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Sunday, 30 September 2012

OUT OF AFRICA







Some months ago, I mentioned to my father that I was reading “The Kaiser’s Holocaust”, a book by Olusaga and Erichsen about the 1903-1908 German massacres of the Herero and other ‘native’ people in German Southwest Africa (‘SWA’, now ‘Namibia’). My father remembered that whilst he was a schoolboy in a small town in South Africa during the early 1930s, he had read a book in German about a soldier who took part in the campaign. Its vivid descriptions had made a lasting impression on him. He remembered that its title contained the name ‘Peter Moor’. I was curious to read it if it were available in translation.

I found bought a copy of “Peter Moor's journey to Southwest Africa; a narrative of the German campaign” (‘Peter Moor’ for short) from a second-hand bookseller.  The story written by Gustav Frenssen (1863-1945) was first published in German in 1906, and then translated into English by Margaret May Ward in 1908. My copy is a 1914 reprint.  The book is rare, and now rarely read. However, the translation is available on-line (see: http://archive.org/details/petermoorsjourn00frengoog ).

In 1903, the 17 year old Peter Moor, the hero of the book, decides to enlist in the German naval reserves, most probably in order to get to see a little more of the world. Soon after he has joined up, a friend tells him:
            “In southwest Africa the blacks, like cowards, have treacherously murdered all the farmers and their wives and children.”
Peter asks:
Are those murdered people Germans?
He learns that they are, and immediately volunteers to join the troops being sent by ship to SWA. He sets sail.

During the long sea voyage, in which he spends a day or two in Madeira, he watches the black men on board the ship, and concludes,
            “It seemed to me like this: that the people of Madeira, although strangers to us, are like cousins whom we seldom see; but that these blacks are quite, quite different from us, so that there could be at heart no possible understanding or relationship between us. There must always be misunderstandings instead.
Were these really the thoughts of a teenager keen to discover the wide world or is this an example of the seeds of racism, which Frenssen was attempting to sow in the minds of his, mainly young, readers?

Moor reaches the port of Swakopmund in SWA, and discovers that he has not landed in a bed of roses. Instead, he has entered a hostile environment, one which will harshly dominate his experiences whilst he is in Africa. Some weeks later, he sees:
            “… a great covered wagon left deserted on the road. A farmer or trader had wanted to escape, had packed his most valuable possessions in the wagon, harnessed his oxen to it, and driven the rest of his flocks before it. He had come as far as this. His bones lay eaten by beasts,…, and round the wagon were strewn the only things which the enemy couldn’t use…
After giving the (German) farmer’s bones a Christian burial, they moved on and after a short while, discovered “… many deserted huts of the enemy.” Although he and his comrades were so tired, they, “…took time to set fire to these…

Peter Moor is naturally distressed by the fate of his fellow countrymen, their deaths caused by the rebellious Africans, but he is not unaware of the reasons behind it. For, one day, an older German man, who has lived in SWA for several years explains the behaviour of the Africans to him, and therefore to the reader as well,
Children, how should it be otherwise? They were ranchmen and proprietors, and we were to make them landless working men; and they rose up in revolt. They acted just the same way that North Germany did in 1813. This is their struggle for independence.
This is a remarkable admission from a writer who, according to an article in ‘Wikipedia’, abandoned Christianity and became a blatant racist.

Much of the book is concerned with the discomforts of life in the harsh environment that Moor in which he finds himself. He is plagued, by thirst, hunger, fatigue, disease, and the occasional minor wound. However, he is luckier than many of his fellow soldiers in that he lives to tell the tale without losing any limbs, or worse. For days and weeks they ride or walk through the wilderness, trying to track down their often elusive enemy. The author portrays the slowness of the campaign and the discomforts of this kind of life excellently. His book deserves to be read in order to dispel the glamour of warfare, but on the other hand its present obscurity is not a bad thing given the racist sentiments that are often expressed in it.

