GDR Ha Ha Ha…

The Grenztruppen der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, the East German border guards, took their job seriously.  So did the British soldiers when they used to come to do border patrol.

Except… the Brits being Brits used to like being professional, but also having a laugh.  At the expense of the Genossen on the other side of the fence.

Many a female members of the Royal Air Force, when traversing the DDR checkpoint in Berlin, was known to lift off her bra and blouse and show off her ample chest to the Grenztruppen, chanting the following one-liner:

If you’re British, get your t1tties out!

The DDR authorities would then raise a formal protest about another Grenzprovokation via the Soviets, concerning:

…severe indiscipline and courtesy to the military personnel of the German Democratic Republic, especially from female troops, who lacked any form of ladylike behaviour…

And this from a country famous for FKK.  How strange.

Troops stationed on the main border used to have their own fun.  Here’s one Grenzprovoktation incident.

One bright, sunny Thursday morning, Sunray arrives at the border village of Mattierzoll on his Landrover.  Fun time begins.

He places a piece of equipment onto the roof of his Landrover.  It has an aerial.  He starts pointing the aerial in the direction of the guard tower on the other side.   He stands by the vehicle for a several minutes, slowling pointing the aerial in various directions.

A pair of border guards come closer.  They scratch their heads.  They take photos.

Sunray turns the “scanner” again.  He sits in his Landrover, smiling, eating a cheese sandwich.

More border guards come, this time with technical officers, flicking through their British Army reference guidebooks.  What is this device on the roof of this Landrover?

Five minutes later, Sunray puts them out of their misery.

He takes the Ministry of Defence issue office bin off the roof.  He removes the green-painted coat-hanger and the masking tape holding it to the base of the bin.  He holds the bin up to the Genossen to show what it is. He pulls off the old phone cable that had been glued to the bin.

The Genossen, realising that been pranked, shake their heads and march off, muttering under the breath.

Sunray chuckles and jumps back in his vehicle.  He has a great story to tell back at the barracks this afternoon.

Have a provocative day, won’t you!

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Amnesty International Letters

Shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre in the summer of 1989, I decided to join Amnesty International.  Once a month I’d receive their magazine.  I’d always open up at the centrefold.

The centrefold consisted of six cases (prisoners of conscience) that Amnesty International had adopted.  I used to write to the governments and embassies of every single one of  the cases without exception, month in, month out.

I never received a reply.

Actually that’s not quite true.

The Israeli Embassy in London did reply.  It was a very courteous letter, in an A4 envelope with several pages of detail.  (I wish I had kept a copy for me scrapbook, I really do.)

I wrote back to the author of the letter, a Boaz Modai.  I invited him up to Redcar, where I was living at the time, recommended he visit the Redcar Rock Shop, treat himself to a lemon top ice cream and informed him that there was a synagogue in Middlesbrough, just up the road.

Boaz Modai did not reply.

Last week I google Boaz Modai.  (t’s a name that you don’t forget.)  Blimey, he has a pedigree, and he’s had a good career.  He ended up as Israeli Ambassador to Ireland later in his career.

I still wonder if he ever planned to visit Redcar on his days off, though.

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Have a diplomatic day, won’t you!

Glory to Stalin!

Stalin’s reign.

An old lady gets on a bus in Moscow. She has waited a long time, and sits down with a sigh of relief. “Oh, glory to God!” she exclaims.

The bus driver turns around with a grave look.

“Comrade, there is no God. You must say, ‘Glory to Comrade Stalin.'”

The old lady apologizes and pledges to remember this. After a minute, she pipes up,

“Comrade, what shall I say, if, heaven forbid, Comrade Stalin should die?”

The bus driver pauses, and answers,

“Oh! Then you shall say, ‘Glory to God!'”

Have a glorious day, won’t you!

Glory-to-Stalin

“No school tomorrow”

“No school tomorrow” is a plea used by young British schoolkids when begging their parents to let them stay up later than usual on a Friday or Saturday night, usually when the parents just want a bit of peace and quiet without their offspring being around.

