Category Archives: Germany

Anne Frank 6.13.13 Thought of the Day

Somehow I missed Anne Frank’s birthday yesterday. So I’m posting her bioBLOG today instead.


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”— Anne Frank

Anne Frank

Anne Frank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Annelies Marie Frank was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Yesterday was the 84th anniversary of her birth.

Anne was the younger daughter of Otto and Edith Frank.  Otto Frank was a “lieutenant in the German Army during World War I who later became a businessman in Germany and the Netherlands..”[] Anne’s older sister Margot was three years her senior.

The Franks were upper middle-class German Jews. They lived in a diverse neighborhood. Anne went to school and played with children of various religions. But when the Nazis came to power  in Germany Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam.

Anne Frank started at the Montessori School in 1934, and throughout the rest of the 1930s she lived a relatively happy and normal childhood. Frank had many friends, Dutch and German, Jewish and Christian, and she was a bright and inquisitive student. [Ibid]

She particularly liked reading and writing, while Margot liked arithmetic. It was one of the many ways in which the sisters were dissimilar. Anne was outgoing, rambunctious and loud; Margot was reserved, well behaved and quiet.

Germany invased the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Anne later wrote about the invasion:

“After May 1940, the good times were few and far between; first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews.”

By October of 1940 Anti-Jewish laws were put into place. Anne and Margot had to leave their schools and attend the Jewish Lyceum.  The family had to sew the yellow Star of David on their clothing and had to follow a curfew. Otto Frank took measures to transfer his businesses to Gentile partners so the companies would not be liquidated.

For her birthday in 1942 Anne’s parents gave her a red and white checkered diary which she dubbed  “Kitty”. Less than a month later Margot was called up for service in a German work camp and the family went into hiding.

English: Reconstruction of the bookcase at the...

English: Reconstruction of the bookcase at the Anne Frank house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the next two years her family, along with Herman, Auguste and Peter Van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer, lived in the secret annex of one of Otto Frank’s former businesses. Anne…

wrote extensive daily entries in her diary. Some betrayed the depth of despair into which she occasionally sunk during day after day of confinement. “I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die,” she wrote on February 3, 1944. “The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway.” However, the act of writing allowed Frank to maintain her sanity and her spirits. “When I write, I can shake off all my cares,” []

The Secret Annex was raided on August 4, 1944 and Anne, her family and the others hiding there were taken to  Camp WesterBork in Northeast Netherlands. On September 3rd, 1944 They were transferred to Auschwitz in Poland. That winter Anne and Margot were transferred to Bergen-Belsen. Both girls contracted typhus and died in March of 1945.

Otto Frank, the only one from the Annex to survive the Camps, returned to Amsterdam after the War. He found Anne’s diary and had selections from it published. It has since been published as a novel, a play and filmed for both television and the big screen.

And so it is that Anne Frank’s words live on 71 years after she began to scribble them down in a little red and white diary.

“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”

English: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Fra...

English: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank on display at the Anne Frank Zentrum in Berlin, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a terrific look inside Anne’s journey and life inside the Annex go HERE to The Secret Annex On Line

Manfred von Richthofen “The Red Baron” 5.2.13 Thought of the Day

“Of course, with the increasing number of aeroplanes one gains increased opportunities for shooting down one’s enemies, but at the same time, the possibility of being shot down one’s self increases.” — Manfred von Richthofen

English: Photograph of Manfred von Richthofen,...

English: Photograph of Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron. Willi Sanke postcard #503 (cropped). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was born on this day in Kleinburg, Breslau, Germany in 1892. today is the 121st anniversary of his birth.

He was the second child and the eldest son born to Major Albrecht Phillip Karl Julius Freiherr von Richthofen and Kunigunde von Schickfuss und Neudorff. The family was part of the Prussian aristocracy and lived a life of privilege. Manfred enjoyed horse back riding, hunting and gymnastics. He was home schooled until 11 when he entered the  Royal Military Academy at Lichterfelde.