A long time passes before the Germans catch up with the African people whom they are trying either to kill or to chase out of their colony. One night they get close enough for Peter to spy on an encampment at the base of some mountains. He was struck by a thought:
            “There lies a people, with all its children and all its possessions, hard pressed on all sides by the horrible, deadly lead, and condemned to death.
This thought, says Peter, “…sent cold shudders down my back.” And, rightly so given what we now know of the awful fate of the African people in German SWA.

After the reader has been subjected to many pages describing Peter’s wanderings through a most hostile environment, he becomes aware that many of his African enemies had perished, and the rest were fleeing towards the inhospitable terrain at the eastern edge of the colony, where, “…thousands of them had perished” already. Victory was in sight, yet,
            “The general decided to follow them thither, to attack them and force them to go northwards into thirst and death, so that the colony would be left in peace and quiet for all times.
Thus, the Germans hoped to establish Lebensraum in Africa.

A few days later, Peter and his companions stumbled upon five African men with their families.  After shooting the men, he describes how the women and children were, “…hunted into the bush.” As the book nears its ending, the writer’s tone becomes increasingly harsh. He describes a religious service ordered by one of the generals, whom Peter meets in the bush. After singing a hymn, the chaplain says:
            “A people savage by nature had rebelled against the authorities that God had set over them. Then the authorities had given the sword, which we were to use on the morrow, into our hands. Might every man of us use it honourably, like a good soldier…”  Peter and his companions did as commanded. Two days later, this same chaplain preached:
            “These blacks have deserved death before God and man, not because they have murdered two hundred farmers and revolted against us, but because they have built no houses and dug no wells… God has let us conquer because we are the nobler and more advanced people … to the nobler and more vigorous belongs the world. That is the justice of God.”  ‘Peter Moor’ was written long before Mein Kampf. So, maybe we should not have been too surprised when Hitler and his generals led his Herrenvolk into war with the rest of the world.

However, the Africans, desperate as their situation had become, did not give up without a fight. In their wake, they left “… great clouds of smoke and flame” behind them as they were “… burning the sparse, dry fodder” in the land through which the Germans would have to chase them.

Eventually nothing was to be seen of the Africans “…except below in the distance, where a monstrous cloud of dust was moving swiftly across the plain. Then it was clear that the proud nation had lost all courage and hope, and preferred to die in the desert rather than to fight any more with us.” Peter was under no illusion about their fate. They were moving “… toward certain death from thirst.”

In the last pages of the book, Peter makes this sinister remark after seeing the corpse of an African boy: “It is strange what a matter of indifference another man’s life is to us when he belongs to another race.” I imagine that it was thoughts such as this that made it easier for the murderers of the Jews and members of other ‘races’ a few decades after the Germans had massacred most of the Africans in their colony. Yet, here it is coolly expressed in a book amongst whose intended audience were impressionable young people.

Another incident which Peter describes is the capturing of a Negro who was carrying a gun. After his colleague had questioned this fellow, he says:
            “The missionary said to me, Beloved don’t forget the blacks are our brothers.’ Now I will give my brother his reward.
Having said those words, he told the captive to run away to freedom, but hardly had the unfortunate taken five leaps, he shot him dead. A few moments later, he told Peter:
Safe is safe. He can’t raise a gun against us any more, nor beget any more children to fight against us. The struggle for South Africa will still be a hard one, whether it is to belong to the Germans or the blacks.”
As to the hard struggle, Frenssen certainly did not underestimate reality, but the message he conveyed to his readers was not one which was likely to reduce its intensity.

Frenssen’s hero, Peter Moor, was a creation of his imagination. His experiences described in the book were drawn from what he had learnt from veterans of the German’s African campaign. The authors of “The Kaiser’s Holocaust” point out that “Peter Moor” was “… a simplistic dramatised account of the Herero-Nama genocides…” and point out that it was “… the best-selling children’s book in Germany until 1945.”  One can understand its popularity. It is well-written, at times gripping, and always heroic. However, even if we heed Lord Justice Denning’s advice that “We must not look at the 1947 incident with 1954 spectacles”, and not look at something written in 1906 with 2012 spectacles, we cannot forgive the author for encouraging malicious thoughts of racial superiority in the minds of his young readers. Contemporary writers such as the British John Buchan (1875-1940) and Dornford Yates( 1885-1960) were prone to planting prejudices against ‘foreigners’ in their books, but none of them were as virulently hateful as Frenssen appears to have been in his “Peter Moor”.

