Sunday, October 01, 2023

a pawnshop lost and found

Three years ago, I found two of the three houses in Wuppertal where Heinrich the cellist and Maria lived between 1919 and 1960. The one I was still missing forms a somewhat unfortunate historical hinge between the two and it took me a visit to the city archives to pin down its location.

The story as we knew it so far is that in 1931, Heinrich was put in charge of looking after the city-owned pawnshop, which entailed moving into a flat on the first floor of the same building. In early 1933, there was a minor scandal in that some items went missing from the site, and Heinrich launched an official investigation. Unfortunately, the investigation found that it was his wife Maria who had helped herself to some of these. An expert for the court diagnosed an underlying psychiatric problem for which she got some help, while Heinrich ended up in another office job in the administration of corporate tax matters.

I was hoping to find newspaper reports or official documents on the scandal and its resolution but had no luck with that. However, I did find the address of the pawnshop, and with that I could confirm dates when Heinrich was recorded as living in that building, and the names of the people in the position before and after him.

The archive has a very thin and patchy file on press clippings relating to the city’s pawnshops. The clippings were mostly about the social issues attached to pawnshops, such as poverty, risk of bankruptcy, etc. (The reason why cities engaged with this kind of business at all was that it was seen as a social good to keep people in need safe from predatory lenders.) No mention of the scandal I was looking for. I learned that both Barmen and Elberfeld had one of their own – they only merged in a new location in February 1940. Elberfeld’s shop is the one we’re after and it has a longer history going back to 1821. It started out in a slaughterhouse in Brausenwerth, and in 1888 it moved to the house in Obergrünewalder Straße 21, which was also the address when Heinrich and Maria moved in to live above the shop.

The address books available on microfiche (!) have a very handy section where you can find things by address and see who owns the building, what it is used for, and/or who lives there. In the 1930 edition for Elberfeld, we find Heinrich still at the old address, Schleswiger Str. 45, listed as a Stadtobersekretär, on the third floor. In 1932, has disappeared from this address but no new tenant has shown up for the flat as yet.

Under Obergrünewalder Straße 21, however, we find, eureka, the “Städtische Leihanstalt” – no wonder I couldn’t find it before, I wouldn’t have thought of giving it that name! Heinrich is listed as resident on the first floor, still Stadtobersekretär. His predecessor in the flat and presumably in the job, was listed in the 1930 edition as Otto Drees, Leihhausverwalter.

According to my previous information, they moved to Gronaustraße 35 in June 1933. However, the address book Barmen 1934 still lists this street as Königsstraße. It was renamed some time after the 1929 merger because Elberfeld also had a street with that name (see below). In Königsstraße 35 he is listed on the first floor as a Reisender (travelling salesman) which seems to suggest that he was suspended from his position in the city administration for some time while the investigation was ongoing. Not sure if he actually worked as a travelling salesman or whether this was just a euphemism for unemployed?

The first united addressbook for Wuppertal, dated 1935, has the new street name Gronaustraße and lists Heinrich as Stadtinspektor, which is two pay grades above his previous classification as Obersekretär. His successor in the pawnshop is named as Karl Schwabe, Stadtass.

Further files I consulted contained a detailed description of how the pawnshop worked – the staff members included three permanent helpers, a clerk responsible for the till, an apprentice and two magazine workers, so a total of eight people. Elsewhere, there is also a mention of experts for the valuation of specific groups of items. Heinrich is named in a document dated 1.12.1931. After that, however, the file goes dark and the next document dates from 1937.

After leaving the archive, I took the Schwebebahn to the Luisenviertel to find the old pawnshop and was very pleased to find that not only it survived but also it is in the very heart of the Luisenviertel which at least today is an extremely attractive neighbourhood with lots of restaurants. I think it is this building on the corner, shown below, which today goes as Friedrich-Ebert-Straße 38, as the building to its left on the Obergrünewalder Str. is number 19 and the next buildings on the other side of the corner plots are number 24 (confusingly) and 25. Which would fit my theory that the two corner plots were reassigned to Friedrich Ebert Str. but were previously known as Obergrünewalder Str. 21 and 23. Incidentally, today’s Friedrich Ebert Str., the main axis of Luisenviertel parallel to Luisenstr., was historically the Königstraße of Elberfeld, so in 1933 Heinrich moved from the corner of one Königstraße to the other.

