Reichskristallnacht und das Volk

die-novemberpogrome-von-1938-gallerypicture-15_620x349Germany became divided and occupied because of its self-boosting racially defined nationalist enthusiasm that wanted to rule over all others. Sadly it did not loose the war because of its singling out of people of the Jewish faith, using them as slaves and mass murdering them (this hatred had its first public culmination on the 9th of November 1938. The hatred had echoes in some of the countries it occupied or part-occupied too).

No, Hitler’s Germany was only defeated because of its expansion policy that ultimately was intolerable to the Allied Forces. In 1989 on the same day the wall that divided the East and the West of Germany fell, people shouted euphoric and demandingly “Wir sind das Volk (we are the people)!” Volk; herein lay and lies a self-defining error that is as large as the inscription “Dem Deutschen Volke” on the building of the German parliament in Berlin, the Reichstag. It was reinstated and renovated too after the wall fell. “Volk”, German for a people, was for a long time ethnically and racially defined.

It were the “German people” going to war with the world in 1939, it were the Jews who were slaughtered, because they were then not part of the “German Volk”, in fact they were said to threaten the racial purity thereof. “Völkisch” remains to be a word associated with Nazi ideology. There is no mistake as to why “Volkswagen” (the people’s car, originally intended only of the one and above all people, Germans) was called so, beside the name for a Radio set during the Nazi era – Volksapparat”.
Watch Leni Riefenstahl and you get an even better idea on what was meant by Volk.

These days when we hear PEGIDA members, that nasty far right movement that claims Germany is defined by European Christianity alone, especially those from East Germany, where the movement began, shouting “Wir sind das Volk!”, I remember my father’s lack of enthusiasm for the Wiedervereinigung, the reunification. Taking a simple definition of the separation, as a “punishment for what they had done,” my father a holocaust survivor, felt that Germans, in his mind, had not yet deserved this, as long as the original murderers were still alive. I think he pictured elderly SS servants opening the Sekt bottles (German sparkling wine). Of course this is increasingly not the case (the former murderes being alive). But the unification has brought about a frightful mass movement of young racist far-right German activists amongst whom some continue to murder (like those who were part of the NSA – the violent extremist far-right National Socialist Underground) human beings they regard non German foreigners. The German Democratic Republic always understood itself as not a part of Hitler’s Third Reich, on the grounds, that its leaders defined themselves as Communists. But this was a white-wash of course, most of the German people and regions occupied by Russia were ordinary Germans, the same that shouted for Hitler years before. There is evidence that even amongst some of the high office holding administrators and military men of the Communist East there were literal miraculous transformation from NS functionary to Communist ideologist. As long as you can wave fanatically one or the other flag, I suppose, absolutist ideologies are all the same.

Whilst in the West maBRDny Germans attempted serious soul searching, in the East there was no such attempt because there was no problem. And so my conclusion regrading the day of remembering the devastation German “Volkists” have caused back on the 9th of November 1938 can not be united with the happiness for the unification, until the torching down of refugee and asylum seeker homes in Germany ends, German Neonazis are totally silenced, and all those shouting for PEGIDA are forced to take in the bitter lessons and truths of the history of the country and its German nationalist racism.

The enthusiasm of taking in Syrian refugees was in part a very positive development in this regard, but it was not able to silence the far-right still. Volk, and I hear the German Chancellor Angela Merkel understands that, must never again be defined racially, religiously or ethnically in Germany. In spite of millions of Germans opposing PEGIDA and the far right, German conservative self-definitions are still widely spread. I am bothered by that because they are the weed bed on which Nazism can re-grow, and some in Germany take it further into the far-right realm in deed, a few violently so. And with these words I shall finish, though I like to be clear that I only mention the German dimension of it all. One must not exclude to consider worrying developments in other European countries in this regard too. We must remember that all of Austria was part of Germany then, half of France was Vichy-let, that a good part of Dutch and Danes, Ukrainians, Croatians, Lithuanians, went along with the National Socialist Germans and that Italy had adopted the race laws of Germany. Humble yourself Germany and Europe in the awe of history’s warnings.


All Rights Reserved. (C) Daniel Zylbersztajn 2015

Terror not remembered! “Don’t kill Our Snow Fun Hill!” A sorry tale of a limping democratic intervention.

As the Western world recovers from the echoes of terrorism in Paris, in Munich Germany, occupants of the Olympic Village argue about how the acts of terrorism during the Olympic Games 1972 are remembered.


In autumn 2014 the inhabitants of the Olympic Village in Munich rejected the proposal for a memorial site to commemorate the slaughter of almost the entire Israeli Olympic team. Signatures were collected to prevent the winning design to be erected on a hill near the former Israeli team house in the Olympic Village.

