Memorial Center to 1972 Olympic  Terror. A reflection on its opening.

In the 1980’s, then just a young teenager, I graffitied singlehandedly and on my own initiative the walls of the Munich Olympic Village with “Vergesst nicht 5.9.1972 (don’t forget 5.9.1972 )”, some with a Star of David.

Shopping Centre Munich Olympic Village c.a. 1987 Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn

My smears were there for a few years, before they were removed. I had placed them in  various strategic locations, including in the heart of the shopping area. on the side of the pedestrian walk way from the underground station to the village, inside the underground car drive, and in front of the entrance of Munich university sports faculty, at the end of Connolly Straße, near where on the 5th. of September 1972 the drama of a terrorist hostage kidnapping unfolded with one man murdered straight away. The 5.9.1972 would end before the day was over with six dead coaches, five dead athletes, one dead German police officer, as well as five de0ad members of the terrorist group Black September, a group supported by the PLO.

entrance to university sports complex later c.a . 1987 photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn (c )

The Olympic Village was the place I had later grown up in. My father had purchased a mortgage there before the Olympic Games. Nobody was able to predict the unfolding drama there during the games, when flats were being sold.

Unable or unwilling to change plans, we moved into the family’s flat in 1973.  I was only four years old.

I have memories of the 1972 TV coverage on 5th of September, incidentally, also my mum’s birthday, at the tender age of 2 1/2. The images were re-enforced by countless  visits to the memorial plaque at 31 Connolly Street, especially when our Israeli family members came to visit, but frequently also by myself. I would always leave a stone, the Jewish way of honouring the dead at a grave site.

In the Olympic Village, and to most in Munich, the memory of the terror of 1972 became a distant, even forgotten fact. For me, the child of possibly the only Jewish family there at the time, that was not the same case. I had a strong feeling of the village in the 1980s not adequately honouring its past. It is what let me to the act of writing on the walls of the village with black paint, my only such action ever (I got caught by a German passer-by on my last mission, who spilled the bucket of black paint over my head). By 1991 I had contacted Ankie Spitzer, the surviving widow of Andre Spitzer, the fencing coach who was murdered that night in September, on this lack of rememberance. She could not believe that a Jewish family could live there. From her perspective this was not a habitable location. She was adament that the history of the village must be remembered. 

Four years later, in 1995, a sculpture to the memory of the victims was errected, but not in the village, but inside the Olympic Park. I was not there for its opening. I had already left Munich at the time for London, my home of choice. I don’t  think I would have chosen the village as a home, as my parents did, but neither would I have chosen Germany as a home, were my father, a Jewish shoah survivor from Poland settled, after Germans had murdered almost his entire family members. 

Ankie Spitzer and other berieved families of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team continued the struggle to get the terror acts adequately remembered, including at the London Olympic Games 2012.  It was refused then as it had been for a long time, in part due to false claims of upholding political balance and neutrality. But through the terror of 1972 the Olympic ideals too were attacked. Only at Rio 2016 the German IOC President Thomas Bach recognised that. He finally instituted an official rememberance inside the Rio Olympic Village, a breakthrough after a long 44 years of side-lining.

Finally, in September 2017, on initiative of the Bavarian government, with support by the IOC, and the German Sport Federation, the memorial centre opened that is overlooking the Olympic Village in Munich. It finally documents and remembers the terror act and its victims in the way necessary.

Having visited the centre now, I can say it finally expresses that, what always was also part of my, if not most people’s association of the village across the world.

In the Olympic Village the ambivalence about its past can now never happen again, one hopes. 

But terror attacks are not at all absent here. Only in 2016 the near by Munich Olympic Shopping Centre was the scene of a terror run by one man, who, it is thought, deliberately targeted migrants, exploiting the continued vulnerabilities of civil life. Munich went hysterical that night assuming a widespread terrorist attack. Nine people, many young, were shot dead, before the assailant commited suicide.  Berlin saw another attack carried out by one man in December that year inspired by Daesh ideology that ended twelve civilians’ lives. There were smaller incidents in Bavaria of that nature too in the same year, whilst Germany continues to be the scene of far right terrorism also. Munich, in fact, is the place of one of the most protracted and long running trials against a former far rights terror cell, the NSU. It had executed ten people in tbe 1990s, who were all migrants to Germany. 

I am pleased that in my life I have not only spent efforts to commemorate the terror of 1972, in part through graffities, articles and a lecture at a university, but also worked for Israeli Jewish – Palestinian Peace Initiatives. Conflict can never be solved by terror and the taking of innocent lives. Terror delays ending conflict, it stops and disrupts lives of innocent civilians and causes unnecessary pain.  The PLO itself had abandoned its violent terror attack resolute at the end of the 1980s, not that others failed to continue to use that method.

