Archive for July, 2016

Sunday 31st July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 31, 2016 by bishshat


Watched the movies Race

Saturday 30th July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 30, 2016 by bishshat


Once In A Lifetime

Talking Heads

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful
And you may ask yourself-Well…How did I get here?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!
Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…

Water dissolving…and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?…Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…

I watched four films over the weekend while Sue was at Helen’s Hologram For The King had poor reviews but I a Tom Hanks lover enjoyed it although it was easy and simple to watch it was just what I needed. 13 was totally in German without subtitles but it was well made and I watched it understanding the story without being able to understand the word. Race about the 1936 Berlin games and Jesse Owens amazing four golds was well worth watching. Again it was well made.


 A Hologram for the King

A Hologram for the King is a 2016 American comedy-drama film directed and written by Tom Tykwer, based on the 2012 novel of the same name written by Dave Eggers,and produced by Stefan Arndt, Gary Goetzman, Arcadiy Golubovich, Tom Hanks, Uwe Schott and Tim O’Hair.


Hanks stars as Alan Clay, a washed-up corporate businessman, who goes to Saudi Arabia to propose a business deal. Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tom Skerritt and Sarita Choudhury also star. The film was released on April 22, 2016, by Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions and Saban Films.


The film tells the story of a washed-up, desperate American salesman who travels to Saudi Arabia to sell a holographic teleconferencing system to the Saudi government. Set in 2010, before the Arab Spring, American consultant Alan Clay is depressed after losing his house and being divorced by his wife during the Great Recession; he arrives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to make a sale in an upcoming development called the King’s Metropolis of Economy and Trade (a fictionalized version of King Abdullah Economic City).


Nigel M Smith The Guardian

Tom Hanks is an inherently likable actor. Hell, he was voted “the most trusted person in America” in a 2013 poll. It’s next to impossible not to fall prey to his everyman charms, and it’s solely thanks to these that his latest film, A Hologram for a King, is watchable.

Based on Dave Eggers’s best-seller about an exasperated American businessman who ventures to Saudi Arabia for a pitch-meeting with the region’s monarch, Tom Tykwer’s adaptation is a meandering mess of half-baked storylines that amount to little. Hanks’s affable presence keeps it all afloat.

Ethan Hawke impresses as an abusive father to a major-league rookie pitcher in an intriguing character study that’s admirably hard to pin down
Read more
Alan Clay (Hanks) arrives in the Middle East with a lot on his mind. Reeling from a recent bitter divorce and trying to stave off imminent foreclosure, Clay needs to land a career-saving IT contract by making a big sale to the king for a massive development in the desert.

Shortly after landing, still jetlagged and under intense pressure to deliver from his superiors back in Boston, Clay is dismayed to learn that the king is nowhere to be found.
In the meantime, as Clay waits for what seems like an eternity in the desert, he befriends a local driver (Alexander Black) with an affinity for 80s rock, and shares flirtations with a Danish woman (The Duke of Burgundy’s Sidse Babett Knudsen) working in the area, who gets him blind drunk on contraband hooch.

Complicating matters is a large, suspicious growth that Clay discovers on his back. To find out just what it is, Clay visits a hospital, and it’s there he meets Zahra Haken (Sarita Choudhury), a beautiful Saudi doctor, who immediately takes a liking to the droll American.

A fine cast, including Hayden Panettiere, animates this deeply wrought film about the lives of three strangers that intersect in a New York family court
And that’s just the first half-hour. Tykwer’s adaptation is extremely busy in the narrative department. Its only in its final passages that the film settles into a welcome groove, exploring the tender romance between Clay and Haken.

There’s so much going on that when (spoiler alert) the king finally makes his appearance to the delight of Clay, the moment lands with a whimper, despite a surprise cameo from a certain Spectre star.

Tykwer, who previously worked with Hanks on the similarly overstuffed Cloud Atlas, throws his arsenal of film-making tricks at the screen (best put to use in his breakthrough thriller Run Lola Run) in a series of dream sequences, and a debaucherous party scene at a Danish embassy that would make Caligula blush. While visually stimulating, they simply pull focus, like so much in A Hologram for a King.



Race sets itself up as a standard Hollywood biopic: a straightforward telling of the life story of Jesse Owens, the African American sprinter who made history when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. It accomplishes its task with all the subtlety of a Hallmark film—Owens (Stephan James) overcomes an impoverished upbringing and racism to become the world’s leading athlete, with the help of a bullish coach (Jason Sudeikis) and a burning desire to win. But where Race both soars and fumbles is in its telling of the most thrilling part of Owens’s biography—his triumph at the Games, which were held in Nazi Germany three years after Adolf Hitler came to power.

Principal photography began on July 24, 2014, in Montreal, Canada. Forecast Pictures, Solofilms, and Trinity Race produced the film, Entertainment One released the film in Canada, Focus Features in the United States on February 19, 2016, Eagle Pictures in Italy on March 31, 2016, and SquareOne Entertainment in Germany on May 5, 2016. The film was supported by the Owens family, the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group.

The film’s name is a play on the two meanings of the word “race” in English, both of which are very relevant to the film’s plot: Owens’ being black, a racial identity which greatly influenced his life and career, both in the US and in the Berlin Olympics; and his running again and again a race to win various running competitions.

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1936 games.

Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his lifetime as “perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history”. His achievement of setting three world records and tying another in less than an hour at the 1935 Big Ten track meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been called “the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport”[3] and has never been equalled. At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, Owens won international fame with four gold medals: 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4 × 100 meter relay. He was the most successful athlete at the games and as such has been credited with “single-handedly crush[ing] Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.”

The Jesse Owens Award is USA Track and Field’s highest accolade for the year’s best track and field athlete. Owens was ranked by ESPN as the sixth greatest North American athlete of the twentieth century and the highest-ranked in his sport.

Owens was the youngest of ten children, three girls and seven boys, born to Henry Cleveland Owens (a sharecropper) and Mary Emma Fitzgerald in Oakville, Alabama, on September 12, 1913. J.C., as he was called, was nine years old when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, for better opportunities, as part of the Great Migration, when 1.5 million African Americans left the segregated South. When his new teacher asked his name (to enter in her roll book), he said “J.C.”, but because of his strong Southern accent, she thought he said “Jesse”. The name stuck, and he was known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life.


As a boy, Owens took different jobs in his spare time: he delivered groceries, loaded freight cars and worked in a shoe repair shop while his father and older brother worked at a steel mill. During this period, Owens realized that he had a passion for running. Throughout his life, Owens attributed the success of his athletic career to the encouragement of Charles Riley, his junior high track coach at Fairmount Junior High School. Since Owens worked in a shoe repair shop after school, Riley allowed him to practice before school instead.

Owens and Minnie Ruth Solomon (1915-2001) met at Fairmount Junior High School in Cleveland when he was 15 and she was 13. They dated steadily through high school. Ruth gave birth to their first daughter, Gloria, in 1932. They married in 1935 and had two more daughters together: Marlene, born in 1939, and Beverly, born in 1940. They remained married until his death in 1980.

Owens first came to national attention when he was a student of East Technical High School in Cleveland; he equalled the world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard (91 m) dash and long-jumped 24 feet 9 1⁄2 inches (7.56 metres) at the 1933 National High School Championship in Chicago.
Owens attended Ohio State University after employment was found for his father, ensuring the family could be supported. Affectionately known as the “Buckeye Bullet,” and under the coaching of Larry Snyder, Owens won a record eight individual NCAA championships, four each in 1935 and 1936. (The record of four gold medals at the NCAA was equaled only by Xavier Carter in 2006, although his many titles also included relay medals.) Though Owens enjoyed athletic success, he had to live off campus with other African-American athletes. When he traveled with the team, Owens was restricted to ordering carry-out or eating at “blacks-only” restaurants. Similarly, he had to stay at “blacks-only” hotels. Owens did not receive a scholarship for his efforts, so he continued to work part-time jobs to pay for school.

Owens’s greatest achievement came in a span of 45 minutes on May 25, 1935, during the Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he set three world records and tied a fourth. He equaled the world record for the 100 yard dash (9.4 seconds); and set world records in the long jump (26 ft 8 1⁄4 in or 8.13 m, a world record that would last 25 years); 220-yard (201.2 m) sprint (20.3 seconds); and 220-yard (201.2m) low hurdles (22.6 seconds, becoming the first to break 23 seconds).
In 2005, University of Central Florida professor of sports history Richard C. Crepeau chose these wins on one day as the most impressive athletic achievement since 1850.


1936 Berlin Summer Olympics

In 1936, Owens arrived in Berlin to compete for the United States at the Summer Olympics. According to fellow American athlete James LuValle, who won bronze in the 400 meters, Owens arrived in Berlin to a throng of fans, many of them young girls, yelling “Wo ist Jesse? Wo ist Jesse?” Many of them had come with scissors and had begun snipping at Owens’ clothing, forcing him to retreat back onto the train. After that, when Owens left the athletes’ village, he usually had to go with some soldiers to protect him. Owens’s success at the games represented a counter to Adolf Hitler, who was using the games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. He and other government officials had high hopes that German athletes would dominate the games with victories. Meanwhile, Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of “Aryan racial superiority” and depicted others, including those of African descent, as inferior. Owens countered this by winning four gold medals.

On August 3, he won the 100m sprint with a time of 10.3s, defeating teammate college friend Ralph Metcalfe by a tenth of a second and defeating Tinus Osendarp of the Netherlands by two tenths of a second. On August 4, he won the long jump with a leap of 26 feet 5 inches (8.05 m), later crediting his achievement to the technical advice he received from Lutz Long, the German competitor whom he defeated.[4] On August 5, he won the 200m sprint with a time of 20.7s, defeating Mack Robinson (the older brother of Jackie Robinson). On August 9, Owens won his fourth gold medal in the 4×100 sprint relay when coach Dean Cromwell replaced Jewish-American sprinters Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller with Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, who teamed up with Frank Wykoff and Foy Draper to set a world record of 39.8s in the event. This performance was not equaled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the Soviet-boycotted 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1935 (the year before the Berlin Olympics), Owens set the world record in the long jump with a leap of 26 ft 8 in, and this record would stand for 25 years (a very rare length of time for a track and field record), until it was finally broken by countryman Ralph Boston in 1960. Coincidentally, Owens was a spectator at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome when Boston took the gold medal in the long jump.

Just before the competitions, Owens was visited in the Olympic village by Adi Dassler, the founder of the Adidas athletic shoe company. He persuaded Owens to wear Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik shoes, the first sponsorship for a male African American athlete.

The long-jump victory is documented, along with many other 1936 events, in the 1938 film Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl. On the first day of competition, Hitler shook hands with only the German victors and then left the stadium. Olympic committee officials insisted Hitler greet every medalist or none at all. Hitler opted for the latter and skipped all further medal presentations. Historians have noted that Hitler may have left the games at this time due to looming rain clouds that might have postponed the games. This happened well before Owens was to compete, but has largely come to be believed to be the “snub”. On reports that Hitler had deliberately avoided acknowledging his victories, and had refused to shake his hand, Owens said at the time:

Hitler had a certain time to come to the stadium and a certain time to leave. It happened he had to leave before the victory ceremony after the 100 meters. But before he left I was on my way to a broadcast and passed near his box. He waved at me and I waved back. I think it was bad taste to criticize the ‘man of the hour’ in another country.