Many journalists and camera teams followed the unfolding drama in 1972 from precisely that hill, which gives full view of the Israeli house in Connollystreet 31. Nearly half of the Olympic village’s current inhabitants, mostly private owners of the many flats in which once the Olympic teams lived, argued, that the memorial site would destroy the hill on which their children engage in snow fun activities during the winter months (see The Bavarian State has now proposed to erect the memorial slightly more to the East, and yet again there was hostility. This, it was argued, was the „students hill.“ On Monday the 12th of January 2015 the city of Munich is hosting a civic meeting in which residents can make decisions about the memorial site. Amongst the invited guests are Bavarian Minister for Culture, the Munich Jewish Museum, Nazi Concentration-site Flossbuerg Memorial Site and the chosen architects Brueckner and Brueckner whose design was chosen as the best amongst a handful of independent international proposals.

Journalist Daniel Zylbersztajn, now based in London, grew up in the Olympic Village when his parents moved there in 1973. As far as he knows his was the only Jewish family there. He writes about the controversy concerning the memorial site and growing up Jewish there.

Part of this text was lead column (Feuilleton) of the German Jewish Jüdische Allgemeine on 8//1/15

Snow Fun Hill

When, back in 1972, members of the radical Palestinian Black September Movement killed and blew up eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team, the „happy games“ were to “go on” after a day of mourning, although some had requested that the games should be stopped.

The fun was not to be interrupted equally these days, when the post-Olympic residents of the Munich Olympic village protested against a proposal to establish a permanent memorial site at the edge of the Olympic Village. They argued that the site was “their snow fun hill” and that “no one could protect such a site against vandalism”

I am a former resident of the Olympic Village and also Jewish. In 1973, when I was only three years old, my parents moved into the village, as they had planned prior to the tragic events of September 1972. Most of the flats of the village were for sale to the general public. My father did not want to change plans because of what had taken part, Quite to the contrary, he even considered the purchase of flats opposite the Israeli House to rent out. Nobody wanted to buy these flats then, and hence they were particularly affordable. In the end, he did not go ahead with that.

I explain the behaviour of my father, a Shoa survivor, as him having thrown in the towel. Any hope he must have had for a new Germany, symbolised by state of the art modern international Olympic Village, and without loaded history, was gone after September 1972. By then one street of the Olympic village was no longer different from other Munich streets, whose Jewish residents had vanished during the Third Reich. I say that knowing full well that Germans were not the key perpetrators in 1972, yet the burden of guilt lay still on them, having not been able to adequately protect the Israeli Olympians. Not to say that German lack of power did not in some form or shape relate to 1945. Fatally wrong decisions on political and police levels amongst German leaders were contributory factors.

Der Connolly "Rodelberg" (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Der Connolly “Rodelberg” (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

The new post-Olympic residents of the village enjoy and enjoyed life in the Olympic Village. It is an oasis of good living. On its top-level residents live without motorised traffic, children can play without danger. I did so too. And in the winter we all went for snow fun activities like on sleighs. The hill opposite Connolly Street, on which now the memorial site was planned, was the highest, standing approximately 20 Meters tall.  But there was an even better hill, a walk of 15 minutes further into the Olympic Park, the Olympiaberg (transl. Olympic Hill), over double in height, created from the rubble of the Munich that was destroyed during the second world war. The proposed construction of a memorial site on the Connolly Hill is hence not the end of childhood fun, at most perhaps inconvenient. If one considers that so far there were only 10 days of snow in Munich this winter, the protests regarding the hill are deeply questionable.

Forgetting and Remembering

During the first 20 years in the 1970s and 80s, the village’s new occupants liked to forget what happened here. It was rarely mentioned, nor was it visible, except for those who lived in Connollystreet near the former Israeli House. Every 5th of September state and city officials and representatives of the Munich Jewish community put down flower wreaths in front of a memorial stone at Connollystrasse 31, which lists the name of the deceased in German and Hebrew.

31 Connollystrasse Munich 1972, (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
31 Connollystrasse Munich 1972, (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

But back in 1984, I think it was – I was in the midst of my identity forming teenage years – I felt that nobody really cared about what happened in the village. And so I decided on my own account to write it on the village’s walls: “Vergesst nicht 5.9.1972”!, – Don’t forget 5th Sept. Due to my efforts at night this little sentence emerged repeatedly in black letters at various strategic points in the village that I had chosen. Amongst them one at the entrance of the university sports centre located at the rear of Connollystreet, as well as near the entrance into the village, past the underground station. My childhood, my growing up, part of my Jewish identity was in these few words on the wall, a childhood that was quite different to that of all other residents of the Olympic village, yet nobody would notice. How many others were Jewish I would never quite know, at least I thought for a long time, that  I was the only Jewish youth. As I wrote slogans on the village’s wall, somebody once caught me and emptied my pot of black colour over my head. He was angry that I smeared the walls, I shouted back, that I only tried to make sure people would not forget what had happened here.

