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Just in: Vienna’s Jews honour the Philharmonic chairman

Just as the orchestra is besieged once more with allegations of sexual and racial discrimination, the Vienna Philharmonic chairman, Clemens Hellsberg, has received a notable award from the city’s Jewish community.

clemens hellsberg

The Marietta and Torberg Medal acknowledges Hellsberg’s contribution to ‘a self-critical assessment of the Vienna Philarmonic’s involvement in the Nazi period.’ It singles out his 1992 history of the orchestra, ‘Democracy of Kings’ as a groundbreaker in period research – which indeed it was.

But there is more work to be down, and Hellsberg knows it. The recent revelation that the orchestra maintained its friendship with the mass-murderer Baldur von Schirach (below) well into the 1960s requires authoritative, independent investigation of all available documents from 1938 to 1966 in order to uncover the full extent of the collaboration of leading VPO musicians in the genocide project. Hellsberg must use his award as the start of uncovering the next layer of criminal collusion.

schirach

Here is the award announcement:

Hellsberg/Walser/Philharmoniker/IKG/Gesellschaftspolitik

Marietta und Friedrich Torberg-Medaille hat positive Vorbildwirkung
Utl.: IKG sieht in der wiederkehrenden Kritik an den Wiener Philharmonikern persönliche Animositäten

Wien (OTS) – Mit der Verleihung der Marietta und Friedrich Torberg-Medaille an Prof. Clemens Hellsberg, würdigt die Israelitische Kultusgemeinde seine Verdienste um eine selbstkritische, reflektierte Aufarbeitung der Involvierung der Wiener Philharmoniker in die NS-Zeit. Ein Ergebnis seines Engagements ist ein im Jahr 1992 erschienenes Buch über die Geschichte der Philharmoniker. Darin widmet sich ein ausführliches Kapitel den Wiener Philharmonikern im NS-Staat und wird von Historikern als Pionierwerk eingestuft.

Die Verleihung der Torberg-Medaille hebt die von Prof. Hellsberg unter den gegebenen Umständen Anfang der 1990er Jahre geleistete Arbeit hervor. Bei seinen Recherchen ist er oft an Grenzen gestoßen, die Archive waren zu diesem Zeitpunkt noch nicht öffentlich zugänglich und die Datenbank mit österreichischen Opfern der Shoah gibt es erst seit ca. 10 Jahren. Derartige Erfahrungen machte auch die Israelitische Kultusgemeinde in den 1990er Jahren, als sie im Zuge der Mauerbach-Auktion-Recherchen am Zugang zu den Archiven scheiterte. Erst mit der Einsetzung der Historikerkommission wurden die Archive geöffnet.

Als Bildungssprecher der Grünen, sollte Abgeordneter Harald Walser eine Vorstellung von der wichtigen Symbolkraft und Vorbildwirkung einer Ehrung wie der Torberg-Medaille haben. Was ihn bei seiner Kritik an der IKG geritten hat, sei dahingestellt. Selbstverständlich erhebt diese Ehrung keinen Anspruch auf eine lückenlose Aufarbeitung und berücksichtigt die zum damaligen Zeitpunkt nicht vorhandenen Möglichkeiten zur Recherche. Die wiederkehrende Kritik von Nationalratsabgeordneten Walser, an der sich dann auch regelmäßig bestimmte Personen beteiligen, lässt auf persönliche Animositäten schließen.

Eine derartige Auseinandersetzung bezüglich der Aufarbeitung des Nationalsozialismus darf jedenfalls nicht dazu führen, eine Medaille, die im Namen von Marietta und Friedrich Torberg verliehen wird, in ihrer Bedeutung zu mindern. Unsere Gesellschaft braucht Menschen mit Mut, Engagement und Zivilcourage und dies wird die Israelitische Kultusgemeinde auch in Zukunft fördern, unterstützen – und auch würdigen.

Oskar Deutsch, Präsident

 

 

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Comments

  1. There is something very odd going on here. This award, the Marietta and Friederich Torberg Medal, is given by the Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde (The Israelite Cultural Community abbreviated as IKG) in Vienna and is awarded to those who have shown civil courage in telling the truth about the persecution of Jews and the Holocaust. The organization has about 7000 members which is close to the entire Jewish population of Austria – which is only 8 one-hundredth of one percent. (0.08%)

    In 1954, Friederich Torberg (for whom the medal is named that was granted to Hellsberg) founded a cultural magazine called FORVM that was secretly funded by the CIA through its front program called “The Congress for Cultural Freedom.” The purpose of the magazine was to undermine communism and other forms of leftist thought in Austria.

    In its commentary with the award, the IKG accuses the historian who brought the Philharmonic’s Schirach Affair to light, Dr. Harald Walser, of having personal animosities against Hellsberg. In reality there are no personal animosities. The Schirach Affair is very important for understanding the orchestra’s post war history and Walser, whose dissertation was about the rise of Nazi power in the Tyrolean and Vorarlberg regions of Austria, has done an important service in bringing the Schirach Affair to light.

    It should not be a surprise that “Marietta and Friederich Torberg Medal,” which is named after a man who covertly worked with the CIA to undermine leftist thought, is being used to discredit a Green Party politician who has exposed unpleasant truths about the Philharmonic’s *post war* Nazi past. It follows in Torberg’s anti-leftist traditions.

    By Austrian standards Hellsberg’s book was “ground breaking,” but that isn’t saying much in a society where the Nazi past was a taboo topic generally left unmentioned and even suppressed. The recent Schirach Affair illustrates that there are huge gaps in Hellsberg’s account of the orchestra’s Nazi history that are very important. And worse, records of some of those events appear to be missing from the archive.

    It should also be known that Hellsberg’s book is in a large, very expensive coffee table format that was not at all widely distributed, and has never been translated. In general, only a limited number of German-speaking Philharmonic fans bought it. In that sense, it did very little to make the orchestra’s Nazi history known.

    Given the anti-leftist history of Torberg we begin to see the curious nature of this well-timed award to Hellsberg. The long fingers of a reactionary history are still at work.

