Fayetteville: Why, no, history has nothing at all to teach us - Chapter 87 | Street Jazz

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fayetteville: Why, no, history has nothing at all to teach us - Chapter 87

Posted By on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 9:57 AM

Walking down Block Street, I happened upon this wonder ful sign:

209 North Block
Professional Building
Fayetteville, Arkansas

A bland looking picture of an office building is on the sign, with the promise:

Custom Executive Offices
New Construction
Sustainable Design

Cuz, you know, like, all the buildings are, like, totally full, in that part of town, dude.

Of course it is on Block, home of the Emperor’s New Clothes - sorry - I meant to say our innovative street design, where the cries of “What the hell is this?” when motorists drive along the street for the first time since the “improvements were made are actually sounds of child-like wonderment.

Anyway, maybe the theory is that such innovative urban planning will make someone say, “Id sure like my office on this street!” Ah well, I’m glad that it will provide some work for folks for a time, while the building is being constructed, at least.


Broadening the definition of “Sustainable”

Maybe when we say “sustainable design” it should actually mean that people will be using the damn thing, and it won’t just sit there with big “For Lease” signs festooned all over the front of it, so like so many other buildings have are adorned.

Oh, heresy! Heresy!


Quote of the Day

The trouble with the future is that it usually arrives before we're ready for it. - Arnold H. Glasow


A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

There is an old saying that history is written by the victors, though only a complete and utter nincompoop is going to go around uttering such nonsense. History is rife with works written by the survivors of invasions and wars. While many of those books come from the pens of generals and politicians, very few seem to come from the ordinary men and women caught up in the conflicts - the innocent bystanders, if you will.

When many think of war, they think of battles, and men and women dying for the causes they believe in. And then we see the ads for video games, which extol the virtue and excitement of combat. But rarely, if ever, do we see war from the point of view of noncombatants - pawns caught up in the conflicts between armies and nations.

1954 saw the publication of a most extraordinary work, A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City, written by a woman who chose to keep her identity a secret. It is the story of how the people of Berlin, who prided themselves on being among the most cultured in the world - despite the horrors their own government was perpetrating - were literally reduced to living in primitive conditions after the fall of Nazi Germany, and the entry of Russian occupying troops.

As the electricity, gas and water supplies begin to fade, so too do the supplies of food - such as the food is. But as the food gets worse, and the lights flicker in the darkness, the rumors begin to fly. After all, the Russians are coming.

Some have heard stories of atrocities committed by Russian troops, while others assure them that such stories are blown way out of proportion. Still, they wait, and the tension mounts. As she writes in her diary, “My stomach was fluttering. I felt the way I had as a schoolgirl before a math exam - anxious and uneasy, wishing that everything were already over.”

On April 27, 1945, the first Russian troops reach their street. That night, the terror begins.

It is estimated that over 100,000 women were raped after the fall of Berlin. Young, old, the infirm, all were fair game. No degradation was off-limits.

It is a horrifying story. But throughout the emotional siege, when families were literally starving to death, and mass rapes were occurring regularly, people did what they had to in order to survive. For some women, that sometimes meant taking a Russian officer as a lover, to ensure a steady food supply for themselves and their extended families, and to avoid further rapes.

I don’t think that anyone who has not been in that situation should dare to judge them.

Throughout the three-month ordeal the author kept the diary on 121 pages of gray paper, later typing them up. It is an unsparingly book, an in-depth appraisal of life that occurred in those terrible days.

In the diary’s last pages an event happens which is almost like a Hollywood movie; the writer’s fiancee, who had been drafted years before, shows up at her door. But will it be a happy reunion?

I just can’t bring myself to tell you - you’ll have to find out for yourself. But find out you should, and to that you’ll need to read this remarkable book.


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