Because there was no school tomorrow, my parents used to let me stay up on Fridays to watch NTNOCN, Not the Nine O’Clock News.  That was forty years ago.  Time flies.  Even as a young pads brat, I used to love my current affairs, news, history and politics and was very occasionally (school holidays) allowed to watch Question Time.

NTNOCN did a brilliant spoof of QT.  Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) does a very accurate impression of Lord… Lord er… Lord er… Lord Peter Carrington.

Here it is.  Enjoy!

Have a questioning day, won’t you!

Do Your Homework First…

Evenin’ all! A slightly rhetorical question for you all.  What is “research” these days?  Let’s head to our local pub and meet our Kneipenprofessor.

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Pub Expert:

I’ve been researching this topic.

Other person:

Oh, you mean you wrote a paper on the subject citing at least 10-15 reputable sources, summarising all the current thinking, stating your own hypothesis and then introducing the original work you did in the attempt to confirm or disprove this hypothesis before reaching a conclusion and giving further possible directions for study, after which you got it published in a reputable journal in the field and peer-reviewed?

Pub Expert:

Er, no, I looked at some websites that I agree with.

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This afternoon I was drinking coffee with fellow members of church, when Holocaust Memorial Day was mentioned.

As soon as I mentioned the day, Billy butted in:

Oh, that’s only about the Jews 1933-1945.

My blood pressure immediately doubled.  Billy has once again engaged mouth before brain.  Yet again…

Sharp intake of breath.

G in G:

No, it’s not.  It’s also about holocausts and genocides in ex-Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Tibet, Burma and many other conflicts.

Billy:

It is only about the Jews.  I’ve been researching this topic for twenty years.

G in G:

With respect [A British expression meaning, “I consider you to be a complete and total idiot”] I visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1978.  I also listened to a radio interview with the chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust this morning.

Billy:

Oh.

I am then reminded of the English barrister, F E Smith, and his famous exchange with a judge.

Judge: I’ve listened to you for an hour and I’m none the wiser.

Smith: None the wiser, perhaps, My Lord, but certainly better informed.

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This evening I decided to send out an email to the three people who were in that discussion.

****

Good evening all

Following on from this afternoon’s discussion in the Meeting Room concerning the purpose of Holocaust Memorial Day, I thought it prudent to share some important facts.

  1. The day is by no means only about the murder of German and European Jews under Nazism.  Please refer to the Memorial Day Trust’s link: https://www.hmd.org.uk/what-is-holocaust-memorial-day/
  2. As you can see, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust states explicitly: “Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) encourages remembrance in a world scarred by genocide. We promote and support Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) – the international day on 27 January to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of people killed under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.”  (My emphasis in italics.)
  3. The key point to note here is that history repeats itself, with human beings being murdered for being the “wrong” ethnic background, not just for being Jewish, but also for being Roma, Hutu, Tutsi, Croat/Bosniak/Serb (in the former Yugoslavia conflicts of the early 1990s), Rohinga, Tibetan, Uighur, etc.
  4. On a very personal note, I myself visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1978.  Ever since then, I have studied genocide in conflicts.  Further, in the first half of the 90’s, my father worked for British Direct Aid in former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda (during and in the aftemath of both conflicts, albeit not at the peak of the former conflict).
  5. Former comrades of mine from the British Army’s Intelligence Corps have told me about carrying out war crime investigations and finding mass graves that contained multiple layers from more than one conflict: 1990’s civil war, Second World War, possibly more.
  6. In conclusion, this is why Holocaust Memorial Day exists: namely, to echo the sentiments of Remembrance Day – Lest we forget.  Sadly, and to our eternal shame before God, we humans forget history time and time again.

I’m sorry I feel it necessary to write a serious email this evening, but I do consider it essential to explain what this day is all about, and also why I feel so strongly about the subject.

Finally, let us all please pray for peace on God’s earth this week.

Yours in Christ,

Ginge in Germany

****

Have a well-informed day, won’t you!

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