Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s Sunday, January 27, 2019 and that means it’s National Chocolate Cake Day. It’s also International Holocaust Remembrance Day, honoring the day in 1945 when the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. If you’re ever in Kraków, Poland, do go visit it, as I did a few years ago. I can’t say it’s a pleasant excursion (see my short post on it here), but the visit will remain in your mind the rest of your life.

A tweet to help us remember:

You can read about the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau here, and here’s a video with interviews of historians and some survivors of the camps:

And a reader sent me a story just a few minutes ago:

Decades ago, when I worked in the anesthesia department of a hospital for special surgery (ophthalmology), one of my patients noted that, as I examined his arms looking for a suitable I.V. site & found his tattoo, a tear well up in my eye; he looked into my eyes, took my hand in his & comforted me!  Such was this survivor who was finally getting his cataracts out.  He did not want pity, but understanding.
On this day in 1302, Dante Alighieri was exiled from Florence for belonging to the wrong faction of a fight between supporters of the Pope and of the Holy Roman Emperor. On January 27, the trial of Guy Fawkes and the other conspirators of the “Gunpowder Plot” began; they were all executed four days later.  On this day in 1820, according to Wikipedia, ” a Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev discovers the Antarctic continent, approaching the Antarctic coast.” On January 27, 1944, the Siege of Leningrad by the Germans, which had lasted 900 days, was lifted. 

Exactly one year later, the Soviet 322nd Rifle Division liberated the inmates of Auschwitz-Birkenau who had not been marched away. On this day in 1967, three Apollo astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in a fire while their spacecraft was being tested at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Finally, it was on this day in 1996 that Germany first observed the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Notables born on this day include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756), Lewis Carroll (1832), Samuel Gompers (1850), Jerome Kern (1885), Elmore James (1918), Donna Reed (1921), Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948), Mimi Rogers (1956), and Rosamund Pike (1979). Here’s Elmore James, king of the slide guitar, playing “Dust My Broom”:

Those who died on January 27 include Francis Drake (1596), John James Audubon (1851), Giuseppe Verdi (1901), Nellie Bly (1922), Crew of Apollo 1 (1967; see above), Mahalia Jackson (1972), André the Giant (1993), Jack Paar (2004), John Updike (2009), J. D. Salinger (2010), and Pete Seeger (2014). And here’s Audubon’s raven (Corvus corvax) from the Birds of America folio (1840):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a new toy that dispenses cat treats when it’s batted about, but I suspects it annoys her, as she can’t figure out how it works! As Malgorzata wrote me, “This is not a new toy. We had it for about a year and Hili never understood that there are goodies inside and that she could get at them. This cat is not as intelligent as we thought. After a biscuit fell out and she ate it, she looked to Andrzej to produce another one. Last Friday we had a visit from Elzbieta and we gave her the ball to take home. Leon got the trick at once and is now happily pushing the ball and eating biscuits.”

When I wrote back that Leon was smarter than Hili, Malgorzata replied, “Yes, it is definitely so. But we love her anyhow.”

A: Inside this ball are scrumptious cat biscuits. You just have to bat it.
Hili: You do it!
In Polish:
Ja: W tej piłeczce są pyszne chrupki, wystarczy ją popchnać.
Hili: Zrób to.

Leon is still hiking in the mountains of southern Poland. Here he plans a trip:

Leon: I would love to travel where chamois are.

In Polish: Tu chciałbym pojechać,gdzie są kozice.

A tweet from reader Barry, who wonders why the pigeon doesn’t fly away:

Tweets from Grania. The first is a response by Maajid Nawaz to the “progressive” new Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who isn’t that progressive. The incident he refers to is described here. An excerpt:

Omar, who has been under fire for not backing down from anti-Israel rhetoric, and who accused the Covington Catholic H.S. teens on Twitter of “taunting 5 Black men before they surrounded Phillips and led racist chants” (she has since deleted the false accusation), and then accused President Trump of backing a “coup in Venezuela” and installing “a far right opposition” opposed to Socialist Dictator Maduro is now getting heat for a letter that she wrote to a judge in 2016 defending a Minnesota man caught trying to join the terrorist organization ISIS.