    • William, I think you read too much into this.
      In 1954, Austria was under threat of Soviet occupation from within and without. It was legitimate for opponents of the Soviet empire to show resistance and to accept US funding for their efforts. The alternative would have been far worse. And a new magazine does not suppress comment; it broadens it.
      As for Hellsberg’s book, it was the publisher who decided on its format. When it came out, I was the first to review it outside the German-language media and I remember being impressed by its frankness. It took the Berlin Phil 15 years to catch up on candour.
      True, there is more work to do. But give Hellsberg credit for what he has done so far, initially against considerable opposition.

      • I want to encourage the Philharmonic with positive support for its recent progress (as illustrated in my recent update,) but if the IKG and the orchestra are going to attack Dr. Harald Walser in this manner, it is essential that the whole story be understood.

        At issue here isn’t so much Hellsberg’s book, but that the IKG is being manipulated into serving reactionary interests. It is shameful that they are attacking Walser in this manner and entirely overlooking the Schirach Affair.

        I understand the importance of what you are saying about Stalin, but I cannot accept the CIA’s covert manipulation of intellectual thought in America and Europe. If the threat of the Soviets were so serious, which is open to at least some debate, there would have been no harm in the government *openly* funding forums for political and cultural thought to counter Stalin’s horrific policies. Governments should never secretly manipulate the intellectual lives of democracies. It undermines the very nature of what a democracy is. And sadly, we are seeing the deleterious after effects of the Congress for Cultural Freedom’s manipulations to this day.

        The Torberg Medal’s sordid history helps us understand the one-sidedness and hypocrisy in the IKG’s award to Hellsberg and its attacks on Walser. Why is this happening? Who is behind it?

        Interestingly, I am the one who made Hellsberg’s revelations about the orchestra’s Nazi past widely known in the English-speaking world with the article linked below. I put it on the web at the height of the VPO protests in early 1997 where it had a viral impact. It became the turning point in awareness of the orchestra’s Nazi history. It also made it clear to the Berlin Phil that they needed to come clean. And as the footnotes in my article illustrate, much of the information (though by no means all) comes from Hellsberg:

        http://www.osborne-conant.org/website/purity.htm

        Hellsberg, for example, makes no mention whatsoever that the orchestra’s Chairman during the Reich, Wilhelm Jerger, wrote a book about the orchestra which contains long father/son genealogical tables of some of the major string players. Jerger placed asterisks by the names of all individuals who were “non-Aryan” and explained that the genetic stock of the Philharmonic was so “tough” that the purity of their “blood” and style was not notably damaged by such dysgenic influences. The correlations to the orchestra’s post war employment practices concerning Asians are impossible to overlook – another fact that Hellsberg does not mention. I suspect that in the next few years the Philharmonic will begin to hire Asians who have Asian names, and that the orchestra will deny that it excluded them for 60 years after the war.

        Jerger’s book also contains anti-Semitic observations about Mahler. The lack of any mention of Jerger’s book, the lack of information about the Schirach Affair, and the lack of information about excluding Asians are among many examples of the sanitized and rationalizing tone in Hellsberg’s book about the orchestra’s Nazi history and its lax de-Nazification after the war.

        • I know Jerger’s book well and I am not going to defend it. But the asterisks and the anti-semitism were pretty much obligatory to obtain publication by that stage of the Reich. Jerger is absolutely offensive, but far less so than, for instance, Hans-Joachim Moser, who went on to occupy positions of far greater eminence in the post-War German Federal Republic.

          • Yes, views of Jerger are very mixed in Austria. The main concert hall of the university’s school of music in Linz is named after Wilhelm Jerger – an SS Lieutenant who oversaw the removal of about 25 Jews and “politically questionable” people from the Philharmonic. Seven of the Jews died in concentration camps. A few years ago a student at the conservatory in Linz contacted me for information as part of his efforts to have the name of the hall changed. I’m not sure, but I think he was unsuccessful. Perhaps someone can let us know.

            It might make an interesting article to contact the school of music and ask them why the hall was named after Jerger and why it remains under his name. It would be very interesting to hear their thoughts about this.

          • william osborne says:
            January 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

            “Yes, views of Jerger are very mixed in Austria. The main concert hall of the university’s school of music in Linz is named after Wilhelm Jerger – an SS Lieutenant who oversaw the removal of about 25 Jews and “politically questionable” people from the Philharmonic. Seven of the Jews died in concentration camps. A few years ago a student at the conservatory in Linz contacted me for information as part of his efforts to have the name of the hall changed. I’m not sure, but I think he was unsuccessful. Perhaps someone can let us know.

            It might make an interesting article to contact the school of music and ask them why the hall was named after Jerger and why it remains under his name. It would be very interesting to hear their thoughts about this.”

            So what? In Canada, they have a whole city named after Kitchener, a very nasty piece of work even by the standards of his time. Ironically, that city was originally named Berlin but renamed to Kitchener in 1916 to honor him, who had butchered countless people in the interests of British colonialism and who had led anti-civilian warfare against the Boers.
            Maybe we should get that renamed to something nicer first, then look into the Jerger thing.

      • Lord Montague says:

        Didn’t the Soviets completely withdraw from Austria in 1955? Hardly a “threat of Soviet occupation” at that point in time me thinks. But sure, both super powers were secretly and openly fighting for ideological superiority, and the Yankees had the better money, no doubt.
        Maybe in this context we should more often allow the sobering memory, that it were the Soviets who liberated Auschwitz (and finally Berlin) and that the Brits and the Americans refused the idea to destroy the railway tracks to Auschwitz in bomb raids. Those who are without sin shall throw the first stone…

        But maybe Mr. Osborne is about to discover previously unknown facts, in investigating the activities of Friederich Torberg.

    • William,
      I take slight issue with the “conspiracy theorist” language of the CIA ‘covertly’ funding such a publication.
      Sure, the US may have funded “The Congress For Cultural Freedom”, but is that really any different to the US Embassy in any country currently actively having a cultural programme? That whoever is running that cultural programme, or in charge of dispersing the funds allocated to it, might favour one thing over another doesn’t really indicate that “the CIA” are trying to twist the intellectual story of a nation from up on high (and if they wanted to, a small-circulation magazine would hardly help in the big picture anyway).
      I imagine you wouldn’t suggest that the head of the CIA is currently trying to covertly change the musical listening and stylistic preferences of Western Europe by secretly funding a few chamber music concerts through the front of a cultural programme at the US Embassies; but it amounts to a similar degree of secret service input to the magazine you mention, no? Or is there more to this one?