Peace can only be established by inter-human communication, exchange and compromise.

And peace must be secured by warnings and rememberance of past terror events and pointing out society’s vulnerabilities. This the new Memorial Center in Munich, created by Brückner & Brückner, does effectively, whilst honouring the murdered and explaining the events that led up to tbe 5th of September 1972. Alongside, we require a security system and service that protects civilians from overt violent interlopers and terrorists proactively. I would also argue for the provision of avenues and initiatives and generous resources for conflict reduction, conflict transformation and peace building as important.  The Olympic Games are one such initiative, in its aims to unite young people from all corners of the world by bringing them together through sport. But conflict transformation is an issues that is as local in need as it is in global demand

The opening of the memorial centre in Munich symbolises a late step towards truth for Munich and the Olympic Village in Munich. Both were in denial about the events for decades. Now all who visit this memorial can feel what I always knew to be true.

One hopes that its resounding message is a rejection of the ideology of terror.

Daniel Zylbersztajn in front of the memorial site in January 2018

(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

    Daniel Zylbersztajn, 2017 Selektion

    Dieses Jahr war als Journalist in Großbritannien ein non-Stop Erlebnis. Es ging vorallen um Terror, Brexit, Grenfell, und Gewalt. Nicht alles worüber ich im letzen Jahr schrieb findet sich hier wieder. Eher die wichtigsten nach meiner Meinung!  Damit das Jahr dennoch Süß endet kommt vor meiner Anreihung der besten Berichte des allgemeinen Jahres das Bild des Bäckers Sruli Ginsberg, über dessen Sufganiot ich schrieb.

    This year was for me as London correspondent a non-stop event. The topics were above all terror, Brexit, Grenfell and violence. Not all articles I wrote are listed up here, rather those I felt were important for one reason or another. In order that the common year ends still sweet, I like to start with a picture of Sruli Ginsberg, a baker about whose Hanukkah Sufganiot I wrote. 

    Most texts are in German, but there are some in English: 

    Sruli Ginsberg vor seiner Baeckerei So Real in STamford Hill Lon don

    All Rights reserved

    Story: http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/30302

    Messerverbrechen in London – Knife Crime in London

    Alltagsgewalt in London: Tausende Messerangriffe pro-Jahr – taz.de

    Dies war eines der wichtigsten Themen für mich, mindestens ein halbes Jahr in Planung, bis ich die Redaktion dazu bewegte es in die deutsche Zeitug zu stetzen. Es kam auch dann verspätet, wegen den Wahlen, und den Terroranschlägen.

    Everyday violence in London: Thousands of knife attacks per year.

    This was a piece I had wanted to write for quite a while and had to wait until the editors approved it. But even after I had researched and written it was delayed, due to the terror attacks in London and Manchester, and the surprise elections. 
    http://www.taz.de/!5422090/

    Literatur – Literature:

    Besuch bei der nigerianischen Verlegerin Bibi Bakare Yusuf

    Visiting the Nigerian publisher Bibi Bakare Jusuf

    Für eine Sonderausgabe in Sachen afrikanischer Literatur besuchte ich Bibi Bakare Yusef.

    For a special feature on African Literature, I visited Bibi Bakare Yusuf.

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    GRENFELL

    Dies sind noch nicht mal alle Berichte, die ich hierüber schrieb.

    These are not even all the Texts I wrote about Grenfell. They include translations into English.

    14-6-2017 Das Inferno von Grenfell Tower – The Inferno of Grenfell Tower

    http://www.taz.de/!5420761/

     

    Flugblatter mit Namen vermisster Vermisste PersonenIMG_0131links Sarah Abdullah, 39 mit Tochter und Dermot zweiter von Rec hts kamen um Hilfe zu bringen, sie haben Wasser und Kleidung

    06-2017 Nach dem Inferno, viele Frage bleiben offen – After the inferno, many questions remain unanswered

    http://www.taz.de/!5418584/

    Justice for Grenfell vor einem Mosaik zur Erinnerung an die Opfer Frankos

    06-2017 Es schwefelt weiter – The sulphur continues to fall

    http://www.taz.de/!5418736/

    07-2017 Die Wut der Überlebenden – The anger of the Survivors

    http://www.taz.de/!5428612/

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    08- 2017 Zwischen den Welten – Memorial to Human Dignity (FEATURE)