Vergesst nicht 5.9.72!  ZHS Anlage Einfahrt Connollystrasse München, c.a. 1984
Vergesst nicht 5.9.72!  ZHS Anlage Einfahrt Connollystrasse München, c.a. 1984   Graffiti Don’t Forget 5/9/72 in front of university sports ground at the end of Connollystreet in the Olympic Village.  c.a. 1984 (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

A slim man wearing a facial masque stands on the top level of Connollystreet 31: Men behind him stare timidly out of a window. These stills are not my childhood’s first.  But I do remember them from quite early on. They stem from the live TV reports of the unfolding drama of 1972 and they are deep in my memory. How sad and uncertain my parents must have felt, as it became clear in the morning hours of the 6th of September 1972 what had happened, given that my parents had

Picture Wikipedia:
Picture Wikipedia:

decided to move into the village, and earlier still, some 25 years earlier, in fact for my dad and mum,  to move to Germany in spite of all that the Germans had done to their families.  Children notice these kinds of things even at the tender age of two to three years, and the many documentaries and films about 1972 that would follow only deepened my memory thereof.

When later Israeli relatives came to visit us, we often walked with them to Connollystreet 31, where we would stand for many minutes in front of the memorial stone. It were difficult moments for them. I knew very early on that here something must have happened that moved my family members deeply, although I would only understand it later. Often they would discuss if it was right that we lived there. Many years later, and having left the village, I would myself become that visitor with obligatory visits to the memorial stone.

The Good Life

But it would be a lie, if I could not affirm that it was otherwise a very good childhood in the Olympic Village, with its modern flair and its many play and sport options and a good primary school and if I was not Jewish, perhaps I would also like the original vintage poster from 1972 that residents have hung up in one of the hallways of the village for of nostalgic reasons,

Sportschiesser Olympia 1972 Poster im Durchgang eines der Häuser Olympic Shooting.  Original print of poster from 1972 Olympics in a house floor in the Munich Olympic Village (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Sportschiesser Olympia 1972 Poster im Durchgang eines der Häuser Olympic Shooting. Original print of poster from 1972 Olympics in a house floor in the Munich Olympic Village (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

depicting Olympic Shooting, How ironic, for it was the blunder of the armed Bavarian policemen, who were supposed to liberate the Israelis, that significantly contributed to the tragic end. Maybe I would even join those protests against the new memorial site because it takes away the fun of kids, and forces them to deal with something nobody can change.

The Olympic Park in Munich and all that is part of it is today part and parcel of life in Munich. Many sports and leisure activities take part here. But if you travel outside of Munich through the world, I myself have lived in London since 1991, one encounters a different picture of Olympia 1972. Munich 1972 runs parallel to Mexico 1968, Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984. Neither the medals once earned here nor the good life is what people know here. Munich is referenced for nothing but the terror act, at best, as a former home ground of the soccer club F.C. Bayern. Not that the residents of the village welcomed the potential construction of the new soccer stadium, which was initially planned, East of the village. A campaign of theirs prevented that and caused the stadium’s alternative location in the far North of Munich. They are thus an engaged lot, these residents, with protests also against a magnetic railway link near the village, that was to speed up the journey between the airport of Munich and the city, and the purchase of shares by residents of the village’s shopping mall to determine what shops can take a footing there, and then most recently those signatures against the memorial site. Many people can learn from them, such citizens’ initiatives are exemplary, but they do not always see the wider picture.  They seem not to realize that many outside of Munich believe that a memorial site that deals with the terror of 1972 in depth is expected by many and yet missing. No positive residential engagement here.

Memorial to the killed  Israeli athletes in Olympic Park Munich (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Memorial to the killed Israeli athletes in Olympic Park Munich (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn


Yet today is not 1984. There were compensation payments to the relatives of the murdered victims, and whilst one or the other apology is still missing and may never be made, nobody can say the victims have been forgotten. Whilst I was still discussing the lack of a memorial in the village with Ankie Rekhess-Spitzer, the wife of the murdered Israeli Olympian Andre Spitzer in 1990, a second memorial stone was erected in front of the Olympic Stadium in 1995, which mentions all 11 killed athletes and one policeman who also lost his life in 1972. For a couple of years, a public signpost is welcoming visitors as they leave the underground station on which visitors can learn in German, English, French and Hebrew about the events that took part in the village in 1972 and where they took place in the village. This is important because all who venture into the village have to pass the signpost, and in that sense, it is similar to my graffiti of 1984.

Eingang Connollystrasse 31
Entrance 31 Connollystreet this winter (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

The majority of the flats in which the Israeli Olympic team was accommodated in 1972 are today the property of the Max Planck Institute, a Munich based scientific institute. They serve as their „guest housing.“   If anyone can sleep in these rooms remains an open question.  It was Max Planck who remained in Germany during the Third Reich, where he kept a soft status quo, whilst his Jewish colleges had to leave Germany or suffered worse. Adjacent to the flats of the former Israeli Olympic Team live ordinary people. During my last visit in December 2014, a jolly and bright Santa Clause lamp welcomed visitors in front of Connollystreet 31, right next to the memorial stone in front of the house. Some years ago there was also a note in Hebrew, requesting that mourners do not pluck flowers. Visiting mourners as the real nightmare for locals. No wonder there is hostility.