Go look at the thread below to see what Germans think Americans eat. It’s funny! Hint to die Deutschen: Wir essen keine Lebensmittel “mini”!

Blissed out cat!

Like most of us, Shappi Khorsandi is a fan of the unsinkable Titania McGrath. (In the UK, “BAME” refers to black, Asian, and minority ethnic people.) Unlike many, Shappi knows that Titania is a spoof of wokeness.

Tweets from Heather Hastie (via Ann German). This dog is being taught to be nice to birds:

Lunch to the right of me; lunch to the left of me. . .

Tweets from Matthew. Laurel and Hardy can’t possibly influence the brainwashed, can they?

A wonderful landing, but not much room for error! This reminds me of flying into the Lukla, Nepal airport in a Twin Otter. Turn the sound on for this one:

Matthew says “zoom in to see”.

Finally, one of the many pictures I took at Auschwitz in 2013. I always intended to do a full post on my visit there, but somehow couldn’t bear to do it. This shows the suitcases of Jews who, told that they would retrieve their belongings after their shower, were then gassed. The Germans kept the suitcases, as they did all the other “saved” possessions. This photo breaks my heart, as the suitcases bear the names and addresses of real people. On display at Auschwitz are also rooms full of toothbrushes, shaving apparatus, prosthetic limbs, and, saddest of all, the dolls of children who were killed.



  1. Mike
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    I think that the Holocaust should be part of the curriculum in all Schools, it could so easily happen again.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Everyone should read “Denying the Holocaust” by Deborah Lipstadt.

    • Christopher
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      The BBC reported a poll that 1 in 20 brits are deniers and 1 in 12 think the holocaust was exaggerated. I am willing to bet things are worse here in the Fake News US of A.

      What the hell is going on in the world today?!

      • rickflick
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Sad, but 1 in 20 is not too bad when you consider half of Brits(or anyone else) are below average in intellectual capacity and discernment. You could make a case for discounting the 1 in 20 except they can vote.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Thanks for all that history today. It is impossible to go forward if you do not know the past. I’m sure someone else said that.

  3. Jim batterson
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Jerry, Thank you for these very important holocaust remembrance posts. When you and i were in elementary school the discovery and liberation of the camps was just a decade or less in the past and thus immediate and very real for our parents and virtually all our uncles aunts and neighbors. Thank you particularly for the five minute sir ben kingsley video from your earlier crakow poland post. That is a particularly important piece for all of us in the West at this time.

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Re. “AMERICAN” brand food in Germany [expand the Twitter thread in the OP to see what was on offer]. Here’s an example:

    It was a brainwave of Aldi Süd* in Germany who had an “AMERICAN WEEK” in the summer around 2013 [just in Germany] with ‘new’ lines all with the “AMERICAN” brand packaging – must have cost fortunes which their suppliers would have paid – Aldi being the most ruthless retailer in the world IMO.

    It’s quite amusing to see how the suppliers have cut production costs by taking an existing line & modifying it appropriately. I spotted obviously Christmas mince pies with the filling switched to Blueberry & “AMERICAN” slapped onto the box of six.

    How about this then? it’s mustard AND ketchup in a single tube OR ketchup AND mayo in a single tube:

    * There’s also an Aldi Nord – mostly a separate company, yes weird

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      I’m dreaming of a BBQ marshmallow sandwich using American tortillas and slathered with with BBQ Ketchup Sandwich Sauce. Clicking on the photo in the “Laserwalker” tweet in the thread leads to more unpalatable “American style” concoctions, these by Dr. Oerter brand. I find a Cheese ‘n’ Nachos Pizzaburger, a Hot Dog Pizzaburger, Chocolate Pizza, though that’s a ‘thing’ these days. Ain’t cultural appropriation wonderful?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Dr. Oetker have a pizza with a beetroot base! There are some revolting pizza combos out there for sale.