      • There are huge moral and political differences between the State Department openly funding cultural programs in U.S. embassies (which I wish happened far more often) and the CIA covertly funding phony-front cultural programs to keep its identity and goals hidden. The CIA program was massive and also used domestically (inside the USA) which is against the law. They infiltrated, for example, the boards of many of our major cultural institutions like the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and the board of MOMA.

        The central goal was to promote abstract expressionism as a riposte to the Soviet’s Social Realism. As a result of these efforts, artists like Jackson Pollack obtained prominence they would not likely have otherwise achieved. Many prominent intellectuals like George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Gloria Steinem were unknowingly influenced by the CIA’s machinations. As a result, and as astounding as it sounds, our post war cultural history was significantly altered by secret government manipulation. As I mentioned, this undermines the very nature of what a democracy is supposed to be – free people exchanging ideas in an open society.

        Ironically, I think that if the Western cultural community had been left unmanipulated, it would have proivded much better and more effective responses to Social Realism.

        I strongly recommend Francis Stonor Saunder’s highly praised book about this history, “The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters.” You can order it here:

        http://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Cold-War-World-Letters/dp/1565846648

        It’s a fascinating and sobering read.

        • another orchestra musician says:

          Mr. O, do keep in mind that the CIA is not the world’s only intelligence service. It’s merely the only one that people are commonly given access to information about.

          In the numbers of its personnel and the extent of its reach within society domestically and abroad, the CIA was and remains dwarfed by the intelligence services of the (former) communist bloc states. One doesn’t commonly sense this, living in present-day Europe; but anyone who lived as an adult behind the Iron Curtain knows how all-pervasive and ruthless their countries’ secret police once were. And even today, when a book contract and television appearances reward the American who trumpets unflatteringly of CIA activities, summary imprisonment, or, more commonly, a bullet in the head, awaits the Russian, the Chinese, the Iranian, the Israeli, the Indian, the Indonesian, etc., who would do the same in their own native countries.

          It is easy to forget, in this era of easy data, that there is a great amount of historical knowledge no Google search can uncover – a not inconsiderable portion of which has been taken to their graves by people who diligently self-censored during their lifetimes, or which remains locked away in archives beyond the reach of any Freedom of Information Act. And, frankly, if the desire to impose a taste for abstract expressionism is the greatest vice we can attribute to the operatives of America’s foreign intelligence service, I say quick! let’s abolish Congress and let Langley run the country.

          • Some of my literary friends read the Slipped Disk comments and marvel at how conservative the classical music world is. To state the obvious, we should hold the CIA to a higher standard than the KGB, the Stasi, etc. We must insist that secret government organizations not manipulate the arts. And we should remember that the CIA has been involved in horrific activities including mass murder (directly and through proxies) such as with the Phoenix program in Vietnam, the Mayan genocide in Guatemala, and the death squads in Chile and Argentina. There are no angels among the intelligence agencies. This is off-topic, so forgive me if I don’t discuss this here further.

          • Of course, we will probably never know how many artists, musicians, and writers who perished in Lenin’s and Stalins Gulag. Nor will we ever know the tens of millions that perished in Mao’s China.

            We can, though, be forever grateful for folks like Rostropovich and Solzhenitsyn and the many unknowns who risked it all for their art.

  2. Frederick Süss says:

    It seems naive to discuss in the 21st Century, how many genocidal German Nazis danced on the head of a pin in Vienna accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The culture of Viennese anti-Semitism predates the Nazi era, and was even commented on in the 19th Century by the American writer (and then foreign correspondent) Mark Twain as a starting point for his classical essay: “Concerning The Jews,” published by Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (September, 1899). It is therefore convenient for the sake of Gemütlichkeit to pose as a “victim” of the March 12, 1938 Anschluss. Never mind that this event was promptly followed by the April 10 plebiscite, handing in a 99.7 percent pro-Nazi approval.

    It is certainly a wonderful gesture for Vienna Philharmonic chairman, Clemens Hellsberg to have had bestowed upon him a special award from the city’s Jewish community. But one such award cannot so easily wipe out a nation’s genocidal history. Only honestly coming to terms with its history by truthfully educating its younger generations to take some responsibility for at least knowing of its nation’s earlier actions can begin to do that. Moreover, it is not a world class orchestra’s obligation to eliminate its nation’s culture of anti-Semitism.

    However, it is the Vienna Philharmonic’s responsibility to cleanse itself of its “culture” of sexual and racial discrimination. Such primitive attitudes in an institution devoted to promoting culture in the 21st Century sets it apart from the rest of the world’s progressive civilization. There is no excuse for it … certainly not in a scientifically advanced society that Austria asserts itself to be, in which genetics and molecular biology leave no doubt that fundamentally all humans are created equal.

  3. I remeber watching Lennie conduct the Wieners with Mahler. All of a sudden he stopped the orchestra and fearlessly admonished “Das ist kein Mahler.” I miss him very much. He contributed so much to universal profile of a cultured Jew. Especially in Germany and Austria. Lennie was at war with himself about the Holocaust’s perpetrators. Here was a middle class Jew, who was widely welcomed in Vienna, Salzburg, Muenchen, and Berlin. Who can forget his Beethoven’s9th for destruction of the Berlin Wall. Point being, that inspite of his relationship as a Jew with the Shoah, he was the greatest (Jewish) ambassador of good will between Germany and Austria. He should have recieved a brothership award from from both the Juden and the Wiener’s. I also fell in love with Lennie when he conducted the IPO with Jennie Tourel on the Mount of Olives to celebrate Israeli Statehood. He was a Mensch. And in the same way that Bernstein was affected by “The Unanswered Question,” and did something about it, so is Barenboim a new hero of mine. In this line of heroes, I must also include Frau Dr, Ulrike Hessler, late Intendant of the Semper Oper. and who hired me for 9 years to be the North American Director of Publicity for the Bayerische Staatsoper under Sir Peter Jonas, also one of the greats. Not only did Dr. Hessler serve on the Board of Directors of the Hebrew University, she also instigated exhibitions throughout the opera and theater world in German chronocalizing how Jewish members were ” treated ” by their work colleagues and Nazis. This willingness to break bread with the “enemy” is an enigma to me and very complex and takes a great deal of self exploration, but it also takes the courage of those mentioned above as well as Daniel Jonah Goldhagen who wrote “Hitler’s willing executioners,” Claude Lanzman who made the incredible 9 part documentary on The Shoah, and Clemens Hellsberg and the Israelitische Kultus Gemeinden in Germany and Austria.

