within half a mile of the river, and it’s a question if we are not all going to be driven into it.

Wallace, stunned by the news, sent his cavalry ahead to assess the situation, and upon returning, it had confirmed Rowley’s claim.

William Ruben Rowley1824.jpg
Above: William R. Rowley (1824 – 1886)

On 30 April 1862, Halleck reorganized his army and removed Wallace and John McClernand from active duty, placing both of them in reserve.

Wallace’s reputation and career as a military leader suffered a significant setback from controversy over Shiloh.

He spent the remainder of his life trying to resolve the accusations and change public opinion about his role in the battle.

John A. McClernand(01085v).jpg
Above: John McClernand (1812 – 1900)

On 14 March 1863, Wallace wrote a letter to Halleck that provided an official explanation of his actions.

He also wrote Grant several letters and met with him in person more than once in an attempt to vindicate himself.

Henry Halleck by Scholten, c1865.jpg
Above: Henry Halleck (1815 – 1872)

On 16 August 1863, Wallace wrote Sherman for advice on the issue.

Sherman urged Wallace to be patient and not to request a formal inquiry.

Although Sherman brought Wallace’s concerns to Grant’s attention, Wallace was not given another active duty command until March 1864.

For many years Grant stood by his original version of the orders to Wallace.

As late as 1884, when Grant wrote an article on Shiloh for The Century Magazine that appeared in its February 1885 issue, he maintained that Wallace had taken the wrong road on the first day of battle.

After W. H. L. Wallace’s widow gave Grant a letter that Lew Wallace had written to her the day before the battle (the one indicating his plans to use the Shunpike road to pass between Shiloh and his position west of Crump’s Landing), Grant changed his mind.

Grant wrote a letter to the editors at Century, which was published in its September 1885 issue, and added a note to his memoirs to explain that Wallace’s letter “modifies very materially what I have said, and what has been said by others, about the conduct of General Lew Wallace at the battle of Shiloh.”

While reaffirming that he had ordered Wallace to take the River Road, Grant stated that he could not be sure the exact content of Wallace’s written orders, since his verbal orders were given to one of his aides and transcribed.

Grant’s article in the February 1885 issue of Century became the basis of his chapter on Shiloh in his memoirs, which were published in 1886, and influenced many later accounts of Wallace’s actions on the first day of battle.

Grant acknowledged in his memoirs:

If the position of our front had not changed, the road which Wallace took would have been somewhat shorter to our right than the river road.”

The Century.jpg

Wallace’s account of the events appeared in his autobiography, which was published posthumously in 1906.

Despite his later fame and fortune as the writer of Ben-Hur, Wallace continued to lament:

Shiloh and its slanders!

Will the world ever acquit me of them?

If I were guilty I would not feel them as keenly.

He also served on the military commission for the trials of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, and presided over the trial of Henry Wirz, the Confederate commandant of the Andersonville prison camp.

Henry Wirz 01 11.jpg
Above: Henry Wirz (1823 – 1865)

Wallace resigned from the US Army in November 1865 and briefly served as a major general in the Mexican army, before returning to the United States.

Wallace was appointed governor of the New Mexico Territory (1878–1881) and served as US minister to the Ottoman Empire (1881–1885).

Wallace retired to his home in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he continued to write until his death in 1905.

Lincoln assassination slide c1900 - Restoration.jpg
Above: Assassination of Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) by John Wilkes Booth (1838 – 1865), 14 April 1865

Wallace confessed in his autobiography that he took up writing as a diversion from studying law.

In 1843, Wallace began writing his first novel, The Fair God, but it was not published until 1873.

The Fair God : A Tale of the Conquest of Mexico with illustrations by Eric  Pape: Wallace, Lew: Books

The popular historical novel, with Cortez’s conquest of Mexico as its central theme, was based on William H. Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico.

 Wallace’s book sold 7,000 copies in its first year.

Its sales continued to rise after Wallace’s reputation as an author was established with the publication of subsequent novels.

History of the Conquest of Mexico: Prescott, William H.:  Fremdsprachige Bücher

Wallace wrote the manuscript for Ben-Hur, his second and best-known novel, during his spare time at Crawfordsville, and completed it in Santa Fe, while serving as the territorial governor of New Mexico.

Ben-Hur, an adventure story of revenge and redemption, is told from the perspective of a Jewish nobleman named Judah Ben-Hur.

Because Wallace had not been to the Holy Land before writing the book, he began research to familiarize himself with the area’s geography and its history at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, in 1873.

Harper and Brothers published the book on 12 November 1880.

Ben-Hur made Wallace a wealthy man and established his reputation as a famous author. 

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Sales were slow at first.

Only 2,800 copies were sold in the first seven months after its release, but the book became popular among readers around the world.

By 1886, it was earning Wallace about $11,000 in annual royalties (equivalent to $290,000 in 2015 dollars), and provided Wallace’s family with financial security.

By 1889, Harper and Brothers had sold 400,000 copies and the book had been translated into several languages.

In 1900, Ben-Hur became the best-selling American novel of the 19th century, surpassing Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


Amy Lifson, an editor for Humanities, identified it as the most influential Christian book of the 19th century. 

Others named it one of the best-selling novels of all time.

At the time of Ben-Hurs 100th anniversary in 1980, it had “never been out of print” and had been adapted for the stage and several motion pictures.

Wallace Ben-Hur cover.jpg

One historian, Victor Davis Hanson, has argued that Ben-Hur drew from Wallace’s life, particularly his experiences at Shiloh, and the damage it did to his reputation.

The book’s main character, Judah Ben-Hur, accidentally causes injury to a high-ranking Roman commander, for which he and his family suffer tribulations and calumny.

Wallace wrote subsequent novels and biographies, but Ben-Hur remained his most important work.

Wallace considered The Prince of India, or Why Constantinople Fell (1893) as his best novel.

THE PRINCE OF INDIA, LEW WALLACE, UNABRIDGED, LARGE 14 Point Font Print:  Why Constantinople Fell: Wallace, Lew: 9781534816022: Books

He also wrote a biography of President Benjamin Harrison, a fellow Hoosier and Civil War general, and The Wooing of Malkatoon (1898), a narrative poem.

Benjamin Harrison, head and shoulders bw photo, 1896.jpg
Above: Benjamin Harrison (1833 – 1901)

THE WOOING OF MALKATOON & COMMODUS (Illustrated) by Lew Wallace, J. R.  Weguelin | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble®

Wallace was writing his autobiography when he died in 1905.

His wife Susan completed it with the assistance of Mary Hannah Krout, another author from Crawfordsville.

It was published posthumously in 1906.

Lew Wallace; an autobiography .. : Wallace, Lew, 1827-1905 : Free Download,  Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Wallace continued to write after his return from Turkey.

He also patented several of his own inventions, built a seven-story apartment building in Indianapolis, The Blacherne, and drew up plans for a private study at his home in Crawfordsville.

The Blacherne, Indianapolis.jpg
Above: The Blacherne Building, Indianopolis, Indiana

Wallace remained active in veterans groups, including writing a speech for the dedication of the battlefield at the Chickamauga.

Cannon Row.jpg
Above: Blooms Louisiana Battery at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Tennessee

Wallace’s elaborate writing study, which he described as “a pleasure house for my soul“, served as his private retreat.

Now called the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, it was built between 1895 and 1898, adjacent to his residence in Crawfordsville, and set in an enclosed park.

The study along with three and one-half acres of its grounds were designated a national Historic Landmark in 1976.

The property is operated as a museum, open to the public.

Wallace had a moat on two sides of the Study and stocked it so he could fish from the back porch and a landing. In winter, he would fire up the coal furnace in the Study basement and fish from the windows.

He loved fishing so much he invented and patented a special traveller’s fishing pole.

After just a few years he had the moat drained as it was negatively affecting the Study foundation and he worried about his grandchildren and neighborhood children falling into the water.

Lew Wallace Library Crawfordsville Indiana.jpg
Above: Lew Wallace Library

On 5 April 1898, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Wallace, at age 71, offered to raise and lead a force of soldiers, but the War Office refused.

Undeterred, he went to a local recruiting office and attempted to enlist as a private, but was rejected again, because of his age.

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Above: Images of the Spanish-American War (21 April – 13 August 1898)

Wallace’s service at the Battle of Shiloh continued to haunt him in later life.

The debate persisted in book publications, magazine articles, pamphlets, speeches, and in private correspondence.

Wallace attended a reunion at Shiloh in 1894, his first return since 1862, and retraced his journey to the battlefield with veterans from the 3rd Division.

He returned to Shiloh for a final time in 1901 to walk the battlefield with David W. Reed, the Shiloh Battlefield Commission’s historian, and others.

Wallace died before the manuscript of his memoirs was fully completed, and it is unknown whether he would have revised his final account of the battle.

Above: Lew Wallace Statue, US Capitol, Washington DC

New York City, Wednesday 15 February 1933

Official cause of death: pneumonia.

But everybody knows it was the booze, it was the bottle, that did him in.

How Does Alcohol Make You Drunk? | HowStuffWorks

Pat Sullivan (1885 – 1933) was born in Paddington, New South Wales, Australia, the second son of Patrick Sullivan, an immigrant from Ireland and his Sydney-born wife Margaret, née Hayes.

Pat Sullivan - Apr 1920 EH.jpg
Above: Pat Sullivan

Around 1909, Sullivan left Australia and spent a few months in London, England, before moving to the United States around 1910.

He worked as assistant to newspaper cartoonist William Marriner and drew four strips of his own.

When Marriner died in 1914, Sullivan joined the new animated cartoon studio set up by Raoul Barré.

In 1915, Sullivan was fired by Barré for general incompetence.

Raoul Barré.jpg
Above: Raoul Barré (1874-1932)

In 1916, William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, set up a studio to produce animated cartoons based on his paper’s strips and hired Barre’s best animators.

Sullivan decided to start his own studio and made a series called ‘Sammy Johnsin‘ based on a Marriner strip on which he had worked.

This was followed by a series of shorts starring The Tramp.

Charlie Chaplin.jpg
Above: Charlie Chaplin (1889 – 1977) as “The Tramp”

In 1917, Sullivan was convicted of rape in the second degree of a 14-year-old girl.

He spent nine months and three days in prison, during which time his studio went on hiatus.

Who or how the girl later was is not known.

Prisons Are Traumatizing, but It Is Possible to Reduce Some of Their Harm |  Urban Institute

Sullivan reportedly carried a strong bias against African Americans.

According to Rudy Zamora, when he and Eddie Salter tested for positions at the Sullivan studio, they were bested by a young African American boy.

Zamora recalled that animator Dana Parker “took the black boy aside and told him that they’ll call him when they needed him, as they were not hiring anyone that day.

But they kept Eddie and I.

That was lousy.

Then they would have hired this black guy and myself.

Ed was third.

When Zamora complained about this to Parker, he was told: “The old man (Sullivan) didn’t want any black guys.

Rudy Zamora
Above: Rudy Zamora (1910 – 1989)

As Mickey Mouse was gaining popularity among theatre audiences through sound cartoons by late 1928, Sullivan, after years of refusing to convert Felix to sound, finally agreed to use sound in Felix‘s cartoons.

Mickey Mouse (fair use).png
Above: Mickey Mouse

Unfortunately, Sullivan did not carefully prepare this process and put sound in cartoons that the studio had already completed.

By 1930, Felix had faded from the screen.

Sullivan relented in 1933, and announced that Felix would return in sound, but died that year before production began.

Felix the cat.svg
Above: Felix the Cat

By the early 1930s, Sullivan’s alcoholism had completely consumed him.

According to artist George Cannata, Sulivan would often fire employees in a drunken haze, not remembering the next day, when they would return to work as if nothing had happened.

George Cannata Jr. | For more about Fifties animation design… | Flickr
Above: George Cannata

According to Shamus Culhane, Sullivan artist Al Eugster recalled that Sullivan was “the most consistent man in the business — consistent in that he was never sober“.

Shamus Culhane - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Above: Shamus Culhane (1908 – 1996)

Al Eugster – Duckipedia
Above: Al Eugster (1909 – 1997)

According to Otto Messmer, Sullivan drank all day long and was never in a sound enough state of mind to contribute creatively to the cartoons he produced.

In later years, much of Sullivan’s staff was interviewed and claimed Messmer deserved all credit for the Felix character’s creation and development, arguing that Sullivan was too sick to contribute or even really run the studio.

Above: Otto Messmer

Santa Monica, California, USA, Monday 15 February 1965

Nathaniel Adams Cole (1919 – 1965) was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on 17 March 1919.

When Cole was four years old, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where his father, Edward Cole, became a Baptist minister.

Cole learned to play the organ from his mother, Perlina Cole, the church organist.

Nat King Cole, June 1947
Above: Nat King Cole

His first performance was “Yes! We Have No Bananas” at the age of four.

Yes! We Have No Bananas.png

He began formal lessons at 12, learning jazz, gospel, and classical music on piano “from Johann Sebastian Bach to Sergei Rachmaninoff”.

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Above: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)

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Above: Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943)

As a youth, he joined the news delivery boys’ “Bud Billiken Club” band for The Chicago Defender.


The Cole family moved to the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, where he attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School, the school Sam Cooke attended a few years later.

Above: Wendel Philips Academy High School, Bronzeville, Chicago, Illinois

Cooke in 1963
Above: Sam Cooke (1931 – 1964)

He participated in Walter Dyett’s music program at DuSable High School.

Walter Dyett.jpg
Above: Walter Dyett (1901 – 1969)

DuSable HS Campus.jpg
above: DuSable High School, Chicago, Illinois

He would sneak out of the house to visit clubs, sitting outside to hear Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines and Jimmie Noone.

Louis Armstrong restored.jpg
Above: Louis Armstrong (1901 – 1971)

Maud Cuney Hare-155-Earl Hines.jpg
Above: Earl Hines (1903 – 1983)

Jimmie Noone c. 1920
Above: Jimmy Noone (1895 – 1944)

When he was 15, Cole dropped out of high school to pursue a music career.

After his brother Eddie, a bassist, came home from touring with Noble Sissle, they formed a sextet and recorded two singles for Decca in 1936 as Eddie Cole’s Swingsters.

Above: Noble Sissle (1889 – 1975)

They performed in a revival of the musical Shuffle Along.

Nat Cole went on tour with the musical.

Shuffle Along - Love Will Find a Way.jpg

In 1937, he married Nadine Robinson, who was a member of the cast.

After the show ended in Los Angeles, Cole and Nadine settled there while he looked for work.

Wilshire Boulevard,Los Angeles, CA., 1937 | Los angeles, Photo, West lake
Above: Los Angeles, California, 1937

He led a big band, then found work playing piano in nightclubs.

When a club owner asked him to form a band, he hired bassist Wesley Prince and guitarist Oscar Moore.

They called themselves the King Cole Swingsters after the nursery rhyme in which “Old King Cole was a merry old soul.”

They changed their name to the King Cole Trio before making radio transcriptions and recording for small labels.

Cole recorded “Sweet Lorraine” in 1940, and it became his first hit.

Above: Nat Cole (on piano) with Oscar Moore (left) and Wesley Prince (right), 1946

According to legend, his career as a vocalist started when a drunken bar patron demanded that he sing the song.

Cole said that this fabricated story sounded good, so he didn’t argue with it.

In fact, there was a customer one night who demanded that he sing, but because it was a song Cole didn’t know, he sang “Sweet Lorraine” instead.

As people heard Cole’s vocal talent, they requested more vocal songs, and he obliged.

Nat King Cole – Sweet Lorraine Vol. 2 (1984, Vinyl) - Discogs

In August 1948, Cole purchased a house from Col. Harry Gantz, the former husband of the silent film actress Lois Weber, in the all-white Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Above: Lois Weber (1879 – 1939)

The Ku Klux Klan, which was active in Los Angeles in the 1950s, responded by placing a burning cross on his front lawn.

Members of the property-owners association told Cole they did not want any “undesirables” moving into the neighborhood.

Cole responded:

Neither do I.

And if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I’ll be the first to complain.”

Above: Emblem of the Ku Klux Klan

He recorded over 100 songs that became hits on the pop charts.

His trio was the model for small jazz ensembles that followed.

Cole also acted in films and on television and performed on Broadway.

He was the first African American man to host an American television series.

He was the father of singer-songwriter Natalie Cole (1950 – 2015).

above: Natalie Cole (1950 – 2015)

After the change in musical tastes, Cole’s ballads appealed little to young listeners, despite a successful attempt at rock and roll with “Send for Me“, which peaked at number 6 on the pop chart.

Send for Me (Nat King Cole on Cover): Nat King Cole, Words and music by  Ollie Jones: Books

Like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, he found that the pop chart had been taken over by youth-oriented acts.

Dean Martin - publicity.JPG
Above: Dean Martin (1917 – 1995)

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Above: Frank Sinatra (1915 – 1998)

Tony Bennett.jpg
Above: Tony Bennett

Cole’s shift to traditional pop led some jazz critics and fans to accuse him of selling out, but he never abandoned his jazz roots.

As late as 1956 he recorded an all-jazz album, After Midnight, and many of his albums after this are fundamentally jazz-based, being scored for big band without strings, although the arrangements focus primarily on the vocal rather than instrumental leads.

After Midnight - The Complete Sessions - Cole, Nat King: Musik

In 1956, Cole was assaulted on stage during a concert in Birmingham, Alabama, with the Ted Heath Band while singing the song “Little Girl“.

Above: Ted Heath (1902 – 1969)

Little Girl - Compilation by Nat King Cole | Spotify

Having circulated photographs of Cole with white female fans bearing incendiary boldface captions reading “Cole and His White Women” and “Cole and Your Daughter“, three men belonging to the North Alabama Citizens Council assaulted Cole, apparently attempting to kidnap him.

Flag of Alabama
Above: Flag of Alabama

The three assailants ran down the aisles of the auditorium towards Cole.

Local law enforcement quickly ended the invasion of the stage, but in the ensuing mêlée Cole was toppled from his piano bench and injured his back.

He did not finish the concert.

A fourth member of the group was later arrested.

All were tried and convicted.

Cole received a slight back injury during the scuffle.

Six men, including 23-year-old Willie Richard Vinson, were formally charged with assault with intent to murder him, but later the charge against four of them was changed to conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor.

The original plan to attack Cole included 150 men from Birmingham and nearby towns.

The Birmingham News (2020-01-12).svg

After being attacked in Birmingham, Cole said:

I can’t understand it.

I have not taken part in any protests.

Nor have I joined an organization fighting segregation.

Why should they attack me?

Cole said he wanted to forget the incident and continued to play for segregated audiences in the South.

He said he could not change the situation in a day.

Flag of Confederate States of America
Above: Flag of the Confederate States of America (1861 – 1863)

He contributed money to the Montgomery bus boycott and had sued hotels that had hired him but refused to serve him. 

Rosaparks bus.jpg
Above: Rosa Parks riding a Montgomery bus immediately following the decision to desegregate buses, 4 December 1955

Thurgood Marshall, the chief legal counsel of the NAACP, called him “an Uncle Tom” and said he should perform with a banjo. 

Above: Thurgood Marshall (1908 – 1993)

NAACP seal.svg

Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the NAACP, wrote him a telegram that said:

You have not been a crusader or engaged in an effort to change the customs or laws of the South.

That responsibility, newspapers quote you as saying, you leave to the other guys.

That attack upon you clearly indicates that organized bigotry makes no distinction between those who do not actively challenge racial discrimination and those who do.

This is a fight which none of us can escape.

We invite you to join us in a crusade against racism.

Roy Wilkins at the White House, 30 April, 1968.jpg
Above: Roy Wilkins (1901 – 1981)

The Chicago Defender said Cole’s performances for all-white audiences were an insult to his race.

The New York Amsterdam News said that “thousands of Harlem blacks who have worshiped at the shrine of singer Nat King Cole turned their backs on him this week as the noted crooner turned his back on the NAACP and said that he will continue to play to Jim Crow audiences“.

New York Amsterdam News logo banner.png

A man in blackface costumed in eccentric, formal clothes with patches, dances making exaggerated motions with one hand on hip.
Above: Actor Thomas Dartmouth Rice as “Jim Crow“, 1836

Above: An African-American man drinking at a “colored” drinking fountain in a streetcar terminal in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1939

To play “Uncle Nat’s” discs, wrote a commentator in The American Negro, “would be supporting his ‘traitor’ ideas and narrow way of thinking.”

Deeply hurt by the criticism in the black press, Cole was chastened.

Cavalcade of the American Negro - The African-American Mosaic Exhibition |  Exhibitions (Library of Congress)

Emphasizing his opposition to racial segregation “in any form“, he agreed to join other entertainers in boycotting segregated venues.

He paid $500 to become a lifetime member of the Detroit branch of the NAACP.

Until his death in 1965, Cole was an active and visible participant in the civil rights movement, playing an important role in planning the March on Washington in 1963.

Above: Hundreds of thousands descended on Washington DC’s, Lincoln Memorial 28 August1963. It was from the steps of the memorial that Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech. King’s many speeches and nonviolent actions were instrumental in shaping the nation’s outlook on equality.

(“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.

It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

Aerial view of Lincoln Memorial - east side EDIT.jpeg
Above: The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.

When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

Constitution of the United States, page 1.jpg
Above. the Constitution of the United States of America

This note was a promise that all men, yes black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.

Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.

We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. 

And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

United States Declaration of Independence.jpg
Above: Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children.

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

The universal declaration of human rights 10 December 1948.jpg
Above: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. 

This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality

1963 is not an end, but a beginning.

And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenships rights.

The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. 

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice.

In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. 

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.

We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” 

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only”. 

A sign reading "We Cater to White Trade Only.

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. 

Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells.

Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.

You have been the veterans of creative suffering.

Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.

It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that “all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

Flag of Georgia
Above: Flag of Georgia

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

Above: Flag of Mississippi

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition”and “nullification”.

One day, right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope.

This is the faith with which I return to the South.

With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

“Free at last!

Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”)

Emancipation Proclamation WDL2714.jpg
Above: the Emanicipation Proclamation

In September 1964, Cole began to lose weight and he experienced back problems.

He collapsed with pain after performing at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

The Sands Hotel and Casino in 1959.jpg

In December, he was working in San Francisco when he was finally persuaded by friends to seek medical help.

A malignant tumor in an advanced state of growth on his left lung was observed on a chest X-ray.

Cole, who had been a heavy cigarette smoker, had lung cancer and was expected to have only months to live.

Against his doctors’ wishes, Cole carried on his work and made his final recordings between 1 and 3 December in San Francisco, with an orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael.

Vanguard Magazine - Fall 2011 by Vanguard University - issuu

The music was released on the album L-O-V-E shortly before his death.

His daughter noted later that he did this to assure the welfare of his family.

L-O-V-E (album) - Wikipedia

Cole entered Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica on 7 December.

Cobalt therapy was started on 10 December. 

St. John's Health Center Santa Monica.jpg

Frank Sinatra performed in Cole’s place at the grand opening of the new Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center on 12 December.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA, CA, jjron 22.03.2012.jpg
Above: The Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, features an acoustically superior auditorium panelled in hardwood. The Disney family contributed more than $100 million to the project. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is seen to the right.

Cole’s condition gradually worsened, but he was released from the hospital over the New Year’s period.

At home Cole was able to see the hundreds of thousands of cards and letters that had been sent after news of his illness was made public.

Cole returned to the hospital in early January.

He also sent $5,000 (US$41,218 in 2019 dollars) to actress and singer Gunilla Hutton, with whom he had been romantically involved since early 1964.

Hutton later telephoned Maria and implored her to divorce him.

Maria confronted her husband, and Cole finally broke off the relationship with Hutton.

YouRememberThat.Com - Taking You Back In Time... - Gunilla Hutton-Nat King  Cole Romance
Above: Gunilla Hutton

Cole’s illness reconciled him with his wife, and he vowed that if he recovered he would go on television to urge people to stop smoking.

On 25 January, Cole’s entire left lung was surgically removed.

His father died of heart problems on 1 February.

Throughout Cole’s illness his publicists promoted the idea that he would soon be well and working, despite the private knowledge of his terminal condition. 

Billboard magazine reported that:

Nat King Cole has successfully come through a serious operation and the future looks bright for ‘the master’ to resume his career again.”


On Valentine’s Day, Cole and his wife briefly left St. John’s to drive by the sea.

He died at the hospital early in the morning of 15 February 1965.

The eulogy was delivered by Jack Benny, who said that:

Nat Cole was a man who gave so much and still had so much to give.

He gave it in song, in friendship to his fellow man, devotion to his family.

He was a star, a tremendous success as an entertainer, an institution.

But he was an even greater success as a man, as a husband, as a father, as a friend.

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Above: Jack Benny (1894 – 1974)

Unforgettable, in every way.

And forever more, that’s how you’ll stay.

NatKingCole Unforgettable Capitol10inch.jpg

Lima, Peru, Saturday 15 February 1992

Maria Elena Moyano (1958 – 1992) grew up in poverty and won a scholarship to study law at the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega University, but then stopped her studies after two years in order to concentrate on community activism.

Portrait of Moyano
Above: Maria Elena Moyano

In the Lima shanty town of Villa El Salvador, Moyano helped to set up primary schools, soup kitchens and clubs for mothers.

In 1983, Moyano was involved in the foundation of the Federacion Popular de Mujeres de Villa El Salvador (FEPOMUVES, Popular Federation of Women of Villa El Salvador).

The group provided training for women, set up projects and represented their interests.

Moyano was twice elected president.

Above: Villa El Salvador, Lima, Peru

The Federation organized neighbourhood cafés and ran the Vaso de Leche program, which aimed to get every child in the shanty town to drink a glass of milk every day.

El programa Vaso de Leche está totalmente desatendido por el Gobierno | RPP  Noticias

The initiative was started by Mayor of Lima Alfonso Barrantes Lingán and the United Left, then taken over by FEPOMUVES.

By 1991, Moyano was deputy mayor of Villa El Salvador.

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Above: Alfonso Barrantes Lingán (1927 – 2000)

The same year, the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) bombed a FEPOMUVES distribution hub from which 90 cafés were supported.

Moyano was critical of both the Peruvian government led by Alberto Fujimori and the Shining Path.

Flag of Peru
Above: Flag of Peru

She thought the administration was weak in imposing order and that the police were corrupt.

Fujimori was imposing radical austerity measures that were leading to crippling inflation.

Al Fujimori.jpg
Above: Alberto Fujimoro

Even though she was aware that she could be assassinated, she also took a stand against the Shining Path, saying that their actions were no longer revolutionary.

The Shining Path responded by denouncing her as “revisionist“.

After the Shining Path published a leaflet denouncing her which stated she worked for the government and had herself bombed the distribution centre, Moyano replied refuting the accusations. 

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Above: Flag of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso)

Juana López León, another Vaso de Leche activist, was murdered by the Shining Path on 31 August 1991.

Moyano started to receive death threats.

She briefly left the country and when she returned was given two police bodyguards.

When the Shining Path called for an armed strike and for everyone to stay home on 14 February 1992, she protested by leading a peace march.

Moyano believed in non-violence, speaking in favour of social justice and self-government.

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Above: Moyano standing in front of a FEPOMUVES building in Villa El Salvador

On 15 February 1992, Moyano was murdered in front of her children at a communal event in Villa El Salvador by members of the Shining Path.

The assassins first shot her and then blew her body up with explosives.

An estimated 300,000 people attended the funeral of María Elena Moyano.

Alongside the capture of the leader of the Shining Path, Abimael Guzmán, in September 1992, outrage at the murder of Moyano is seen as a major step in the drop in support for the group.

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Above: Abimael Guzmán

London, England, Thursday 15 February 1998

Martha Ellis Gellhorn (1908 – 1998) was an American novelist, travel writer and journalist who is considered one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century.

She reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career.

Gellhorn, 1941
Above: Martha Gellhorn

At age 7, Martha Gellhorn participated in “The Golden Lane“, a rally for women’s suffrage at the Democratic Party’s 1916 national convention in St. Louis.

Women carrying yellow parasols and wearing yellow sashes lined both sides of a main street leading to the St. Louis Coliseum.

A tableau of the States was in front of the Art Museum.

States that had not enfranchised women were draped in black.

Gellhorn and another girl, Mary Taussig, stood in front of the line, representing future voters.

Above: The Golden Lane, Locust Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 14 – 16 June 1916

In 1926, Gellhorn graduated from John Burroughs School in St. Louis, and enrolled in Bryn Mawr College, several miles outside Philadelphia.

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Above: John Burroughs School, St. Louis

The following year, she left without having graduated to pursue a career as a journalist.

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Her first published articles appeared in The New Republic.

The New Republic' — Story

In 1930, determined to become a foreign correspondent, she went to France for two years, where she worked at the United Press (UPI) bureau in Paris, but was fired after she reported sexual harassment by a man connected with the agency.

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She spent years travelling Europe, writing for newspapers in Paris and St. Louis and covering fashion for Vogue.


She became active in the pacifist movement, and wrote about her experiences in her 1934 book What Mad Pursuit.

Janet Somerville on Twitter: "This is where #Gellhorn wrote her piece  “Justice at Night” in Spring 1936 in H.G. Wells's back garden at 13 Hanover  Terrace near Regent's Park.…"

Returning to the United States in 1932, Gellhorn was hired by Harry Hopkins, whom she had met through her friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Above: Harry Hopkins (1890 – 1946)

The Roosevelts invited Gellhorn to live at the White House, and she spent evenings there helping Eleanor Roosevelt write correspondence and the first lady’s “My Day” column in Women’s Home Companion.

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Above: Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962)


She was hired as a field investigator for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), created by Franklin D. Roosevelt to help end the Great Depression.

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Above: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

Gellhorn travelled around the United States for FERA to report on how the Depression was affecting the country.

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Above: Three women with typewriters. Federal Emergency Relief Administration: FERA camps for unemployed women in Arcola, Pennsylvania; “Second Camp“, July 1934

She first went to Gastonia, North Carolina.

Clockwise: The Schiele Museum of Natural History, Crowders Mountain State Park, Loray Mill, Downtown Gastonia from Main Avenue
Above: Images of Gastonia, California

Later, she worked with Dorothea Lange, a photographer, to document the everyday lives of the hungry and homeless.

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Above: Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965)

Their reports became part of the official government files for the Great Depression.

Above: Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother depicts destitute pea pickers in California, centering on Florence Owens Thompson (1903 – 1983), age 32, a mother of seven children, in Nipomo, California, March 1936.

They were able to investigate topics that were not usually open to women of the 1930s.

She drew on her research to write a collection of short stories, The Trouble I’ve Seen (1936).

