Historical fiction: The tragic life of Albrecht von Haar in journal format
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Category — family

Death threat

I received a death threat his week. It is my first. I am treating it seriously as some of my academic colleagues have also received such threats. I contacted the Berlin police and have recorded a complaint.

The threat was hand-written and placed in a simple envelope with a swastika stamped on it. Strangely, there was also a soiled boot heel mark on the back of the envelope used clumsily as a seal. Not very subtle, all in all.  The police were somewhat sympathetic, but warned me that the threat could have been made to appear to come from the Nazis when it fact it may have come from some other quarter. The writer, or writers, warned me to stop publishing comparisons of German economic and military moves to that of Japan… particularly Japan’s Manchurian invasion and Chinese machinations. The note also referred to my Jewish heritage  and that I should leave Germany for my ‘health.’

By taking the threat seriously, I think I’ve done the prudent thing. I’ve taken out a 25,000 mark life insurance policy that is payable to my brother Hans. I had dinner with him last night  and  explained the whole situation. I asked that he take care of Ada  if something should happen to me. He was quite upset, but I insisted that he give  15,000 marks to Ada and the rest to himself. My father in Bavaria is fairly well off with his pension and his book revenues, so I’m not so much worried about him and my mother. Ada and Hans, on the other hand, could use some help if I disappear from the scene, so to speak.  I am not going to tell Ada of this affair as she would only become overwrought and would insist that I curtail certain aspects of my publication. That I will not do.

Hans asked me if I had any personal protection, such as a gun or even a knife. I do not, but I replied that I will give it serious thought.

January 23, 2011   No Comments

My father the (retired) general’s German / Japanese fixation

Image by Okinawa Soba via Flickr

My father the retired general and I had a rather long discussion today, sometimes heated, about the Japanese situation.

He has long admired Japan and its ruling class. He has written a book and lectured on the topic.  He religiously compares Germany’s destiny in Europe to that of Japan’s undisguised determination in Asia.

The dissenting  point I made in our argument was that Japan’s long standing ambitions in Manchuria and other parts of China and Korea will inevitably bring it into conflict with the United States and possibly Britain. I also pointed out that if Germany continues to likewise cast its eye on the vast grain fields and oil fields to the East, as my father suggests it should, our Fatherland will run afoul of  Britain, France and the United States, not to mention Russia.

In this kind of war-gaming we frequently engage in ( I’m no military man, I’m an academic! )  I hold strongly to my conviction that Germany can never win a two front war. My father is not convinced. Even when I remind him that when the Bolsheviks sued for peace in the Great War and we were able to completely focus our military resources on the Western Front, we still could not win. Then I hear the usual shit from the general that the Great War was lost at home by traitors, not at the front. I never fail to point out that the German army lost the war when they failed to take Paris in the first few months of the conflict and the coup de grace occurred when a million fresh troops from the U.S. joined the fray in 1917.

Countering, my father argues  that he has no esteem for the United States. He feels it is too far away, is now isolationist and has no interest in European politics or war. I cautioned my father that Germany is currently in no condition to go to war over anything, much less lebensraum. The French have a sword hanging over our head with 200 divisions on the border and Russia is too vast to conquer, as Napoleon found out.

We both did agree that Britain is too war weary to care a whit about any German plans to expand in the East. They lost the flower of their aristocracy in the Great War and have no stomach to once again police German actions.

We have no standing army, navy or decent political leader, so my father the general’s geoploitical ambition for Germany to turn Eastward is nothing but poppycock. Talking about geopolitics does serve to get us through two excellent cigars.

Father warned  me to watch this Hitler fellow. Hitler could make things happen for Germany, he said. After all, ten years ago my dear  father the general had tutored Hitler’s closest friend, our good Rudolph Hess, about Germany’s destiny to rule central and eastern Europe. Hess had not been the brightest student, father has rued many times, but herr  Hess makes up for lack of intellect with ambition, drive, and now, the ear of Adolph Hitler. I tell my father I am watching Hitler and his minions and am particularly sensitive to their antisemitism. He glanced at my mother and nodded knowingly.

“If that son of a bitch can put Germany back on the map. I’ll be a happy man. But watch his cronies. I agree many of his advisors are dangerous to people like us.”

“What do you mean, ‘ people like us’, ” I asked.

“People who think for themselves.”

We closed our talk with some schnapps and agreed to discuss Japan again the next time I came south to visit. My brother Hans arrived in the evening and we had a late supper. Hans mentioned that the communists and Nazis are fighting violently in the streets of Munich. This is nothing new.  I return to Berlin in the morning.

April 17, 2010   No Comments