  4. Sorry to plug my own book – when it comes out in April (Yale University Press: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Forbidden-Music-Jewish-Composers-Banned/dp/0300154305/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358189322&sr=1-1), but I address much of what is being discussed in this forum in its final chapter. It’s quite impossible to isolate the Vienna Philharmonic without taking in the accompanying musical institutions in the city.
    The manner in which the occupiers administered musical questions in each of the four sectors in Germany and Austria is revealing. Only today, have I read a letter written in 1946 from Ludwig von Ficker to Egon Wellesz in which he relates that the French confiscating all of his correspondence and papers that would have implicated the powerful Nazi academic Erich Schenk in the murder of Guido Adler’s daughter Melanie. These have yet to be recovered and Schenk kept virulent anti-Semitism alive in Vienna’s university throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Even critical reports in the local papers did nothing to hinder any attempted research on Mahler, Schreker, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg and so forth. Yet typical of Vienna, contradictions abound: Helmut Wobisch, a member of the NSDAP before it was legal and principal trumpet in the VPO was also a founding member of the International Gustav Mahler Society after the war. Schenk’s correspondence with Hans Gál is friendly and collegial. (Wellesz and Alfred Einstein would have nothing to do with him) – Yes, Anti-Semitism was so much a part of Viennese and Austrian life that something as sobering as concentration camps and total defeat in the ‘Total War’ would not be able to wipe it out. Yet the virulent anti-Semitism that erupted in 1938 was probably because of the policies of suppressing the NSDAP between 1933-1938 driving it underground when just under half of the Austrians supported it. A little known and remembered fact is that Hitler marched into Austria as the referendum that was called on March 13th would most likely have been lost – indeed, it was were still carried out in western Austria where indeed, it did lose. By April, the terror was complete enough to make sure that the 51% who didn’t support Hitler voted “the right way.” Hence the overwhelming support for Hitler – everyone else who could get out and needed to get out who would have voted against Hitler had fled. Others were brutalised into not voting or doing as they were told. It was not a secret ballot.
    ‘Who Pays the Piper’ is an important bit of research, but it’s balanced somewhat by Hugh Wilford’s ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’ (written ten years later) – this in turn needs to be added to interviews with people who also participated in the Darmstadt summer courses and were involved with the Frankfurt School. These appear to give more credence to Stonor Saunders than Wilford. While curator at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, we mounted a large Friedrich Torberg exhibition in which we dealt with his various CIA funded publications. Just because the Soviets withdrew in 1955 did not stop the Austrians from being extremely anti-Communist – they had witnessed what had happened in neighbouring countries and counted themselves lucky to be neutral. Even Ernst Fischer, Austria’s leading Communist intellectual left the party with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Many others had left in 1956 with the suppression of the Hungarians and the 1953 suppression of demonstrators in the Soviet Sector of Germany meant that Fischer’s future wife, (then married to Hanns Eisler and herself, a prominent Communist) would not set foot in Stalinist Eastern Europe. Austria’s neutrality was a delicate balance. Bruno Kreisky’s invitation to the UN was a stroke of genius at a time when it remained unclear how the Cold War would pan out. Indeed, only now has an historic plaque commemorating the house where Stalin resided in Vienna while a student been amended to remember the many Austrians he murdered who went East in 1938 rather than West. In a small country like Austria, in an incestuous city like Vienna where everyone knows where every skeleton lies buried, nothing can be dealt with in isolation. Torberg, the VPO, the University – it’s all part of the same story. In Austria’s favour, it is now actively trying to acquire the estates of composers and musicians driven out in 1938. After seeing the condition of many of these estates in various universities in their diverse countries of refuge, I can only welcome this development. Nothing can air out the murky Viennese closets like making these valuable estates available for all to see.

    • Thank you, Michael.

    • Thank you for your interesting perspectives. The disillusionment Austrians felt about Stalinism after seeing its terrifying effects on neighboring countries is well-known. It reinforces the point that the CIA’s clandestine efforts to manipulate intellectual and artistic thought toward anti-Communists ends were hardly necessary. (And this is to say nothing of the larger moral, ethical, and legal questions.)

      And it is true to a degree that nothing can be isolated in Vienna, though hardly more so than any other European city. These complex inter-relationships create many ironies and help us understand why the IKG is spuriously attacking Dr. Harold Walser for his work to clarify key events in the VPO’s Nazi past. Municipal politics everywhere are known for alliances of convenience that are often extremely ironic.

      In addition to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA’s manipulation of the American and international news organizations became so effective that the CIA director at the time, Frank Wisner, referred to the media as his “Mighty Wurlitzer.” And as if the CCF and the Wurlitzer were not enough, McCarthyism was pounding leftist American artistic traditions into virtual non-existence, an absense that continues to this day. (Even composers as harmless and ultra-American as Aaron Copland were hauled before the Committee.)

      We see that the inter-connections and post war collaboration with Nazis extended far beyond Vienna and Austria. One famous example is that an SS Major, Werner von Braun, ended up on a U.S. postage stamp for his work in the space program. His V-2 rockets were built by slave labor. About 20,000 died from illness, beatings, hangings and intolerable working conditions. That postage stamp illustrates the ironies we still see being created.

