Monday, July 21, 2008

Lens and Legacy: Ask, Whose View of History is History ? Propaganda, Lens and Angle

Who says? Does the propagandist make it so, or was it really so?

Is any retrospective ever "history"The danger of looking back. The difference an angle makes. The world of Petr Ginz.

His writing is objective, data-oriented. This carries with it a danger for us. How to fill in what he did not write about, while avoiding falsehood and factoid. How to separate out the factoids. See "factoid" at Spin is an art form. Yet, we look back with our lens and know that parts of that scene are missing.

What is missing is a picture of how propaganda created the world he was handed.

The limits of looking back

Edward Bernays, who championed the cause of Public Relations and how to persuade, back in 1928, knew how people yearn to fill in blanks to fit a worldview.

We cooperate in the sales process, by falling line with the claims and techniques, and filling in blanks as desired by the seller of the idea or the product. Look up Edward Bernays' 1928 public relations genius, as that is summarized at this site:

Research and check, research and check. We are cautious in our lookbacks, and try to keep current in new information about World War II as it hatches. For new information now emerging, see We also have a healthy concern for the propaganda that colors what we are told about our world today.

Propagandists selling their points can appear quite ordinary

The concern for propaganda is on point.

Petr's world evolved as it did largely because of the successes of propaganda being foisted all around him. Revisit the US Govt Institute for Propaganda Analysis 1937-1942. Check against those vintage talking points, now being used in new ways today, your own skills in factoid-finding. Go to the specifics of See our WWII US Govt's Institute for Propaganda Analysis 1937-1942-- look it up at Then, as you read today's news, check your issue or concern out again against the techniques used to convey it to you, and make up your own mind.

Why study Petr and his life, when you have a busy one of your own? Because past is present is future. And it is possible to broaden your own lens.

Uses of propaganda in selling history.

Legacy: Heightened Awareness of Torture. When you can hear it, see it - Petr Ginz and others at Auschwitz

Auschwitz. A tree grows by the ovens.

Warfare and genocide turned this child's life into death. This site began as a benign photography site elaborating on the life of Petr Ginz. It has more of an edge now.

Here are the ovens, the crematory. Below, structures including medical experiments buildings at Auschwitz. He was there. Think quietly of the sights and sounds?

This is unimaginable. Here is a tidied tourist Auschwitz. Gas. Ovens. See Auschwitz posts and more photos at Poland Road Ways. Forced labor at other camps, see Buchenwald posts at Germany Road Ways; and the mass burial sites at Jasenovac in Croatia, Croatia Road Ways, where, among the atrocities, Roman Catholic Christians stood by Orthodox Christians were put to death rather than stand up for life.


Torture. It may not be too late to see for yourself what torture is. Whether you call it "extreme interrogation," and try to sanitize it out of existence so you can do it anyway, or fake it as "torture light," the concept remains.

Go to Romania, actually or by internet.

There used to be a website showing where all the old political prisons were. We should have printed it out because it is not online any more, not where we can find it.

We chose to see Sighet Prison at Sighetu Marmetiei, now "The Museum of Arrested Thought," in Maramures. See the benevolent little description of the activities inside offered at this site in passing, in hopes you won't notice, at

Then take the tour. The guide will not be free to talk much, but you can try. This site gives a more accurate description: Floors of cells, clang. Central atrium set-up. See and hear everybody. See further discussion of the role of pain-infliction in societies, ours and Romanian, at Romania Road Ways, post on Sighet Prison, Maramures.

Frigid temperature techniques, our heads of state say is fine? See the cell, iron ring in the center, floor level at least 6 inches below the rest - so water up to 4 inches can layer the floor for the naked prisoner, chained to the ring. Make the prisoner lie down? What if the water is up 6 inches, and you can't rest your head while lying down. How long? No chair. Floors of cells with rings on the walls, photos, metal tables. Torture shown. Go there. See Sighet entries at Romania Road Ways. We were so relieved that America would never do those things. Tut. Antiseptic torture - turn on the spigot, lock the lock, leave. Nice. Is it not torture just because you can set the mechanisms going, then walk away. Or outsource the cudgeling.