“He was a better athlete than he was a scholar, and applied his horseback riding skills to become a cavalry officer.  He was commissioned in April 1911 in the 1st Regiment of Uhlans Kaiser Alexander III, and promoted to Lieutenant in 1912.” [First World]

When World War One began he served as a reconnaissance officer for the cavalry. In May of 1915, after brief service as a dispatch runner in the trenches, he switched to the newly formed German Air Force. He was a natural aviator and “took his first solo flight after only 24 hours of flight training.” [Ibid] Richthofen flew an Albatross for a while, then he switched to the Fokker DR-1 Dridecker, a tri-plane with a  “Spandau” lMG 08 machine gun. His plane was painted red.

Deutsch: Nachbau der Fokker DR1 auf der ILA 20...

Deutsch: Nachbau der Fokker DR1 auf der ILA 2006. Manfred von Richthofen, genannt “Der Rote Baron”, flog dieses Modell im 1. Weltkrieg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“His success in the air led to his being named der Rote Kampfflieger by the Germans, le petit rouge by the French, and the Red Baron by the British.” [ Ibid]

In 1917 he was award the Pour Le Merite (aka “The Blue Max”) and was put in charge of an elite unit of German pilots nicknamed the Flying Circus. He personally racked up over 80 kills along the Western Front.

On July 6, 1917 He received a serious head wound. He passed out, but regained consciousness before the airplane hit the ground and was able to make a safe, if rough, landing in a farmer’s field. While recovering from the wound the German Airforce Press and Intelligence unit had him “write” an autobiography (that they promptly censored, polishing the image of the flying ace.) He was a national treasure and they didn’t want him to go up again (neither did the doctors), but The Red Baron ignored them, rationalizing that other German soldiers didn’t have the option of staying away from combat, and neither should he.

Manfred von Richthofen from Sanke card #450. T...

Manfred von Richthofen from Sanke card #450. The caption is Unser erfolgreichster Kampf-Flieger: Freiherr von Richthofen, which means “Our most successful fighter pilot: Baron von Richthofen”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He went back to active service at the end of July. On April 21 1918  he was shot down over Morlancourt Ridge near the Somme.

“A British pilot flew over the German aerodrome at Cappy and dropped a note informing the Germans of Richthofen’s death.  Buried in France by the British with full military honours, Richthofen’s body was later exhumed and reburied in the family cemetery at Wiesbaden.” [Ibid]

Thought of the Day 11.17.12 August Mobius

August Ferdinand Möbius

August Ferdinand Möbius (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August Ferdinand Mobius was born on this day in Schulpforta, Saxony (Germany) in  1790. Today is the  222nd  anniversary of his birth.

Möbius was an only child whose father died when he was just three years old. Möbius was home schooled until he was 13 when he went to the College of Schulpforta. He went to the University of Leipzig to study Law, but  after about a half a year’s study he switch to his real calling of math, astronomy and physics.

He went on to study astronomy at the Gottingen Observatory in 1813. Then he went to Halle where he cemented his studies in mathematics.

In 1815 Moebius wrote his doctoral these on The occultation of fixed stars and began work on his Habilitation thesis… on Trigonometrical equations …he was appointed to the chair of astronomy and higher mechanics at the University of Leipzig in 1816. [Mac Tutor History — Möbius biography]

He became a full professor in astronomy at Leipzig in 1844 where he held the post of “Observer at the Observatory at Leipzig.” [Ibid]  He supervised the rebuilding of the Observatory and became the director in 1884.