    German: https://www.taz.de/!5436291/ 

    English: https://dzx2.net/2017/08/26/memorial-to-human-dignity/

    09-2017 Tränen löschen kein Feuer – Tears don’t extinguish fire https://www.taz.de/!5444821/

    12- 2017 Grenfell sechs Monate Später – Grenfell, six months later

    Deutsch:  https://www.taz.de/!5467719/

    English: https://dzx2.net/2017/12/14/grenfell-six-months-later/

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    Terror in Manchester

    05-2016 IS bekennt sich zum Anschlag – IS claims attack

    http://www.taz.de/!5412304/

    Salam! Arabische Botschaft im St Ann's Square Schrift aus Kreide

    (C) ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED

    05-2017 Höchste Warnstufe – Highest Alarm Level

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    (C) ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED

    http://www.taz.de/!5412550/

    05-2017 Manchester United?

    Nach dem Attentat fuhr ich nach Mancheste und sprach mit den Leuten vor Ort.

    Following the attack I travelled to Manchester and spoke with people there. 

    http://www.taz.de/!5409852/

    Union Jack als Hijab, es drückt aus wie ich mich fühle sagt Manchesterin Gulnar Bano Khan Qadri, 48

    All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2017

    Brexit

    Elke will Britin werden – Elke wants to become British

    Ich habe Elke über vier Monate verfolgt. Ihre Bewerbung war übrigens erfolgreich.

    I followed Elke for four months. Her application has been approved by the way.

    http://www.taz.de/!5430297/

    Elke am Wohnzimmertisch zu Hause

    Elke at home in Hackney Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn

    04-2017 Unter Europafreunden – Amongst Europe’s Friends

    Southwark, der EU begeisterteste Wahlkreis in Großbritannien  hatte die Wahl zwischen einem pro EU Kandidat der Liberal Demokraten und der anti-EU Labour Veteranin Kate Hoey. I ch machte mich vor Ort schlau.

    Elections in Southwark, the most EU enthusiastic area in Great Britain had the choice between a pro EU Lib Dem candidate and the anti-EU Labour veteran Kate Hoey MP. I spent several days on the ground.

    http://www.taz.de/!5411289/

    01-17 Das Publikum vor dem Supreme Court

    The spectators in front of the Supreme Court

    Gerichtsentscheidung zum Brexit: Das Publikum vor dem Supreme Court
    http://www.taz.de/!5374542/

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    All Rights Reserved, Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2017

    London Terror

    Hier gab es drei Attentate, nicht alle Berichte von mir sind hier aufgelistet.

    There were three attacks in London. Not all reports, I wrote are included here.

    3-2017 Get up and Carry On

    http://www.taz.de/!5395219/

    06-2017 Attack(e) in London

    http://www.taz.de/!5417661/

    06-2017 Nicht Nachgeben, – Don’t Give Up

    http://www.taz.de/!5417678/

    19-6-2017 Attacke bei Londoner Moschee. Jetzt könnt ihr mich umbringen.
    http://www.taz.de/!5418939/

    DISKRIMINIERUNG – DISCRIMINATION

    Gleichberechtigung an britischen Unis: Die einzige schwarze Direktorin

    Equality in British Higher Education: The only black director.

    Dies war ein wichtiger Bericht über Gleichberchtigungshürden an britischen Universitäten. ch Sprach nicht nur mit Baronin Amos, sondern auch anderen bekannten akademischen Personal.

    This was another important report about the glass ceilings at UK universities. I did not only interview Valerie Amos but also several other senior UK academic lecturers, including Robert Beckford and Paul Gilroy.

    03-2017 http://www.taz.de/!5384497/

    Atomkraft im Nordwesten Englands: Im Schatten der Strahlen

    Nuclear Energy in the North West of England. In the Shadow of the rays

    In Nordkumbria gab es Nachwahlen. Labour verlor hier de Sitz, wegen der Atomkraft. Ich recherchierte hier einige Tage mit Atomkraftgegnern und Opfern. Die Politiker bis auf einen, wollten sich nicht der Presse stellen.

    In North Cumbria Labour lost their seat due to nuclear power. I conducted several dazs research amonst anti nuclear actvists and victims. The politicians were not available to be interviewed, bar one, one the Green Party.
    http://www.taz.de/!5382462/

    Wolle über den Augen, Sellafield.JPG

     

     

    Shoah Survivor – Holocaust

    Dies war eines der letzen Interviews die Sam Pivnic, Überlebender zahlreicher KZs und Arbeitslager, daruter Auschwitz, bevor er im August verstarb.