      • Well what’s perplexing is that though Vienna was notoriously ‘red’ the rest of Austria was historically Clerical-right-wing – and that since 1918! Zweig already marvels at the fact that Austria did not go Communist at the time of Bavaria’s short-lived Soviet Republic and Béla Kun’s rampage in Hungary. Ruth Fischer – Hanns Eisler’s sister – founded the first Communist Party in Western Europe, occupied the offices of Vienna’s Neue Freie Presse and landed in jail. She became so frustrated at Austria’s inability to pick up the red flat that she, and both of the her brothers left for Berlin. Austria has a history of Jewish literary anti-Communist sentiment: Joseph Roth, Manès Sperber, Hilde Spiel, Torberg – It must also not be forgotten that it was mostly Austrian Jews who founded the Anglo-Austrian Music Society to break away from the Soviet financed Austrian Centre. At this time, the Austrian Centre was not political in any way and was the only place where on some official level the Anschluss had not been recognised as legal – to the British prior to the Moscow Declaration in 1943, there were no Austrians, only Germans. The Soviets also financed the German Kulturbund – yet it was the Austrians who felt uncomfortable about the Soviet relationship (despite it’s a-political function and its very real provision of national identity) and stuck out on their own. I suppose that it goes without saying that the monetarist school that influenced Margaret Thatcher was called the ‘Austrian School’ – given the degree of anti-collectivism in the country and in academia, it’s a miracle that Vienna was (and remains) Socialist.
        As for the IKG and its attempts to discredit research into the Vienna Philharmonic, I can’t comment. The VPO is infuriatingly a private body and receives no public funding. When it continued its restrictive practices, it lost further public funding for playing in the opera. The ring handed over the Baldur von Schirach was flagged to the organisation Exilarte (of which I am co-chairman) by Ioan Holender, former director of the Staatsoper and (I believe) a member of the IKG – before it hit the press. Clearly there are conflicting political elements in the IKG – quite apart from the fact that there is little love lost between the VPO and Holender.
        I have received but not yet read ‘Politisierte Orchester’ Die Wiener Philharmoniker und Das Berliner Phiharmonische Orchester im Nationalsozialismus by Fritz Trümpi (böhlau) – this may be worthwhile investigating for further hidden truths – though the book has been out for a few months already. But also worth referencing in the context of the double-dealing and political side-changes following the advent of the Cold-War (in musical terms at least) is Toby Thacker’s ‘Music After Hitler’ on Ashgate – frustratingly, it only deals with Germany, but much can be extrapolated to reference Austria. As for the CIA and various conspiracy theories both real and imagined, (a slight niggle I have with ‘Who Paid the Piper’ which is why I suggested that ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’ added a bit of balance) is a recent book on the British subversion of post-war politics in Austria: Peter Pirker in ‘Subversion deutscher Herrschaft – der britische Kriegsgeheimdienst SOE und Österreich (Vienna University Press).
        On a purely subjective level – I recently gave a talk on Bruno Walter’s 6 recordings of ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ His 1936 recording with the Vienna Philharmonic is so superior to any others – even his later post-war recording with Ferrier and ALL of his recordings with the New York Philharmonic – that it stands as testimony to how much the orchestra suffered by its expulsion of so many important players. I don’t buy the fact that the VPO in the early 50s was still starving and cold – it just didn’t play as well as it had pre-1938. Hellsberg attended the lecture and could only concede that the discrepancy could not be papered over. It was there for all to hear.

        • Just a small point. Devotees of Austrian Economics would cringe at being called monetarists.

          The former being based on the work of Austrians Ludwig Von Mises (Human Action) and Friedrich A. von Hayek (The Road to Serfdom. ) Hayek recieved the Nobel prize for ecomonics in1974.

          Monetarism is based on the work Milton Friedman and other economists associated with the University of Chicago.

          All three, though, were great champions of human freedom.

  5. Frederick Süss says:

    MICHAEL HAAS RAISES AN IMPORTANT VPO ISSUE

    Mr. Hass wrote: “The ring handed over the Baldur von Schirach was flagged to the organisation Exilarte (of which I am co-chairman) by Ioan Holender, former director of the Staatsoper and (I believe) a member of the IKG – before it hit the press. Clearly there are conflicting political elements in the IKG – quite apart from the fact that there is little love lost between the VPO and Holender.”

    On September 15, 1942, von Schirach made a speech in which he defended his action in having driven “tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of Jews into the ghetto of the east” as “contributing to European culture.” When the VPO all those many years ago honored Baldur von Schirach (1940 Gauleiter of Vienna, Reichs Governor of Vienna, and Reichs Defense Commissioner for Austrian territory) with its highest medal, could it have been for the Nazi leader’s contribution to “European culture”?

    Last year, the German Medical Association adopted a declaration apologizing for sadistic experiments and other actions of doctors under the Nazis, asking forgiveness of victims. Commenting on the Association’s apology, Dr. Art Caplan, professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote: “It does nothing to soften the horror of the Holocaust but it both ascribes responsibility where it belongs and ends any further efforts to deny or obfuscate what actually happened.”

    There is still time for the VPO to disavow its1942 toading up to Nazi leaders such as von Schirach. Indignantly sniffing its collective nose and continuing to deny its pro-Nazi past are not equal to coming clean. At least some German doctors of conscience have belatedly shown how such things are done. Surely, the VPO must be home to some musical leaders of high character and integrity. They should emulate the German doctors by publicly apologizing for the VPO’s earlier support of Nazi culture, and as a finale withdrawing the VPO ring awarded to von Schirach.

    • Frederick Süss says:
      January 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

      “Last year, the German Medical Association adopted a declaration apologizing for sadistic experiments and other actions of doctors under the Nazis, asking forgiveness of victims. Commenting on the Association’s apology, Dr. Art Caplan, professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote: “It does nothing to soften the horror of the Holocaust but it both ascribes responsibility where it belongs and ends any further efforts to deny or obfuscate what actually happened.”

      There is still time for the VPO to disavow its1942 toading up to Nazi leaders such as von Schirach. Indignantly sniffing its collective nose and continuing to deny its pro-Nazi past are not equal to coming clean. At least some German doctors of conscience have belatedly shown how such things are done. Surely, the VPO must be home to some musical leaders of high character and integrity. They should emulate the German doctors by publicly apologizing for the VPO’s earlier support of Nazi culture, and as a finale withdrawing the VPO ring awarded to von Schirach.”

      What would be that point of that? Why should a group of people who have nothing to do with events which occurred before they were born apologize for these events? Do you believe in the concept of collective guilt like the Nazis did?

