To tear a kingdom apart

Today I read Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. This book tells Cromwell’s side of the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Together with him we live the day that lead to her execution.

Not that I’m obsessed.

I’m just curious… Anne Boleyn tore a kingdom apart, she managed to get a queen out forever, to cut the bond between England and Rome, and to be the first queen who was ever executed. That’s quite much for a young woman. Seven years she has been working her way to the top. With her French past (she was a maid of honour there) and her pleasant character she was said to be ‘exotic’, though apparently she also had a bad temper. When she came at court to serve the queen, she quickly got some admirers since she was seen as the most stylish and accomplished woman there. Then she caught the king’s attention, and there we go. For seven years she seems to have refused to become his mistress, she resisted his seduce attempts. That may have been what kept him going for her… I guess she was one of the few women to do that.

Eventually, Anne became a queen, but that success only lasted for three years. May the 19th, 1536 – Anne’s been beheaded. It was probably the lack of male heir she promised to give the king which opened up the path to downfall. We’ll never know for sure what happened and how it happened.

Anne Boleyn - image via Wikipedia

Anne Boleyn – image via Wikipedia

I find it so interesting to read about her. How did she do that? How could she become so important? That’s so intruiging. Some people just seem to have A Thing that makes them irresistible. Much like Cleopatra, who managed to seduce the two most important men of Rome at the time. Accounts say that she wasn’t pretty… But still she was so powerful and attractive.

I guess it’s not so much about looks, but more about a strong desire for power and the ability to charm people. I suspect that such abilites are something you are either born with or not. Of course you can learn how to do small talk, but to be able to get everyone at your feet, that must be something inside you that’s always been there. I think.

To me this is very intruiging. I know I’m not like the two women I mentioned here, but it can no harm to learn from them! (Though they both didn’t die a natural death.)

By the way, in the clips I have found on YouTube from the movie The Other Boleyn Girl, Anne is almost always crying. I cannot imagine a woman who has been fighting for seven years to be queen weeping all the time. While The Tudors Anne had stronger nerves and more dignity. I believe that that is way closer to the truth. You cannot get where she got when you’re emotionally so vulnerable.

The Blind Spots in History # 2: Hidden Holocaust Numbers

“The Holocaust(…) was the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, throughout German-occupied territory.”
That’s the definition Wikipedia gives. A few sentences later on, this is said: “Some scholars argue that the mass murder of the Romani and people with disabilities should be included in the definition, and some use the common noun “holocaust” to describe other Nazi mass murders, including those of Soviet prisoners of war, Polish and Soviet civilians, and homosexuals.”

During this post, I’ll use the term ‘Holocaust’ seeing it as the whole extermination of Jews, people with disabilities, gays, etc. Mostly (at least over here) the term is used in that way. People seem to define this often as the extermination of Jews ‘and gypsies, gays and so on’. But right here, we’re touching on the raw. It is most certainly true that many Jews were killed (the numbers are terrifying). But only a small amount of people seem to know all the numbers and all the facts.

You may have heard of the Polish citizens who put crosses in Auschwitz (I think it was over there). The world was somewhat shocked – they were putting crosses on a place where millions of Jews had died! Did no one wonder why they did so? There are reasons behind everything. These crosses were put there because the Polish people want the world to acknowledge the truth, the whole truth, and not just the truth we get to hear in history class.

This is the truth.
Six million Jews died.
Six million Polish citizens died.
Three million Polish Jews died. That’s nearly all of the Jews living in Poland at that point.
But there were also three million not-jewish Polish citizens who died. Which means that this isn’t just a jewish tragedy. But who knows about this numbers? I never heard of this before I went to university and had a class on Polish history. It’s like the world has buried this part. At some point people must have closed their eyes to this, so they only saw the jewish side of this story.

It was a tragedy as well for the Jews, of course. That’s pretty obvious. But after all, we shouldn’t keep our eyes closed because we pity them. Finkelstein, a Jew, wrote a book criticizing the exploitation of the Holocaust. He says it’s pretty impossible to say anything bad about the jewish faith or the Jews, because of what happened to them. But let us not forget that the entire Holocaust situation is too often used for jewish concerns. Who dares to say the Jews have no right to be in Israel? No one. I’m not saying they don’t have the right to live there, but they’re building a wall over there.

They’re building a wall and claiming the land.

We know what walls are. They don’t mean peace or fairness. Call me old-fashioned, but I think this is a bad thing. And the Holocaust should not be used as an excuse to do whatever you want. Do not exploit tragedies this way.

But above all I want to tell you that many not-jewish Polish citizens died as well during the Holocaust, and they are too often forgotten. The Polish people aren’t anti-Semitic because they’ve been putting crosses at the extermination camps. They just want to show the truth. They want the world to know the right numbers.

