Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Holocaust, a dog and a tape recorder

Holocaust survivors usually did not like dogs.
During the Holocaust, the Nazis not only used dogs to guard Jews. They were also used to attack and kill them.

Ronnie and Michaela, a Belgium couple from my garin (group), arrived at the kibbutz with a small, friendly dog. The Romanian Holocaust survivors on the kibbutz were upset about this, but it was not forbidden.
It was not a major ideological problem like Danny’s tape recorder.

Danny and Judith were a brother and sister from a rich, left-wing Swiss Jewish family.
Judith arrived first. She was a bit too fancy for the Marxist-Zionist kibbutz. It was rumoured that she trimmed her pubic hair.
I never had the inclination to find out if the rumour was true or false. My friend Tzvi from Austria said it was true.

Danny arrived later with a (big) tape recorder, which he wanted to keep for himself because he could not live without his music.
This was a direct attack on the principle of equality in our garin.
We did not even have radios and we were still living in huts. Yet he refused to give up the tape recorder.
A solution was found.
He gave the tape recorder to the kibbutz library but kept it in his room, as he was allowed to borrow it indefinitely.

A solution was also found for Ronnie and Michaela’s small dog.
Someone poisoned it.
I remember seeing them distraught in the communal dining room after the poisoning. They were crying and shouting that the kibbutz had killed their dog. They did not get much sympathy.

Ronnie and Michaela left the kibbutz, as did Judith.
Her brother Danny is still there. He is quite important nowadays; sits on the Board of a number of peace organizations.

The kibbutz must be doing well, it even has a listing on the Bloomberg site.
"The Company's line of business includes the manufacturing of synthetic resins, plastics materials, and nonvulcanizable elastomers". It has 250 employees.
According to the site of the "company", it is the largest international manufacturer of solar swimming pool heating systems, with wholly-owned subsidiaries in the USA and Germany.

The kibbutz, like the country, has changed. The Holocaust is an ever dimming memory and I do not think they worry about dogs and tape recorders any more.


Monday, 5 August 2019

Diversity and Cultural Divide

Nieuwe Zakelijkheid, translated as New Objectivity or New Pragmatism, is a Dutch style of modernist architecture that started in the 1920s and continued into the 1930s.
I have a distinct antipathy towards this form of architecture.

I live across the road to a synagogue building that is a prime example of Nieuwe Zakelijkheid. It is now used as an auction hall.
The actual synagogue is in a small annex that is not an example of any form of architecture.

Opposite the annex lives an old homosexual couple.
Their yellow roses are in bloom.
One of the men dresses like an old professor, the other like a young man from the 1950s.
The old professor type told us his partner’s legs were bad and he could not walk very far, but he wanted to keep up appearances by dressing like a young man.

Next door lives an older woman who used to be the madam of a brothel. 
Her red roses are in bloom.
She is a nice, chatty person who changes the colour of her hair every month. She once told me she had an invalid husband who she looks after, but I have never seen him.
There is always another old lady with her. I wonder if this is a sister, a friend or a lover.
I also wonder if she has a past with her homosexual neighbours.

My Dutch wife says I should stop wondering and ask her. This illustrates the cultural divide between us.
One does not ask these things, one speculates.