        • rickflick
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

          I had a CS prof who liked pizza made with peas and carrots out of a can.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 28, 2019 at 5:45 am | Permalink


    • tubby
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      It’s kind of funny to see the branding, and a bit awkward to see tortillas called American. I’ve never seen condiments sold like that. Am I in the wrong America?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        I’ve never had anything from the Aldi “AMERICAN WEEK” “AMERICAN” range, but I see the products are available on the Aldi Sud site so I’m guessing they run an “AMERICAN WEEK” a few times a year. Genuine American food would not be allowed on the shelves in Germany or the EU generally [& vice versa] without changes to the packaging & recipe – because GMO, some banned E-numbers, ingredients labelling & use of sugars.

        I bet the German versions of American food is less sweet & the portions are way smaller. The peculiar condiment tubes are [at a guess] repurposed German packing for something else – maybe tomato concentrate or the like.

    • Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Montreal used to have an American restaurant. Canada has a few food differences than various American regionalisms, but …

  5. Peter
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    The pigeon is courting the kitten, and has sex so much on its feathery mind that is is trying intercourse.

  6. Andy Lowry
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I just finished watching the BBC series on Auschwitz. (It’s on Netflix if anyone’s interested.) Sometimes I just had to turn it off and go do something else, because my brain went into refuse-to-absorb-this mode and depression was creeping up on me.

    The fact that a large group of people put a lot of effort into figuring out how to kill the maximum number of people in the shortest time, and dispose of the bodies efficiently, is really hard to think about. The way the survivors were treated after being freed doesn’t help much with my wish to think of humans in a positive light, either.

    • Marta
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      The Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles is the site of my first (and only) public meltdown. I exited one of the halls into a corridor and just leaned against the wall, crying like a baby. There was nothing I could do in the moment to control it.

  7. E.A. Blair
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    My paternal uncle was a chaplain (Catholic) with the US Army during WWII, and his unit was a participant in the liberation of Dachau. He had photos that he had taken himself which he never showed to anyone, nor did he ever talk about it. The photos turned up after he died in 1991, but were destroyed in accordance with his own refusal to show them, so I think that it was only he and the rest of the family who saw them. I have no idea whether any copies were given to the army.

    • Stephen Mynett
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      I visited Dachau some years ago and there was a section in a museum that showed some of the graffiti found there. This one stood out to me and it still gives a chill when I think of it, the English translation is:
      “There we were, our column a mile long, marching through the picture-book countryside of Bavaria. The last Jews of Europe.”

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      I visited Dachau when I was a German exchange student. I was only 16 and will never forget it. One memory that stings the most was the wailing of a woman in the area where they show the horrific experiments the Nazis performed. I’ve never heard such sorrow and I couldn’t bear it. On the verge of screaming myself I decided I had to get out of there; I was almost running when I reached the exit.

      Years later in my late 30’s, my wife and I visited Munich. She really wanted to see Dachau, but I wouldn’t go. I just couldn’t see it again. I’m glad I did see it that once, but once was enough. Sometimes I feel bad that I refused to go and my wife couldn’t witness first-hand the horror of horrors. At the same time, I’m glad she doesn’t carry the memories of the ineffable suffering that I do.

  8. Christopher
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Visiting the small holocaust museum in Dallas, Tx was hard enough. I’m not sure I could handle visiting one of the concentration camps in person.

    When my stepfather’s father died, maybe 10 years ago, we found a box containing things from his time in the military during WWII. There were postcards, for lack of a better word, photographs, of some of the scenes in the German camps. I don’t know what he saw. He never talked about it . I also recall a wonderful elderly couple who lived in KC when I first moved there in ‘95. The gentleman I recall the best as always wearing a long grey coat, simply but nicely dressed, and carrying a brown grocery bag into which he put his receipts for everything he purchased. So kind, gentle, polite, reserved. He was the first survivor I’d ever met.

  9. rickflick
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Reading of Audubon at Wikepedia, I was amazed to learn what a genius he was. Not just for his amazing art, but for his determination and skill at promoting his historic Birds of America. Sadly, “All but 80 of the original copper plates were melted down when Lucy Audubon, desperate for money, sold them for scrap…”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Wouldn’t happen today. We have Ebay…

      That is one big benefit of the Internet.