Auschwitz. Street and Guard Tower

A problem with force
: It cannot, and will not, be controlled out. It can only be managed, if caught and channelled early enough. Is that right?

It is addictive. Gives pleasure to the forcer. Household, domestic, colonial or other international abuse. Accelerating. Universal corruption. No way to restrict force to the minimal needed to accomplish or even define a proper objective. What is reasonable defense. Reasonable containment.

Can we go another route entirely? Who were those tortured at Sighet Prison, the now Museum of Arrested Thought - academics, ministers, historians, more -- see photos, building, history at

We do not torture, say some heads of state. What do they mean. See There used to be a map on the web with all the sites of the prisons in Romania. Can't find it now. Here it is - somebody has it up - a reproduction, at Are they used?

Lens and Legacy: When your Roots are Mischling. Labeled for targeting. Jews. Mudbloods.

Roots. Not pretty.

Petr Ginz and the issue of cultural labeling. Labeling groups.

Roots usually are not pretty. Roots-avoidance is more pleasant.

We are looking here at particularly ugly roots, at cultural labeling. For Petr Ginz, the label of "Mischling"- a half blood. Mother Christian, father Jewish.

Labeling is a shorthand for who's worthy and who is not; and its consequences are dehumanizing. Is this a global problem in cultures. See Robert Fuller's "rankism" at ://; and an overview at :// Fine-looking trees can be growing above, but what holds them up may be a frightening set of traditions and constructs.

Petr Ginz and other part-Jew, part-Christian, were deemed "mixed-bloods," or "Mischlings," by the Third Reich. The Nuremberg laws, see ://, established firm definitions, see ://

The function of categorizing. Categorizing serves to set rank, and in Petr's case, to set them apart for ghettos and destruction in a time frame that was a little more lenient than for full Jews, but not by much.

A label is a way to dehumanize, facilitate disposal.

Examining roots in cultures is hard work. Sometimes roots like these can only be explored after the fact, when the huge construct that those roots supported finally up-end. The roots of the world of Petr Ginz. A diary with unfamiliar places, and an overlay of horror.
Why look at WWII? Because barbarism is still with us.

Branchings from one shoot: uncontrolled, uncontrollable? When to lop.

As you read versions of history - stemming from the same events, but very different in interpretation, form, watch. Are the sources, the spins, giving you the broad information you need to make up your own mind, or only enough to persuade you to follow theirs?

Anyone who thinks that a believed or actual event leads to one true interpretation path onwards, has not walked in the woods.

No one angle predominates as to many trees, unless somebody lops off the competition, or the offshoot was overshaded and withers. Look at that strong, straight, newish one catty-corner heading to the upper left. It is newer, but may end up the strongest of all.

As to WWII, if you can, go to the Nuremberg Nazi Documentation Center, Germany Road Ways. The visual dimension for us is like mortar between the building blocks.

Petr Ginz, a Mischling. A fact to be included at sites like Factbites, and they invite a link, and we offer it: Factbites, Petr Ginz.

Lens and Legacy: The Instability of Barriers. Walls Against People, and Harry Potter

Considering Walls

The Berlin Wall

The long-term uselessness of walls. One wall goes down, another goes up. Like bop-a-top.
With human waste in between. Germans have tried every kind: political, as in the Berlin Wall; and religious-cultural-racial, as in the Holocaust.

Here is the Berlin Wall - a political wall, not a religiously motivated one, rising after the Second World War was supposedly over, but continuing its mindset. Walls once seen as a way to enhance your own position by doing away with dissent, trap those fleeing. And do away with dissenters. Wall in, wall out.