Read The Trouble I've Seen Online by Martha Gellhorn | Books

In Idaho doing FERA work, Gellhorn convinced a group of workers to break the windows of the FERA office to draw attention to their crooked boss.

Although this worked, she was fired from FERA.

Flag of Idaho

Gellhorn met Ernest Hemingway during a 1936 Christmas family trip to Key West, Florida.

Dark-haired man in light colored short-sleeved shirt working on a typewriter at a table on which sits an open book
Above: Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961)

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Above: The Hemingway House in Key West, Florida, where he lived between 1931 and 1939 and where he wrote To Have and Have Not

Gellhorn had been hired to report for Collier’s Weekly on the Spanish Civil War, and the pair decided to travel to Spain together.


They celebrated Christmas of 1937 in Barcelona.

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Above: Images of modern Barcelona

In Germany, she reported on the rise of Adolf Hitler and in the spring of 1938, months before the Munich Agreement, she was in Czechoslovakia.

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Above: Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945)

Above: (left to right, foreground) British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1869 – 1940), French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier (1884 -1970), German Chancellor / Führer Adolf Hitler, Italian Prime Minister / Duce Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945) and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano (1903 – 1944), before signing the Munich (München) Agreement of 30 September 1938

After the outbreak of World War II, she described these events in the novel A Stricken Field (1940).

She later reported the war from Finland, Hong Kong, Burma, Singapore, and England. A Stricken Field: A Novel eBook: Gellhorn, Martha, Moorehead,  Caroline: Kindle Store

Lacking official press credentials to witness the Normandy landings, she hid in a hospital ship bathroom, and upon landing impersonated a stretcher bearer.

She later recalled:

I followed the war wherever I could reach it.

She was the only woman to land at Normandy on D-Day on 6 June 1944.

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Above: A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the US Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of 6 June 1944. American soldiers encountered the newly formed German 352nd Division when landing. During the initial landing two-thirds of Company E became casualties.

She was also among the first journalists to report from Dachau concentration camp after it was liberated by US troops on 29 April 1945.

Above: Female prisoners at Dachau wave to their liberators, 29 April 1945

Gellhorn and Hemingway lived together off and on for four years, before marrying in November 1940. 

Above: Hemingway and Gellhorn posing with General Yu Hanmou (1896 – 1981) , Chungking, China, 1 January 1941

Hemingway had ostensibly lived with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer (1895 – 1951), until 1939.

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Above: Ernest and Pauline Hemingway

Increasingly resentful of Gellhorn’s long absences during her reporting assignments, Hemingway wrote to her when she left their Finca Vigia estate near Havana in 1943 to cover the Italian Front:

Are you a war correspondent, or wife in my bed?

Above: Finca Vigía (Hemingway House), Havana, Cuba

Hemingway, however, would later go to the front just before the Normandy landings, and Gellhorn also went, with Hemingway trying to block her travel.

When she arrived by means of a dangerous ocean voyage in war-torn London, she told him she had had enough.

She had found, as had his other wives, that, as described by Bernice Kert in The Hemingway Women:

Hemingway could never sustain a long-lived, wholly satisfying relationship with any one of his four wives. Married domesticity may have seemed to him the desirable culmination of romantic love, but sooner or later he became bored and restless, critical and bullying.

After four contentious years of marriage, they divorced in 1945.

The Hemingway Women: Kert, Bernice: 9780393318357: Books

Gellhorn resented her reflected fame as Hemingway’s third wife, remarking that she had no intention of “being a footnote in someone else’s life.”

As a condition for granting interviews, she was known to insist that Hemingway’s name not be mentioned.

As she put it once:

I’ve been a writer for over 40 years.

I was a writer before I met him and I was a writer after I left him.

Why should I be merely a footnote in his life?

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After the war, Gellhorn worked for the Atlantic Monthly, covering the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975) and the Arab-Israel conflicts in the 1960s and 70s.

The Atlantic Logo 11.2019.svg

Aboves: Images of the Vietnam War

She passed her 70th birthday in 1979, but continued working in the following decade, covering the civil wars in Central America.

As she approached 80, Gellhorn began to slow down physically and although she still managed to cover the US invasion of Panama in 1989, she finally retired from journalism as the 1990s began.

An operation for cataracts was unsuccessful and left her with permanently impaired vision.

Gellhorn announced that she was “too old” to cover the Balkan conflicts in the 1990s.

She did manage one last overseas trip to Brazil in 1995 to report on poverty in that country, which was published in the literary journal Granta.

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This last feat was accomplished with great difficulty as Gellhorn’s eyesight was failing, and she could not read her own manuscripts.

Gellhorn published numerous books, including:

  • a collection of articles on war, The Face of War (1959)

The Face of War: Gellhorn, Martha: Fremdsprachige Bücher

  • The Lowest Trees Have Tops (1967), a novel about McCarthyism

The Lowest Trees Have Tops: Gellhorn, Martha: Books

Joseph McCarthy adjusted.jpg
Above: Joseph McCarthy (1908 – 1957)

  • an account of her travels (including one trip with Hemingway), Travels with Myself and Another (1978)


  • a collection of her peacetime journalism, The View from the Ground (1988).

View from the Ground: Martha Gellhorn: 8601404897672: Books

Peripatetic by nature, Gellhorn reckoned that in a 40-year span of her life, she had created homes in 19 different locales.

In her last years, Gellhorn was in frail health, nearly blind and suffering from ovarian cancer that had spread to her liver.

On 15 February 1998, she committed suicide in London by swallowing a cyanide capsule.

Martha Gellhorn's Greatest Novel Is Essential Reading for Today - The New  York Times
Above: Martha Gellhorn

Worldwide, Saturday 15 February 2003

In 2002, the US government began to argue for the necessity of invading Iraq.

This formally began with a speech by US President George W. Bush to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 12 September 2002, which argued that the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein was violating UN resolutions, primarily on weapons of mass destruction and that this necessitated action.

George W. Bush's official portrait, 2003
Above: George W. Bush

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Above: The United Nations General Assembly Hall, UN Headquarters, New York City

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Above: Saddam Hussein (1937 – 2006)

The proposed war was controversial with many people questioning the motives of the US government and its rationale.

One poll which covered 41 countries claimed that less than 10% would support an invasion of Iraq without UN sanction and that half would not support an invasion under any circumstances.

Anti-war groups worldwide organised public protests.

According to the French academic Dominique Reynié, between 3 January and 12 April 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 anti‑war protests, the demonstrations on 15 February 2003 being the largest and most prolific.

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Above: Dominique Reynié

Nonetheless, the invasion of Iraq began on 20 March 2003.

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Above: US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, escort captured enemy prisoners of war to a holding area in the desert of Iraq on 21 March 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 15 February international protests were unprecedented not only in terms of the size of the demonstrations but also in terms of the international coordination involved.

Researchers from the University of Antwerp claim that the day was possible only because it “was carefully planned by an international network of national social movement organisations.”

Universiteit Antwerpen

Immanuel Wallerstein has spoken of the international protests as being organised by the forces of “the Porto Alegre camp” in reference to the emergence of global social movements who had been organising around international events such as the 2001 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. 

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Above: Immanuel Wallerstein (1930 – 2019)

Above: World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, Brazil, January 2001

Some commentators claim this is an example of “grassroots globalisation“.

For example, one book claims that:

The worldwide protests were made possible by globalisation.

But make no mistake — this was not your CEO’s globalisation.

The peace demonstrations represented, not a globalisation of commerce, but a globalisation of conscience.”

Above: Protest in London, 1 September 2002

The idea for an international day of demonstrations was first raised by the British anti-capitalist group Globalise Resistance (GR) in the wake of an anti-war demonstration in Britain of 400,000 on 28 September.

Above: “Pyramid of Capitalist System“, a 1911 Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) anti-capitalist poster

At the time GR was involved in planning for the Florence European Social Forum (ESF) and brought up the suggestion at an ESF planning meeting.

A collage of Florence showing the Galleria degli Uffizi (top left), followed by the Palazzo Pitti, a sunset view of the city and the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza della Signoria.
Above: Images of Florence (Firenze), Italy (Italia)

According to GR’s Chris Nineham:

There was considerable controversy.

Some delegates were worried it would alienate the mainstream of the movement.

We, alongside the Italian delegates, had to put up a strong fight to get it accepted.

Chris Nineham.jpg
Above: Chris Nineham

The proposal was accepted and at the final rally of the ESF, in November 2002, the call officially went out for Europe-wide demonstrations on 15 February 2003.

This call was firmed up in December at a planning meeting for the following ESF which took place in Copenhagen in 2003.

Above: Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

This meeting was attended by delegates from many European anti-war organisations, the US group United for Peace and Justice, and representatives of groups from the Philippines.

The decision was taken to set up a Europe-wide anti-war website and to commit to spreading organisational coordination both within and beyond Europe.

An email network connecting the different national organisations across Europe, and eventually also the different US groups, was set up.

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In December 2002, the Cairo Anti-war Conference pledged to organise demonstrations in Egypt.

Above: Cairo, Egypt

The International Campaign Against Aggression on Iraq (which came out of the Cairo Conference) sought to co-ordinate more demonstrations across the world.

Around this time, the US anti-war group International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) called for actions in North America supporting the proposed protests in Europe.

Another important platform for the spreading call to demonstrate internationally occurred at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which took place at the end of 2002.

European delegates sought to popularise the plan for the increasingly international demonstration.

They met with some success, including the organisation of an anti‑war assembly which was attended by almost 1,000 people.

The song “Boom!”, by System of a Down, had a music video filmed on the day of the protest, showing the many protest locations and people’s opinions on the Iraq War.

System of a Down - Boom by Turbizl on DeviantArt

On 15 February 2003, a coordinated day of protests started across the world in which people in more than 600 cities expressed opposition to the imminent Iraq War.

It was part of a series of protests and political events that had begun in 2002 and continued as the war took place.

At the time, social movement researchers described the 15 February protest as “the largest protest event in human history”.

According to BBC News, between six and ten million people took part in protests in up to sixty countries over the weekend of 15 and 16 February.

Above: Protesters in South Africa

Some of the largest protests took place in Europe.

The protest in Rome involved around three million people, and is listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records as the largest anti-war rally in history. 

Madrid hosted the second largest rally with more than 1.5 million people protesting the invasion of Iraq. 

Guinness World Records logo.svg

Mainland China was the only major region not to see any protests on that day, but small demonstrations, attended mainly by foreign students, were seen later.

Flag of China
Above: Flag of China

Canada saw protests in 70 cities and towns.

The biggest took place in Montréal where more than 100,000 people protested, despite windchill temperatures below −30 °C (−22 °F).

80,000 people joined a demonstration in Toronto, 40,000 in Vancouver, 18,000 in Edmonton, 8,000 in Victoria, 4,000 in Halifax and 6,000 in Ottawa.

Some of the other major centres where protests were held included Windsor and Calgary.

There were protests in 70 cities in total.

These demonstrations took place despite very cold weather, average temperatures were below −35 °C (−31 °F).

In Chicoutimi, 1,500 protested in windchill temperatures of −40 °C (−40 °F) wind-chill temperature in what was one of the coldest marches on that global day of protest.

A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.
Above: Flag of Canada

The main demonstration in Turkey took place in Istanbul, thousands demonstrated.

The local authorities had banned the protest claiming to have worries about national security, however the protest organisers went ahead with the rally under the cover of calling a press conference.

There were also demonstrations in Adana, Ankara, Izmir, Zonguldak, Izmit, Antalya and Mugla.

Flag of Turkey
Above: Flag of Turkey

Protests took place all across the United States of America with CBS reporting that 150 US cities had protests.

According to the World Socialist website, protests took place in 225 different communities.

The largest protests took place in the nation’s largest cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, but there were also smaller rallies in towns, such as Gainesville (Georgia), Macomb (Illinois) and Juneau (Alaska), among scores of others.

World Socialist Website Daily Podcast March 30, 2021 by World Socialist  Website Podcast

At the time, many commentators were hopeful that this global mobilization of unprecedented scale would stop the coming Iraq war. 

The New York Times writer Patrick Tyler claimed that they showed that there were “two superpowers on the planet – the United States, and worldwide public opinion”.

The unprecedented size of the demonstrations was widely taken to indicate that the majority of people across the world opposed the war.

However, the potential effect of the protests was generally dismissed by pro-war politicians.


The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, claimed that the protests were not representative of public opinion, saying:

“I don’t know that you can measure public opinion just by the number of people that turn up at demonstrations.”

Friday saw protests in Melbourne, where around 150,000 people joined a demonstration.

On Saturday, protests also took place in Australia’s six state capitals with 200,000 protesters demonstrating in Sydney, and an estimated 600,000 demonstrating in cities around the country.

The Sydney demonstration included a feeder march of 10,000 trade unionists.

Beyond the capitals, many major cities and towns around Australia had protests.

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

In the United States, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was reported as saying that the protests would “not affect the Administration’s determination to confront Saddam Hussein and help the Iraqi people”.

Her view was borne out as the day of protests, along with the protests that followed it, failed to stop the war.

Condoleezza Rice cropped.jpg
Above: Condoleeza Rice

However, the protests and other public opposition have been held up as a key factor in the decisions of the governments of many countries, such as Canada, to not send troops to Iraq.

Though demonstrations against the Iraq war and subsequent occupation have continued none has matched this day in terms of size.

One explanation for this that has been suggested is that people have become disillusioned with marching as a political tactic because of the failure of these demonstrations to achieve their explicit aim.

Flag of Iraq
Above: Flag of Iraq

In 2006, three years after this day, in an article arguing for people to attend a further march, Mike Marqusee put forward two counter arguments to this.

Firstly he claimed that it was too soon to judge the long-term significance of the demonstrations noting that:

People who took part in the non-cooperation campaigns in India in the 20s and 30s had to wait a long time for independence.”

There were eight years of protest and more than two million dead before the Vietnam war came to an end.”

Secondly, he claimed that while the effect of marching may be uncertain, the effect of not marching would surely be to make it more likely that the occupation would continue.

Mike Marqusee October 26, 1953 to January 13, 2015 | Tribute by Mark Steel

Despite failing in its explicit aim, the 15 February global day of anti-war protests had many effects that, according to some, were not directly intended.

According to United Kingdom left-wing anti-war activist Salma Yagoob, one of these was that they were a powerful antidote to the idea that the war was a “Clash of Civilizations“, or a religious war, an idea she claimed was propagated both by Western leaders and reactionary forces in the Arab world.

Salma Yaqoob.jpg
Above: Salma Yaqoob

This is echoed in the words of former Hizb ut-Tahrir organiser Hadiya Masieh who said of the non-Muslims marching in London:

How could we demonise people who obviously opposed aggression against Muslims?

Hadiya Masieh: How 7 July bombings made me question my beliefs | 7 July  London attacks | The Guardian
Above: Salma Yaqoob

Fremont, California, USA, Monday 15 February 2016

She was born on 4 January 1959 as Denise Katrina Matthews in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Helga Senyk and Levia James Matthews. 

Her mother was of German and Polish Jewish descent, and was born in Germany, while her father was of African American descent and was born in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Matthews had two sisters, Patricia and Renay.

Vanity 1984.jpg

She revealed to Jet in 1993 that her father physically and verbally abused her for years.

The abuse caused her to have a negative self-image.

For 15 years, he beat me badly.

I wish I could see my father in Heaven, but I won’t.

He’s in Hell,” she said.

Acquanetta Jet 252.jpg

Matthews began entering local beauty pageants before moving to Toronto, where she modelled.

She won the Miss Niagara Hospitality title in 1977 and went on to compete for Miss Canada in 1978.

At age 17, she moved to New York City to further her career.

She signed with Zoli Model Agency.

However, because she was short in stature, her modelling career was limited to commercials and photo shoots and included no runway work.

Matthews appeared in ads for Pearl Drops toothpaste, before completing a modelling stint in Japan.

Pearl Drops - Pro White 4D: Health & Personal Care

In 1980, she had a small role in the horror movie Terror Train, which was filmed in Montreal a year earlier.

She then went to Toronto to film the lead role in the B-movie Tanya’s Island. 

At the time of both film roles, she was billed as D. D. Winters.


Tanyas island.jpg

She met Prince when she was Rick James’ date at the American Music Awards.

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Above: Rick James (1948 – 2004)

Matthews and Prince then began dating shortly after.

Prince renamed her Vanity, as he considered her to be the female form of himself.

Above: Prince (1958 – 2016)

After learning that Vanity could sing, Prince asked her to become the lead singer of the girl group Vanity 6.

Prince created the whole Vanity Six image.

It bothered me at the time.

I lied and said it was the image I wanted.

I did it because he told me I had to do it.

If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t get paid.

I got into it.

I wanted the old Diana Ross image,” she said.

Diana Ross 1976.jpg
Above: Diana Ross

Vanity 6 recorded one album, and had some success internationally with the single “Nasty Girl“.

Left to right: Brenda Bennett, Vanity, and Susan Moonsie; 1983.
Above: Brenda Bennett, Vanity, and Susan Moonsie

Vanity then left the group (and Prince’s organization), and signed with Motown Records as a solo artist in 1984.

She released two albums for Motown in the mid-1980s, and had mild success on the US pop and R & B charts with a handful of singles.

Motown logo.svg
Above: Logo fo Motown Records

After her music career started, as Vanity she starred in a number of movies and guest–starred on numerous TV shows.

Vanity was linked romantically to Adam Ant (who wrote the track “Vanity” about her on his Strip album) and Billy Idol.

Strip - Adam Ant.jpg

Idol performing in June 2012
Above: Billy Idol

On The Late Show in 1987, Matthews announced that she and Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx were engaged.

She joked to host Arsenio Hall that she would become Vanity 6 (Sixx) again.

They never married.

In his memoir, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, Nikki Sixx details their volatile relationship and drug use.

Vanity was addicted to crack cocaine at the time.

Sixx in September 2007
Above: Nikki Sixx

The Heroin Diaries.jpg

On her first anniversary of sobriety, Vanity married football player Anthony Smith of the Oakland Raiders in 1995.

She was working as an evangelist in San Jose when she read about Smith’s philanthropic activities in Los Angeles.

The Lord told me that I would go down to LA and minister him,” she told Ebony.

Three days after they met she proposed to him.

They married after a one-month whirlwind romance.

The wedding took place at Smith’s home in Playa del Rey.

Pin on Denise Vanity Matthews

Smith revealed that they often argued because of her kind nature.

Vanity had a habit of inviting homeless people into their home for food and offering them showers.

She would also give out her number.

Smith was volatile and the marriage ended in 1996.

After they separated, Smith was arrested for domestic violence involving another woman and he was later convicted of three murders.

Former Raider sentenced to life in prison for 3 killings [updated]

In early 1992, Vanity became a born-again Christian, and explained in several interviews that she would not take anymore sexualized roles.

Her roles in 1992’s Lady Boss and Highlander: The Series had Matthews play different kinds of characters.

Simultaneously, she renounced her stage name Vanity and reverted to Denise once again.

She travelled extensively throughout the South with her friend/agent Benjamin Jimerson-Phillips, giving her testimony of conversion to Jesus Christ.

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In 1994, Matthews was hospitalized for three months for near-fatal kidney failure from a drug overdose.

She recalled later that after being rushed to the hospital, doctors said she had three days to live while on life support.

Her friend Benjamin Jimerson-Phillips was by her hospital bedside.

Later it was revealed, he was the one who notified Prince by Western Union Telegram that she had been hospitalized.

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She stated that Jesus appeared to her at this time and spoke to her, saying that if she promised to abandon her Vanity persona, he would save her.

Upon her recovery, she fully ended her performing career and devoted herself to being a born-again Christian.

In 1995, she said:

When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine — every interview, every tape, every video, everything.

Jimerson-Phillips stated:

“I was there at her apartment at The Grand in Sherman Oaks, when she just started dumping things down the incinerator.

I grabbed some of the items, including a painting titled “Tailspin” by famed artist Olivia, a cassette hand painted by Prince of unreleased music, and an assortment of other items I didn’t want to see go into the trash.

I even had to go down to the office and ask them to retrieve her gold album she had thrown away.”

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Above: Artist Olivia (de Berardinis)

Olivia De Berardinis O Card "Tailspin" | eBay
Above: “Tailspin“, Olivia

She stated that she had chosen not to receive any further revenue from her work as Vanity, and cut off all ties with Hollywood and her former life in show business.

After a kidney transplant in 1997, she dedicated the rest of her life full-time to Christ.

She made speaking engagements at churches across the United States and worldwide.

In 2010, she released her autobiography, Blame It On Vanity: Hollywood, Hell and Heaven, in which she thanks Jimerson.

Blame It on Vanity: Matthews, Denise K.: 9781878898227: Books

Due to kidney problems from her 10-year crack cocaine addiction, Matthews had to undergo peritoneal dialysis five times a day (each session was 20 minutes long).

Matthews underwent a kidney transplant in 1997, but her health worsened in 2015 after she was diagnosed with sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis, an inflammatory condition of the peritoneum, a membrane which lines the inner abdomen and the abdominal organs.

Matthews died in a Fremont, California, hospital on 15 February 2016, from kidney failure, aged 57.

Matthews left much of her estate to her church.

A dying wish of hers was to have her ashes scattered over the coast of Hawaii, and for her loved ones to celebrate her life with festivities and “no tears“.

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Wednesday 15 February 2017

Stuart McLean was born in Montreal West, the eldest of three children to Australian immigrant parents Andrew McLean and Margaret Godkin.

McLean became interested in radio programming as a child, when his father bought him a Motorola radio to occupy his time while recovering from sickness.

This fascination with radio stayed with McLean throughout his adult life as he pursued a career in media and journalism.

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Above: Stuart McLean (1948 – 2017)

McLean was educated at Lower Canada College and Bishop’s College School in Québec.


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Above: Coat of arms of Bishop’s College School

He admitted to feeling like an outsider to the other students at the private school, feeling neither athletic enough nor smart enough to fit in.

McLean graduated from Sir George Williams University (1926 – 1974) with a BA degree in 1971.

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Above: Coat of arms of Sir George Williams University

Following his graduation, he worked in student services for Dawson College, and as campaign manager for Nick Auf der Maur (1942 – 1998) in his first Montréal City Council election.


Nick: A Montreal Life: Nick Auf Der Maur Paperback – January 1, 1998

McLean married Linda Read, a potter, in 1982.

They had two children together, Robert and Andrew, and McLean was stepfather to Read’s son, Christopher Trowbridge, from her first marriage.

McLean and Read later divorced in 2002.

He was also a sponsor of the YMCA’s Camp Kanawana, establishing a charitable fund to provide financial support for underprivileged youth to attend the camp, and served as honorary colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces.

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Above: Badge of the Canadian Forces

McLean first joined CBC Radio as a researcher for Cross Country Checkup in 1974, later becoming a documentarian for the radio program Sunday Morning.

Home | Cross Country Checkup | CBC Radio

The Sunday Magazine - CBC Media Centre

He won an ACTRA Award in 1979 for “Operation White Knight“, his Sunday Morning documentary about the Jonestown Massacre.

(The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, better known by its informal name “Jonestown“, was a remote settlement in Guyana, established by the Peoples Temple, a San Francisco-based cult under the leadership of Jim Jones.

The settlement became internationally known when, on 18 November 1978, a total of 918 people died at the settlement, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma, and at a Temple-run building in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city.

The name of the settlement became synonymous with the incidents at those locations.

In total, 909 individuals died in Jonestown, all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning, in an event termed “revolutionary suicide” by Jones and some Peoples Temple members on an audio tape of the event, and in prior recorded discussions.

The poisonings in Jonestown followed the murder of five others by Temple members at Port Kaituma, including United States Congressman Leo Ryan, an act that Jones ordered.

Four other Temple members committed murder – suicide in Georgetown at Jones’ command.

Most sources today refer to the deaths with terms such as mass murder–suicide, a massacre, or simply mass murder.

Seventy or more individuals at Jonestown were injected with poison, and a third of the victims (304) were minors.

Guards armed with guns and crossbows had been ordered to shoot those who fled the Jonestown pavilion as Jones lobbied for suicide.)

From 1981 until 1984 McLean was the show’s executive producer.

McLean was a professor of journalism at Ryerson University from 1984 until 2004, when he retired and became a professor emeritus.

 When he died in 2017, former students of McLean recalled how he concerned himself with their success in the journalism industry. 

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Above: Logo of Ryerson University, Toronto

CTV reporter Scott Lightfoot remarked:

I went to university twice, I took a lot of courses, I never had another professor offer to make phone calls on my behalf.”

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During the 1980s and 1990s, he was a frequent contributor to and sometime guest host of Morningside (1976 – 1997), for which he often produced human interest documentaries and audio essays about everyday people and places. 

He would later characterize his Morningside work as celebrating “the importance of being unimportant“, and as ultimately helping him find his own voice as a writer.

Morningside host Peter Gzowski (1934 – 2002) remembered fondly the work McLean did for the program:

On the surface, they seemed inconsequential, but in fact they were exquisitely crafted pieces of journalism.”

Peter Gzowski's last Morningside show on CBC Radio |
Above: Morningside with Peter Gzowski

McLean eventually compiled a selection of his work for Morningside in his first book, The Morningside World of Stuart McLean.

The book was a Canadian bestseller and a finalist for the 1990 Toronto Book Awards.

The Morningside World of Stuart McLean: McLean, Stuart: 9780140260663:  Books -

Following the success of his first book, McLean was approached by Penguin Books to write a travel memoir about life in small-town Canada.

Released in 1992, Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada featured stories from seven small communities, and won the Canadian Authors Association for best non-fiction book in 1993.

Welcome Home:travels in Smalltown Canada: McLean, Stuart: 9780143173441: Books

McLean often reported for CBC news programs The Journal (1982 – 1992) and The National, where he focused on human interest stories, talking to “regular people” and delving into their often funny or poignant experiences.

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Above: The Journal with Barbara Frum

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These segments about everyday people helped to inspire The Vinyl Café, which in the same vein looked at the lives of average Canadians.

In 1994, McLean launched The Vinyl Café as a summer series featuring stories about a fictional second-hand record store.

Although the early stories focused on a diverse group of characters loosely linked through the titular Vinyl Café record store, by the time the series became a permanent one the stories were focused more squarely on the store’s proprietor, Dave, and his family and friends.

Following the show’s second summer run in 1995, McLean published Stories from the Vinyl Café, his first book in that series.

The show joined CBC’s permanent regular-season schedule in 1997.

Beginning in 1998, McLean took The Vinyl Café on the road to theatres across Canada and the United States.

Some stories would be repeated at multiple shows—in particular, an early story about Dave’s awkward attempt to cook a turkey for Christmas dinner became one of the most famous and most frequently performed stories of McLean’s career — but McLean would often perform slightly different versions of the stories to keep his audiences engaged.

One episode of The Vinyl Café each year was also dedicated to the “Arthur Awards“, McLean’s own awards program to honour acts of kindness and community engagement by ordinary Canadians that might otherwise “go unheralded and even unnoticed“.

The Vinyl Café was broadcast every weekend on CBC Radio, and later as a weekly podcast. 

McLean’s books of stories from The Vinyl Café won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times.

Several albums of his performances of Vinyl Café stories were also released. In the 2010s a spinoff edition, Vinyl Café Stories, aired on CBC Radio in a weekday afternoon time-slot, featuring two previously broadcast stories on interrelated themes.

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Above: Stuart McLean on stage at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 18 March 2008

Following McLean’s diagnosis with melanoma in November 2015, The Vinyl Café stopped touring and producing episodes.

The Vinyl Cafe

McLean announced on 13 December 2016, that he required a second round of treatment, meaning further delay in producing episodes, and that repeats of past shows would stop airing on CBC Radio One effective January 2017 to “make room for others to share their work on the radio.”


McLean died of cancer on 15 February 2017 in Toronto, aged 68.

His archive was donated to McMaster University.

Above: Coat of arms of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

One day after his death in February 2017, a tribute special hosted by Michael Enright under the title Canada’s Storyteller: A Tribute to Stuart McLean, aired on CBC Radio.

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Above: Michael Enright

It was repeated the following Sunday in The Vinyl Café‘s former timeslot.

CBC Radio’s documentary series The Doc Project produced a special episode after McLean’s death, re-airing his 1979 Sunday Morning documentary “The New Goldrush“, while Cross Country Checkup devoted a tribute episode to its own version of the Arthur Awards, asking callers to share stories of acts of kindness that had made a difference in their lives.

The Doc Project with Acey Rowe | Live Radio | CBC Listen

Meanwhile, on this day (15 February) in 2021:

Israeli Air Force (IAF) airstrikes against targets in the Damascus area early Monday morning killed six non-Syrians nationals and destroyed Iranian weapons and missile depots, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

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Above: Logo of the Israeli Air Force (IAF)

The SOHR quoted its sources in Syria which reported that the Israeli attack hit the headquarters of the 4th Division in the mountains surrounding the Damascus-Beirut road, where weapons and missile depots belonging to the Iranians and Shia militias are located.

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Iran commands a multi-national force of tens of thousands of Shia-Muslims who have come to support their military cause in Syria.

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Above: Flag of Iran

The Syrian Army’s 1st Division in the Al-Kiswa area was also hit, in addition to other locations west and south-west of the capital Damascus.

This area has previously been targeted in Israeli strikes.

The Israeli strikes lasted for about half an hour, the SOHR reported.

The Syrian Army said its air defenses intercepted a number of the missiles, but the SOHR said that some of them reached their targets, leaving material damage.

Six non-Syrian nationals were killed in the bombings, four of whom were killed in airstrikes on warehouses on Beirut’s old road, while two were killed in airstrikes on the 1st Division and its surroundings, the SOHR added.

The IDF has remained silent on the reports, and it usually does.

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Above: Flag of the Syrian Army

Iran routinely attempts to arm the Lebanon-based Hezbollah with advanced weapons. Israel has exposed and thwarted multiple attempts by Iran to transfer game-changing weapons to Hezbollah, including by air shipments from Iran, through Damascus Airport.

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Above: Logo of Hezbollah

Israel has significantly stepped up its strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria in recent weeks.

The IAF reportedly carried out a strike against an Iranian arms convoy in Iraq in broad daylight on Thursday.

In general, Iran and Hezbollah’s military build-up in Syria remains a red line for Israel.

The IAF has carried out thousands of attacks to thwart the Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country.

Above: An Israeli jet

Israeli leaders have repeatedly declared that they will not tolerate an Iranian threat on its northern border with Syria and will take all necessary measures to ensure that such a menace does not emerge.