  10. David Coxill
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    The most moving scene of the film Schindler’s list is where they are emptying out the suitcases ,and adding to the piles of photographs of the people on their way to the camps .

  11. W.Benson
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The young (22 y.o.) man for whom Ilhan Omar wrote the letter pleading lenience was convicted, along with 8 others, for trying to emigrate to Syria to join ISIS. Most received prison sentences of 10-20 years. Omar requested a reduction of in the sentence of one of the three men, one who was condemned to serve 30 years, seemingly because (and this is just a guess) he pleaded innocent, causing his case to go to trial. I see nothing awry in Ms. Omar’s petition for a reduction in the sentence.

    • rustybrown
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Your guess is wrong if you’re talking about Abdirahman Yasin Daud. He did not plead innocence but rather said: “I was not going there to pass out medical kits or food. I was going strictly to fight and kill on behalf of the Islamic State”. Also, it appears Omar was advocating for lenience for all nine would be ISIS thugs.

      Maajid Nawaz is spot on and Omar seems to be a nasty a piece of work. I wonder if Minnesotans are regretting their choice now that her true colors are coming out.

      • Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        I doubt it. They voted for a hijabi. If they expected anything else, they were fooling themselves.

        • rustybrown
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          Sadly, I think you’re right. A part of Omar’s letter also reads:

          “A long-term prison sentence for one who chose violence to combat direct marginalization is a statement that our justice system misunderstands the guilty. A restorative approach to justice assesses the lure of criminality and addresses it.”

          These lad’s desire to go oversees to murder and terrorize is merely their way of combating direct marginalization, you see? Our justice system just doesn’t understand that.

          I wonder what kind of direct marginalization she’s referring to. Being elected to Congress perhaps?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Agree with you, W Benson. Much as I detest ISIS, those seem remarkably harsh sentences for crimes they hadn’t actually committed yet.

      And I do detest digging into people’s pasts for anything that could be used to throw dirt at them.


      • W.Benson
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Would the sentences have been as harsh were they blue-eyed blond boys? I think not.

        • rustybrown
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          Blue-eyed blond boys are convicted and sentenced to harsh penalties everyday, so I’m not sure about what you’re speculating here.

      • Taz
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        You may disagree with the harshness of the sentences, or perhaps whether trying to join ISIS should even be a crime (I think it should), but it is not correct to say they were sentenced for crimes they hadn’t committed yet.

  12. Roo
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Leon might just have better vision than Hili, as cats can be almost blind to objects directly in front of them. I think there exact level of near and farsightedness varies a far bit between individual cats. If she smells the treat that suddenly appears in front of her but can’t see where it came from she won’t understand the trick – I wonder if she would respond if someone rolled the treat ball from a few feet away while she was watching.

  13. Posted January 27, 2019 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    The picture of the suitcases is heart-breaking. That this monstrous inhumanity could have been done in an advanced country that gave us Goethe, Beethoven, Planck and others makes me fear for the future. Advancement does not always protect against atrocity.

  14. Stuartg
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago my son visited Auschwitz, taking time to do so during his first visit to Europe. Despite him being of the digital age, not a mention on social media, no photos taken. Why not?

    To paraphrase his answer, “it’s something that must not be forgotten, but the only way to remember it that means anything is to be there in person.”

    I’m proud of the accomplishments of my sons, but that was one of my most moving and memorable moments.

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Having visited Dachau, your son speaks the absolute truth.

  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Talking of landings on short runways, there are three airports in the West Indies within a few miles of each other that stand out.

    There’s the famous one, Sint Maarten, noted for the big jets landing over the heads of beachgoers and blowing them into the water on takeoff.

    Then there’s Saba, whose runway is officially closed without special permission because it’s so short:

    And St Barts, with possibly the steepest downhill approach anywhere (nobody ever lands downhill at Lukla or Courchevel):


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