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The Männergesangsverein Kappel with their standard

THE KAPPEL CHRONICLE (Satis Shroff, Kappel-Schwarzwald)

Lambert Weis: Whisper Words of Hope

It was a bright sunny day on the 6th of July 2010 and you could hear the birds chirping merrily in the adjacent birch and oak trees. We, the men of the Männergesangsverein were attending the funeral of Lambert Weis who was born in 23rd of August 1920. Almost ninety years and the picture above shows the house where he grew up as a child.

It was a funeral in the presence of the community in Kappel where he lived. His wife had preceded him fifteen years earlier. Ach, the suffering of this world, the darkness that befalls death. A life that death cannot tear away.

Lambert Weis had a special relationship to the Männergesangsverein where he was an active member for fifty years. We all knew him as an amiable, bespectacled man, who used to go around Kappel wearing his schieber-cap and a wandering stick, with emblems as reminders of the places he’d been to with his dear wife. It is in such times, when a soul departs that we think of the friendliness and sympathetic behaviour of the departed, and the signs of love a person has left behind. Such was the case of Lambert Weis, who died on the 29th of June 2010, who had a fall and succumbed to his internal injuries.

The paths are abandoned and we’re alone in these grey lanes, where no one comes.

Bless us Great Mother every day. Bless all hearts and every hut and town where people live. Spread your holy hands and whisper words of hope in his mouth. Blessings in death and dying, and in the life we’re living.

The ceremony began with a song ‘Wir sind nur Gast auf Erde’, that is, we’re only guests on this earth—sung together by all present at the St.Peter and Paul. Then followed ‘Sanctus’ and ‘Agnus Dei’ from the Deutsche Messe (Franz Schubert) sung by the colleagues of Lambert Weis from the Männergesangsverein (men’s choir) ‘Liederkranz.’

When Lambert Weis came from the last World War II, where he was detained as a prisoner of war, and had lost his index finger, he looked frail and had a haggard expression on his face. He knew what it was to be hungry during, and especially after the krieg. There were a lot of difficulties to be overcome and quite a few people in the Kappeler community thought out loud and said he wouldn’t survive. But Herr Weis showed them all that he was made of sterner stuff and outlived a lot of his colleagues. He built a home after what had been a long journey towards the end of the war and thereafter.

Due to the Second World War the activities of the men’s choir were reduced and almost came to a stop because most of the able-bodied men from the bergwerk and the Black Forest farmsteads had to do work as soldiers under the Wehrmacht in different fronts. They were replaced by prisoners-of-war from Poland,Later France, Russia and the Ukraine. Since there were very few men left, the men’s choir came closer with Littenweiler’s ‘Frohsinn’ and Herr Weiss was the conductor then. World War II brough a heavy loss to the Männergesangsverein because seven singers didn’t return. It was August Dold who brought the old and young singers together in 1946.

The new men’s choir ‘Liederkranz,’ which means a wreath of flowers, was founded on July 13,1947 after the then French government gave permission to the men to sing officially. The first chairman was Pius Trescher, who held his office till 1959. After that Herr Weiss, a senior school teacher, took over with twenty-four active and 67 passive members.

Comradeship and socialising together have always been important to the men’s choir, and excursions were undertaken together to the different towns and hamlets and the neighbouring countries: France, Switzerland and Austria.

The 16th and 17th of July 1950 was a special day for the men’s choir flag inauguration, and it began with a festival mass and honouring of the dead. And in the afternoon there was a big procession with the Kappeler verein. The people rejoiced and it took on the character of a folks-festival. On the following Monday there was the children’s and family-festival.

After the choir had sung the Grablied and the priest had sprinkled the holy water and bestowed a small spade of earth and spoken the words ‘from dust to dust and ashes to ashes,’ it was the turn of the men’s choir to do the same. Richard Lindner, the standard bearer of the Männergesangsverein, lowered the decorative flag of the verein into the open grave and marched out in two in their blue and black uniforms, after having spoken words of condolence to the sons and their wives of the deceased, waiting below the arcade to the graveyard.

He was a loveable person and that is why his love shall remain in the places and the hearts of those who knew him, for love goes beyond death. What remains is something eternal and becomes a part of eternity.

The epitaph goes thus:

Wenn die

Kraft

Zu Ende

Geht,

ist die

Erlösung

Gnade.

Autor Biographie

Satis Shroff ist Dozent, Schriftsteller, Dichter und Kunstler und außerdem Lehrbeauftragter für Creative Writing an der Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg.  Satis Shroff lebt in Freiburg-Kappel (poems, fiction, non-fiction) und schreibt über ökologische, medizin-ethnologische und kultur-ethnische Themen. Er hat Zoologie und Botanik in Nepal, Sozialarbeit und Medizin in Freiburg und Creative Writing in Freiburg und UK studiert. Da Literatur eine der wichtigsten Wege ist, um die Kulturen kennenzulernen, hat er sein Leben dem Kreatives Schreiben gewidmet. Er arbeitet als Dozent in Basel (Schweiz) und in Deutschland an der  Akademie für medizinische Berufe (Uniklinik Freiburg). Ihm wurde der DAAD-Preis verliehen.

