Ever Belonged to a Book Club?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by UserID, Sep 4, 2014.

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    1. UserID
      Lucky

      UserID Member Benefactor

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      The book club, which meets at a local cultural center and with whom I've been a member for six months, is reading The Physician by Noah Gordon this month. If you want to look at our list of books for the remainder of the year, I built a website at http://cbclub.yuku.com It's not brand new, the site, only as old as my enrollment. Not to my surprise, due to the age of most members, the site is little visited except to learn of an upcoming title.

      The Physician is 608 pages and in order to be ready for discussion the third Monday of the month, I'm going to have to make the time to read, or, as I've done in the past, gain some help from a few dozen reviews and summaries. The book is hugely popular and is soon to become a major motion picture, I understand.

      I managed to read nearly all of Barbara Tuchman's The Proud Tower two months ago and it contained the exact number of pages, 608, so there's a high probability I'll get through this one. I took a great many notes while reading Tuchman's book and was well prepared to lead the discussion, if need be. But it was recommended by a former history teacher who was there to lead and she was hard of hearing. To further take the wind out of my sails, the rest of the group barely completed a few pages of the book, while I gave it high marks and hoped for a lively discussion. NOT!

      The Physician is a pretty good book so far, after reading less than ten chapters. If you visit the group's website, you can read the storyline. I still have the site set up for membership approvals only. Members wanted it that way to keep out strangers, but I don't see them using it much, so I should probably cancel the need for consent. Still, if you want to join the reading, and share your opinions and insights, I'll happily give you consent to post.

      Has anyone read this book, the first in Gordon's trilogy? One of the reviews I read yesterday said the historical content is way off the mark, but, because the story is so magnetic, readers aren't curious enough to learn the true history, or they really don't care to understand the eleventh century.
       
    2. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      Hi @UserID:

      For many years now I have belonged to my own book club. I try desperately to recruit, but alas, I remain the only member. Current titles include Vargas Llosa's Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, and Knausgaard's My Struggle. I would love to discuss these and other titles if anyone cares to join!

      -Golly
       
    3. UserID
      Lucky

      UserID Member Benefactor

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      I read a few times the book about Eichmann with the words in the title "Garibaldi Street." In fact, I have a fairly large Holocaust book collection and to this day I have many of the death camps memorized, as well as the German heads. I wish Mengele had been captured and hung. He was, in my opinion, one of the most evil men of our age. So many extras played roles in the extermination process. It boggles the mind to think how far reaching was the process of elimination. Many, many German men and women tortured and cooperated in the killings and got off scott free. It's a terrible injustice.
       
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    4. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      @UserID: Have you read Gita Sereny's Into That Darkness? It's an excellent study of Franz Stangl. Also top-rate is her book on Albert Speer.

      -G
       
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    5. UserID
      Lucky

      UserID Member Benefactor

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      Golly, Speer's book, Spandau, I read twice, about his imprisonment with other top Nazi leaders. Into the Darkness, I don't believe I've read it. I just ordered both books you recommended by Sereny from Alibris. Numerous books I have on the top names in the Nazi party, and even one book, which you probably have, a real eye-opener for me, Hitler's Willing Executioners by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, lists common, everyday Germans who cooperated in the killings. In fact, he provides conclusive evidence that the extermination of European Jewry engaged the energies and enthusiasm of tens of thousands of ordinary Germans.

      Several books I have read were written by Jews who were forced to work in the crematoriums. What horror they experienced. How does one go on after that? Like the writer, Freidrich Nietzsche, whose writings contributed to the brainwashed attitudes and actions of Hitler and his followers , even Jews were saying during their captivity that "God is dead" or "Gott ist tot".
       
    6. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      Hi @UserID:

      I too read Speer's Spandau: The Secret Diaries: great stuff. Even better, in my opinion, was his Inside The Third Reich, which I know I will read again at some point. Two other books I recommend are (1) Hugh Trevor-Roper's The Last Days of Hitler, and (2) Gilbert's Nuremberg Diary. I'll look into the Goldhagen book you recommend.

      -G
       
    7. UserID
      Lucky

      UserID Member Benefactor

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      I'll check my library, but I think I own The Last Days of Hitler and The Nuremberg Diary. Near Tampa, where I live, is St. Petersburg, which is located along the Gulf. In St. Pete there is a Holocaust Museum where one is able to obtain an extensive book listing. If I recall correctly, since it's been a while since I've been there, they have a library of their own and encourage interested students to visit just to read. The books cannot be checked out like a normal library. I visited the museum in D.C. maybe fifteen years ago and was impressed with the layout and information contained in it. One section I liked especially is a moderately sized, quiet room where one can sit while listening to the recorded testimonies of survivors of the Holocaust that they air over a sound system.
       
