Sunday, 23 December 2018

Mary Berg's Diary: The children's home in the Warsaw Ghetto

Mary Berg lived in the Warsaw Ghetto, but her situation was unusual. Though she was born in Poland, her mother was an American. 
Jews with American citizenship could possibly be exchanged for German prisoners of war and were imprisoned, not deported to death camps. 
Mary was imprisoned in the Pawiak prison near to the centre of the ghetto.  

Mary survived. She was nineteen in March 1944, when she stepped off a prisoner-of-war exchange ship from Lisbon in New York. 

During the years she lived in the ghetto, she kept a diary. 
A compelling document.
This is an excerpt from her diary.

"Dr. Janusz Korczak’s children’s home is empty now.
A few days ago we all stood at the window and watched the Germans surround the houses. 
Rows of children, holding each other by their little hands, began to walk out of the doorway. There were tiny tots of two or three years among them, while the oldest ones were perhaps thirteen.
Each child carried a little bundle in his hand. All of them wore white aprons.
They walked in ranks of two, calm, and even smiling. They had not the slightest foreboding of their fate.

At the end of the procession marched Dr. Korczak, who saw to it that the children did not walk on the sidewalk. Now and then, with fatherly solicitude, he stroked a child on the head or arm, and straightened out the ranks.
He wore high boots, with his trousers stuck in them, an alpaca coat, and a navy blue cap, the so-called Maciejowka cap. He walked with a firm step, and was accompanied by one of the doctors of the children’s home, who wore his white smock.
This sad procession vanished at the corner of Dzielimy and Smocza Streets. They went in the direction of Gesia Street, to the cemetery.

At the cemetery all the children were shot.
We were also told by our informants that Dr. Korczak was forced to witness the executions, and that he himself was shot afterward.

Thus died one of the purest and noblest men who ever lived.
He was the pride of the ghetto. His children’s home gave us courage, and all of us gladly gave part of our own scanty means to support the model home organized by this great idealist.
He devoted all his life, all his creative work as an educator and writer, to the poor children of Warsaw.
Even at the last moment he refused to be separated from them.

The house is empty now, except for the guards who are still cleaning up the rooms of the murdered children."

August, 1942

Monday, 17 December 2018

A culture without culture

Eight years ago Yael Stone and Geoffrey Rush were appearing together in a theatrical adaptation of the Gogol story, “Diary of a Madman”. They shared a dressing room.
According to Stone, Rush began to send her text messages that gradually became more sexual in nature.
Was she upset by these messages, then?
No, according to her own words, she “enthusiastically and willingly” responded to the texts.

There was one situation that she did object to. They had a shower cubicle in their shared dressing room. Once she noticed that Rush was trying to watch her take a shower through a mirror.
She told him to “bugger off”, though she later also said, “I believe that it was meant with a playful intention...”.

Now she is upset by the eight year old messages. It is now sexual harassment. She is on the warpath against Rush.
But how can it be sexual harassment if you enthusiastically and willingly take part in the sexual “games”?
How can it be sexual harassment if you say yes, not no? 

Yael Stone explained this in an article full of platitudes she wrote for the Guardian a year ago.
According to Stone, it is a “culture” problem.
We live in a patriarchal society where the “abuse of power” (by men) manifests itself “in sexual aggression” towards women.
In other words: men are oppressors and women are their victims. According to Stone, women have been culturally conditioned to accept this.
Therefore, she as a woman is not (never) to blame, because she was culturally conditioned to enthusiastically and willingly take part in her own “sexual harassment”.
As women are always the victims of men, they are not accountable and victims do not have any individual responsibility for their choices and actions.

Why do I care?
I have not seen Yael Stone in anything. I have read that she has some merit as an actress.
Geoffrey Rush, on the other hand, is a great actor. Because of her accusations, he may never work again.

I care because Stone and her friends are dragging western culture into a culture without culture.