In conclusion, I can recommend “Peter Moor” to those who take an interest in obscenities in world literature such as “Mein Kampf” and “The Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion.” This book should definitely be excluded from any reading lists for children, towards whom it was originally aimed.




And, 

now for something completely different:


Read Adam Yamey's "ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE", a new adventure story set in southern Africa's Orange Free State during the 1870s.

Available:
 as a paperback by clicking: HERE
or download it on to your Kindle from AMAZON's websites -
Amazon.com, click  HERE
Amazon.co.uk, click HERE





Saturday, 29 September 2012

KINDLE PROMOTION

 
OSTRICHES ???




How did Jakob Klein, the hero of Adam Yamey's "Rogue of Rouxville" become involved with these flightless creatures?

And, why did he, a young immigrant from Bavaria, get locked up in a jail in a small town in the old Orange Free State?

Then again, what led to this altercation ?:

"Hey Constable, what’s your bleddy hurry? Look you’ve spilt my drink all over my waistcoat.” 

“Shtand ashide for an offisher of the law,” Röttcher shouted, pushing his assailant away. 

The man he had just upset was Dirk Van Der Walt, who lived up by the River Caledon and was visiting Rouxville for the weekend.

“Don’t molest me, Officer. I asked you why the hurry. And, what do you mean by your rudeness?”

“Make way for the law, I shed.”

“The law - that’s a good one, Constable Rotgut,” Van Der Walt said, bursting into laughter.

“I can arresht you for inshulting and asshaulting me.”

“Ag, drinking on duty, is it?” 

“He’s the constable who’s friendly with that fellow Klein,” said someone standing nearby.



 "ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE" is currently being offered at a special  promotional price (US $ 1.49, UK £0.92) on Amazon's KINDLE
To reach amazon.com click HERE !
To reach amazon.co.uk click HERE !


Sunday, 23 September 2012

ON THE ROAD: ALBANIA 1984




Image source:  


Given that the highway, on which we were travelling from Lezhë was the main road between the capital, Tiranë, and one of the country’s few border crossings, there was remarkably little motorised traffic on it. There were plenty of pedestrians and cyclists, very few buses and trucks, and no saloon (or estate) cars. Every now and then we met or passed a type vehicle the likes of which I have never seen anywhere else during my travels. It was a horse-drawn lorry. Imagine a motorised truck with its engine compartment sliced off neatly below the driver’s windscreen. What remains is a flat-fronted vehicle. Two slots cut below the part of the windscreen in front of the driver’s seat allow the driver to hold the reigns of the horses that provide the truck’s motive power. We encountered many of these vehicles on the roads in the country and towns during our visit to Albania.

We reached Tiranë, where we were assigned rooms in the then almost new Tirana Hotel, which, located in the city’s centre, was one of the city’s tallest buildings, more than 12 stories high. The view from our bedroom was wonderful. We looked down on Skanderbeg Square, which, despite being in the heart of the country’s largest city, was almost devoid of motor traffic. In addition to the infrequent appearances of often overcrowded public buses, the occasional Peugeot saloon car and Volvo estate car (the hardy, brick-shaped 240 series) would zip around the square. These foreign-built cars, and the even rarer Mercedes Benz, were used for government business. None of them were privately owned. During one of our stays in the city, some of group claimed to have glimpsed Enver Hoxha passing by in a Mercedes, but if Lloyd Jones novel “Biografi” has any truth in it, they may have only seen an Enver Hoxha lookalike!

This is an excerpt from a preliminary draft of my new book provisionally called "In Enver's Albania" 


********************************

ALSO READ:


Available from www.lulu.com & Amazon - 
click HERE for purchasing details and other information

Friday, 21 September 2012

'MONSOON' IN NORTHERN ALBANIA, MAY 1984




  
We boarded our coach the next morning, and drove out of Shkodër to visit the multi-arched Turkish bridge at Mesi. Having admired that briefly, we returned to the centre of Shkodër, and followed another road that radiated from its centre until we reached a factory on its outskirts. After waiting for a heavy iron gate on rollers to be opened, we drove inside the compound containing what we were told was a copper wire factory. I was looking forward to visiting this establishment. However, before we had all disembarked, the heavens opened, and soon there were several inches of water on the poorly drained ground. We were told to get back into the bus and that our factory visit was to be aborted. It took a while to leave the compound because the sliding gate had somehow become jammed in its closed position by the rain waters.