Anyhow, I am adopting this lovely building here, prove me wrong:

This is the front towards Obergrünewalder Straße (with parts of number 19 on the left) with a shop selling Wuppertal merch (note the Schwebebahn-inspired murals below the windows!):

And this is the Friedrich Ebert side of things with an estate agent:

Saturday, September 30, 2023

transforming London's air

I don't often read books by politicians, least of all those currently in office, but as I'm interested in the ongoing transformation of London and more generally the role of cities in addressing climate change, I volunteered to review Sadiq Khan's book on these issues:

Sadiq Khan
Breathe: Tackling the climate emergency
Hutchinson Heinemann 2023

It is called Breathe because it was adult onset asthma (contracted after running in London's less than perfect air) that made him fight for a better environment. He was also strongly influenced by the case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who died at the age of 9 and became the first person to have air pollution recorded as the official cause of death.

The whole story of his path from SUV driver to fighter for clean air is well told and an amazingly good read, so my review, now out in C&I is also an endorsement:

Mayor's take on climate

Chemistry & Industry Volume 87, Issue 9, September 2023, Page 35

access via:

Wiley Online Library (paywalled PDF of the whole review section)

SCI (premium content, ie members only)

As always, I'm happy to send a PDF on request.

PS shame though that he doesn't mention the very amazing London WNBR, which for many years was just about the only environmental thing happening there and I could have used one of my photos, so instead I have to show the actual book:

Thursday, September 28, 2023

a kitchen song

In the book Aimee & Jaguar (review to follow soon), Felice Schragenheim ("Jaguar") and a friend are reported as singing the traditional song "Mariechen saß weinend im Garten" in the kitchen, while washing the dishes (page 136 of my KiWi edition). I remember my grandfather Richard occasionally singing the first verse of this song when I was a child. (The only song I can remember him singing right now but others may come back?)

The song as I remember it from Richard's rendition appears very simple and quite monotonous to me, so I was wondering if his version was a simplified one, and therefore I wrote down what I remembered before looking up how it's meant to be. Turns out, however, that the first couplet really is that monotonous, and if anything, my memory across half a century tried to make it more interesting.

This is good news inasmuch as Richard had a reputation of not being very musical - although he was the son of our old cellist and also has lots of musical relatives on his mother's side. However, he did buy classical music LPs (including several recordings of the Dvorak cello concerto), so there can't have been a fundamental problem with his ears (read here why listening to music is as demanding as making music). He also had a go at teaching his daughter to play the recorder, but without lasting success.

The song, as I now learned from Wikipedia, is an old folk tune of unknown origin with a text by Joseph Christian von Zedlitz (1790–1862) first published in 1832. The text relating the story of a single mother despairing over having been abandoned by her baby's father is dripping with romantic pathos and tragic sentiment to an extent that 20th century kitchen singers like Felice or my granddad would likely have read it with at least a hint of irony, as the Wikipedia entry also notes.

Oh, and whereas the Liederkiste songbook, where I have a version of it, calls it a Moritat, the Wiki entry classifies it as a kitchen song. This song category was also new to me. Here is a 21st century recording from YouTube, performed straight-faced and not in a kitchen ...

Looking for an illustration I found several books and LPs collecting kitchen songs, including this one:

Source: Bertelsmann Vinyl Collection

PS: looking at the songs listed on the backside of the LP, there is one other that rings a bell: Du, du liegst mir im Herzen. Not quite sure but I may have heard this (not more than the first verse, again) from Richard as well. Will have to look at other kitchen song collections as well ...

Monday, September 25, 2023

ancient family trees

Ancient DNA studies have moved on from finding out about amazingly old individuals. The latest thing is to sequence entire groups of humans who have been dead for centuries or even many millennia, and derive their family relations. A recent study of neolithic burial has set the record with a family tree connecting more than 60 individuals.