Walls against people. Religious walls. Mischlings in Nazi occupied countries. The mixed bloods, not pure Aryan. Walls went up and exterminations followed. See Petr Ginz: Lens, Legacy, Places. Mischling.

Just as with the Jews, the walls and persecutions against them in Harry Potter's books fostered courage and drive, as well as despair, and some giving up during the worst when the powers seemed unsurmountable; but courage and drive at last prevailed. Is that not right?

Berlin Wall memorial

Revolt against it took place in many forms, and the experience festers for years.

They never last. "Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That wants it down!" American Poet Robert Frost, at Poem: "Mending Wall."

Immigration walls, now in vogue. See :// No learning. None.

Lens and Legacy: Immigration History in Prague's Mortar. Genocide and Migrations.

Spanish Synagogue, Dusni Synagogue, Prague

The lens of architecture and immigration. How do people bring with them their past. See where people come from by the buildings they create. What they want to remember.

1. Critical Mass Can Enable a New Identity. This occurs when there are enough to make a statement after all the small groups come together somehow. Put a human face on it through Petr Ginz and his community.

Here, the facade of the Spanish Synagogue in Prague, the Dusni Synagogue, known to Petr Ginz, see Petr Ginz, Places, Josevof. The synagogue is named for its architectural style resembling the Moorish Alhambra in Spain, see Spain Road Ways - Alhambra; //

See the history of Jews in Spain at //
Large and many groups of people, moving around the globe in search of home or conquest-conversion. Watch the unfolding:

1242 - rise of antisemitism, Europe.
1290 - England expels Jews, many go to Spain.
1306 - France expels Jews, many go to Spain.
1348 - Plague, Central Europe, then Spain - Jews wash hands, keep sewage at a distance, and conduct burials quickly - plague hits their communities less hard, causing Christians to accuse them of poisoning Christian wells, etc. See geocities site.
1391 - persecutions, expulsions, and on and on.
1492 - huge expulsion.
Then leap forward to genocide.

The Spanish Jews who left Spain and Portugal, were known as Sephardim. See // Here in Prague, the building preserves on its face an entire era.

2. Critical Mass Can Become a Threat, Causing Extreme Reactions - Genocide.

Genocide. If the label is applied, does it dignify the deaths, prevent recurrence. Or not. Term coined in 1943-1944. See //

When groups arrive, gradually and not by army, at what point do the local people feel threat. Because many do. Cultural absorption arises as an issue: The current power groups want it - be like us. The newer groups may not - we lose our ways. There is force. The old infrastructure may fall away.

What is the human critical mass. In a community, is there a predictable point of change, the size of the new group required before an event occurs, as in nuclear fission. See // The concept is familiar. Finally force enters, to preserve someone's something. See Spain Road Ways, post on colonialism, takeovers.

History sites: For eastern-central Europe, see, for a start, "Jewish Immigration" at //, commentary by a Dr. Gerhard Falk. The topic is in the curriculum at Yeshiva University, see Are the classes separated by gender? This is not my tradition, and I am interested.

4. Track Explosions of Critical Mass and Immigration Tinderboxes. Current events:

4.1. The United States and immigration. Some sites in favor: // Or //

Article on the no's at //,9171,979734-3,00.html. Think and vote online at //

4.2. England and its colonial populations.

4.3. Switzerland - see New York Times, 10/08/2007, Switzerland's coping - and the political mailing with the picture of three white sheep kicking out the black sheep, and the caption on maintaining security. See post at The Joy of Equivocating: Lets You Say the Unsayable. See "Immigration, Black Sheep and Black Rage," at //, and maneuver to the article. Do an images search for the picture itself.