In Israel, there are many streets in which terror acts happened, in which bombs or suicide bombers exploded taking innocent people with them. And still, life continues Israelis are famous to get up again after terrible events. Often it is but a small plaque that reminds one of what once happened here or there. Why should it be different in Munich at the site of terror against Israeli athletes?


It is because the murder of the Israeli Olympians in 1972 is of particular relevance, just like Mexico City 1968, which stands as a symbolic point in African American history. Olympic Games should not be politicized, but are political anyway, last so in Sochi concerning LGBT rights. But sport is at times also a surrogate for conflict and also a way to overcome it and engage even between supposed enemies in a game with clear rules, and so it allows young men and women of all creed, nationality, colour, ethnic or religious identity to participate in sports activities with each other.  The Olympic Movement likes to believe that this creates ties beyond narrow confinements and therefore represents hope.  Still, Israeli athletes and teams, in particular, are often subject to boycotts by others, something that carries particular echoes in Germany and the Olympic Games of 1936.

No organisation may see athletes as political trophies, whose lives are risked or even violently ended in order to make a political point. That is why Munich 1972 serves as a warning. It is the very reason why one should not forget and why a big educational memorial site has been suggested, one that can be true to the gigantic dimensions of the Olympic site and the greatness of loss of life.  It is certainly more important than the vast starship like construct the car manufacturer BMW was able to erect in celebration of its vehicles on one of the former Olympic car parks in Munich.

Tauben der Hoffnung?  Verlassen Olympiazentrum Busbahnhof PIGEONS OF HOPE, EMPTY OLD BUS STOP OLYMPIAZENTRUM (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Tauben der Hoffnung? Verlassen Olympiazentrum Busbahnhof PIGEONS OF HOPE, EMPTY OLD BUS STOP OLYMPIAZENTRUM (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

That is why the flats owned by the Max Planck Institute ought to be sold and changed into a memorial site or museum. The era of a rather embarrassing and grotesque guest house must end. But due to the fact that the village is a protected national monument since 1998, any such construction within the building could prove tricky. Luckily there is an alternative if the hill design is really to be rejected too. Above the Olympic underground station lies a large disused bus station, that was once hoped to become the site for a new hotel. It seems ideal as a memorial site and museum, given its accessibility, even though it is not within direct sight of Connollystrasse 31

Whether it is on the grounds of the old bus stop, on the Connollyhill or a few 100 meters East as has recently been argued, it is right that the village bears more than just a plaque or memorial stone. Lightness and happiness are intermixed in the village with lives’ darkest hours. This fact is just as important in the good education of children who grow up in the village, as is their right to carefree winter fun when they are younger.

Democracy and Citizenship Education

Nobody can bring back to life those who have died back then. But the names of the lost Israeli Olympians will remain linked with the village and the 1972 Olympics. Residents of the village cannot escape this fate and must share it actively. Beyond a memorial site and museum, a foundation could assist in encounters in sports by people who are otherwise in conflict with each other.

May they live conscious and good in the village. Yes, they are allowed to show that in its conceptualisation and reality the Olympic Village and Olympic Park is a place in which life is very good, without cars, a shopping mall, artificial springs, and much green. But there must be clear sight of the fact what the village stands for around the globe, namely as the location of terrible unforgeable events.

Democracy must mean more than the collection of signatures, but also to understand history beyond local contexts and to act accordingly. On the evening of Monday 15th of January 2015 the Munich residents of the local area, including all residents of the Olympic village will meet in a civic meeting to discuss the memorial site and vote on it.

Invitation to public meeting regarding the 1972 Olympic terror memorial site (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Invitation to public meeting regarding the 1972 Olympic terror memorial site (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

A readers complaint. Does British media still lack ethics and morals after Leveson? The Peckford Place Media Disaster.

This week I received a readers complaint regarding facts that circulated everywhere in the media in the UK.  It were the names of the occupants of the house in which an alleged slave holding is said to have occurred.  Later it was suggested, that it may have had also something to do with one of the occupants former political activities.

When we run my update on the latest revelations and names on Thursday (28/11/13) in the German paper Taz, Die Tageszeitung, the German broadsheet newspaper I write for, the main reason was that the  story everybody thought they knew, had changed from merely a trafficked people story to one of people possibly being trapped by a political ideology and the person behind it, and there were also issues coming up, concerning the unresolved death of a woman in 1997, who fell out of a bathroom window subscribed to the supposed political collective.

