Monday, March 27, 2006

Ik houd niet van reizen in oorlogstijd

"I don't like to travel in times of war".

Werner Löwenhardt was born in 1919, in Dortmund-Lindenhorst, Germany. He was the youngest of nine sons. In 1935 the family fled their town, hoping to escape the increasingly hostile attitude in Germany toward Jews. They had relatives in Enschede, a Dutch border town, so that's where they settled. During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands Werner was taken to a labor camp in Ede, before being transported to transit camp Westerbork.
Every Tuesday a train filled with Jewish prisoners left for what was called "the east". But Werner, who was a talented artist, and who was allowed to "document" the camp life, managed to remain in Westerbork until the liberation in May of 1945. He was the only one of a family of 43 people who survived the Holocaust.
The book Ik houd niet van reizen in oorlogstijd, is a family album, a beautiful memorial, illustrated with Werner's sketches and photographs.


Ik houd niet van reizen in oorlogstijd : familiealbum 1919-1945 / Werner Lowenhardt
Uitgave: Alkmaar : René de Milliano, 2004
Collatie: 107 p : ill ; 23x25 cm
Inhoud: Tekeningen, foto's en herinneringen aan de jaren 1942-1945 die de schrijver als gevangene in doorgangskamp Westerbork doorbracht.
Werner Löwenhardt werd in 1919 in Dortmund-Lindenhorst geboren als jongste zoon van een traditioneel joods gezin. Werner vluchtte met zijn ouders en acht broers in 1935 naar familie in Enschede. Tijdens de joodse bezetting werd hij in een werkkamp in Ede geplaatst en vandaar overgebracht naar Westerbork. Elke dinsdag vertrok er een trein vol joodse gevangenen uit Westerbork naar 'het Oosten'. Dankzij zijn tekentalent wist Werner uit die trein te blijven en overleefde hij de holocaust. Dit deels getekende familiealbum geeft een beeld van het leven in oorlogstijd.
ISBN: 9072810414

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Werner Löwenhardt (1919-2006)

My dear old friend Werner Löwenhardt died on January 18, 2006.

The last time I saw him was in 2002. I had stepped onto the #24 tram in Amsterdam-Zuid, found a seat where I entered in the back, and recognized Werner, way in the front, by his dapper shape. Small of posture, he was always well dressed, clad in a smart overcoat with square shoulders, a nice scarf, his white manes a beacon of light amidst the crowd. Hardly surprised when I tapped him on the shoulder, then kissed him on the cheek —we hadn't seen each other for eight years— he invited me for tea at his office. He wanted to show me his latest project, a book on the Holocaust.

I've known Werner and his wife Lilo for 27 years. My friend Anita introduced me to her parents in 1979. On Sundays, the four of us would often share a meal, or meet at the theater, or an exhibition. Around that time, Werner invited me to his office at the Koningsplein, to show me, bit by bit, parts of his amazing collection of advertising posters and antique world maps. That's how our friendship started. I was a fledgling designer and interested in his art and craft, and the way that he had managed to survive as a freelancer.

There was more however. What possibly was the most intriguing, was the fact that although Werner said he had never met my father, Jaap van Praag (1898-1969) I knew that both men had been imprisoned until the end of the war, at Nazi transit camp Westerbork, in the province of Drenthe. Stranger yet, Anita and I had a friend in common, whose father as well had been at Westerbork at that same time. All three men had survived. They were not acquainted, and yet their daughters found each other more than three decades after the liberation.

I enjoyed visiting Werner at his downtown office at Koningsplein, which overlooked the hustle and bustle below. At some point he hired me to write letters and manage the office, while he was on vacation or away on business trips. He acknowledged my strong points, my talents. and strongly encouraged me to seek my future in the United States. He offered to photograph my theater designs, and helped me put together a travel port-folio. When I packed my bags, he wished me well. When I returned he welcomed me.



When I visited him in 2002, his office was situated elsewhere, he had given up the prime Koningsplein location after his retirement. I knew the place well however, it was there that we pinned my drawings on the wall, working in unison to shoot as many pictures as needed. And we managed to shoot one picture of ourselves as well. We were quite the team.

The manuscript Werner showed me was illustrated with sketches he made at camp Westerbork, and photos of the relatives he lost to the Holocaust. With tears in his eyes he related how his parents were killed after the war had already been lost by the Nazis. After having worked on the stories of other people all of his life, he finally took the time to create a personal memorial Ik houd niet van reizen in oorlogstijd in memory of his lost loved ones.

I'm sad that I won't get to see my old friend when I visit Amsterdam again, but he sure lives on in my memories.

©2006 Judith van Praag

Tragedy of the Emigrant

This morning I read in the March issue of Ons Amsterdam, that a dear old friend died on January 18. I'm sad, but not stunned by his death, after all he had reached what is called a ripe old age, and I shouldn't even be surprised by the fact that I didn't know. It's happened before. Every once in a while I receive news of someone's death, when it's too late to attend the funeral. I've come to accept this as the tragedy of the emigrant. Not only do you have to rush across continents and oceans to get to someone's deathbed, you often arrive too late. Most of the time you don't even hear that someone you cared about died, until much later. That's what makes me double sad though. As an emigrant you're deprived of mourning together with the others, deprived of sharing your sorrow. Sometimes I think you might as well be dead yourself when you leave your country of origin.

©2006 Judith van Praag

Monday, March 20, 2006

"Tegenlicht" door Job Creyghton

Op de laatste bladzijde van zijn roman 'Tegenlicht' bedankt auteur Job Creyghton de fotograven en rapporteurs Maurice Boyer, Arno Haytema en Rogier Vogelenzang voor hun gedegen en vakkundig commentaar op zijn manuscript. Fotografie en 'investigative reporting' speelt dan ook een grote rol in Creyghton's laatste boek.

