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Before he started work as a lifeguard, Mike Z. (middle) doing the Hitler salute. The two men at his side are wellknown Neo-Nazis.
Credit: Berliner Kurier.

A Nazi was hired as a lifeguard. You won't believe what happened next...

Emily Dische-Becker about Nazi lifeguards
01.08.14
5 min
Post

Two weeks ago, a 35-year old Cameroonian man named Anneck E. drowned at Berlin’s Plötzensee – across from the beach bathing club where lifeguard Mike Z. was on duty. According to numerous eyewitnesses cited in the media, Mike Z. simply ignored the man’s cries for help – as well as the cries of his family and people who were attempting to rescue him.  “He just kept on opening his sunbrellas at a comfortable pace,” a man who tried in vain to rescue Anneck told the B.Z.

Mike Z. himself told the local daily:

“I did hear the bawling before. Then someone came and said there’s a guy drowning. But I can’t attend to that. I sometimes have up to 1,000 guests. How am I supposed to help when there’s someone drowning over there? Shortly after, someone came and said the guy was being reanimated.”

Curiously, the B.Z. makes no mention of Mike Z.’s recent past as an active member of the neo-Nazi scene. In fact I found only one news item about Annek E.’s death that references this – in a post on Berlin Online about a demonstration outside the beach club planned by an anti-fascist group.

Last summer, I had my first encounter with this “reformed” neo-Nazi.

In the past, I’ve found myself whispering “Nazi” under my breath during run-ins with run-of-the-mill German authority figures. Now that I was faced with the real deal, that seemed almost impetuous (reminding me of the many times I had mistaken a roll of thunder over Beirut for sonic boom from Israeli fighter jets. When it comes, sonic boom is unmistakable. So, too, was the Nazi.)

He approached our canopied booth at Plötzensee with a comedic woodenness and came to a stilted halt. Hands on his hips, he barked at us: “I wasn’t kidding ten minutes ago when I said you have to leave in ten minutes!” Except I hadn’t heard his original order. My lips instinctively began to form the word. I glared back and replied: “Well I didn’t hear you. Did I. (Nazi.)”

He was squat and blonde and sporting a short mohawk, and he continued to stare us down before making a sweeping gesture with his hand: “Well that doesn’t matter. You better be on your way. Now!”

My friend A. remained silent. The lifeguard’s eyes narrowed; he made a curt turn and goose-stepped theatrically across the sand. We begrudgingly collected our belongings and wandered across the sand toward the cafe on the opposite bank of the lake.

There, over beers, A. said that he had looked at the beach club’s Facebook page earlier to check the closing times. On the page, a discussion was raging over media reports that an ex-Nazi was employed at the club. Someone had posted a link to an article entitled, “Nazi supervisor at beach: Heil lifeguard!” which included photos of a certain Mike Z. seen at various neo-Nazi gatherings, and in one snapshot, striking the Hitler salute in the company of what the paper said were infamous neo-Nazis. The beach club management had recently published a statement defending its decision to employ Mr. Z, who had apparently left the neo-Nazi scene in 2010 and had been employed with the club since 2011:

“Mike declared his exit [from the neo-Nazi movement] to the intelligence services in 2010. The published photos are from before his avowed disengagement. The declaration he made to the service, as well as a further explanation given to us in which he—among other things—said that he had sworn off the mindset, had no form of contact (on or off the beach) to the right wing scene, and of course displays no right wing or racist behavior, were the basis and condition for his employment.

“On 15.04.2011, Mike was employed with us as part of a silent exit program. Since then he has performed outstanding work and never made a negative impression.

“Many of our employees have a migrant background and hail from the most diverse countries (from Cuba to various eastern European countries, to the US.) One of our patrons is a foreign Jew. Mike is fully integrated here, inconspicuous and popular. Many of our guests also hail from the most diverse countries and there have been no complaints over the past two years.”

In fact, a past news article in the Berliner Kurier had reported numerous previous complaints about racist incidents as well as attacks at the club (including a complaint filed in 2013 year with the police), emanating apparently from a wider contingent of Nazi-leaning employees.