Albert Speer wrote that Hitler “was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens. People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive, Hitler said with a shrug; their physiques were stronger than those of civilized whites and hence should be excluded from future games.”

In a 2009 interview, Siegfried Mischner, a German journalist, claimed that Owens carried around a photograph in his wallet of the Führer shaking his hand before the latter left the stadium. Owens, who felt the newspapers of the day reported ‘unfairly’ on Hitler’s attitude towards him, tried to get Mischner and his journalist colleagues to change the accepted version of history in the 1960s. Mischner claimed Owens showed him the photograph and told him: “That was one of my most beautiful moments.” Mischner added “(the picture) was taken behind the honour stand and so not captured by the world’s press. But I saw it, I saw him shaking Hitler’s hand!” According to Mischner, “the predominating opinion in post-war Germany was that Hitler had ignored Owens, so we therefore decided not to report on the photo. The consensus was that Hitler had to continue to be painted in a bad light in relation to Owens.”
For some time, Mischner’s assertion was not confirmed independently of his own account, and Mischner himself admitted in Mail Online that “All my colleagues are dead, Owens is dead. I thought this was the last chance to set the record straight.
I have no idea where the photo is or even if it exists still.”

However, in 2014, Eric Brown, British fighter pilot and test pilot, the Fleet Air Arm’s most decorated living pilot, independently stated in a BBC documentary “I actually witnessed Hitler shaking hands with Jesse Owens and congratulating him on what he had achieved.” Additionally, an article in The Baltimore Sun in August 1936 reported that Hitler sent Owens a commemorative inscribed cabinet photograph of himself.

In Germany, Owens was allowed to travel with and stay in the same hotels as whites, while at the time African Americans in many parts of the United States had to stay in segregated hotels.
During a Manhattan ticker-tape parade along Broadway’s Canyon of Heroes in his honor, someone handed Owens a paper bag. Owens paid it little mind until the parade concluded. When he opened it up, he found the bag contained $10,000 in cash. Owens’s wife Ruth later said, “And he [Owens] didn’t know who was good enough to do a thing like that. And with all the excitement around, he didn’t pick it up right away. He didn’t pick it up until he got ready to get out of the car.” After the parade, Owens was not permitted to enter through the main doors of the Waldorf Astoria New York and instead forced to travel up to the event in a freight elevator to reach the reception honoring him. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) never invited Jesse Owens to the White House following his triumphs at the Olympics games. While the Democrats had bid for the support of Owens, Owens rejected those overtures: as a staunch Republican, he endorsed Roosevelt’s Republican opponent, Alf Landon, in the 1936 presidential race.


Owens, who joined the Republican Party after returning from Europe, was paid to campaign for African American votes for the Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. Speaking at a Republican rally held in Baltimore on October 9, 1936, Owens said “Some people say Hitler snubbed me. But I tell you, Hitler did not snub me. I am not knocking the President. Remember, I am not a politician, but remember that the President did not send me a message of congratulations because people said, he was too busy.” Later, on October 15, 1936 Owens repeated this allegation when he addressed an audience of African American at a Republican rally in Kansas City remarking that “Hitler didn’t snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”

Owens was quoted saying the secret behind his success was “I let my feet spend as little time on the ground as possible. From the air, fast down, and from the ground, fast up.”

After the games had finished, the Olympic team and Owens were all invited to compete in Sweden. He decided to capitalize on his success by returning to the United States to take up some of the more lucrative commercial offers. United States athletic officials were furious and withdrew his amateur status, ending his career immediately. Owens was angry, saying, “A fellow desires something for himself.” Owens argued that the racial discrimination he had faced throughout his athletic career, such as not being eligible for scholarships in college and therefore being unable to take classes between training and working to pay his way, meant he had to give up on amateur athletics in pursuit of financial gain elsewhere.

Prohibited from amateur sporting appearances to bolster his profile, Owens found out that the commercial offers had all but disappeared. In 1946, he joined Abe Saperstein in the formation of the West Coast Baseball Association (WCBA), a new Negro baseball league; Owens was Vice-President and the owner of the Portland (Oregon) Rosebuds franchise. He toured with the Rosebuds, sometimes entertaining the audience in between doubleheader games by competing in races against horses.
The WCBA disbanded after only two months.

Owens helped promote the exploitation film Mom and Dad in African American neighborhoods.[citation needed] He tried to make a living as a sports promoter, essentially an entertainer. He would give local sprinters a ten- or twenty-yard start and beat them in the 100-yd (91-m) dash. He also challenged and defeated racehorses; as he revealed later, the trick was to race a high-strung thoroughbred that would be frightened by the starter’s shotgun and give him a bad jump. Owens said, “People say that it was degrading for an Olympic champion to run against a horse, but what was I supposed to do? I had four gold medals, but you can’t eat four gold medals.”
On the lack of opportunities, Owens added, “There was no television, no big advertising, no endorsements then. Not for a black man, anyway.”


Owens ran a dry cleaning business and worked as a gas station attendant to earn a living; he eventually filed for bankruptcy. In 1966, he was successfully prosecuted for tax evasion. At rock bottom, he was aided in beginning his rehabilitation. The government appointed him as a US goodwill ambassador. Owens traveled the world and spoke to companies such as the Ford Motor Company and stakeholders such as the United States Olympic Committee.[citation needed] After he retired, he owned racehorses.

Owens initially refused to support the black power salute by African-American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He told them

The black fist is a meaningless symbol. When you open it, you have nothing but fingers – weak, empty fingers. The only time the black fist has significance is when there’s money inside. There’s where the power lies.


Four years later in his 1972 book I Have Changed, he moderated his opinion:

I realized now that militancy in the best sense of the word was the only answer where the black man was concerned, that any black man who wasn’t a militant in 1970 was either blind or a coward.

A few months before his death, Owens had tried unsuccessfully to convince President Jimmy Carter to withdraw his demand that the United States boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He argued that the Olympic ideal was supposed to be observed as a time-out from war and that it was above politics.[citation needed]

Owens, a pack-a-day cigarette smoker for 35 years, had been hospitalized with an extremely aggressive and drug-resistant type of lung cancer on and off beginning in December 1979. He died of the disease at age 66 in Tucson, Arizona, on March 31, 1980, with his wife and other family members at his bedside. He is buried in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.


Carl Ludwig “Lu(t)z” Long was a German Olympic long-jumper, notable for winning Silver in the event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and for reputedly giving advice to his competitor, Jesse Owens, who went on to win the gold medal for the broad jump (as the long jump was then termed) as a result of Long’s advice. Luz Long won the German long jump championship six times in 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939.

Long was killed in action serving in the German Army during World War II. For his actions in the spirit of sportsmanship, he was posthumously awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal.

Long studied law at the University of Leipzig, where in 1936 he joined the Leipziger Sport Club. After graduating, he practiced as a lawyer in Hamburg, while continuing his interest in sport. The 21-year-old, 1.84 m tall Long had finished third in the 1934 European Championships in Athletics with 7.25m. By the summer of 1936, Long held the European record in the long jump and was eager to compete for the first time against Jesse Owens, the American world-record holder. The long jump on August 4 was Long’s first event against Owens, and Long met his expectations by setting an Olympic record during the preliminary round. In contrast, Owens fouled on his first two jumps. Knowing that he needed to reach at least 7.15m (about 23 feet 3 inches) on his third jump in order to advance to the finals in the afternoon, Owens sat on the field, dejected.


Speaking to Long’s son, Owens said in 1964 that Long went to him and told him to try to jump from a spot several inches behind the take-off board. Since Owens routinely made distances far greater than the minimum of 7.15m required to advance, Long surmised that Owens would be able to advance safely to the next round without risking a foul trying to push for a greater distance. On his third qualifying jump, Owens was calm and jumped with at least four inches (10 centimeters) to spare, easily qualifying for the finals. In the finals competition later that day, the jumpers exceeded the old Olympic record five times. Owens went on to win the gold medal in the long jump with 8.06m while besting Long’s own record of 7.87m. Long won the silver medal for second place and was the first to congratulate Owens: they posed together for photos and walked arm-in-arm to the dressing room. Owens said, “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler… You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment”. Long’s competition with Owens is recorded in Leni Riefenstahl’s documentary Olympia – Fest der Völker. Two days later, Long finished 10th in the triple jump. He went on to finish third in the 1938 European Championships in Athletics long jump with 7.56m.

Long served in the Wehrmacht during World War II, having the rank of Obergefreiter. During the Allied invasion of Sicily, Long was killed in action on 14 July 1943. He was buried in the war cemetery of Motta Sant’Anastasia, in Sicily. He was survived by a son born a year before his death. His son was seen in the documentary Jesse Owens Returns To Berlin where he is in conversation with Owens in the Berlin Olympic Stadium.


Adolf “Adi” Dassler was the founder of the German sportswear company Adidas, and the younger brother of Rudolf Dassler, founder of Puma.

Born in the Franconian town of Herzogenaurach and trained as a cobbler, Adi Dassler started to produce his own sports shoes in his mother’s laundry room after his return from the First World War. His father, Christoph, who worked in a shoe factory, and the Zehlein brothers, who produced the spikes for track shoes in their smithy, supported Dassler in starting his own business. On 1 July 1924, his older brother Rudolf joined the business, which became the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory).

At the 1928 Olympics, Dassler equipped many athletes, laying the foundation for the international expansion of the company. During the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, he equipped the African-American athlete Jesse Owens who went on to win four gold medals.

With the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, both Dassler brothers joined the Nazi Party, with Rudolf reputed as being the more ardent National Socialist.

Adolf served the Wehrmacht at the beginning of the war for one year on the west front. Rudolf was drafted in March 1943 fighting the red army in the east, and was captured in April 1945 by the Gestapo for Absence Without Leave. On the way to Dachau concentration camp, so the legend goes, he was freed by US troops, only to be imprisoned again as a POW in Hammelburg.

Adi had stayed behind to produce boots for the Wehrmacht and then broke away from the Nazi Party. The war exacerbated the differences between the brothers and their wives. Rudolf, upon his capture by American troops, was suspected of being a member of the SS, information supposedly supplied by his brother Adi.

By 1948, the rift between the brothers widened. Rudolf left the company to found Puma on the other side of town (across the Aurach River), and Adolf Dassler renamed the company Adidas after his own nickname (Adi Dassler).

In 1973, Adolf Dassler’s son Horst Dassler founded Arena, a producer of swimming equipment. After Adolf Dassler’s death in 1978, Horst and his wife Käthe took over the management. Horst died nine years later, in 1987. Adidas was transformed into a private limited company in 1989, but remained family property until its IPO in 1995.

In 2006, a sculpture of Dassler was unveiled in the Adi Dassler Stadium in Herzogenaurauch. It was created by the artist Josef Tabachnyk (de).


13 Minutes

In November 1939, after planting a bomb inside a column of a Munich bierkeller, Georg Elser (Christian Friedel) attempts to cross into neutral Switzerland but is caught at the border. His home-made bomb detonates but misses killing Adolf Hitler, the German leader, by just 13 minutes.

