Friday, June 29, 2012

Jerzy Ficowski

Jerzy Ficowski (1924 - 2006) was a Polish poet, writer and translator (from Yiddish, Russian, Romani and Hungarian).
 During the German occupation of Poland in World War II, Ficowski who lived in Włochy near Warsaw was a member of the Polish resistance. He was a member of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK), was imprisoned in the infamous Pawiak and took part in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. His codename was Wrak and he fought in Mokotów region.
After the war, Ficowski studied philosophy and sociology at Warsaw University. There he published his first volume of poetry, Ołowiani żołnierze (The Tin Soldiers, 1948). This volume reflected the Stalinist atmosphere of the early postwar Poland, in which heroes of the Armia Krajowa Warsaw Uprising were treated with suspicion at best, arrested and executed at worst, together with the sense of a new city arising on the ashes of the old.
 From 1948 to 1950 Ficowski travelled with Polish Gypsies and came to write several volumes on or inspired by the Roma way of life, including Amulety i defilacje (Amulets and Definitions, 1960) and Cyganie na polskich drogach (Gypsies on the Polish Roads, 1965). He was the member of the Gypsy Lore Society and translated the poems of Bronisława Wajs (Papusza).
Roma prisoners sitting in an open space in the Bełżec camp, July 1940. Photo Jerzy Ficowski
Ficowski translated the poems of Federico García Lorca, and he was also a known specialist of Jewish folklore and Jewish poetry, becoming an editor of the Jewish poem anthology Rodzynki z migdałami (Raisins with Almonds, 1964).
 After he signed the letter of 59 in 1975, all of Ficowski's works had been banned in Poland. However, his prose and poems were translated widely in the West and the emergence of Solidarity in the 1980s brought his works back to Poland's bookshelves. He was active in the opposition movement, and was a member of the Workers' Defence Committee (Komitet Obrony Robotników, KOR) and later the Committee for Social Self-defence KOR.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Veteran of the Cold War

I didn't know it, until a few hours ago, but I am a Veteran. A veteran of the Cold War. 
A group of Dutch ex-soldiers (professional and drafted) have formed this organisation KOVOM (Cold War Veterans); they drink tea together, hold memorials and give each other medals.
To get a medal though, one has to be a (paid) member for 2 years and then pay 25 euros for your medal - I don't think I'll ever get to wear one, despite my 14 months of military service during the worst of the Cold War.
There is a lot of opposition from the "real" veterans against the whole thing, their participation at memorials, marches, etc. and yes, there is something sad about having to buy your own medal. A lot of berets though, among the Cold War Veterans. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yiddishkeit: Elazar Benyoëtz

Elazar Benyoëtz was born in 1937 as the son of Austrian Jews in Wiener Neustadt (Austria), moved to Palestine before the outbreak of WWII and eventually grew up in Israel.
In 1959 he took the exams to become a rabbi and, in 1964 moved to Berlin where he lived until 1968, where he created 1964 the Bibliographia Judaica. 
Benyoëtz wrote his first volume of poetry in Hebrew, his essays and "Aphorismenbände" (since 1969) almost exclusively in the German language. His works received many prices: the Adelbert of Chamisso price in 1988, the Order of Merit in 1997 and in 2002 the Joseph Breitbach Price of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz.

The name "Ben yo etz" means "Son of the Councellor".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The German Series #23 - Otto Strasser

Yes, there are German beret-wearers on the "wrong side" as well. Otto Johann Maximilian Strasser (1897 – 1974) was a German politician and member of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Otto Strasser, together with his brother Gregor Strasser, was a leading member of the party's left-wing faction, and broke from the party due to disputes with the ‘Hitlerite’ faction. He formed the Black Front, a group intended to split the Nazi Party and take it from the grasp of Hitler. This group also functioned during his exile and World War II as a secret opposition group.
Strasser lived in exile in Austria, Chechoslovakia, Switzerland, France and during WWII via Portugal and Bermuda, managed to get to Canada (becoming the infamous "Prisoner of Ottawa").
 Otto Strasser returns to Germany, 1955. By Joe Gromelski
As an influential and uncondemned former Nazi Party member still faithful to many doctrines of National Socialism, he was prevented from returning to West Germany after the war, first by the Allied powers and then by the West German government.
He was allowed to return to Germany in 1955 by a ruling of the Federal Administrative Court and regained his citizenship settling in Munich. He attempted to create his own, new, "nationalist and socialist"-oriented party in 1956, the German Social Union (often called a successor to the 1949-1952 forbidden Socialist Reich Party of Germany), but it was unable to attract support. For the rest of his life, Strasser continued to call for and propagate neo-Nazism until his death in Munich in 1974.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Renée Adorée

Renée Adorée (1898 – 1933) was a French actress who had appeared in Hollywood silent movies during the 1920s.
Born Jeanne de la Fonte in Lille, she was the daughter of circus artists and by age five was performing with her parents. In her teens, she began acting in minor stage productions and toured Europe with her troupe. She was performing in Russia when World War I broke out and fled to London.
 From London she went to New York City, where she continued to work in the theatre until the opportunity arose to work in the motion picture business.
In 1920, given the exotic name Renée Adorée (French for "reborn" and "adored," both in the feminine form) by the studio, she appeared in her first motion picture.
 Renée Adorée in "The Pagan"
In The Mating Call a 1928 film produced by Howard Hughes, Adorée had a very brief nude skinny-dipping scene that caused a significant commotion at the time, but I also found this "much worse" picture of her in the semi nude.
 By the end of 1930, Adorée had appeared in forty-five films, the last four of them talkies. That year she was diagnosed with tuberculosis, Adorée lived only a few years longer.
Adorée died there, a few days after her 35th birthday, on October 5, 1933 in Tujunga, California.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yiddishkeit: Nechama Leibowitz

Nechama Leibowitz (1905 - April 1997‎) was a noted Israeli Bible scholar and commentator who rekindled interest in Bible study.
 Nechama Leibowitz was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Riga two years after her elder brother, the philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz. The family moved to Berlin in 1919. In 1930, Leibowitz received a doctorate from the University of Marburg for her thesis, Techniques in the Translations of German-Jewish Biblical Translations. That same year 1930, she immigrated to Mandate Palestine. 
She taught at a religious Zionist teachers' seminar for the next twenty-five years. In 1957 she began lecturing at Tel Aviv University, and became a full professor eleven years later. She also gave classes at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and other educational institutions around the country. In addition to her writings, Leibowitz commented on the Torah readings regularly for the Voice of Israel radio station.
 When asked to describe her methods she replied, "I have no derech... I only teach what the commentaries say. Nothing is my own.” She was noted for her modest demeanor coupled with wry wit, and always preferred the title of "teacher" over the more prestigious "professor." In accordance with her request, "מורה" (morah, "teacher") is the only word inscribed on her tombstone. Of course, Ms Leibowitz always wore a beret.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Yiddishkeit: Rabbi Herman Branover

Rabbi Herman Branover (born 1931) is a Russian Israeli physicist and Jewish educator. He is best known in the Jewish world as an inspiring author, translator, publisher, and educator.
Branover is known in the world scientific community as the leading pioneer in the field of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). His research and development company Solmecs developed a non-conventional environmentally safe energy generator which has led to many useful spin-off technologies.
In his personal conduct he strictly adheres to the customs and mystical philosophy of Chabad Hasidism and, needless to say, wears a beret.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More News from South Pacific Berets

Too many berets... More news from Germany!
The new Franco-German stock has just arrived. More of the popular Baskenmuetze, but also classic Basque berets in a Franco-German co-production. 
Great little berets, 26.5cm diameter and available in black and navy.Like the afore mentioned Baskenmuetze, extremely comfortable and pleasant berets to wear - highly recommended! Presently at an introductory price of $45.00 in sizes 57 - 61.

Also, a variety on the Baskenmütze already stocked by South pacific Berets: a similar beret, but with a wider headband on the inside of the beret. Where the standard Baskenmütze gives you more of a military style feel, this beret feels like a traditional Basque beret.
 Again, available in navy and black, sizes 57 - 61.

Ryszard Siwiec

In honour of Ryszard Siwiec
Ryszard Siwiec (7 March 1909 — 12 September 1968) was a Polish accountant, teacher and former Home Army soldier who was the first person to commit suicide by self-immolation in protest against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Siwiec set himself ablaze in Warsaw during a national harvest festival on 8 September 1968 at the Dziesięciolecia Stadium, and died in hospital four days later. His act was witnessed by nearly 100,000 spectators, including the national leadership and foreign diplomats who had been invited to the festival intended as a vast propaganda spectacle. He retained consciousness after the flames had been extinguished and film footage of the incident shows him making statements before he is taken away.
A father of five, Siwiec planned his self-immolation in advance, leaving written and tape-recorded statements explaining his revulsion at both the Warsaw Pact invasion and communist Poland's participation in it. His death foreshadowed the famous self-immolation of Jan Palach in Prague four months later. It has not been revealed whether Palach knew about Siwiec's act of protest, as the Polish communist authorities vigorously suppressed any information about it, stating only that Siwiec was "suffering from mental illness". 
Although his act was captured by a motion picture camera, newsreels of the festival omitted any mention of the incident.
Although a number of Czechoslovaks attended the festival, Siwiec's death became widely known in Czechoslovakia only after the news of it was broadcast on Radio Free Europe two months after Palach's death.
After the fall of communism, Siwiec became the subject of the 1991 documentary film Hear My Cry (Usłyszcie mój krzyk), by Polish director Maciej Drygas. The film won the European Film Awards prize for "Best Documentary" that year.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

FEZCO / TONAK - Historic Photographs

Some more historic photographs, this time of the TONAK (FEZCO) factory in, what was then, Czechoslovakia.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Anarchy in the UK

The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two-and-a-half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.
The band provoked controversies that captivated Britain. Their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organizers and authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem. Their 1977 single "God Save the Queen", attacking Britons' social conformity and deference to the Crown, precipitated the "last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium".

Anarchy in the UK was released as the band's debut single on 26 November 1976 and was featured on their only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. "Anarchy in the U.K." is number 53 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beret Prices

Just in case you thought South Pacific Berets is expensive, I'd like to share this "Punk Princess Beret" by Violetta with you. 

"This beautiful beret is hand-sewn from handmade charcoal wool felt. Its elegant elliptical shape is designed to sit asymmetrically on the head and can be shaped to suit any head and face shape. It has an elasticised band at the back so that it can fit all sizes.
This is a couture headpiece.
35cmL x 25cmW
3cm headband"
Interenet price: $595.00 Don't quite see what the relationship to punk is here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bike Helmets

Well over three years ago, I posted on this fantastic bicycle helmet, Czech made, by Ondrej Stanek. 
Ever since, I have tried to find a "hard copy", even contacted the designer to have his design production made for South Pacific Berets - but to no avail. 
Bike helmets. I am sure they have their good use, when cycling the Tour de France or the Giro, but when living in a country with compulsory helmet laws, like New Zealand, evidence shows again and again how little this adds  to safety, while at the same time being very effective in getting people off their bikes (and into cars).  
And for beret wearers, it means you have to part with a kind of headgear that is basically made for cycling! Aerodynamic, stays on in the wind and at speed, is warm and breathes at the same time. 
Not willing to pay any more fines for not wearing a helmet, I found the perfect solution: berets that cover the complete helmet! These, South Pacific labeled berets have such a large head-opening that they fit over practically any bike helmet without having to modify (cut & glue) it . Highly fashionable (!); available in Navy, Brown, Maroon and Green.

Saturday, June 16, 2012