So spread the word.

I’ve got these numbers from my history class. If I’m mistaken somewhere, I sincerely apologise. Our professor knows a lot of Polish history and has done a lot of research over there. He knows what he is talking about, so any mistake is mine. The information on Finkelstein’s book comes from his as well, and from Wikipedia. I haven’t read it myself. I’m no expert at the Jewish concerns and Israel. But they are for sure building a wall.

You like Polish history? Michael Cargill is writing a story on the Warsaw Ghetto – an equally interesting and tragic part in Poland’s history. Plus: he has published paperback books! Just sayin’.

Creativity misunderstood

You might know that I’m a great magazine fan and that I can’t throw them away, so I’m stuck with loads of magazines, all piled up, but not useless! Whenever school demanded a creative approach for something, I dived into the world of fashion photography and publicity, to come out again with a very creative thing I could be proud of. So when we had to make a cover for the topicality task (I call it that, because I don’t think there is any good translation. this is a google translate product. we had to find items about a certain subject, very serious subjects like ‘challenges for Europe’, that is what I try to say. I’ll keep using this word, but please tell me which one woul fit better.) and we were allowed to be creative, I took a handful of magazines and started to search. Normally, I only use fashion magazines, because they have such beautiful pictures and nice publicity. But now I also used a sensation-seeking magazine, you know, the kind that has headings like ‘PRINCESS KATE MAD AT PARTY ANIMAL PIPPA’.  They are keen on drama and sad stories and relations going wrong. My grandmother buys such magazines for the TV-guide within, and then gives them to us. They can be fun to read sometimes, because they have the ability to push you into a certain direction. It’s so subjective, and they succeed in making you think certain things.

So my idea was to fill the cover of the task with headings like ‘CATWALK PREVIEW’ and stuff, so that there would be a big contrast between irrelevant topics and the very serious topics. We had to give this task to her when entering the classroom for the oral exam. First, there was some preparation time, but when I had to do the oral part, more specifically the topicality task part, the first thing she said was: “I don’t understand your cover.”

For a woman who expects us to explain everything about the Vietnam war, I find that rather strange.

So I started to explain about the piles of magazines, but she interrupted: “No no, I mean, everybody has such a serious cover, and you’ve got this.” She looked at the cover. I looked at it too, and I saw that she had put an ugly, quickly drawn question mark on a bit of white space that was left. I wasn’t even getting it back, she was keeping it herself and yet she had decided to put a question mark there, just to destroy it. I was getting pissed. I said: “I wanted to show the variety of topicality.”

To which she answered: “I don’t see any variety.”

Now I was really pissed. Overall there is a great difference between a sensation seeking magazine and a fashion magazine. You might consider fashion magazines to be rather superficial, but I consider fashion photography to be a sort of art. It is a bit superficial, but next to the ‘what to wear’ parts they also talk about society stuff, about politics and art. Not in a way a serious newspaper would do perhaps, but still. Do not – ever – tell me they are the same.
And how come you don’t know? I thought. How can you be so cut off of the world? How can you know so much about the Cold War and yet get uncomfortable when being confronted with a heading saying ”Jeanstrends – Four times in denim’ ? Because she was looking quite uncomfortable. Then I realised that it was a world she just doesn’t know anything about. The magazine world is unknown to her, and that is why she had put the annoying question mark there – to feel comfortable again. Question marks are her world.

I did my last attempt: “It’s to show the contrast with the very serious items within.”
But she had opened the folder and started talking about the items. Seriously, I thought, this is how Galileo must have felt. Sort of. People, sometimes, just don’t understand you. And often you cannot make them understand.

You’re doing it wrong…

After fifteen years of hard work, dedication and a standard half-comatose condition, a teacher we have finds it necessary to tell us how we should study. After all those years of learning, after all those tests that made us end up at that school, after which we have to go to university to be able to get a job, we can’t study.

We got a document, telling us what we should do, how we should do it etcetera. And while reading it, I could only think I’m doing it wrong.

I’m doing it wrong, people. There is a great chance that later, they’ll have to pay me per minute, but I’m not doing it right. Instead of reading my lessons all over when coming home from school, I’m blogging. Instead of reading things out loud, I sing along with (great) songs. Instead of studying the way I should, I’m having something that resembles to A Life. Imagine. A Life! While going to school! Imagine. Can’t be. But unlike some history teachers, I seem to live in the Now. I didn’t know it, until – eh – now.

I’m sorry if it bothers you that I use my marker, or that I write my notes somehow different than you do, but it seems to work for me, so I’m not really sorry at all. AT ALL. Thanks for the tips and now shut up because there are two (maybe three!) people waiting for a post on this very blog. And that’s what I’m doing now, and I’m doing it right.

*well, maybe not that right, I’ve been editing this thing six or seven times*