      It’s important to know and discuss history to learn from it and if the archives of the Wiener Philharmoniker are not fully accessible, as some have suggested is the case, they should definitely be opened to all serious researchers. If there is nasty stuff still hidden there though, it probably doesn’t help that opening up if every time something comes to light, there is a bunch of self-righteous moral apostles who demand apologies from people who had nothing to do with these events.
      Do you want an apology from the descendants of Georg Solti or Leonard Bernstein because their fathers made recordings with former NSDAP members?

      By those standards, all of us – *all of us* – have a lot to apologize for to a lot of people for a lot of things our ancestors did, or just people who were from the same country we happened to be born in, or people who belonged to organizations we now belong to. We would spend the rest of our lives apologizing for stuff we haven’t done. History is not a happy pace. Our civilizations, as we like to call them, were all built on blood and bones. All of them.
      And while we spend a lot of time self-righteously obsessing about these things, a lot of nasty stuff is going on in our world right now.

      • @Michael:

        “What would be that point of that? Why should a group of people who have nothing to do with events which occurred before they were born apologize for these events?”

        I suppose you didn’t see the point of Willy Brandt getting down on his knees at the Warsaw Ghetto in 1970, either?

        “Do you believe in the concept of collective guilt like the Nazis did?”

        Now that’s a cheap potshot.

        • Robert Hairgrove says:
          January 16, 2013 at 4:43 pm

          “@Michael:

          “What would be that point of that? Why should a group of people who have nothing to do with events which occurred before they were born apologize for these events?”

          I suppose you didn’t see the point of Willy Brandt getting down on his knees at the Warsaw Ghetto in 1970, either?”

          MICHAEL:

          Not at all. I think that was an important and meaningful gesture at the time.

          ROBERT:

          ““Do you believe in the concept of collective guilt like the Nazis did?”

          Now that’s a cheap potshot.”

          MICHAEL:

          Not at all. It was merely a question motivated directly by what Frederick said and how he said it. As his later reply to me clearly shows:

          “Too bad Henry Ford’s propaganda fiction “The International Jew” had such an influence on your thinking. Probably, if Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” had reached you first, you and you comrades may have become dedicated communists. There’s an old saying which goes something like this: “True believer Nazis and Communists are in the same union. They are merely members of different locals.””

          - yes, he is very much stuck in that kind of mindset. “You and your comrades”.

          • A propos: “You and your comrades”…

            In English, the word “comrades” is innocuous enough. But in German, it takes on a rather sinister meaning in certain contexts (Kameraden) and a totally different slant when used in Russian (Tovarishchi).

            So which one do you think Mr. Suess meant? And why?

          • Robert Hairgrove says:
            January 17, 2013 at 9:43 pm

            “A propos: “You and your comrades”…

            In English, the word “comrades” is innocuous enough. But in German, it takes on a rather sinister meaning in certain contexts (Kameraden) and a totally different slant when used in Russian (Tovarishchi).

            So which one do you think Mr. Suess meant? And why?”

            Thanks, Robert, I know what connotations the word comrades has in English, and, obviously, in German. It’s generally fairly innocuous in German, too, depending on the context, as you correctly observed. It’s not the word comrades that I objected to here though, but the context “you were influenced by Ford so you became a Nazi”. The “you and your comrades clarifies that by “you” he meant me personally, not a larger general group of people. So that shows the tribal mindset at work there. I am really a little astonished that I have to explain that. The quote and the context are pretty unambiguous.

  6. Projecting the politics of Friedrich Torberg at the time he edited Forum on to those currently charged with awarding the Torberg Medal in order to draw conclusions about their views on Harald Walser is something I would also find shaky (not to mention that if we are to deem a party so comfortably ensconced in the political establishment as ‘leftist’ then pretty much the same nebulous thing would apply to columnist Hans Rauscher, who was awarded the medal in 2001). Though figures on Nazi party membership in the Philharmonic had been published prior to the release of Hellsberg’s book, he is credited with airing these and other skeletons, and the award is to some degree understandable on this basis. Now that this Ehrenring disclosure would appear to cast doubt on Hellsberg’s assurances, made insistently in 2008 and 2009, that the archives were finally open, and given the commitment he made in his Torberg acceptance speech about acknowledging ‘100%’ of the orchestra’s history, I would have expected no comment from the IKG, which as far as Hellsberg is concerned maintains some degree of plausible deniability (Ariel Muzicant, the previous president of the IKG, has little interest in music, let alone Viennese musical politics, and perhaps others within the organization’s leadership and Deutsch, his successor, are little different). This press release rather alters that, and rashly so, as if a paper trail – not only in the case of this ring but also other matters – should emerge, and with sufficient documentation to make it difficult for Hellsberg to have overlooked it, then the credibility of twenty years of statements about having aired the worst of the orchestra’s history comes into question. I find it puzzling as to why the IKG might consider that something worth taking a risk on. Of course the sad truth is that we are probably so far off meaningful access to the archives, particularly should Hellsberg take up archival activities as a full-time emeritus position, that by then some medal awarded in 2012 will be moot.

    On Torberg, I once got caught up writing a lengthier footnote than I expected on Forum in the context of writing on music in Communist periodicals of the time, and research on the magazine covers both issues William raised (see Felix W. Tweraser’s article ‘Paris Calling Vienna: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and Friedrich Torberg’s Editorship of “Forum”, and Sigurd Paul Scheichl’s ‘Why and how Friedrich Torberg’s Forum did not confront the past’, which alleges that Torberg was no less complicit in the Lebenslüge than the rest of society during the 1950s). Indeed the title of the Scheichl article, which was published in 2004, provocatively references the mission statement of the prize set up in Torberg’s name. But more important is the wider context of Austrian Communist cultural publications of the time, which though ideologically no less neutral represented a remarkable intellectual outpouring and make the content of Forum look rather weak (why this publication should have attracted such intense research in English and not, say, the Wiener Tagebuch, or Weg und Ziel, is beyond me). Naturally most of the Austrian party’s most important intellectuals at the time were also hardline Stalinists (Knepler, whose later thought is greatly influenced by Fischer on aesthetics, the most significant musician among them), but the Twentieth Congress exacerbated an latent intellectual schism within the Austrian party and it was none other than Fischer who would, three years later, devise an elegant definitional workaround of realism in order to accommodate socialist and bourgeois artists in Marxist-Leninist thought. His book The Necessity of Art is dated in places but still an important text. Obviously when Hobsbawm died the debate about him not leaving the CP after 1956 was reopened, and though actively reformist, Fischer and his like-minded comrades occupied a similar position. But if we are going to dismiss their thought I would hope we might do so after at least reading it.