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Above: Flag of Israel

Myanmar cut Internet service and deployed troops around the country on Monday (15 February) in signs of a feared crackdown on anti-coup protests, hours after security forces fired to disperse a demonstration in the country’s north.

The junta has escalated efforts to quell a burgeoning civil disobedience campaign which is demanding a return of the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Above: Aung San Suu Kyi

Monday’s Internet shutdown and a request from the United Nations for an observer to be allowed in came soon after live-stream images shared on social media platforms showed military vehicles and soldiers moving through some parts of the country.

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

Monitoring group NetBlocks said the “state-ordered information blackout” had taken Myanmar almost entirely offline.

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Troops in Myitkyina fired tear gas then shot at a crowd who gathered in the northern city to stop a rumoured shutdown of the electricity grid.

A journalist at the scene said it was unclear whether police had used rubber bullets or live rounds.

Local media outlets said at least five journalists monitoring the protest had been detained and published pictures of some people wounded in the incident.

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Above: Myanmar anti-coup protesters

A joint statement from the US, British and European Union ambassadors urged security forces not to harm civilians.

We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” they said.

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Above: Flag of the European Union

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed that call, pushing authorities to “ensure the right of peaceful assembly is fully respected and demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals”.

Through his spokesman, Mr Guterres also asked the military to “urgently” allow Swiss diplomat Christine Schraner Burgener to visit Myanmar “to assess the situation first hand“.

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Above: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

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Above: Christine Schraner Burgener

The US embassy advised American citizens to shelter in place and not risk defying an overnight curfew imposed by the regime.

UN special rapporteur Tom Andrews said the junta efforts to rein in the country’s burgeoning protest movement was a sign of “desperation” and amounted to a declaration of war against its own people.

Attention generals: You WILL be held accountable,” he wrote on Twitter.

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Above: Logo of Twitter

Much of the country has been in uproar since soldiers detained Aung San Suu Kyi and her top political allies on 1 February, ending a decade-old fledgling democracy after generations of junta rule.

The Nobel laureate spent years under house arrest during an earlier dictatorship and has not been seen in public since she was detained.

An Internet blackout last weekend failed to quell resistance that has seen huge crowds throng big urban centres and isolated frontier villages alike.

Striking workers who spearheaded the campaign are among at least 400 people to have been detained since the coup, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group said.

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But fear of arrest did not deter big crowds from returning to streets around the country for a ninth straight day of street protests on Sunday.

In the southern city of Dawei, seven police officers broke ranks to join anti-coup protesters, mirroring local media reports of isolated defections from the force in recent days.

Parts of the country had in recent days formed neighbourhood watch brigades to monitor their communities and prevent the arrests of residents joining the civil disobedience movement.

We don’t trust anyone at this time, especially those with uniforms,” said Myo Ko Ko, a member of a street patrol in Yangon.

Near the city’s central train station, residents rolled tree trunks onto a road to block police vehicles and escorted away officers who were attempting to return striking railway employees to work.

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 Ms Suu Kyi’s administration.

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.

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Above: Flag of Myanmar

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday criticized the US statement on a recent terror attack in which 13 Turkish citizens were killed by the PKK terrorist group in Iraq’s northern Gara region.

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

Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) congress in the Black Sea province of Rize, Erdoğan said that the US has sided with the PKK and its Syrian branch, the YPG, providing truckloads of ammunition to them.

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Above: Logo of the Justice and Development (AK) Party

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Above: Flag of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), official armed wing of the Kurdish Supreme Committee

The U.S. statement on the PKK’s execution of Turkish citizens in northern Iraq is ridiculous.

They claim they do not support the PKK, but they certainly do,” he also said.

If you want to continue our alliance globally and at NATO, then you must stop siding with terrorists,” Erdoğan added.

The President said that the blood of innocent people killed in northern Iraq is on the hands of all those who defend, support and sympathize with PKK terrorists.

This is not the PKK’s first massacre of civilians,” said Erdoğan, calling on U.S. counterpart Joe Biden to recognize the terrorist group as well.

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Above: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Erdoğan’s remarks came after the US State Department issued a controversial statement on the incident.

The United States deplores the death of Turkish citizens.

We stand with our NATO ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in the recent fighting.

If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”, it said.

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Above: US President Joe Biden

Turkey also summoned the US Ambassador to Ankara, David Satterfield, and voiced “strong” reaction over Washington’s statement on the killing of 13 Turkish citizens.

Despite condolences from some countries, many international actors remained silent or hesitated to send genuine messages over the PKK terrorist attack.

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Above: David Satterfield

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Monday also strongly criticized Western countries over their “double standards” and “selective approach” to terrorism.

The Western world’s double standard on terrorism and its selective approach about ‘good terrorist’ and ‘bad terrorist’ continue,” Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter.

Later in another statement, Çavuşoğlu also said that countries claiming to be fighting terrorism are either silent on the PKK massacre or trying to paint over it.

Countries claiming to be fighting terrorism are either silent on PKK massacre or trying to slur over it with ifs and buts,” he said.

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Above: Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Turkish officials consistently criticize Western counterparts for their selectivity and use of “buts and ifs” in condemning terrorist acts.

They argue that terrorism needs to be strongly condemned regardless of the perpetrators.

Turkey will continue undeterred in its fight against terrorist organizations both in the country and abroad, Çavuşoğlu asserted in his speech alongside his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnen during the opening of a new building for the Ethiopian Embassy in the capital Ankara.

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Above: Demeke Mekonnen Hassen

We have never been hypocritical like many Western countries,” Çavuşoğlu added.

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Above: Member states of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

Erdoğan also announced that Turkey has killed 42 terrorists in their hideouts and caves during the first phase of Operation Claw-Eagle 2.

Turkey will continue its fight against terror until the last terrorist is eliminated; no matter where they are hiding, in Syria, in Iraq, nowhere is safe anymore,” he added.

No country can question Turkey’s anti-terror operations in northern Iraq following the PKK’s Gara massacre. From now on, they either stand with Turkey against bloody terrorist groups or will be held accountable for supporting terrorists through international platforms,” Erdoğan said.

Minipax - Ministry of Peace 1984 - 1984 - Sticker | TeePublic
Above: Suggested logo for the Ministry of Peace, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four

The bodies of the Turkish citizens were found during Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Iraq, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Sunday.

Turkey launched Operation Claw-Tiger and Operation Claw-Eagle last June to ensure the safety of the Turkish people and its national borders by eliminating terrorist threats.

Operation Claw-Eagle 2 was launched last week.

At least 48 PKK terrorists, including two senior members, were eliminated during the “extremely special and critical” operation in the Gara region, Akar said, adding that the region was mostly cleared of the terrorist group.

The operation has been completed.

Our land and air elements returned to their bases and barracks safely,” he said.

During the campaign, more than 50 terrorist targets, including ammunition depots, caves and bases in Gara were destroyed, Akar stated.

Three Turkish soldiers were killed and three others injured in the land operation, he noted.

The PKK managed to establish a foothold in Iraq, particularly in the Sinjar region, in mid-2014 on the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from Daesh terrorists.

Since then, the PKK has reportedly established a new command base in Sinjar to carry out logistical activities.

Turkey has long been stressing that it will not tolerate threats posed to its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorists.

Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps were not taken, it would not shy away from targeting the group.

Recently, Akar expressed that Turkey was prepared to provide assistance to Iraq in clearing terrorists from the region.

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Above: Hulusi Akar

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has called the PKK’s presence in Sinjar unacceptable and urged the militants to leave the area.

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In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) congress in Rize province, northeastern Turkey, Feb. 15, 2021. (AA Photo)
Above: Turkish President Recep Erdogan

Turkey on Monday announced the detention of 718 people it accuses of being part of a Kurdish militant group it says executed 13 Turks in northern Iraq.

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Above: Roj emblem of the Kurdish people

Turkish President Erdogan berated the new US administration for failing to immediately accept its version of the incident.

The mass arrests were announced a day after Ankara said Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels had executed the 13 captives.

The PKK blamed Turkish airstrikes on their bases for their deaths.

Most of the captives were soldiers and police abducted in southeast Turkey and kept in an Iraqi cave.

The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 thought to have left tens of thousands dead.

Above: PKK guerrillas dancing to traditional music

The Turkish Interior Ministry did not give details on where the raids took place but said heads of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in cities and districts were among those captured.

The HDP is Turkey’s second-largest opposition party.

It denies all formal links to the PKK — a group classified as a terrorist organisation by United States and Ankara’s other Western allies.

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Above: Logo of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

But Washington has supported another Kurdish militia in Syria that Turkey considers as an offshoot of the PKK.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday expressed condolences for the deaths of Turkish hostages in Iraq and said Washington believed PKK bore responsibility.

This came after the State Department said on Sunday it “deplores the death of Turkish citizens” but was waiting for further confirmation that Ankara’s account of what happened was true.

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Above: US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken

Erdogan branded Washington’s response “a farce“.

You said you did not support terrorists, when in fact you are on their side and behind them,” he said in televised remarks.

Turkey this month launched a military operation against PKK bases in northern Iraq that Erdogan said on Monday was designed in part to free the 13 hostages.

The PKK said the 13 men had died when Turkish forces bombed the cave where the men were being kept after being abducted in raids that began in 2015.

If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organisation, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” the State Department said in a statement.

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Turkey said 12 of the men had been executed with a single shot to the head while the 13th was shot in the chest.

The incident threatens to escalate tensions across Iraq and Syria while delivering an early test to Erdogan’s relations with the new US administration of President Joe Biden.

Turkey has long accused the Iraqi government of being too tolerant of the PKK.

Ankara also wants Washington to renounce the Kurdish militia in Syria and to reaffirm its support for Turkey’s anti-terror campaign.

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Above: Flag of Syria

Erdogan said Turkey’s NATO allies had to pick sides.

If we are going to be in NATO together, you should be sincere.

You should not be on the terrorists’ side,” Erdogan said.

After this, there are two options. Either act with Turkey with no ifs or buts, without questioning, or they will be a partner to every murder and bloodshed,” he said.

The terrorist organisation on our doorstep, on our borders, is killing innocents.”

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Erdogan’s rebuke of the US contrasts with his efforts over the past few months to strike a softer tone and mend torn relations with the West.

The Turkish leader developed a personal friendship with former US President Donald Trump, but he can expect a tougher approach from the Biden administration.

Erdogan is still waiting for a phone call from Biden that could help set the tone for future US-Turkish ties.

File:Flag of US and Turkey.svg - Wikimedia Commons

When we view the stories of Columbus’ letter, the sinking of the Maine, the execution of Francois de Lorimier, the lives of Lew Wallace and Pat Sullivan, the legends of Nat King Cole and Martha Gellhorn, the contrast between Canadians Vanity and Stuart McLean, the actions of governments versus the will of citizens, it becomes suddenly clear that there are justifiable reasons for the hesitations of the people of Tanna in embracing all that the modern world offers, whether this be the beautiful and wonderful or the ugly and terrible.

It is said that ignorance is bliss and if this is true perhaps it is better if the people of Tanna avoid knowing too much of what lies beyond their shores.

I will always love my home and native land of Canada, but had I known of some of the difficulties that awaited me upon my return after a seven-year absence, I too might have wanted to remain back on my island of isolated ignorance.

A projection of North America with Canada highlighted in green

St. Thomas, Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Monday 13 January 2020

By the time my journey from the home of Terry Fenning in St. Thomas had ended at Union Station in Toronto, I had already previously encountered problems with the changes that had transpired in Canada during my absence.

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Above: Terry Fenning and some overly enthusiastic stranger, St. Thomas, Ontario, 13 January 2020

Where it had once been second nature to use my foreign ATM card to make purchases, now fewer machines accepted my card and I found it easier to make most purchases in cash.

Even that was challenging as the penny had been eliminated in 2013 and few retailers accept bills larger than $20.

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In St. Jérôme, the train ticket machine would accept neither Canadian cash nor foreign cards and had it not been for the assistance of Debbie Barlow getting to Montréal would have proven to be far more difficult.

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Above: Ms. Barlow

I learned in Montréal, though I slowly suspected this in Lachute, that intercity bus travel, though it exists in some parts of Canada, was drastically reduced since Greyhound Canada eliminated services west of Sudbury, Ontario, in 2018.

Greyhound Canada claimed the cancellations were due to declining ridership.

Greyhound said that the decline in ridership was due to increased car ownership, subsidies to competing passenger carriers, competition from low-cost airlines and regulatory restrictions.

(They would later cease operations altogether in May 2021.)

When it comes to travelling I am a stubborn man.

I had promised friends in Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie and Red Deer that I would make every effort to see them on this trip to Canada, but I had made this promise without knowing of the decline of Greyhound Canada.

I had made this promise without considering the amount of time interprovincial travel takes if not airborne.

I have never learned to drive and so I do not possess a driver’s license.

Renting a car and driving west was not an option.

When investigating the option of taking VIA Rail from Toronto to Edmonton, their schedule seemed so confusing, convoluted, complicated and uncompromising, that I was left with only two options:

Fly or let the notion die.

VIA Rail Canada Logo.svg

Herein lay two problems:

  • To book a flight, one needs a credit card.
  • I really hate flying.

A credit card is something, Iike a driver’s license, I have never possessed.

I am old school thinking.

If I can’t afford to buy it now, then either I need to earn the money to purchase it later or do without the expensive item.

I never want to have debts hanging over my head like too many others have.

Though my wife does possess credit cards – she is a doctor, after all – she too hates debt.

And though she has never understood my rejection of credit cards, she seems to respect my reluctance to amass a burden of debt.

Debt is difficult to avoid but through the charity of my wife that which I cannot afford on my own she has provided.

I would not have a pension plan, health insurance or a library were it not for her.

(But this is a debt of another kind and a dependence that rattles the pride and compromises choice and which ultimately set into motion my eventual exile out of Switzerland and away from her.)

Flag of Switzerland
Above: Flag of Switzerland

Thankfully, my good friend, Sumit Panigrahi assisted me in this regard, purchasing and organizing much of the rest of my Canadian itinerary.

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Above: Sumit Panigrahi

Thanks to him I would fly from Toronto to Winnipeg (13 January), Winnipeg to Edmonton (17 January), and Edmonton to Montréal (21 January).

He also organized stays at Air B&Bs in Winnipeg and Edmonton.

For this, and so much more, I remain extremely grateful.

(Happily, I was able to promptly pay him back upon my return to Switzerland.)

Airbnb logo

I managed without incident to make my way from Union Station to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

And then my troubles began.

Union Pearson Express logo.svg


Toronto Pearson is the largest and busiest airport in Canada, the second-busiest international air passenger gateway in the Americas, and the 30th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, handling 50.5 million passengers in 2019.

Toronto Pearson Airport Logo.svg

The airport is named in honour of Lester B. Pearson (1897 – 1972), Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1957) and 14th Prime Minister of Canada (1963 – 1968).

Lester Pearson 1957.jpg
Above: Lester B. Pearson

(He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis.

1933 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Norman Angell.JPG

(The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel, was an invasion of Egypt in late 1956 by Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France.

Tanks Destroyed Sinai.jpg
Above: Damaged tank and vehicles, Sinai War, 1956.

The aims were to regain control of the Suez Canal for the Western powers and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalised the Canal.

Above: Satellite view of the Suez Canal

After the fighting had started, political pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations led to a withdrawal by the three invaders.

The episode humiliated the United Kingdom and France and strengthened Nasser.

Nasser in Egypt 1968
Above: Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918 – 1970)

As a result of the conflict, the United Nations created the UNEF Peacekeepers to police the Egyptian–Israeli border, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden resigned, Canadian External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the USSR may have been emboldened to invade Hungary.)

Anthony Eden (retouched).jpg
Above: Anthony Eden (1897 – 1977)

During Pearson’s time as Prime Minister, his Liberal minority governments introduced universal health care, the Canada Student Loan Program, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada, and the Maple Leaf flag (adopted on 15 February 1965).

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Above: Symbol of universal health care in Canada

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Above: The Order of Canada

His Liberal government also unified Canada’s armed forces.

Pearson convened the Royal Commission on Bilingual and Biculturalism.

He kept Canada out of the Vietnam War.

In 1967, his government passed Bill C-168, which de facto abolished capital punishment in Canada by restricting it to a few capital offences for which it was never used, and which themselves were abolished in 1976.

With these accomplishments, together with his groundbreaking work at the United Nations and in international diplomacy, which included his role in ending the Suez Crisis, Pearson is generally considered among the most influential Canadians of the 20th century and is ranked among the greatest Canadian Prime Ministers.)

Above: Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario

Toronto Pearson is located 22.5 kilometres (14.0 mi) northwest of downtown Toronto.

It features five runways and two passenger terminals along with numerous cargo and maintenance facilities on a site that covers 1,867 hectares (4,613 acres).

Toronto Pearson is the primary hub for Air Canada. 

Air Canada Logo.svg

It also serves as a hub for WestJet, cargo airline FedEx Express, and as a base of operations for Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines.


FedEx Express.svg

Air Transat logo.svg

Sunwings logo 2015.svg

Pearson is operated by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) as part of Transport Canada’s National Airports System, and is the largest airport in the world with facilities for US border pre-clearance.


An extensive network of non-stop domestic flights is operated from Toronto Pearson by several airlines to all major and many secondary cities across all provinces of Canada.

As of 2019, over 75 airlines operate around 1,250 daily departures from the airport to more than 180 destinations across all six of the world’s inhabited continents.

Above: Check-in lobby for Terminal 1 (2010)

(The airport’s deadliest accident occurred on 5 July 1970, when Air Canada Flight 621, a DC-8 jet, flew on a Montreal–Toronto–Los Angeles route.

The pilots inadvertently deployed spoilers (plates on the top surface of a wing that can be extended upward into the airflow to spoil the streamline flow, creates a controlled stall over the portion of the wing behind it, greatly reducing the lift of that wing section) before the plane attempted landing, forcing the pilots to abort landing and takeoff.

Damage to the aircraft during the failed landing attempt caused the plane to break up in the air during the go-around, killing all 100 passengers and nine crew members on board when it crashed into a field southeast of Brampton.

Controversy remains over the cleanup effort following the crash, as both plane wreckage debris and human remains from the crash are still found on the site.)

Air Canada Douglas DC-8.jpg

Sumit, may Shiva bless him and his family for eternity, arranged a low-cost flight from Toronto Pearson to Winnipeg Richardson, but our understanding of what was permissible luggage allowance and what was actual airline policy meant I was informed by the airline that I needed to pay excise baggage fees.

I offered to pay in cash.


To pay with my bank debit card.


Payment had to be made by credit card.


Then I was introduced to the strangest new innovation I had yet to see since my return to Canada:

A debit credit card.

One walks up to a counter, cash in hand, and asks for a credit card.

The card is loaded with the amount desired minus service charges.

Then this credit card is used to pay the airline.

Such a convoluted method for something that should be basically simple.

I am all for following rules and standard operating procedures, but I fail to see the logic or utility in this process.


Yes, I hate to fly, and not just for Greta Thunberg reasons.

These are the Thunberg troubles:

Modern aircraft consume less fuel per person and mile travelled than cars when fully booked.

This argument in favor of air travel is counterweighted by two facts:

  • The distances travelled are often significantly larger and will not replace car travel but instead add to it.
  • Not every flight is booked out.

Instead, the scheduled flights are predominant, resulting in a far worse fuel efficiency.

Portrait of Thunberg at the European Parliament in 2020
Above: Greta Thunberg

According to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), flights produced 781 million tonnes (769 million long tons) of the greenhouse gas CO2 in 2015 globally, as compared to an estimated total of 36 billion tonnes (35 billion long tons) anthropogenic CO2. 

Carbon offset is often proposed as a solution to mitigate the CO2 emissions of flying.

There are many NGOs that offer to compensate CO2 emissions by advancing clean renewable energy, reducing energy consumption and capturing already released carbon in trees or other plants.

However, carbon offsetting is a very controversial topic as it only tries to mitigate what has already been emitted.

Like other emissions resulting from fossil fuel combustion, aircraft engines produce gases, noise, and particulates (aerosol particles), raising environmental concerns over their global impact and their local air quality effect.

As previously mentioned, jet airliners contribute to climate change by emitting carbon dioxide (CO2), the best understood greenhouse gas, and, with less scientific understanding, nitrogen oxides, contrails (vapour trails sometimes visible behind a plane in flight) and particulates.

Their radiative forcing is estimated at 1.3 – 1.4 that of CO2 alone, excluding induced cirrus cloud with a very low level of scientific understanding.

In 2018, global commercial operations generated 2.4% of all CO2 emissions.

Air Transport Action Group.svg

(Positive radiative forcing means Earth receives more incoming energy from sunlight than it radiates to space. This net gain of energy will cause warming.

Conversely, negative radiative forcing means that Earth loses more energy to space than it receives from the sun, which produces cooling.

Cirrus cloud is a type of cloud generally characterized by thin, wispy strands.)


Above: Cirrus cloud formation

Jet airliners have become 70% more fuel efficient between 1967 and 2007.

While the aviation industry is more fuel efficient, overall emissions have risen as the volume of air travel has increased.

Every time I fly, I contribute to climate change.

By 2020, aviation emissions were 70% higher than in 2005 and they could grow by 300% by 2050.

Aircraft noise pollution disrupts sleep, children’s education, and could increase cardiovascular risk. 

Airports can generate water pollution due to their extensive handling of jet fuel and de-icing chemicals if not contained, contaminating nearby water bodies.

Aviation emits ozone (a pale blue gas) and ultrafine particles, both health hazards.

General aviation burns Avgas (aviation fuel), releasing toxic lead.

Aviation’s environmental impact can be reduced by better fuel economy in aircraft or air traffic control and flight routes can be optimised to lower non-CO2 impact on climate from NOx, particulates or contrails. 

Aviation biofuel, emissions trading (economic incentives for reducing the emissions of pollutants), and carbon offsetting (a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere), part of the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) can lower CO2 emissions.

Aviation usage can be lowered by short-haul flight bans, train connections, personal choices, aviation taxation and subsidies.

Fuel-powered aircraft may be replaced by hybrid electric aircraft and electric aircraft or by hydrogen-powered aircraft.

International Civil Aviation Organization logo.svg

With the elimination of bus services and the complexity of train travel, flight bans or increased aviation taxation and subsidies seem unlikely.

As for personal choice, Greta may wish we would choose not to fly, but unlike Ms. Thunberg few of us have the luxury of unlimited time or sponsorship to sail a boat across the sea.

Greta Thunberg Says Sea Voyage 'Energized' Her Climate Fight | Voice of  America - English

No, as horrible as it is to admit, my reluctance to fly is not the idealistic concerns of environmentalism.

It is aviation safety.

Fear of Flying - MindMatters

Modern air travel is significantly safer than road travel.

In 2008 in the United States, there were 1.27 fatalities per 100 million road vehicle miles, compared to no fatalities and almost zero accidents per million flying miles.

There were more than five million driving accidents, compared to 20 accidents in flying.

Travellers may perceive planes to be more dangerous as they do not allow individual control and because plane crashes are more catastrophic events.

The front end of two vehicles after an accident

Prior to moving to Switzerland, the lack of individual control was not the issue for me.

As a man who does not drive, I have had control over my travels only on foot or by bicycle.

Otherwise, I have been a passenger in trains, planes and automobiles.

A passenger does not control the journey, but simply goes along for the ride.

Planes trains and automobiles.jpg

Certainly, plane crashes grab my attention, for they garner media focus both for the unusual amount of times a crash occurs (as compared to automobile accidents) and for the numbers of victims this mode of transport generates (as compared to automobile accidents).

More people die in automobile accidents when the total number of accidents is tallied.

More people die in one plane crash than in one automobile accident, for the sole reason that airplanes usually carry more passengers.

My worry was based not so much on crashing down as to no real understanding of how a plane can actually ascend and stay up in the air.

I understood, in the most basic of ways that a passenger can understand, the principles of how an automobile functions.

But it was nothing short of a miracle how a vehicle so damn big could get off the ground and stay airborne.

How my perspective on air travel has changed from my time in Switzerland is that through the teaching of aviation English, for both pilots as well as cabin crew, I have become aware of all the possible things that can go wrong during a flight.

And, oh, the number of things that can go wrong!

Aviation English

There are:

  • runway incursions
  • navigational problems
  • instrument blackouts
  • birdstrike in the air and animals on the ground
  • hydraulic loss
  • medical emergencies
  • on-board fires
  • airport disruptions
  • storms
  • fuel icing
  • fuel loss
  • explosive decompression
  • air rage
  • strange passengers

Just to name a few of the things that could go wrong.

English for Aviation (Express Series): Ellis, Sue, Gerighty, Terence:  9780194579421: Books

And this flight was only five days after the deadly Ukraine airline crash of 8 January 2020, in which all 176 people on board, including 76 Canadians, were killed.

Mostly, these things never happen.

(Especially missile strike upon a domestic flight.)

Air travel remains one of the safest and surest ways to travel.

But that being said, ignorance was bliss.

English for Aviation at Anglo-Continental - YouTube

Despite my nervous nerves I somehow survived my flight within the belly of the beast that was my magic carpet ride to Winnipeg.

The plane ascended without accident from Toronto and descended without destruction in Winnipeg.

You may question my sanity at this point.

Not for the freakish frequency with which I have flown, but for the choice of flying to Winnipeg in the winter.

No one flies to Winnipeg in winter willingly.

Toronto was a balmy 3°C when I left.

Winnipeg was a frostbitten -23°C when I arrived.

Brass monkeys wouldn’t come to Winnipeg in winter even if you paid them in bushels of bananas.

Sadly, my foster parents didn’t raise any stupid boys.

There was just me.

Chilling Out in Hot Springs May Help Japan's Snow Monkeys Reduce Stress |  Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport is the 7th busiest airport in Canada by passenger traffic, serving 4,484,343 passengers in 2018, and the 11th busiest airport by aircraft movements.

It is a hub for passenger airlines Calm Air, Perimeter Airlines, Flair Airlines, and cargo airline Cargojet.

It is also a focus city for WestJet.

The airport is co-located with Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Winnipeg.

An important transportation hub for the Province of Manitoba, Winnipeg International Airport is the only commercial international airport within the Province as the other airports of entry serve domestic flights and general aviation only.

The airport is operated by the Winnipeg Airport Authority as part of Transport Canada’s National Airports System and is one of eight Canadian airports that has US border pre-clearance facilities.

Winnipeg’s distance to other major population centres makes Winnipeg International Airport the primary airport for a large area, including parts of neighbouring provinces and territories.

Daily non-stop flights are operated from Winnipeg International Airport to destinations across Canada as well as to the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

In addition, regularly scheduled flights to numerous small remote communities in northern Manitoba, northwestern Ontario, and Nunavat are also served from the airport.

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (logo).svg

The airport opened in 1928 as Stevenson Aerodrome in honour of the noted Manitoba aviator and pioneer bush pilot, Captain Fred J. Stevenson.

Remembering decorated World War I aviator Captain Fred J. Stevenson | Blog  | Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
Above: Fred J. Stevenson (1895 – 1928) picks up package for Fort Churchill

Stevenson Aerodrome, also known as Stevenson Field, was Canada’s first international airport with Northwest Airways (which became Northwest Airlines) inaugurating a passenger and mail service between Winnipeg and Pembina, North Dakota on 2 February 1931.

Northwest Airlines Logo.svg

The airport was briefly served by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) during the mid 1950s on the world’s first regular Polar route, which linked Copenhagen and Los Angeles with Douglas DC-6B prop liner flights via Sondre Stromfjord, Greenland and Winnipeg.

Scandinavian Airlines logo.svg

The original main terminal building was built in 1964.

It was closed on Sunday 30 October 2011, and has since been demolished.

Passenger Traffic, Revenue Up at Winnipeg Airport in First Quarter |
Above: Winnipeg Airport

On 10 December 2006, the Minister of Transport, Lawrence Cannon, announced Winnipeg International Airport was to be renamed Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport in honour of the influential businessman and pioneer of Canadian commercial aviation from Winnipeg.

Richardson ja.jpg
Above: James Armstrong Richardson (1885 – 1939)

Winnipeg’s main airport terminal was designed by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli and Stantec.

The terminal’s design was inspired by the City of Winnipeg’s distinctive landscape and the province of Manitoba’s vast prairies and sky.

It was the first airport terminal in Canada to be LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for its environmentally friendly concept, design, construction and operation.

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Above: Arrivals area, Winnipeg International Airport

There is something fitting, something quintessentially Canadian, about coming to Winnipeg by jet, for Winnipeg is home to the NHL hockey team, the Winnipeg Jets.

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Above: Logo of the Winnipeg Jets

On 27 December 1971, Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the World Hockey Association (WHA).

WHA Logo.svg

By 1979, the vast majority of the WHA’s teams had folded, but the Jets were still going strong and they were absorbed into the NHL, along with the Québec Nordiques, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Hartford Whalers, as part of the WHA – NHL merger.

Team owner Barry Shenkarow sold the team to American businessmen Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke.

Burke and Gluckstern originally planned to move the team to Minnesota (which had lost the North Stars to Dallas in 1993), but eventually reached an agreement with Phoenix businessman Jerry Colangelo that would see the team move to Arizona and become the Phoenix Coyotes.

Arizona Coyotes.svg
Above: Logo of the Arizona Coyotes

The original Winnipeg Jets played their last game on 28 April 1996.

Winnipeg Jets Logo.svg

(I have said it before and I will say it again:

Ice hockey does not belong in cities that don’t have ice.)

The city of Atlanta was awarded an NHL expansion franchise, named the Atlanta Thrashers, on 25 June 1997.

It was the second NHL franchise for Atlanta (their first being the Atlanta Flames, established in 1972, who departed for Calgary in 1980 to become the Calgary Flames).

Calgary Flames logo.svg
Above: Logo for the Calgary Flames

The Thrashers began play in the 1999 – 2000 season.

In the 12 years in Atlanta, the Thrashers qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs only once, during the 2006 – 2007 season, and never won a playoff game.

Partially due to their lack of playoff success, the team had difficulty drawing fans to attend their games in their final seasons.

Atlanta Thrashers.svg
Above: Logo of the Atlanta Thrashers

Although they moved for financial reasons, the Coyotes have never been profitable in Arizona.

Mounting losses eventually compelled the franchise to file for bankruptcy after the 2008 – 2009 season.

The team was taken over by the League before the next season began.

As early as October 2009, there were rumours that True North Sports & Entertainment (TNSE), the company that owns both Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place and the American Hockey League (AHL)’s Manitoba Moose, had been invited to bid on the city’s former franchise.

True North Sports.png



Manitoba Moose logo.svg

TNSE submitted a series of bids for the Coyotes, which were taken seriously enough that the League drew up a tentative schedule with Winnipeg in place of Phoenix.