4.4. Rwanda, Darfur

4.5. Turkey. Armenians. What was the tipping point. See; University of Michigan "Fact Sheet" at Here is an Armenian view:

Lens and Legacy: Heightened Awareness of Preconditions leading to Genocide, Persecution

Buchenwald Labor Camp, Stake and Quarry Cart, Germany

1. What can we learn.

What combination of factors led to the Holocaust that we can reasonably work to spot. Or Darfur. Or witch-burnings. Ethnic cleansings. Murders individually. Collectively genocides. Is the start as simple as defining some people in, some people out.

Get a straightforward overview of some of these concepts, as they pertained to Petr Ginz, at All flowerings have roots. The world of Petr Ginz is not just a matter of history.

2. One of the themes we watch, is a culture's designating inferiors as disposable. Mischling and Mudblood.

Corrupted power. Killing, or until it comes to that, force to further someone else's social or political or religious or other goals. Like inquisitions. Ethnic cleansing. These killed Petr Ginz, and will that ever change. Our children may not know the term "mischling," but they know its equivalent, "mudblood." Examine the parallel to "Mischlings" in the Harry Potter book series, by J.K.Rowling, in the sense that a group is there designated as disposable.

2. Petr Ginz. The power of a word: Mischling.

A key to understanding what happened is looking at the use of words to categorize and dismiss people. For Petr, he was designated a "Mischling", and so became mere fodder. Petr Ginz' sister, in her introduction to his diary, notes that she and Petr were categorized as "Mischlings," by the Nazi regime. They had parents of mixed "blood"- Roman Catholic/Aryan/ and Jewish. See post on the Nazi Mischling status at Petr Ginz as Mischling, Places of Petr Ginz. Mischling children had some privileges over those with no Aryan "blood" in that their deportation to concentration camps could be delayed, but their fate remained the same. Likely death. And while living in ghettoes, the deprivations and abuse were horrendous. See the current TV film series, PBS, Ken Burns, "The War." See See also Studying World War; and World Wars: Sites.

3. Harry Potter. The power of a word: Mudblood.

What happens in that series of books that demonstrates the same mindset: Uses of categories to dismiss and then easily dispose of people. There, not "Mischlings," but mudbloods as fodder. See "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the most recent, by J.K. Rowling, illustrations by Mary Grandpre, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (Britain), Scholastic Press (US), 2007. With the label firmly in place, the following follow easily: Persecutions. Purges. Ethnic cleansing.

In the "Deathly Hallows" book, the mischling-types are also mixed bloods, not Christian and Jewish mix, but mix between wizards and nonwizards, called muggles, and conflict is peaking.

Those children are called mudbloods.

Mudbloods may well have wizarding powers, just as much as other wizards, but they are still looked down upon by the purists. For more parallels to our religious and political worlds, Look at the branches of mainstream wizardry represented by the Houses at Hogwarts - purists, authoritarians in Slytherin; and those protective of all wizards, including mudbloods, and even muggles, in Gryffindor, etc. Go on: what marginalized groups are represented by the goblins and their philosophy or the squibs (nonmagical children of wizard parents), on and on.

Categories, slots, roles. Even saying the name of the one who must not be named will bring on the hunters.

Women's Cage of Disgrace, Levoca, Slovakia

4. Other categories in vogue from time to time: Women, Gays, Immigrants.

5. A common reaction: Ethnic cleansing; Inquisition.

Historical and current events. Throughout, find virtual Mishlings and virtual mudbloods, squibs, goblins and Slytherins. And ethnic/cultural/religious/political cleansings.

Here is an example from older, inquisition-era, Thirty-Years'War type Europe: Apply the category "witch," and caging and even death becomes simple.

Here is the cage in which women were put, for example as witches or ladies who did not stay home and spin, supposedly, in the seventeenth century, Levoca, Slovakia. See post at Slovakia Road Ways. Label it and you can do what you want with it.

Like our own religious/political/social history - splits and schisms, those with some characteristics clumping together to dominate.

6. Persecution themes in literature.

This recurs in the Potter book, "Deathly Hallows," see for its details.