The German security services find incriminating evidence on Elser and link him to the assassination attempt. They believe Elser must have been working with a group of conspirators and torture Elser to find this information. They also round up members of his family from his home village, including Else Härlen (Katharina Schüttler), a married woman Elser has been seeing.

When Else Härlen is brought before Elser, he fears for her life and tells the police chief Arthur Nebe (Burghart Klaußner) and Gestapo head Heinrich Müller (Johann von Bülow) that he acted alone, procuring detonators from a steel factory and stealing dynamite from a nearby quarry. He outlines the two clockwork mechanisms he built to time the explosion and hopefully kill Hitler as he made a speech. Still believing Elser could not have attempted the assassination alone he once more tortured using drugs (Pervitin) but with the same result as before – he confirms acted alone.

Through flashbacks we learn how Elser came to despise the Nazis and how he saw that Hitler needed to be removed to save Germany. We learn that following his arrest, Elser was kept in concentration camps for five years and was shot a few days before American forces liberated Dachau concentration camp (a few weeks before the war ended).

Elser is now regarded a German resistance hero of the Second World War.


Johann Georg Elser was a German worker who planned and carried out an elaborate assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler and other high-ranking Nazi leaders on 8 November 1939 at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich.
A time bomb that Elser constructed and placed near the speaking platform failed to kill Hitler, who left earlier than expected, but killed eight people and injured over sixty-two others. Elser was held as a prisoner for over five years until executed at the Dachau concentration camp.

Georg Elser (the name usually employed to refer to him) was born in Hermaringen, Württemberg to Ludwig Elser and Maria Müller. His parents married one year after his birth, and Maria moved to Königsbronn to live with Ludwig on his small holding. His father was a timber merchant, while his mother worked the farm. Georg was often left to care for his five younger siblings: Friederike (born 1904), Maria (born 1906), Ludwig (born 1909), Anna (born 1910) and Leonard (born 1913). He attended elementary school in Königsbronn from 1910–17 and showed ability in drawing, penmanship and mathematics. His childhood was marred by his father’s heavy drinking. Elser recalled in his interrogation by the Gestapo in 1939 how his father habitually came home late from work drunk.


In 1917, Elser worked half a year assisting in his father’s business. Seeking independence, he started an apprenticeship as a lathe operator at the smelter in Königsbronn, but was forced to quit for health reasons. Between 1919-1922, he was apprenticed to master woodworker, Robert Sapper, in Königsbronn. After topping his class at Heidenheim Trade School, he worked in the furniture factory of Paul Rieder in Aalen. In 1925, he left home to briefly work at Wachter woodworking company in the small community of Bernried, near Tettnang. Exploring along Lake Constance on foot, he arrived at Friedrichshafen, where he found employment shaping wooden propellers for the fledgling aircraft manufacturer, Dornier.

In August 1925, a work-friend enticed Elser to go with him to Konstanz to work in a clock factory. Due to lack of work, the clock factory closed down, was sold, then reopened as the Schuckmann Clock Factory. Elser was re-employed but not for long. Along with the other employees, he was dismissed when the factory mysteriously burnt down after the owner had unsuccessfully tried to sell the failing business. During this period, Elser shared a room with a Communist co-worker who convinced him to join the Red Front Fighters League. He also joined a traditional dress and dance group (Trachtenverein). In 1929, he found work with Schönholzer, a small woodworking company in Bottighofen, requiring Elser to cross the border daily into Switzerland. The work ran out within six months, however, and he was let go.


At around this time Elser met a waitress, Mathilde Niedermann. When she became pregnant he drove her to Geneva, Switzerland. Mathilde was found to be in the fourth month of pregnancy, precluding a legal abortion. The child was born, a boy named Manfred. When Elser left Mathilde, he was left with child support payments that often surpassed his weekly wage.

In 1930, Elser began commuting daily by ferry from Konstanz to work in the small Rothmund clock factory in Meersburg where he made the housing for wall and table clocks. At the Kreuzlingen Free Temperance Union he started a friendship with a seamstress, Hilda Lang. Between May and August 1932, after Rothmund closed down, he lived with several families in Meersburg doing odd carpentry jobs.

In August 1932, Elser returned to Königsbronn after receiving a call for help from his mother. His alcoholic father, often violent and abusive towards her, was now heavily in debt. Elser assisted his parents in their work and supplemented his income by making furniture in a home workshop until his father was forced to sell the family property in late 1935. Elser escaped the grim family situation with music, playing flute, accordion, bass and the zither. He joined the Zither Club in Königsbronn in early 1933.

At around this time, Elser joined a hiking club where he met Else Härlen. He moved to lodge in the Härlens’ basement, building Elsa kitchen cabinets, kitchen chairs and a dolls house. Their love affair in the spring of 1936 led to her separation from her husband in 1937 and divorce in 1938.

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In 1936, Elser worked with a carpenter named Grupp in Königsbronn, making desks and installing windows, but soon gave up the job, believing the pay was too low. He began working as a labourer at the Waldenmaier armament factory in Heidenheim, commuting by train or by bike from Königsbronn. While working there, he began a friendship with a fellow employee, Maria Schmauder.

In 1938, Elser’s parents bought half of a double house in collaboration with their son Leonhard and his wife. Elser felt cheated, and was forced to move out of the house, severing ties with his family except his sister Maria in Stuttgart. In May 1939, he moved in with the Schmauder family in nearby Schnaitheim.

At Waldenmaier, Elser worked in the shipping department and had access to many parts of the plant, including the ‘special department’ where fuses and detonators were produced. Elser was to later tell the Gestapo after his arrest and confession: ‘Before the decision to take my action in the fall of 1938, I had stolen neither parts nor powder from the factory.’

Being a carpenter-cabinetmaker by trade, Elser was a member of the Federation of Woodworkers Union, a leftist organisation. Though he joined the RFB, the Red Front Fighters’ Association, he told his interrogators in 1939 that he attended a political assembly no more than three times while a member. He also stated he voted for the Communist Party until 1933, as he considered the KPD to be the best defender of workers’ interests.

While his family thought he was apolitical, there is evidence Elser opposed Nazism from the beginning of the regime in 1933, refused to perform the Hitler salute, did not join others in listening to Hitler’s speeches broadcast on the radio and did not vote in the Third Reich’s elections or referendums.

In 1933 at a Woodworkers Union meeting in Königsbronn Elser met Josef Schurr, a Communist from Schnaitheim. That Elser had extreme views is supported by a letter Schurr sent to a newspaper in Ulm in 1947. It included the line: “He (Elser) was always extremely interested in some act of violence against Hitler and his cronies. He always called Hitler a ‘gypsy’—one just had to look at his criminal face.”

Elser’s parents were Protestant, his mother being more devout than his father. As a child, he attended church with his mother, though his attendance lapsed. Only during 1939, after he had decided to carry out the assassination attempt, did his attendance improve radically, either at a Protestant or Roman Catholic church. He claimed church attendance and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer calmed him. He told his arresting officers: “I believe in the survival of the soul after death, and I also believed that I would not go to heaven if I had not had an opportunity to prove that I wanted good. I also wanted to prevent by my act even greater bloodshed.”

During five days of interrogation in Berlin (19–22 November 1939), Elser articulated his motive to his interrogators,

I considered how to improve the conditions of the workers and avoid a war. For this I was not encouraged by anyone. . . Even from Radio Moscow I never heard that the German government and the regime must be overthrown. I reasoned the situation in Germany could only be modified by a removal of the current leadership, I mean Hitler, Goering and Goebbels. . . I did not want to eliminate Nazism. . . I was merely of the opinion that a moderation in the policy objectives will occur through the elimination of these three men. . .The idea of eliminating the leadership came to me in the fall of 1938. . . I thought to myself that this is only possible if the leadership is together at a rally. From the daily press I gathered that the next meeting of leaders was happening on 8 and 9 November 1938 in Munich in the Bürgerbräukeller.

Five years later in Dachau concentration camp, SS officer Lechner claimed Elser revealed his motive to him,

I had to do it because, for his whole life, Hitler has meant the downfall of Germany. . . don’t think that I’m some kind of dyed–in-the-wool Communist—I’m not. I have some sympathy for Ernst Thälmann, but getting rid of Hitler just became an obsession of mine. . . But, as you can see—I got caught, and now I have to pay for it. I would have preferred it if they executed me right away.

In order to find out how best to implement his assassination plan, Elser travelled to Munich by train on 8 November 1938, the day of Hitler’s annual speech on the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch. Elser was not able to enter the Bürgerbräukeller until 10:30 pm, when the crowd had dispersed. He stayed until midnight before going back to his lodging. The next morning, he returned to Königsbronn. On the following day, 10 November, the anti-Jewish violence of the Kristallnacht took place in Munich.

‘In the following weeks I slowly concocted in my mind that it was best to pack explosives in the pillar directly behind the speaker’s podium,’ Elser told his interrogators a year later. He continued to work in the Waldenmaier armament factory in Heidenheim and systematically stole explosives, hiding packets of powder in his bedroom. Realising he needed the exact dimensions of the column to build his bomb he returned to Munich, staying from 4–12 April 1939. He took a camera with him, a Christmas gift from Maria Schmauder. He had just become unemployed due to an argument with a factory supervisor.

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In April–May 1939, Elser found a labouring job at the Vollmer quarry in Königsbronn. While there, he collected an arsenal of 105 blasting cartridges and 125 detonators, causing him to admit to his interrogators, “I knew two or three detonators were sufficient for my purposes. But I thought the surplus will increase the explosive effect.’ Living with the Schmauder family in Schnaitheim he made many sketches, telling his hosts he was working on an ‘invention.”

In July, in a secluded orchard owned by his parents, Elser tested several prototypes of his bomb. Clock movements given to him in lieu of wages when leaving Rothmund in Meersburg in 1932 and a car indicator ‘winker’ were incorporated into the ‘infernal machine’. In August, after a bout of sickness, he left for Munich. Powder, explosives, a battery and detonators filled the false bottom of his wooden suitcase. Other boxes contained his clothes, clock movements and the tools of his trade.

Elser arrived in Munich on 5 August 1939. Using his real name, he rented a room in the apartments of two unsuspecting couples, the Baumanns and from 1 September, Alfons and Rosa Lehmann. He soon became a regular at the Bürgerbräukeller restaurant for his evening meal. As before, he was able to enter the adjoining Bürgerbräukeller Hall before the doors were locked at about 10:30 pm.

Over the next two months, Elser stayed all night inside the Bürgerbräukeller 30–35 times. Working on the gallery level and using a flashlight dimmed with a blue handkerchief, he started by installing a secret door in the timber panelling to a pillar behind the speaker’s rostrum. After removing the plaster behind the door, he hollowed out a chamber in the brickwork for his bomb. Normally completing his work around 2:00–3:00 am, he dozed in the storeroom off the gallery until the doors were unlocked at about 6:30 am. He then left via a rear door, often carrying a small suitcase filled with debris.

Security was relatively lax at the Bürgerbräukeller. Christian Weber, a veteran from the Beer Hall Putsch and the Munich city councillor, was responsible.[5] However, from the beginning of September, after the outbreak of war with Poland, Elser was aware of the presence of air raid wardens and two ‘free-running dogs’ in the building.