I used this as an occasion to round up a few other examples of family histories revealed by sequencing ancient DNA and to argue that, like ordinary family history, this is a way of unveiling the human histories that for one reason or another have remained hidden. My feature is out now:

Hidden histories

Current Biology Volume 33, Issue 16, 25. September 2023, Pages R931-R934

Restricted access to full text and PDF download
(will become open access one year after publication)

Magic link for free access
(first seven weeks only)

See also my Mastodon thread where I will highlight all this year's CB features.

Based on ancient DNA sequenced from 64 individuals buried at Gurgy, northern France, researchers have constructed the largest ever family tree of prehistoric people. The portraits are artistic impressions incorporating some details derived from the genome information. (Painting: © Elena Plain; reproduced with the permission of the University of Bordeaux/PACEA.)

Saturday, September 23, 2023

the library of rejected manuscripts

I came across a lovely little film available on DVD in Germany (and sold at discount price by now), which revolves entirely around the book publishing business, so as an author I feel obliged to spread the word and say a few things about it.

Le mystère Henri Pick - France 2019, Rémi Bezançon, starring Fabrice Luchini, Camille Cottin, Alice Isaaz.

The central concept is a library of rejected manuscripts that have never been published, which a librarian in a remote village in Brittany set up in a spare room. (I just love the idea, which is referenced in the Spanish title, so I chose that poster for illustration, below.) There, a young editor of a major publisher discovers the manuscript of a novel under the name of the Henri Pick of the title, a deceased local pizza baker who had never been known to read or write anything in his lifetime. The book becomes a sensational success, but a cynical old literary critic (Fabrice Luchini) smells a rat and embarks on a quest to find out who really wrote the book and how it ended up in the library of rejected manuscripts.

I have seen Luchini in more movies than I care to remember, but strangely I don't get fed up with him, and I am enjoying his mature works combining literature with bicycle use (see also: Alceste a bicyclette (Bicycling with Moliere) - France 2013). The film is every bibliophile's dream in that the main locations are the library mentioned, the offices of a major publisher (Gallimard, who happen to be the publishers of the original novel by David Foenkinos, Le Mystère Henri Pick), and various living rooms of bookish people with very decent bookshelves. For the occasional breath of fresh air, the characters get to cycle around that village in Britanny. All very lovely and I'll happily watch the film again fairly soon.

One does end up wishing the story was real. The one thing I definitely don't believe to be true in real life is the assertion that a major publisher has an archive of all manuscripts they ever received. In my experience, they can barely be bothered to return them to the author. I've seen submission guidelines saying that they will destroy the manuscript if rejected, unless you add a franked return envelope.

Not released in the UK, so I'll add it to my list of films not shown in UK cinemas.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

new departures

Heinrich the cello has now left the premises, and I am keeping up the practice habit with Jenny, the new cello on the block:

I am keeping up a revision rota of Bach movements, which haven't improved much since I reached peak Bach in the summer of 2021, but I still enjoy playing them, and I also need the revision to make sure I don't forget them. Here's the second minuet in G, liberated from the grip of the first minuet:

I am beginning to realise that the things I feel as raw and energetic when I play them may come across as scratchy and crude on the video. Oh well. For comparison, my recording of the same minuet with old Heinrich starts here.

Apart from keeping up with Bach, I am also learning the thumb position(s), which turns out to be much easier since I learned the essential fiddle playing. And I am trying to do something about my dismal sight reading. Long term plan: set up the world's worst string quartet.

In other cultural news, I am beginning to realise that there is a lot about Bach in the French TV series "Astrid: Murder in Paris", whose eponymous character has autism. I am learning a lot about both Bach and autism, even though I fear that it may reinforce the perception that enjoying Bach may be a symptom of autism. Will have to do a review of sorts when I'm through with the first season.

Oh and there was also a folky flashmob in the Weston Library last weekend, on the occasion of the Playford exhibition now open.

Friday, September 15, 2023

a famous flautist

Some thoughts on

Friedrich der Große: Musiker und Monarch
Sabine Henze-Döhring
CH Beck 2012

Published in the year of Frederick the Great’s 300th birthday, this is a thorough appraisal of what we really know about the Prussian king’s music making. It turns out that all the anecdotes and the widely reproduced images such as the painting by Adolph Menzel appearing on the cover of the book and below, of the king playing a recital to an attentive audience, aren’t corroborated by any hard evidence.