The NHL shelved the bid after securing a large subsidy from the Coyotes’ municipal government.

In contrast to aggressive, public bids by Jim Balsillie (who had unsuccessfully attempted to use bankruptcy laws to skirt NHL rules and move the Coyotes to Hamilton), True North’s low-key approach was praised by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other owners, raising their profile when the question of the Atlanta Thrashers’ relocation came up.

Jim Balsillie.jpg
Above: Jim Balsillie

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Above: Gary Bettman

On 31 May 2011, at a press conference at the MTS Centre, Bettman confirmed that the Atlanta Thrashers had been sold to True North and would relocate to Winnipeg for the 2011 – 2012 season.

The reported purchase price was $170 million, with $60 million going to the NHL as a relocation fee.

After the announcement, True North made preparations to move the Moose franchise to St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Season ticket sales began 1 June 2011, with Manitoba Moose season ticket holders having priority.

The team sought to sell 13,000 season tickets in an effort to prove its viability.

Within the first three and a half hours, the new franchise sold 1,870 packages to Moose season ticket holders.

Season tickets opened to the general public on 4 June and sold out in 17 minutes.

Once the “Drive to 13,000” was completed, True North started a season ticket waiting list, which was shut down after 8,000 people signed up in two hours.

In July 2011, tickets for 9 October home opener against the Montréal Canadiens were listed for an average price of $1,711 on Stubhub, with an average selling price of $713.

A small white H contained inside a large red C, all surrounded by a blue contour.
Above: Logo for the Montréal Canadiens

True North said the team’s name would not be announced until after the successful completion of the season ticket drive at the earliest.

The team was not to be named the Thrashers, since True North did not acquire the name in the transaction, and the rights to that name and the Thrashers logo were retained by the ownership group in Atlanta.

There was considerable support in Winnipeg to reuse “Winnipeg Jets“, the name of the city’s original WHA and NHL franchise, though rumours spread that True North preferred “Manitoba Moose“.

Whiteout” and “Falcons” were also considered, but the latter was quickly rejected in deference to Atlanta, which has another professional sports team (NFL) by that name.

True North kept their selection secret until the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota, on 24 June, when TSNE Chairman Mark Chipman introduced General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to “make our first pick, on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets.”

Mark Chipman - True North Youth Foundation : True North Youth Foundation
Above: Mark Chipman

Kevin Cheveldayoff.jpg
Above: Kevin Chevaldayoff

The Jets made their formal regular-season debut on 9 October 2011, when a sellout crowd at the MTS Centre saw the visiting Montréal Canadiens defeat the Jets 5–1, with Nik Antropov scoring the first-ever Jets goal.

Nik Antropov Jets 2012-02-11.JPG
Above: Nik Antropov

The opening ceremonies featured a concert by Winnipeg-based rock band Bachman – Turner Overdrive (BTO), who performed “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” with the title sung as “We Just Got Back the Jets“.

BTO in 1974 (L–R: Fred Turner, Robbie Bachman, Randy Bachman, Blair Thornton)
Above: BTO Left –Right: Fred Turner, Robbie Bachman, Randy Bachman, Blair Thornton

Other highlights on the first Jets schedule included a home-and-home set with the Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg’s previous NHL franchise (including a 1 December game in Winnipeg, the Coyotes’ first regular season appearance in Winnipeg since vacating the city), as well as a 17 December home game against the Anaheim Ducks, which was former Jet Teemu Selanne’s first playing appearance in Winnipeg since being traded from the Jets in February 1996.

Anaheim Ducks.svg
Above: Logo of the Anaheim Jets

On 9 April 2015, the Jets clinched their first Stanley Cup playoff appearance since relocating to Winnipeg following a 1–0 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

They clinched the spot after the Calgary Flames defeated the Los Angeles Kings later that same night.

Finishing the season in the second wild-card spot, they played the top-seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

In the first playoff series that involved a team from Winnipeg since the 1996 playoffs, the Ducks swept the Jets in four games.

Colorado Avalanche logo.svg
Above: Colorado Avalanche

The season following their first playoff run was a disappointment, as the Jets finished 25th overall, well out of the playoffs.

In the 2017–2018 season, the Jets clinched their second playoff spot since relocating from Atlanta.

On 25 March 2018, the Jets beat the Nashville Predators 5–4 in a shootout, and clinched a spot in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Nashville Predators Logo (2011).svg
Above: Nashville Predators

On 11 April 2018, the Jets won the first playoff game in the history of the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise when they defeated the Minnesota Wild 3–2.

On 20 April 2018, the Jets won their first playoff series in franchise history (and the first series victory in 31 years for the city) with a 5–0 victory over the Minnesota Wild in game five of the First Round series, winning the series 4–1.

On 10 May 2018, the Jets made further franchise history by advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time, defeating the Nashville Predators four games to three. 

This would mark the first time that either iteration of the Winnipeg Jets had advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs.

Minnesota Wild.svg
Above: Logo of the Minnesota Wild

Facing the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals, the Jets defeated the Golden Knights in the first game of the series 4–2.

However, the Jets went on to lose the Western Conference Finals, with the Golden Knights defeating the Jets in the following four games in the series.

Vegas Golden Knights logo.svg
Above: Logo of the Vegas Golden Knights

In 2019, the Jets clinched the playoffs, but lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in six games in the First Round.

St. Louis Blues logo.svg
Above: Logo of the St. Louis Blues

The Jets struggled in the 2019-20 season due to the departure of many high-profile defensemen such as Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien, but were still in contention for a wild-card spot when the League shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

05 NHL Shield.svg
Above: Logo of the National Hockey League (NHL)

But it was 13 January 2020 when I arrived in Winnipeg.

The virus was confirmed to have reached Canada on 27 January 2020 (five days after I left Canada), after an individual who had returned to Toronto from Wuhan, China, tested positive for Covid-19.

Above: Wuhan, China

I am not a sports fan, but I am Canadian.

And the rare moments when sports does capture my attention, it is when it comes to watching hockey.

I don’t think a lot about hockey when I am away from Canada, but put me back inside my home and native land, and suddenly I am talking hockey, reading about hockey and how my Habs (nickname for the Montréal Canadiens) are doing, watching a hockey match when and where I can.

Hockey Night in Canada – Wikipedia

To me, hockey is Canadian and belongs to cities either in Canada or with winters like Canada.

Hockey in places like Atlanta or Anaheim, Vegas or Phoenix just feels wrong, almost sacrilegously so.

Images, from top, left to right: Papago Park, Saint Mary's Basilica, Chase Tower, Downtown, Arizona Science Center, Rosson House, the light rail, a Saguaro cactus, and the McDowell Mountains
Above: Images of Phoenix, Arizona

And yet I find myself thinking that a Canadian could “have his cake and eat it too“.

Avoid the harshness of winter by living in a warm climate and yet still enjoy Canada’s national pastime by choosing a warm city with a hockey franchise in it.


And make no mistake about it.

Canadian winters can be harsh and Winnipeg winters doubly so.

The intersection of Winnipeg’s main thoroughfares, Portage and Main, is not named “Canada’s coldest corner” for no reason.

Extreme cold returns to Winnipeg - Winnipeg |

The wicked winter winds assault my senses as I exit the airport.

I find myself thinking of being somewhere else, anywhere else, but here, in Winnipeg, in winter.


California Dreamin' - Mamas & the Papas, the: Musik

Vanuatu sounds nice.

I wonder idly how many jets it would take to get there.

Leaving on a Jet Plane Peter Paul and Mary.jpg

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Hürriyet Daily News, 17 May 2021 / Arych Savir, “Israeli airstrikes in Syria kill six“, Jewish Press, 15 February 2021 / “Myanmar junta cuts Internet as troops fire to break up protests“, Straits Times, 15 February 2021 / “Erdogan slams US for siding with PKK terrorists“, Daily Sabah, 15 February 2021 / “Turkey arrests hundreds over alleged Kurdish militant links in Iraq executions“, France 24, 15 February 2021 / Lonely Planet The World

Vanuatu Sign With Arrow On Road Background Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty  Free Image. Image 62123539.

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

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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.

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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.

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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


Eskisehir, Turkey, Saturday 1 May 2021

Part One of Two

Stray cats and dogs wander the neighbourhood today (1 May) as they would on any other day.

Songbirds deliver their humble overtures outside my apartment window as they did yesterday and as they probably will tomorrow.

As nature’s denizens do as they do here as they would anywhere else, I wonder do they know the significance of this day?

May be an image of outdoors

Certainly, they might have noticed fewer humans on the streets as Turkey is in the midst of a long full lockdown.

Millions of Turks have left Turkey’s largest cities in droves to spend the lockdown in their hometowns with relatives or at resorts.

The exodus from Istanbul, Ankara and the western province (Turkey has 81 provinces in total.) of Izmir has seen traffic jams on highways and flocks of folks fleeing to bus terminals and airports.

The lockdown began Thursday evening (29 April) at 1900 hours and will last until 0500 on 17 May.

Turkey mulls more lockdowns as COVID-19 cases drop | Daily Sabah

During the lockdown, intercity travel is subject to permission from authorities, which is why people rushed to leave big cities before the deadline as well as formed long lines before the offices of district governors to obtain travel authorization.

Many people have travelled to popular travel destinations, such as Bodrum and Marmaris, but health experts have warned that the lockdown should not be seen as an opportunity to take a vacation as the lockdown is meant to curb the spread of the virus.

Bodrum Castle
Above: Bodrum Castle

As for me, I am a Canadian foreigner on a traveller’s visa, meaning that I can travel without written authorization.

As I am at present required to do my six-days-a-week job electronically, there is no reason why I need remain in Eskisehir throughout the lockdown.

Though most businesses and shops and eateries are closed, surprisingly museums and historical attractions remain open.

Hotels still take in guests and grocery stores are open.

Despite 3-week lockdown, many remain on the move in Turkey - ABC News

(Though the sale of alcohol is prohibited.

I am not sure whether the government thinks that drinking alcohol causes the corona virus….)

Turkish Government Under Fire Over COVID-19 Alcohol Ban | Voice of America  - English

Ironically, the lockdown liberates me (as I am still on a tourist visa) more than constrains me, for without the lockdown I would be unable to travel except on my one day off on Saturdays.

(At least, for now…)

Turkey declares partial lockdown during Ramadan - Turkey News

Today is International Workers’ Day / Labour Day in many countries around the world.

1 May is an official holiday celebrated in Turkey.

It was a holiday until 1981 when it was cancelled after the 1980 coup d’état.

In 2010, the Turkish government restored the holiday after some casualties and demonstrations. 

Taksim Square is the centre of the commemorations due to the 1977 Taksim Square Massacre.

Flag of Turkey
Above: Flag of Turkey

Workers’ Day was first celebrated in 1912 in Istanbul and in 1899 in Izmir.

After the establishment of the Turkish Republic, it became an official holiday.

In 1924, it was forbidden by a decree and in both 1924 and 1925, demonstrations were intervened by armed militia.

In 1935, the National Assembly declared Workers’ Day to be a holiday again.

During the events leading to the 1980 Turkish coup d’état, a massacre occurred on 1 May 1977 (Taksim Square massacre), in which unknown people (agents provocatuers) opened fire on the crowd.

The resulting stampede left 41 people dead.

The crowd was the biggest in Turkish workers’ history with the number of people approximating 500,000.

Above: The “worker who raised the world in his hands” logo, prepared for 1 May 1977

In the next two years, provocations and confusion continued and peaked before the 1980 coup d’état.

The Workers’ Day holiday was cancelled once again.

Still, demonstrations continued with small crowds.

In 1996, three people were killed by police bullets, and a plain-clothes man who spied on the crowd was revealed and lynched by workers.

That same evening, a video broadcast on TV showed that two participants in the demonstration being lynched by far right-wing nationalist groups, in front of police forces who were watching the scene with happy faces.

Thus, 1 May 1996 has been remembered by workers’ movements.

Three people were killed by police on May Day 1996 - english
Above: 1 May 1996, Taksim Square, Istanbul

In 2007, the 30th anniversary of the Taksim Square Massacre, leftist workers’ unions wanted to commemorate the Massacre in Taksim Square.

Since the government would not let them into the square, 580 – 700 people were stopped and one person died in police custody.

After these events, the government declared 1 May as “Work and Solidarity Day“, but not as a holiday.

The next year, the day was declared as a holiday, but people were still not allowed to gather in Taksim Square.

English :: A 15-Year Chronology of the May Day Celebrations in İstanbul:  2004 - 2018
Above: 1 May 2007, Taksim Square, Istanbul

2008 is remembered for police violence in Istanbul.

Police fired tear gas grenades among the crowds, and into hospitals and a primary school.

Workers pushed forward.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MAY 1: International Workers Day. Turkish riot police  officers are preparing for protesters on

In 2010, 140,000 people gathered in Taksim Square.

In 2011, there were more than half a million demonstrators.

After three years of peaceful meetings, in 2013, meetings in Taksim Square were again forbidden by the government.

Clashes occurred between police and workers.

Water cannons and tear gas were used by the police against the workers.

English :: A 15-Year Chronology of the May Day Celebrations in İstanbul:  2004 - 2018

Today (1 May 2021) a total of 355 demonstrators were detained across Turkey for marching illegally and violating a full nationwide lockdown imposed by authorities.

Due to the 17-day full lockdown, traditional rallies were not held to celebrate the day, although some labour unions and representatives of political parties were allowed to place a wreath near Istanbul’s Taksim Square to commemorate the victims of the 1 May 1977 Massacre.

A police officer uses pepper spray against demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide "full closure" imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion, in Istanbul, Turkey May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Above: Above: A police officer uses pepper spray against demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide “full closure” imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion, in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 May 2021 (Reuters)

According to governor’s offices, police detained 355 demonstrators across the country after scuffles broke out during “unauthorized marches” amid a corona virus curfew.

Police sprayed tear gas on groups of demonstrators who had “gathered illegally”, violating the lockdown and ignoring calls to disperse from the area.

A police officer uses pepper spray against demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide "full closure" imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion, in Istanbul, Turkey May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Above: A police officer uses pepper spray against demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide “full closure” imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion, in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 May 2021 (Reuters)

The detainees are charged with opposing the law on holding meetings and demonstrations.

Police officers detain demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide "full closure" imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion, in Istanbul, Turkey May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Above: Police officers detain demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide “full closure” imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion, in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 May 2021 (Reuters)

There was also tension in Ankara, Izmir, Trabzon and Artvin Provinces.

Some 111 demonstrators were detained.

Police officers detain demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide "full closure" imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion, in Istanbul, Turkey May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Above: Police officers detain demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide “full closure” imposed to slow the rate of the corona virus disease (COVID-19) contagion, in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 May 2021 (Reuters)

Meanwhile, police officers have blocked reporters from filming the demonstrations and detentions, with officers citing a new police circular.

Turkey Bans Citizens From Filming Police at Protests | Balkan Insight

Following this new circular by the Security General Directorate prohibiting citizens from recording police intervention during social events, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu has said that the circular intends “to suspend democracy“.

Turkish National Police logo.png
Above: Logo of the Security General Directorate (Turkish National Police)

This circular means democracy has been suspended in Turkey, the Constitution has been suspended, rights and freedoms have been suspended,” Kilicdaroglu told broadcaster KRT TV today, referring to the publication of a circular by the Directorate prohibiting citizens from shooting with mobile phones in social events.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu cropped.jpg
Above: Kemal Kilicdaroglu

What do you mean, don’t take pictures?

Is it not my right to take photos?

You issue a circular according to your mood,” he stated.

Turkey bans filming at protests to hide police violence, rights groups say  - Al Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

Kilicdaroglu recalled that a police officer (Derek Chauvin) on duty in the United States knelt on the neck of an American citizen (George Floyd), eventually killing him, and a photo taken there his relatives to file a case.

The most serious piece of evidence they had was that photograph,” he added.

Murder of George Floyd - Wikipedia
Above: The infamous photo

You will not even have photos taken that wll manifest justice” in Turkey because of the circular, the CHP leader said.

Turkey ban on protest filming unlawful and dangerous, lawyers warn | Arab  News

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the circular was not against the Constitution, adding that was not a question for the press.

He stated that Kilicdaroglu did not understand its essence.

Kilicdaroglu’s view on this issue is his view of political perspective,” he added.

Soylu said that the concept of the balance of freedom is of vital importance to ensure the freedom and security of the police or public officials.

It is not the right approach to bring everyone to the point where they can harass the way they want with a camera in their hand,” he said.

Süleyman Soylu in Tehran 01.jpg
Above: Süleyman Soylu

Where is the love of the people for their government?

Where is the love of the government for the people?

Where is the love?

Whereisthelove cover.jpg

When I look at the Turkish political landscape I find myself wondering whether the malaise that many Turks feel towards their government is not caused by two factors: leader fatigue and the search for Atatürk.

Recip Tayyip Erdogan has been the leader of Turkey as Prime Minister (2003 – 2014) and President (2014 – ) for a generation.

For example, my Turkish language teacher, a lovely lady in her 20s, has never known a time when Erdogan wasn’t in charge of her nation in one form or another.

And, to be fair, the thoughts and emotions of the minds and hearts of this generation are almost alien to the generation that preceded it.

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

Everywhere one goes in Turkey one is reminded of the everpresent, almost omniscient, legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Atatürk’s presence casts a permanent shadow over the lives of the Turkish people and there is an almost unconscious thirst and inevitable comparison for the strength of character and the power of conviction that he possessed to be emulated in those who serve the state today.

What virtues Erdogan may possess are lost in the legacy of Atatürk and however much Erdogan may try to imitate the impact of the Father of Turkey the quality of a copy is rarely superior to that of the original.

Turkey may be built on the foundation of a strongman, but the edifice upon which it is built must also be strong for the structure to stand.

Turks may have tired of Erdogan, but the question remains whether anyone is capable of replacing him in the nation’s fruitless quest for a new Atatürk.

It is the building of a future on the relics of the past that concerns me when I consider the events of 14 February.

Above: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881 – 1938)

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Sunday 14 February 2021

I think of 14 February and I ask:

Where is the love?

Above: Landschlacht, Switzerland

He was first acknowledged by Pope Gelasius I (r. 492 – 496) as among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia and other hagiographical (biographies of religious figures) sources speak of three bearing the name of Valentine that appear in connection with 14 February.

File:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu
Above: Cover of the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia

One was a Roman priest, another the bishop of Interamna (modern Terni, Italy) both buried along the Via Flaminia outside Rome, at different distances from the city.

The third was said to be a saint who suffered on the same day with a number of companions in the Roman province of Africa, of whom nothing else is known.

Though the extant accounts of the martyrdoms of the first two listed saints are of a late date and contain legendary elements, a common nucleus of fact may underlie the two accounts and they may refer to a single person.

Above: Saint Valentine oversees the construction of his Basilica at Terni, Italy, from a 14th-century French manuscript

According to the official biography of the Diocese of Terni, Bishop Valentine was born and lived in Interamna and while on a temporary stay in Rome he was imprisoned, tortured, and martyred there on 14 February 269.

His body was hastily buried at a nearby cemetery and a few nights later his disciples retrieved his body and returned him home.

Rome Montage 2017.png
Above: Images of Rome, Italy

The Roman Martyrology, the Catholic Church’s official list of recognized saints, for 14 February gives only one Saint Valentine: a martyr who died on the Via Flaminia.

Saint Peter's Basilica
Above: St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

A common hagiography describes Valentine as a priest of Rome or as the former Bishop of Terni, an important town of Umbria, in central Italy.

Terni Collage.png
Above: Images of Terni, Italy

While under house arrest of Judge Asterius, and discussing his faith with him, Valentinus (the Latin version of his name) was discussing the validity of Jesus.

The judge put Valentinus to the test and brought to him the judge’s adopted blind daughter.

If Valentinus succeeded in restoring the girl’s sight, Asterius would do whatever he asked.

Valentinus, praying to God, laid his hands on her eyes and the child’s vision was restored.

Immediately humbled, the judge asked Valentinus what he should do.

Valentinus replied that all of the idols around the judge’s house should be broken, and that the judge should fast for three days and then undergo the Christian sacrament of baptism.

The judge obeyed and, as a result of his fasting and prayer, freed all the Christian inmates under his authority.

The judge, his family, and his forty-four member household of adult family members and servants were baptized.

Who Was St. Valentine? - HISTORY

Valentinus was later arrested again for continuing to evangelize and was sent to the prefect of Rome, to the Emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II) (214 – 270) himself.

Claudius took a liking to him until Valentinus tried to convince Claudius to embrace Christianity, whereupon Claudius refused and condemned Valentinus to death, commanding that Valentinus either renounce his faith or he would be beaten with clubs and beheaded.

Valentinus refused and Claudius’ command was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on 14 February 269.

Gold medallion depicting laureate bust facing right
Above: Gold medallion depicting Claudius Gothicus (214 – 270). Legend: imp(erator) c(aesar) m(arcus) aur(e)l(ius) claudius p(ius) f(elix) aug(ustus).

An embellishment to this account states that before his execution, Valentine wrote a note to Asterius’s daughter signed “from your Valentine“, which is said to have “inspired today’s romantic missives“.

The Complicated Story of Valentine's Day - MozartCultures

A popularly ascribed hagiographical identity appears in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493).

Nuremberg chronicles - Nuremberga.png
Above: Woodcut of Nuremberg (Germany), Nuremberg Chronicles

Alongside a woodcut portrait of Valentine, the text states that he was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome.

Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime.

He was condemned to death.

He was beaten with clubs and stones.

When that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate (now known as Porta del Popolo in the Piazza del Popolo).

Above: Porta del Popolo, Rome

The account mentions Valentine in order “to remind men of their vows and God’s love, Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment“, giving them to these persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on Valentine’s Day.

A short history of the long (and sometimes bloody) story of Valentine's Day  - News @ Northeastern

(It is interesting to note that the shape of a modern Valentine’s heart resembles less the fist form of a real human heart than it does the curve of a woman’s buttocks.)

Heart anterior exterior view.jpg
Above: Human heart

Above: Heart symbol

There are many churches dedicated to Valentine around the world, though he is venerated no more than any other Christian martyr or saint.

Pieces of Valentine are said to be in various locations wherein relics are respected.

His flower-crowned skull is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

Above: Relic of Saint Valentine in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome

Valentine’s remains are deposited in St Anton’s Church, Madrid, where they have lain since the late 1700s.

They were a present from the Pope to King Carlos IV, who entrusted them to the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools (Piarists).

The relics have been displayed publicly since 1984, in a foundation open to the public at all times in order to help people in need.

IGLESIA DE SAN ANTON - St Valentine´s Resting Place In Madrid ⋆ Madrid  Metropolitan
Above: Relic of Valentine, St. Anton’s Church, Madrid, Spain

Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin also houses relics of Valentine.

Above: Shrine of St. Valentine, Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, Dublin, Ireland

On 27 December 1835, the Very Reverend Father John Spratt, Master of Sacred Theology to the Carmelite order in Dublin, was sent the partial remains of Valentine by Cardinal Carlo Odescalchi, under the auspices of Pope Gregory XVI.

The relics and the accompanying letter from Cardinal Odescalchi have remained in the Church ever since. 

The remains, which include “a small vessel tinged with his blood“, were sent as a token of esteem following an eloquent sermon Father Spratt had delivered in Rome.

Above: The Church of the Carmelite Friary, Dublin

On Valentine’s Day in Ireland, many individuals who seek true love make a Christian pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, with its relics of Valentine.

They pray at the shrine in hope of finding romance.

There lies a book in which foreigners and locals have written their prayer requests for love.

Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church.JPG
Above: Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church

Another relic of Valentine was found in 2003 in Prague in Church of St Peter and Paul at Vysehrad.

Above: St. Peter and St. Paul Basilica, Vysehrad, Prague, Czech Republic

A silver reliquary containing a fragment of Valentine’s skull is found in the parish church of St. Mary’s Assumption in Chelmo, Poland.

Above: Church of the Assumption, Chelmo, Poland

Relics can also be found in Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Above: Panorama of Mytilini, Lesbos, Greece

(The island of Lesbos is widely known as the home of the ancient Greek poet Sappho, from whose association with homosexuality the word lesbian derives its modern meaning.)

Sappho's portrait from the Istanbul Archaeology Museums. Roman copy of an original from the Hellenistic period
Above: Bust of Sappho (632 – 570 BC), Istanbul Archaeology Museum

Another relics of Valentine can also be found in Savona, in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

Cattedrale dell'Assunta a Savona - Fidelity Viaggi
Above: Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Savona, Italy

Alleged relics of Valentine also lie:

  • at the reliquary of Roquemaure, Gard, France

The church of Roquemaure
Above: Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Saint-Jean-l’Evangéliste, Roquemare, France

  • in St. Stephan’s Cathedral, Vienna

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Above: St. Stephan’s Cathedral (Stephandom), Vienna (Wien), Austria (Österreich)

  • in Balzan in Malta

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Above: Church of the Annunciation, Balzan, Malta

  • in Blessed John Duns Scotus’ Church in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland.

The tale of Glasgow's romantic link with St Valentine - and how he ended up  in city's southside - Glasgow Live
Above: Blessed Duns Scotus Church, Glasgow, Scotland

  • in a gold reliquary bearing the words “Corpus St. Valentin, M” (Body of St. Valentine, Martyr) at Birminghan Oratory (UK), in one of the side altars in the main Church.

Above: Cardinal Newman Memorial Church, Birmingham Oratory, Birmingham, England

Many of the current legends that characterize Valentine were invented in the 14th century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of 14 February first became associated with romantic love.

Professor Jack B. Oruch of the University of Kansas charges that the traditions associated with “Valentine’s Day“, documented in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules (Parliament of Fowls) and set in the fictional context of an old tradition, that did not exist before Chaucer invented it.

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Above: Geoffrey Chaucer (134? – 1400)

He argues that the speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler’s Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars.

In the French 14th-century manuscript illumination from Vies des Saints, Valentine, Bishop of Terni, oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni.

There is no suggestion here that the Bishop was a patron of lovers.

Above: Terni Cathedral

During the Middle Ages, it was believed that birds paired in mid-February.

This was then associated with the romance of Valentine.

Valentine's Day DIY Drawing Love Birds on Valentine's Day - YouTube  | Valentine drawing, Valentines day drawing, Love birds drawing

Although these legends differ, Valentine’s Day is widely recognized as a day for romance and devotion.

And yet….

Where is the love?

Where Is the Love - Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway.jpg

Strasbourg, Alsace, France, Friday 14 February 1349

The causes of the increased anti-semitism are easy to make out.

Its development found fertile territory in the religious and social resentments against Jews that had grown deeper over the centuries (with allegations such as host desecration (the mistreatment or malicious use of a consecrated host —the bread used in the Eucharist – also known by Protestants simply as Communion bread), blood libel (murdering Christian children in order to use their blood in the performance of religious rituals), deicide (a historic belief, originally formalised as a theological position in early Christian times, which claimed that the Jewish people were collectively responsible for the death of Jesus), and Jewish conspiracies for world domination).

Above: 16th century painting showing the alleged desecration of hosts by Jews in Passau (Germany) in 1477

Above: Statue of Simon of Trent (Trento), an Italian child whose disappearance and death was blamed on the leaders of the city’s Jewish community

Above: Jesus about to be struck in front of Jewish High Priest Annas

Through their role as money-lenders, one of the only roles available to Jews, who were forbidden by local and often canon law, to own land or to be farmers, the Jews took an important position in the city’s economy.

However, this brought serious problems.

The chroniclers report that the Jews were criticised for their business practices:

They were said to be so arrogant that they were unwilling to grant anyone else precedence, and those who dealt with them, could hardly come to an agreement with them.

This supposed ruthlessness of the Jews did not, however, derive from any particular hard-heartedness, but was rather due to the huge levies and taxes that they were made to pay, mostly in exchange for protection.

Formally, the Jews still belonged to the King’s Chamber, but he had long since ceded these rights to the City (the confirmation of the relevant rights of the City by Charles IV occurred in 1347).

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Above: Charles IV (1316 – 1378)

Strasbourg therefore took in the most part of the Jews’ taxes, but in exchange had to take over their protection (the exact amount of the taxes was determined by written agreements).

In order to satisfy the city’s demands, the Jews therefore had to do business accordingly, but in doing so further increased the population’s, and certainly the debtors’, anti-Semitism.

Star of David.svg
Above: The Star of David, symbol of Judaism

With the threat of the Black Death, there were also accusations of well poisoning, and some who now openly called for the burning of Jews.

Spread of the Black Death in Europe and the Near East (1346–1353)
Above: Spread of the Black Death (1346 – 1353)

Starting in the spring of 1348, pogroms (violent riots aimed at the massacre or expulsion of an ethnic or religious group) against Jews had occurred in European cities, starting in Toulon (France).

By November of that year they spread via Savoy to German-speaking territories.

In January 1349, burnings of Jews took place in Basel (Switzerland) and Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany).

Unlike the majority of the population, Strasbourg Council and the city’s master tradesmen remained committed to the policy of protecting the Jews and attempted to calm the people and prevent a pogrom.

The Catholic clergy had been advised by two papal bulls of Pope Clement VI the previous year (July and September 1348) to preach against anyone accusing the Jews of poisoning wells as “seduced by that liar, the devil.”

01 Clément VI (Fresque de la chapelle Saint-Martial du palais des papes).jpg
Above: Clément VI (1291 – 1352)

At first the Council tried to rebut the claims of well poisoning by initiating court proceedings against a number of Jews and torturing them.

As expected, they did not confess to the crimes.

Despite this, they were still killed on the breaking wheel.

Above: Illustration of execution by wheel (Augsburg, Germany, 1586): Classic example of the “breaking wheel” punishment, with wheel crucifixions in the background

Furthermore, the Jewish quarter was sealed off and guarded by armed persons, in order to protect the Jews from the population and possible over-reactions.

The master tradesmen wanted to maintain the legal process with respect to the Jews.

In their situation in which they themselves increasingly came under attack, this was a matter of self-preservation and holding on to power.

A pogrom could easily escalate and turn into an uncontrollable revolt of the people.

How seriously this threat of revolt was taken is shown by a letter from the city council of Cologne (Köln) on 12 January 1349 to the leaders of Strasbourg, which warned that such riots by the common people had led to much evil and devastation in other towns.

Above: Cologne (Köln), Germany, in the Middle Ages

Furthermore, this unrest could give the opponents the possibility of taking power themselves.