While he worked at night in the Bürgerbräukeller, Elser built his ‘infernal machine’ during the day. He purchased extra parts, including sound insulation, from local hardware stores and became friends with the local master woodworker, Brög, who allowed him use of his workshop.

On the nights of 1–2 November, Elser installed the explosives in the pillar. On 4–5 November, being Saturday and Sunday dance nights, he needed to buy a ticket and wait in the gallery until after 1:00 am before he could install the twin clock mechanism that would trigger the detonator. To celebrate the completion of his work, Elser recalled later, ‘I left by the back road, went to the Isartorplatz where at the kiosk I drank two cups of coffee’.

On 6 November, Elser left Munich for Stuttgart to stay overnight with his sister Maria Hirth and her husband. Leaving them his tool boxes and baggage, he returned to Munich the next day for a final check. Arriving at the Bürgerbräukeller at 10:00 pm, he waited for an opportunity to open the bomb chamber and satisfy himself the clock mechanism was correctly set. The next morning he departed Munich by train for Friedrichshafen via Ulm. After a shave at a hairdresser, he took the 6:30 pm steamer to Konstanz.
The high-ranking Nazis who accompanied Adolf Hitler to the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch on 8 November 1939 were Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Rudolf Hess, Robert Ley, Alfred Rosenberg, Julius Streicher, August Frank, Hermann Esser and Heinrich Himmler. Hitler was welcomed to the platform by Christian Weber.[5]

Unknown to Elser, Hitler had initially cancelled his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller to devote his attention to planning the imminent war with France, but changed his mind and attended after all. As fog was forecast, possibly preventing him from flying back to Berlin the next morning, Hitler decided to return to Berlin the same night by his private train. With the departure from Munich’s main station set for 9:30 pm, the start time of the reunion was brought forward half an hour to 8:00 pm and Hitler cut his speech from the normal two hours to one hour duration.

Hitler ended his address to the 3000-strong audience of the party faithful at 9:07 pm, 13 minutes before Elser’s bomb exploded at 9:20 pm. By that time, Hitler and his entourage had left the Bürgerbräukeller. The bomb brought down part of the ceiling and roof and caused the gallery and an external wall to collapse, leaving a mountain of rubble. About 120 people were still in the hall at the time. Seven were killed. Another sixty-three were injured, sixteen seriously, with one dying later.

Hitler did not learn of the attempt on his life until later that night on a stop in Nuremberg. When told of the bombing by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler responded, ‘A man has to be lucky.’ A little later Hitler had a different spin, saying, ‘Now I am completely at peace! My leaving the Bürgerbräu earlier than usual is proof to me that Providence wants me to reach my goal.’

“The solemn act of state before the Feldherrenhalle in Munich (11/11/1939) for the seven victims of the criminal bomb attack in Bürgerbräukeller on 08/11/1939”
In Munich on 9 November, the annual guard of honour for the sixteen “blood martyrs” of the NSDAP who died in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 was held at the Feldherrnhalle as usual. Two days later, at the same location, an official ceremony for the victims of the Bürgerbräukeller bombing took place. Hitler returned from Berlin to stand before seven flag draped coffins as Rudolf Hess addressed the SA guard, the onlookers and the listeners to Grossdeutsche Rundfunk (Greater German Radio). In his half hour oration, Hess was not short on hyperbole:

At this time the German people take their sad leave of the victims of a gruesome crime, a crime almost unparalleled in history. . . The perpetrators of this crime have succeeded in teaching the German people to hate. . . this enormous crime, this war which was forced upon us, will turn out in favor of the Führer, in favor of Germany—in favor of Germany and the entire world.

After ‘Der gute Kamerad’ was played, Hitler placed a wreath of chrysanthemums on each coffin, then stepped back to lift his arm in the Nazi salute. The very slow playing of ‘Deutschland über alles’ ended the solemn ceremony.

At 8:45 pm on the night of 8 November, Elser was apprehended by two border guards, 25 metres from the Swiss border fence in Konstanz. When taken to the border control post and asked to empty his pockets he was found to be carrying wire cutters, numerous notes and sketches pertaining to explosive devices, firing pins and a blank colour postcard of the interior of the Bürgerbräukeller. At 11 pm, during Elser’s interrogation by the Gestapo in Konstanz, news of the bombing in Munich arrived by teletype. The next day, Elser was transferred by car to Munich Gestapo Headquarters.
Himmler (centre) in conference with Huber, Nebe, Heydrich, and Müller, (left to right) in November, 1939
While still returning to Berlin by train, Hitler ordered Heinrich Himmler to put Arthur Nebe, head of Kripo (Criminal Police), in charge of the investigation into the Munich bombing. Himmler did this, but also assigned total control of the investigation to the chief of the Gestapo, Heinrich Müller. Müller immediately ordered the arrest of all Bürgerbräukeller personnel, while Nebe ran the onsite investigation, sifting through the debris.

Nebe had early success, finding the remains of brass plates bearing patent numbers of a clock maker in Schwenningen, Baden-Würtemberg. Despite the clear evidence of the German make, Himmler released to the press that the metal parts pointed to ‘foreign origin’.

Himmler offered a reward of 500,000 marks for information leading to the capture of the culprits, and the Gestapo was soon deluged with hundreds of suspects. When one suspect was reported to have detonator parts in his pockets, Otto Rappold of the counter-espionage arm of the Gestapo sped to Königsbronn and neighbouring towns. Every family member and possible acquaintance of Elser was rounded up for interrogation.

At the Schmauder residence in Schnaitheim, 16-year-old Maria Schmauder told of her family’s recent boarder who was working on an ‘invention’, had a false bottom in his suitcase, and worked at the Vollmer quarry.


On 9 November, as only one of many suspects being held at Munich Gestapo Headquarters, Elser did not attract much attention for a few days. But when face-to-face meetings took place with Bürgerbräukeller staff, waitress Maria Strobl identified Elser as the odd customer who never ordered more than one drink. Later, on the basis of his Swabian accent, Elser was identified by a storekeeper as the man he had sold a ‘sound proofing insulation plate’ to deaden the sound of ticking clocks.

Nebe called in Franz Josef Huber, head of the Gestapo in Vienna, to assist. Huber had the idea of asking Elser to bare his knees. When he did, they were found to be badly bruised, the apparent result of working at low level during his night work at the Bürgerbräukeller.

Dr Albrecht Böhme, head of the Munich Kripo, was witness to a severe and prolonged beating of Elser, in which he said Himmler participated. He later recalled: “But Elser, who was groaning and bleeding profusely from the mouth and nose, made no confession; he would probably not have been physically able to, even if he had wanted to.” However, on 15 November, Elser made a full written confession, though the document did not survive the war.

Berlin, Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8 – Secret State Police Main Office, formerly Kunstgewerbemuseum (original caption)
Interrogation in Berlin[edit]
Elser was transferred to Berlin Gestapo Headquarters on Prinz Albrecht Strasse, possibly on 18 November. His parents, siblings and their spouses, together with his former girlfriend Else Härlen, were taken by train to Berlin to be held in Moabit prison and then in the grand Hotel Kaiserhof. His mother, sister Maria Hirth, brother-in-law Karl Hirth and Else Härlen were interrogated in the presence of Elser.

In 1950 Elsa Härlen recollected:

…. His face was swollen and beaten black and blue. His eyes were bulging out of their sockets, and I was horrified by his appearance…. An officer placed himself behind Elser and, to make him talk, he kept striking him on the back or on the back of his head. . . What he said was something like this: He had taken black powder from the Vollmer Co(mpany), and with this he had built a time bomb. He had been induced to do this by foreign agents and had acted on their orders….

Elsa Härlen was left in no doubt that Elser was only repeating what his interrogators wanted him to say. Apart from Maria Hirth and her husband, who were considered accomplices and imprisoned for over one year, the family members and Else Härlen were allowed to return home. While in Berlin. Elsa Härlen received special attention, being interviewed by Heinrich Himmler, having an audience with Adolf Hitler, and being quizzed by Martin Bormann. But Elsa did not help their cause—which was to find some fragment of evidence that Elser had not acted alone.

While in Berlin, Elser made five full size drawings of the design of his bomb in order to persuade his interrogators that he was the sole instigator of the assassination attempt. These drawings are referred to in the Gestapo interrogation report, but have not survived.

Five days of torture, from 19–23 November, produced the Gestapo Protokoll (interrogation report). The document was signed off by Kappler, Schmidt and Seibold for the ‘Kriminalkommissare’. Buried in the German archives in Koblenz until 1964, this report is now considered the most important source of information on Elser. The report did not mention the interrogation of Elser’s family members and Elsa Härlen in Berlin, as the report contains only the answers Elser gave to his interrogators. On the vital question that he was the sole instigator, Elser had this to say:

I also had the intention, and considered in detail, to write from Switzerland to the German police to explain that I was the sole culprit in the assassination, no accomplice or accomplices have I had. I would have also sent along an accurate drawing of my apparatus and a description of the execution of the deed, so that one could verify my claim. With such a message to the German police, I just wanted to ensure that under no circumstances would any innocent person be arrested in the search for perpetrators.

When Himmler read the final report, he flew into a rage and scrawled in green ink on the red cover: ‘What idiot wrote this?'[5]

In contrast, Arthur Nebe, who led the police investigation, paid tribute to the morality of Elser’s position by disclosing privately to Hans Bernd Gisevius around Christmas 1939:

You know what Elser’s problem was? This man of the people loved ordinary people; he laid out for me passionately and in simple sentences how, for the masses in all countries, war means hunger, misery, and the death of millions. Not a pacifist in the usual sense, his reasoning was quite simplistic: Hitler is war—and if he goes, there will be peace.

Discarding the interrogation report that found Elser solely responsible, Hitler proceeded to use the Bürgerbräukeller bombing for propaganda purposes. On 22 November, German newspapers were filled with the story that the assassin, Georg Elser, had been funded by the British Intelligence Service, while the organiser of the crime was Otto Strasser. Photos of two British SIS officers, Richard Henry Stevens and Sigismund Payne Best, captured in the Venlo Incident on 9 November 1939, shared the front page of Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung with a photo of Georg Elser.

SS officer Walter Schellenberg later wrote in his memoirs (The Labyrinth):

He (Hitler) began to issue detailed directives on the handling of the case to Himmler, Heydrich, and me and gave releases to the press. To my dismay, he became increasingly convinced that the attempt on his life had been the work of the British Intelligence, and that (British SIS officers) Best and Stevens, working together with Otto Strasser, were the real organizers of this crime. . . Meanwhile a carpenter by the name of Elser had been arrested while trying to escape over the Swiss border. The circumstantial evidence against him was very strong, and finally he confessed. . . I thought it possible that the Black Front organization of Otto Strasser might have something to do with the matter and that the British Secret Service might also be involved. But to connect Best and Stevens with the Beer Cellar attempt on Hitler’s life seemed to me quite ridiculous. Nevertheless that was exactly what was in Hitler’s mind. He announced to the press that Elser and the officers of the British Secret Service would be tried together. In high places there was talk of a great public trial, to be staged. . . for the benefit of the German people. I tried to think of the best way to prevent this lunacy.

