/ 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.
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?