    This was one of the last interviews of Sam Pivinic, survivor of multiple concentration and work camps, a.o. Auschwitz,  before he passed away in August.

    Einer der Letzten http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/29528

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    Berlin Terror

    1-17 Spendenappell für polnischen Lkw-Fahrer: „Einer wie ich“ –

    Mitten im Januar begab ich mich auf kalte und dunkele Lasterparkplätze um mit Brummifahrern zu reden,

    Collecting Money for the victim of  Berlin terror. One like myself

    In the midst of January, I travelled to dark and cold HGV parking lots next to the motorway to discuss the terror attack in Berlin with the drivers.
    http://www.taz.de/!5366413/

    UK POLITICS

    Labour? No thanks!

    Britische Juden geben Labour auf –

    British Jews are giving up on Labour

    http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/28751

    4-2012 Gelbe Karte für den roten Ken

    Yellow card for red Ken

    http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/28333

    UKIP gegen Labour. UKIP against Labour

    http://www.taz.de/!5382334/

    Paul Nuttall Herausvorderer gegen Labour fuer Ukip in Stoke on Trenty bei Debatte an der Staffordshire Uni

    Photo Daniel Zylberszajn (c) 2017

     

    Antisemitismus – Antisemitism

    Kommentar: Großbritannien: Was tun gegen Judenhass?

    Commentary: What is there to do against hatred of Jews?

    http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/27767

    Flüchtlinge – Refugees

    Project Abrahams Zelt. Eine Synagoge baut für Flüchtlinge um

    A London synagogue restores its caretaker flat to accommodate refugees – Project Abraham’s Tent

    http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/27943

     

    London

     In London machte in Herbst ein U-Bahn Tunnel der Royal Mail seine Pforten als Museum auf. Ich fand das skandalös. Der Bericht  ist in Englisch.
    In London, the postal rail network opened as a museum. I strongly objected and called it scandalous. Must read for Londoners and Tourists.

    Gleichberechtigung Fußball – Equality Football

    Lewes FC ohne Gender Pay Gap: Gleiches Geld für gleiches Training –

    Lewes FC without Gender Pay Gap: Same money for same training!
    http://www.taz.de/!5429959/

    FAWPL Plate Final victory celebration.jpg

    Photo: With kind permission by Lewis FC

    Imagening the Niqab as the European anti-Modern is a precursor of Auschwitz 

    This article was submitted to Open Democracy and The Guardian earlier this year but remained unpublished. 

     

    Two years ago, I wrote on Open Democracy on the French attempt to ban of the Niqab as anti-social in the courts. The European judges had just agreed with the French government by majority rule.

    Now the European assault on Muslim women who wear Niqab continues. Austria is yet another country that banned the veil. I am deeply uneasy about this as a European  Jew occurring at a time the far right has also seen huge gains across the continent.
    When Hitler, the Austrian, may he burn in hell, saw orthodox Jews as backwards to modernity, he dreamt about the holocaust as the solution to this obstacle to a progressive world order, ruled by modernity. The German race and through the enthusiastic Anschluss Austrians, topped the assumed order of progressiveness. Austrians and Germans soon led the ranks as the world’s history biggest mass murderers instead, killing the largest amount of humans in the shortest span of time ever, amongst them members of my own family.  The modern death factory of Auschwitz, alongside the machine gun was the superlative of modernity, to follow the argument of the late philosopher Zygmund Bauman.
    With six million Jews killed for their crime of being apparently backwards people, today Austrians alongside many other Europeans, found a new anti-modern parasite, that of women who wear #Niqab and already there are laws made, policed by the state and an enthusiastic loud populus. Feminism, in this case,  is now a concept owned above all, in German über alles, by Austrians.
    I wonder if that nation and its government could endure a closer examination of equality in Austria and that claim of being woman’s best friend.. The Muslim woman in veil has followed the faith of the orthodox Jew that Hitler observed in Vienna. She is the obstacle to progress in Austrian society, über allem. She is now an object that lost her right to be seen as a human equal. To be an equal, she must shed her veil as Jews had to shed their clothes to become invisible. But the shedding is futile. Many movements in Europe indicate that Islam itself, like Judaism then, is the anti-modern, anti-European projectile.
    Sieg Heil then, to the inability to eliminate fear of the other, ignorance, hate and self-righteousness? Or perhaps Europe could still get to its senses?
    So small is the group of women wearing Niqab that any argument of them being a threat must be ridiculed. The issue is much more a subjective and imagined fear of the other,  principled by ignorance and a deliberate triumphant patriarchal view of the Western self over these few women. They do not need to be more rescued than others or made into an example of teaching feminism. That struggle is one that can be fought in a much wider and effective way, by legislating full parity, full equality, full equal pay, and ensure sexual crimes and discrimination is prosecuted with the full might of the law.
    The Niqab prohibition is a politics of deflecting from the former and pretending that one is committed to feminism. Right, by battering already marginalised and publicly often abused women? Sure there may be a gender dimension to the veil, but it is not always, directly or essentially forced. The West must be more careful in its judgement and not use the Niqab as a trophy in place of much needed societal reforms of equality that have hardly anything to do with the veil. It should concentrate rather on ending the privileges and advantages to men and it should force instead better education on Islam and other people many in Europe currently view as others. There should be a duty to see the human being in spite of the clothes surrounding the woman wearing Niqab.

