Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mytilini Correspondence

Churchill Fellow

Costas Seretis
Restaurant Reef
Greece      PC  81 109.
00 30 22530 41488
Mobile: 00 30 697 9726323

Dear Costas

Thought in my bath this morning of the numerous people I have been telling about my two-centre luxury holiday in Mytilini in September! About my studio home near the harbour town, in Aklidiou, in Aklidi Studios, and my weekend home with you in Petra, that lovely resort, and right on the beach, with sun beds and sun shades, and where your mother keeps the sheets on the bed for me for the following weekend in the rooms-to-let above the restaurant! And where I have four different routes to travel between my ‘homes’ on my quadbike!!! Along the sea. Over the mountains. Through the fields. And where I get the best Greek food for lunch and dinner, and an English cooked breakfast! No wonder, I cooked very little this year in my studio! I compared the ease and calm of my holidays in Mytilini, with my strenuous, and detailed, planning at this moment, emails and texts flying, phones ringing, of my Christmas stay in Berlin, where I am in contact with about 30 lots of people, for meetings, concerts, theatre, opera, exhibitions, and for Berlin cuisine dinners, and where I am going to be interviewed on film! I am looking forward, now, to next summer in Mytilini, to recuperate from the strain of my London and Berlin city lives!!!

Cheers, Costas!

Love to your lovely mother, to your great father, and to beautiful Marietta!



Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Beauty versus Function  

I think two architectural principles are at loggerheads over the concert hall in the Les Arts Gstaad arts centre: and they are Beauty and Function. There is no doubt that the building  will be stunningly beautiful, inside and out. And the sound in the concert hall will no doubt be superb. So much for Beauty. By contrast, Function will be seriously impaired. There is going to be NO ORCHESTRA PIT for on-stage performances of ballet and opera concertante; there’s going to be NO CHORUS SEATING, needed for major  choral works in the classical repertoire; there’s going to be NO ORGAN, a Must in an international performance arts venue; there are going to be NO WINDOWS (!) for the artists’ dressing rooms, for the Green Room, or for the orchestral players’ and chorus rooms; and there are going to be NO RESTAURANTS for the concert public, for the performers, for the technicians, for the visitors to the exhibition rooms, or for the travellers using the coach station situated below the arts centre. Beauty wins hands down, but, alas, Function loses out.

When I went to Athens for the first time, in 1958, on the way to Lesbos, I was invited to a tour of the Parthenon, perhaps the most important architectural experience in my life. Then there I learnt, that great architecture combines beauty and function, that great architecture is sculpture, that serves purpose in every single one of its details.

8 November 2011


Wednesday, 2 November 2011


 I am not one that can get very enthusiastic about revenge or punishment. I think their shame is already ample punishment. That suffices. Now let them go on playing, and  serve us with their high talent, not waste it (I say 'us', but really leave myself entirely out of it, as cricket bores me to distraction - that thin outdoor clapping...) Let them be unpaid, let them serve on expenses only. And let them appear before their public in their shame, and let us, their public, practise that vital ingredient in human life, that is in such sadly short supply, forgiveness.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011




The British Government has just ordered the refurbishment of the army’s ‘Warrior’ tanks at a cost of one billion pounds sterling. That is £1,000,000,000 or £10 to the power of 9. The British Government has also just ordered 12 military helicopters, machines of unbelievable sophistication, and of exorbitant cost. These are the tools of this small island country’s world-wide military and political interference and aggression. It should not be playing this terrible, and costly, imperial role; costly in cash and costly in life; cash that should be used for its people, life that should be saved. Please add this subject to your protest.

And I thank you for what you are doing.

Peter Zander

London Soho.

1 November 2011

Monday, 31 October 2011


I am quite bewildered at what is happening at London’s great St Paul’s Cathedral. It seems to lack all logic. There seems to be effect without cause. How can the church’s bosses close God’s house – if he exists – because of a peaceful encampment outside its portals? Lavatories provided. No weapons apparent. The campers make tea. No threat visible. But down comes the portcullis. Up goes the bridge over the moat. The castle is made impregnable. Panic. It just looks like pure cowardice. Or are the church authorities making some sort of political statement?