Flötenkonzert Friedrichs des Großen in Sanssouci (painting by Adolph von Menzel, 1850–1852)
Source: Wikipedia

Typically, the author maintains, he will have played the flute in the company of his paid court musicians only, with no audience. Said musicians included his flute teacher, the composer Johann Joachim Quantz (at the right margin of the painting), as well as JS Bach’s son CPE Bach (at the harpsichord). Which is why Bach senior paid that very famous visit to Friedrich’s court. And given the circumstance that nobody could really go on record with judgements on the reigning monarch, we can’t really know how accomplished his playing was. So, it’s all a bit frustrating on the flute front.

What we know a lot more about, however, is his role as an impresario of professional and public concerts (in which he didn’t play), as well as court opera, where he championed the opera buffa as a new form imported from Italy, as well as star castrato singers also coming from there. The simple reason that we know a lot about these is that these musicians needed to be recruited and paid, which already involved correspondence and record keeping. And once they were doing their thing, Frederick liked to write letters about their music making to his relatives - and to Voltaire, obviously. As you do.

I also learned that, after he fought three wars against Austria over the possession of Silesia (which Prussia gained in the process), shared musical interests enabled he king to reconnect with Maria Theresia’s son, the future Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Music saves lives, again.

PS I missed the memo when this came out but discovered it on a recent visit to Potsdam where Old Fritz used to toot his flute.

Monday, September 11, 2023

the war on nature

Wars are a stupid idea for so many reasons eg because they tend to empower horrible people to do horrible things. In the current situation, as several countries are well equipped to wipe out our civilisation, our species, and much of the natural environment, it's even worse. And even in the "normal" conventional mode, the warring mindset means that all concerns for the environment go overboard because of "war priorities".

So, well, not much fun to write about, but as there are a few stupid wars going on right now and ecocides being committed, a few things had to be said. My feature on the impact of modern wars on the natural environment is out now:

Wars leave nature on the losing side

Current Biology Volume 33, Issue 17, 11. September 2023, Pages R879-R881

Restricted access to full text and PDF download
(will become open access one year after publication)

Magic link for free access
(first seven weeks only)

See also my Mastodon thread where I will highlight all this year's CB features.

The photo shows the Castle Bravo nuclear test undertaken by the US on March 1, 1954. (Photo: United States Department of Energy.)

PS Speaking of horrible people doing horrible things, today marks the 50th anniversary of the coup in Chile - here is my blog entry on the 40th, with memories of the 10th. Still not over it.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

five priests in a row

Looking up W. O. von Horn, the author of the very romantic book that constitutes the earliest documented connection between Heinrich the cellist and Maria his future wife, I noticed the weird coincidence that the author is from a very similar background as two thirds of the ancestry of Heinrich and Maria’s future daughter in law. (As Ruth’s parents were first cousins, she only had three sets of great-grandparents, and the normal genealogy maths doesn’t apply.)

Porträt: W. O. v. Horn. In: W. O. v. Horn’s gesammelte Erzählungen. Neue Volks-Ausgabe. Vollständig in 12 Bänden. J. D. Sauerländer, Frankfurt am Main 1. Band, 1861
Source: Wikipedia

W.O. von Horn, real name Friedrich Wilhelm Philipp Oertel, was the middle one in a lineage of five consecutive protestant priests in the male line, rooted in the village of Horn near Simmern (plus his brother). Info from Wikipedia plus additional details from this genealogy dataset:

1. Johann Paul Oertel * 17.5.1708 Simmern, + 19.2.1780 Horn) parish priest of Horn since 1746, previously at Nieder-Hilbersheim
oo before 1747 Anna Christina (Christine) Faber

1.1. Friedrich Peter Paul Oertel (1748–1819) priest in Horn, 1804 President of the Lokalkonsistorium (whatever that means) in Bacharach, 1812 parish priest of Manubach, Kreis St. Goar, Superintendent in Koblenz
oo 22.3.1782 Juliana Carolina Wilhelmina Maria (Juliane) Wolff