A reader felt compelled to write and complain, why we published all these names and why with so many question-marks?   More to the point why did we publish names and circumstances that have not been confirmed yet, and were just speculative?  The “readers-letters editor”highlighted the letter and I answered it for the Saturday edition 30/11/13.  In my response I speak of different cultural norms, the fact that the British media was totally full with the names and we had a duty to report, although in the most careful language.  I thanked the reader though for raising the issue and showing that for her the pain threshold had been over stepped.

In honesty, I felt she was quite right, but the facts were totally public in the UK for days.  The same facts would not as easily have come to light in Germany though.  And I felt that the way the UK-press had addressed the story was tasteless and in part immoral too.  You have to consider here that right to privacy and anonymity are principles most Germans will defend at all costs (still paradoxically Germans have their private family names on all their letter boxes and bells in Germany, unlike the anonymous door number system here in Britain).

Papers like The Sun and the Daily Express allegedly had paid for information given to them by neighbours, who had been quiet for months and years about what they knew about the circumstances of these people next-door.  Why did a person who received over 500 letters, as we read, and lived next door, never raise the issue with any external agency, but then willingly gave  much of it or all away to the sensationalist press, allegedly for large sums of  money? And why did the mainstream press including The Guardian,  The Independent, ITV and even the BBC then build upon that data released by the sensationalists amongst our profession?

Why did British media overall not think that it was wrong to publish the alleged name of the 30-year old on Sunday evening, as well as the names of all the other occupants after that?  For sure everybody knew the women were vulnerable and facts were under investigation?

As a matter of fact on Tuesday an e-mail reached me by the Metropolitan Police asking journalists to stop speculating and stating that the revelations interfered with investigations.  Still on the very same day and on the day after that more names and facts came out and unlike the photo of the 30-year old published on Sunday with her face hidden – that publication itself a scandal – the same photo was later shown with her full profile visible, giving away any anonymity she may have preferred to keep.  That is immoral.

As a correspondent I played a role in carrying these facts forward to Germany, but only after they were common knowledge in Britain by all in the UK who read papers, or listen or watch news, and because these facts changed the facts on the grounds.

But it was hardly ethical by the British press to  reveal the possible details of women, who very much were victims and deserve society’s protection.  If the women chose to come out and talk to the media it is a different matter, but some of the facts were revealed using private and confidential letters of clearly failed neighbours (in my judgement), who did not alert supporting agencies when they could and should have done, and chose to cash in on the misfortune of their neighbours for personal gain through the hands of journalists or people who call themselves that.

I can not change the way news is made in the UK, and as a correspondent I act often reactive anyway, and  have the duty to let people in Germany know what is happening here, but I wonder if in deed I could have done it differently, perhaps not naming any of the people in spite of them being given here?  I just wonder though how it would have looked?  Most other German media also gave all the facts away.

But for Britain these are the post-Leveson-Inquiry days.  Rebecca Brooks is still in the Old Bailey being tried.

There is a reason why organisations like the BBC do usually not pay for interviews, and I think that all media should follow suit, unless exceptional circumstances ask for a different approach.  Further there must be a more moral and communal accountability in such cases.

So I must agree with my German reader.  Still I did put a lot of question marks and words like alleged, presumed, not officially confirmed in my report of the  28th of November, making it clear, the information was others guesswork.  But that was what it was at in London at the time, and the papers were full of  it.

Part of me wonders if in deed one must approach the British way of reporting in a different and novel way.  I will think about this in the months to follow. That’s my job.  But what is the job of my UK colleagues?

What is our purpose as journalists? Is it not also to help the world to become better by thinking about the mistakes of others for example?

In my opinion the second biggest headline over the last days has been missed by most of my UK colleagues- not by me:

In my report in the Taz on Monday the 25th I put my fingers clearly on the neighbours, who did not talk and sold their story.  Here was scandalous footage, one that could have altered behaviour by other neighbours to continue to be bystanders and silent witnesses to terrible abuse.  The papers should have been more full with that, than the names and photos of the victims.

Now that the intoxication of the Lambeth story wears of, it would be very much time to think about the cure for the hang-over, and perhaps get off the bottle of sensationalism in the future all together!?


Haussklaven im Modernen London : Modern Slavery in Great Britain

Location of the London Borough of Lambeth in G...
Location of the London Borough of Lambeth in Greater London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DEUTSCH:  In diesem Bericht einen Tag nach der Rettung dreier Frauen spreche ich mit mehreren Organisationen die sich um Zwangsgefangene und moderne Sklaven kümmern.


ENGLISH: In this report one day after the rescue of three women who were held as slaves for three decades in Lambeth, I speak also with several charities who deal with migrant workers in domestic work situations and with human trafficking and modern day slaves.  Use googletranslate for a translation in your language!