    “The City” Latimer Road 14-12-2017

    Erste Fotos von dem “wieder eingenommenen” Räumen unter den Arkaden des West Ways, North Kensington. Text zur Story http://www.taz.de/Nach-dem-Hochhausbrand-in-London/!5467719/

    Pictures of the reclaimed space under the West Way

    For full story see post Grenfell, six months later

     

     

     

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    Niles Hailstone kündigt die City vor den Versammelten des Silent Marches an

     

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    Room in the “The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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    Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajnion

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    Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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    Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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    Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

     

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    Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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    Opening night of “The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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    Opening night of “The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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    gigantic lampshades in “The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

     

    Grenfell, six months later

    Grenfell Tower, six months later

    Squatting action under the motorway, Political Requests, Self-help: The Survivors and Residents of the London high-rise fire demand not to be any longer victims.

     

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    In the early morning hours of the 14th of June  2017 Grenfell Tower, one of the largest social housing blocs in London – based in North Kensington – caught fire and burned intensely for hours. 71 people lost their lives. Hundreds lost their home. Great Britain is remembering the victims of the inferno six months later, a.o. In a service in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn

    This article was originally published in taz, die Tageszeitung (online taz.de), Germany’s independent left of centre daily and national broadsheet newspaper on 14/12/2017. See here http://taz.de/Nach-dem-Hochhausbrand-in-London/!5467719/  All rights are strictly reserved with taz. For syndicates contact lizenzen@taz.de This translation into English was made by the author. It is just a quick unpolished translation made on the day of the publication and the six-month memorial service, so that English only readers can get the facts of the feature. Taz has always been carried by a co-operative of shareholders who support taz for the sake of an independent free German press.

     

    DANIEL ZYLBERSZTAJN REPORTING FROM LONDON

    Niles Hailstones is resting in a small café in the world-famous Portobello Road. His head cover, beard and clothing, amongst it also a scarf in pan-African colours, are giving already, at first sight, an impression of his life philosophy. The musician and campaigner describes the spirit of his community with  the Bob Marley’s song “Natural Mystic“, citing its entire lyrics, including the words “Things are not the way they used to be, I won’t tell no lies,, One and All will have to face reality.”

     

    Just a stone throw from here are the concrete arcades of the West Way, the motorway which connects the West of London with Central London. It is a road that stretches over several kilometres through North Kensington, from Gospel Oak to Latimer Road, where  Grenfell Tower stands. Grenfell is that building which is even more (in)famous, due to the fact that it burned down precisely six months ago in one of the worst fire catastrophes in British history.  Now, half a year later, a scaffolding structure with a white cover hides about a quarter of the charcoaled tower, and will soon wrap around the entirety of the tower.

     

    Hailstone reports a wind of change. Not only did 71 people perish In the inferno, it also marks, at least the hope for an end of a decades-long process of marginalisation, regeneration and exclusion, and the dominance of power interests, in fact, the end of “social and ethnic cleansing of the area”, as he puts it.

     

    About the many promises which the council Kensington and Chelsea made, he states: “To tell you the truth, I didn’t expect any changes, either before or after the fire.” In the first month after the disaster, there was total chaos. Left to our own devices, the spirit of self-reliance escaped the bottle, and it is out now”.

     

    The campaigner of African-Caribbean background uncovers a fact that was deliberately kept off the awareness of most observers of the area. When donations, packages and blankets for the community flooded the area, Hailstones happened to have a key to one of the larger spaces under the arcades of the city motorway due to an event he had been planning for a while in honour of the anniversary of Marley’s Exodus Album. Facing necessity, Hailstones asked the community coordination of the trust, for permission to to use the room as a storage room. She agreed and the trust eventually supplied a three-month licence whilst aid stocked up to the high ceiling. .The area was soon simply called by all as the “the village” (in line with the name of this trading area – Acklam Village). It became a sort of private and improvised community centre for survivors of the Grenfell Tower.