Swiss magazine, Appenzeller Zeitung, reported on 23 November 1939 that Otto Strasser had denied any knowledge of Elser, Best or Stevens in an interview in Paris. On 13 November, Swiss authorities had expelled Strasser from Switzerland, after he was found to have made disparaging remarks about Hitler in a foreign newspaper in October.[

The basement cells of the Berlin Gestapo Headquarters were notorious for the inhumane treatment of prisoners. However, it was rumoured Elser was kept imprisoned on the top floor until January or February 1941.

Arthur Nebe told Hans Gisevius of Elser’s frayed state during this period. Gisevius wrote later,

. . . . Elser was just a shell of his former self because they (the Gestapo) had tried to squeeze information out of him by feeding him very salty herring and exposing him to heat, and then depriving him of liquids. . . They wanted him to confess to some kind of connection, however vague, to Otto Strasser. The artisan remained steadfast. Almost like an innocent child or the kind of person one sometimes finds among sect members, he told Nebe of his torment, not begging mercy, not even complaining—it was more like an outburst of joy at seeing once again the person (Nebe) who had treated him humanely since his arrest.

Walter Schellenberg wrote of a conversation with Heinrich Müller, who told him,

So far I’ve always been able to break every one of these types that I’ve taken on. If this guy had been treated to my beatings earlier on, he never would have thought up this nonsense.’ In a subsequent discussion, Hitler issued an order to Heydrich: ‘I would like to know what kind of man this Elser is. We must be able to classify him somehow. Report back to me on this. And furthermore, use all means to get this criminal to talk. Have him hypnotized, give him drugs; make use of everything of this nature our scientists have tried. I want to know who the instigators are. I want to know who is behind this.
Three days later, Schellenberg heard from Müller that three doctors had worked on Elser for twenty four hours, injecting him with ‘sizable quantities of Pervitin,’ but he continued to say the same thing. Four hypnotists were summoned. Only one could put Elser into a trance, but the prisoner stuck to the same story. The psychologist wrote in his report that Elser was a ‘fanatic’ and had a pathological desire for recognition. He concluded by saying pointedly: Elser had the “drive to achieve fame by eliminating Hitler and simultaneously liberating Germany from the ‘evil of Hitler.’”

While at Berlin Gestapo Headquarters, Müller put Elser into a workshop and ordered him to reconstruct the explosive device he used at the Bürgerbräukeller. When Reinhard Heydrich and Walter Schellenberg visited Elser in the workshop, Schellenburg noted, “He [Elser] responded to questioning only with reluctance but opened up when he was praised for his craftsmanship. Then he would comment on his reconstructed model in detail and with great enthusiasm.”

Elser’s reconstruction of his Bürgerbräukeller bomb was held in such high regard by the Gestapo, they adopted it into their field manuals for training purposes.

The day after the bombing at the Bürgerbräukeller, outraged SS guards at Buchenwald Concentration Camp took revenge. Twenty-one Jews were killed by firing squad and all Jews in the camp suffered three days of food deprivation.

The Gestapo descended on the village of Königsbronn to interrogate the inhabitants, asking the same questions over and over for months on end. The village was stigmatized as a nest of criminals and became known as “Assassinville”. Elsewhere, everyone who may have had contact with Elser was hunted down and interrogated by the Gestapo.

The quarry owner Georg Vollmer and his employees were severely beaten during Gestapo interrogations. Sentenced to 20 years in Welzheim concentration camp for negligence in dealing with explosive materials, Vollmer was released in 1941 after his wife petitioned Rudolf Hess through old connections. Losing her mind in fear her husband would be taken away again, she died six months after his release. Prior to her death she started a rumor that a Zurich music dealer named Kuch, with a group of three Communists, had put Elser up to the assassination attempt.

Waldenmaier, the owner of the Waldenmaier armaments factory in Heidenheim, was more fortunate than Vollmer. With the backing of the Abwehr in 1944, he received the War Service Cross First Class for significant contributions to the war effort. In 1940, a Gestapo man had told him: “In spite of repeated torture, Elser had stuck to his story that he had carried out the attack in order to save the working people and the entire world from war.”[

The Munich locksmith Max Niederholer, who had unwittingly supplied Elser with metal parts, was bound and beaten and detained for two weeks by the Gestapo. Being born in London did not help his case. Maria Schmauder’s father was subjected to lengthy interrogation, particularly as Elser had admitted to listening to foreign radio stations in his house—even though that practice was not banned until 1 September 1939.[5] Mathilde Niedermann was interrogated over several nights by the Gestapo in 1939. She maintained that Elser was ‘completely uninterested in politics,’ even though it was in Konstanz that he became friendly with Communists. Almost sixty years later, Mathilde and Elser’s son, Manfred Buhl, spoke at the dedication of the Georg-Elser-Platz in Munich in 1997—the same year he died.

Elser’s lover Elsa Härlen said Elser “led a double life and completely separated his political life from his private life”. In an interview in 1959, she said she did not want any restitution from the government of the Federal Republic, as “it was those gypsies that were there before”—meaning the Nazis—that had brought her harm.[5] Generally his family had difficulty coming to terms with his confession as the sole instigator. In 1950, his mother continued to lay the blame on others saying: “I don’t think my son would come up with anything like that on his own”.

Elser never faced a trial for the bombing of the Bürgerbräukeller. After his year of torment at Berlin Gestapo Headquarters, he was kept in special custody in Sachsenhausen concentration camp between early 1941 and early 1945. At Sachsenhausen, Elser was held in isolation in a T-shaped building reserved for protected prisoners. Accommodated in three cells joined together, each 9.35 m2, there was space for his two full-time guards and a work space to make furniture and other things, including several zithers.

Elser’s apparent preferential treatment, which included extra rations and daily visits to the camp barber for a shave, aroused interest amongst other prisoners, including British SIS officer, Payne Best. He wrote later that Elser was also allowed regular visits to the camp brothel.[11] Martin Niemöller was also a special inmate in the Sachsenhausen ‘bunker’ and believed the rumours that Elser was an SS man and an agent of Hitler and Himmler. Even though Elsa Härlen married another man in December 1939, Elser kept a photo of her in his cell. In early 1945, Elser was transferred to the bunker at Dachau concentration camp
In April 1945, with German defeat imminent, the Nazis’ intention of staging a show trial over the Bürgerbräukeller bombing had become futile. Hitler ordered the execution of special security prisoner ‘Eller’—the name used for Elser in Dachau—along with Wilhelm Canaris, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others who had plotted against him.[ The order, dated 5 April 1945, from the Gestapo HQ in Berlin, was addressed to the Commandant of the Dachau concentration camp, SS-Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter.

The order came into the possession of Captain S. Payne Best in May 1945, and appeared in Best’s book The Venlo Incident. That part of the order relating to Elser reads:

The question of our prisoner in special protective custody, ‘Eller’, has also again been discussed at highest level. The following directions have been issued: On the occasion of one of the next Terror Attacks on Munich, or, as the case may be, the neighbourhood of Dachau, it shall be pretended that ‘Eller’ suffered fatal injuries. I request you therefore, when such an occasion arises to liquidate ‘Eller’ as discreetly as possible. Please take steps that only a few people, who must be specially pledged to silence, hear about this. The notification to me regarding the execution of this order shall be something like:
‘On . . . . caused by a Terror Attack (air raid) on . . . . the prisoner in protective custody ‘Eller’ was fatally wounded.’

After noting the contents and carrying out the orders contained in it, destroy this letter.The signature on the order was illegible according to Best.

In his 1947 book, To The Bitter End, Hans Bernd Gisevius commented on the order:

When the Gestapo men killed on their own account or on the direct orders of Himmler, they did not require such complicated instructions and Hitler’s orders for the liquidation of unwanted persons were not usually phrased in so tactful a manner. . . (With his own end in sight) Hitler suddenly recalled the existence of ‘the Zither player’; and fearfully, as if possessed by a sudden and inexplicable shame, this murderer of millions attempted to conceal his execution of an assassin who had long since been forgotten by the world public. On 9 April 1945, four weeks before the end of the war in Europe, Georg Elser was shot dead and his fully dressed body immediately burned in the crematorium of Dachau Concentration Camp. He was 42 years old.

In 1954, SS-Oberscharführer Theodor Bongartz, the man in charge of the crematorium at Dachau, was determined to have been the murderer of Georg Elser, during a German court proceeding in which SS-Unterscharführer Edgar Stiller was on trial as an accessory to murder. As the SS man in charge of the special prisoners at Dachau from 1943 to 1945, Stiller was accused of escorting Elser to the crematorium where he was allegedly shot by Bongartz. Theodor Bongartz was not brought to account as he had died of an illness in 1945. Elser has been the subject of rumours and various conspiracy theories since the Bürgerbräukeller bombing. After the war, Protestant pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller, also in custody in the ‘bunker’ at Sachsenhausen, gave credence to the rumour that Elser had been a member of the SS and that the whole assassination attempt had been staged by the Nazis to portray Hitler as being protected by Providence. Many others, like quarry owner Georg Vollmer, building on his dead wife’s contribution, weighed in with their version of the truth. In 1948, Allen Welsh Dulles, the future Director of Central Intelligence (de facto head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency) summed up a range of conspiracy theories when he wrote:

On 8 November a bomb exploded in Bürgerbräukeller in Munich shortly after Hitler had given his annual speech on the anniversary of the beer hall putsch of 1923 and after he had left the building. This event still remains unresolved.


Some evidence suggests that the infernal machine was exploded with the knowledge of Hitler and Himmler in order to consolidate the German sense of community, or, as in the case of the Reichstag fire, to give rise to a new wave of terror. I heard there were photographs showing a high-ranking SS officer standing next to Hitler with a watch in hand, to take care that the leaders escaped in time. Others claim the attack was the work of communists acting independently and without the knowledge of other anti-Nazi groups. A new report presents the plot as the attempted assassination of an illegal socialist group.

In 1969, historical research by Anton Hoch based on The Gestapo Protokoll (interrogation report) dated 19–23 November 1939, found that Elser had acted alone and there was no evidence to involve the Nazi regime or any outside group in the assassination attempt.

Thursday 28th July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 28, 2016 by bishshat


Today I was the leader of the forest school at Compton Verney which took place around the willow tunnel. We did pom pom making and weaving of many kinds including weaving among the willow tunnel itself. Clifford and Janet were great and it was good to have Clifford stay until the end of the session. I was pleased that despite the mixed weather we had over seventy people taking part. One young visitor wanted to stay all day and weave her section and she made a great job of it to.

IMG_20160728_114437IMG_20160728_114441IMG_20160728_143735IMG_20160728_115625IMG_20160728_145141IMG_20160728_144537IMG_20160728_115637IMG_20160728_115733IMG_20160728_121059IMG_20160728_122522IMG_20160728_125326IMG_20160728_152151IMG_20160728_152100IMG_20160728_144627IMG_20160728_170156IMG_20160728_170112IMG_20160728_170208Effie Gray

Effie Gray

A 2014 British biographical drama film directed by Richard Laxton.

