Leonid Andreyev ~ The Seven Who Were Hanged

Leonid Andreyev 1871-1919 Portrait: en.m.wikisource.org

Foreword by Herman Bernstein
Leonid Andreyev, who was born in Oryol, in 1871, is the most popular, and next to Tolstoy, the most gifted writer in Russia to-day. Andreyev has written many important stories and dramas, the best known among which are “Red Laughter,” “Life of Man,” “To the Stars,” “The Life of Vasily Fiveisky,” “Eliazar,” “Black Masks,” and “The Story of the Seven Who Were Hanged.”
In “Red Laughter” he depicted the horrors of war as few men had ever before done it. He dipped his pen into the blood of Russia and wrote the tragedy of the Manchurian war.
In his “Life of Man” Andreyev produced a great, imaginative “morality” play which has been ranked by European critics with some of the greatest dramatic masterpieces.
The story of “The Seven Who Were Hanged” is thus far his most important achievement. The keen psychological insight and the masterly simplicity with which Andreyev has penetrated and depicted each of the tragedies of the seven who were hanged place him in the same class as an artist with Russia’s greatest masters of fiction, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev and Tolstoy.
I consider myself fortunate to be able to present to the English-reading public this remarkable work, which has already produced a profound impression in Europe and which, I believe, is destined for a long time to come to play an important part in opening the eyes of the world to the horrors perpetrated in Russia and to the violence and iniquity of the destruction of human life, whatever the error or the crime.

Introduction by Leonid Andreyev
I am very glad that “The Story of the Seven Who Were Hanged” will be read in English. The misfortune of us all is that we know so little, even nothing, about one another—neither about the soul, nor the life, the sufferings, the habits, the inclinations, the aspirations of one another. Literature, which I have the honor to serve, is dear to me just because the noblest task it sets before itself is that of wiping out boundaries and distances.

As in a hard shell, every human being is enclosed in a cover of body, dress, and life. Who is man? We may only conjecture. What constitutes his joy or his sorrow? We may guess only by his acts, which are oft-times enigmatic; by his laughter and by his tears, which are often entirely incomprehensible to us. And if we, Russians, who live so closely together in constant misery, understand one another so poorly that we mercilessly put to death those who should be pitied or even rewarded, and reward those who should be punished by contempt and anger—how much more difficult is it for you Americans, to understand distant Russia? But then, it is just as difficult for us Russians to understand distant America, of which we dream in our youth and over which we ponder so deeply in our years of maturity.

The Jewish massacres and famine; a Parliament and executions; pillage and the greatest heroism; “The Black Hundred,” and Leo Tolstoy—what a mixture of figures and conceptions, what a fruitful source for all kinds of misunderstandings! The truth of life stands aghast in silence, and its brazen falsehood is loudly shouting, uttering pressing, painful questions: “With whom shall I sympathize? Whom shall I trust? Whom shall I love?”

In the story of “The Seven Who Were Hanged” I attempted to give a sincere and unprejudiced answer to some of these questions.

That I have treated ruling and slaughtering Russia with restraint and mildness may best be gathered from the fact that the Russian censor has permitted my book to circulate. This is sufficient evidence when we recall how many books, brochures and newspapers have found eternal rest in the peaceful shade of the police stations, where they have risen to the patient sky in the smoke and flame of bonfires. Read more

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29 november 1940

Sinds gisteren waait er een koude wind en de regen, die wekenlang bijna dagelijks viel, is afgenomen. Ik hoop maar dat de nattigheid voorbijgaat. De hele week al is er vleesgebrek en moeten we zonder zien uit te komen. Vis is buitensporig duur.

Alle Joodse ambtenaren, professoren, leraren et cetera zijn nu ontslagen. Studenten in Delft en Leiden staakten 48 uur. Voor straf werd de universiteit gesloten. Hier was de rector verstandiger en sloot zelf de universiteit omdat het toch per 1 december vakantie zou zijn. Hans heeft nu twee maanden vrij, zal hij verder mogen studeren? Ik ben zo bang dat ook onze meisjes van school moeten. Een moeilijke tijd ligt voor ons, vooral voor ons Joden. Het ligt als een steen op mijn maag, zo bedrukt voel ik me, als een Cassandra zie ik vreselijke dingen die ons kunnen overkomen.

Van mijn familie horen we niets. Rijksduitsers hebben vast en zeker hun woningen gekregen, want de krant schreef dat in de huizen van de 60.000 Joden uit Elzas-Lotharingen 120.000 Rijksduitsers komen. Dat zal ook in de Palts en Baden het geval zijn.
Stateloos, dakloos, verlaten.
Met onze kinderen heb ik zo te doen, welke toekomst staat hun te wachten? Ze zijn zo verwend en Hans is agressief van aard, Inge ook. Zullen ze zich kunnen aanpassen aan de omkering van alle waarden? Hans heeft het er steeds over dat heel wat oud-militairen naar Engeland vluchten. Je schijnt afgehaald te kunnen worden, maar ik wil toch niet hebben dat de jongen domme dingen doet. In uiterste nood kan hij altijd nog weg.
Jonge mensen denken anders. Ze zijn warmbloedig, idealistisch, buigen het hoofd minder makkelijk voor het noodlot dan wij.

Coen, die vroeger zo zuinig was, zegt nu steeds: ‘Geef maar uit, koop maar, wie weet wat er met ons Joden gebeurt, eet zolang je eten kunt krijgen.’ Maar als eenvoudige, degelijke mensen doe je dat toch niet. Ik betaal geen woekerprijzen, koop wel goede, gezonde etenswaren zoals groente, fruit, kaas, worst.

Vandaag of morgen is er collecte voor Winterhulp.Coen heeft gedoneerd, hoewel naar verluidt een deel van het geld voor Duitsland is, maar er wordt zoveel gezegd.

Goed boek deze week gelezen, van Lode Zielens: Op een namiddag in september. Een heel mooi boek met een diepzinnige romantische taal, het beste dat ik tot nog toe van Zielens heb gelezen. Het is vast kort voor de oorlog geschreven. Het is verbitterd over deze wereld. De jonge minnaar van de dochter, een
soldaat, schiet zichzelf dood omdat hij de ellende niet langer kan verdragen. Ze willen er samen een eind aan maken maar hij heeft onvoldoende moed om haar te doden. Hoe zou het met
Lode Zielens zijn? Zal z’n nieuwste boek nog verbitterder zijn, of heeft hij door de oorlog, die maakte dat hij uit Antwerpen moest vluchten, geleerd een nieuwe wereld te zien? Is hij zoals zoveel Vlaamse schrijvers nationaalsocialist geworden? Ik denk van niet, maar ook schrijvers zijn mensen. Vandaag praten ze zus, morgen zo.

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Decolonising ‘Decolonisation’ With Mphahlele

Es’kia Mphahlele – Ills.: unisa.ac.sa

Es’kia Mphahlele was a writer, activist, organiser and teacher committed to the view that ‘Afrikan humanness’ is the real key to our freedom.
This week marks the 10th anniversary of Es’kia Mphahlele’s death.

Mphahlele (1919-2008) was a writer of fiction, a journalist, a cultural activist, an organiser and, above all, a teacher. The main aim of his fiction and non-fiction work was dealing with what he characterised as the “first exile” – from home culture and ways of understanding the world – from which victims of colonisation suffered. Mphahlele argued that colonised people should begin by overcoming “first exile” if they are to develop decolonising theories and practices. In an era in which the decolonisation of politics and knowledge has captured the imagination of many people, we would do well to recall Mphahlele’s work.

The focus on “first exile” is important because the ultimate aim of colonisation is to separate colonised people from their sources of economic autonomy, ways of understanding the world, and, ultimately, from themselves. The primary “spiritual striving” of victims of colonisation, not just colonialism, is a striving against what the great African-American intellectual WEB du Bois called double consciousness. Similar ideas were developed closer to home. Writing in the 1940s, HIE Dhlomo explained that successfully colonised individuals are ‘neither-nor’ characters who “are neither wholly African nor fully Europeanised”. Dhlomo showed that the double consciousness of these characters was evident in their use of “European measuring rods for success, culture, goodness, greatness”.

In a settler colonial context, the work of colonisation would be achieved when leaders of the colonised people calibrate their demands to Western-style multiparty democracy, civil rights and, therefore, the integration of the elite layer of the colonised people into the historically white world. In such a context, the world and privileges of the settler minority are legitimised and guaranteed, while ‘uncivilised’ people, the majority of the population, continue to exist on the underside of the new society.

When the ‘decolonial’ is fundamentally shaped by the colonial
But not all projects of self-determination take the lived experiences and ideas of this majority seriously. Some are attached to colonialist ideas or obsessed with whiteness, leading to ‘radical’ projects that recenter what they aim to challenge.

In the first case, seemingly decolonial projects repeat colonialist ideas about the inherent differences between black and white; the uniqueness of ‘black culture’ and its supposedly essential traits; and the need to retrieve ‘native’ discourses; forgetting that ‘the native’ comes into being only when the settler arrives and that ‘native’ discourse is constituted by what Congolese philosopher VY Mudimbe calls the “colonial library” – colonial experts of various kinds.

In the second case, the black radical’s ‘colonial mentality’ manifests in projects whose main aim is to shame historical colonisers by constantly repeating anti-black discourses that the black man is not human and cannot coexist with humanity. This trend can be seen in certain strands of Afro-pessimism.

The important point here is that decolonisation often needs to be decolonised itself. In South Africa, no other thinker grappled with this dilemma more than Mphahlele. Read more

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The Life And Times Of Es’kia Mphahlele

A wonderful documentary about one of South Africa’s greatest authors, Es’kia Mphahlele, who was one of the first writers to leave for exile in the 1950s and write about apartheid as it was unfolding in South Africa. His novel “Down Second Avenue” became an international sensation and was based on his personal struggles of being raised in poverty, getting an education and leaving the country. Es’kia eventually returned to South Africa in August 1977, during a tumultuous period one year after the June 16, 1976 Soweto riots and less than a month before the death of Steve Bantu Biko. Despite opposition from the South African government, he was offered a position at the University of Witwatersrand and he became an influential cultural leader, revered for his ideas on education and African Humanism.

Part 2 of a wonderful documentary about one of South Africa’s greatest authors, Es’kia Mphahlele, who was one of the first writers to leave for exile in the 1950s and write about apartheid as it was unfolding in South Africa. His novel “Down Second Avenue” became an international sensation and was based on his personal struggles of being raised in poverty, getting an education and leaving the country. Es’kia eventually returned to South Africa in August 1977, during a tumultuous period one year after the June 16, 1976 Soweto riots and less than a month before the death of Steve Bantu Biko. Despite opposition from the South African government, he was offered a position at the University of Witwatersrand and he became an influential cultural leader, revered for his ideas on education and African Humanism.

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Stolpersteine Guide ~ Familie Bermann

Karl Bermann (geboren 26.10. 1855 in Konken, gest. “etwa 1930 zu Mannheim“), verh. mit Berta geb. Herz (geboren 26.11.1857 in Ruchheim), lebte in Konken, wo er ein Handelsgeschäft betrieb. Die Eheleute bauten 1905/06 in damals bester Lage der Stadt Kusel das Anwesen Gartenstraße 8 mit Stall und Nebengebäude. Sie zogen 1906 nach Kusel. Karl und Berta Bermann hatten fünf Kinder:
Isidor geboren 21.4.1883 in Konken, meldete sich nach dem Mili-tärdienst am 12.11. 1919 in Kusel polizeilich zur Adresse seiner Eltern. Er verzog dann nach Kaiserslautern (gest. 1935). Seine Witwe Betty lebte im November 1938 in Ludwighafen. Zu ihr flüchte-te nach dem Pogrom die Schwägerin Mathilde Heymann.
Die beiden Töchter Lore und Susi von Isidor und Betty Bermann überlebten den Holocaust in einem Kloster in Frankreich. Ihr Onkel Rudi Bermann traf sich mit ihnen im August 1945 in einer Kirche in Paris.

Mathilde Heymann geborene Bermann, geboren am 6.5.1884 in Konken, mel-dete sich 1912, aus Trier zuziehend, ebenfalls in das Haus Gartenstraße 8 wo sie, alleinstehend, die Dachgeschosswohnung bewohnte. Nach dem Pogrom floh sie nach Ludwigshafen zu der Witwe ihres Bruders Isidor Borg. Sie wohnten zuletzt in der Prinzegentenstraße 26, als beide am 22.10.1940 in das Lager Gurs verschleppt wurden. 1942 wurde Mathilde Heymann in das Vernichtungslager Auschwitz transportiert, sie ist dort verschollen. Luitpold, geboren 26.4.1891 in Konken wurde als Kriegsteilnehmer in Verdun schwer verwundet und verlor ein Auge. Er wohnte mit seiner Familie ebenfalls im Haus Gartenstraße 8, wo er mit seinem Bruder Ernst das Handelsgeschäft betrieb. Unter dem Druck des Anti-semitismus resignierte Luitpold und emigrierte am 18.6. 1937 in die USA zu-sammen mit seiner Ehefrau Erna geb. Lehmann (geboren 5.4. 1897), mit Sohn Kurt (geboren 17.6.1923) und mit Tochter Ilse (geboren 1.5.1925).
Paula Bermann, verh. Van Es, geboren 9.3.1895 in Konken. Paula war mit den deutschen Truppen im ersten Weltkrieg (1914 – 1918)als Krankenschwester in Frankreich, heiratete den Holländer Conrad Van Es und zog am 17.7.1918 nach Amsterdam. Die Eheleute hatten drei Kinder: Hans, Inge und Sonja. Während der Deportation durch die Nazis sieht Paula ihren Mann im KZ Bergen-Belsen sterben. Sie öffnete sich am 21.1.1945 die Pulsadern, da sie nicht durch deut-sche Hände sterben wollte. Tochter Inge überlebte im KZ Bergen-Belsen, Toch-ter Sonja in einem Arbeitslager und Sohn Hans versteckt bei einer christlichen Familie.

Ernst geboren 23.3.1888 in Konken, wohnte nach Kriegsteilnahme auch im Haus Gartenstraße 8, wo er mit dem Bruder Luitpold das gutgehende und angesehe-ne Pferde- und Viehgeschäft betrieb. Ernst Bermann war verheiratet mit Clara geb. Maier (geboren 30.9.1895 in Malsch). Sie hatten miteinander drei Kinder: Gerda (geboren 18.5.21) Rudolf (geboren 10.7.1922) und Hildegard (geboren 6.1.1927). Die Kinder wurden „deutsch-patriotisch“ erzogen.
Ernst Bermann war zunächst der Meinung, das deutsche Volk lasse die Nazis nicht gewähren und ihm könne als Weltkriegsteilnehmer ohnehin nichts geschehen. Das war ein tragischer Irrtum. Nach dem Verbot des Besuchs der höheren Töchterschule für Tochter Gerda und des Progymnasiums für Sohn Rudolf 1936 schickten die Eltern die beiden Kinder in eine Handelsschule nach Frankfurt bzw. Sohn Rudolf in eine Bäckerlehre nach Heilbronn. Mit Hilfe eines Schwagers des Bruders Luitpold konnten die Bedingungen für eine Einreise in die USA erfüllt werden, so dass beide am 15.6.1938 in die USA emigrierten.
Für die Eltern und die kleine Tochter Hildegard bleiben die Bemühungen um eine Ausreise erfolglos.

In der Nacht zum 10. November 1938 wurde Ernst Bermann mit anderen jüdischen Männern für mehrere Wochen in das KZ Dachau verschleppt. Ehefrau Klara flüchtete mit der Tochter Hildegard nach dem Pogrom zu den Verwandten nach Holland. Nach der Besetzung durch deutsche Truppen wurden Ernst, Klara und Hildegard dort verhaftet und in das Lager Westerborg verschleppt. Ein letztes Lebenszeichen ist eine Postkarte im Besitz von Gerda Lautmann, geb. Bermann. Darauf steht:“ Meine Lieben, Päckchen erhalten und herzlichen Dank. Schickt keine mehr. Alles Gute und herzliche Grüße, Ernst und Klara“. Die Familie wurde dann von Westerborg in das KZ Sobibor deportiert. Dort sind die Eltern verschollen. Tochter Hildegard wurde am 21. 5. 1943 in Sobibor ermordet.
Gerda Lautmann, geb. Bermann, besuchte mit ihrem Mann 1971 für wenige Stunden ihre Geburtsstadt Kusel. Beide leben in New York.

Link: https://stolpersteine-guide.de/biografie/275/familie-bermann

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The Dutch Black School: They Are Not Us

Lammert de Jong – Being Dutch. More or less. In a comparative Perspective of USA and Caribbean Practices Rozenberg Publishers 2010. ISBN 978 90 3610 210 0 – The complete book will be online soon. 

‘An Inconvenient Truth’
In the Netherlands, black’ is not black; it is ‘non-western’, including Moroccan, Turkish, and people of Caribbean origin, lumped together as allochtons. In government statistics, schools with more than 70% allochton pupils are generally classified as a black school; schools with less than 20% allochton pupils are graded as white. The black school concept is also used in relation to the surrounding neighborhood. Schools with more pupils of non-western origin than expected in view of the composition of the neighborhood are labeled blacker or, in the case of an over-representation of white pupils, whiter. A deviation of 20% or more between neighborhood and school population classifies a school as too white or too black (Forum, 2007). The number of primary schools with more than 70% allochton pupils is increasing; in Dutch nomenclature: the schools are becoming blacker.

The Dutch black school is a perfidious contraption that locks in children of non-western origin, while its black label flags an underlying apartheid syndrome to underscore for the True Dutch – intentionally or not – how different these allochtons are. Yet the black school touches an open nerve in the Netherlands, a sensitive reality that surpasses its statistical definition. On the one hand the black school reeks of apartheid, which the Dutch so bravely contest when occurring elsewhere in the world. On the other hand the True Dutch are well aware that their entitlement and unencumbered access to white schools is at stake when school segregation is tackled in earnest. So far Dutch counteraction is limited to research and some experimental desegregation projects.

The Dutch black school is embedded in the particular Dutch school system that funds public-secular as well as private-denominational schools. Once, the Dutch school system was driven by the accommodation of different beliefs. On the strength of their belief – church-religion or secular ideology – parents wanted a school for their children that adhered to the values, doctrines, and rules of their faith, and paid for by the state. [Note: In 2009 the Netherlands’ Council of State pointed out that publicly financed orthodox religion-based schools may refuse teachers who identify with a particular gay life style. The fact that a teacher is gay is not sufficient to deny a position, but if he or she is in a same sex relation and married in church or city hall, that may suffice, as such contravenes the orthodox rule that marriage is a holy sacrament between one man and one woman]

Denominational and non-religious schools emphasized particularity, a distinctiveness that corresponded with religious doctrines or ideological orientations. The principle of Freedom of Education (Onderwijsvrijheid) is enshrined in the Netherlands Constitution, art. 23. Over the years parents have come to believe that they are entitled to choose a specific school for their children, which is a travesty of the freedom to choose a particular type of school, based on denominational or secular definition.

Dutch politics wavers when coming to grips with the effects the black school brings – quite literally – home. Most parents don’t set out intending to discriminate, which makes a noble difference, and legally enforced segregation is not on the books. Nonetheless a segregated white-black educational system has become a reality, with most True Dutch children in better schools and having better school careers, and children of allochtons at the other end. And that with long lasting effects after the school years have come to an end. This type of school segregation stigmatizes New Dutch children for life, while reinforcing an allochton footprint that will divide the nation for years to come. Although most political parties assert that integration is the major social issue of our time, they fail to confront the black school with a sense of urgency. Dutch politics still has to acknowledge that the black school emblematizes the allochton population in the Netherlands with an explicit signature: They are not Us.

Black schools are a common feature in most major Dutch cities. So far the black school does not stand out in Dutch politics as a problem that must be solved urgently by law, regulation or in the courts. The black school seems more of an inconvenient truth than a critical social or political issue. To an outsider this must be surprising, given that the Netherlands is known for its rock-solid liberal reputation. How come then that the Netherlands has become a segregated nation? And do they discriminate against people of color? Do the Dutch not know how to handle the ethnic complexities of today’s multi-cultural society? Or is it a lack of compassion for those who do not belong to the white Dutch tribe: Discrimination or not, my children first. Or is it merely a matter of social-economic stratification, a distinction between advantaged and disadvantaged children, so that the Dutch black school is just a myth (Vink, 2010)?

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