    • Thank you for the interesting thoughts. Perhaps an even better argument would be the awarding of the Torberg Medal to Terezija Stoisits in 2007, a Green Party politician who is a member of National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism. In 1993 she was the target of a mail bomb sent by the radical right terrorist Franz Fuchs, but it was detected and disarmed.

      Whatever political biases might lie in the historical background of the Torberg Medal, the IKG’s attacks on Walser are difficult to explain. Walser has written at length about fascism in Austria and has work strongly against it which is exactly what the Torberg Medal is supposed to reward.

      For readers who might like to gain a sense of what life was like in Vienna during the period it was occupied by both Soviets and Americans, I would recommend Phillip Kerr’s novel “Berlin Noir” – the parts set in Vienna. It’s not a scholarly treatise but still a relatively accurate portrayal of life in Vienna at the time, the hunger and cold, the darkness and despair, and the constant bickering and intrigue between the Russians and Americans.

      • I didn’t know the medal had previously been awarded to Stoisits. A terrific thorn in the side of the FPÖ, it’s a shame she is no longer in parliament.

        Hard indeed to see what the IKG gains from staking out a position like this. Hellsberg is more than capable of defending himself so to attack a sympathetic figure like Walser does seem somewhat… redundant.

        My family is rich on Besatzungskindergeschichte but useless at oral history; far too many wildly contradictory accounts of what the occupation was like and each vying to be believed more than the others in that typical Viennese way. But the period continues to hold some fascination for me so when I next have the chance to do some holiday reading I’ll check out the book you mention.

  7. Frederick Süss says:

    CIA, Nazis, Communists … oh my ! What a frightening combination.

    Oddly enough, few here have mentioned 1933-1949 dynamics in terms of Realpolitik (with my apologies to Otto von Bismarck).

    Those who have good nerves may like to read two books having to do with that period in which each of the authors relied heavily on previously secret American documents “freed” by the 1976 U.S. Congressional Freedom of Information Act. This legislative action was a gift to the nation on the occasion of America’s 200th birthday.

    The books are:
    “Trading with the Enemy: the Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949,” by Charles Higham (Delacorte Press, 1983). Charles Higham was awarded Academie Francaise Prize of the Creators.

    The other book is even more compelling:

    “Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990,” by Linda Hunt ( St Martin’s Press, 1991). Lind Hunt had been an investigative journalist and producer for CNN.

    Reading these two books can make World War II and the post-War period much more understandable.

    U.S. President Harry S Truman was fond of saying: “The important things to learn are those that people later discover after thinking they know everything.”

    • Yes, Frederick, the world can not be as easily divided into good guys and bad guys as some seem to think, especially those who like to deem themselves good guys.

      Those books look interesting, but I think the title “Trading with the Enemy: the Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949″ is a little misleading. Before the end 1941, the US and Nazi Germany technically weren’t enemies although one could argue that a de facto state of war existed between the two countries before that because of the US support for the British war effort.

      Before that, there were a lot of highly influential Americans who were supporters or sympathizers of the Nazis or at least ideologically very close to them, people like Joe Kennedy, JFK’s father, Charles Lindbergh, or Henry Ford, the latter two big anti-semitic buddies (“when Charles comes out here, we only talk about the Jews”), Ford in particular a major influence on the Nazis, the only American mentioned positively in “Mein Kampf” and also a decisive influence on the above mentioned Baldur von Schirach who said in his Nuremberg trial:

      “The decisive anti-Semitic book I was reading and the book that influenced my comrades was that book by Henry Ford, “The International Jew.” I read it and became anti-Semitic. The book made a great influence on myself and my friends because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success and also the representative of a progressive social policy.”

      As for the rocket scientist stuff, what compunctions did you think a society in which racial segregation and eugenics continued to be practiced for decades after the war would have had about grabbing those tainted scientists in order to gain advantage from their experience? In their defense though, they did have their own shiny and spotless (and no doubt all-white) Navy scientists try to develop their own rockets, but when that didn’t work out, they had to go back to the old Nazis…but it was cool to see those Saturn 5 lift off into space and shiny spotless (and all-white) Americans walk on the moon, wasn’t it?

      If that stuff upsets you, please do not google “unit 731″, it will only ruin your day further.

      • Frederick Süss says:

        Michael, You’ve missed the point from the title. “Trading with the Enemy …” The British writer, Charles Higham uses as his starting point 7 December 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s declaration of war as the dividing line. However, his research uncovered, for example, contracts between American oil producers and auto manufacturers and Nazi Germany that had been honored throughout the war. Higham further points out how when then President Franklin D. Roosevelt was told about these acts of treason, he responded that if the heads of the treasonous companies had all been put in prison, the manufacturing for the war effort would come to a halt. Similarly, International Business Machines (IBM) provided American technical assistance with data processing to the Third Reich that made the round up and organization of identification of the Jews highly efficient. However, in Mafia jargon, there was nothing personal or ideological about IBM’s participation in the Holocaust: “It was just business.”

        Too bad Henry Ford’s propaganda fiction “The International Jew” had such an influence on your thinking. Probably, if Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” had reached you first, you and you comrades may have become dedicated communists. There’s an old saying which goes something like this: “True believer Nazis and Communists are in the same union. They are merely members of different locals.”

        • Frederick Süss says:
          January 16, 2013 at 10:15 am

          “Michael, You’ve missed the point from the title. “Trading with the Enemy …””

          MICHAEL:

          I was referring to the “1933-1939″ part of the title. Between 1933 and 1941, Germany wasn’t an official enemy of the US, was it? So trading activities bertween US and German companies and government entities up to that point probably weren’t illegal. Or were they?

          FREDERICK:

          “Too bad Henry Ford’s propaganda fiction “The International Jew” had such an influence on your thinking. Probably, if Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” had reached you first, you and you comrades may have become dedicated communists. There’s an old saying which goes something like this: “True believer Nazis and Communists are in the same union. They are merely members of different locals.””