     

    Six months on, the space appears emptier. There are numerous sofas in communal formation, paintings and pictures give away an Africa inspired atmosphere, a drum set and a piano stand there too. The three-month licence has run out for quite a while now, but Hailstones hopes to be able to stay regardless for longer.

     

    In this most valuable part of Portobello Road, part of what has become one of West Londons most distinguished and expensive zones, Notting Hill, world-famous for its carnival, West Way Trust has huge regeneration plans. “It looked to me like a sort of Westfields on Portobello Road. As long as we are here, we are stopping these plans“, claims the campaigner. Since the inferno, Hailstones was part of all discussions with the council. The community coordinator who passed on the key to him, was on the other hand fired. When she and another sacked employee began to speak out against that dismissal the CEO of the trust suddenly stepped down from office.

    Lost Free Space

    The Westway Trust, initially running under the name of North Kensington Amenity Trust, was the hard fought for result of a sustained campaign against car park spaces under the motorway by the residents of North Kensington. Instead, they demanded communal spaces. Hailstones claims that the trust became soon however but a cover „At the beginning as many as six members of the board were councillors, of whom many lived far away.”

    From his perspective, the trust’s actions over many years can be understood as racist. There was increasingly less space for cultural and social activities and lesser so for African-Caribbean activities. Commercially viable use became the key concern. It was in Notting Hill where in the 1950s some of the first Caribbean work migrants settled – now they could not even have free spaces under a concrete bridge. A communal steel-drum workshop „Bay 20“, was cleared in the 1990s for a metal fence, in part with barbed wire, and an obscure art installation with blue stones, useless and empty. Other spaces were lost too, including for example for the famous steel band ebony. It looked as if the  Westway Trust did care little for the annual Notting Hill Karneval, grown out of the resistance against racism of the 1950s as an expressive form that demanded respect for African-Caribbean people and culture. Even the Maxilla nursery had to close three years ago, with council and trust blaming each other, and yet being so inter-twined, whilst a big shopping mall was in the planning for the arcades areas next to Portobello Road, so the story which Hailstones describes.

    For about three years Hailstones carries the position of chair of Westway23 a community group, which attempts to hold the West Way trust to account. Even after Grenfell, the troubles continue, however. The latest twist appears to be the intent by the BBC, now supported by the trust, to finance a new room for a boxing club, that used to have training sessions in the now burned down tower. And where is this space to be erected? No other area was targeted but „Bay 20“.  The astonishment is huge, and particularly so amongst the African-Caribbean residents.

    Niles Hailstones, von der Lobbygruppe Westway22 konfrontiert die Vertreter der Stadtbehörde und die Polizei mit Fragen und Anschuldigungen. Woglfahr ist nicht Gerechtigkeit sagt er (2)

    Niles Hailstones, campaigner and artist photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn  All Rights Reserved c 2017

    “The history of the West Way and community through which it cuts, a community which was pushed aside by the decision makers, has many parallels to the way that social housing blocks like Grenfell were managed”, says local campaigner  Eve Wedderburn. Shortly after the inferno she won another long local battle: the rescue of the only library in  Ladbroke Grove.

     

    Similar to the establishment of the Westway Trust, the foundation of the “independent” body that administered social housing KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) was the result of demands for communal self-governance. But the reality of that management appeared rather distorted. When residents of Grenfell Tower began to express concerns over the fire safety KCTMO threatened them with judicial steps rather than to examine and respond to the concerns. WIth its credibility, after the fire destroyed, KCMTOs administrative role has only now ended.

     

    Since about three weeks residents from the entire area around Grenfell Tower – an action supported also by Niles Hailstones and Eve Wedderburn – have occupied a huge zone under the arcades, but not without historical presidents. 40 years ago the Free Republic of Frestonia was declared in a street very close to here, when it was facing plans of complete demolishment. Occupation is not the word which Hailstones is using, however. „We have reclaimed this space“, he says and speaks of the revolution of the people. On his mobile, he shows images on which one can see renovated sparkling rooms, studios, therapy rooms, kitchens in fine design, all created by the community with generous donations. The space has already a name, “The City” with direct relation to The Village, its predecessor, which came into existence after the fire. The city is to open its doors to the public on Thursday – following the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral in the morning and the monthly Grenfell silent march in the evening, which always ends in an open space, the “Wall of Truth” under the arcades near Grenfell Tower, full of street art and murals, mostly expressions regarding the inferno.

