Some Moments from Sister Franziska`s Life. Part Three

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It was the terrible winter of 1945/46.

Sissy walked through the darkness. It was raining and she was walking through dirty snow that had already lain on the ground for several weeks. Every day for weeks now she had been looking for food, or to find work in exchange for food, from the farmers. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. She was fourteen.

In the first years after the death of her father, the army had tried to help and protect the family. Now there was no german army any more. Of the men who had survived only the old men were not in prison.

The family was only surviving from the food that Sissy could earn or beg. For a while her mother had taken in washing, but now no one in the village had any money, and there was, in any case, nothing to buy in the village shop.

Sissy…

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Some Moments from Sister Franziska´s life. Part Two.

westeuropeaninberlin

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Sister Franziska today in her flat in Berlin. Portrarit Katja Harbi.

Winter 1940

It is now two years since Hildegard did not return from the hospital and Sissy still misses her. But her father, Alois, talked for a long time with her and the other children about her friend and explained that she must now be happy in heaven with Jesus. Hadn´t he said after all,

“Let the children come to me. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to them?”

Whenever she was worried, woken in the night by the sound of the airplanes or when the only game that was played in the schoolyard was war, her father told her that everything would be all right, and because he said it, she believed him.

Although she was always ready to help others, Sissy was always strong willed and was never afraid to put her ideas into action. Whenever the…

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Not a thing you’d normally write about on holiday…

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This blog is about paying your taxes. It is not what I wanted or intended to write about whilst on holiday in Corralejo inFuerteventura in the Canaries. But it kind of followed me around or rather approached me in exactly the form of those people hustling you to come into their bars on the tourist drag….

The crystal clear light of the afternoon was just beginning to fade as we recognise the still young man, maybe mid thirties, who sidles up to us. In my hesitant spanish I interrupt his ‘you’ll have the best time on the island in this bar, sir’ spiel to say we remember him from last year at one of the harbour front restaurants and the year before that from a bar in Lanzarote. He smiles, quoting the names of the restaurants back to us, his eyes sliding away but I don’t think he’s even trying…

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history is a nightmare

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This is a translation of a piece I recently wrote for an art exhibition here in Berlin on the theme of state surveillance.

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James Joyce once wrote ‘

‘History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken’.

1975. Liverpool. The Jesuit lays the glossy magazines on the floor before us. The morning is bright and the sun shines through the high windows. In each magazine he has found advertising for holidays in exotic locations, beautiful photographs of Africa, Thailand and India. Then he looks at us. Young men, of thirtenn or fourteen years of age.

‘What would you say about these?’

Silence. He looks at each of us again and then says.

‘They are obscene.’

33. Palestine. At a pre-arranged moment, the spy comes into the gargen and kisses the young man so the soldiers will know which one he is. They know almost nothing about him. Nevertheless…

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tagebuch. July 13. what not to do on holiday

Wise words 😉

westeuropeaninberlin

June 13 What not to do on holiday.

And broadly speaking what not to do on holiday is annoy the people who you really, really like ‘cos you must do, ‘cos you’ve come on holiday with them! And thinking any other way isn’t going to help…

And what I specifically mean is not the scarily quickly out of control ‘we’ve made a big mistake’, I never said I liked North Wales’, or ‘ I told you there’d be nothing to do in the Seychelles, now we have to talk to each other…’ type of argument that may well preface family breakdown, but more the low level paternal I know a bit more about everything than everybody else and they really need my advice type annoyance at which I can, by general family agreement, really excel.

So, for example, we were in the Canaries in the spring. At breakfast…

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Little Englanders and Little Canary Islanders

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I’ve always liked Little Englanders. A couple of them have almost become in-laws. Sherry after six, roast on Sunday, preferably on a slow heat while one’s having a lunchtime pint down the Red Lion, respect for tradition, our island heritage and the monarchy which doesn’t exclude jokes about Phil the Greek. Narrow minded despite having views on everything, impatient of complexity, and often with routines that are as immovable as tramlines, they’re generally fair minded, reliable and, well, kind. They believe in an essence of Englishness that if everybody could just hold on to, as they try to do, then none of us would really have much to complain about.
I met one the other day, except he was proudly Spanish, and this was in the Canaries, which I guess would make him a Little Canary….ahem…Islander. He was our taxi driver from the airport. He told us with a smile…

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