Surely, people who have recently sworn off organized race-baiting need to find employment somewhere. Just not as arbiters of life and death.

Update: The Berlin police just released a statement saying that numerous criminal complaints have been filed claiming that the lifeguard didn’t rescue Anneck E., because of the former’s far-right views. “This suspicion has not been confirmed, according to the joint investigations by Berlin police and prosecutors. There is no evidence for the lifeguard’s culpable conduct.”

The statement also adds that maintaining the assertion that the lifeguard let Anneck E. drown could constitute a libel offense and result in a criminal complaint. I believe I have just laid out the facts here.

Jaffa Road

25.07.14
3 min
Post

There was a time in which Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s Arab sister, meant something magic to me. It wasn’t just the area’s increasing hipness getting me excited – a remarkable hipness –, which fed itself from the myths of an ancient port-city representing a time of prosperity before Zionism as well as a literal safe haven for the European Jewry, the ones which fled the Nazi Regime and arrived safely in Palestine. More than that, Jaffa seemed to set an example of Jewish-Arab existence beyond the “co”. There were days when I would wake from the sounds of the mosque immersing the city in chants, when minutes later I’d walk over to my favorite bakery for Rogelach and coffee. Ana Lulu, a tiny club in the center of the city was one of the few places, maybe the only place in Israel, which equally invited a young Jewish, Arab and international audience, to the point where you just couldn’t tell anymore. Things seemed perfect. Some days ago, I planed to cool my moments of fear and hitchhiking with reality – constantly waiting for the next alarm, the next interception, the next images of dead civilians in Gaza. I walked down Jerusalem Road, Jaffas main street. On my way I ran into Dafni Leef, one of the former leaders of the social protest of 2011. Back then the people demanded social justice. Dafni was shouted at by a raging woman in her mid 40ies. Walking further I understood, what the people, not Dafni herself, demand today. A group of about 100 men covered with Israeli flags brotherly held each others arms, jumping, shouting, as loud as they could: “Death to the Arabs – Death to the Arabs – Burn their houses – Burn their villages – Burn down Gaza”. Having seen them attack the first anti-war-demonstration since the beginning of “Operation Protective Edge” about a week ago, senselessly hurting left-wing demonstrators, out of which some ended up in hospital, was a shocking experience. It was something I had never seen in Tel Aviv before. Yet, it seemed more like an internal fight. In the Jaffa demo no one got hurt. Still, it was the first time I conceived such hatred, as well as my physical disgust towards the symbols which represented it. Whilst more and more civilians die in Gaza, many people in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa and other Israeli cities do their best to hold against a serious shift within the Israeli society. A shift, which seems to undermine its’ sense of diversity and human values. Standing in an almost surreal empty Ben-Gurion-Airport a day, an airport where incoming flights have been cancelled and everyone pushes the line to be first to leave in departures, I thought that listening to those people, staying aware to one’s sense of empathy, as well as to its ruin directed by voices of blunt racism seems to be one of the most important things these days. Otherwise this sense of magic might be gone quite soon. Not just in Jaffa. 

Iron Dome Cures Baldness

Jamal Ghosn about Israeli Propaganda
25.07.14
3 min
Post

The 30-second TV commercial is losing its marketing supremacy. In the internet age, new ways of cross-platform advertising are used to lure customers. Product placement in movies and shows has become an attractive option for advertisers. TiVo can let you skip commercials but not the product logo in the movie’s money shot. You can pirate the movie, but you can’t skip the salesmanship.

I would venture to say that real war gets almost as much viewership as war movies. So that gives marketers an opportunity to sell.

Major news networks may have done some horrible things, but they haven’t had the audacity to this honest:

“This decapitated child is brought to you by Warprofiteerco. We didn’t invent death, we just bank on it. Warprofiteerco also happens to be the sister company of BSBC News.”

That just sounds wrong.

Since corporate sponsorship of war news is not socially acceptable yet, salesmen of death are left with product placement.