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Through Nepalese Eyes’ is about the journey of a young Nepalese woman to Germany to meet her brother, who lives with his German wife and daughter in an allemanic town named Freiburg. It is a travelogue written by a sensitive, modern British public-school educated man. He describes the two worlds: Asia and Europe and the people he meets. There is a touch of sadness when his sister returns to her home in the foothills of the Himalayas.
(205 Seiten) Paperback:  €12.00 Download:  €6.25
          
It cries to be written because there are seldom books written by Nepalese writers about themselves. It’s always the casual foreign traveller, trekker or climber who writes about the people in the developing and least-developed countries of the so-called Third World.

The likely readers are the increasing male and female tourists, trekkers, climbers from the whole world who make their way to the Himalayas, each seeking something indefinable, perhaps peace, tranquillity, spiritual experience or a much-needed monologue with oneself in the heights of the Himalayas. The book is aimed at all Nepalophile and South Asian readers irrespective of their origin, and seeks to contribute towards understanding the Nepalese psyche, the world that the Nepalese live in, and the fact that it has to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of modernisation and innovations from the western world, amid the thoughts and beliefs, cultures and religions of the Himalayan world.

The book is divided according to the iterinary of the protagonist’s travels, her sojourn in Freiburg (Germany) and her excursions to Switzerland (Basle and Grindelwald) and France (Alsace and Paris-Versailles) and ends with the chapter ‘Return to the Himalayas’. It deals with the ‘Begegnungen’ or encounters with friendly Germans, the circle of her brother’s friends and the intercultural and inter-religious questions that she is confronted with during these conversations and the encouraging intercultural work being performed by Germans and foreigners specifically in Freiburg and Germany in general in creating a multicultural society, where a foreigner doesn’t have to fear deportation, persecution and xenophobia.

As my friend Satish Shroff requested me to write some introductory words to this book, I decided to start a very unusual way, by congratulating the author for the theme chosen: life, people, mentalities in East and West, with all inherent similarities (alas! few enough) and differences (quite a number). How right the late Rudyard Kipling was when expressing the essence of this subject: “East is East and West is West: Never the twins shall meet”! But by describing the two worlds as twins, he also hints at existing and possibly developing similarities.

Today’s world and way of life shortens the physical and mental distances, tending towards globalisation. Let us hope that one day, the only remaining differences will be of the geographic, artistic and cultural kind. Because there are elements which are common to both worlds and, therefore, they bring them together. Human nature, with all its emotions, love, sympathy, sorrow, hatred and a multitude of other feelings, is the same and the common element of both Eastern and Western people. The writer successfully brings out these points, clearly delineating each character.

This work is a window wherefrom one can peep to the East from the West  and vice-versa. One can make out the geographical distributions, the cultural distinctions and the historic development of East and West separately. But if someone ponders on it, he finds the same basic human sentiments and values that hold mankind together since times immemorial.

Personally, I think that this and other works of this kind will prove instrumental in creating a good understanding between the two worlds, by describing the respective natures, cultures, traditions, art, social life and thus contributing towards a better knowledge and appreciation of each other, which will hopefully result into creating a new, more human world for the whole mankind sharing the same earth and sky. This world should be like a great family, and we, its members, should be constantly striving for maintaining its unity.

So, my friend Satish, as you see, I consider you one of the architects of this new world, this ideal, this Shangri-La of the whole mankind. In spite of many private and global setbacks, I am sure we are approaching it, with little steps, it is true, but we are coming nearer with every smile, with each gesture of tolerance and understanding between the two still different worlds.

I congratulate you, my dear friend, on your efforts to close the gap. May everyone read your book with open eyes, mind and heart.
Bonn, the 26th of May 2007
(Dr. Novel K. Rai)
Former Nepalese Ambassador to Germany

What others have said about the author:
„Die Schilderungen von Satis Shroff in ‘Through Nepalese Eyes’ sind faszinierend und geben uns die Möglichkeit, unsere Welt mit neuen Augen zu sehen.“ (Alice Grünfelder von Unionsverlag / Limmat Verlag, Zürich).

Since 1974 I have been living on and off in Nepal, writing articles and publishing books about Nepal– this beautiful Himalayan country. Even before I knew Satis Shroff personally (later) I was deeply impressed by his articles, which helped me very much to deepen my knowledge about Nepal.Satis Shroff is one of the very few Nepalese writers being able to compare ecology, development and modernisation in the ‘Third’ and ‘First’ World. He is doing this with great enthusiasm, competence and intelligence, showing his great concern for the development of his own country.  (Ludmilla Tüting, journalist and publisher, Berlin).

Due to his very pleasant personality and in-depth experience in both South Asian, as well as Western workstyles and living, Satis Shroff brings with him a cultural sensitivity that is refined. His writings have always reflected the positive attributes of optimism, tolerance, and a need to explain and to describe without looking down on either his subject or his reader.  (Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal Southasia, Kathmandu)

Satis Shroff  writes with intelligence, wit and grace. (Bruce Dobler, Associate Professor in Creative Writing MFA, University of Iowa).       

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