The Komisar Scoop Reports & Analysis by Investigative Journalist Lucy Komisar

Friday, March 24, 2017

How German pastors collected church bells for Hitler

Filed under: Blog,Film — Lucy Komisar @ 5:05 pm

By Lucy Komisar
March 24, 2017

Protestant Pastor donating church bell to melt into Nazi munitions. From film “The Misery” directed by Peter Fleischmann.

I just saw a fascinating German film, “The Pastor’s Children,” in which I learned to some astonishment that during World War II, Protestant pastors in Germany collected iron church bells for Hitler so he could make bombs from them.

After the war, 50,000 bells were left over, because there were so many, that the military production couldn’t use them all. It illustrates dramatically how supportive the Protestant (as well as the Catholic) churches were of the Nazis.

Filmmaker Angela Zumpe.

Berlin filmmaker Angela Zumpe’s documentary is about the children of Protestant pastors, but politics runs through it. The subtitle is “Punks, Politicians and Philosophers.”

Some of it is quite personal. She explains, “The fathers who had taken part in World War II tried to justify this in one or the other way,” and their children sometimes “bitterly fought against them.”

The film shows how this happened in her own family, in which the father was a pastor and very authoritarian. She says, “My brother not only quit the church, he tried to leave West Berlin to go to the former GDR. That’s the way how he could provoke my father even more.”

Gudrun Ensslin, a leader of the 1970s Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe, is shown as another pastor’s child. Her father was in the part of the church that fought Hitler, and he had some sympathy for his daughter, at least until she joined the violent radicals.

On the other side, we see German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, a pastor’s daughter who brings an almost religious fervor and rigidity to her mission.

The Pastor’s Children
DVD with English subtitles

Monday, March 20, 2017

Robert Silvers, NY Review of Books editor, just died; he printed fake news

Filed under: Blog — Lucy Komisar @ 8:22 pm

Robert Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, just died. You will read the expected hagiographies.

You won’t read how he censored comments on his neocon vision of Russia. He had run an article by Anne Applebaum replete with falsehoods about Russia. (She is a big fan of the corrupt Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.)

After I talked about it with him, and he said to send my comments, I did. He refused to print them in the magazine but agreed to post them on line! Instead, he ran a comment saying people could find my views on my website — without even a link! So what does that mean? Either my comments were valid or not. Pretty tacky of him, I thought. Even sneaky. Lacking integrity.

He was protecting Applebaum, one of the neocons promoting the new cold war with Russia. Her husband is a Polish politician and former minister of foreign affairs. Not exactly an independent voice. Here is the link to my analysis of what she wrote. (My submission to NYRB was much shorter.) And here’s what I said at the time:

By Lucy Komisar
Jan 15, 2015

Anne Applebaum wrote an article about Putin’s Russia in the Dec. 18, 2014 issue of the New York Review of Books that was filled with distortions. When I saw NYRB editor Robert Silvers at a Dissent magazine party in New York Dec. 5th, I told him my opinion. He said to send him my comments. But then he declined to print those comments and ran this editorial statement:

Lucy Komisar has written to us that she has a statement to make about the article by Anne Applebaum in our December 18, 2014 issue. This statement is available on her website, The Komisar Scoop. — The Editors.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

“Come From Away” a Canadian charmer with a subtle message to the red states

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 11:57 am

By Lucy Komisar

This play is a charmer. I didn’t expect to say that. I thought a story about the passengers who force-landed in Gander, Newfoundland, because airspace in the U.S. was closed on 9/11 and who were welcomed by the locals, would be hokey and sentimental. It is not.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets theater-goers, photo Lucy Komisar.

It is smart and though it uses a light brush, it deals with serious issues such as a Muslim passenger being humiliated in a body search.

I went on the evening that Ivanka Trump was there, guest of the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and I wondered how she took that. Canada had bought 600 seats for guests that included 125 UN ambassadors, among them American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley seated next to him and Ivanka.

The book, music and lyric by the Canadians Irene Sankoff and David Hein is in the modern style of folk opera, with the music featuring sounds of country, Celtic and a bit of pop showbiz. Direction by Christopher Ashley is smooth and pleasing. So is the ensemble cast.

The actors play numerous parts, both locals and passengers. At first, the arrivals are edgy, especially after 15 to 25 hours sitting on the tarmac. Even though they get free drinks! The dozen or so actors represent 7,000 people who were on 38 grounded planes.

It is a different kind of disaster show. The real disaster is over a thousand miles away at the World Trade Center. But people’s lives here are also disrupted. We see them on rows of wood chairs on the plane. They are distraught. When they get off, they immediately want phones and internet computers.

The cast of Come From Away, photo Matthew Murphy.

The mayor (Joel Hatch) and others get the willing citizens of Gander to greet them – to provide food and clothes and showers and even beds in their homes. That will last for five days. The chairs shift to represent the venues where they are welcomed, community centers, other places where they can sleep. There’s a night out at the pub, with a large lit Molson’s sign. And good Irish singing.

At the sides are high thin tree trunks and at the back a weathered wood wall – this after all is not an urban place. Population 10,000. Set by Beowulf Boritt.