The bourgeoisie had, after all, come to occupy the leading political positions in a similar way, when they had used the dispute between the Zorn and Müllenheim noble families to their advantage.

Above: Strasbourg in the Middle Ages, the Nuremberg Chronicles

Above: Zorn coat-of-arms

Above: Müllenheim coat of arms

As the de facto master over the Jews, the city had a duty to protect them, especially since they paid significant amounts of money in exchange for this.

Peter Swarber also pointed to this:

The City had collected the money, and had given in return a guarantee for their security—with a letter and a seal.

The Cty must therefore fulfill this duty towards the Jews.

Swarber therefore could not and would not agree to an extermination of the Jews, a stance in which he was surely strengthened by the fear of the negative effects on the economic development of the city.

A weakening of the city would also mean a weakening of the patrician bourgeoisie, that was reliant on stable political conditions and a healthy city economy for their long-distance trade.

The Jews especially had an important role to play in this:

People depended on their credit for large-scale investments, their supra-regional role as bankers ensured a positive balance of trade for Strasbourg, and they filled the city coffers through the taxes they paid.

There were reasons enough, therefore, to remain attached to the policy of protecting the Jews.

Coat of arms of Strasbourg
Above: Coat of arms of the City of Strasbourg

The motivations of the master tradesmen were concealed from the people of Strasbourg.

Instead, some people thought another reason far more likely:

There were rumours that the master tradesmen had allowed themselves to be bribed by the Jews, which was why they were protecting them so determinedly against the will of the majority.

It was therefore seen as important to first remove the masters from power, which would allow the majority to push through the will of the people.

Above: View of Strasbourg

On Monday, 9 February 1349, the artisans gathered in front of the cathedral and, in front of the crowd, informed the masters that they would not allow them to remain in office anymore, as they had too much power.

This action appears to have been organised beforehand among the guilds, since they had their guild banners with them and also appeared organised by guilds.

The masters attempted to persuade the artisans to break up the assembled crowd—without success—but made no moves to comply with the rebels’ demands.

The artisans, after an exhaustive debate which involved not only the guilds’ representatives but also the most eminent of the knights and citizens, decided to make a new attempt.

It now became finally clear to the masters that they had no support any more, and so they gave up their posts.

The guilds had thereby attained their goal:

The last obstacle to their demand of destroying the Jews was pushed aside, and they now had increased possibilities of participating in town politics.

This had previously been denied to them, although in 1332 they had helped the bourgeois patricians to get a position of power.

Above: Strasbourg Cathedral

The noble families of Zorn and Müllenheim, who had been forced from power at that time, tried to regain their old position of power, but in order to do this they had to cooperate with the guilds.

The noble families brought their weapons at the same time as the craftsmen when the latter assembled before the Cathedral, they were involved with the debates during the rebellion, and it was noblemen who put the demands to the masters, in the name of the artisans.

The nobles cooperated not only with the guilds, but also with the Bishop of Strasbourg at a meeting which took place one day before the rebellion and which concerned the “Jewish issue.”

This meeting revolved around the method of getting rid of the Jews.

The fact that the Jews had to go had already been decided a month previously.

On that occasion, the Strasbourg bishop, representatives of the cities of Strasbourg, Freiburg and Basel, and Alsatian local rulers met in Benfeld, in order to plan their actions towards the Jews.

Peter Swarber was in fact aware of this agreement by the Bishop and Alsatian nobles, which is why he warned:

If the Bishop and the nobles were successful against him in the “Jewish issue“, they would not rest until they were also successful in other cases.

But he was not able to dissuade from the anti-Jewish stance.

Above: Episcopal Palace, residence of the Bishop of Strasbourg

Through the coup, the old noble families regained a great deal of their former power, the guilds regained their political participation, and many expected an anti-Semitic policy from the new political leadership (whereas, between 1332 and 1349, not one nobleman had held the office of a master, now two of four town masters were nobles).

The demand to reduce the power of the masters was also granted.

The old masters were punished (the town masters were banned from election to the council for 10 years, the hated Peter Swarber was banished, his assets confiscated, the Council was dissolved and reconstituted in the next three days, and the pogrom began a day later.

Above: Strasbourg Massacre plaque memorial

The new rulers of the city did not care about either the contract of protection with the Jews nor the financial losses for the city which resulted from the pogrom.

The two deposed officials were left with the task of leading the Jews to the place of their execution, pretending to lead them out of Strasbourg.

Above: The Jewish footbridge is located near the Jewish Gate of the former Strasbourg precinct that led to the cemetery where the city’s Jews were burned.

At this place, a wooden house had been built in which the Jews were to be burnt alive.

On 14 February 1349, the Jewish community in Strasbourg was destroyed, when several hundred Jews were publicly burnt to death, and the rest of them expelled from the city.

Those Jews who were willing to get baptized as well as children and any women considered attractive were spared from the burning alive.

The massacre is said to have lasted six days.

Above: The Pogrom of Strasbourg, 14 February 1349

After getting rid of the Jews, the murderers distributed the properties among themselves, which suggests another motive for the murders.

By killing the Jews, the debtors had the opportunity to restore themselves, which they used consistently.

Many of those who promoted the overthrow were in debt of the Jews.

All debts due to Jews are automatically erased and the pledges and letters of credit that the Jews had returned to their debtors.

Then, after the death of the Jews, it was a matter of distributing their assets.

The columnist Jacques Twinger von Konigshofen saw this as the real reason for the murder of the Jews:

If they had been poor and the nobles owed them nothing, they would not have been burned. »

Above: Portrait of Jacques Twinger of Koenigshoffen (1346 – 1420)

Apart from Strasbourg nobles and citizens, Bishop Berthold von Buchegg was also indebted to the Jews, as were several of the landed gentry, even some sovereign princes such as the Margrave of Baden and the Count of Württemberg.

Above: Coat of arms of the Bishop of Strasbourg

Image dans Infobox.
Above: Coat of arms of the Margrave of Baden

Above: Coat of arms of the Counts of Württemberg

The cash of the Jews was divided among the artisans by decision of the Council, as a “reward” for their support in overthrowing the master tradesmen.

This had probably been promised to the craftsmen in advance, and the prospect of a share of the Jews’ fortune may have motivated them even more to murder.

After the distribution of the loot among the citizenry had been decided, they had to ensure that this would not be reclaimed by anyone.

For King Charles IV started to play politics with the Strasbourg Jewish legacy, by granting large-scale debt repayments for Jews.

It is possible that the few Strasbourg Jews who were still alive also wanted to redeem their rights to the property.

Countermeasures were therefore decided.

Flag of Strasbourg
Above: Flag of Strasbourg

Strasbourg made an alliance on 5 June 1349 with the Bishop and the Alsatian rural nobility:

The City would offer aid in times of war and promised to give back all bonds, and received the assurance that the Bishop and nobles would support Strasbourg against anyone wanting to hold it to account for the murder of the Jews and confiscation of their assets.

The Strasbourg Council demanded that its allies should also take action against the Jews.

In fact, it even tried to force those towns and nobles who did not do so to take action via the Landfrieden (the courts).

With these measures, Strasbourg managed to retain complete control of the Jewish assets.

In a deed of 12 July 1349, Charles IV also gave up his claims.

Coat of arms of Alsace
Above: Coat of arms of Alsace

No one seemed to remember that Jesus Himself was a Jew and that the Old Testament declares the Jews God’s Chosen People.

No one seemed to remember the words of Christ:

Jesus said unto him:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it.

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

(Matthew 5:16, The Holy Bible – King James Version)

The title page's central text is: "THE HOLY BIBLE, Conteyning the Old Testament, AND THE NEW: Newly Translated out of the Original tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties speciall Comandement. Appointed to be read in Churches. Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Majestie. ANNO DOM. 1611 ." At bottom is: "C. Boel fecit in Richmont.".

Where was the love?

Instead of examples of love manifested, romantic or otherwise, this day is replete with bloodshed and death.


Colonial Chile, Spanish Empire, Sunday 14 February 1655

The Mapuches, the indigenous inhabitants of present-day south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina were unhappy with the terms of the Parliament of Boroa signed on 24 January 1651. 

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Above: A council of Araucanian Mapuche philosophers, 1901

(The Parliament of Boroa (Parlamento de Boroa) was a diplomatic meeting held between various Mapuche groups and Spanish authorities in the fields of Boroa.

The Parliament was attended by the Governor of Chile Antonio Acuna Cabrera who travelled to Boroa incognito from the fortress of Nacimiento in the north accompanied only by six men.

This riskful crossing of Mapuche territory was considered valiant but reckless stunt by Spanish subordinates.)

Boroa Sur, Other
Above: Boroa Sur, Chile

Almost everything agreed then was in favour of the Spanish, including prohibition for the Mapuche to wear weapons unless the Spanish ask them to do so.

Peace was first compromised only two months later by a new episode in the Spanish – Cunco conflict.

(The Cunco are a poorly known subgroup of Huilliche people native to coastal areas of southern Chile and the nearby inland.)

Above: Distribution of the pre-Hispanic people of Chile

Jesuit fathers Diego de Rosales and Juan de Moscoso wrote to Governor Cabrera that renewing warfare on the Cuncos would evaporate gains obtained at Boroa.

While the Spanish sent initially some minor punitive expeditions against the Cunco through this conflict the Spanish found that tribes that had pledged to come to their aid in war declined to join Spanish forces.

The Cuncos, a peripheral southern Mapuche group, had a long history of conflict with the Spanish.

The Cuncos had previously forced the Spanish to abandon their city of Osorno in October 1602. 

The Cuncos were not present at the Parliament of Boroa.

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Above: Diego de Rosales, General History of the Kingdom of Chile

In March 1651, a Spanish ship was about to arrive to the newly re-established Spanish exclave of Valdivia when storms pushed the ship south into Cunco lands where it wrecked.

The ship carried important supplies and salaries from the Real Situado (an annual payment of silver from the Viceroyalty of Peru to finance the Spanish Army) which the Concos seized.

Two punitive expeditions were assembled to advance on Cunco lands, one from Valdivia in the north and one from Carelmapu in the south.

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Above: Church of Carelmapu

Governor of Valdivia Diego González Montero advanced south with his forces, but soon encountered natives who were indifferent and even misled him.

His troops ran out of supplies and had to return to Valdivia.

View of Valdivia from Pedro de Valdivia Bridge
Above: Valdivia, Chile

Captain Ignacio Carrera Yturgoyen who advanced north from Carelmapu reached the site of the old city of Osorno.

There he was approached by Huilliches who handed over three suspects who were killed.

After this, the expedition of Carrera Iturgoyen returned south.

The loot was never recovered despite the Spanish searching for the wreck.

Overall, the Spanish military was dissatisfied with the results.

Arms of Carrera Family (Nobiliario).svg
Above: Coat of arms of the Carrera family

Albeit there was a general ban of slavery of indigenous people by the Spanish Crown, the Mapuche Uprising of 1598, that ended with the Destruction of the Seven Cities, made the Spanish in 1608 declare slavery legal for those Mapuches caught in war.

Flag of Spanish Empire
Above: Flag of the Spanish Empire

(The Destruction of the Seven Cities (Destrucción de las siete ciudades) is a term used in Chilean historiography to refer to the destruction or abandonment of seven major Spanish outposts in southern Chile around 1600 caused by the Mapuche and Huilliche uprising of 1598.

The Seven Cities were Santa Cruz de Cova, Santa Maria la Blanca de Valdivia, San Andrés de Los Infantes, La Imperial, Santa Maria Magdalena de Villa Rica, San Mateo de Osorno, and San Felipe de Araucan.)

Above: Settlements of the Conquistadores before the Destruction of the Seven Cities

Mapuche “rebels” were considered Christian apostates and could, therefore, be enslaved according to the church teachings of the day.

In reality, these legal changes only formalized Mapuche slavery that was already occurring at the time, with captured Mapuches being treated as property in the way that they were bought and sold among the Spanish.

Legalisation made Spanish slave raiding increasingly common.

The Mapuche Uprising of 1655 took place in a context of increasing Spanish hostilities on behalf of Maestro de Campo Juan de Salazar who used the Army of Arauco to capture Mapuches and sell them into slavery.

In 1654, a large slave-hunting expedition ended in a complete disaster at the Battle of Rio Bueno.

This setback did not stop the Spanish who under the leadership of Salazar organized a new expedition the summer of 1655.

Salazar himself is said to have profited greatly from Mapuche slave trade and being brother-in-law of Governor Cabrera allowed him to exert influence in favour of his military campaigns.

Above: Rio Bueno

Salazar began his campaign on 6 February, starting from the frontier fortress of Nacimiento.

In all the expeditionary army was made up of 400–700 Spanish soldiers and a larger number of indigenous auxiliaries, numbering in total 2,000 men.

As in the year before, the expedition was not aimed at the Mapuche next to the frontier, but towards the Cuncos who lived in Fütawillimapu, south of Bueno River.

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Above: Fortress, Nacimiento, Chile

On the morning of 14 February 1655, Mapuches all over southern Chile — from Osorno to Maule River — launched attacks against Spanish estancias, forts and individuals.

Mapuche slaves rose against their masters, men were killed while women and children were held hostages. 

Livestock was stolen and houses set afire.

Spanish forts were besieged.

Overall, the Spanish reported over 400 estancias between Bío Bío and Maule Rivers destroyed.

It was the worst military crisis in Chile in decades, and contemporaries even considered the possibility of a civil war among the Spanish.

The uprising marks the beginning of a ten-year period of warfare between the Spanish and the Mapuche.

Above: Painting El joven Lautaro (the young Lautaro) shows the military genius and expertise of his people

All because of one man’s greed to make a profit from human trafficking.

Above: Ancient flag of the Mapuche

James Cook (1728 – 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer and captain in the British Royal Navy, famous for his three voyages between 1768 and 1779 in the Pacific Ocean and to Australia in particular.

He made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Cook joined the British merchant navy as a teenager and joined the Royal Navy in 1755.

He saw action in the Seven Years’ War and subsequently surveyed and mapped much of the entrance to the Saint Lawrence River during the Siege of Québec, which brought him to the attention of the Admiralty and the Royal Society.

This acclaim came at a crucial moment in his career and the direction of British overseas exploration, and led to his commission in 1766 as commander of the HMS Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages.

In these voyages, Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe.

He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously charted by Western explorers.

He surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time.

He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage, and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions.

Above: James Cook

It was on his 3rd and final voyage that Cook encountered what are known today as the Islands of Hawaii. 

He first sighted the islands on 18 January 1778.

He anchored off the west coast of the island of Kauai near Waimea and met inhabitants to trade and obtain water and food.

On 2 February 1778, Cook continued on to the coast of North America and Alaska, mapping and searching for a Northwest Passage to the Atlantic Ocean for approximately nine months.

He returned to the Hawaiian island chain to resupply, initially exploring the coasts of Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii and trading with locals, making anchor in Kealakekua Bay in January 1779.

Cook and his crew were initially welcomed and treated with honour, as his arrival coincided with the Makahiki season,an ancient New Year festival in honour of the god Lono of the Hawaiian religion, in celebration of the yearly harvest.

The idea or suggestion that the Native Hawaiians considered Cook to be the god Lono himself is considered to be inaccurate and is attributed to William Bligh.

It is conceivable that some Hawaiians may have used the name of Lono as a metaphor when describing Cook or other possible explanations other than Hawaiians simply assuming the explorer was their own deity.

Above: The route of Cook’s third voyage shown in red, blue shows route after his death.

However, after Cook and the crews of both ships, HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery, left the Islands, the festival season had ended and the season for battle and war had begun under the worship and rituals for Kuka’ilimoku, the god of war.

Although Cook’s sequential visits may have coincided with native traditional seasons, the natives had soured on Cook and his men by the time of Cook’s initial departure. 

Above: The Resolution and the Discovery

John Ledyard was the only American aboard Cook’s ship during this time.

Ledyard was present during the events leading up to and during Cook’s death, and wrote a detailed account of the events in his journals.

During Cook’s initial visit, he attempted to barter with the Hawaiians and ordered his men to remove the wood used to border the natives’ sacred “Morai” burial ground, used for high-ranking individuals and depictions of their gods.

Ledyard says in his journals that Cook offered some iron hatchets for the wooden border around the Morai and when the dismayed and insulted chiefs refused, Cook proceeded to give orders to ascend the Morai, chop down the fence and load the boats with the wood.

John Ledyard.jpg
Above: John Ledyard (1751 – 1789)

John Ledyard also tells of an episode where Captain Charles Clerke accused a native chieftain of stealing the Resolutions jolly boat.

However, the boat was soon found and the native chief was incensed by the accusation.

After staying in the bay for 19 days, Cook and his two ships sailed out of the bay.

Above: Map of the Hawaiian Islands made by one of Cook’s officers, probably William Bligh

On 6 February, Cook’s ships left Kealakekua Bay.

They were soon met with an unexpected hard gale which wrenched the mainmast of the Resolution.

On 11 February, the Resolution returned again to Kealakekua Bay to make repairs.

Ledyard writes on 13 February:

Our return to this bay was as disagreeable to us as it was to the inhabitants, for we were reciprocally tired of each other.

They had been oppressed and were weary of our prostituted alliance.

It was also equally evident from the looks of the natives as well as every other appearance that our friendship was now at an end, and that we had nothing to do but to hasten our departure to some different island where our vices were not known, and where our intrinsic virtues might gain us another short space of being wondered at.

While the Resolution was anchored in Kealakekua Bay, one of its two longboats was stolen from the ship by the Hawaiians, testing the foreigners’ reaction to see how far they could go with such a significant loss.

The Hawaiians had begun openly stealing from the foreigners.

To try to obtain the return of the stolen longboat from the Hawaiians, Cook attempted to kidnap the ali’i nui (ruler) of the Island of Hawaii, Kalani’opu’u.

Possibly being quite sick at this point, Cook made what were later described as a series of incredibly poor decisions.

On the following morning, Sunday 14 February 1779, Cook and his men launched from Resolution along with a company of armed marines.

They went directly to the ruling chief’s enclosure where Kalaniʻōpuʻu was still sleeping.

They woke him and directed him, urgently but without threat, to come with them.

As Cook and his men marched the ruler out of the royal enclosure, Cook himself held the hands of the elder chief as they walked away from the town towards the beach.

Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s favorite wife, Kanekapolei, saw them as they were leaving and yelled after her husband but he ignored her and did not stop.

She called to the other chiefs and the townspeople to alert them to the departure of her husband. 

Two chiefs, Kana’ina, the young son of the former ruler, Keawe’opala, and Nuaa, the king’s personal attendant, followed the group to the beach with the king’s wife behind them pleading along the way for the aliʻi nui to stop and come back.

By the time they got to the beach, Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s two youngest sons, who had been following their father believing they were being invited to visit the ship again with the ruler, began to climb into the boats waiting at the shore.

Kānekapōlei shouted to them to get out of the boat and pleaded with her husband to stop.

The ruler then realized that Cook and his men were not asking him to visit the ship, but were attempting to abduct him.

At this point he stopped and sat down.

Cook’s men were confronted on the beach by an elderly kahuna (priest) who approached them holding a coconut and chanting.

They yelled at the priest to go away, but he kept approaching them while singing a mele (chant).

When Cook and his men looked away from the old kahuna, they saw that the beach was now filled with thousands of native Hawaiians.

Cook told Kalaniʻōpuʻu to get up but the ruler refused.

As the townspeople began to gather around them, Cook and his men began to back away from the hostile crowd and raise their guns.

The two chiefs and Kānekapōlei shielded the aliʻi nui as Cook tried to get him to his feet.

Kanaʻina angrily approached Cook, who reacted by striking the chief with the broad (flat) side of his sword.

Kanaʻina jumped at Cook and grabbed him.

Some accounts state that Kanaʻina did not intend to hit Cook while other descriptions say the chief deliberately struck the navigator across the head with his leiomano (shark-tooth club).

Either way, Kanaʻina pushed Cook, who fell to the sand.

As Cook attempted to get up, Nuaa lunged at him and fatally stabbed him in the chest with a metal dagger, obtained by trade from Cook’s ship during the same visit.

Cook fell with his face in the water.

Above: Death of Captain Cook

This caused a violent, close-quarters melee between the townspeople and Cook’s men.

Four of the Royal Marines (Corporal James Thomas and Privates Theophilus Hinks, Thomas Fachett, and John Allen) were killed and two were wounded.

The remaining sailors and marines, heavily outnumbered, continued to fire as they retreated to their small boat and rowed back to their ship, killing several of the angered people on the beach, including possibly High Chief Kanaʻina.

Cook’s ships did not leave Kealakekua Bay until 22 February.

They remained for another week to continue repair of the mast and collect better-quality drinking water.

HMS 'Resolution' and 'Discovery' in Tahiti RMG L9757 (cropped).jpg

A young William Bligh, the future captain of the HMS Bounty, later claimed to have been watching with a spyglass from Resolution as Cook’s body was dragged up the hill to the town by the native Hawaiians, where it was torn to pieces by them.

Above: William Bligh (1754 – 1817)

Death and bloodshed all for a rowboat.

Dutch Wooden Rowing Boat - 17th and 18th century - Buy Royalty Free 3D  model by Mr. The Rich (@MatthijsDeRijk) [1706f8c]

Orasac, Sanjak of Smederevo (Serbia), Ottoman Empire, Tuesday 14 February 1804

Belgrade was made the seat of the Pashalik of Belgrade (also known as the Sanjak of Smederevo), and quickly became the second largest Ottoman town in Europe at over 100,000 people, surpassed only by Constantinople (Istanbul).

Belgrade pashaluk.png

In 1788, during the Austro-Turkish War (1788 – 1791), Koca’s frontier rebellion saw eastern Sumadija occupied by Austrian Serbian Free Corps and hajduks (rebels), and subsequently most of the Sanjak of Smederevo was occupied by the Habsburg Monarchy (1788 –1791).

From 15 September to 8 October 1789, a Habsburg Austrian force besieged the fortress of Belgrade.

Above: Siege of Belgrade (15 September – 8 October 1789)

The Austrians held the city until 1791, when it handed Belgrade back to the Ottomans according to the terms of the Treaty of Sistova.

Above: The treaty was signed in the little house to the left in modern Svishtov, Bulgaria

With the return of the Sanjak to the Ottoman Empire, the Serbs expected reprisals from the Turks due to their support of the Austrians. 

Sultan Selim III had given complete command of the Sanjak of Smederevo and Belgrade to battle-hardened Janissaries (elite infantry units) that had fought Christian forces during the Austro-Turkish War and many other conflicts.

Although Selim III granted authority to the peaceful Hadzi Mustafa Pasha in 1793, tensions between the Serbs and the Janissary command did not subside.

In 1793 and 1796 Selim III proclaimed firmans (a royal mandate), which gave more rights to Serbs.

Among other things, taxes were to be collected by the obor-knez (dukes); freedom of trade and religion were granted and there was peace.

Selim III also decreed that some unpopular janissaries were to leave the “Belgrade Pashalik“, as he saw them a threat to the central authority of Hadži Mustafa Pasha.

III. Selim.jpg
Above: Selim III (1761 – 1808)

Many of those Janissaries were employed by or found refuge with Osman Pazvantoglu, a renegade opponent of Selim III in the Sanjak of Vidin.

Fearing the dissolution of the Janissary command in the Sanjak of Smederevo, Osman Pazvantoğlu launched a series of raids against Serbians without the permission of the Sultan, causing much instability and fear in the region. 

Pazvantoğlu was defeated in 1793 by the Serbs at the Battle of Kolari.

Osman Pazvantoğlu.jpg
Above: Osman Pazvantoglu (1758 – 1807)

In the summer of 1797 the sultan appointed Mustafa Pasha to the position of Beglerbey (Governor General) of Rumelia Evalet (1365 – 1867) and he left Serbia for the city of Plovdiv to fight against the Vidin rebels of Pazvantoğlu.

Rumelia Eyalet, Ottoman Empire (1609).png
Above: Rumelia Eyelet, Ottoman Empire

During the absence of Mustafa Pasha, the forces of Pazvantoğlu captured Pozarevac and besieged the fortress of Belgrade.

Požarevac collage.jpg
Above: Images of Pozarevac, Serbia

At the end of November 1797, Obor-knezes (Dukes) Aleksa Nenaovic, Ilija Bircanin and Nikola Grbovic from Valjevo brought their forces to Belgrade and forced the besieging Janissary forces to retreat to Smederevo.

Калемегдан, споменик Побједник, Биоград.jpg
Above: Belgrade Fortress

However, on 30 January 1799, Selim III allowed the Janissaries to return, referring to them as local Muslims from the Sanjak of Smederevo.

Initially the Janissaries accepted the authority of Hadži Mustafa Pasha, until a Janissary in Sabac, Bego Novljanin, demanded from a Serb a surcharge and murdered the man when he refused to pay.

Šabac- collage.jpg
Above: Images of Sabac, Serbia

Fearing the worst, Hadži Mustafa Pasha marched on Šabac with a force of 600 to ensure that the Janissary was brought to justice and order was restored.

Not only did the other Janissaries decided to support Bego Novljanin, but Osman Pazvantoglu attacked the Belgrade Pasahaluk in support of the Janissaries.

Above: Uniform of the Janissaries

On 15 December 1801, Vizier Hadzi Mustafa Pasha of Belgrade was killed by Kucuk-Alija, one of the four leading dahije (officers).

This resulted in the Sanjak of Smederevo being ruled by these renegade Janissaries independently from the Ottoman government, in defiance of the Sultan.

Dahias & Mustapha Pasa.jpg
Above: Assassination of Mustapha Pasha, 15 December 1801

The Janissaries imposed “a system of arbitrary abuse that was unmatched by anything similar in the entire history of Ottoman misrule in the Balkans“.

The leaders divided the Sanjak into pashaliks (provinces).

Above: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk wearing the traditional Janissary uniform at a masquerade ball during his early years in the Ottoman Army

They immediately suspended Serbian autonomy and drastically increased taxes, land was seized, forced labor (citlucenje) was introduced and many Serbs fled to the mountains.

The tyranny endured by the Serbs caused them to send a petition to the Sultan, which the dahije learned of. 

The dahije were concerned that the Sultan would make use of the Serbs to oust them.

To forestall this they decided to execute leading Serbs throughout the Sanjak, in an event known as the “Slaughter of the Knezes“, which took place in late January 1804.

According to contemporary sources from Valjevo, the severed heads of the leaders were put on public display in the central square to serve as an example to those who might plot against the rule of the dahije.

This enraged the Serbs, who led their families into the woods and started murdering the subasi (village overseers).

Above: Serb Knez about to be beheaded

Following the Slaughter of the Knezes and building on the resentment towards the dahije who had rolled back privileges granted to the Serbs by Selim II, on Tuesday 14 February 1804, in the small village of Orasac near Arandelovac, leading Serbs gathered and decided to begin an uprising against the dahijas.

Above: the Orasac Assembly

The Serb chieftains gathered in Orašac and elected Dorde Petrovic, a livestock merchant known as Karađorđe, as their leader.

Karađorđe had fought as a member of the Freicorps during the Austro-Turkish war, had been an officer in the national militia, and thus had considerable military experience.

Karađorđe Petrović, by Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1816.jpg
Above: Karadorde (1768 – 1817)

The Serbian forces quickly assumed control of Sumadija, reducing dahija control to just Belgrade.

The government in Istanbul instructed the pashas of the neighboring pashaliks not to assist the dahijas.

The Serbs, at first technically fighting on the behalf of the Sultan against the Janissaries, were encouraged and aided by an Ottoman official and the sipahi (cavalry corps).

For their small numbers, the Serbs had great military successes, taking Pozarevac and Sabac and attacking Smederevo and Belgrade, in quick succession.

The Sultan, fearing their power, ordered all pashaliks in the region to crush them.

The Serbs marched against the Ottomans and, after major victories in 1805 and 1806, established a government and parliament that returned the land to the people, abolished forced labour, and reduced taxes.

Above: Members of the Serbian Free Corps

Military success continued over the years.

However, there was dissent between Karađorđe and other leaders — Karađorđe wanted absolute power while his dukes, some of whom abused their privileges for personal gain, wanted to limit it.

After the Russo – Turkish War (1806 – 1812) ended and Russian support ceased, the Ottoman Empire exploited these circumstances and reconquered Serbia in 1813.

The Serbs were the first Christian population in Ottoman history to have risen up against the Sultan, their uprising ultimately became a symbol of the nation-building process in the Balkans, inspiring unrest among neighboring Balkan peoples.

Although the uprising was unsuccessful, it resumed shortly with the Second Serbian Uprising in 1815.

Flag of Serbia
Above: Flag of Serbia

Violence, the result of fear and greed, is a universal, even in Serbia.

Chicago, Illinois, USA, Thursday 14 February 1929

It was the struggle to control organized crime in the city during Prohibition between the Irish North Siders, headed by George “Bugs” Moran, and their Italian South Side Gang rivals led by Al “Scarface” Capone.

Bugs Moran.jpg
Above: Bugs Moran (1893 – 1957)

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Above: Al Capone (1899 – 1947)

Earlier in the year, North Sider Frank Gusenberg and his brother Peter unsuccessfully attempted to murder Jack McGurn (a key member of Capone’s gang).

Above: Frank Gusenberg (1893 – 1929)

Peter “Goosy” Gusenberg (1889-1929) - Find A Grave Memorial
Above: Peter “Goosey” Gusenberg (1889 – 1929)

Above: Jack McGurn (1902 – 1936)

The North Side Gang was complicit in the murders of Pasqualino “Patsy” Lolordo and Antonio “the Scourge” Lombardo.

Both had been presidents of the Unione Siciliana (the local Mafia) and close associates of Capone.

Pasqualino LoLordo (1887-1929) - Find A Grave Memorial
Above: Pasquale Lolordo (1887 – 1929)

Antonio “The Scourge” Lombardo (1891-1928) - Find A Grave Memorial
Above: Antonio Lombardo (1891 – 1928)

Moran and Capone had been vying for control of the lucrative Chicago bootlegging trade.

Above: A policeman with wrecked automobile and confiscated moonshine (homemade liquor), 1922

Moran had also been muscling in on a Capone-run dog track in the Chicago suburbs, and he had taken over several saloons that were run by Capone, insisting that they were in his territory.

The Chicago Crime Scenes Project: Capone's Horse Track
Above: Capone’s race track

The plan was to lure Moran to the SMC Cartage warehouse on North Clark Street on 14 February 1929, to kill him and perhaps two or three of his lieutenants.

It is usually assumed that the North Siders were lured to the garage with the promise of a stolen, cut-rate shipment of whiskey, supplied by Detroit’s Purple Gang which was associated with Capone.