Möbius published several important papers in both astronomy and math. His…

1827 work Der barycentrische Calcul, on analytical geometry, became a classic and includes many of his results on projective and affine geometry. In it … He introduced a configuration now called a Möbius Net, which was to play an important role in the development of projective geometry. [Ibid]

Möbius net [Image courtesy: Thingiverse]

He is best known for the Möbius Strip or Möbius Band — “a two-dimensional surface with only one side. ” [Mac Tutor History — Mobius biography]

Giant Möbius Strips have been used as conveyor belts (to make them last longer, since “each side” gets the same amount of wear) and as continuous-loop recording tapes (to double the playing time). In the 1960’s Sandia Laboratories used Möbius Strips in the design of versatile electronic resistors.[]

A parametric plot of a Möbius strip

A parametric plot of a Möbius strip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Möbius died at age 77 in Leipzig.


08.CaligraphicMoebius.CharlesPerry.CC.VA.10April2011 (Photo credit: Elvert Barnes)

Thought of the Day 10.27.12 Desiderius Erasmus

“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.”

“The desire to write grows with writing.”

“War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.”

Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Rotterdam Renai...

Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Rotterdam Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest and theologian, by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1523. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Desiderius Erasmus was born on this day in Rotterdam, Holland in 1467 (or perhaps 1466). Today is the 545th (546th) anniversary of his birth.

He was the illegitimate son of Gerard (aka Roger) of Gouda and his housekeeper, Margaret Rogers. He was their second son.  Gerard either was a Catholic priest at the time of Erasmus’ birth or he took vows soon after. Although his parents never married the boys weren’t neglected. Their father saw to it that they were well educated. He sent 9-year-old Erasmus and 12-year-old Pieter to “one of the best Latin grammar schools in the Netherlands near Deventer.” [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] Margaret moved to the town to take care of the boys. At this semi-monastic school they and learned Latin, Greek and a humanist approach to literature and culture.

In 1483 the Black Plague hit the city. Margaret died and the boys went back to Gouda. Gerard soon fell ill too. At his death the brothers were left with a small inheritance in the hands of three guardians. At first they were sent to a grammar school. “The highest level of study there did not go up to the level the brothers had already completed at Deventer. Erasmus regarded this period as a total waste.” [Ibid] The boy’s options were limited.

“Since the two boys had only a small inheritance and, being born out-of-wedlock, were not eligible for an ordinary career as secular priests or for membership in many professions, entry into a monastery was their only realistic option.”[ibid]

It was an option neither of them wanted, but Pieter agreed, and after much pressure Erasmus finally gave in. He entered the Steyn monastery in 1487 as a novice.

“He felt no true religious vocation for such a step, and in later years characterized this act as the greatest misfortune of his life. … He was left free, however, to pursue his studies, and devoted himself mainly to the ancient classics, whose content and formal beauty he passionately admired.”[New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia]

Here he found kindred spirits who shared his love of classical literature. He wrote De Contemptu mundi (On Contempt of the World) while at Steyn (although it wasn’t published until 1521). Still he resented the limits on his activities and freedoms, and he felt thwarted by the limited intellect of some of the other monks (he wrote about that in Antibarbarorum liber (Book Against the Barbarians). None the less he agreed to be ordained as a priest in 1492.

Ordination should have turned the lock in the monastery, gate as it were, but Erasmus’ was already  “identified as an intelligent and widely read monk with an outstanding Latin style.” [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] and about a year after taking final vows he was plucked from the monastery to act as secretary to the Bishop of Cambrai, Henry of Bergen. It was to be a temporary assignment, but some how he managed never to return.

Erasmus persuaded the bishop to send him to study theology at the University of Paris, in the Collège de Montaigu. He found Montaigu less than wonderful. The food was so bad it ruined his digestive system for life. The housing was filthy.  And the students were expected to do menial labor along with their studies. He also “expressed hostility to the traditional scholastic theology based on questions, disputations, and reliance on Aristotle.” [Ibid] He found it, in a word, medieval. ” But Paris also had an active literary life and had been thoroughly exposed to the humanistic culture of Italy. The city and the court had a substantial circle of humanists.” [Ibid]

For the next two decades he travelled back and forth across Europe staying in Paris, Leuven (Belgium), England, Basel (Switzerland) and Italy but he consciously avoided any permanent alliances that would limit his intellectual freedom or literary expression. “…after his return from England in 1500, religion as well as the study of Greek became more prominent in his thought.”[Ibid] He was determined to master Greek so he could translate biblical texts and he focused a good deal of his attention on the writings of “St. Jerome, the most learned of the ancient Latin Fathers… ” [Ibid]  He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity at Turin. He befriended printer/publisher Aldus Manutius and embraced the new technology of the printing press as a way to communicate.