Was nicht in der Zeitung steht: (What doesn’t stand in the paper)

Auf die Frage ob die drei Frauen jetzt noch ein normales Leben aufbauen könnten, meinte Fiona David, die wissenschaftliche Leiterin von Walk Free, dass trotz des tief gehenden Traumas, welches Menschen die so lange, so erniedrigend misshandelt wurden, diese dennoch ein erfüllendes Leben haben könnten. „Die Glücklichsten, die ich kenne, sind jene, die so sehr aus ihrem Verhängnis herausgewachsen sind, dass sie sich später für andere in solchen Situationen einsetzten und für diese kämpfen.“ (c) 2013 All Rights Reserved, Daniel Zylbersztajn

Auch Churchill hilft nicht : Churchill doesn’t help either! Nationalist undertones during England – Germany match on Tuesdays

DEUTSCH: Auch Churchill hilft nicht Das Fußballspiel zwischen England und Deutschland von mir anders beobachtet, und historisch bis 1940.

Link zum Bericht

Military band plays German anthem during the England - Germany Game whilst Soldiers hold gigantic flags!
Military band plays German anthem during the England – Germany Game whilst Soldiers hold gigantic flags! All Rights Reserved, (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn 2013

ENGLISH: Churchill fails to help!  A different look by me at the England-Germany Game on Tuesdsay, identifying the old feud between Germans and English supporters going as far back as 1940. Please use googletranslate to get a translation of the German original here.

Link to my report in the newspaper Taz:

Den Schal kann man übrigens hier sehen:

By the way you can view the schal I discuss in the piece here WE-WILL-FIGHT-THEM-ON-THE-BEACHES-

Only Autobahn with Autogas? Car manufacturers fail to run LPG in the UK, but in Germany amongst the greenest drives says environmental group.

2011 Volkswagen Eco up! (01)
2011 Volkswagen Eco up! (01) (Photo credit: Georg Sander (GS1311))

Only Autobahn with Autogas?

LPG is currently greener than petrol says a German environmental lobby group, but car manufacturers dumped the UK for this technology.Report by Daniel Zylbersztajn,
LPG, Liquid Petroleum Gas powered cars can save their owners a lot of costs on fuel, but they seem to have become rather rare in the UK. This is because vehicles that run on LPG are no longer sold directly through car manufacturers in the UK. The only alternative is to convert a petrol run car privately.
This differs from the situation in countries like Germany and Italy. Not only are new LPG-powered vehicles sold there straight from factory, but LPG has recently been praised by the German environmental think-tank VCD (Verkehrsclub Deutschland e.V. ) that lobbies on ecological transport policy.Every year VCD sets up a rank-table of the most environmentally sound cars. This year they elected three LPG-powered models by the Volkswagen Group as their shared 2013 /2014 annual winners, alongside another winner the hybrid Toyota Prius. This is because the models VW Eco Up!, Seat Mii Ecofuel, and Skoda Citigo Green tec – all not sold in the UK – have a CO2 rating of only 79mg /per kilometre. That is very low compared, to most other carbon fuelled vehicles, unless they are hybrids or electric.
The VW-Group states that the reason why they do not sell these cars in the U.K, is because of an insufficient fuelling infrastructure in Britain. But the government disagrees. The Department of Transport (DfT) issued a statement insisting that Britain has a core infrastructure in place to ensure motorists are within easy reach of a filling station that stocks LPG. They further highlight that LPG continues to enjoy favourable duty rates.

Mike Chapman a spokesperson and manager of the British LPG trade association UK-LPG agrees with the DfT. He says that as far as he knows, the amount of LPG fuelling stations per area are in fact higher than in other European countries. Instead Chapman reckons that the reasons for the VW-Group and others to keep LPG vehicles off Great Britain’s roads are due to the UK being a rather small market compared to other European countries, and crucially he adds because the reduced fuel duty on LPG is no longer fixed and guaranteed for longer periods. UK-LPG concludes that the net-effect of this is that car manufacturers see Britain as a country too risky for LPG-powered cars, because they would have to invest in the re-fitting of garages and training of staff in LPG-technology. “The situation is however absurd,!” complains Chapman.

“You have LPG powered cars, like a model by Ford manufactured in the UK, only to bypass the British market and to be directly exported to continental Europe.”
In ‘efficient Germany’ on the other hand LPG has become very popular, especially amongst those who rely heavily on cars or amongst businesses who own a fleet. The main factor for this popularity is not environmentally driven, but due to economics. LPG, which also enjoys a reduced fuel duty in Germany yields huge savings on fuel spending, compared to any of the conventional fuels available such as diesel or petrol.As to LPGs environmental credentials, which made the VW-Group’s three cars winners of the VCD’s league table, Anja Smetanin, the VCD spokeswoman explains, that what really turns it around for LPG in terms of its environmental impact, is, that “toxic small particle emissions are hardly an issue here”.VCD advises, that LPG is currently preferable to Benzine, because exhaust filter systems that will limit Benzine’s pollutants are only coming into place by September 2014, along with the forthcoming Euro 6 emission norm. Up until now, Benzine-powered cars did not require, unlike cars with Diesel engines, sophisticated exhaust filters that significantly reduce cancer causing air-borne pollutants.