    8. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      I visit my parents near Venice FL every year. That's reasonably close to St. Petersburg, so I'll have to visit the museum next time I am there.

      -G
       
    9. UserID
      Lucky

      UserID Member Benefactor

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      Initially, what interested me in the Holocaust and the whole story of man's ability to do the most wicked crimes, is the topic of suffering. It seems to come up all the time, in what I read, in the news, even in my own life. For instance, my youth was no picnic, and as the old saying goes, "misery loves company," I found there were others who experienced a lot worse than I did as a child. Aquainting myself to the surviving Jews made them much like friends to me.

      Both my brother and I have read many books on that period of time, devouring one after the other, but then the effects of all those events in one's minds eventually demands a person take a break from focussing far too much on all those horrors. We still watch whatever comes on the TV concerning the Holocaust, in new movies and documentaries. The one that's been on Netflix for some time now, all about the construction of Auschwitz, is chilling.

      A great temptation has come over me numerous times regarding my feelings for Germans. Realizing they are not today the same as when that evil form of nationalism took over the population still isn't enough to keep me from feeling that nation hasn't suffered enough, that they will always be those who got away with the construction and implementation of the death camps in numbers almost too difficult to believe. I find it hard to forgive that nation for their acts against humanity.

      Are you Jewish? I'm German/English
      David
       
    10. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      While I am not Jewish, my grandfather was a German Jew who escaped Germany with his non-Jewish wife (my grandmother) in 1935. Unfortunately, he died before I was born; but I knew my German grandmother very well. As it happens, I have a Jewish wife (and thus technically) my children are Jewish. In spite of all this, I am a lover of German culture and history. Perhaps the fact that I have both Jewish relatives and German relatives (one who lived through the war in Germany and is still alive) gives me a unique perspective.

      -G
       
    11. UserID
      Lucky

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      Is it Oktoberfest that is so exciting for you, or is there more than the foods? My German grandmother cooked German meals which I loved eating. Her sauerkraut and pork with potato dumplings were delicious, as was her schnitzel. She spoke fluent German and translated the comments made by German soldiers when my brother and I watched "Combat" with Vic Morrow.

      You do have a bit of both sides, I see. I have had only a few Jewish friends. They were not at all evangelistic about their faith (are any?) and barely practiced it through a kind of hit and miss attempt to observe the rituals much like moderate Christians I know.

      Are you familiar, G, with many of the isms of German history? Philosophically, their culture was egocentric and godless, especially during the wars, despite the insistence by some German leaders that they could prove their aggression was justified by verses in the Bible. They had that all twisted, I'd say.

      Wagner and Strauss are two of the composers that come to mind whose contributions stirred the German mindset during the Second War. What was it the orchestras in the camps were told to play most? Here's some insight:

      Mostly the prisoners were forced to perform Nazi group- and soldiers’ songs, as well as SS folk songs and marches. In addition, they had to sing songs of symbolic value to individual detainee groups in order to humiliate them. For example, communists and social democrats were ordered to sing labor movement songs; those who were religious were ordered to sing religious songs relating to their denomination.

      Music from radio broadcasts or record players was played over loudspeakers
      Sonic torture at Dachau installed in some camps. In addition to propaganda speeches, military marches and 'German' music, in 1933-1934 the guards at Dachau played Richard Wagner’s music in order to 're-educate' political opponents. At Buchenwald, established in 1937, loudspeakers broadcast nightly concerts from German radio, depriving prisoners of sleep. Additionally, march music was played to drown out the sounds of executions.....

      At the main camp in Auschwitz, for example, there were music activities by two vocal quartets and a smaller vocal group, as well as by three choirs. Music was also played by instrumentalists. This occurred in an inhumane atmosphere, unsympathetic to artistic activity and marked by constant hunger, psychological and physical abuse, illness, epidemics, terror and the fear of death. In contrast to music-making on command, which the inmates had to do almost daily, musical activities carried out on the prisoners’ own initiative formed a highlight of camp life.
       
    12. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      Beyond potato salad, I have no interest in German food (or even their beer for that matter). When I refer to the culture, I am referring mostly to the music, the film, the art, and the writing. Sadly, I don't speak German, so I must read translations.

      As for proselytizing, there are certainly Jews whose mission it is to bring others into the fold. Typically, however, such evangelists reach out exclusively to secular Jews.

      -Golly
       
    13. UserID
      Lucky

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      I earned a BA in Literature in '80 and what immediately comes to my mind regarding German writers are
      Thomas Mann, Herman Hesse, Gunter Grass and Immanuel Kant. The first two are the most read, I'd say, in college classes. The German film "M" also comes to mind. I'd be interested in reading a list of the German writers/artists you enjoy reading and listening to.