Purple Gang.jpg
Above: the Detroit Purple Gang (1917 – 1932)

The Gusenberg brothers were supposed to drive two empty trucks to Detroit that day to pick up two loads of stolen Canadian whiskey.

The S-M-C Cartage Company warehouse at 2122 North Clark St. in... News  Photo - Getty Images

All of the victims were dressed in their best clothes, with the exception of John May, as was customary for the North Siders and other gangsters at the time.

John May (1894-1929) - Find A Grave Memorial
Above: John May (1894 – 1929)

Most of the Moran gang arrived at the warehouse by approximately 10:30 a.m., but Moran was not there, having left his Parkway Hotel apartment late.

ParkwayHotel - The Pierre

He and fellow gang member Ted Newberry approached the rear of the warehouse from a side street when they saw a police car approaching the building.

They immediately turned and retraced their steps, going to a nearby coffee shop.

They encountered gang member Henry Gusenberg on the street and warned him, so he too turned back.

The Writers of Wrongs: Gangster Profile: Ted Newberry
Above: Ted Newberry

North Side Gang member Willie Marks also spotted the police car on his way to the garage, and he ducked into a doorway and jotted down the license number before leaving the neighborhood.

1929—St. Valentine's Day Massacre — chicagology
Above: Willie Marks

Capone’s lookouts likely mistook one of Moran’s men for Moran himself, probably Albert Weinshank, who was the same height and build.

The physical similarity between the two men was enhanced by their dress that morning.

Both happened to be wearing the same color overcoats and hats.

Above: Albert Weinshank

Witnesses outside the garage saw a Cadillac sedan pull up to a stop in front of the garage.

Four men emerged and walked inside, two of them dressed in police uniform.

The two fake police officers carried shotguns and entered the rear portion of the garage, where they found members of Moran’s gang and collaborators Reinhart Schwimmer and John May, who was fixing one of the trucks.

The fake policemen then ordered the men to line up against the wall.

They then signaled to the pair in civilian clothes who had accompanied them.

chicago police 1929 - Google Search | Chicago police officer, Police  officer, Police
Above: Chicago policeman, 1929

Two of the killers opened fire with Thompson sub-machine guns, one with a 20-round box magazine and the other a 50-round drum.

They were thorough, spraying their victims left and right, even continuing to fire after all seven had hit the floor.

Two shotgun blasts afterward all but obliterated the faces of John May and James Clark, according to the coroner’s report.

Campbell Thompson.jpg

To give the appearance that everything was under control, the men in street clothes came out with their hands up, prodded by the two uniformed policemen.

Above: The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre brick

Inside the garage, the only survivors in the warehouse were May’s dog “Highball” and Frank Gusenberg — despite 14 bullet wounds.

Highball May (Unknown-1929) - Find A Grave Memorial
Above: Highball

Real Chicago police officers arrived at the scene to find that Gusenberg was still alive.

He was taken to the hospital, where doctors stabilized him for a short time and police tried to question him.

He had sustained 14 bullet wounds.

The police asked him who did it, and he replied:

No one shot me.

He died three hours later, refusing to utter a word about the identities of the killers.

Today in History, February 14, 1929: Gangster Al Capone's enemies gunned  down in 'St. Valentine's Day Massacre'

Al Capone was widely assumed to have been responsible for ordering the Massacre, despite being at his Florida home at the time.

The Valentine’s Day Massacre set off a public outcry which posed a problem for all mob bosses.

A Chicago Valentines. The St. Valentine's Day massacre or February 14, 1929.  - YouTube

Two years later, Capone would begin an 11-year prison sentence, of which he served eight, his health diminishing in the last six years of his incarceration.

Above: Cell 181 in Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary where Capone was imprisoned

His remaining years were spent between hospitals and his mental faculties at the time of his death were comparable to a 12-year-old.

All his violence ultimately gave him was notoriety, syphilus and death at age 48.

Above: Grave, Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, Illinois

Asbestos, Québec, Canada, Monday 14 February 1949

At midnight on 14 February 1949, miners walked off the job at four asbestos mines in the Eastern Townships (Cantons d’Est), near Asbestos and Thetford Mines.

Above: Val des Sources (formerly Asbestos), Québec

Above: Canada’s biggest power shovel loading an ore train with asbestos at the Jeffrey Mine, Johns-Manville Co., Asbestos, Quebec, June 1944

Though these mines were owned by either American or English-Canadian companies, almost all the workers were Francophones.

The largest company was the American Johns-Manville firm.

The union had several demands.

These included:

  • the elimination of asbestos dust inside and outside of the mill
  • a fifteen cents an hour general wage increase
  • a five-cent an hour increase for night work
  • a social security fund to be administered by the union
  • the implementation of the Rand Formula
  • double time” payment for work on Sundays and holidays.

Asbestos Strike of 1949 | The Canadian Encyclopedia

(In Canadian labour law, the Rand formula (also referred to as automatic check-off and compulsory checkoff) is a workplace compromise arising from jurisprudence struck between organized labour (trade unions) and employers that guarantees employers industrial stability by requiring all workers affected by a collective agreement to pay dues to the union by mandatory deduction in exchange for the union agreement to “work now, grieve later.

Historically, in some workplaces, some workers refused to pay dues to the union even after benefiting from wage and benefit improvements negotiated by the union representatives, resulting in friction and violence as they were seen as ‘free-loaders‘.

At the same time, absence of a peaceful grievance settlement mechanism created industrial instability as union members often walked off the job.

The compromise was designed to ensure that no employee will opt out of the union simply to avoid dues yet reap the benefits of collective bargaining, such as higher wages or health insurance. 

The Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ivan Rand introduced this formula in 1946 as an arbitration decision ending the Ford Strike of 1945 in Windsor (Ontario).

Ivan Rand.jpg
Above: Ivan Rand (1884 – 1969)

Ford logo flat.svg

The Canada Labour Code and the labour relations laws of a majority of provinces contain provisions requiring the Rand Formula when certain conditions are met.

In those provinces where the labour relations laws do not make the Rand Formula mandatory, the automatic check-off of union dues may become part of the collective bargaining agreement if both parties (i.e., the employer and the trade union) agree.

If there are religious objections to paying dues the dues may be donated to a mutually agreed upon charity.)

A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.
Above: Flag of Canada

The Asbestos workers’ demands were radical in Québec at the time.

They were rejected by the owners.

Flag of Quebec
Above: Flag of Québec

On 13 February 1949, the workers voted to strike.

The workers were represented by the National Federation of Mining Industry Employees and the Canadian Catholic Federation of Labour (today’s Confédération des syndicats nationaux / CSN).

CSN logo.jpg


Jean Marchand was the general secretary of the latter and is often seen as the de facto leader of the strike.

The strike was illegal.

Jean Marchand1.jpg
Above: Jean Marchand (1918 – 1988)

Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis sided strongly with the companies, largely due to his hostility to all forms of socialism.

The provincial government sent squads of police to protect the mines.

Duplessis’ Union Nationale party had long been closely allied to the Catholic Church, but parts of the Church would move to support the workers.

Maurice Duplessis.jpg
Above: Maurice Duplessis (1890 – 1959)

The population and media of Québec were sympathetic to the strikers.

The lead reporter for Le Devoir newspaper was Gérard Pelletier, who was deeply sympathetic to the cause of the workers. 

Gérard Pelletier - IMDb
Above: Gérard Pelletier (1919 – 1997)

Pierre Elliott Trudeau, future Prime Minister of Canada and father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, also covered, for the dissident journal Cité Libre, the strike in a sympathetic manner.

Pierre Trudeau (1975).jpg
Above: Pierre Trudeau (1919 – 2000)

Six weeks into the strike, Johns-Manville hired strikebreakers to keep the mines open.

The community was deeply divided as some of the workers crossed the picket lines.

The strike turned violent as the 5,000 strikers attacked, destroying the property of the “scabs” and intimidating them through force.

More police were sent to protect the strikebreakers.

The striking miners and police fought on the picket line and hundreds of miners were arrested.

Les policiers interviennent à l'occasion de la grève de l'amiante en 1949

Above: Police respond to the 1949 asbestos strike

Some of the incidents included:

  • On 14 March, a dynamite explosion destroyed part of a railroad track that led into the Johns-Manville Corporation’s Canadian subsidiary property.
  • On 16 March, strikers overturned a company jeep, injuring a passenger.

Asbestos Strike of 1949 | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Strikers had the support of Canadian unions and some of the Catholic Church in Quebec.

The Catholic Church, which had until that time been largely supportive of the Union Nationale government of Duplessis, profoundly affected the strike.

Some priests backed the companies, but most sided with the strikers.

On 5 March, Archbishop Joseph Charbonneau delivered a fiercely pro-union speech asking all Catholics to donate to help the strikers.

Premier Duplessis asked the Church to transfer the Archbishop to Vancouver because of his encouragement of the strike.

The Church refused, signaling a dramatic change in Québec society.

Charbonneau did resign and became the chaplain at a hospital in Victoria, British Columbia.

Joseph Charbonneau.jpg
Above: Joseph Charbonneau (1892 – 1959)

On 5 May, the strikers launched an effort to shut down the mine in Asbestos by barricading the mine and every road into and out of town.

Police attempts to force their way through the barricades failed.

The strikers backed down when the police pledged to open fire on the strikers.

The next day, the riot act was read and mass arrests of the strikers begun, including a raid on the Church.

The arrested strikers were beaten and their leaders severely battered.

Asbestos Strike of 1949 | The Canadian Encyclopedia

History Through Our Eyes: May 7, 1949, the Asbestos Strike | Montreal  Gazette

After the arrests, the unions decided that they must compromise, and began negotiations with the company.

Archbishop Maurice Roy of Quebec City served as mediator.

In June, the workers agreed to return to work with few gains.

When the dispute ended, miners received a small pay increase, but many never regained their jobs.

Above: Maurice Roy (1905 – 1985)

One of the most violent and bitter labour disputes in Québec and Canadian history, the strike led to great upheaval in Québec society.

The strike was in large part led by Jean Marchand, a labour unionist.

Journalists Gérard Pelletier and Pierre Elliot Trudeau also played significant roles.

Marchand, Pelletier and Trudeau would eventually become prominent Canadian politicians and were known later in their political careers as Les Trois Colombes (the Three Wise Men).

They would largely establish the direction of Québec federalism for a generation.

Trudeau edited a book, The Asbestos Strike, that presented the strike as the origin of modern Qubéec, portraying it as “a violent announcement that a new era had begun.”

The Asbestos Strike by Trudeau, Pierre Elliot: Good Soft cover (1974) |  George Strange's Bookmart

Some historians argue that the strikers were simply pursuing better conditions and that the resulting change in society was an unintended byproduct.

Popular opinion for most of the strike was broadly supportive of the striking workers.

This support, beyond its moral value, manifested itself through monetary support and the supply of provisions.

It is likely that the strike would have quickly failed had it not been for the establishment of this kind of support.

Challenging Authority

Again greed and lack of compassion leads to social unrest.

The wealthy and powerful never learn that a gilded age ultimately ends.

A projection of North America with Canada highlighted in green

Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday 14 February 1979

Adolph Dubs was born in Chicago.

A 1938 graduate of Carl Schurz High School, he graduated from Beloit College in 1942 with a degree in political science.

Carl Schurz High School 02.jpg
Above: Carl Schurz High School, Chicago

Beloit seal.jpg
Above: Logo of Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin

While at Beloit, classmates who said they did not want to refer to Dubs by the first name of an enemy dictator, gave him the nickname “Spike“, which stuck for the rest of his life.

Dubs served in the US Navy during World War II.

Emblem of the United States Navy.svg

Later, he completed graduate studies at Georgetown University and foreign service studies at Harvard University and Washington University in St. Louis.

He subsequently entered the US Foreign Service as a career diplomat, and his postings included Germany, Liberia, Canada, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.

Flag of a United States Foreign Service Officer.svg
Above: Flag of the US Foreign Service

He became a noted Soviet expert, and during 1973 and 1974 he served as ranking charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Moscow.

Adolph Dubs.jpg
Above: Adolph “Spike” Dubs (1920 – 1979)

In 1978, Dubs was appointed US Ambassador to Afghanistan following the Saur Revolution, a coup d’état which brought the Soviet-aligned Khalq faction to power (27–28 April 1978).

He was being driven from his residence to the US Embassy shortly before 9 a.m. on 14 February 1979, on the same day that Iranian militants attacked the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran, and just months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

He was approaching the US Cultural Center when four men stopped his armored black Chevrolet limousine.

Some accounts say that the men were wearing Afghan police uniforms, while others state that only one of the four was wearing a police uniform.

The men gestured to the car to open its windows, which were bulletproof, and the ambassador’s driver complied.

The militants then threatened the driver with a pistol, forcing him to take Dubs to the Kabul Serena Hotel in downtown Kabul.

The abduction occurred within sight of Afghan police.

The Kabul Serena's dark history | The World from PRX

Dubs was held in Room 117 on the first floor of the hotel, and the driver was sent to the US Embassy to tell the US of the kidnapping.

At the hotel, the abductors allegedly demanded that the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) release “one or more religious or political prisoners.

No demands were made of the American government, nor did the DRA ever give a complete or consistent account of the kidnappers’ desires.” 

Flag of Afghanistan
Above: Flag of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1987 – 1992)

Some accounts state that the militants demanded the exchange of author Tahir Badakhshi (1933 – 1979), Badruddin Bahes (who may have already been dead), and poet Wasef Bakhtari.

Above: Wasef Bakhtari

The US urged waiting in order not to endanger Dubs’ life, but the Afghan police disregarded these pleas to negotiate and attacked on the advice of Soviet officers.

The weapons and flak jackets used by the Afghans were provided by the Soviets, and the hotel lobby had multiple Soviet officials, including the KGB security chief, the lead Soviet advisor to the Afghan police, and the second secretary at the Soviet embassy.

Emblema KGB.svg
Above: Emblem of the KGB (Committee for State Security)

At the end of the morning, a shot was heard.

Afghan police then stormed Room 117 with heavy automatic gunfire.

After a short, intense firefight, estimated at 40 seconds to one minute, Dubs was found dead, killed by shots to the head.

Two abductors died in the firefight, as well.

An autopsy showed that he had been shot in the head from a distance of six inches.

The other two abductors were captured alive but were shot shortly afterwards.

Their bodies were shown to US officials before dusk.

File:ANCExplorer Adolph Dubs grave.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The true identity and aims of the militants are uncertain, and the crime “has never been satisfactorily explained” although US, Afghan, and Soviet officials “were all but eyewitnesses” to it.

The circumstances have been described as “mysterious” and “still clouded.” 

Flag of the Soviet Union
Above: Flag of the Soviet Union (1955 – 1991)

Several factors obscured the events, including the killing of the surviving captors, lack of forensic analysis of the scene, lack of access for US investigators, and planting of evidence.

Soviet or Afghan conspiracy was not proven.

Some attribute responsibility for the kidnapping and murder to the leftist anti-Pashtun group Settam-e-Melli, but others consider that to be dubious, pointing to a former Kabul policeman who has claimed that at least one kidnapper was part of the Parcham faction of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan.

Disinformation that was spread in the Soviet and Afghan press after the murder blamed the incident on the CIA, Hafizullah Amin, or both.

Anthony Arnold suggested that “it was obvious that only one power would benefit from the murder—the Soviet Union“, as the death of the ambassador “irrevocably poisoned” the US – Afghan relationship, “leaving the USSR with a monopoly of great power influence over” the Nur Muhammad Taraki government.

Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski stated that Dubs’ death “was a tragic event which involved either Soviet ineptitude or collusion“, while the Afghan handling of the incident was “inept.”

The Taraki government refused US requests for an investigation into the death.

The Carter administration was outraged by the murder of the ambassador and by the conduct of the Afghan government, and began to disengage from Afghanistan and express sympathy with Afghan regime opponents.

The incident hastened the decline in US – Afghan relations, causing the United States to make a fundamental reassessment of its policy.

In reaction to Dubs’ murder, the US immediately cut planned humanitarian aid of $15 million by half and canceled all planned military aid of $250,000, and the US terminated all economic support by December 1979, when the Soviet occupation of the country was complete.

The Afghan government aimed to diminish the US presence in Afghanistan and restricted the number of Peace Corps volunteers and cultural exchange programs. 

On 23 July, the State Department announced the withdrawal of non-essential US Embassy staff from Kabul and the majority of the diplomats as security deteriorated.

The US only had some 20 staff members in Kabul by December. 

Dubs was not replaced by a new ambassador, and a chargé d’affaires led the skeleton staff at the Embassy.

The death of Dubs was listed as a “Significant Terrorist Incident” by the State Department.

Documents released from the Soviet KGB archives by Vasily Mitrokhin in the 1990s showed that the Afghan government clearly authorized the assault despite forceful demands for peaceful negotiations by the US, and that KGB adviser Sergei Batrukhin may have recommended the assault, as well as the execution of a kidnapper before US experts could interrogate him.

The Mitrokhin archives also indicate that the fourth kidnapper escaped and the body of a freshly killed prisoner served as a substitute for the US inspection.

Other questions remain unanswered.

At the time of his death Dubs was married to his second wife Mary Anne, a Washington-based journalist.

He was previously married for over 30 years to Jane Wilson Dubs (1922–1993), his college girlfriend from Beloit College, whom he married in 1945 and divorced in 1976.

He had one daughter, Lindsay Dubs McLaughlin (1953–), who lives in West Virginia.

Dubs is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

The Mysterious Kidnapping of an American Ambassador Still Haunts the State  Department | Washingtonian (DC)

An ambassador was killed and chess pieces moved across the board of international diplomacy.

Somehow, the notion of triumph seems elusive here.

A selection of black and white chess pieces on a checkered surface.

Tehran, Iran, Tuesday 14 February 1989

Ahmed Salman Rushdie was born on 19 June 1947 in Mumbai (Bombay), then British India, into a Kashmiri Muslim family.

He is the son of Anis Ahmed Rushdie, a Cambridge-educated lawyer-turned-businessman, and Negin Bhatt, a teacher.

Rushdie has three sisters.

He wrote in his 2012 memoir that his father adopted the name Rushdie in honour of Averroes (Ibn Rushd).

Rushdie at the 2016 Hay Festival
Above: Salman Rushdie

(Averroes / Ibn Rushd (1126 – 1198) was a Muslim Andalusian polymath and jurist who wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology. theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology, mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics.

The author of more than 100 books and treatises, his philosophical works include numerous commentaries on Aristotle, for which he was known in the western world as The Commentator and the Father of rationalism.)

Statue of a sitting man in Arabic garb
Above: Statue of Averroes, Cordoba, Spain

Rushdie was educated at Cathedral and John Connon School, Bombay, Rugby School in Warwickshire, and King’s College, Cambridge, where he read (studied) history.

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Above: Logo of Cathedral and John Connon School, Bombay, India

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Above: Coat of arms, Rugby School, England

Above: Coat of arms of King’s College, Cambridge University, England

Rushdie has been married four times.

He was married to his first wife Clarissa Luard from 1976 to 1987 and fathered a son, Zafar (born 1979). 

He left her in the mid-’80s for the Australian writer Robyn Davidson, to whom he was introduced by their mutual friend Bruce Chatwin.

Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback:  Davidson, Robyn: 9780679762874: Books

His second wife was the American novelist Marianne Wiggins.

They were married in 1988 and divorced in 1993.

Wiggins reported that in the first few months following the fatwa the couple moved 56 times, once every three days.

In late July 1989, Rushdie separated from Wiggins, “the tension of being at the centre of an international controversy, and the irritations of spending all hours of the day together in seclusion“, being too much for their “shaky” relationship. The Shadow Catcher: A Novel (9780743265218): Wiggins, Marianne:  Books

His third wife, from 1997 to 2004, was Elizabeth West.

They have a son, Milan (born 1997).

In 2004, he married Padma Lakshmi, an Indian-American actress, model, and host of the American reality-television show Top Chef.

The marriage ended on 2 July 2007.

How Padma Lakshmi Cooked Her Way Through the Pandemic: Women Who Travel  Podcast | Condé Nast Traveler
Above: Padma Lakshmi

Rushdie worked as a copywriter for the advertising agencies Ogilvy & Mather, and Ayer Barker.

It was while he was at Ogilvy that he wrote Midnight’s Children, before becoming a full-time writer.

Ogilvy logo.svg

Rushdie’s first novel, Grimus (1975), a part-science fiction tale, was generally ignored by the public and literary critics.

The story loosely follows Flapping Eagle, a young native American man who receives the gift of immortality after drinking a magic fluid.

After drinking the fluid, Flapping Eagle wanders the Earth for 777 years 7 months and 7 days, searching for his immortal sister and exploring identities before falling through a hole in the Mediterranean Sea.

He arrives in a parallel dimension at the mystical Calf Island where those immortals who have tired of the world but are reluctant to give up their immortality exist in a static community under a subtle and sinister authority.

Grimus is said to allegorically encounter and investigate multiple social ideologies whilst in a search for a coherent centre of identity, in that its journey traverses both outer and inner dimensions, exploring both cultural ideologies and the ambivalent effects that they have on one’s psychological being.

Grimus undermines the concept of a “pure culture” by demonstrating the impossibility of any culture, philosophy or Weltanschauung (world view) existing in sterile isolation.

 “Any intellect which confines itself to mere structuralism is bound to rest trapped in its own webs.

Your words serve only to spin cocoons around your own irrelevance.

Grimus examines the habits that communities adopt to prevent themselves from acknowledging multiplicity and explores and undermines concepts of stable cultural origins of identity.

One of the things that have happened in the 20th century is a colossal fragmentation reality, the state of confusion and alienation that defines postcolonial societies and individuals.”

Grimus cover.jpg

His next novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), catapulted him to literary notability.

Midnight’s Children follows the life of a child, born at the stroke of midnight as India gained its independence, who is endowed with special powers and a connection to other children born at the dawn of a new and tumultuous age in the history of the Indian sub-continent and the birth of the modern nation of India.

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

The character of Saleem Sinai has been compared to Rushdie.

However, the author has refuted the idea of having written any of his characters as autobiographical, stating:

“People assume that because certain things in the character are drawn from your own experience, it just becomes you.

In that sense, I’ve never felt that I’ve written an autobiographical character.


After Midnight’s Children, Rushdie wrote Shame (1983), in which he depicts the political turmoil in Pakistan, basing his characters on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. 

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Above: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1928 – 1979)

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Above: Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1924 – 1988)

This book was written out of a desire to approach the problem of “artificial” (other-made) country divisions, their residents’ complicity, and the problems of post-colonialism.

It portrays the lives of Iskander Harappa and General Raza Hyder and their relationship.

The central theme of the novel is that begetting “shame” begets violence.

The concepts of ‘shame‘ and ‘shamelessness‘ are explored through all of the characters.

This story takes place in a town called “Q” which is actually a fictitious version of Quetta, Pakistan.

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Above: Quetta, Pakistan at night from above

In Q, one of the three sisters (Chunni, Munnee, and Bunny Shakil) gives birth to Omar Khayyám Shakil, but they act as a unit of mothers, never revealing to anyone who is Omar’s birth mother.

In addition, Omar never learns who his father is.

While growing up, Omar lives in purdah (exile) with his three mothers and yearns to join the world.

As a birthday present, Omar Khayyám Shakil’s “mothers” allow him to leave Q.

He enrolls in a school and is convinced by his tutor to become a doctor.

Over time, he comes in contact with both Iskander Harappa and General Raza Hyder.


Rushdie wrote a non-fiction book about Nicaragua in 1987 called The Jaguar Smile.

Flag of Nicaragua
Above: Flag of Nicaragua

This book has a political focus and is based on his first-hand experiences and research at the scene of Sandinista political experiments.

The book is subtitled A Nicaraguan Journey and relates his travel experiences, the people he met as well as views on the political situation then facing the country.

The book was written during a break the author took from writing his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses.


After a period of political and economic turmoil under dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (commonly known by their initials FSLN or as the Sandinistas) came to power in Nicaragua in 1979 supported by much of the populace and elements of the Catholic church.

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Above: Anastasio Somoza Debayle (1925 – 1980)

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Above: Flag of the FSLN

The government was initially backed by the US under President Jimmy Carter, but the support evaporated under the presidency of Ronald Reagan in light of evidence that the Sandinistas were providing help to the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front) rebels in El Salvador.

Ronald Reagan's presidential portrait, 1985
Above: Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004)

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Flag of Al Salvador
Above: Flag of El Salvador

The US imposed economic sanctions and a trade embargo instead which contributed to the collapse of the Nicaraguan economy in the early to mid-1980s.

While the Soviet Union and Cuba funded the Nicaraguan army, the US financed the contras (1979 – 1990) in neighboring Honduras with a view towards establishing a friendly government in Nicaragua.

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Above: Flag of Cuba

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Above: Nicaraguan Contra rebels

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Above: Flag of Honduras

Nicaragua won a historic case against the US at the International Court of Justice in 1986, and the U.S. was ordered to pay Nicaragua some $12 billion in reparations for undermining the nation’s sovereignty.

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Above: Seal of the International Court of Justice, The Hague, The Netherlands

It was during this period that Salman Rushdie visited Nicaragua on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of the Sandinistas rise to power.

Rushdie’s three-week trip to Nicaragua in the summer of 1986 was at the invitation of the Sandinista Association of Cultural Workers which was billed as, “the umbrella organisation that brought writers, artists, musicians, craftspeople, dancers and so on, together under the same roof“.

Time Magazine reviewer Pico Iver praised Rushdie’s account that was “quickened by a novelist’s eye“.

However, Iyer felt that Rushdie was quick to overlook Sandinista totalitarianism and censorship due to his ideological sympathies with their cause.

Predicting the readers’ expected response, Iyer said:

Since his own views seem largely unchanged by what he encounters, the tourist is unlikely to change the views of his readers.

Those who share his assumptions will be reassured by his brief.

Those who do not will be outraged by it.”

Iyer in 2012

Above: Pico Iver

His most controversial work, The Satanic Verses, was published in 1988.

1988 Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses.jpg

Even before the publication of The Satanic Verses, the books of Salman Rushdie had stoked controversy.

Rushdie sees his role as a writer “as including the function of antagonist to the state“.

His second book Midnight´s Children angered Indira Ganghi because it seemed to suggest “that Mrs. Gandhi was responsible for the death of her husband through neglect“.

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Above: Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)

His 1983 roman ã clef Shametook an aim on Pakistan, its political characters, its culture and its religion.

It covered a central episode in Pakistan’s internal life, which portrays as a family squabble between Iskander Harappa (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) and his successor and executioner Raza Hyder (Zia ul-Haq).

‘The Virgin Ironpants’ has been identified as Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan“.

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Above: Benazir Bhutto (1953 – 2007)

Positions Rushdie took as a committed leftist prior to the publication of The Satanic Verses were the source of some controversy.

He defended many of those who would later attack him during the controversy.

Rushdie forcefully denounced the Shah’s government and supported the Islamic Revolution of Iran (1978 – 1979), at least in its early stages.

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Above: Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1919 – 1980)

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Above: Mass demonstrations at College Bridge, Tehran, Iran

He condemned the US bombing raid on Tripoli in 1986, but found himself threatened by Libya’s leader Muammar al-Gaddafi three years later.

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Above: A 48th Tactical Fighter Wing F-111F aircraft retracts its landing gear as it takes off from RAF Lakenheath, East Anglia England, to participate in a retaliatory air strike on Libya.

Above: Muammar al-Gaddafi (1942 – 2011)

He wrote a book bitterly critical of US foreign policy in general and its war in Nicaragua in particular, for example calling the US government, “the bandit posing as sheriff“.

Coat of arms of the United States
Above: Coat of arms of the United States of America

After the Ayatollah’s fatwa however, Rushdie was accused by the Iranian government of being “an inferior CIA agent“.

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A few years earlier, an official jury appointed by a ministry of the Iranian Islamic government had bestowed an award on the Persian translation of Rushdie’s book Shame, which up until then was the only time a government had awarded Rushdie’s work a prize. Sharm (Persian Edition): A Persian Translation of Salman  Rushdie's Shame by Mehdi Sahabi (9781727657852): Rushdie, Mr. Salman,  Sahabi, Mr Mehdi: Books
Above: Shame (Persian version)

The publication of The Satanic Verses in September 1988 caused immediate controversy in the Islamic world because of what was seen by some to be an irreverent depiction of Muhammad.

The title refers to a disputed Muslim tradition that is related in the book.

According to this tradition, Muhammad (Mahound in the book) added verses (Ayah) to the Qur’an accepting three goddesses who used to be worshipped in Mecca as divine beings.

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Above: “Muhammad the Messenger of God” inscribed on the gates of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina

Above: Goddesses Al-lat, Uzza and Manat

According to the legend, Muhammad later revoked the verses, saying the Devil tempted him to utter these lines to appease the Meccans (hence the “Satanic” verses).

However, the narrator reveals to the reader that these disputed verses were actually from the mouth of the Archangel Gabriel.

The book was banned in many countries with large Muslim communities (13 in total: Iran, India, Bangladesh, Sudan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Thailand, Tanzania, Indonesia, Singapore, Venezuela, and Pakistan).

In response to the protests, on 22 January 1989, Rushdie published a column in The Observer that called Muhammad “one of the great geniuses of world history,” but noted that Islamic doctrine holds Muhammad to be human, and in no way perfect.

Above: Al-Masijd an-Nabawi (“the Prophet’s Mosque”) in Medina, Saudi Arabia, with the Green Dome built over Muhammad’s tomb in the centre

He held that the novel is not “an anti-religious novel.”

It is, however, an attempt to write about migration, its stresses and transformations.”

Above: World Muslim population by percentage, 2014

On 14 February 1989 — Valentine’s Day, and also the day of his close friend Bruce Chatwin’s funeral—a fatwa ordering Rushdie’s execution was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, calling the book “blasphemous against Islam“.

Bruce Chatwin, photographed by Lord Snowdon, 28 July 1982
Above: Bruce Chatwin (1940 – 1989)

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Above: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1900 – 1989)

Chapter IV of the book depicts the character of an Iman in exile who returns to incite revolt from the people of his country with no regard for their safety.

A bounty was offered for Rushdie’s death, and he was thus forced to live under police protection for several years.

On 7 March 1989, the United Kingdom and Iran broke diplomatic relations over the Rushdie controversy.

A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
Above: Flag of the United Kingdom

When, on BBC Radio 4, he was asked for a response to the threat, Rushdie said:

Frankly, I wish I had written a more critical book.”

I’m very sad that it should have happened.

It’s not true that this book is a blasphemy against Islam.

I doubt very much that Khomeini or anyone else in Iran has read the book or more than selected extracts out of context.”

Later, he wrote that he was “proud, then and always“, of that statement.

While he did not feel his book was especially critical of Islam, “a religion whose leaders behaved in this way could probably use a little criticism.”

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The publication of the book and the fatwā sparked violence around the world, with bookstores firebombed.

25th anniversary of bombing of Berkeley's Cody's Books

Muslim communities in several nations in the West held public rallies, burning copies of the book.

Several people associated with translating or publishing the book were attacked, seriously injured, and even killed.

Many more people died in riots in some countries.

Why was The Satanic Verses so controversial? | The Week UK

Despite the danger posed by the fatwā, Rushdie made a public appearance at London’s Wembley Stadium on 11 August 1993 during a concert by U2.

A black poster with a black-and-white image occupying most it. The image shows U2 walking up the stairs of a small aeroplane as Bono gives a peace sign towards the viewer. Text on the poster reads "U2 Zoo TV Tour" and "Zooropa '93".

In 2010, U2 bassist Adam Clayton recalled that lead vocalist “Bono had been calling Salman Rushdie from the stage every night on the Zoo TV tour.

When we played Wembley, Salman showed up in person and the stadium erupted.

You could tell from [drummer] Larry Mullen, Jr.‘s face that we weren’t expecting it.

Salman was a regular visitor after that.

He had a backstage pass and he used it as often as possible.

For a man who was supposed to be in hiding, it was remarkably easy to see him around the place.

The band onstage
Above: The band U2, from left to right: Larry Mullen Jr., The Edge, Bono, Adam Clayton

On 24 September 1998, as a precondition to the restoration of diplomatic relations with the UK, the Iranian government, then headed by Mohammad Khatami, gave a public commitment that it would “neither support nor hinder assassination operations on Rushdie.”

Hardliners in Iran have continued to reaffirm the death sentence.

Above: The Islamic Consultative Assembly, also known as the Iranian Parliament

In early 2005, Khomeini’s fatwā was reaffirmed by Iran’s current spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Muslim pilgrims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

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Above: Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami

As pilgrims prepare to return to their homes, Saudi authorities begin to prep for next year's Hajj - Flickr - Al Jazeera English.jpg
Above: Pilgrims in Mecca

Additionally, the Revolutionary Guards declared that the death sentence on him is still valid.

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Above: The emblem of the Revolutionary Guards of Iran

Rushdie has reported that he still receives “a sort of Valentine’s card” from Iran each year on 14 February letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to kill him and has jokingly referred it as “my unfunny Valentine” in a reference to the song “My Funny Valentine“.


He said:

It’s reached the point where it’s a piece of rhetoric rather than a real threat.”

Despite the threats on Rushdie personally, he said that his family has never been threatened, and that his mother, who lived in Pakistan during the later years of her life, even received outpourings of support.

Rushdie himself has been prevented from entering Pakistan, however.

Flag of Pakistan
Above: Flag of Pakistan

A former bodyguard to Rushdie, Ron Evans, planned to publish a book recounting the behaviour of the author during the time he was in hiding.

Evans claimed that Rushdie tried to profit financially from the fatwa and was suicidal, but Rushdie dismissed the book as a “bunch of lies” and took legal action against Evans, his co-author and their publisher.

On 26 August 2008, Rushdie received an apology at the High Court in London from all three parties.

On Her Majesty's Service: Ron Evans, Douglas Thompson:  9781844546022: Books


A memoir of his years of hiding, Joseph Anton, was released on 18 September 2012.

Joseph Anton was Rushdie’s secret alias.

Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie

In February 1997, Ayatollah Hasan Sane’i, leader of the bonyad panzdah-e khordad (the Fifteenth of Khordad Foundation), reported that the blood money offered by the foundation for the assassination of Rushdie would be increased from $2 million to $2.5 million.

Then a semi-official religious foundation in Iran increased the reward it had offered for the killing of Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

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Above: Marmar Palace, Tehran, Iran

In November 2015, former Indian minister P. Chidambaram acknowledged that banning The Satanic Verses was wrong.

Above: Palaniappan Chidambaram

In 1998, Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami proclaimed the fatwa “finished“; but it has never been officially lifted, and in fact has been reiterated several times by Ali Khamenei and other religious officials.

Yet more money was added to the bounty in February 2016.

Iran's rial at 6-week high on cash injections, hopes that Biden wins US  election | Al Arabiya English

On 3 August 1989, while Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh was priming a book bomb loaded with RDX explosive in a hotel in Paddington, Central London, the bomb exploded prematurely, destroying two floors of the hotel and killing Mazeh.

A previously unknown Lebanese group, the Organization of the Mujahidin of Islam, said he died preparing an attack “on the apostate Rushdie“.

There is a shrine in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery for Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh that says he was:

Martyred in London, 3 August 1989.

The first martyr to die on a mission to kill Salman Rushdie.

Mazeh’s mother was invited to relocate to Iran, and the Islamic World Movement of Martyrs’ Commemoration built his shrine in the cemetery that holds thousands of Iranian soldiers slain in the Iran – Iraq War (1980 – 1988).

SAMRI on Twitter: "Iranian hardliner websites commemorate the "martyrdom"  of #Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh who was killed on  August 3, 1989 when a bomb he was making to kill Salman Rushdie
Above: Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh

During the 2006 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons contorversy, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that:

If there had been a Muslim to carry out Imam Khomeini’s fatwā against the renegade Salman Rushdie, this rabble who insult our Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, Norway and France would not have dared to do so.

I am sure there are millions of Muslims who are ready to give their lives to defend our prophet’s honour and we have to be ready to do anything for that.”

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Above: Hassan Nasrallah

In 2010, Anwar al-Awlaki published an Al-Qaeda hit list in Inspire magazine, including Rushdie along with other figures claimed to have insulted Islam, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a Dutch critic of Islam and advocate for the rights and self-determination of Muslim women, actively opposing forced marriage, honour violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation, Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks (an artist and activist whose drawings of Muhammad resulted in at least two failed attempts by Islamic extremists to murder him), and three Jyllands-Posten staff members: Kurt Westergaard, Carsten Juste and Flemming Rose.

The list was later expanded to include Stéphane “Charb” Charbonneau, who was murdered in the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris (7 January 2015), along with 11 other people.

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Above: Anwar al-Awlaki (1971 – 2011)

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Above: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Above: Lars Vilks

Above: Kurt Westergaard

Above: Flemming Rose

Charb, 2 November 2011
Above: Stéphane Charbonneau (1967 – 2015)

A commemorative plaque.
Above: The 11 victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack of 7 January 2015

After the attack, Al-Qaeda called for more killings.

Rushdie expressed his support for Charlie Hebdo.

He said:

I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.

Religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.” 

In response to the attack, Rushdie commented on what he perceived as victim blaming in the media, stating:

You can dislike Charlie Hebdo.

But the fact that you dislike them has nothing to do with their right to speak.

The fact you dislike them certainly doesn’t in any way excuse their murder.”

Charlie Hebdo logo.svg

Rushdie was knighted for services to literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on 16 June 2007.

He remarked:

“I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour, and am very grateful that my work has been recognised in this way.”

Queen grants Salman Rushdie knighthood
Above: Knighthood of Sir Salman Rushdie

In response to his knighthood, many nations with Muslim majorities protested.

Parliamentarians of several of these countries condemned the action, and Iran and Pakistan called in their British envoys to protest formally.

Controversial condemnation issued by Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq was in turn rebuffed by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Several called publicly for his death.

Some non-Muslims expressed disappointment at Rushdie’s knighthood, claiming that the writer did not merit such an honour and there were several other writers who deserved the knighthood more than Rushdie.

Al-Qaeda condemned the Rushdie honour.

The Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is quoted as saying in an audio recording that UK’s award for Kashmiri-born Rushdie was “an insult to Islam”, and it was planning “a very precise response.”

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Above: Ayman al-Zawahiri

Rushdie came from a liberal Muslim family but is now an atheist.

In 1989, in an interview following the fatwa, Rushdie said that he was in a sense a lapsed Muslim, though “shaped by Muslim culture more than any other“, and a student of Islam.

In another interview the same year, he said:

“My point of view is that of a secular human being.

I do not believe in supernatural entities, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu.

In 1990, in the “hope that it would reduce the threat of Muslims acting on the fatwa to kill him,” he issued a statement claiming he had renewed his Muslim faith, had repudiated the attacks on Islam made by characters in his novel, and was committed to working for better understanding of the religion across the world.

Above: Medallion showing “Allah” (God) in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

However, Rushdie later said that he was only “pretending“.

“It was deranged thinking.

I was more off-balance than I ever had been, but you can’t imagine the pressure I was under.

I simply thought I was making a statement of fellowship,Times Online quoted him, as saying.

“As soon as I said it I felt as if I had ripped my own tongue out. 

I realised that my only survival mechanism was my own integrity.

People, my friends, were angry with me, and that was the reaction I cared about,” he added.

The Times Logo.png

Rushdie also said that the criticism of the book caused him more upset than the fatwa.

The Satanic Verses: Salman Rushdie:

“I had spent five years writing this book.

It was my best effort.

To have it hated and dismissed was terrible.

I thought that if this is what you get, then why write?

I might as well become a bus conductor,” he said.

Travel watchdog says decline in London bus speeds must be reversed -  OnLondon

Rushdie advocates the application of higher criticism (a branch of criticism that investigates the origins of ancient texts in order to understand “the world behind the text“), pioneered during the late 19th century.

Rushdie called for a reform in Islam in a guest opinion piece printed in The Washington Post and The Times in mid-August 2005:

What is needed is a move beyond tradition, nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age, a Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadist ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows to let in much-needed fresh air.

It is high time, for starters, that Muslims were able to study the revelation of their religion as an event inside history, not supernaturally above it.

Broad-mindedness is related to tolerance.

Open-mindedness is the sibling of peace.”

The Logo of The Washington Post Newspaper.svg

In a 2006 interview with PBS, Rushdie called himself a “hardline atheist”.

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Rushdie is a critic of cultural relativism (the idea that a person’s beliefs, values, and practices should be understood based on that person’s own culture, and not be judged against the criteria of another).

He favours calling things by their true names and constantly argues about what is wrong and what is right.

In an interview with Point of Inquiry in 2006, he described his view as follows:

We need all of us, whatever our background, to constantly examine the stories inside which and with which we live.

We all live in stories, so called grand narratives.

Nation is a story.

Family is a story.

Religion is a story.

Community is a story.

We all live within and with these narratives.

And it seems to me that a definition of any living vibrant society is that you constantly question those stories.

That you constantly argue about the stories.

In fact the arguing never stops.

The argument itself is freedom.

It’s not that you come to a conclusion about it.

And through that argument you change your mind sometimes.

And that’s how societies grow.

When you can’t retell for yourself the stories of your life then you live in a prison.

Somebody else controls the story.

Now it seems to me that we have to say that a problem in contemporary Islam is the inability to re-examine the ground narrative of the religion.

The fact that in Islam it is very difficult to do this, makes it difficult to think new thoughts.

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Rushdie is an advocate of religious satire.

He condemned the Charlie Hebdo shooting and defended comedic criticism of religions in a comment originally posted on English PEN where he called religions a medieval form of unreason.

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Rushdie called the attack a consequence of “religious totalitarianism” which according to him had caused “a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam“:

Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms.

This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.

I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.

‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’

Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.

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Rushdie is a self-professed humanist, believing that reading and writing is a pathway for understanding human existence.

When asked about reading and writing as a human right Rushdie states:

The larger stories, the grand narratives that we live in, which are things like nation, and family, and clan, and so on.

Those stories are considered to be treated reverentially.

They need to be part of the way in which we conduct the discourse of our lives and to prevent people from doing something very damaging to human nature.” 

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Though Rushdie believes the freedoms of literature to be universal, the bulk of his fictions portrays the struggles of the marginally underrepresented.

This can be seen in his portrayal of the role of females in his novel Shame.

In this novel, Rushdie, “suggests that it is women who suffer most from the injustices of the Pakistani social order.”

(Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the potential and agency of human beings, individually and socially.

It considers human beings as the starting point for serious moral and philosophical inquiry.

The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it.

Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress.

It views humanity as responsible for the promotion and development of individuals, espouses the equal and inherent dignity of all human beings, and emphasizes a concern for humans in relation to the world.

In modern times, humanist movements are typically non-religious movements aligned with secularism, and today humanism may refer to a nontheistic life stance centred on human agency and looking to science and reason rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world.)

Self Made Man, Bobbie Carlyle - Bobbie's Official Website, Sculpture,  Loveland Colorado Sculptors
Above: The Self-Made Man

The Satanic Verses controversy was said to have divided “Muslims from Westerners along the fault line of culture,”and to have pitted a core Western value of freedom of expression — that no one “should be killed, or face a serious threat of being killed, for what they say or write” — against the view of many Muslims that no one should be free to “insult and malign Muslims” by disparaging the “honour of the Prophet“.

English writer Hanif Kureishi called the fatwaone of the most significant events in postwar literary history“.

Hanif Kureishi speaking in the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University on 8 September 2008
Above: Hanif Kureishi

Broadcast on Iranian radio, the judgment (fatwa) read:

We are from Allah and to Allah we shall return.

I am informing all brave Muslims of the world that the author of The Satanic Verses, a text written, edited, and published against Islam, the Prophet of Islam, and the Qur’an, along with all the editors and publishers aware of its contents, are condemned to death.

I call on all valiant Muslims wherever they may be in the world to kill them without delay, so that no one will dare insult the sacred beliefs of Muslims henceforth.

And whoever is killed in this cause will be a martyr, Allah willing.

Meanwhile, if someone has access to the author of the book but is incapable of carrying out the execution, he should inform the people so that Rushdie is punished for his actions.”

Khomeini did not give a legal reasoning for his judgement.

Above: Ayatollah and admirers

It is thought to be based on the 9th chapter of the Qur’an, called At-Tawba (“Repentence“), verse 61:

Some of them hurt the Prophet by saying, ‘He is all ears!’

Say, ‘It is better for you that he listens to you.

He believes in God, and trusts the believers.

He is a mercy for those among you who believe.’

Those who hurt God’s messenger have incurred a painful retribution“.

(The question is from whence cometh this retribution?)

However it was not explained how that chapter could support such a judgment.

Quran opened, resting on a stand
Above: The Qur’an

On 18 February, Iran’s President Ali Khamenei (who would later that year succeed Khomeini as Supreme Leader) suggested that if Rushdie “apologises and disowns the book, people may forgive him“.

Following this, Rushdie issued “a carefully worded statement“, saying:

I recognize that Muslims in many parts of the world are genuinely distressed by the publication of my novel.

I profoundly regret the distress the publication has occasioned to the sincere followers of Islam.

Living as we do in a world of many faiths, this experience has served to remind us that we must all be conscious of the sensibilities of others.

This was relayed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran “via official channels” before being released to the press.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran

On 19 February 1990, Ayatollah Khomeini’s office replied:

The imperialist foreign media falsely alleged that the officials of the Islamic Republic have said the sentence of death on the author of The Satanic Verses will be retracted if he repents.

Imam Khomeini has said:

This is denied 100%.

Even if Salman Rushdie repents and become the most pious man of all time, it is incumbent on every Muslim to employ everything he has got, his life and wealth, to send him to Hell.

The Imam added:

If a non-Muslim becomes aware of Rushdie’s whereabouts and has the ability to execute him quicker than Muslims, it is incumbent on Muslims to pay a reward or a fee in return for this action.”

Above: Satan is trapped in the frozen central zone in the Ninth Circle of Hell, Inferno, Canto 34.

McRoy (2007) stated that Khomeini’s interpretation of the Islamic law that led him to refuse the apology follows the same line of reasoning as Al-Shafi’i (9th century jurist), who in his Risala (Crimes Against Islam) ruled that an “apostate is also killed unless he repents.

Whoever abuses the Messenger of God is to be executed, and his repentance is not accepted“.

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Above: The name of Al-Shafie (767 – 820)

Khomeini’s fatwa was condemned across the Western world by governments on the grounds that it violated the universal human rights of free speech, freedom of religion, and that Khomeini had no right to condemn to death a citizen of another country living in that country.

The twelve members of the European Economic Community removed their ambassadors from Tehran for three weeks.

Flag of EEC/ECM
Above: Flag of the European Economic Community (1953 – 2009)

In addition to criticism of the death sentence on the basis of human rights, the sentence was also criticised on Islamic grounds.

According to Bernard Lewis, a death warrant without trial, defence and other legal aspects of sharia violates Islamic jurisprudence.

In Islamic figh, apostasy by a mentally sound adult male is indeed a capital crime.

However, fiqh also:

“... lays down procedures according to which a person accused of an offense is to be brought to trial, confronted with his accuser, and given the opportunity to defend himself.

A judge will then give a verdict and if he finds the accused guilty, pronounce sentence.

Even the most rigorous and extreme of the classical jurist only require a Muslim to kill anyone who insults the Prophet in his hearing and in his presence.

They say nothing about a hired killing for a reported insult in a distant country.”

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Above: Bernard Lewis (1916 – 2018)

Other Islamic scholars outside Iran took issue with the fact that the sentence was not passed by an Islamic court, or that it did not limit its “jurisdiction only to countries under Islamic law“.

Muhammad Hussan ad-Din, a theologian at Al-Azhar University, argued:

Blood must not be shed except after a trial when the accused has been given a chance to defend himself and repent“.

Abdallah al-Mushidd, head of Azhar’s Fatwā Council stated:

“We must try the author in a legal fashion as Islam does not accept killing as a legal instrument”.

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Above: Logo of Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt

The Islamic Jurisprudence Academy in Mecca urged that Rushdie be tried and, if found guilty, be given a chance to repent, and Ayatollah Mehdi Rohani, head of the Shi’i community in Europe and a cousin of Khomeini, criticised Khomeini for ‘respecting neither international law nor that of Islam.’

There was also criticism of the fatwa issued against Rushdie’s publishers.

Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) – Arabnak

According to Daniel Pipes:

“The Sharia clearly establishes that disseminating false information is not the same as expressing it.

Transmitting blasphemy is not blasphemy itself (naql al-kufr laysa kufr).

In addition, the publishers were not Muslim and so could not be sentenced under the Islamic laws of apostasy.

If there was another legal justification for sentencing them to death, Khomeini failed to provide it.

Pipes orating at USC's American Freedom Alliance conference on June 15, 2008
Above: Daniel Pipes

Iran’s response to calls for a trial was to denounce its Islamic proponents as “deceitful“.

President Khomeini accused them of attempting to use religious law as “a flag under which they can crush revolutionary Islam“.

Above: Reza Shrine, Mashhad, Iran

Some speculate that the fatwa (or at least the reaffirmation of the death threat four days later) was issued with motives other than a sense of duty to protect Islam by punishing blasphemy/apostasy.


  • To divide Muslims from the West by “starkly highlighting the conflicting political and intellectual traditions” of the two civilisations.

Khomeini had often warned Muslims of the dangers of the West – “the agents of imperialism who are busy in every corner of the Islamic world drawing our youth away from us with their evil propaganda“. 

He knew from news reports the book was already rousing the anger of Muslims.

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Above: Sadegh Mosque, Palestine Square, Tehran, Iran

To distract the attention of his Iranian countrymen from his capitulation seven months earlier to a truce with Iraq (20 July 1988) ending the long and bloody Iran – Iraq War (a truce Iraq would have eagerly given him six years and hundreds of thousands of lives earlier), and strengthen the revolutionary ardour and morale of Iranians worn down by the bloodshed and privation of that war.

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Above: Images of the Iran – Iraq War

According to journalist Robin Wright, “as the international furore grew, Khomeini declared that the book had been agodsend‘ that had helped Iran out of a ‘naïve foreign policy‘”.

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Above: Robin Wright

  • To win back the interest in and support for the Islamic Revolution among the 90% of the population of the Muslim world that was Sunni, rather than Shia like Khomeini.

The Iran–Iraq War had also alienated Sunni, who not only were offended by its bloodshed, but tended to favour Iran’s Sunni-led opponent, Iraq.

At least one observer speculated that Khomeini’s choice of the issue of disrespect for the Prophet Muhammad was a particularly shrewd tactic, as Sunni were inclined to suspect Shia of being more interested in the Imams Ali and Husayn ibn Ali than in the Prophet.

Above: Imam Husayn Shrine, Karbala, Iraq

  • To steal the thunder of Khomeini’s two least favourite enemy states, Saudi Arabia and the United States, who were basking in the glory of the Soviet withdrawl from Afghanistan.

This withdrawal, seen by many as a great victory of Islamic faith over an atheist superpower, was made possible by billions of dollars in aid to the Afghan mujahideen by those two countries.

Khomeini issued the fatwa on 14 February 1989.

The next day came the official announcement of the completion of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, lost in the news cycle of the fatwa.

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Above: Last Soviet troop column crosses Soviet border after leaving Afghanistan

  • To gain the upper hand from Saudi Arabia in the struggle for international leadership of the Muslim world.

Each led rival blocs of international institutions and media networks, and “the Saudi government, it should be remembered, had led the anti-Rushdie campaign for months“.

Unlike the more conservative Saudi Arabia, however, Iran was ideologically and militantly anti-western and could take a more militant stand outside international law.

Flag of Saudi Arabia
Above: Flag of Saudi Arabia

Despite claims by Iranian officials that “Rushdie’s book did not insult Iran or Iranian leaders” and so they had no selfish personal motivation to attack the book, the book does include an eleven-page sketch of Khomeini’s stay in Paris that could well be considered an insult to him.

It describes him as having “grown monstrous, lying in the palace forecourt with his mouth yawning open at the gates; as the people march through the gates he swallows them whole“.

In the words of one observer:

If this is not an insult, Khomeini was far more tolerant than one might suppose“.

Flag of France
Above: Flag of France

John Crowley has noted that the section of the book depicting the Khomeini-like character was selected to be read publicly by Rushdie in the promotional events leading up to and following the book’s release.

In Crowley’s opinion, the fatwa was most likely declared because of this section of the novel and its public exposure, rather than the overall parodic treatment of Islam.

Crowley at South Street Seaport in 2007
Above: John Crowley

I have a number of thoughts on this:

First, it is important to separate the players from the game they are playing.

Khomeini’s fatwa had nothing to do with faith as much as it has to do with power and its demonstration.

Theocracies claim to defend a faith, but in reality they employ faith to seize and maintain power.

Personally, I find it somewhat arrogant when men claim to represent God and commit deplorable deeds in His Name claiming that it is their divine right to do as they choose because they are God’s representatives.

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It is also interesting to note how far interpretations of scriptual tomes seem to stray from the actual wording of the tomes themselves.

It is not my place to steady the Kaa’ba in Mecca or the Ark on Ararat or even brush against a brick on the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

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Above: The Kaa’ba, Mecca

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Above: Mount Ararat, as seen from Yerevan, Armenia

Above: The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

Islam is one of the three great faiths that rose from deserts of the Middle East.

(A man can get a lot of thinking done in a desert.)

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Above: The Arabian Desert

Islam began 1,400 years ago as a result of one man.

Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam’s influence has spread far beyond the deserts of Arabia.

Today there are over one and a half billion Muslims all over the world, spanning Asia to Africa, Australasia to Europe.

It is, like Judaism and Christianity, a religion of choice, a faith of free will, that was never meant to be enforced by the powerful over the powerless, but instead it is a set of beliefs that is meant to encompass both paupers and princes, shepherds and sheiks, workers and wealthy equally.

Islam in the 21st century is at the very heart of world affairs, including its conflicts, and its name is associated with some of the greatest terrorist acts of our age.

Thing about Islam: Little, Magsie Hamilton: 9781906251536: Books

Yet nowhere does the Qu’ran suggest that there is anything redeemable in acts of violence.

Islam does not and never has and never will justify cruelty and carnage, death and destruction.

Islam does not encourage or allow terrorism.

How conveniently the West forgets that acts of violence have not just been committed against the West or Westerners, but as well have struck and terrified and horrified Muslims all over the world by those who falsely use the name of Islam to justify murder.

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Above: Flag of Al-Qaeda

No individual has the right to take the law into his own hands whatever the circumstances.

No individual committing violence in the name of faith is truly one of the faithful.

We must not confuse those who claim to represent a faith with the faith itself.

Theocratic rulers may pretend to act as agents of religion, but if their actions run contrary to that religion, then they truly are not practioners as they should be of that faith, and thus should not be confused with the faith itself.

We must not confuse politics with religion even if religion is given as the excuse for the politics.

We must not confuse the acts of men with the faith of people.

We in the West must not forget our own histories, that terrorism as a weapon in political conflict has many precedents in history that have nothing to do with Islam.

There has been no time in history when religion has truly been the only cause of conflict.

Religion is not the reason for conflict.

It is simply the excuse.

Islam when practiced as the Qu’ran suggests is a peaceful and compassionate religion.

Secondly, we must not confuse freedom of expression with freedom to offend.

I will never condone the violence committed against those who have foolishly written or caricatured images of Islam that run contrary to the faith.

And those who have committed such unspeakable violence have used this folly as an excuse to murder those who have offended them.

But I believe those bent on violence never need a reason.

They only need a target and an excuse to strike that target.

No one merits death for the act of drawing a cartoon or writing a novel.

That being said, I expect more intelligence to be exhibited by those with the power to influence other people.

Words can wound and images can insult.

And I expect men of education and learning to know this.

Blasphemy is an extremely grievous crime under Shari’ah law, but Muhammad’s own response to such attacks was to hold firm and be patient, hating the evil but not the person who had succumbed to it.

We must not confuse men’s application and interpretation of holy writ with holy writ itself.

Shari’ah law is not holy writ regardless of its claims.

What angered many Muslims about Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands-Posten wasn’t so much that the image of Muhammad was being attempted as much as this image was used to suggest that the Prophet advocated terrorism.

For in a world where Muslims struggle against a hostile image portraying all Muslims as violent as its most radical pretenders, caricatures of this nature only added fuel to the fury of the uninformed.

If a non-Muslim attacks Islam, it is not acceptable nor forgiven, but it would not warrant a death sentence.

If someone offends God, that is a matter between them and God.

But if someone who has had the advantages of being born and raised as a Muslim attacks Islam, it can be construed as an attack on Islam that endangers the brotherhood.

Even then it is preferred if the offender recanted and repented, rather than condemning an apostate to death.

If someone who has been raised a Muslim betrays their upbringing and rejects the brotherhood of Islam, they undermine the unity of the faith (and the authority of the faith), endangering those within it.

(How conveniently the world – and Rushdie himself – forgets that Rushdie was raised in a Muslim family.)

Salman Rushdie, the author of the novel The Satanic Verses
Above: Salman Rushdie

But it is always been my contention that if a faith is true it can stand up to questioning and can withstand both criticism and rejection.

Thus who waiver from the faith perhaps do not truly belong in that faith.

This does not mean that the faith isn’t true for the faithful.

This simply means that the belief no longer holds true for those who have lost faith in it.

Just because a man chooses not to believe in God does not mean that God either exists or doesn’t exist.

Perhaps there are those who choose not to believe in God, but let us hope that should God exist that He has chosen to continue to believe in us!

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Above: Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

To be born Muslim is a privilege.

(Just as it is to be born of any other faith).

For a Muslim not to recognise this privilege and renounce the advantages that God has granted may be considered an insult to God, but again I argue if God is truly all-powerful then is it not arrogance on our part to act as His judge and jury?

Can He not defend Himself?

(Which, of course, it can be assumed, He can.)

It is accepted that preaching is commendable, for why not offer the advantages we enjoy to others so that we might all live in harmony?

But the Qu’ran clearly states:

Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Surah 2.25)

Sadly, this has not stopped armies making life uncomfortable, or even extinguishing life, if people did not, readily and rapidly, desire to follow the faith of the powerful, be that faith Islam, Christianity or something else.

And this is ultimately what is the true aspect of it all:

Power over people’s lives.

Iran’s Supreme Leader was less interested in protecting the faith as he was in showing his strength.

Above: Yazd, Iran

As wrong as it was to declare a fatwa on Rushdie’s life, let us not paint Rushdie as simply a naive man who never realized the import and impact of his words.

Putting aside all of the aformentioned reasons that The Satanic Verses cause offense, Rushdie’s cardinal commission is his besmirching of the basic belief upon which Islam stands.

Above: Salman Rushdie

Although Islam can seem hard to define (especially for non-Muslims like myself), most Muslims agree that at its heart it is strikingly simple and is based, above all, upon three ideas.

First, it hinges upon the concept of Oneness:

There is one God and no God but the One.

Second, God sends messengers and the Prophet Muhammad was His final Messenger, who was fortunate to receive revelations from God.

Third, earthly life is a series of lessons and tests for the next life to come.

Around these three basic principles are five pillars of faith:

  • Oneness
  • Prayer
  • Charity
  • Fasting
  • Pilgrimage

These are the fundamental cornerstones on which Islam is built.

The first step in any Muslim’s path to worshipping God is the profession of faith:

There is no God but Allah and the Prophet Muhammad is His Messenger.”

Above: The Muslim profession of faith, the Shahadah, illustrates the Muslim conception of the role of Muhammad: “There is no god except the God. Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” in Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

The tenet that there is no God other than Allah is so important that it is inscribed on talismans that some Muslims carry on journeys to protect themselves from the hazards of the trip.

The verse is also frequently inscribed on tombstones, so that the dead may have equal protection on their journey to the afterlife.

Above: Allah in Arabic

According to Muhammad’s message, God’s oneness is one of three basic facets of His divine self.

The others are His transcendence and His omnipotence, each of which restates His unity with the world, His Oneness.

This unity, this Oneness, is expressed in the Qu’ran in one of its most famous verses, the Surah Ikhlas, which states that:

He is God.


God, eternal.

He does not give birth nor was He born.

And there is none like unto Him.

Above: Allah script outside the Old Mosque, Edirne, Turkey

The basic unity (tawhid) of God, unlike the Christian concept in which the Divine is tripartite, composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, dictates that there is one God and no other divine forces.

Questioning Allah’s tawhid is a very serious offence.

Above: Christian Trinitarians believe that God is composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Those who were surprised by the trouble caused by Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses failed to understand that in questioning the singularity of God the book ignored and subverted the supreme importance that all Muslims bestow on God’s unity.

Rushdie’s offence was to give credence to the pre-Islamic belief that Allah had three daughters, each of whom held divine power.

The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie

The Prophet Muhammad’s teaching holds that God had neither wife nor children, as this would have been incompatible with His role as the Creator and the Almighty.