With LPG, they say, there is always an approximate 10% percent reduction of C02 and a reduction of the highly carcinogenic Arene (aromatic hydrocarbon), compared to benzine driven cars. But at the same time VCD admits, that the benefits are not completely straightforward as the advantages only telly up against petrol driven cars. Compared with Diesel and CNG-powered (natural gas) cars, LPG actually yields higher CO2 emissions. However VW produces the same vehicles with any gas, be they LPG, or the stated cleaner CNG and Biogas (ethanol) engines, the later being regarded by some as environmentally deficient, because Biogas crops compete with food crops.

Still, even compared to most Diesel-powered engines the new VW-Group LPG engines are low in CO2 by any means, with their 79 mg / km emissions, except for London, where they fail the test of newer strict CO2 limits for any exemption on the congestion charge in London, set to a maximum level of 75mg/km, which would make less interesting to fleet owners there and keeps electric and hybrid engines ahead of the game.

But VCD say that in spite of the zero emission advantage electric cars have, they currently do not, and they emphasize the word ‘yet’, advise customers to go mad on electric cars. Says Anja Smetanin in Berlin:

Electric cars are still too expensive and their reach is still too limited. We also find the data given about them quite unreliable, as the energy consumption rises hugely in the cold months, with a much reduced reach as a consequence.”

So for the time being VCD give LPG the green light, and they add “ this counts as long as the production of LPG does not involve any fracking, which remains forbidden in Germany due to what they say is its negative environmental impact.”


Last month London was hosting the World LPG Forum. The retailer Autogas (co-owned by Calor and Shell) was busy to attempt to promote the environmental credentials. But it remains to be seen if this had a favourable effect for the reintroduction of the technology in new cars in Britain. Fleet owners, curious to take on the advantage of promised savings, will be watching developments carefully.

Rochdale Geburtsstadt der Kooperative! | Rochdale birth city of the co-operative!

This German post is followed by an English introduction further down.

Der Artikel zu diesen Anmerkungen befindet auf Taz Online (Reisen)

Druckversion: 4. May 2013


Die Idee zu meinem Bericht entwickelte ich, als ich Monate zuvor an einer Radiosendung über  Lebensmittelkooperativen arbeitete.

Deutsche Urversion hier, englische lange und bessere Version hier

Bei den Recherchen erfuhr ich, dass das Pioneers Museum in Rochdale, der  Ort wo die Rochdale Pioniere der kooperativen Idee einst mit einem klienen Laden begannen, gerade in Restaurierung läge, und im September 2012 neu eröffnet werden würde.  Bei der Taz war so ein Bercht gut aufgehoben.  Die Taz ist ja selber durch eine Kooperative Genossenschaft gehalten.

Tim Nuttal der Leiter für Tourismus in Rochdale, der in dem Artikel erwaehnt wird,  hat inzwischen leider seinen Arbeitsplatz verlassen.  Es hatte so hörte ich, etwas mit den Kürzungen der momentanen britischen Regierung und deren Auswirkungen auf das Stadtbudget zu tun.  Man versicherte mir aber, dass Besucher auch weiterhin auf Hilfe rechnen können.

Ein paar Passagen, meines Erachtens waren sie wichtig. wurden von den Redakteuren herausgenommen.  Sie beziehen sich auf Rochdale als “islamische Stadt.” Auch Tim Nuttal hatte die Stadt so nich nicht beschrieben gesehen, aber er musste mir recht geben.  Hier die gestrichenen Passagen:

Am Abend treffe ich mich mit Mitgliedern der Zentralmoschee. Es ist die größte mehrerer lokaler Moscheen, die Saint John the Baptist gegenüber dem Bahnhof nicht mitgezählt. Die Kirche mit dem weißen Kuppeldach gibt absichtlich einen Hagia Sophia Anschein. Auch das aufwendig gebaute Rathaus, ein Zeichen des ehemaligen Reichtums Rochdales, mit seiner Empfangshalle im Stile der Al-Hambra, hat nichts mit den 30,000 muslimischen Bewohnern der Stadt zu tun. Einst leisteten sie monotone Fabrikarbeit, meist die Nachtschicht. Heute sind die Hiergebliebenen Restaurantbesitzer, Taxifahrer oder führen Abholgroßmärkte, wie den Haji Cash & Carry, der sich gigantisch neben der Hagia Sophia erhebt. Die Muslime Rochdales hatten im vergangenen Jahr eine schwere Zeit erlebt, nachdem zwei Prostitutionsringe durch die Polizei gesprengt wurden. Minderjährige junge Frauen wurden misshandelt, alle britisch-europäischer Abstammung. Als es bekannt wurde, dass die Straftäter pakistanisch-muslimischer Abstammung waren, marschierten Neonazis aus ganz England durch die Stadt. Der Sekretär der Zentralmoschee Ahsan ul-Haq, 58, findet das unfair: „Wenn Muslime was falsch machen, sind wir alle gleich verrottetes Gesindel.“ Er und der Jugendarbeiter Akhtar Hussein, 48 führen mich durch die Moschee, ebenfalls ein Nachbau, eine Imitation der Jerusalemer Al-Aqsar Moschee. Hussein berichtet von seiner Tochter die Architektur studiert und seinem Sohn der Arzt ist. Außerdem spiele seine Tochter hervorragend Fußball. Er wehrte sich den Protesten einiger Glaubensgenossen, dass sie als muslimisches Mädchen nicht im normalen Outfit spielen solle. Der Abend endet in einem lokalen pakistanischen Restaurant. Wo es neben traditionell gegrillten Hallalfleisch, auch englisches Steak, Pasta und „extra Gravy“, einen regionaler Bratensaft gibt.