     

    Hailstones says that he has invited the councillor of Kensington and Chelsea with responsibility for rehousing Kim Taylor-Smith for a tour of The City. „He came and was taken aback,” recalls Hailstones. Taylor-Smith had stopped the eviction order for now. For the community, it is a prestigious and symbolic display project. It wants to shows that such rooms are not just necessary, but that the community is able to create and implement such spaces into existence.

     

    There are also a few counter voices to the City project. An artist known as Livingstone, who looks after the Wall of Truth and has painted much of it, states that he feels excluded by Hailstones. „I should have moved in there because I was here from the beginning“, he states angered over the question what his opinion is regarding the city.

     

     

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    Sophie Lodge putting up the result of her school project. Photo Daniel Zylbersytajn, All rights Reserved c 2017

    Sophie Lodge, the artist who reacted to the inferno, which was hard to grasp for survivors, with the expressive communal art 24 heart campaign and the slogan Comeunity – a play between come and unity – says the disagreement symbolises nothing more but the articulation of two strong voices, with, in the end, similar intentions. Lodge herself has spent the last two months working with all schools in the area. She stands at Ladbroke Grove and watches the attachment of a large panel onto the underground bridge on which is the sentence of a young boy. We are special because we are the future of Ladbroke Grove.“

     

     

    Right to Speak and Human Dignity

    The public inquiry regarding Grenfell has only just started to run properly this week, after months of collecting data and documents. There are exchanges on its methods and process. The main issues is the current lack of access to the process by those affected by the disaster.

    The legal representatives of the victims, survivors and affected request They demand respect for diversity, dignity, increased access and right to shape the kind of questions the inquiry asks. Instead of a single judge, they ask for a panel to lead the inquiry, in which the affected should then also be represented, and it is also the opinion of Chris Imafidon, one of the survivors of the inferno. „What happens when the judge is ill, or when he dies? Then it does not continue!!“ Regarding such matters, there was a surprise declaration over the weekend by the British equality and human rights Commission, who announced the opening of their own inquiry.

     

    At least there are things happening in the building and housing sector according to the expert in building regulation, safety and building forensics Gerard McLean the UK building regulations were clarified as soon as one week after the inferno „Buildings higher than 18 Meter may now only have external material that are of limited combustibility,” he explains. “That is a quite high standard, although not the highest because it is possible to build with totally non-combustible materials.” All public housing owners, such as local authorities have since removed exterior materials such as cladding, even those in private ownership quietly removed questionable cladding.”

     

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    Campaigner Eve Wedderburn in front of the entrance to„The City“, the through local residents self-created free space under the urban motorway West Way Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn

    Many of the concerns of the survivors and Grenfell surrounding residents remain however still unsolved. Especially because six months after the inferno only one-fifth of the victim families and affected people have found a new home, says Judy Bolton of the Campaign Justice4Grenfell, who has lost friends and relatives in the tower and does not live far from Grenfell in Ladbroke Grove.

     

    Asked how he is these days, Professor Chris Imafidon, who used to live on the 14th floor in the tower and survived to tell his story, falls into cynical laughter. “I still live in a small hotel room,” he says „I don’t need any collective service in St. Paul’s Cathedral but a set of keys to a home. It is all a joke. Enough with the talking! We do not need a service for those who are dead and who already had their funerals, we need service for the living!”

     

    Elizabeth Campbell, the leader Kensington and Chelsea, assured that her team would work hard to “house all until Christmas”, and that the council purchased on average two flats a day in the area. The delay was due in part to changing circumstances. For example, there would now be a need for almost twice the figure of units than initially assumed. More than 300 are needed now. This was because some families lived in overcrowded conditions with several generations, whilst others wanted to move in together with family members and friends due to inferno.

     

    But apparently, there exist over 1000 empty social housing flats in Kensington. “Nobody understands why they are not being offered,” states Judy Bolton of Justice4Grenfell. “Amongst the around 1000 homeless due to the inferno, there are also 40 children. According to UK law, it is illegal to keep them longer than six weeks in temporary accommodation like hotels. Those responsible are for many months breaching the law!” On the other hand, due to rehousing hierarchies can single persons, who have the lowest priority not move into available empty flats, even if families with higher priorities cannot move into one bedroom apartments, due to their small size.

