Archive for November, 2011

World Healing Poetry: The Healing Power of Hope (Satis Shroff, Germany)

Unto you that fear my name

Shall the sun of righteousness

Arise with healing in his wings


Bridges of peace, friendship and togetherness

Are built on mutual respect,

Tolerance and Miteinander.

We must talk about the symbols

Of tyranny in your villages, towns and cities.

On Memorial Day we gather with earnest faces,

To honour and remember the people

Whose names are engraved on stones,

Who died in the two World Wars.

The suns and husbands have fallen,

But a new ghost raises its ugly head again,

The Neonazis who work for

The Bundesnachrichtendienst.,

Who receive money for their incompetence,

In Thuringen, Saxony,

Hessen and Lower Saxony.

The lesson of faschism taught us

Never to combine

The police with the secret service,

For it would be akin to the Gestapo,

The Geheimen Staatspolizei.

The sixteen secret services in Germany

Cannot coordinate and cooperate.

Since thirteen years have we given

Neonazis a free hand,

Who robbed banks,

Executed Turkish and Greek migrants.

The constitution makes it possible:

‘Germany for the Germany,

All aliens out!’

Long live the Freedom of Speech.

But prithee, where is the protection

Of the migrants and underdogs

Of the society?

Is a new holocaust in the offing?

Yet there is no way

But the path of peace and togetherness.

The ewig gestrigen and the neos

Are still licking the wounds of war,

Wounds that won’t heal,

For they are infected with hate anew,

With brown-propaganda.

War has always been ugly and brutal.

The widows of the on-going krieg in the Hindukush,

The survivors who don’t understand their own world,

After the trauma of Vietnam, Irak, Afghanistan.

When the NATO sirens are tested,

The air vibrates with a monstrous noise.

Fear makes the olde soldier’s heart beats faster,

His pulse races and he almost chokes.

The memories and the fury of war overwhelm him.

Who will restore the faces we’ve adored?

Love, faith, togetherness and peace

Haven’t been lulled to sleep.

We still hear the clarion call

To the dangers of war,

To the hoarse shouts

Of the Neos in the street,

Who strut and fret,

And believe Auschwitz was a lie.

A silence treads like clouds shadows,

Among the people of Germany.

Hope hasn’t abandoned us yet,

Despite the petite victories of the rightists,

In Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

The people in these lands

Think otherwise.

In every good person there is a bad part,

In every bad person there’s a good trait,

Like ying and yang.

We can only appeal to humans,

Hope and pray for peace,

And the old wounds to heal,

Between humans in this world.

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Volkstrauertag-Memorial Day (Satis Shroff)


                      Volkstrauertag at Freiburg-Kappel in the Black Forest, Germany

Once a year we in Germany think about the victims of past wars, conflicts and rulers who used aggression and brutality to attain and preserve their power. We were gathered in the Black Forest town of Freiburg-Kappel to honour the people who’s names were engraved on the stone-slab; sons of Kappel who died in the killing-fields of World War I and II. The dedication ran thus:

‘…Ihren in den Weltkriegen

1914-1918 und 1939-1943

gefallenen Söhnen.’

The people of Kappel were standing between the graves, the navy-blue uniformed men of the Voluntary Fire Brigade standing at attention, the music verein and the men’s choir (MGV-Kappel ‘Liederkranz’ played appropriate music and the choir sang a Russian song ‘Tabje Pajem’ as well as the German version of ‘Nearer My God.’

The ones who were honoured were the sons, fathers and young husbands who died in the last two big wars. The memorial service was also for those who weren’t mentioned, as well as those who have had to live without the dead and missing members of the family. Even today, young German widows are weeping for their husbands who were killed on duty in the Hindukush. At the same time, the memorial reminds us of the right to protest in countries where people are treated inhumanly and where peaceful living and togetherness are jeopardised.

Values and norms are always followed by deeds and our memorial in Kappel is one such act. We have to extend our hands to others in friendship, and the soldier who has his finger on the trigger should have the civil courage not to shoot another human being, thinking of the people of the Volksarmy of the old German Democratic Republic, who didn’t hesitate to shoot their own people, who wanted to flee from the socialist, totalitarian country where barbed-wire, the automatic shooting devices, long and tall walls were normality, and where the people were crushed by army-boots and many tortured and killed. The trauma of those days and the days of the holocaust still haunt us today, and in the future too.

As a result of aggression on the weaker by the powerful, wounds were, and still are, being created, which can never be healed and the sufferers swear revenge in the sanguine and fearsome wars. Yet there is no other way than to forgive and live in peace.

In Germany we have lived long in peace after the last World War II, and we shouldn’t give war a chance to raise its ugly head, but endeavour to look for peaceful solutions when conflict flairs up. Our children must be told about the misery and loss in wartime and it is our duty to tell them about the experience and deep feelings that we have whenever we’re confronted with the word ‘war.’ It should not be a taboo like death. It’s not about DVD and computer games: it’s the hard reality. We have to bring the symbols of aggression and tyranny to our hamlets, towns and cities and talk about it and endow respect for the deceased and those injured, whether the damage is collateral or not. If we show respect, tolerance, togetherness and peaceful intentions to other people it will be possible to build bridges of consolation, friendship and togetherness.