In Israel, the military censors have direct control over what gets published in Israeli media and at least one newspaper in New York. The Israeli military also happens to be a major trader in the global weapons’ market.

Israel launched a war on Gaza and dubbed it: Operation Protective Edge. What madman comes up with this shit?

In the past 2 weeks, many news items streaming out of the military censor’s office start with the words “The Iron Dome intercepted…”

“A 90% success rate” brags the press release published here and here.

Now, each interception attempt costs up to $100,000, while the incoming rocket usually costs less than a $1000.

It’s not cheap, but 90% success is pretty damn good. Except, this rocket scientist thinks the “90%” is actually less than 5%.

Shooting up piñatas from rocket launchers is almost as effective as the Iron dome. It’s a lot cheaper. Most importantly it makes it rain chocolate and lollipops.

But who cares if the product works? We already have at least one sucker paying for it.

Product placement works.

On September 1, Poland hosts a major military expo. Iron Dome’s Israeli manufacturer Rafael should be in Hall E of the Targi Kielce Exhibition Center. A week later, they’ll move their traveling sales show to Baku, Azerbaijan.

Here’s the product brochure:

"Combat Proven" is new "As Seen on TV"

The “Combat Proven” might as well read “As Seen on TV”.

And look at the slogan: Now, We’ve Got You Protected.

Again, what madman comes up with this shit?

Queen Victoria's Public Secret: Chapter 7, Part 5

25.07.14
2 min
Post

Golden Jubilee:  22 June 1887, at Windsor Castle Part V  

We stopped in the middle, from a place with a view on nothing and reduced to nothing else, and a little girl gave me a beautiful bouquet, on the ribbons of which were embroidered: “God bless our Queen, not Queen alone, of course alone, always alone, but Mother, Queen and Friend”.  An agonizing sound why would I? Squeeze force it out of her a wretching sound. The children sang God Save the Queen somewhat out of tune, and then we drove on to Paddington station. I ache for your indifference. Like time’s face wears, you could indifferent me like that. The train stopped at Slough, and we got out there. A philosopher waits there eternally. Different ladies and gentlemen were presented and bouquets were given, all reeking of boredom and intelligence. Then drove off with an escort to Windsor. All along the road there were decorations and crowds of people. My reflection warps on internal glass, I meltface and have no idea. Your indifference is my significance. Before coming to Eton, there was a beautiful triumphal arch, made to look exactly like part of the old College, and boys dressed like old Templars stood on the top of it, playing a regular fanfare. The whole effect was beautiful, lit up by the sun of a bright summer’s evening, and a 24 hour cycle of theatre lit by grace and black water. The town was one mass of flags and decorations and robotics. We went under the Castle walls up the hill, slowly, amidst great cheering, and stopped at the bottom of Castle Hill, where there was a stand crowded with people and every window and balcony were full of people, Chinese lanterns and preparations for illuminations making a very pretty effect. Pretty sticky pretty shut-up now pretty not listening. Those of the family who had not come with me were in the front row of the stand.

Queen Victoria's Public Secret: Chapter 7, Part 4

18.07.14
2 min
Post

Golden Jubilee:  22 June 1887, at Windsor Castle Part IV

What surface can I gather on from the inside? (This word does this it gathers me from the inside out and presses back it makes me I) make me. MyLife is now the object of philosophy, when once it was I am. Rested on the sofa for some time, and took a cup of tea before leaving Buckingham Palace at half-past five. Bertie and Alex could not leave London on account of looking after the guests. Had an escort and an Indian escort. Had others. Had a life, had me. Enormous and enthusiastic crowds on Constitution Hill and in Hyde Park. Set up expectations so it’s all about you (this too, you bet I think that). We drove right on to the grass in the middle of the park, where 30,000 poor children with their schoolmasters and mistresses were assembled. Tents had been pitched for them to dine in, and all sorts of amusements had been provided for them. Each received an earthenware pot with my portrait on it. My face is liquid and it spreads, they suck it up and spit it out, and this does that (so this again). This comes from here and presses back, a ceramic slip that gathers on the surface from inside, from obverse a bruised sheet. I am blotted from underneath and we seep.