1.1.1.Friedrich Franz Heinrich Jakob Oertel * 20.12.1784 Horn 1863 Bingen) parish priest at Oberdiebach and from 1832-1857 in Kirn
1.1.2. Friedrich Wilhelm Philipp Oertel = W. O. von Horn (* 15. August 1798 in Horn; † 14. Oktober 1867 in Wiesbaden)
oo 1822 Antonie Henriette von Saint George (1798-1870) from Weilburg (Lahn) Pauline Christiane Oertel * 1823
oo Reichard Gerber (1823 – 1852) Friedrich Hugo Oertel (1827–1909) parish priest in Horn (1854-64), Ottweiler and Simmern; superintendent at Simmern (1883-1907)
oo Jakobina Philippina (Jakobine) Caesar (1827 – 1908) Julia Anna Oertel (1858 – vor 1889) oo 1883 Gustav Adolf Eybisch Oertel (1860–1932) parish priest in Neuerkirch; member of the Reichstag. oo 5. November 1886 Elise Cauer (1865–1919; daughter of Robert Cauer the Elder (1831–1893), sculptor) Jakobina Mathilda (Mathilde) Oertel * 1862 Horn oo 1889 Simmern: Gustav Adolf Eybisch (widower of her older sister, also a parish priest in Heiligenwald, Neunkirchen und Bingerbrück, their son also became a priest) Emilie Julie Maria Oertel (1863 – 1949) oo 1892 Simmern: Paul Julius Lembeck Mathilda Oertel * 1829 oo Heinrich Wilhelm Eduard Fuchs, Oberförster, * ca. 1825

I note that the author’s background as the son of the parish priest of Horn born in 1798 was very similar to that of some of Ruth’s ancestors in the Kauer clan and in the Imig clan. (Sadly the Cauer clan which the fifth generation Oertel priest married into is unrelated to our Kauers, this prominent family of sculptors and artists came from Berlin and settled in Kreuznach for some reason.) So if only I had a more extended family tree for W.O. von Horn, I am quite sure it would touch mine somewhere.

A quick search for the place name of Horn in my family history file revealed that four marriages of my direct ancestors happened in Horn. They are all from the ancestry of Ruth’s grandmothers, the sisters Elisabeth and Margaretha Imig, and the most recent one is:

Christoph Philippi, a tanner from Ohlweiler near Simmern, married Charlotte Kuhn from Simmern on 25.7.1775. At this point, I assume that the serving priest at Horn must have been either Johann Paul or Friedrich Peter Paul Oertel.

Sadly the other three marriages that happened at Horn were too early even for Johann Paul. One was in 1701 (Joh. Nicolaus Kurtz oo Elisabeth Margaretha Wagner), and then we have Elisabeth’s parents in 1671, and another pair of Imig ancestors in 1659, namely Michel Augustin from Riegenroth and Elisabeth Christ. (NB I’m giving GedBas links for each spouse separately, because each of these has incomplete info on the families attached to their other half.)

Still a generation deeper down, we have Hans Caspars, a “welsch” (meaning foreign, eg French, but probably not Welsh) carpenter was active at Horn. No dates for him but his son Johann Caspers was born 1644 in Argenthal. (The son of Michel Augustin married the daughter of Johann Caspers in 1706 at location unknown.)

Whereas Ruth’s Imig ancestors are most closely associated with the village of Horn (as well as a bunch of other villages near Simmern), those of her grandfather Christoph Gottlieb Kauer are more similar to the Oertel families in that they also included village priests and teachers in the same area (but a bit more mobile). For instance, we have Johannes Weiß (1704-72), the parish priest of Eckweiler, next door to Sobernheim where WO von Horn became parish priest in 1835 and a contemporary of his grandfather born in 1708. Johannes Weiß’s father-in-law, Martin Philipp Nicolas Ebner was the parish priest of Alterkülz and a senior year teacher at the Latin school of Trarbach (as was his father). Further protestant priests include Nikolaus Andreae in Gebroth from 1632, as well as Peter Siegel during the time of the Reformation. Oh, and the Kauer side of the family also features a connection to the earlier story writer Johann Peter Hebel (1760-1826), who was also a priest before he found fame as a writer. I think it is fair to assume that W.O. von Horn knew the stories of Johann Peter Hebel.