Its subject is the love triangle involving Victorian art critic John Ruskin (played by Greg Wise) his wife Euphemia “Effie” Gray (Dakota Fanning) and Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). Emma Thompson also appears in the film as Elizabeth Eastlake. The film’s initial release was delayed by lawsuits alleging that the script, written by Emma Thompson, was plagiarised from earlier dramatisations of the same story. The cases were won by Thompson.

In a pre-credit sequence Effie Gray is seen walking through a garden speaking about a fairy story in which a girl married a man with wicked parents. After the credits, the marriage of Effie to John Ruskin in Perth, Scotland is seen. The couple travel to London to stay with his parents. Effie soon begins to feel isolated, especially as she is repeatedly belittled by John’s mother. Her distress is compounded by the fact that her husband shows no interest in consummating the marriage and refuses to discuss the subject.

At the Royal Academy of Arts, John and Effie attend a dinner at which there is heated debate about the new Pre-Raphaelite movement in art, which John supports. John convinces Sir Charles Eastlake, the president of the academy, to allow the young artists to exhibit their pictures. Effie attracts the attention of Sir Charles’ wife, Elizabeth. When the Eastlakes visit the Ruskins, Elizabeth sees how distressed Effie is in the repressive atmosphere of the Ruskin family.

Effie hopes that matters will improve when they travel to Venice, where John will be researching his new book The Stones of Venice. But when they get there, John busies himself studying the many historic monuments of the city, leaving Effie in the company of Rafael, a young Italian. Effie enjoys the city life, but is distressed when Rafael nearly rapes her. Her husband seems oblivious to the situation.


Effie dreads returning to the Ruskin family. Back at their house she suffers from a string of nervous aliments. Her doctor advises fresh air and more attention from her husband. John says they intend to travel to Scotland where Everett Millais, one of the Pre-Raphaelites, will paint his portrait. In Scotland, Everett befriends Effie, and becomes increasingly disturbed by John’s dismissive attitude to his wife. He is deeply embarrassed when John leaves the two of them alone together for several nights when he visits Edinburgh. Effie and Everett fall in love. When John returns he says Effie must come back with him to London. Everett convinces her to take someone she trusts with her and to explore the options for divorce. Effie brings her sister Sophy, claiming that Sophy wants to see the capital.

In London, Effie visits Elizabeth Eastlake. She tells her she is still a virgin and that John has told her he was disgusted by her body on their wedding night. Elizabeth advises her to seek legal advice. Effie is examined by a doctor, who confirms her virginity. Her lawyer tells her the marriage can be annulled. Effie leaves for Scotland, supposedly to accompany her sister, but really to leave John forever. Before she leaves London, she visits Everett, but only communicates with him via her sister. Everett says he will wait for her. Ruskin’s family is horrified when Effie’s lawyer calls round with a notification of annulment proceedings on the grounds of John’s impotence. As she travels back north, Effie smiles.

Euphemia Chalmers Millais, Lady Millais née Gray, known as Effie Gray, Effie Ruskin or Effie Millais was the wife of the critic John Ruskin, but she left her husband without the marriage being consummated. She later married his protégé, the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.


Effie Gray, initially known by the pet name of “Phemy”, was born in Perth, Scotland, and lived in Bowerswell, the house where Ruskin’s grandfather had committed suicide. Her family knew Ruskin’s father, who encouraged a match between them. Ruskin wrote the fantasy novel The King of the Golden River for her in 1841, when she was twelve years old. After their marriage in 1848, they travelled to Venice, where Ruskin was researching his book The Stones of Venice.

Their different personalities are thrown into sharp relief by their contrasting priorities. For Effie, Venice provided an opportunity to socialise while Ruskin was engaged in solitary studies. In particular, he made a point of drawing the Ca’ d’Oro and the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), because he feared they would soon be destroyed by the occupying Austrian troops. One of the troops, Lieutenant Charles Paulizza, made friends with Effie, apparently with no objection from Ruskin. Her brother, among others, later claimed that Ruskin was deliberately encouraging the friendship to compromise her, as an excuse to separate.

When she met Millais five years later, she was still a virgin, as Ruskin had persistently put off consummating the marriage. His reasons are unclear, but they involved disgust with some aspect of her body. As she later wrote to her father,

“He alleged various reasons, hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and, finally this last year he told me his true reason… that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person the first evening 10th April.”

Ruskin confirmed this in his statement to his lawyer during the annulment proceedings: “It may be thought strange that I could abstain from a woman who to most people was so attractive. But though her face was beautiful, her person was not formed to excite passion. On the contrary, there were certain circumstances in her person which completely checked it.” The reason for Ruskin’s disgust with “circumstances in her person” is unknown. Various suggestions have been made, including revulsion at either her pubic hair, or menstrual blood. However, Robert Brownell, in his analysis Marriage of Inconvenience, argues that Ruskin’s difficulty with the marriage was financial and related to concerns that Effie and her less-affluent family were trying to tap into Ruskin’s considerable wealth. While married to Ruskin, she modelled for Millais’ painting The Order of Release, in which she was depicted as the loyal wife of a Scottish rebel who has secured his release from prison. She then became close to Millais when he accompanied the couple on a trip to Scotland in order to paint Ruskin’s portrait according to the critic’s artistic principles. During this time, spent in Brig o’ Turk in the Trossachs, they fell in love. While working on the portrait of her husband, Millais made many drawings and sketches of her. He also sent humorous cartoons of himself, Effie and Ruskin to friends. She copied some of his works.

After their return to London, she left Ruskin, nominally to visit her family. She sent back her wedding ring with a note announcing her intention to file for an annulment. With the support of her family and a number of influential friends, she successfully pursued the case, causing a major public scandal, and their marriage was annulled on the grounds of ‘incurable impotency’ in 1854.


In 1855, she married John Millais and eventually bore him eight children: Everett, born in 1856; George, born in 1857; Effie, born in 1858; Mary, born in 1860; Alice, born in 1862; Geoffroy, born in 1863; John in 1865; and Sophie in 1868. Their youngest son, John Guille Millais, was a notable bird artist and gardener. She also modelled for a number of her husband’s works, notably Peace Concluded (1856), which idealises her as an icon of beauty and fertility.

When Ruskin later sought to become engaged to a teenage girl, Rose La Touche, Rose’s parents were concerned. They wrote to Gray to ask about the marriage; she replied by describing Ruskin as an oppressive husband. The engagement was broken off.

After his marriage, Millais began to paint in a broader style, which Ruskin condemned as a “catastrophe”. Marriage had given him a large family to support, and it is claimed[who?] that his wife encouraged him to churn out popular works for financial gain and to maintain her busy social life. However, there is no evidence that she consciously pressured him to do so, though she was an effective manager of his career and often collaborated with him in choosing subjects. Her journal indicates her high regard for her husband’s art, and his works are still recognisably Pre-Raphaelite in style several years after his marriage.

However, Millais eventually abandoned the Pre-Raphaelite obsession with detail and began to paint in a looser style which produced more paintings for the time and effort. Many paintings were inspired by his family life with his wife, often using his children and grandchildren as models. Millais also used his sister-in-law, Sophy Gray, then in her early teens, as the basis of some striking images in the mid to late 1850s, provoking suggestions of a mutual infatuation. The annulment from Ruskin barred her from events at which Queen Victoria was present. Both she and her husband were considerably bothered, as she had been socially very active, although many in society were still prepared to receive her and to press her case sympathetically. Eventually, when Millais was dying, the Queen relented through the intervention of her daughter Princess Louise, allowing Gray to attend an official function. Sixteen months after Millais’ death, Effie died at Bowerswell on 23 December 1897[ and was buried in Kinnoull churchyard, Perth, which is depicted in Millais’s painting The Vale of Rest.


John Ruskin

John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects as varied as geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and political economy. His writing styles and literary forms were equally varied. Ruskin penned essays and treatises, poetry and lectures, travel guides and manuals, letters and even a fairy tale. The elaborate style that characterised his earliest writing on art was later superseded by a preference for plainer language designed to communicate his ideas more effectively. In all of his writing, he emphasised the connections between nature, art and society. He also made detailed sketches and paintings of rocks, plants, birds, landscapes, and architectural structures and ornamentation.

He was hugely influential in the latter half of the 19th century, and up to the First World War. After a period of relative decline, his reputation has steadily improved since the 1960s with the publication of numerous academic studies of his work. Today, his ideas and concerns are widely recognised as having anticipated interest in environmentalism, sustainability and craft.

Ruskin first came to widespread attention with the first volume of Modern Painters (1843), an extended essay in defence of the work of J. M. W. Turner in which he argued that the principal role of the artist is “truth to nature”. From the 1850s he championed the Pre-Raphaelites who were influenced by his ideas. His work increasingly focused on social and political issues. Unto This Last (1860, 1862) marked the shift in emphasis. In 1869, Ruskin became the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford, where he established the Ruskin School of Drawing. In 1871, he began his monthly “letters to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain”, published under the title Fors Clavigera (1871–1884). In the course of this complex and deeply personal work, he developed the principles underlying his ideal society. As a result, he founded the Guild of St George, an organisation that endures today.

Wednesday 27th July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 27, 2016 by bishshat


The acquisition of a unique copy of Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things is a momentous event for scholars and readers of Percy Bysshe Shelley, equally so for the Bodleian Libraries and wider communities interested in poetry and early 19th-century history.

Known to have been published in 1811 but surfacing only in 2006, this pamphlet – the Bodleian’s 12 millionth book – is, thanks to the generosity of a donor, now freely available in digitized form. The themes it addresses (the abuse of press freedom, dysfunctional political institutions and the global consequences of imperial war) are as sharply present today as they were 200 years ago.

Not even scholars of his work thought that Poetical Essay could be Shelley’s, at least publicly, until 50 years after his death. Drawing on newspaper evidence, Denis Florence MacCarthy was the first biographer to deduce a connection between Poetical Essay and his subject (in Shelley’s Early Life, London, 1872). He reasoned that the ‘very beautiful poem’ by Shelley mentioned in the Dublin Weekly Messenger of 7 March 1812, ‘the profits of the sale of which we understand, from undoubted, authority, Mr. Shelly remitted to Mr. Finerty’ (The Prose Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Vol. I, ed. E B Murray [Oxford, 1993], p. 298), must have been Poetical Essay. This was on account of a front-page advertisement in the Oxford University and City Herald for 9 March 1811 where Poetical Essay was announced as ‘Just Published, Price Two Shillings’. It described the proceeds of publication as ‘For assisting to maintain in Prison, Mr. Peter Finnerty’. Finnerty was a journalist whose exposure of a disastrous British military expedition to Walcheren in 1809 had landed him in jail. The Finnerty connection led MacCarthy to assert that the poem’s author, styled ‘A GENTLEMAN of the University of Oxford’ in the advertisement, could be none other than Shelley.

MacCarthy’s research prompted William Michael Rossetti, editor of The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley [London, 1870], to identify two years later what may be the first public authentication of this poem as Shelley’s, in Lady Charlotte Bury’s anonymously published Diary Illustrative of the Times of George the Fourth, two volumes (London, 1838) (see The Academy, vol. VI [19 December 1874], p. 658). Bury’s work reproduced a letter of 15 March 1811 from Christ Church – whose author was later revealed to be Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781–1851) – asserting that ‘Shelley’s last exhibition is a Poem on the State of Public Affairs’ (vol. I, p. 60).