      Do you have a religious persuasion?
      David
       
    14. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      I have read Hesse and Grass, and Mann's Magic Mountain is on my book club list! As for M, I just came across a review of the new re-mastered version, which I plan to watch.

      I quite liked Doblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz. Equally impressive is Fassbinder's epic film adaptation.

      I have enjoyed a bunch of recent German films. One that comes to mind (given the theme of this thread) is Der Untergang, with Bruno Ganz: brilliant. Other good German war movies include Das Boot and Stalingrad.

      As for music: Beethoven, Mahler, Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner, etc.

      Regarding your final question: I do not.

      -Golly
       
    15. UserID
      Lucky

      UserID Member Benefactor

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      I'll have to look into the films you mentioned, although I did already watch Das Boot and enjoyed it very much. My AA degree is in music; my principle instrument, the upright bass, so "classical" music was a big part of my education, although I'd say I preferred the true classical period over Baroque, Romanticism and the others. I dislike brass instruments and want the music I hear to be nearly 100 percent strings, if possible. Reeds are okay, for the most part. I especially like the oboe.
       
    16. I would like to toss in a couple of first person accounts from German soldiers from various locations. Iron coffins (Herbert A Werner), about a submarine commander on the atlantic. Forgotten soldier (Guy Sajer), a German private soldiers experiences at the eastern front. Also would like to mention Frontschwein (Gunther K Koschorrek), he served as a machine gunner at the eastern front. I have a strong fascination for the german soldiers that fought during the second world war and i have read numerous of accounts. I think it´s mostly because of all the movies were the german always (almost) is the bad guy, i am not defending national socialism here but i find the lone soldiers thoughts during this period very interesting
       
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    17. UserID
      Lucky

      UserID Member Benefactor

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      Nice submission, Marlene. You've had some reading experience on this topic, I see. Yes, the German soldier, at least those who were outside the SS, had a bit of the All's Quiet on the Western Front feeling and experience. The reality of the death camps was hard to believe by a few German soldiers who were very vocal concerning their dislike for that implemented solution to the Jewish question. I'll keep your recommendations in mind as I have Golly's.
       
    18. I agree with you regarding the accounts from SS men. I have read Stuka pilot by Hans-Ulrich Rudel and didn´t like that one at all.
      @User if you haven´t read Guy Sajers Forgotten soldier i can really recommend that one. All the cruel events that happened on the eastern front is hard to believe.
       
    19. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      The Forgotten Soldier is one of those books I have been meaning to read. I'll get to it eventually. As far as fiction goes, have either of you read Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate? It's a WWII story (structured similarly to War and Peace) told from the Russian perspective. The fact that Grossman was Jewish presumably had some influence on the narrative and themes, but I guess I'll have to wait and see!

      -Golly
       
    20. Albert Savage

      Albert Savage Member

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      Interesting discussion. I first read Speer's book when I was stationed in West Berlin in the early 70's. While I was there, I have both stood guard over Rudolph Hess and took part in the ceremonial Guard Changeover. I did that three times. Twice with the Russians and once with the British. There is an interesting history on Spandau Allied Control Prison. It is titled "Tales from Spandau" and was written be Norman J. W. Goda and was published in 2007.

      During WW II my mom and two of her brothers were serving in Europe. My mom was an NCO in a supply Bn in Paris, one brother was driving a truck on the Redball Express and the other brother was a rifleman in the 45th Infantry Division. That uncle was with the unit that overran Dachau Concentration Camp at the end of the war. When he got home at the end of the war, his dark brown hair had turned snow white from the horrors that he saw.
       
    21. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

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      I am seriously impressed, @Albert Savage: you (and your family) are a part of history! I'll look into the book by Goda. I have no doubt that the horrors to which you refer are beyond description. -Golly
       
    22. Albert Savage

      Albert Savage Member

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      Golly, I've attached a pic showing the Guard Changeover between US and British Forces. I think this photo was taken about 15 years after I left Berlin.

      Kriegsverbrechergefängnis_Spandau_-_Wachablösung.JPG
       
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    23. Albert Savage

      Albert Savage Member

      Location:
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      This is a close up shot of one of the guard towers at Spandau. The guard appears to be Russian. Those towers could be quite unnerving at night. Another bit of trivia. When Hess would be in the exercise yard, he would come up to one of the guard towers and beg--for a smoke, candy or anything. If the guard even glanced down, much less make any response, Hess would go running to the permanent prison staff and report the offending guard. And said guard would find himself relieved of duty and (at least in the western forces) on charges back at his unit. We think that the Russian who did that would find himself some place far to the east--if he was lucky. Soviet_guards_Spandau_Prison_Berlin_guarding_former_Nazi_Rudolf_Hess.jpg
       
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