Nowadays, it is quite difficult to understand why people did not stand up to Hitler and the Nazi party in larger numbers. The truth is, though, that it is a very difficult to deal with situations which are evil beyond belief. A little bit of cooking the books and stealing small sums of money from the Church Accounts is one thing, but these men were Satan’s Inner Council. They did not hesitate to kill people in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. If not millions. If not tens of millions:
Or just one at a time:
No matter how evil or how terrifying these crazies became, though, there was still no shortage of brave Germans willing to stand up and be counted.
Look at these Germans here. At first glance, everybody is Heil Hitlering and Seig Heiling, and singing the company song:
We love you Adolf, we do,
We love you Adolf, we do,
We love you Adolf, we do,
O Adolf, we love you!
But look very carefully. This is the football crowd at the England-Germany game at White Hart Lane, the home of Tottenham Hotspur, in December 1935 . A number of people appear not to be joining in with the general joy and merriment. There are about ten of them altogether. When you look more carefully, they seem, perhaps, to have all different motives for their non-participation:
Disgust with their fellow citizens. Unwillingness to join in. Curiosity at the situation. Puzzlement at why some other people are not joining in. Puzzlement at who is taking the photograph:
Apparently, then, no one single motive. But at least one of them, if not more, have the purposeful expression of a good man who has resolved not to do nothing any longer:
And as well as good, these are brave men. Brave anti-Nazi German men. We tend to forget nowadays, but there were lots of them. And brave anti-Nazi German women too. And boys. And girls.
In a recent blogpost, I told the often harrowing tale of how what appeared to be a small army of men descended on our hitherto tranquil house, and after a period of some four days, managed to install both a new central heating system and a multi-fuel stove. Most interesting, though, was the tiling revealed in the back bedroom, when the old radiator was taken off.
There was no trace of a fireplace ever having been behind this tiling and we were told that it appeared to be a practice exercise, perhaps carried out by a young apprentice, and placed on the bedroom wall in 1932 to echo the fireplace in exactly the same position one floor below. In the 1960s, we think, the house was given its first dose of central heating and the young man’s work from thirty years before was covered over and lost. Being a sentimental and nosey old fool, I always wonder about the ordinary working men and women who laboured for such brief moments in endless time and whose work may, paradoxically, then sometimes go on to last for so many years, long after the deaths of the people who made them. Working men are born, live their lives for good or bad, and when they are gone, they leave little trace behind them. And once their grandchildren pass on, those men are then banished for eternity to “Trace your Ancestry” websites, as just names on forms, too far back in history to connect with. Did this apprentice tiler go on to fight in the Second World War? Did he survive? And the man who gave him the job to do – had he come back from the Somme a mental wreck of what he had previously been?
Nearly ten years ago, I went to visit Lincoln Cathedral, which has a fascinating parallel to the tiling exercise, except this one is getting on for being a thousand years older. This early medieval practice exercise is for carving lots of little squares with decorative flowers in the middle. Even twelfth century boys will be boys, though, and instead of a flower, one bright spark has carved a bird’s nest, complete with baby birds.
On the right, somebody has carved one of the adults, arriving with a worm in its mouth.
And on the left, there is the other parent flying away, its beak empty, in search of more food for their hungry offspring.
Those inventive young men of the twelfth century, however, were not to realise that one day, a tower in the very cathedral that they had had the privilege of helping construct, was to play host to its very own parent birds, a pair of Peregrines.
They are not easy to film!
This is “Lincoln’s Falcons” by Mark Taylor
Not everything always goes to plan! This is called “Peregrine falcon chick saved after fall” and comes from the local newspaper, the Lincolnshire Echo.
Even more interesting, though, are the medieval man’s opinions of his bosses. Asked to carve decorative heads onto the rood-screen, the stone carvers have obediently done so, but at the same time, they have taken a golden opportunity to transform important people, such as their foremen, into cartoon figures, with big noses and stupid expressions. I cannot believe that these carved faces were unrecognisable to the stone carvers’ contemporaries.
Martin, always over eager, with his big fleshy lips…
Will with his big nose…
Jack, what a chubby little chap!