The mudblood wizards - are being persecuted, tortured, chased, devalued, purged, by the purist wizards, and with no concern for what happens to the collateral damage of the muggles, people with no magical powers at all; or, worse, the wizard children with no magical powers. Ministries are being taken over, invaded by the purists, and dark forces take over authority and spin-manipulate the propaganda machines of the land. The hero is designated as Undesirable, and the hunt is on.

7. Parent interest. Not much, so long as the kids are entertained.

Opportunity missed. The themes are current. The point is that your children are reading about the great themes of human conflict and supremacism: How To Get Power and Keep It, in the Harry Potter series- and you thought they were just amusing themselves.

Talk to them about it all.

Now, introduce them to Petr Ginz, who was killed because of those things. He is probably their age.

5. Parent hurdles. Some adults avoid Harry Potter because of its fantasy setting; the ambiguities.

5.1 Irrelevant. If you have avoided reading these Potter books, you have company. Many think the books are for children and fanciful only and have no constructive relation to rearing children who will get ahead (and they never liked fantasy anyway).

Think again. Better yet, get back in touch as an adult with worlds down rabbit holes, or through looking glasses. Reference here: become familiar with your children's world. Go yourself to, or this fanclub-type site with lots of info at We are not talking fantasy, really. The themes are real.

5.2 Discomfort with ambiguity. Harry Potter does not fit neatly in our world. Some people find that disquieting to their other beliefs.

That is predictable. We differ in how we prefer to learn. See, for example, Some people want to know where everything is in a hierarchy or line, and what each word means, and for someone else to tell them those things so they can memorize it, and once a judgment is made, it might never change, regardless of new information. We differ.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lens and Legacy. Columbia Shuttle Tragedy: Petr Ginz Drawing On Board

 Columbia Shuttle Deaths 2003 - 
Further Details Reported.
Reminder: Petr Ginz drawing, Moonscape:
Carried by Israeli Astronaut Ilal Ramon

 See the drawing at ://

News recently accounted for the circumstances of the deaths of the Columbia Space Shuttle astronauts on February 1, 2003. See Wall Street Journal article, "NASA Reports Details of Columbia Shuttle Deaths," at ://

Seven astronauts were on board, including Israel's first astronaut, Ilal Ramon. See Petr Ginz,  Places, Lens, Legacy- Moonscape.

Not reported in this round of coverage is the fact that Ilal Ramon carried with him the original of a drawing by Petr Ginz, made at Terezin (Theresienstadt) ghetto in the time he was transported there and lived, until further transport to Auschwitz, and his death. We regret the cutbacks in reporters on stories these days, because this would have interested many since the publishing of Petr Ginz' diary.

Read about it and see the drawing at "Moon Landscape drawing" at ://  See also the Special Exhibit In Honor of Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority, at ://  It includes information about Petr Ginz and his drawing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Legacy: Gratitude of All of Us To Mrs. Pressburger

Good afternoon from strangers. Your book has become important to us, as a way of making real that traumatic era, in your family's terms. Thank you.

Please look carefully here and tell us if we have something incorrect. Is there something in a post, some idea, some impression, that leaves you uncomfortable?

A rough update on the streets Petr mentions is at the post of August 15 or so. A step after that is to look up the names on any roster we can find about survivors, or those who did not survive among the people mentioned.

Petr's family entries: My favorite is Petr at page 53. He says this: That that your mother at one point left, to go back to Hradec, for a respite from the stress, it looks like. But he adds that she left inadequate instructions on what the family was to cook, but that you all would manage.

This is the museum at Theresienstadt, Terezin, where Petr attended school in the ghetto there before being sent to Auschwitz in WWII, and his death.

Seeing this building and the Jewish Memorial brings to mind that people like Petr have much to tell us, so let's put his words where they belong - even in any films, or remakes of films about the era, especially in any next "Operation Daybreak."

In respect and tribute.

Warm regards.
The Car-Dan Tour Company