Ein Besuch in Rochdale:


Online Version 5th of May 2013

Print Edition 4th of May 213 Taz Am Wochenende (contains tow extra colour prints)

The idea of my article on Rochdale, the birth town of co-operatives, developed, when I worked on a radio feature on food co-operatives (see and hear  Whilst researching it I learned that the Pioneer’s Museum in Rochdale was being redeveloped and re-open in September.  As soon as the Olympics and Paralympics I worked on were out of the way, I proposed to Taz’s travel editor a feature on Rochdale. It was well received.   Rochdale not only had a co-operative heritage but had a dedicated Islamic legacy, initially based on the architectural admiration of some of its local architects for Islamic monuments such as the Hagia Sophia and the Al Hambra in Granada.  The industrial heritage of Rochdale however is like a living museum.  Inspite of th at, Rochdale has not yet succeeded to appropriately protect it, or work with it, nor are many of the former co-operative buildings protected, or its citizens immensely aware of what Rochdale’s co-operative inheritance means to many visitors from many corners of the world. For a city that is a typical town of the North, suffering investment, and its older glory faded, such an identity and protection would be crucial.  One can only hope that the future leadership of the town will be prepared to emphasise its legacy as much as is necessary and create new forms of co-operative arrangements.  This is why I called not the Pioneer’s museum, but the high rising tower blogs of Rochdale, the town’s most striking symbol of co-operation.  Well worth a visit to anyone interested in social and industrial history.   Taz is uniquely held by a co-operative of readers and supporters, rather than by sales, subscriptions and advertisements.  It’s co-operative structure makes it one of Germany’s most independent papers and hence the article fits in well with its ethos.  As I found out one the first female writers and editors of Great Britain Lily Howe came forward through the co-op, as did many women members with voting rights soon after the co-ops establishment.

You can read my article via the link at the start of the English paragraph. Use googletranslate to get a reasonable translation.  One paragraph, the one on my visit to a Rochdale mosque has been taken out.  It is quoted in full however above (in German).  Again googletranslate will give you a reasonable translation.

Speaking and writing in German.

There is a way we all speak and write, it reflects upon origins, education, the environment a person lives in and of course a state of mind.  Only few people know, that there was a time when I refused to speak or write German which went on for several years…  I found out recently that it can be a often found feature of German Jewish people who or whose parents were shoa survivors or refugees and who live outside of Germany.  Luckily I came out early enough from this period and still managed to write for a national paper, but it has taken away a little bit of the former freshness of my German.  This is thus not just rustiness (by which I mean I can’t throw around with cool terms like my fellow colleagues and sometimes have to think a little longer how to put something) but also result of a very deliberate emotional temporal disconnection with German and Germany.  Writing for a German newspaper for me came as part of my own personal ability to cope with Germany and the German language again, but also I fear to say with my disillusionment that the British would judge me precisely on grounds of the German tone of language.  Given that there was no escaping the fact that I was born and raised in Germany, I began to look at the positives of that circumstance rather than the negatives alone.   I still prefer English, my fourth language,  and would call my relationship to German language as still “in rehabilitation modus.”  But the patient is getting better thanks through the life support infusion by the German paper I write most for, TAZ, the largest left of centre German daily with a traditional strong anti-racist stance, where I know some editors seem to have a feeling of comprehension and duty to Germany’s past and how it translates itself today.  I like to take claim to especially the spirit of the 1970s, and the legacy of the 1960s in Germany amongst some progressive educators and thinkers, a period itself I hear is no longer what defines Germany today.  Hence it is important that those of us who carry the legacy of the shoa as part of our family constellation remain conscientious writers and speakers and in German and to Germans and beyond in the way that only we can.

Die Tageszeitung (TAZ): Über die Schmerzgrenze (beyond the pain barrier)

Mein Bericht über Rehm und Popow erzählen ueber das Sprinten mit Prothese, während

Tobias Graf den Lärm bei den Paralympics nicht aushältAl Rights Reserved

My article about two of the German sprinters tell their stories and the touble with prosthesis and noise at the paralympics.