In his journal entry for 5 December 1872, Rossetti noted that MacCarthy had given him ‘valuable information as to the library wherein a copy of Shelley’s Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things is affirmed to exist’ (The Diary of W. M. Rossetti 1870-1873, ed. Odette Bornand [Oxford, 1977], p. 217). That but one copy was then rumoured to be extant, and that the Bodleian’s acquisition is unique, make doubtful the claim of the Dublin Weekly Messenger that the pamphlet raised for Finnerty’s benefit ‘nearly an hundred pounds’ (Prose Works, p. 298). Such a sum, as H Buxton Forman states (The Shelley Library [London, 1886], p. 21), would have required the sale of almost a thousand copies. Were this so, more than one may be expected to have survived.

The pamphlet comprises 20 pages in two consecutive gatherings of four leaves each (fols. 2–5 and 6–9), within an outer wrapper (fols. 1 and 10). It is stitched neatly with what seems to be the original, natural-coloured thread, and shows evidence of having been folded both vertically and horizontally on separate occasions. A mark of indentation in the left margin indicates that the pamphlet may at some stage have been pressed alongside other materials.

The signature on the title page is that of Pilfold Medwin (1794–1880), the youngest brother of Thomas Medwin (1788–1869) and one of the earliest of Shelley’s biographers. Pilfold and Thomas, second cousins of Shelley, were sons of Thomas Charles Medwin, a solicitor of Horsham, Sussex. It has been suggested that Pilfold, then 16 and about to begin articles in his father’s office, may have been given this copy of the pamphlet by Shelley himself in the summer of 1811. Shelley had eventually returned to the family home at Field Place, near Horsham, in May to see his father, Sir Timothy Shelley, for the first time since he and Thomas Jefferson Hogg had been sent down from University College, Oxford, on 25 March. They were expelled ‘for contumaciously refusing to answer questions proposed to them, and for also repeatedly declining to disavow a publication titled The Necessity of Atheism (Minutes of College Meeting, 25 March 1811, University College, Oxford, UC: GB3/A1/2 fol. 148r). Two days later, Philip Bliss, a Fellow of St John’s and then an assistant at the Bodleian, recorded the expulsion and, in what has been described as ‘[t]he earliest bibliography of Shelley’s works’, noted that Poetical Essay was ‘4º’, i.e. in quarto (B C Barker-Benfield, Shelley’s Guitar [Oxford, 1992], p. 31; Bodleian MS. Top. Oxon. e. 51, p. 161).

Shelley’s Poetical Essay page 2The second page and the colophon identify the printers as Munday and Slatter, the booksellers and printers on Oxford’s High Street whose windows and counters, Henry Slatter later recalled, Shelley ‘strewed’ with copies of The Necessity of Atheism during Hilary Term 1811 (Robert Montgomery, Oxford. A Poem [4th edition, Oxford, 1835], p. 167). It was to this firm that Sir Timothy had, according to Slatter, introduced Shelley in 1810 with the words, ‘My son here, […] has a literary turn, he is already an author, and do pray indulge him in his printing freaks’ (Montgomery, p. 165). Shelley’s father continued to encourage his son’s literary ambitions the following year, engaging James (not Edward, as Hogg states) Dallaway (1763–1834) to advise him in the composition of a poem on the subject of the Parthenon for a University competition (Letters, vol. I, p. 53; Thomas Jefferson Hogg, The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 2 volumes [London, 1858], vol. I, p. 317). One such ‘freak’, possibly referred to by Shelley in his letter to Hogg from Field Place of 11 January 1811 – with a facetious, Frenchified rendering of Slatter’s business partner’s surname – was Poetical Essay: ‘I have a Poem, with Mr Lundi which I shall certainly publish.’ This letter goes on to claim that his sister Elizabeth had a hand in the poem, which was not ready to be printed, and that he wished it to appear anonymously: ‘There is some of Eliza’s in it […] I have something to add to it & if Lundi has any idea (when he speaks to you of publishing it with my name will you tell him to leave it alone till I come . .’ (Shelley and His Circle, 1773–1822, vol II, ed. Kenneth Neill Cameron [Cambridge, Mass, 1961], p. 701).

Poetical Essay, 172 lines long and in rhyming couplets, is not the first of Shelley’s poems to condemn war. The phrase ‘legal murders’ (p 10) echoes the description of military heroes as ‘legal murderers’ in line 4 of Henry and Louisa, a Poem in two parts (dated 1809 in manuscript but not published until 1964). Like Poetical Essay though less concentratedly, Henry and Louisa depicts the repercussions of European power struggles for other continents.

Shelley was eighteen when he wrote Poetical Essay and already had experience of publishing and promoting his own writings. He had recently wooed the London publisher John Joseph Stockdale, though fell out with him by the time the poem was advertised. His novel Zastrozzi and a volume co-written with Elizabeth, Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire, had appeared in March and September 1810 respectively, the latter suppressed on account of a plagiarism from M G Lewis. A second novel, St Irvyne, or The Rosicrucian, which included several original poems, was published in December 1810. It had been preceded the previous month by another volume of verse, Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson, whose reception led Shelley to claim boldly that ‘Nothing is talked of at Oxford but Peg Nicholson, I have only printed 250 copies & expect a second edition soon’ (Letters, vol. I, p. 22). The above four publications, like The Necessity of Atheism and Poetical Essay, appeared without the author’s name, though St Irvyne, like Poetical Essay, carried the sobriquet ‘A Gentleman of the University of Oxford’.
The poem is not immediately recognizable as the ‘Satirical Poem on L’infame’ that Shelley told Hogg he was ‘composing’ in a letter from Field Place of 20 December 1810 (Bodleian MS. Abinger c. 66, fol. 3r; Letters, vol. I, p. 28). Shelley’s correspondence with his future father-in-law, William Godwin, nevertheless points to Poetical Essay having been written during the Christmas vacation of 1810–11. In a letter to him of 16 January 1812, Shelley indicates with some precision when the influence of Godwin’s most celebrated work, An Enquiry concerning Political Justice (1793), became evident in his literary publications: ‘You will perceive that Zastrozzi and St Irvyne were written prior to my acquaintance with your writings. The Essay on War a little Poem, since’ (Bodleian MS. Shelley c. 1, fol. 57r; Letters, vol. I, p. 231). Frederick L Jones, editor of Shelley’s letters, assumed that ‘The Essay on War’ referred to the first, untitled poem in Margaret Nicholson, now known from its opening line as ‘Ambition, power, and avarice’ but titled ‘War’ in some collected editions (Times Literary Supplement, 4 July 1952, p. 437). It seems more likely, however, that Shelley meant the Poetical Essay, which is largely concerned with war. The chronology he supplied to Godwin fits with the date on which he ordered a copy of Political Justice from Stockdale: 19 November 1810 (Letters, vol. I, p. 21). Godwin’s treatise resonates with Poetical Essay in several ways. It describes war as ‘evil’ (1793 edition, vol. II, p. 516), critiques monarchy, discourses on virtue and could well be the source of the assertion in the preface that ‘gradual, yet decided intellectual exertions must diffuse light’ (p. 6). A notable feature of Poetical Essay may thus be that it is the first poem published by Shelley to reflect a sustained reading of Political Justice.

The Necessity of Atheism (1811), the pamphlet for which Shelley was expelled from Oxford (Bodleian Libraries, Shelley e.1(2) p. 12)
On 2 March 1811, a week before the first advertisement for Poetical Essay appeared, Shelley wrote to Leigh Hunt, editor of The Examiner, congratulating him on his acquittal after being tried for having published on 2 September 1810 an article entitled ‘One Thousand Lashes!!’ which condemned military flogging. Addressing Hunt as ‘a common friend of Liberty‘, he concluded thus: ‘On account of the responsibility to which my residence at this University subjects me, I of course, dare not publicly to avow all that I think, but the time will come when I hope that my every endeavour, insufficient as this may be, will be directed to the advancement of liberty’ (Letters, vol. I, p. 54). Although Shelley’s undergraduate career at Oxford was terminated by the end of the month, the publication of Poetical Essay had confirmed his newly assured poetic voice. This major discovery not only expands and enhances the Shelley canon, it also offers evidence of an earlier provenance than was hitherto known for ideas developed more extensively in Queen Mab (1813) and in such celebrated later poems as The Mask of Anarchy (1819).

Michael Rossington 

Curse of Kehama


Robert Southey

Kehama is the name of a fictional Hindu rajah who obtains and sports with supernatural powers.

Preface 1811  

Percy Bysshe Shelley 

The following Poem is such, as some might conceive to demand an apology; it might appear to those, who do not consider with sufficiently accurate investigation, that its ultimate view is subversive of the existing interests of Government. A moment’s attention to the sentiments on which it is founded must demonstrate the erroneousness of this supposition. Before the system which it reprobates can be ameliorated; before that peace, which, perhaps, with greater sanguineness than certainty, every good man anticipates, a total reform in the licentiousness, luxury, depravity, prejudice, which involve society, must be effected. This reform must not be the work of immature assertions of that liberty, which, as affairs now stand, no one can claim without attaining over others an undue, invidious superiority, benefiting in consequence self instead of society; it must not be the partial warfare of physical strength, which would induce the very evils which the tendency of the following Essay is calculated to eradicate; but gradual, yet decided intellectual exertions must diffuse light, as human eyes are rendered capable of bearing it. Does not every feeling mind shrink back in disgust when it beholds myriads of its fellow-beings, whom indigence, whom persecution, have deprived of the power to exert those mental capabilities which alone can distinguish them from the brutes, subjected by nature to their dominion? Is it not an insult to the All-wise, the Omnipresent intelligence of the universe, that one man should, by the abuse of that capacity which was formed to be exerted for the happiness of his fellow-creatures, deprive them of the power to use the noblest gift which his wisdom had imparted? As there is great reason to suppose that degrees of happiness will be adjudged to each, in a future state, in proportion to the degrees of virtue which have marked the life of the individual in this; as it is self-evident that the state of probation in which we now reside, is merely a preparatory stage in which to display our energies, to fit us for a more exalted state of existence, is not the deprivation of liberty the deepest, the severest of injuries?[1] Yet this is despotism.

Jump up ↑ These ideas of a future state of rewards and punishments, it must be confessed, do not exactly coincide with those of St. Athanasius, regarding that, by which he so liberally condemns all who differ from his own opinions to eternal torture. Independent of the evident spirit of intolerating priestcraft, which this anathema displays, I have another reason for not crediting the Reverend Father. St. Chrysostom, a saint in no less repute than the above-mentioned creed-maker, has, in his admonitions to the Bishops, whilst discussing the best method of expounding the scriptures, the following passage:
“Should you meet with any part of the Bible, which either does not accord with your own sentiments, or those which you think necessary to adopt, explain it as an allegory; if then it will not bend, say that it is typical of some future event; if you find it impossible to escape thus, expound it καθ᾿ ειζονἔιαν, directly contrary.”