     

    In November the UK government made at least 28 Million Pound available in order to help the affected, in addition to the 5 Million which the government had promised immediately after the inferno. Finally and slowly there are essential services available, such as therapy for the affected. Judy Bolton has taken on the offer for counselling, as the last six months have affected her, she admits. In spite of that, there is still a lack of services for children. Not just those directly affected, but also for those children who lost their friends in the fire are left vulnerable. Another problem that existed until recently, when the issue was raised in the scrutiny meetings, was that help was only available in a special centre, without outreach to possibly traumatised people, who sometimes would bury themselves indoors in the hotels in which they are housed.

    Chris Imafidon says he feels tired and stretched in energy as well. His GP advised him to rest, but he is unable to do so fully, “because of the government, local and national alike,   claim that I say too much and they push people like myself to the side. He said that he intends to boycott the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral and will instead posture in front to express himself. „First and foremost I need a roof over my head, that I can call my home. After that one can look into the question of therapy, if one still requires it then.”

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    Post Script 14.12.2017 Photos of the city can be viewed here https://dzx2.net/2017/12/14/the-city-latimer-road-14-12-2017/

    Silent March for Grenfell Tower 14th Sept. 2017 – Schweigemarsch für Grenfell

    On the 14th of September 2017  wide over 1000 people united for a silent march out of respect for the victims and survivors of Grenfell Tower. The march will be repeated every 14th. of the month until there is justice, organisers say.

    Am14. September 2017 vereinten  sich über 1000 Leute in einem Schweigemarsch in dem Gerechtigkeit für Grenfell gefordert wurde. Dieser Marsch soll weiter jeden 14.  eines Monats weitergeführt werden.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

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    Niles Hailstones sings ONE LOVE at the end of Grenfell Silent March. Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn, (c) 2017 Creative Commons License, Non-Commercial, as long as fully referenced.

    Nachruf – Obituary Sam Pivnik

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    Heute steht in der Jüdischen Allgemeinen mein Treffen mit Sam Pivnik, ZT’L  eines der letzten, die er machte. Und auch er war einer der Letzten, die noch lebten, einer jener wenigen, die Auschwitz überlebt hatten.

    Der Text war nicht als Nachruf gedacht, sondern als Porträt, doch Pivnik verstarb leider letzte Woche zwei Tage vor seinem 91. Geburtstag.  Er erschien im Grunde als relativ heiterer Mensch, der im übrigen auch noch Interesse an der schicken Lederjacke seines Freundes Philip Appelby zeigte: “Wenn Du so eine nochmal siehst kauf mir eine”?

    Nur am Ende des Interviews zeigte sich ein wenig Müdigkeit, und sein sein nicht so guter Gesundheitszustand kam zuvor, als er in Momenten der geistigen Abwesenheit spontan immer wieder sanft “Hilfe”, “Hilfe”, rief,  obwohl aüßerlich alles in Ordnung war.

    Pivnik hatte Unsagbares mitgemacht, und als ob Auschwitz nicht genug gewesen wäre, nicht nur an einem der Horrororte des Nationalsozialismuses. Er überlebte wiederholt entgegen jeglicher rational denkbarer Möglichkeiten.

    Das Glück des Überlebens und langen Lebens bedeutete jedoch nicht ein geradezu gutes  danach. Während er mit dem Verlieren der Toten der eigenen Familie zurechtkommen musste, und dem was er erlebt hatte, schaffte er es nicht im Arbeitsleben auf einen grünen Zweig zu kommen. Dem Fehlen des ausreichenden Unterhalts schrieb er das Fehlen einer Familiengrümdung zu, obwohl es laut seinem Freund Appelby nicht an interessierten potentiellen  Lebensgefährtinnen mangelte.

    So war es das Altersheim, welches er schließlich als Paradis am Ende nannte, denn hier würde alles für ihn gemacht.

    Sein Wunsch in Israel bestattet zu werden ist richtungsführend nicht nur für seinen Glauben daran, dass Israel richtig sei, sondern auch seinen Glauben an Gott trotz allem.

    Pivnik ging nach Israel gegangen, weil es seiner  Schwester, die in der zionistischen Jugendbewegung war, und die vor dem Krieg auswandern wollte, von ihrem  Vaterverwährt wurde.  Sie wurde stattdessen in der  Shoa umgebracht. Er ging also für sie. Und sein Vater war ein tiefgläubiger frommer Jude. Auch er starb in der Shoa und Pivnik hielt für ihn am Glauben fest, trotz Fehler. In Auschwitz wäre Gott aber nicht, gewesen, schrieb er einst.

    Der ganze Nachruf in der Jüdischen Allgemeinen kann hier gelesen werden

    http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/29528