The centre of Shkodër, through which we had to return, was flooded. People were splashing through the inundation, some with umbrellas, many without. I was not to see such a scene again for more than 10 years, when I began visiting India, sometimes during the Monsoon season.

Some years after my return from Albania, I purchased a copy of “Albania: the Foundling State of Europe” by Wadham Peacock, who was private secretary to the British Consul General in Shkodër. It was published in 1914 - one year after Albania became an independent nation. Peacock recorded that in his day Shkodër was subject to flash floods frequently. So, what we experienced in 1984 was nothing new. 

________________________________________

Don't miss:




Read ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE in paperback ( click here )

OR

On your KINDLE ( Click here )




Sunday, 16 September 2012

DISCOVER THE ROGUE ON YOUR KINDLE



The ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE is now available as an electronic 'book' on Amazon's Kindle.

US (and most other)  readers,  click HERE !

In the UK, click  HERE !

En France, clicquez ICI !

In Deutschland, LOS!

It is should ALSO be available on the Indian, Italan, and Spanish, Kindle Stores.



“I have certainly known more men destroyed by the desire to have a wife and child and keep them in comfort than I have seen destroyed by drink...”                                                                           (William Butler Yeats, Diary, 1909)


Southern Africa during the 1870s.

Jakob Klein, a liberal-minded Jew from Bavaria, has been living in the small town of Rouxville in the Orange Free State for well over a decade.

He will try anything to support his wife and family. His questionable business ethics often cause him to sail close to the wind. Now, he has sailed far too close, and his life has capsized.  His dubious dealings have lost him his home and livelihood. His young family have had to leave him to seek refuge with relatives in the Cape Colony.

Now, he is in jail, awaiting transfer to Bloemfontein, where the serious case against him is to be heard by the highest court in the land. With only his guards for company, he has plenty of time to wonder what sort of future fate holds for him and whether he will ever see his family again.

Read Jakob's story, a tale of debt and deception, in Rogue of Rouxville, Adam Yamey’s second historical novel. It is an adventure set mostly in the wilds of what was later to become the Union of South Africa.


More information on: 









Sunday, 9 September 2012



A NEW ADVENTURE STORY



It is 1877. 

Jakob Klein, a liberal-minded Jewish pioneer from Bavaria, has been living in the small town of Rouxville in the Orange Free State in southern Africa for well over a decade.

He will try anything to support his wife and young family. His questionable business ethics often cause him to sail close to the wind. This time, he has sailed far too close, and his life has capsized. His dubious dealings have lost him his home and livelihood. His young family have had to leave him to seek refuge with relatives in the Cape Colony.

Now, he is in jail, awaiting transfer to Bloemfontein where the serious case against him is to be heard by the highest court in the land. With only his guards for company, he has plenty of time to wonder what sort of future fate holds for him and whether he will ever see his family again.

Read Jakob's story in ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE. It is an exciting tale of debt and deception based loosely on the life of a real person, and set mostly in the wilds of what was later to become the Union of South Africa.

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK: 

Click


to purchase a copy

Tuesday, 4 September 2012



Rouxville?

Where on earth is that?



That's easy... it's just across the Orange River...








Did you hear about the rogue in Rouxville? 



Really? Who is he?




Jakob Klein.




What's he been up to?




He's been up to no good. They've locked him in  jail, whilst he awaits trial. 




And what's likely to happen to him?




I can't say for sure, but did you know  that he has a wife and young children, and one of  them has only just been born?




Goodness! What's will happen to them now that he's in trouble? And will become of Jakob?



 Find out everything by reading Adam Yamey's new novel... 




ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE 




... it's going to be published very soon!



Now CLICK on the following for more information: