Journeymen in Nuremberg

This is a late report from my visit to Germany last October. These are two journeymen. The system apparently exists in France too. I think they’re fully trained, but they then spent three years travelling, never less than 50 km from home, not allowed to drive or use public transport, have mobiles or iPads. Here’s part of a story from the Guardian:

Blacksmith Julian Coode was returning to work after a short tea break. It was a late winter afternoon and the light had faded outside his workshop in Littlebourne, Kent. He and his assistant had been discussing plans for some railings they were commissioned to make, and the forge, unusually, was quiet.

As the men returned to their craft benches, the door flew open. A young man stepped inside wearing a top hat, long black jacket, a white shirt under black corduroy dungarees with large mother-of-pearl buttons, a long twisted cane and a single earring from which hung a tiny key.

He informed his host that he was a Swiss-German blacksmith, named Sebastian Reichlin, and that he had come to stay.

Fortunately for them both, Coode had trained in German-speaking Europe and was familiar with some of the region’s more bizarre customs. He was looking at a travelling journeyman, a craftsman who had served his apprenticeship and was now following tradition by arriving unannounced, to learn from an acknowledged master and to share his hospitality.

Coode, who has four children, says: “I had to phone my wife and ask her to make up a bed in our living room.”

I have rarely seen them. It was good luck that these two walked into my photo when I was taking pictures of people with umbrellas in Nuremberg.

More at BuzzFeed and elsewhere:
German Craftsmen Still Go On Hardcore Medieval Pilgrimages

Germany in the late summer of 1938

These are two posts from the blog of Sir Henry Brooke, a retired Court of Appeal judge – highly recommended not only for these posts on his father’s visit to Germany in 1938. These are original reports which appeared anonymously in The Times in autumn 1938.

Of course, first days in any foreign country bring home all sorts of outward differences. Why does almost everybody in a German train spend the journey standing up and looking out of the window? Why have the countless level crossings over railway lines and the ubiquitous single-decker trams been endured on the roads so long? Why are commercial lorries pulling enormous trailers so abundant, long-distance motor-coaches so rare? Why is Germany so far behind us in the development of the flower garden, so far ahead in the use of window-boxes? Why are English standards of forestry so deplorable in comparison? Why is the German town so much noisier through the night? Why is German bedding so apparently unsuited for comfortable sleep, and why are Germans so curious as to make the same criticism of English bedding?

There is more, of course. I find it worrying to think back to that time when Hitler’s view of the Jews tallied with that of the nation, and many people believed that he was their only protection against the problems of the Versailles Treaty.

Germany in the late summer of 1938 (1)
Germany in the late summer of 1938 (2)

British military manual for Germany selling well in translation

The Bodleian Library reprinted Instructions for British Servicemen in Germany, 1944 a couple of xears ago (there are others, and if you buy it from there don’t forget to look at their bookish Christmas cards). I missed this, and also the bilingual version now doing so well in Germany, which itself appeared over two years ago:
Christian Kracht und Helge Malchow (Hrsgs.): “Leitfaden für britische Soldaten in Deutschland 1944” (Kiepenheuer und Witsch) (via Denis Scheck, Druckfrisch).

The result is a remarkable booklet, often unintentionally humorous and sometimes crudely stereotypical, it reads by turns like a travel guide (advising on the excellence of German sausages and beer – ‘one of the pleasantest in Europe’) and a crash course in psychological warfare. It is very much a document of the period, revealing as much about British wartime attitudes towards Germany as it does about British hopes and fears.

‘If you have to give orders to German civilians, give them in a firm, military manner. The German civilian is used to it and expects it.’

There seem to be a whole series of hese books, including one on German invasion plans for the British Isles.

There’s even a German Wikipedia page, and the bilingual version is available for Kindle.

It looks as if the translator was Helge Malchow.

Saitenwürschtle at Daimler: insult or slander?

There was a row between Daimler shareholders at the AGM buffet, because one of them was packing a doggie bag of frankfurters, which have more names than I realized, and the Stuttgart one is Saitenwürschtle, Saite being their skin. This was in Berlin, where perhaps there was fear of missing out on the sausages. There were 5500 shareholders present, and 12500 frankfurters had been ordered.

Wikimedia image:
120px-Wiener_Wuerstchen_fcm

Ein Aktionär habe mehrfach Würstchen vom Büfett zum Mitnehmen eingepackt, sagte die Sprecherin. Eine andere Anteilseignerin habe ihn darauf angesprochen – dies habe zu einem verbalen Schlagabtausch geführt. Um die Lage zu entspannen, habe man die Polizei gerufen. Die Aktionärin habe eine Anzeige wegen Beleidigung erstattet.

It seems that the gentleman helping himself insulted the lady who objected, since she is charging him with Beleidigung.

This story has been widely reported in the British press too. The Guardian:

The row broke out when one man repeatedly went to the buffet and began wrapping up several sausages to take home, whereupon a female shareholder intervened to tick him off, resulting in a shouting match and the police being called.

Answering shareholder questions at the meeting, Daimler board chairman Manfred Bischoff said: “We had to call the police to settle the matter.”

A Daimler spokeswoman said it was a verbal altercation and the police were called to calm matters – because the female shareholder wanted to file a complaint for slander, and did so.

They call Beleidigung slander, but more information is needed. A big legal translation problem!

They studied German (2) Neil MacGregor

This isn’t a big surprise as Neil MacGregor, when he was Director of the British Museum, organized the exhibition called German: Memories of a Nation. I wrote a sniffy report on it in an earlier post. There are definitely good things in the book, however, and so in theory one could read about them or look at the maps at leisure – they seemed to me very diverse and complex, and so unsuitable for being absorbed in the course of viewing an exhibition. The book will be coming out in paperback on April 7.

There’s a video of the exhibition on this British Museum page, showing MacGregor’s theme that when the two Germanies were united 25 years ago, they had no shared history, but shared memories. A map shows over 200 currencies representing separated states, each with its own legal system, army etc. There was also a radio series of 15-minute programmes – they can be downloaded as podcasts indefinitely.

I was aware that MacGregor had studied modern languages at Oxford, but Wikipedia lists his alma mater as New College Oxford, École Normale Supérieure, University of Edinburgh and Courtauld Institute of Art – he has even more almae matres or alma maters than I have (KCL, College of Law, Institute of Education). He was a law student at Edinburgh and was called to the Bar in 1972, and to crown it all:

on a Courtauld Institute (University of London) summer school in Bavaria, the Courtauld’s director Anthony Blunt spotted MacGregor and persuaded him to take a master’s degree under his supervision. Blunt later considered MacGregor “the most brilliant pupil he ever taught”.

Right-side cryptorchidism

The story that Hitler had only one testicle has been in the news again, following the publication of a book by Peter Fleischmann. I thought this had long been confirmed, but it seems that publications during the Cold War may have been suspect.

German historian Professor Peter Fleischmann claims to have discovered the results of a medical examination on Hitler after his arrest in 1923. The reports confirm that Hitler suffered from a birth defect known as “right-side cryptorchidism” – an undescended right testicle.

The records were thought to have been lost but resurfaced at an auction in Bavaria in 2010. They were quickly confiscated by the Bavarian government before being studied at Erlangen-Nuremberg University.

This would disprove reports that it was blown off in the First World War.

Hydrophobic in Hackney

It’s ‘peeback’ time in Shoreditch and Dalston reports the use of paint that urinates back at you. Who first had the idea that Ultra-Ever Dry paint would work like this? Apparently Hamburg beat San Francisco to it.

San Francisco is not the first city to implement urine-repelling paint. The city of Hamburg, Germany has also used the paint and saw a decrease in people who use the streets as a bathroom.

“Based on Hamburg, we know this pilot program is going to work,” Nuru said. “It will reduce the number of people using the walls. I really think it will deter them.”