To believe that God is not alone is to commit shirk.

Shirk implies that God is not omnipotent but shares His power.

In strict authoritarian Muslim societies (of which not all Muslims are), shirk is so serious that the only appropriate punishment is death.

Above: (What if God were) One of Us?

The West regarded the outcry over The Satanic Verses as an affront to freedom of speech.

However, the important lesson to be learned from the Rushdie controversy is that, to Muslims, the central tenets of Islam are so powerful that they can transcend all other considerations.

The Satanic Verses: A Novel: Rushdie, Salman: 9780812976717:  Books

Certainly, a commission of shirk by non-Muslims of little education and knowledge of the Muslim faith is somewhat understandable, but it stretches credulity to imagine that Rushdie was ignorant of the most basic tenet of Oneness when he penned The Satanic Verses.

He was raised Muslim.

He was neither ignorant nor innocent in his shirk, but he certainly was deliberate and idiotic.

He does not deserve death, but he certainly does not deserve sympathy.

Above: Rushdie at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

The cartoonists may have been shocked as to the reactions their simple drawings provoked, but I think it can be assumed that men of education, which I presume they were, should have known better not to add fuel to the fire of an already volatile relationship between Islam and the West.

They may not have deserved the violence they provoked, but they should have known better to have provoked it in the first place.

Cartoonists Weigh In On The Cartoon Controversy : NPR

Freedom of speech is a marvelous thing, but it should not be carte blanche to be offensive.

I expect the uneducated to make errors of this magnitude.

I expect the educated to know better than to make these errors.

I also expect the educated to realize that the violence committed in the name of Islam is nowhere close to the teachings of Muhammad and the peace and compassion that Islam promotes.

The Concept of True Love in Islam - Qamar Islam Khan

Rushdie speaks of the need for an Islamic Reformation, but what seems to be forgotten is what the Christian Reformation was.

The reason for the Catholic Church’s resistance to the reforms that faithful Christians were seeking was not that the reforms ran counter to the faith, but more that the reforms questioned the authority of the Church to decide how Christianity was to be practiced.

The troubles that haunt Islam are less connected to the rightness of the faith or the fervour of the faithful as they are intertwined with the fears of the powerful who dictate how the faith is to be practiced.

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Above: The Ninety-Five Theses (1517) of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

I disagree with Rushdie that religion is a threat to freedom, for the very essence of faith is the free will to follow it or not.

The threat to freedom is not faith.

The threat to freedom is those who use faith to dominate others.

As to whether faith is opposed to reason is akin to comparing a wrench to a banana.

They can neither be compared nor contrasted.

Though I am as distant from religion as Earth is from the Sun, I think to dismiss religion because it cannot be analysed scientifically would be doing a disservice to the positive attributes that religion offers.

Religion offers comfort with dealing with our destiny of demise and death.

Religion offers consolation that the evil that men do will eventually be punished and the good that men do rewarded.

Religion offers ceremony, granting significance to the important stages of our development: birth, maturity, marriage and death.

Religion offers tradition, in how it is practiced and how we ponder existence.

Religion offers conscience, a framework by which we determine how we live our lives and relate to one another.

Religion offers structure to our lives in regards to how we measure time and how that time is spent.

Faith is belief, sometimes without proof, save what was written in times far past our own memories.

Faith is free will and voluntary compliance with the tenets and standards of a religion.

Faith is not reason, but neither are we totally one or the other.

Our reason may help us to live but it is our emotions that make that life worth living.

Above: Praying Hands, Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528)

And it is this dichotomy in human behaviour that brings me back to Valentine’s Day.

Antique Valentine 1909 01.jpg

It originated as a Christian feast day honoring a Christian martyr named Valentine, and, through later folk traditions, has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

While the European folk traditions connected with Saint Valentine and St. Valentine’s Day have become marginalized by the modern Anglo-American customs connecting the day with romantic love, there are some remaining associations connecting the saint with the advent of spring.

While the custom of sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts originated in the UK (and thus spread to English-speaking lands of the British Empire), Valentine’s Day still remains connected with various regional customs in England.

In Norfolk, a character called ‘Jack Valentine‘ knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children.

Although he was leaving treats, many children were scared of this mystical person.

Introducing Mr Jack Valentine! - Visit Norwich
Above: Jack Valentine, Norfolk

In Slovenia, Saint Valentine or Zdravko was one of the saints of spring, the saint of good health and the patron of beekeepers and pilgrims.

The most romantic country is #sLOVEnia #LoveEurope #ifeelSlovenia #happy # Valentine | Romantic places, Most romantic, Romantic country

A proverb says that “Saint Valentine brings the keys of roots“.

Plants and flowers start to grow on this day.

It has been celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards and in the fields commences.

It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day.

Slovenian Valentine's day - Slocally
Above: Valentine’s Day, Slovenia

Another proverb says Valentin – prvi spomladin (“Valentine – the first spring saint“), as in some places (especially Bela krajina / White Carniola, southeastern Slovenia on the border with Croatia), Saint Valentine marks the beginning of spring.

What To Do in Bela Krajina, Slovenia: the 6 Top Spots
Above: Lovers, Bela Krajina, Slovenia

Valentine’s Day has only recently been celebrated as the day of love.

The day of love was traditionally 12 March (Saint Gregory’s Day) or 22 February (Saint Vincent’s Day).

Tomb of pope Gregorius I.jpg
Above: Tomb of Pope (Saint) Gregory I (540 – 604), St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

Vicente de Zaragoza by Tomás Giner, 1462–1466.jpg
Above: (Saint) Vincent of Saragossa (d. 304)

The patron of love was Saint Anthony, whose day has been celebrated on 13 June.

Francisco de Zurbarán - Sto Antonio de Padua.jpg
Above: (Saint) Anthony of Padua (1195 – 1231)

No evidence has been demonstrated to link St. Valentine’s Day and the rites of the ancient Roman purification festival of Lupercalia, despite persistent and sometimes detailed claims by many authors to the contrary, nor to any otherwise unspecified Greco-Roman holiday supposed to have celebrated love or fertility.

The celebration of Saint Valentine is not known to have had any romantic connotations until Chaucer’s poetry about “Valentine’s Day” in the 14th century, some 700 years after celebration of Lupercalia is believed to have ceased.

In ancient Rome, Lupercalia was observed 13 – 15 February.

It was a rite connected to purification and health, and had only slight connection to fertility (as a part of health) and none to love.

Lupercalia was a festival local to the city of Rome.

The more general Festival of Juno Februa, meaning “Juno the purifier” or “the chaste Juno“, was celebrated on 13 – 14 February.

Above: The Lupercalian Festival in Rome, showing the Luperci dressed as dogs and goats, with Cupid and personifications of fertility

Pope Gelasius I (r. 492–496) abolished Lupercalia.

Some researchers have theorized that Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with the celebration of the Purification of the Blesssed Virgin Mary and claim a connection to the 14th century’s connotations of romantic love, but there is no historical indication that he ever intended such a thing.

Also, the dates do not fit, because at the time of Gelasius I, the feast was only celebrated in Jerusalem, and it was on 14 February only because Jerusalem placed the Nativity of Jesus (Christmas) on 6 January.

Although it was called “the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary“, it also dealt with the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

Hans Holbein d. Ä. - Darstellung Christi im Tempel - Hamburger Kunsthalle.jpg
Above: Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (1501), Hans Holbein the Elder

Jerusalem’s Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 14 February became the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple on 2 February as it was introduced to Rome and other places in the 6th century, after Gelasius I’s time.

San Gelasio I Papa3.jpg
Above: Gelasius I (r. 492 – 496)

Alban Butler in his Lives of the Principal Saints (1756 – 1759) claimed without proof that men and women in Lupercalia drew names from a jar to make couples, and that modern Valentine’s letters originated from this custom.

In reality, this practice originated in the Middle Ages, with no link to Lupercalia, with men drawing the names of girls at random to couple with them.

Book jar | Commas and Ampersands | Page 2

This custom was combatted by priests, for example by Frances de Sales (Bishop of Geneva) around 1600, apparently by replacing it with a religious custom of girls drawing the names of apostles from the altar.

(Control the sex drive = control the person.)

Saint francois de sales.jpg
Above: (Saint) Francois de Sales (1567 – 1622)

However, this religious custom is recorded as early as the 13th century in the life of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, so it could have a different origin.

Francisco de Zurbarán - Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia - Google Art Project.jpg
Above: (Saint) Princess Elizabeth of Hungary (1207 – 1231)

The first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is believed to be in the Parliament of Fowls (1382) by Geoffrey Chauncer, a dream vision portraying a parliament for birds to choose their mates. 

Above: Geoffrey Chaucer

Honouring the first anniversary of the engagement of 15-year-old King Richard II of England to 15-year-old Anne of Bohemia, Chaucer wrote (in Middle English):

For this was on seynt Valentynes day
Whan every foul cometh there to chese his make
Of every kynde that men thynke may
And that so huge a noyse gan they make
That erthe, and eyr, and tre, and every lake
So ful was, that unethe was there space
For me to stonde, so ful was al the place

In modern English:

For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day
When every bird comes there to choose his match
Of every kind that men may think of
And that so huge a noise they began to make
That earth and air and tree and every lake
Was so full, that not easily was there space
For me to stand—so full was all the place.

Readers have uncritically assumed that Chaucer was referring to 14 February as Valentine’s Day.

Richard II King of England.jpg
Above: King Richard II of England (1367 – 1400)

Above: Anne of Bohemia (1366 – 1394)

Henry Ansgar Kelly has observed that Chaucer might have had in mind the feast day of St. Valentine of Genoa, an early Bishop of Genoa who died around AD 307.

It was probably celebrated on 3 May.

A treaty providing for Richard II and Anne’s marriage, the subject of the poem, was signed on 2 May 1381.

Above: Cathedral of San Lorenzo, Genoa, Italy

Jack B. Oruch notes that the date on which spring begins has changed since Chaucer’s time because of the precession of the equinoxes (the gradual shift in the orientation of Earth’s axis of rotation in a cycle of approximately 26,000 years) and the introduction of the more accurate Gregorian calendar only in 1582.

On the Julian calendar in use in Chaucer’s time, 14 February would have fallen on the date now called 23 February, a time when some birds have started mating and nesting in England.

Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls refers to a supposedly established tradition, but there is no record of such a tradition before Chaucer.

The Parliament of Fowls: by Geoffrey Chaucer, in a Modern English Verse  Translation: Chaucer, Geoffrey:

The speculative derivation of sentimental customs from the distant past began with 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler’s Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars.

Most notably, “the idea that Valentine’s Day customs perpetuated those of the Roman Lupercalia has been accepted uncritically and repeated, in various forms, up to the present“.

Butler's Lives of the Saints - Kindle edition by Bangley, Bernard, Butler,  Fr. Alban, Bangley, Bernard. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @

Three other authors who made poems about birds mating on St. Valentine’s Day around the same years: Otto de Grandson (Switzerland) from Savoy, John Gower from England, and a knight called Pardo from Valencia.

Chaucer most probably predated all of them, but due to the difficulty of dating medieval works, it is not possible to ascertain which of the four may have influenced the others.

Above: Effigy of Otto de Grandson (1238 – 1328), Lausanne Cathedral, Switzerland

Above: Tomb of John Gower, Southwark Cathedral, London, England

The earliest description of 14 February as an annual celebration of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love.

The Charter, allegedly issued by Charles VI of France at Mantes-la-Jolie in 1400, describes lavish festivities to be attended by several members of the royal court, including a feast, amorous song and poetry competitions, jousting and dancing.

Amid these festivities, the attending ladies would hear and rule on disputes from lovers.

No other record of the court exists, and none of those named in the Charter were present at Mantes except Charles’s Queen, Isabeau of Bavaria, who may well have imagined it all while waiting out a plague.

Painting of King Charles VI aged 44
Above: Charles VI of France (1368 – 1422)

Above: Isabeau of Bavaria (1370 – 1435)

The earliest surviving valentine is a 15th-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orléans, to his wife, which commences:

Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…

Charles Ier d'Orléans.jpg
Above: Charles I of Orléans (1394 – 1465)

At the time, the Duke was being held in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt (25 October 1415).

Above: A depiction of Charles’ imprisonment in the Tower of London from an illuminated manuscript of his poems

The earliest surviving valentines in English appear to be those in the Paston Letters, written in 1477 by Margery Brewes to her future husband John Paston “my right well-beloved Valentine“.

The Paston Letters: A Selection in Modern Spelling (Oxford World's  Classics): Davis, Norman: 9780199538379: Books

Valentine’s Day is mentioned ruefully by Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1601):

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5

John Donne used the legend of the marriage of the birds as the starting point for his epithalamon (a poem written specifically for the bride on the way to her marital chamber) celebrating the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of James I of England, and Frederick V, Elector Palatine, on Valentine’s Day:

Hayle Bishop Valentine whose day this is

All the Ayre is thy Diocese
And all the chirping Queristers
And other birds ar thy parishioners
Thou marryest every yeare
The Lyrick Lark, and the graue whispering Doue,
The Sparrow that neglects his life for loue,
The houshold bird with the redd stomacher
Thou makst the Blackbird speede as soone,
As doth the Goldfinch, or the Halcyon
The Husband Cock lookes out and soone is spedd
And meets his wife, which brings her feather-bed.
This day more cheerfully than ever shine

This day which might inflame thy selfe old Valentine.”

John Donne, Epithalamion Vpon Frederick Count Palatine and the Lady Elizabeth marryed on St. Valentines day

Donne painted by Isaac Oliver
Above: John Donne (1572 – 1631)

The verse “Roses are red” echoes conventions traceable as far back as Edmund Spenser’s epic The Faerie Queene (1590):

She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew

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Above: Edmund Spenser (1552 – 1599)

Roses Are Red (My Love) - Bobby Vinton.jpg

The modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem can be found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,

The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,

And Fortune said it shou’d be you.”

In 1797, a British publisher issued The Gentleman’s Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own.

Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines.”

Valentine's Day history – Garden Bite

Paper Valentines became so popular in England in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories.

Fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid-19th century.

In 1835, 60,000 Valentine cards were sent by post in the United Kingdom, despite postage being expensive.

19th century Valentine's Day cards on display in Toronto | CTV News

A reduction in postal rates following Sir Rowland Hill’s postal reforms with the 1840 invention of the postage stamp (Penny Black) saw the number of Valentines posted increase, with 400,000 sent just one year after its invention, and ushered in the less personal but easier practice of mailing Valentines.

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Above: Rowland Hill (1795 – 1879)

That made it possible for the first time to exchange cards anonymously, which is taken as the reason for the sudden appearance of racy verse in an era otherwise prudishly Victorian.

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Above: The “penny black“, 1840

Production increased, “Cupid’s Manufactory” as Charles Dickens termed it, with over 3,000 women employed in manufacturing.

Charles Dickens
Above: Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)

The Laura Seddon Greeting Card Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University has gathered 450 Valentine’s Day cards dating from early 19th century Britain, printed by the major publishers of the day.

The collection appears in Seddon’s book Victorian Valentines (1996).

Victorian valentines: A guide to the Laura Seddon Collection of Valentine  Cards in Manchester Metropolitan University Library: Seddon, Laura:  9780901276544: Books

In the United States, the first mass-produced Valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howland took her inspiration from an English Valentine she had received from a business associate of her father.

Intrigued with the idea of making similar Valentines, Howland began her business by importing paper lace and floral decorations from England.

Above: An Esther Howland Valentine

A writer in Graham’s American Monthly observed in 1849:

Saint Valentine’s Day is becoming, nay, it has become, a national holyday.”

The English practice of sending Valentine’s cards was established enough to feature as a plot device in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mr. Harrison’s Confessions (1851):

I burst in with my explanations:

The valentine I know nothing about.

It is in your handwriting’, said he coldly.

Elizabeth Gaskell: 1832 miniature by William John Thomson
Above: Elizabeth Gaskell (1810 – 1865)

Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has been giving an annual “Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary“.

Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

In the UK, just under half of the population spend money on their Valentines, and around £1.9 billion was spent in 2015 on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts.

The mid-19th century Valentine’s Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the US to follow.

Creative Homemade Valentine's Card Ideas | Tarjetas para novios, Regalos  creativos para novio, Regalo para novia manualidades

In 1868, the British chocolate company Cadbury created Fancy Boxes – a decorated box of chocolates – in the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day.

Boxes of filled chocolates quickly became associated with the holiday.


In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts, such as giving jewelry.

The US Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US.

Half of those valentines are given to family members other than husband or wife, usually to children.

When the valentine-exchange cards made in school activities are included the figure goes up to 1 billion, and teachers become the people receiving the most valentines.

Happy valentines day card with handwritten Vector Image

The average valentine’s spending has increased every year in the US, from $108 a person in 2010 to $131 in 2013.


The rise of Internet popularity at the turn of the millennium is creating new traditions.

Millions of people use, every year, digital means of creating and sending Valentine’s Day greeting messages such as e-cards, love coupons (Friends‘ Joey Tribani was onto something!) or printable greeting cards.

An estimated 15 million e-valentines were sent in 2010.

Friends Joey T-Shirts

Valentine’s Day is considered by some to be a Hallmark holiday due to its commercialization.

(In the United States, a Hallmark holiday is a holiday that is perceived to exist primarily for commercial purposes, rather than to commemorate a traditionally or historically significant event.

The name comes from Hallmark Cards, a privately owned American company, that benefits from such manufactured events through sales of greeting cards and other items.

Holidays that have been referred to as “Hallmark holidays” include: 

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Grandparents’ Day
  • National Son’s Day
  • National Daughter’s Day
  • Sweetest Day
  • Boss’ Day
  • Administrative Professionals’ Day
  • Teacher Appreciation Day
  • Graduation Day.

However, holidays such as Valentine’s Day have been celebrated since the 5th century AD as the Feast of St. Valentine, and Mother’s Day observed since the 1780s in England and later in America as a day to “go a-mothering“, and others, all observed long before the Hallmark Company was founded (1910).

The Hallmark Corporation maintains that it “can’t take credit for creating holidays.”)

Hallmark logo.svg

In the modern era, liturgically, the Lutheran Church and Anglican Church have a service for St. Valentine’s Day (the Feast of St. Valentine), which includes the optional rite of the renewal of marriage vows.

Luther's rose
Above: The Luther Rose, symbol of Lutheranism

In 2016, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales established a novena prayer “to support single people seeking a spouse ahead of St Valentine’s Day.”

Coat of arms of the CBCEW.svg
Above: Coat of arms of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

Valentine’s Day customs – sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”), offering confectionary and presenting flowers – developed in early modern England and spread throughout the English-speaking world in the 19th century. In the later 20th and early 21st centuries, these customs spread to other countries, like those of Hallowe’en, or aspects of Christmas, such as Santa Claus.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many East Asian countries with Singaporeans, Chinese and South Koreans spending the most money on Valentine’s gifts.

Flag of Singapore
Above: Flag of Singapore

What is important to note is that Valentine’s Day in Germany (where my wife is from and where we once lived) and in Switzerland (where she remains and where I was before coming to Turkey) is NOT a tradition and is viewed by many Germans and Swiss has a “Hallmark holiday”.

Nonetheless, my wife has tried to accommodate some of this Canadian’s eccentricities, including my insistence in celebrating “Hallmark holidays“, such as Valentine’s Day and Hallowe’en.

This 14 February 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, meant cafés and restaurants in Switzerland were closed, and as well, there was an awareness that in 15 days I would leave for Turkey.

The question arises:

Does a lover fail at being a lover if he/she does show the beloved “appropriate” Valentine’s Day behaviour?

The events that transpired and the walk that we did on this Valentine’s Day is a story for my next post, wherein I will try to answer the question:

Where is the love?

Heart of Gold by Neal Yound single cover.jpg

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Magsie Hamilton Little, The Thing about Islam: Exposing the Myths, Facts and Controversies

Swiss Miss and the Restored Sword: Sheathed

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Saturday 13 February 2021 / Eskisehir, Turkey, Friday 30 April 2021

Part Two of Two

How the past events of 13 February all connect to Swiss Miss and her time in Hanoi also connects to my present circumstances in Turkey.

It has been my experience that nations that owe their existence to revolution are replete with everpresent reminders of military glory and sacrifice.

Even Canada, more renowned for its peacekeeping efforts than for warmongering, has its monuments to bloodshed and violence on fields foreign and domestic.

A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.
Above: Flag of Canada

Even Switzerland, neutral since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, has evidence of violent encounters prior to its declared neutrality and of moments when the ravages of war did not respect the borders that surround the Helvetic Confederation.

Flag of Switzerland

Above: Flag of Switzerland

Turkey is the birthchild of war, of revolution, and its architect, the spirit that guided the Turkish Revolution against the now-defunct Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is everpresent everywhere.

Flag of Turkey
Above: Flag of Turkey

Above: Ulus Mustafa Kemal Monument, Eskisehir, Turkey

Vietnam is the birthchild of war, of revolution, and its architect, the epitome of the spirit that guided the nation through revolutions and war throughout its turbulent history, Ho Chi Minh is everpresent everywhere.

Flag of Vietnam
Above: Flag of Vietnam

Above: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday 20 March 2019

An overcast day, temperature hovering around 26°C, the headlines were not great as Heidi found herself still enchanted by the beauty of the Vietnamese capital.

Above: Perfume Pagoda, Hanoi, Vietnam. Pilgrimage on Yen River.

The ruling party of Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban was suspended by the European Parliament’s biggest grouping in a row over defiance of EU policies.

Viktor Orbán 2018.jpg
Above: Viktor Orbán

In an almost unanimous vote, the European People’s Party (EPP) agreed to withdraw Fidesz’s voting rights.

Before the vote, Fidesz officials had threatened to pull out of the EPP if it was suspended.

However, Orban reacted defiantly, saying “we cannot be excluded“.

Although the suspension stops short of complete expulsion, the decision comes as a blow for the Hungarian leader on the eve of an EU summit.

After a heated debate and 190 votes in favour of suspension, the party decided to accept the result, with Mr Orban even suggesting that it was a “joint decision“.

European People's Party logo.svg

But the penalties for Hungary’s ruling leader are clear and immediate.

He will not appear at a meeting on Thursday with other EPP leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz ahead of the summit.

Angela Merkel 2019 cropped.jpg
Above: German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Sebastian Kurz (2018-02-28) (cropped).jpg
Above: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Practically it means that Fidesz cannot any more present candidates for posts in the party, they cannot vote any more for any kind of EPP assembly and they are even not any more allowed to participate in any meeting,” said EPP leader Manfred Weber.

Manfred Weber March 2019.jpg
Above: Manfred Weber

But the vote is also potentially bad news for the centre-right bloc, which faces European Parliament elections at the end of May.

While the EPP is an alliance of about 80 parties, Fidesz has a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament, making it the country’s dominant political force.

The party will now be assessed by three “wise men” who will decide whether it is in breach of the centre-right bloc’s values.

The length of the suspension is unclear, but it will last beyond the European elections.

Fidesz 2015.svg
Above: Logo for the Hungarian Civic Alliance (Fidesz)

The final straw for many centre-right parties in Europe was an anti-immigration poster campaign that featured unflattering photos of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Hungarian government poster on Facebook
Above: Hungarian government poster: “You too have a right to know what Brussels is up to!

Soros is a regular target of Fidesz, which accuses him of encouraging illegal migration to Europe.

Soros funds civil society groups that help migrants or defend human rights.

Critics see the attacks on Soros – a Jewish survivor of the Nazi Holocaust in Hungary – as anti-Semitic.

George Soros 47th Munich Security Conference 2011 crop.jpg
Above: George Soros

For many right-wing, anti-immigration parties, Orban is a hero for regularly castigating Brussels for its approach to migration, especially Muslim migration.

We can be only be part of a parliamentary group that is clearly opposed to immigration and stands completely obligated to the defence of Christianity,” Orban said after the vote.

A collage with several views of Brussels, Top: View of the Northern Quarter business district, 2nd left: Floral carpet event in the Grand Place, 2nd right: Town Hall and Mont des Arts area, 3rd: Cinquantenaire Park, 4th left: Manneken Pis, 4th middle: St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, 4th right: Congress Column, Bottom: Royal Palace of Brussels
Above: Images of Brussels, Belgium

Is it just about posters?


Orban has also dismissed his critics in the EPP as “useful idiots” – a phrase generally attributed to Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, who was referring in the 1920s to naive Western admirers of his brand of socialism.

Vladimir Lenin.jpg
Above: Vladimir Lenin (1870 – 1924)

However, Orban did appear to want to end the row last week when Manfred Weber visited Budapest in search of an apology.

The offending posters along Weber’s route were hastily papered over and Orban sent apologetic letters to the 13 parties that had called for Fidesz to be kicked out.

But the wording of the apology was seen as grudging and the anti-EU ad campaign was still visible on Hungarian news websites after Weber had left Budapest.

View from Gellért Hill to the Danube, Hungary - Budapest (28493220635).jpg
Above: Budapest, Hungary

Orban has also attacked the liberal consensus underpinning EU institutions, advocating instead a vigorous new Central European powerbase.

The European Parliament has launched a legal procedure against his government which could result in sanctions.

EU partners accuse Fidesz of undermining democracy and the rule of law.

European Parliament logo
Above: Logo of the European Parliament

To the dismay of radicals in his own party, and of a group of vociferous journalists in media close to Fidesz, Viktor Orban fought to keep his party in the EPP – for now.

This is a cold political calculation.

The loss of its voting rights inside the EPP, and of the right to nominate candidates for EPP posts, was a small price to pay for continued membership.

It is also a decision taken with an eye on Fidesz supporters, who are largely pro-EU.

Many Fidesz voters fear that falling out of one European institution – the EPP – would be the first stumble on a slope which would lead to Hungary falling out of the European Union altogether.

Fidesz constantly follows public opinion with private surveys by its own think-tanks.

The timing of the vote was also very important – ahead of the May European Parliament elections.

By staying in the EPP, he can continue to use the party as a platform for his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

If fellow anti-immigrant populists do well in May, he can quit the EPP and join them when he feels like it.

It will be our decision whether we stay in or leave the EPP,” he told the PestiSracok website.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban scratches his cheek as he attends a press conference at the end of the European People's Party (EPP) on 20 March
Above: Orban said he would have pulled his party out of the EPP if the wording of the suspension had been unacceptable.

Kazakhstan has renamed its capital Astana to Nursultan to honour outgoing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who unexpectedly resigned on Tuesday.

Baiterek Tower in Astana
Above: The Baiterek Tower, which resembles a giant egg atop a tree, is one of the city’s landmarks.

The change was announced after Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was sworn in as President, promising to seek his predecessor’s opinion on key decisions.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (2020-02-01).jpg
Above: Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Nazarbayev, 78, served nearly 30 years as leader of the oil-rich nation.

Nursultan Nazarbayev (2020-03-10) (cropped).jpg
Above: Nursultan Nazarbayev

Meanwhile, his eldest daughter has been elected Speaker of the Upper House of Parliament.

Dariga Nazarbayeva’s promotion to the second most powerful position in the country raises her profile as a potential successor.

Her father, who is head of the governing party, will remain at the helm of the influential security council and will hold the formal title Leader of the Nation.

Dariga Nazarbayeva 2019-10-17.jpg
Above: Dariga Nazarbayeva

Analysts say it is too early to say who is going to run or to declare potential favourites in next year’s election.

Tokayev and current Prime Minister Askar Mamin are also seen as possible contenders.

Askar Mamin official portrait (cropped).jpg
Above: Kazakhstan Prime Minister Askar Mamin

Tokayev was sworn in as President some 24 hours after Nazabayev’s surprise resignation.

He served the remainder of the presidential term which expired in April 2020.

Flag of the President of Kazakhstan.svg
Above: Standard of the President of Kazakhstan

Nazarbayev’s opinion will have special, one might say priority, importance in developing and making strategic decisions,” said Tokayev, who had served as Speaker of the Upper House of Parliament.

He said the world had witnessed a “historic event” with the resignation of Nazarbayev, the only man to lead Kazakhstan since it emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Acting President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (R) shakes hands with his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev
Above: Tokayev (right) shakes hands with Nazarbayev during a session in Parliament

Tokayev then proposed changing Astana’s name “in honour of the first president” and, shortly afterwards, Parliament adopted a law making the renaming official.

Astana, which means “capital” in Kazakh, became the capital of Kazakhstan in 1997, taking over from Almaty, still the country’s commercial hub and largest population centre.

Nur-Sultan at the evening (cropped).jpg
Above: Nur-Sultan (Astana) sunset

A huge country the size of Western Europe, Kazakhstan has vast mineral resources and enormous economic potential, a population of 18 million, an area of 2.7 million sq. km (1 million sq. miles), two major languages (Kazakh and Russian), and two major religions (Christianity and Islam).

The varied landscape stretches from the mountainous, heavily populated regions of the east to the sparsely populated, energy-rich lowlands in the west, and from the industrialised north, with its Siberian climate and terrain, through the arid, empty steppes of the centre, to the fertile south.

Location of Kazakhstan (green)
Above: Kazakhstan

Ethnically the former Soviet republic is as diverse, with the Kazakhs making up nearly two thirds of the population, ethnic Russians just under a quarter, and smaller minorities the rest.

Suppressed under Soviet rule, the main religion, Islam, is undergoing a revival.

Since independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, major investment in the oil sector has brought rapid economic growth, and eased some of the stark disparities in wealth of the 1990s.

Flag of Kazakhstan
Above: Flag of Kazakhstan

A long-standing colleague of independent Kazakhstan’s founder, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over as President when his mentor suddenly stepped down in March 2019.

Tokayev was Chairman of the Senate at the time, and says he will continue the policies of his predecessor and rely on his opinion in key policy matters.

He won a snap presidential election in June 2019 to consolidate his position.

The new President has served in various senior positions since independence in 1991, including Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Nursultan Nazarbayev’s long authoritarian rule faced few challenges from weak opposition parties, and he managed a gradual transfer of power that guarantees him a future role as chairman for life of a newly-strengthened Security Council.

In addition, his daughter Dariga has succeeded Tokayev as head of the Senate, raising her profile as a potential successor.

Above: Panoramic view of governmental headquarters, Nul-Sultan, Kazakhstan

Mr Nazarbayev’s 55-year-old daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva, a former Deputy Prime Minister, has long been considered as a potential successor.

She once led the country’s main television station and founded her own party in the 2000s, before it merged with her father’s party.

Ms Nazarbayeva made no mention of the forthcoming elections in her brief acceptance speech on Wednesday, Reuters news agency reports.