Jenn Colella as airplane pilot, photo Matthew Murphy.

And there’s some serious stuff. The pilot (Jenn Colella) turns out to be a woman of 51 who struggled from 1986 to fulfill a childhood dream to become a pilot and became the first American airline pilot in history. When she tells that, it gets applause.

And some very contemporary dark-comic matters. They are going to have a huge barbecue and someone tells Bob, the black guy (Rodney Hicks), to go around the backyards and collect grills. What!, he wonders, “Take their grills? Someone’s gonna shoot me.” But he does it and isn’t shot.  In fact, he says, “I  get offered  a cup a tea in every single backyard –and most of them offer to help me steal their own barbecues.”

Two gay men (Chad Kimball and Caesar Samayoa) are nervous about revealing themselves, and suddenly everyone is talking about their gay and lesbian friends. When a Jewish man starts praying, another who joins him says he was born in Poland and his parents sent him to Canada before the war and told him never to tell anyone he was Jewish. But now he needed to tell someone.

And then there is the Muslim, Ali (Samayoa), who is talking in Arabic on the phone. A passenger exclaims, “Why doesn’t he speak English?” And another, “You telling your Muslim friends where to bomb next?” He is targeted by a flight attendant and gets stopped both landing and departing and subjected to a full body search which he explains is in his faith degrading. (In whose faith is it not degrading?)

Ivanka Trump in the audience, photo Lucy Komisar.

He reveals that he is the chef at an international hotel. And he pitches in to do the cooking. Unlike some of the flight passengers, the Canadians don’t display Islamophobia.

Ivanka to Donald! Ivanka to Donald! (Forget that, don’t assume morals or sensibility.)

There’s also a nice budding romance between a British man (Lee MacDougall) and a Dallas woman (Sharon Wheatley), both in their 40s. First a bit shy and diffident, they find each other in the unusual space. Life in the midst of death. Which takes us to Hannah (Q. Smith), a large middle-aged woman who is worried about her son, a New York City firefighter. She bonds with the expansive Earth Mother type, Beulah (Astrid Van Wieren).

People who might never have met and talked to each other are becoming fast friends. But as one of the gay guys says, “We’re not sure how much to say – you just don’t know where the red states are in a foreign country, right?”

Fortunately for Canada, which has terrific public health care and education systems and doesn’t share America’s hostility to immigrants, it doesn’t seem to have too many red states. Which explains why they have terrific public health, etc. And, so, with its subtle back story, this is a very appealing musical show.

Come From Away.” Book, music and lyric by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Directed by Christopher Ashley. Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street, New York City. 212-239-6200. Opened March 12, 2017. 3/17/17.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Favorite Key West Museums: Butterfly Conservancy and Customs House Art & History

Filed under: Travel — Lucy Komisar @ 12:56 pm

By Lucy Komisar

Butterfly Conservancy Building.

Though most of your Key West time will be outside, here are two museums you should visit even when it’s typically delicious outside. And certainly if it’s cool or rainy, as alas, it has been known to be.

The Butterfly Conservancy

The Butterfly Conservancy is almost hidden away in a white conch style building near the southernmost point of the island (and of the U.S.!) It’s like being inside an enclosed glass case (except it’s not), as the butterflies fly freely around you.

Butterfly Museum introduction & explanations.

But first, you pass through rooms with exhibits that explain what you are going to see. They explain the ecology of butterfly habitats, their behavior, even their use of camouflage.

Then through double doors, each of which doesn’t open unless the other is closed. That is so the butterflies don’t escape. You really are walking right into their habitat!

Butterflies love flowers.

Some of creatures alight on flowers. Some are drawn to plates of fruit – bananas and orange slices. I didn’t know that!

The insides of these butterfly wings are bright blue.

My favorites were these dark ones that opened their wings to reveal royal blue inside.

Rhett and Scarlett, the flamingos.

And then there were the flamingos, Rhett and Scarlett. They look like lawn ornaments, and then they move!

The gift shop features a good collection of butterfly art works and designs.

The Customs House Art and History Museum

Iconic sailor and nurse in front of Customs House Art & History Museum.

The main museum in Key West is in a charming historic building that displays artifacts and art reflecting the history of the Florida Keys.

You can’t miss the red brick edifice for the iconic giant sailor and nurse kissing. It was changed from the previous dancing couple in honor of a new exhibit about the history of the Navy in Key West.

Painting by Mario Sánchez.

But there was no change in my favorite permanent display of folk art by Mario Sánchez.

Hemingway in Key West.

There was an exhibit devoted to Ernest Hemingway, the island’s favorite writer, who lived and wrote here in the thirties. There is always something about Hemingway here. (You can also visit his house not far away.)

The railroad demanded “strong workers” to build the line.

And to remind you who made this town possible, there’s an old poster calling for “strong workers” to build the railroad that opened up the Keys to the rest of the country, at least to those who didn’t have boats.

If you go

The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
1316 Duval Street, Key West

The other Rhett and Scarlett.

(305) 296-2988

The Customs House Art and History Museum
281 Front Street, Key West
(305) 295-6616

Photos by Lucy Komisar

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