We should never cease to hope and act for peace, because krieg, brutality and aggression are evident very much in our lives, brought to us through the media. The war in Afghanistan, which was for a long time sold by the governments of Germany and Britain as a mere ‘conflict,’ even when we all knew that it was a terrible war where people died on both sides. The Arabian Spring has shown what people can do against tyranny by joining forces and fighting against it.

In Freiburg the memorials for the fallen soldiers were commemorated after World War I, among them one for the 5th Badische field artillery at the cannon-place on Schlossberg in the years 1925-26, and also at the big graveyard with the themes: Germania and Heimat. The ‘Alma mater in grief’ can be seen at the university building I, initiated by a psychiatrist named Alfed Hoche later for all the victims of World War II and tyranny.

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Grapes and Culture (Satis Shroff)

It was a beautiful autumnal day and we, the members of the men´s choir (MGV-Kappel) headed for ZunZingen, a wine-growing area near Müllheim along the country-road in a Winterhalter bus, based in Kirchzarten. We went past Staufen and the Munster Valley hidden by a thick forest in the colours of autumn.

´Oh, that´s the place where we used to go to gather mushrooms,´ quipped Elke Suetterle, a soft spoken, slim lady with long flowing brunette hair.

Yellow mustard fields appeared and in the distance a glorious sunset. An Eurofighter jet streaked with its white jet stream vertically as though it´d found a hole to Heaven in the orange-blue sky.

The bus went slowly along the country-road past picturesque villages with gentle valleys, spurs and hillocks. We saw a Café im Glashaus in Dottingen. There were horses and some mules grazing in small green enclosures. A pretty church with a steep roof and a cross on the top went by with the colourful sunset in the background. Then came the grapevines. There was a Hofladen, a shop attached to the farm, with the farmer´s wife selling self-produced fruits and vegetables. Soon we went past the grey building of the Winzergenossenschaft Laufen. There were carefully planted grape vines, half a metre high on the slopes of where ever you looked. The wood was already cut and neatly stacked for the winter for in the countryside you still use ovens which are fed on wood, and there were huge hay-bundles in sky-blue plastic bags scattered across the fields because everything´s done with agricultural machines.

After the Winzergenossenschaft Britzingen, along the narrow streets you could suddenly see a local artist´s atelier with modern exhibits, and in the distance cypress trees arranged in a row like in the Tosca. Finally we reached Zunzingen, located on a slope. There was a sign with the words ´Gas weg v: Kinder,´ warning car-drivers that there was a Kindergarden ahead.

We were greeted with Badische hospitality by our friend Dirk Schneider and his Mongolian wife and were ushered into the Weinetiketten Museum housed in their spacious home, the first of its kind in Germany. There were 1200 exhibits which keep on changing, and the collection had 120,000 specimens from over Europe, the oldest wine label dating back to 1811.

What was fascinating was the fact that a few wine-labels were specially drawn and painted by renowned artists like Picasso and Chagal and even famous cartoonists.

Dir Schneider, who´sDr. Gustav Schneider´s son, said, ´My parents took over the tradition-rich wine estate in Zunzingen in the year 1995. Since then we´ve been carrying on the success of a marriage between experiencing wine and enjoying it.´ Dr. Gustav Schneider and his wife Elizabeth have two sons: Dirk and Jörg. Whereas Dirk runs the historical wine-castle in Freiburg, which is located between the Jazzhouse and the Goethe Institute, his brother Joerg is responsible for the Walfgasthaus St. Barbara. Dr. Gustav Schneider was an ophthalmologist before he took over the wine-business with his sons.

Zunzingen lies in the middle of the Markgräflerland which is a sunny area, like Ihringen and Freiburg, and the people as well as the grapes enjoy the sun here. To turn the sun-kissed grapes into noble wine lies in the hands of the grape-grower, who combines tradition with modern technology. Zunzingen´s soil is suitable for the vineyards because it is fertile loess earth where the Burgunder grapes and the well-known Markgräfler Gutedel grow.

Dirk mentioned, ´Around 55% of our wines are white wine and 44% are red wine. The best among them belong to the international best. The profile of our wine is: fresh and fruity. We have 90% wines of the dry sort.´

We had the fresh, fruity dry sort to go with dinner and none of us had a headache or a hangover. Good wine.

There are as many labels as there are wines. They tell us also about the time in history, and there are people who gather these wine-labels like postage stamps. You could peruse through the 200 years of wine-history on the thousands of labels from Thomas Wangler´s collection, which were on exhibit arranged according to specific themes. Beside the label of 1811, the ones from Baden are also interesting. You have to be a wine-connoisseur and have time at your disposal.

Wine is the fermented juice of freshly gathered grapes. The character of the wine depends on the species of grapes, the locality of the vineyard and method of cultivation. The main kinds are: sparkling champagne, beverage wines such as the famous red and white wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley and the white wines of the Rhine, Moselle and Loire valleys. A wine can be fortified with the addition of alcohol, as in the case of sherry.

After the sekt-reception at the Weinetikettenmuseum we had an excellent dinner: wine and enjoyment, that´s the enjoyment of culture. When you drink wine you have to sing, as we from the MGV-Kappel did. We sang ´Erhebet gas Glass´ (Raise your glasses), ´Oh, you Maiden From Schwarzwald, How Lovely You Are´ and ´Heaven is a Wonderful Place.´ Zunzingen was an oasis for our senses: wine, cuisine, culture. We boarded the bus and carried out animated conversations till be reached Kappel. A lovely evening, I must say.

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