In 1514 he went to Basel and met with publisher Johann Froben who became his publisher of choice for the rest of his life. He worked with Froben to publish Novum Instumentum  (later Novum Testamentum  which “included the first published edition of the Greek text of the New Testament, accompanied by a cautious revision of the traditional Latin New Testament and by Erasmus’ annotations explaining how in specific passages…” [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] This ‘new testament’ was a marketing coup as much as it was a literary masterpiece. In Spain a bigger, better financed (and probably better researched — they had better Greek manuscripts) New Testament was sitting in a warehouse waiting the blessing of Cardinal-Archbishop of Toledo (the work’s sponsor.)  Erasmus and Froben were under no such editorial control. The Spanish…

“Edition was made obsolete even before publication by Erasmus’ humanistic methods of textual criticism. The future of biblical studies belonged to the new philological and critical methods developed by Erasmus, not to the cautious and traditionalist approach of the Spanish scholars Their edition was obsolete  [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

It didn’t hurt that he dedicated his Greek/Latin hybrid New Testament to Pope Leo X. in 1517 He published his research on St. Jerome (all seven volumes of it) ” confirming his status as the greatest scholar of his generation.” [Ibid] Erasmus and Froben also put out a new addition of the former’s Adages with additional proverbs.
The Adages became not only a handy tool for those who wrote in Latin but also a medium for expressing Erasmus’ opinions, and the book was another literary and financial success, frequently reprinted throughout the century. [Ibid]
In 1516 Erasmus petitioned the Pope Leo X for “relief from certain legal disabilities.”[Ibid]

1.    the burden and consequences of his illegitimate birth
2.    his membership in the monastery at Steyn
3.    having to wear the robes of the Augustinian monks

Leo  approved the petition. Erasmus moved to the University of Louvain in the Netherlands.Although his German Humanism was not a perfect match with the more conservative Louvian theology Erasmus seemed to have found a home.
But then there was that GERMAN,  Martin Luther, who went and nailed his protest to the door of a church.  “With remarkable rapidity, reform-minded young German humanists (and many older ones also) who had become admirers of Erasmus identified Luther’s ideas and reform program with those of Erasmus, regarding Luther and Erasmus as leaders of a single movement.” [Ibid]  Erasmus HAD been a vocal critic regarding the follies and abuses of the clergy, but  it was against his nature to take up a partisan position on the issue of Protestantism.

“The emergence of Luther caused serious problems for Erasmus across a broad front, including his situation in Louvain….Erasmus came under intense pressure to join in their denunciation of Luther, but he was unwilling to do so, claiming that he was so busy that he had read none, or almost none, of Luther’s publications. In reality, he had read at least some of Luther’s books with great interest and had concluded that while Luther took extreme positions on some questions and might have made some errors, there was much to be praised in his works.” [Ibid]

Unable to denounce Luther Erasmus moved from Louvian to Basel, back to his old friend the printer, Froben.  He lived there for eight years until the city “reformed” in 1529. He felt morally obligated “to leave a city where open Catholic worship was suppressed. He moved to the near-by city of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, also a university town. ” [Ibid]
He died in 1536 …
“He did not have a priest available to administer last rites, and there is no evidence that he desired such ministrations, which he had always respected if done in the right spirit but never considered very important. He died during the night of 11–12 July. A whole host of ailments contributed to his end, but dysentery was the immediate cause.”[Ibid]

English: bust of Ermasmus, made by Hildo Krop ...

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