German and Jew

/ Civilization / Terror
via IonaArc 2010

Inge and I heard about a party over on Lexington. Last through the door of our group we found it held by a petite brunette. Inge marches by her with a curt inclination of the head. The brunette, our hostess as it proved, almost melted to the floor in abject terror. As she slid downward I stepped into her foyer to quick figure out what to do. Once I was across the threshold and hovering over her, her descent toward the floor revealed an entrance-way wall full of Kathe Kollwitz graphics: etchings, lithographs.

Kathe Kollwitz

Our hostress began to recover on her own. “Your friend,” she murmured. Inge had disappeared into the inner realms. “I … I,” she continued, “am Jewish. She … she,” she said,” is so … German!” Shudder.

I took my hostess’ elbow, spoke close to her ear. “Me too,” I said. “German by ancestry anyway.” But she was already responding: “No, you’re not; she is.”

I’d never met the woman before. I don’t know if she was normally hysterical, if she was an over-reactor. Never mind, this happened: it shows one woman’s terror at the specter of something that could be associated with Nazis: in this case, a big, muscular raw-boned woman with tits that without any help from a bra and sticking straight out before her seemed massive enough (and aggressive enough) to knock over buildings, a jaw like a Tracy and the Pirates character, something from casting for Howard Hawks, but unaccountably and spectacularly female, shoulders like James Caan’s.

Actually this woman was right in at least one detail: Inge is German, at least she was then: mid-1970s. (If fact she now once again lives in Germany: may or may not winter in her Florida condo.) I was born in NYC as were my father and grandfather; but my great grandfather was born in Germany. My mother’s father too was of Germanic heritage: not too many generations here. I might remind some people of something Nazi, wrongly or rightly; Inge could remind anyone of something Nazi. Inge reminded the Germans themselves of things German: her government tried to recruit her to throw the discus for them in the Olympics. If she had, I bet she’d have broken a bunch of records: when I play tennis with her her forehand practically rips the racket out of my hand.

Anyhow: true story, but it’s really just an excuse to display this incredible Kathe Kollwitz graphic: the artist of terror, of invasion of person, of female vulnerability, of infants crushed by killers.

I never told Inge of the impression she made. But Germans know anyway: don’t we?
Like Americans.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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