In 'Tegenlicht' volgt de lezer de jonge oorlogsfotografe Anna Landman op de voet. Er wordt wel eens gezegd dat de camera een werkelijk engagement met dat wat men ziet ondermijnt. De camera beschermt de fotograaf van het recht in de ogen kijken van de ander. Misschien dat het onder ogen zien van het gevaar wel onderdrukt wordt door het aanbrengen van dat 'tussen oog'. Dat op zich is waarschijnlijk de enige manier waarop oorlogsfotograven hun doelwit kunnen benaderen.

Aan de ene kant is Anna Landman een echte 'news hound' ze vindt het maar saai in Amsterdam, voelt zich meer op haar plaats in het door oorlog geteisterde Charcuz. Aan de andere kant ontvlucht ze daarmee de —voor haar angstige— werkelijkheid van het onderhouden van relaties met haar familieleden en vriend in Amsterdam. Het is nu eenmaal niet mogelijk je dierbaren constant door het oog van de camera op een afstand te houden.
Niet dat Anna een tobberige indruk maakt, ze is meer bezig met compositie van beelden, sluitersnelheid, haar voorkeur voor de Leica of in andere gevallen weer haar digital camera. Het is niet voor niets dat blogger Jan Edward in zijn PHOTOGRAPHY WEBLOG: 10/09/2005 - 10/15/2005 'Tegenlicht' als boekentip aangeeft.

Tegelijkertijd maakt deze afstand dat Anna Landman als personage wat magertjes uit de verf komt. Of eigenlijk zou ik moeten schrijven opzettelijk 'under exposed', wat op zich heel goed is gedaan. Pas wanneer het onderwerp van haar genegenheid, een jongetje in Charchuz, voor haar ogen wordt doodgeschoten —een moment dat ze evenwel vastlegt èn waar ze uiteindelijk de World Press Photo prijs mee zal verdienen— verandert er iets in Anna's benadering en houding ten op zichte van relaties, zowel als haar vak. Het duurt daarna niet lang voordat liefde voor een collega, zowel als eigenbehoud, haar verder op de proef zal stellen.

Creyghton heeft een vlotte trant van schrijven, en je komt in Tegenlicht een aantal zeer spannende scenes tegen. Uit het verhaal spreekt de schrijver's interesse in engagement, hoe het ontstaat en voortduurt voor sommigen, terwijl het vervlakt voor anderen. Een interessant gegeven, dat een literaire wending geeft aan wat eigenlijk heel sec een politieke thriller is, of zou kunnen zijn.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Priced by the Kilogram

You've got to give it to Jürgen Heckrodt, a real East Frisian from the small town of Norden in Northwest Germany: he knows how to make the news.
In 2003 Mr. Heckrodt promised to introduce visitors to Hotel Wilden Mann in Lucern to the secrets of East Frisian tea culture. The article at the Teaclub Site mentioned that East Frisia was the ONLY teadrinking region on the European mainland.
"Nonsense", is my response to that. But nonsense often makes the news. Ain't that the truth?

However, I can't argue with the people of Norden-Norddeich when they claim that tea is the East-Frisian national drink. After all, their motto is: “Dree Koppie sind Ostfreesenrecht” (East Frisians have the right to three cups), and that three times a day.
At the East Frisian Tea Museum you can take it all in, the site, the smell and the taste.

Today The Seattle Times reports that Mr. Heckrodt charges guests to his hotel by the kilogram (2.2 Lb); their own weight times half a Euro ($0.61) that is. He had been getting too many super heavy lodgers and who knows, perhaps his beds were zagging, or he maybe he feels the need to install extra wide showers or potties.

Let's look how this might affect your hotel bill.
If I go by the weight I had as an eighteen-year-old: 65 Kg. the price of a one night stay wouldn't be too bad: € 32.50
And let's be honest, today I would be out a few more Euros, but the average weighing Joe or Jane won't be paying more than €40.00 per night. If you weigh in over 200 pounds however, you may have to dip into your wallet a bit deeper.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

When Democrats and Republicans Work Together as ONE to Beat AIDS and Poverty…

Did you know that right now, four Senators are reaching across political divides to save lives? These Democrats and Republicans are coming together and agreeing on one thing—that America can do even more to fight AIDS and poverty.

Join them: Please call 1-800-786-2663 TODAY and ask YOUR Senators to support the Santorum-Durbin and DeWine-Leahy Amendments to fight global AIDS and extreme poverty.

As ONE, we’ve made over 10,000 calls to the Senate and we have ONE MORE DAY to let Capitol Hill know that we want America to do even more to save lives. With your voice, these efforts will make a real difference for the world's poorest people by providing prevention, care and treatment for millions of children, women and families.

If you haven't called yet, please call 1-800-786-2663 today to be connected directly to your Senators. If you’ve already called, please call again and ask them to support the DeWine-Leahy Amendment.

What these leaders are doing is in the best American tradition of working together and helping others help themselves—let’s show them that as ONE, we’re ready to help them get it done.

Learn how to talk to your senators and how these effective efforts help save lives

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rio Grande

Little Dog dips her feet in Rio Grande mud where many a river crossing took place in the past.

Rio Grande, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Rio Grande at Lajitas, TX, picture shot by Gary M. Davis with his SLR 35 mm

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

No better movie to watch after our return from "Little Dog's trip to Galveston, and back", then Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada". Seeing the immense horizon, the big sky, we elbowed each other, "We were there, we were there!"
Prolific (oh, my)Tony G., heads an entry on Milk River Blog with "Three Burials in my West Texas". I can't claim any propriety that way (or elsewhere) but whole heartedly understand his claim, for even I, pulled from the clay Dutchess, want to say, "That's my West Texas".