Seeing that the first Oertel in line was born in Simmern, there should be further generations listed in Zwiebelberg's book of Simmern residents, which I don't have at hand right now, but can look up when I travel to Germany.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

the romance of the Rhine

When Heinrich the old cellist was still a young poet, he and his fiancée Maria liked to spend their spare time together reading the same book cheek to cheek, as we know from a poem written by Maria. She didn’t reveal what book they were reading, but fortunately I discovered a book which they both signed after reading it.

It first attracted my attention because in Heinrich’s first inscription (presumably when he bought the book) he identifies as a musician, which is the earliest evidence we have for his musicianship. He had just turned 18 three weeks earlier. His inscription is:

Heinrich Groß Musiker
1. Oktober 1900

He read it within two months, as he reveals with a different pen:

Gelesen 30. November 1900
Bad Warmbrunn
Im Rosenheim

(Bad Warmbrunn, Riesengebirge, is today in Poland, and I have no idea what he was doing there, nor for Bielefeld either)

Maria then signed after reading it nearly three years later:

Gelesen Ende Oktober 1903
M. Pfersching

which incidentally is the earliest evidence that links her to Heinrich. She only arrived in Strasbourg the same year, so Heinrich must have thrown that book at her pretty swiftly after first setting eyes on her. Three weeks later, 18.11.1903, Heinrich is crazy in love with her, as documented in his poems. On 18.4.1904, Maria's 23rd birthday, they get engaged.

Anyhow, moving on to the book itself, it is a collection of six stories, volume 3 out of 3 of the “selected stories” of W. O. von Horn (1798-1867), published by J.D. Sauerländer in 1892. Incidentally, the author, real name Wilhelm Oertel, hailing from Horn near Simmern, comes from a location and background that makes it highly likely he has shared ancestry with my grandmother, the future daughter-in-law of Heinrich and Maria. I am slightly spooked by this coincidence, but will look at his family history in a separate blog entry and stick with Heinrich and Maria and their shared book for now.

W. O von Horn was a highly successful writer of novels, stories and non-fiction for young readers and “the people”. Hailing from the Simmern area, notorious for the stories of the robber Schinderhannes (who gets a mention in the book, too), he spent much of his life in the upper Middle Rhine region, where all those romantic ruins of medieval castles are lined up. Accordingly, most of his stories are set in this area, and some are just dripping with its romantic spirit, and also spiced up with the kind of robber stories that Schinderhannes personified.

Reading the stories I also note that those set on the Middle Rhine give me a strong sense of place, with detailed descriptions of the landscape seen from this castle or from that rock. The non-Rhineland stories by contrast, don't have anything similar. In one case, the story of a man who loses his home and love after being forced to join Napoleon's army, the absence of geography may be a clever device used to illustrate his loss of Heimat.

The first story, in particular, a love story set against the backdrop of Sooneck Castle, shown below, and its demise in the 13th century, brings the medieval fortresses back to life and indulges in the charm of the ruins that the author appears to have known first hand in the 19th century (quite a few, including Sooneck, were repaired or rebuilt during the 19th century in the spirit of reviving German glory rather than historic authenticity). The castle being flattened for its role in armed highway (and river) robbery is the backdrop for a very romantic love story, so in view of Heinrich’s romantic poetry, we can see how that story fitted the young poet’s frame of mind.

Steel engraving from "Views of the Rhine" by William Tombleson (around 1840): Ruins of Sooneck Castle
source: Wikipedia

I’m more intrigued by the geographic factor though. Heinrich was the son of a railway man from Breslau (Silesia), born in Thuringia, and schooled in Stendal/Tangermünde where his father’s career found its final stop. From there to the ruined castles of the Middle Rhine it’s quite a long distance, whereas for Maria, from Bruchsal, it was just down the river.