Poetical Essay on The Existing State of Things 

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1811

Destruction marks thee! o’er the blood-stain’d heath
Is faintly borne the stifled wail of death;
Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die
In mangled heaps on War’s red altar lie.
The sternly wise, the mildly good, have sped
To the unfruitful mansions of the dead.
Whilst fell Ambition o’er the wasted plain
Triumphant guides his car—the ensanguin’d rein
Glory directs; fierce brooding o’er the scene,
With hatred glance, with dire unbending mien,
Fell Despotism sits by the red glare
Of Discord’s torch, kindling the flames of war.
For thee then does the Muse her sweetest lay
Pour ’mid the shrieks of war, ’mid dire dismay;
For thee does Fame’s obstrep’rous clarion rise,
Does Praise’s voice raise meanness to the skies.
Are we then sunk so deep in darkest gloom,
That selfish pride can virtue’s garb assume?
Does real greatness in false splendour live?
When narrow views the futile mind deceive,
When thirst of wealth, or frantic rage for fame,
Lights for awhile self-interest’s little flame,
When legal murders swell the lists of pride;
When glory’s views the titled idiot guide,
Then will oppression’s iron influence show
The great man’s comfort as the poor man’s woe.
Is’t not enough that splendour’s useless glare,
Real grandeur’s bane, must mock the poor man’s stare;
Is’t not enough that luxury’s varied power
Must cheat the rich parader’s irksome hour,
While what they want not, what they yet retain,
Adds tenfold grief, more anguished throbs of pain
To each unnumbered, unrecorded woe,
Which bids the bitterest tear of want to flow;
But that the comfort, which despotic sway
Has yet allowed, stern War must tear away.Ye cold advisers of yet colder kings,

To whose fell breast no passion virtue brings,
Who scheme, regardless of the poor man’s pang,
Who coolly sharpen misery’s sharpest fang,
Yourselves secure. Your’s is the power to breathe
O’er all the world the infectious blast of death,
To snatch at fame, to reap red murder’s spoil,
Receive the injured with a courtier’s smile,
Make a tired nation bless the oppressor’s name,
And for injustice snatch the meed of fame.
Were fetters made for anguish, for despair?
Must starving wretches torment, misery bear?
Who, mad with grief, have snatched from grandeur’s store,
What grandeur’s hand had snatched from them before.
Yet shall the vices of the great pass on,
Vices as glaring as the noon-day sun,
Shall rank corruption pass unheeded by,
Shall flattery’s voice ascend the wearied sky;
And shall no patriot tear the veil away
Which hides these vices from the face of day?
Is public virtue dead?—is courage gone?
Bows its fair form at fell oppression’s throne?
Yes! it’s torn away—the crimes appear,
Expiring Freedom asks a parting tear,
A powerful hand unrolls the guilt-stain’d veil,
A powerful voice floats on the tainted gale,
Rising corruption’s error from beneath,
A shape of glory checks the course of death;
It spreads its shield o’er freedom’s prostrate form,
Its glance disperses envy’s gathering storm;
No trophied bust need tell thy sainted name,
No herald blazon to the world thy fame,
Nor scrolls essay an endless meed to give;
In grateful memory still thy deeds must live.
No sculptured marble shall be raised to thee,
The hearts of England will thy memoirs be.
To thee the Muse attunes no venal lyre,
No thirsts of gold the vocal lays inspire;
No interests plead, no fiery passions swell;
Whilst to thy praise she wakes her feeble shell,
She need not speak it, for the pen of fame
On every heart has written BURDETT’S name;
For thou art he, who dared in tumult’s hour,
Dauntless thy tide of eloquence to pour;
Who, fearless, stemmed stern Despotism’s course
Who traced Oppression to its foulest course;
Who bade Ambition tremble on its throne—
How could I virtue name, how yet pass on
Thy name!—though fruitless thy divine essay,
Though vain thy war against fell power’s array,
Thou taintless emanation from the sky!
Thou purest spark of fires which never die!

Yet let me pause, yet turn aside to weep
Where virtue, genius, wit, with Franklin sleep;
To bend in mute affliction o’er the grave
Where lies the great, the virtuous, and the brave;
Still let us hope in Heaven (for Heaven there is)
That sainted spirit tastes ethereal bliss,
That sainted spirit the reward receives,
Which endless goodness to its votary gives.
Thine be the meed to purest virtue due—
Alas! the prospect closes to the view.
Visions of horror croud upon my sight,
They shed around their forms substantial night.
Oppressors’ venal minions! hence, avaunt!
Think not the soul of Patriotism to daunt;
Though hot with gore from India’s wasted plains,
Some Chief, in triumph, guides the tightened reins;
Though disembodied from this mortal coil,
Pitt lends to each smooth rogue a courtier’s smile;
Yet does not that severer frown withhold,
Which, though impervious to the power of gold,
Could daunt the injured wretch, could turn the poor
Unheard, unnoticed, from the statesman’s door
This is the spirit which can reckless tell
The fatal trump of useless war to swell;
Can bid Fame’s loudest voice awake his praise,
Can boldly snatch the honorary bays.
Gifts to reward a ruthless, murderous deed,
A crime for which some poorer rogue must bleed.
Is this then justice?—stretch thy powerful arm,
Patriot, dissolve the frightful [erratum: frigorific] charm,
Awake thy loudest thunder, dash the brand
Of stern Oppression from the Tyrant’s hand;
Let reason mount the Despot’s mouldering throne,
And bid an injured nation cease to moan.
Why then, since justice petty crimes can thrall,
Should not its power extend to each, to all?
If he who murders one to death is due,
Should not the great destroyer perish too?
The wretch beneath whose influence millions bleed?
And yet encomium is the villain’s meed.
His crime the smooth-tongued flatterers conquest name,
Loud in his praises swell the notes of Fame.
Oblivion marks the murdering poor man’s tomb,
Brood o’er his memory contempt and gloom;
His crimes are blazoned in deformed array,
His virtues sink, they fade for aye away.
Snatch then the sword from nerveless virtue’s hand,
Boldly grasp native jurisdiction’s brand;
For justice, poisoned at its source, must yield
The power to each its shivered sword to wield,
To dash oppression from the throne of vice,
To nip the buds of slavery as they rise.
Does jurisprudence slighter crimes restrain,
And seek their vices to controul in vain?
Kings are but men, if thirst of meanest sway
Has not that title even snatched away.—

The fainting Indian, on his native plains,
Writhes to superior power’s unnumbered pains;
The Asian, in the blushing face of day,
His wife, his child, sees sternly torn away;
Yet dares not to revenge, while war’s dread roar
Floats, in long echoing, on the blood-stain’d shore.
In Europe too wild ruin rushes fast:
See! like a meteor on the midnight blast,
Or evil spirit brooding over gore,
Napoleon calm can war, can misery pour.
May curses blast thee; and in thee the breed
Which forces, which compels, a world to bleed;
May that destruction, which ’tis thine to spread,
Descend with ten-fold fury on thy head.
Oh! may the death, which marks thy fell career,
In thine own heart’s blood bathe the empoisoned spear;
May long remorse protract thy latest groan,
Then shall Oppression tremble on its throne.
Yet this alone were vain; Freedom requires
A torch more bright to light its fading fires;
Man must assert his native rights, must say
We take from Monarchs’ hand the granted sway;
Oppressive law no more shall power retain,
Peace, love, and concord, once shall rule again,
And heal the anguish of a suffering world;
Then, then shall things, which now confusedly hurled,
Seem Chaos, be resolved to order’s sway,
And errors night be turned to virtue’s day.—


Vices as glaring as the noon-day sun.—See the speech of one of his Majesty’s ministers in the last Session of Parliament.—The candour of the Right Hon. Gentleman demands our admiration, his impudence has ceased to surprise us.

Oblivion marks the murdering poor man’s tomb.—It cannot be supposed that by this the Author means to justify the crimes of the indigent, but thinks that no earthly power for whatever offence, has a right to deprive an individual of that life which a will, superior to human law, entrusted to his preservation, with which intention human law ought to concur. Confinement, restriction, punishment even is necessary for the support of civilized society; but to shut the door of repentance even upon a murderer, to put an eternal termination to his usefulness in this life, to force him upon an unknown, inconceivable existence, is beyond what we can conceive to be the authority of custom. The morality, if not the necessity of war, must in course be impeached by this argument. If war then is proved to be deleterious, which I think few will deny, then those, in the identification of whom none can hesitate, ought to be deprived of the power of mischief, whose interest, whose desire it is to promote so forcible an outrage on its happiness.

Kings are but men, &c.—By Kings here the Author must be understood to mean, not merely those men who are invested with the regal authority, but also all who are entrusted with the executive part of legislation, to whom more advantages result from the station which they fill, than the consciousness of having discharged their duty for the welfare of their fellow creatures.

We cannot say with Horace “Rex ille est.”


Wednesday 27th July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 26, 2016 by bishshat


My favourite object at Compton Verney is a porcelain dou vessel.
A dou vessel was used for displaying food at a ceremonial banquet; it originated in ceramic and was also often made in lacquer. It was only made in bronze from about 900 BC. There is an example in the gallery which has a black burnished surface; this mimics the appearance of lacquer. But my favourite is blue glazed porcelain.
The stem bowl raised on a high splayed hollow foot, moulded with decorative bands around the sides, the domed cover decorated with overlapping wave bands, surmounted by a pair of rope-twist handles. It is Qing dynasty, Daoguang Period (AD 1820-1850). Each of the four temples was supplied with sets of these vessels.
The blue colour represents the temple of heaven, south.
Other colours relate to the temple of Earth, north which is yellow.
The temple of the Sun is red and east. And white for west the temple of the moon.
What I like about this object is that although you can see it relates back to the original shape. The glaze gives it an immediate feeling of the future. To me it would not look out of place in a modern design brochure. It is amazing to see that it nearly 200 years old. It stands in a display cabinet next to yellow porcelain vase from (AD 1735-1796).
The way the coloured glazes shine so bright always catch my attention.
They are two very special pieces but the shape and colour of the blue one for me makes it an extra special piece.


Tuesday 26th July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 26, 2016 by bishshat


Monday 25th July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 25, 2016 by bishshat


Sunday 24th July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 24, 2016 by bishshat

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Saturday 23rd July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 23, 2016 by bishshat

The One I Love


This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love
Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)
Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)
This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
Another prop has occupied my time
This one goes out to the one I love
Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)
Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)
Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)
Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)


Friday 22nd July 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on July 22, 2016 by bishshat


So Deep Within You

The Moody Blues

Talk to me baby, I want to sleep at night.
My heart is heavy, it’s weighed down by the night.
And now I’m lonely, I want to see the light
So deep within you.

Cool wind is blowing through your crazy hair.
Warm colours flowing, this feeling we have shared.
And now I’m lonely I want to feel the love
So deep within you.

Your love’s a never ending dream,
A castle by a stream of sweet understanding.
I know you’re thinking of me too, the messages
From you are my inspiration.

Love’s incense lingers, it never fades away.
Like you I’m waiting for our special day.
And now I’m lonely I want to feel the love
So deep within you

My love is burning, like a forest fire.
My heart is yearning, I feel a warm desire.
And now I’m lonely I want to tough the fire
So deep within you.