Bam, Bam, Bam

Gabriel Loebell Herberstein about how it felt, that 7:1
12.07.14
2 min
Post

Stickige, dunkle, geschmacklose, pseudo-neureiche Trinker-Bar im geschäftigen Berliner Charlottenburg, Leinwand. Brav und diszipliniert noch im Dunst ihrer Alltagswelt sind sie alle gekommen. Einige Duzend weiße Männer mit gegeelter Kurzhaarigelfrisur setzen sich an ihre Plätze, die sie zuvor etwas nervös telefonisch reservieren haben lassen. Die Tore fallen, Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam. 5:0. Das erste Tor noch löst ganz leicht die Anspannung. Schnell aber kippt es in eine gruselige Lust an der Demontage und Gnadenlosigkeit, in Schadenfreude, für die sich diese Leute etwas zu schämen scheinen, fassungslos ob der Chance, sich ganz ihrem kriegerischen Übermut hinzugeben zu dürfen. Sie beginnen bedrohlich und überschwänglich zu grölen, sich Kriegs-Siegerrauschhaft zu umarmen. Die Brut wird immer hämischer, schreit in tiefem, hartem Ton “Sieg”. Nasse, gehässige Augen haben sie, Lust an der Chancenlosigkeit und Auflösung des Gegners, ihre Gesichter verzerren und verkrampfen sich im symbolischen Blutrausch wie ein besoffenes Exekutionskommando nach getaner Arbeit. Endlich diese Übersichtlichkeit, verbunden im Sieg! Ich schäme mich hier zu sein, mich mit ihnen über das erste Tor gefreut zu haben, dazuzugehören. Natürlich spielt man weiter, trotz des hohen Vorsprungs an Toren, man bringt es zu Ende, so gut es geht, lässt sich nichts anmerken, so ist das Spielen eben, anstatt der Realität, anstatt des Krieges. Die Tore fielen fast alle innerhalb von 15 Minuten. Ich erinnere mich an die erste Halbzeit gegen Algerien. Erinnerst Du Dich? Der leicht verletzliche, irritierbare Deutsche mit schwachem Selbstwertgefühl der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts rächt sich vielleicht gerade für seine ganz ähnliche, verzweifelte Auflösung und Ohnmacht.

Sarah Diehl
People

For some reason Sarah Diehl frequently ends up in conversations which evoke a combination of discomfort and pleasure, often relief, as a source of a gentle but honest realization.
That’s probably a reason why she ended up researching, filming and lecturing about abortion access since eight years around the world. Based in Berlin she travels through African countries working on her next docfilm portraying women who make safe abortion accessible as a basic right to women’s health, even though it is illegal in their country. She was prone to anarchism anyway, so she started a group who helps Polish women coming to Berlin for accessing safe abortion, for unfortunately it was illegalized over there in the 90s as a sign for new found Catholicism after communism.
Her first novel “Eskimo Limon 9” dealed with an Israeli family moving to a German provincial town. And because she likes to explore how we all feel alienated by life, identity and history (at least we are united in this alienation) her second novel is about the weird parallel-universe of Whitees in sub-saharan Africa, what they still want to imagine as their own private Heart of Darkness.
Her next book to be published this November, “Die Uhr, die nicht ticket”, is non-fiction though, about women, who don’t want to have children and why our society still finds pleasure in cultivating ludicrous stereotypes about them.

Didi and Sarah met in Lagos on her last day there, while she was waiting for her plane.

Jagoda Marinic
People

With Jagoda Marinić you can shout your song into floods of stars … or up to the dirty ceiling of your room … and she’ll make it feel good all the same.
With a slight motion or a single word she lets you sense the thin skin of ideas, ideals or new mornings.
The pitch-black night however is but a hunting lodge to her eyes. She knows about hunting. She knows about getting caught.
She writes novels, Short-Stories, Essays, Non-Fiction-Books.

She is: a beauty, of course.
A rebel, of course.
A scheme in silver.
A blade of meaning.
Tenderness.
A humming sound. A shadow sliding over you.
An inflamed paper boat, send out on the water, for all good wishes.