So I’m wondering whether it was perhaps the romantic ideas of the Rhine, first acquired from literature like this book and possibly others, that helped to attract him to Strasbourg and/or to Upper Rhine native Maria. Rhine romanticism was all the rage in the 19th century, so he would have been trailing the zeitgeist a bit, as he did with his romantic poems. Note that in later life, Heinrich and Maria settled at Elberfeld, which then became Wuppertal, and isn’t too far from the river Rhine, whereas Heinrich’s sister Gertrud and her descendants stayed in the watershed of the river Elbe.

The last of the stories, which I haven't quite finished yet as this entry goes live, is the only one with an explicit musical connection. Pegged on the premise that many of the inhabitants of 19th century Elz (Hesse) became travelling musicians (a historical fact, according to the German Wikipedia entry), it tells the story of the first musician in this tradition and his daughter. Elzer Musikanten are still very active today. The first page of this story is the only one in the book that has come loose, suggesting that this particular story was opened more often than the others. Yet another clue that this old book gives us about Heinrich and Maria.

Here's a recent photo of the book:

The odd stripes at the corners show where the brown-speckled paper cover has been glued on such as to overlap the grey linnen corners. Wondering whether the paper is original.

Contents of the book:

Soneck. Historisch-romantische Erzählung aus dem dreizehnten Jahrhundert
Aus dem Leben eines Vogelsbergers in Krieg und Frieden
Das Original. Ein Stücklein
Das Mühlchen in der Morgenbach. Eine Begebenheit aus dem Jahre 1716
Der Apostelhof. Eine Geschichte aus der Vorzeit Bacharachs. (12 Teile)
Die Elzer. Eine Geschichte aus dem Nassauer Land

Intriguingly, the very same stories are available from Google Books as the scan of a volume marked as vol 3 of the Complete Works in 12 volumes, whereas my edition is vol 3 of the Selected Works in 3 volumes. Same publisher, but published postumously. Maybe they just selected to re-publish the first three volumes of their 12-vol opus? Also, my vol 3 doesn't tell that it's meant to be a set of three (but antiquarians sell it as such). Maybe the publishers were just republishing as "selected" volume by volume to see how it sells and gave up when it ran out of steam? Anyhow, enjoy!

Monday, August 21, 2023

our planet is in hot water

We have just experienced the warmest month since records began and reports of new weather extremes have become a regular feature of the news. Most of the extra heat we are inflicting on our planet doesn't end up in our cities and landscapes however. Most is absorbed by the oceans. There it will not only disrupt marine ecosystems, it also feeds more deadly storms and accelerates the loss of the ice caps and thus sea level rise. Even if we can still be grateful that the oceans save us from even worse heating, all of these changes will eventually come back to bite us.

Pegged to the ongoing marine heatwaves in the North Atlantic and Southern Ocean, my feature looks at what we can learn from previous heatwaves and how the warmer oceans are going to affect life on Earth, both marine and terrestrial. The feature is out now:

Oceans feel the heat

Current Biology Volume 33, Issue 16, 21. August 2023, Pages R829-R831

Restricted access to full text and PDF download
(will become open access one year after publication)

Magic link for free access
(first seven weeks only)

See also my Mastodon thread where I will highlight all this year's CB features.

Kelp forests off the Californian coast and their residents, such as this kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus), were affected by the extended marine heatwave nicknamed the North Pacific Blob in the years 2014 to 2016. (Photo: © Chris Honeyman.)

Sunday, August 20, 2023

a crazy life

some thoughts on

Uschi Obermaier, Olaf Kraemer

High Times – Mein wildes Leben

Heyne 2008

This is one of the many books I discovered at Düsseldorf’s street libraries and enjoyed even though it would never have occurred to me to look for them or buy them. Our heroine was a household name in the 1970s as I was growing up. She was present with glamorous photos in Stern magazine and everywhere else especially after her participation in the famous Kommune I, the flagship commune of the 1968 movement.

The memoir written down by coauthor Olaf Kraemer based on interviews adds more material I wasn’t aware of including on-off relationships with two Rolling Stones and adventures around the world in a hippie van with a shady guy from Hamburg’s red light district. This van related part of the story was less interesting to me and maybe less relevant to world history, but all in all, one could say, never a dull moment. And her perspective on 1968 and the music scene is an interesting addition to the more official historical record.