          Ford didn’t have any influence on my thinking. And none of the people on whom he had such an influence were my comrades. I wasn’t even born until many decades later.

          But Marx did get to Germany much earlier than Ford. You may be a little confused about the chronology of who wrote at what time and who had what influence from what time on. There were many communists in Germany in the 10s and early 20s. As well as many conservatives and ultra-conservatives and every shade of political thinking in between. That’s why the political spectrum of the Weimar Republic was so complex, and also chaotic. That’s why the democratic government which came into power after WWI had such a hard time keeping things in balance and under control. And that’s why if the western allies hadn’t shamelessly tried to abuse the situation for their own gain, the whole mess that came later might not have happened. But I am not into speculative alternative history history, as interesting as it can be at times. What happened probably had to happen in any case.

      • Lord Montague says:

        Based on that recent history, it seems twisted, that you can rant a Ford in Israel, but you can’t play Wagner.

        • Lord Montague says:

          *rent a Ford* (you can rant as much as you want anyway)

        • Frederick Süss says:

          @Lord Montague: “Based on that recent history, it seems twisted, that you can rent [corrected] a Ford in Israel, but you can’t play Wagner.” In Israeli culture, Adolf Hitler was a bad guy (we need not explain the details of why) and it is well known that he loved Wagner. So “we don’t [play the music favored by a bad guy." On the other hand, (even though, perhaps some know, Hitler very aggressively promoted the Volkswagen in the 1930s), it is "O.K." to use this low cost transportation on the streets of Israel ["we have to get around, don't we?"]

          I believe it has to do with culture, defined as: ” … customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.” How national institutions behave … or are permitted to behave by its people … is a reflection on a group’s or even nation’s culture. So then let’s get back to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and some comments above. No doubt, the VPO which indeed is somewhere near the pinnacle of musical culture also has a notorious reputation of discriminating against women and non-”Aryans” [the latter a perverted anthropological fiction .. having been proven by modern genetic analysis, 99.99% of ALL contemporary human DNA, during the last 250,000 years derives from a black African woman]. So then the VPO’s notorious reputation of discriminating against women and non-”Aryans” is “tolerated” [in quotes because perhaps it is even encouraged] by subscribers to VPO seasons tickets.

          Now then, above there were comments such as Michael issued: “… what compunctions did you think a society in which racial segregation and eugenics continued to be practiced for decades after the war would have had about grabbing those tainted scientists in order to gain advantage from their experience?” To begin with, Americans already knew how to build rockets (Robert H. Goddard, et al), and so did the Soviets (e.g., Boris Chertok et al). But Wernher von Brau and is Peenemunde gang had moved a bit ahead of the Americans and Russians, so in this competition it was an advantage to steal some of Germany’s technology.

          HOWEVER, although Americans have indeed emulated the “culture” of “Aryan” and patriarchal dominated European culture, today a black man has his finger on the nuclear trigger in Washington, and the second most powerful executive, the secretary of state is a woman. In some societies that is called progress. Too bad the VPO is obliged to make prima facie feeble excuses for its lack of it.

          • Lord Montague says:

            Well, what do you think about the lack of Africans living in Iceland? Based on your logic that is also discrimination by the Vikings against Africans.
            Or how do you see the VPO, an orchestra in Austria, a country with a 99% “Caucasian” population, being discriminating against non-”Caucasians”? I have a problem following that “logic”.

            Anyway, the modern genetic analysis you quote, with all humans having the same heritage, would then also pretty much render the existence of a “Jewish people” as fiction, wouldn’t it?

            And for the “black man in Washington on the nuclear trigger” I guess you actually do know, that his mother was white as a swan.

            And if you go to Spain and tell them about your idea of all Europe being dominated by “Aryan” culture, they would put you in front of a raging bull quicker before you can say “venceremos”.

          • Frederick Süss says:
            January 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm

            “Now then, above there were comments such as Michael issued: “… what compunctions did you think a society in which racial segregation and eugenics continued to be practiced for decades after the war would have had about grabbing those tainted scientists in order to gain advantage from their experience?” To begin with, Americans already knew how to build rockets (Robert H. Goddard, et al), and so did the Soviets (e.g., Boris Chertok et al). But Wernher von Brau and is Peenemunde gang had moved a bit ahead of the Americans and Russians, so in this competition it was an advantage to steal some of Germany’s technology.”

            They didn’t steal the technology. Von Braun and most of his engineers offered their services, and they were hired on the spot because they weren’t just a bit ahead but many years. As the failed US Navy rocket program demonstrated, they were still ahead of everyone else 12 years later. So it’s not a matter of the US just helping themselves to a little tech intel as a well deserved war prize after WWII. They bagged most of Hitler’s rocket program without asking twice where that all came from. They asked maybe once, then filed that away. And why not. Those were the realities of the time.

          • So how many Palestinians or other Arabs are in the Israel Philharmonic? I believe – please correct me if I am wrong – that about 20% of the Israeli population are of Arabian background. Is that reflected in the percentage of Arabs playing in Israel’s leading orchestra?

  8. IsraAID is an Israeli humanitarian organization that has assisted countries struck by natural disasters worldwide. IsraAID assisted the United States following Hurricane Sandy and has also operated in Japan as well as South Sudan. Their goal is to utilize Israel’s experience in dealing with emergency situations in order to help out other countries in need. However, it is important to note that IsraAID does not limit their aid to emergency assistance immediately following a natural disaster. They also engage in programs that eventually should help countries that experience such catastrophes to one day be able to stand on their own two feet. As Rambam stated, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day: teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” (by Rachel Avraham in YNet News)

  9. Frederick Süss says:

    Yes, yes Michael, and how many Austrians or other Teutons are in the Palestine National Orchestra,
    http://mondoweiss.net/2012/03/the-palestine-national-orchestra-a-view-from-the-violin-section.html .
    and how many • • •

    yes Lord Montague, and Jesus Christ was a Roman … or was He an Egyptian … no, He must have been a Syrian or Arabian … or was it … ? ‘Guess He was African … like the rest of us [and you too]

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