Pete Wolfendale
People

Pete Wolfendale is an independent scholar based in the north-east of England (though he prefers the term ‘dialectical insurgent’ as it sounds less like ‘unemployed philosopher’). He is at one and the same time a heretical Platonist, an unorthodox Kantian, and a minimalist Hegelian, but he can simply be identified as a rationalist. He is best known for his Deontologistics blog (http://deontologistics.wordpress.com) – distinctive for its extended debates and detailed technical discussions – and the way it has enabled his thought to develop both in public and online.
Wolfendale’s philosophical education took place entirely at the University of Warwick. His PhD thesis offered a re-examination of the Heideggerian Seinsfrage, arguing that Heideggerian scholarship has failed to fully do justice to its philosophical significance, and supplementing the shortcomings in Heidegger’s thought about Being with an alternative formulation of the question. On the way to this new formulation, he introduces the problematic that still orients his thought today: a renewed and unitary understanding of the classical project of metaphysics obtained through an inferentialist analysis of the normative structures of discourse.
Wolfendale’s signal achievement is his strategic mobilization and rational reconstruction of concepts from major figures from the continental tradition (above all, Heidegger, Deleuze and Foucault) which, re-shaped by his nuanced commitment to the Brandomian projects of inferentialist semantics and logical expressivism, are put in the service of an ambitious and revival of rationalism in philosophy and politics, unapologetically proposing contemporary reformulations of classical concepts like Truth, Beauty and Freedom. Wolfendale’s synoptic thought seamlessly extends over the philosophical, political, scientific, and artistic domains, re-injecting a yearning for the construction of large-scale systems in the contemporary philosophical scene, culpable, in his appraisal, of having prematurely abandoned any such systematic ambition in favour of localized, and ineffective, research niches.

Image interpretation: © Y-U-K-I-K-O

Before the Ceremony

03.07.14
2 min
Post

You leave the table too late, make your excuses and head for the showers below deck, leaving too little time before the ceremony, and realising only as you begin to descend the swinging rope ladder that you’ve no idea where the showers are.

You wind your way through the tightly arranged weight-lifting equipment in the gymnasium below and begin to cross the main arena beyond. Hundreds of people are down here below the glass domed ceiling high above, which is a ruinous tangle of warped steel and dangling shards. Rooms, nooks and doors line the perimeter walls and a warren of corridors, gangways and arcades lie beyond. You cross the space, pass by a crumbling fountain and approach a cranny on the other side, illuminated by blue neon and decked with webbing. You ask a woman with short cropped hair and navy blue clothing the way to the shower stalls, and explain your dilemma at length as she leads you part of the way. But the directions are vague and the terrain unsure. Ash and rubble coat the floor, knee-deep in parts. And you think: below deck, the aircraft carrier has been designed to look like Fallujah.

You stumble upon the showers in the back room of a back room. Arranged as a row of vertical chrome pipes in the center of the space, all the showers run constantly, soaking the stools arranged around them, and the clothes piled high upon them. You undress beneath the pitching water and are at once surrounded by old friends who begin to stain your skin by dowsing you in blue and red powders. It’s tradition, you know, to do this before the ceremony, but you convince them to refrain with a few choice words.

Looking for the Attic in the Cellar – REM 1, Dream IV

Image interpretation: © Y-U-K-I-K-O

A Nazi was hired as a lifeguard. You won't believe what happened next...

Emily Dische-Becker about Nazi lifeguards
01.08.14
5 min

Jaffa Road

25.07.14
3 min

Iron Dome Cures Baldness

Jamal Ghosn about Israeli Propaganda
25.07.14
3 min

Queen Victoria's Public Secret: Chapter 7, Part 5

25.07.14
2 min

Queen Victoria's Public Secret: Chapter 7, Part 4

18.07.14
2 min

Bam, Bam, Bam

Gabriel Loebell Herberstein about how it felt, that 7:1
12.07.14
2 min

Before the Ceremony

03.07.14
2 min