Greedy Tom with his pig’s ears…
Stupid Henry with his donkey’s ears…
Harry, turning into a mouse…
Walter. metamorphosing slowly into Satan, complete with horns…..
The priest with his buck teeth and drooling tongue…
Even the bishop looks as if he is about to explode, with either anger or constipation…
In the ancient castle nearby is the religious graffiti carved by bored guards during a long forgotten night around 1350 or 1400, as they waited to take the condemned man out to be hanged the next day…
Most of all though at Lincoln, I love this old ring, set into one of the internal walls of the cathedral. This is where Oliver Cromwell’s troops tethered their horses, when the Roundhead cavalry was stabled inside this lovely old cathedral during the English Civil War.
What a magnificent building.
For a short period in the Middle Ages, when the towers had their spires, it was the tallest structure in the world.
Last week we had the builders and plumbers around to our house to put in a new central heating system. At first it felt exactly as if the whole building had been hit by a tsunami. Not quite as dramatic or as destructive though as this one…
The problem was that every one of the six men was armed with his very own Mjölnir, his very own Hammer of Thor, with which he was capable of sending thunder echoing round the house whenever he felt like it.
In actual fact, it was more that the jobs they had to do in the first couple of hours were by far the noisiest of the entire four days. Believe me, a dining room is no is no place for a pneumatic drill.
In 2013 we had the same company come round and put a multi-fuel stove in our living room. We were sick and tired of the money guzzling gas fire, to which the only other solution was to switch on the central heating for the entire house. Here is our first stove which was put in last September.
Over the course of the winter therefore, we lit our new multi-fuel stove in the late afternoon, and after feeding it sparingly with coal for the evening, we then discovered that it would then keep the room pleasantly warm for the whole night and for much of the next day. In addition, it also kept the bedroom above equally lovely and warm. Only very infrequently were we using the central heating.
We soon realised that having a second stove fitted in the dining room at the back of the house might have the same effect and save a great deal more money. So, as well as having our central heating revamped, we were having a second stove put in.
In the dining room, we had a ten or fifteen year old gas fire. It always seemed to remind me of somebody, perhaps a character out of Wallace and Gromit.
First of all they removed the gas fire. Here is just a small selection of the rubble that the builders created. Notice though, that it is neatly put into special plastic buckets, so that nothing whatsoever remained at the end of the day.
Here is the old gas fire, and the old radiators, gone for ever…
The majority of the old radiators had to go. They had been there since probably the mid-1960s. Here, plans are being laid to put the new boiler in the bathroom where an old cabinet had been.
In the loft, the old boiler had come to the end of the road. The fat lady really had sung for the last time.
Unfortunately, here and there, the wallpaper will need repair, but there are very few things that a Pritt stick will not be able to remedy. In actual fact, in some places, a number of different layers of wallpaper were revealed.
The top pale green one, I think, was our responsibility but the green leafy pattern looks to me to be either 1940s or 1950s, and the relatively bright coloured wallpaper to its left dates from the more optimistic days of the 1980s.
Here you can see not only Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor, but also the pneumatic drill which caused all the scariest noise for the first half hour or so.
The chimney had to be inspected. Would an eighty year-old chimney be up to the job, or would it require extensive and expensive repairs? Well, what do you think?
This hole, drilled in the bathroom wall for the new slimline boiler, gave a view over the garden which could be enjoyed for only twelve or so hours in nearly eighty years.
The princess of boilers is now in place.
Meanwhile the new fireplace will need some imitation bricks. The builder works so fast his trowel is just a blur. Behind him is the Safety Superintendent.
At last everything is ready. The stove is connected up. And then, the all important test firing.
All those lovely warm happy flames. I do so love flames and lovely warm fire. Flames and fire. Fire and flames.
With two radiators now though, there will be no repetition of that unfortunate business with the polar bear.
In the bathroom, there is yet another radiator. It will now be impossible for me to put my Stahlhelm on and re-enact “Showering Facilities on the Eastern Front”.
Best of all though, is the fact that I took advantage of all this building work to have a new, much more powerful shower installed. No more problems now with having to wash like this…
Every single morning now, I’m in the new shower just like this.