Act two. The church’s bosses, together with the City of London, its financial hub, go to law to evict the campers. And with that threat hovering over the campers, the clergy come out in their pretty red and white gowns and try to persuade the campers to up sticks and go home. It’s the Theatre of the Absurd. The ineptitude of the people in charge of our affairs in this country seems to be endemic. And they don’t appear to be particularly nice people. I certainly wouldn’t have them to tea. 

I wonder how Jesus would have acted in this situation...

Sunday, 30 October 2011

UK 1066 (and all that!) - 2012 (and all this!)


Christina came for tea. We spoke of the conditions in this country. The rich. The poor. The wars. The national bankruptcy. She told me that a teacher friend of hers suddenly found that his local authority was stopping all teachers' holiday pay, so that he would get paid for only 10 months of the year, and no longer for the whole year of 12 months. So his pay was being cut by 1/6th. She spoke of the preparations for the new scholastic year that teachers had to make during the holidays. I spoke of a teacher's need for a holiday, after a year’s psychically demanding and responsible work. Additionally, I thought that, as the local authority wanted a teacher to be available again for the following scholastic year, he should, contractually, legally, be getting a retainer fee, i e his paid holiday!

Then Christina asked me what I thought the future held for this country. I said I had no idea; I had no picture at all in my mind of the future. But of the present, and of the past, I said I deeply resented the governments – note my plural! – for always pursuing polices of favouring the rich versus the poor; of favouring the owners versus the rent payers; for pursuing policies that involved hugely expensive wars all over the world, instead of minding the country's own business; and I deeply resented the government for now acting with the grossest indelicacy, and most indecent haste, in instituting violent cuts indiscriminately, so that the cure for the entirely man-made economic problem turns out to be far worse than the disease itself. That augurs ill for the future fo this country, so I suppose that means that I DO have a picture in my mind of what the future holds for this country, and that picture is that, without a drastic change of policy, things will certainly go from bad to worse. And that drastic change of policy can come about only if the people of this country stopped being so bloody tolerant, if they stopped tolerating the evil and the folly perpetrated by the politicians, and by the bankers, and by those in power generally. Dont blame only the rioters. Blame those who create the conditions that cause us to HAVE rioters, that cause us to BE rioters... Please dub this my blog, admittedly concocted alone, and in the warm comfort of my home, politically riotous!!!

I did a Brecht play in ’68, the Exception and the Rule. Its theme was that we can change things, that they don’t need to automatically go on in the same old deadly way, that they dont need to go from bad to worse, that they can be steered into altogether happier waters. But that would require action. By us all. But the momentum that keeps things in this country going in the same relentless direction arises from the fact that there hasnt been any significant changes of power since 1066. My friends: It’s nearly 2012!!!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I learn that the British Government has just ordered the refurbishment of the army’s ‘Warrior’ tanks, and that at a cost of one billion pounds sterling. That is £1,000,000,000 or £10 to the power of 9. In its statement, the government further had the nerve to make this enormous expenditure, this incredible extravagance, sound as if they were saving the country – they always call it “the taxpayer” - a huge amount of money, by their refurbishing the old tanks, rather than to replace them with new. I formally object. I want that money to be spent, not on war and on the now so disastrously fashionable national aggression, but on the nation’s welfare; on the nation’s health; on the nation’s education; on the nation’s young; on the nation’s old; on the nation’s poor; on the nation’s disabled in mind or body, on infrastructure, on transport, water, power... OH, Hear me! Hear me! Hear me!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011




In my concern to ensure that the concert hall of the beautiful Les Arts Gstaad project will have an orchestra pit for on-stage performances, for dance, for opera, for theatre, I decided to fly to Gstaad after my summer stay in Berlin. The original instructions for the architectural competition had stipulated that there should be ballet on the stage, but that there should not be an orchestra pit; that the sightlines would have to arrange themselves! That would of course mean that one would see the feet of the dancers through the conductor’s waving wand, and past the heads of the orchestral players, and through their instruments, the harps and the double bases...

When Markus Kappeler showed me these instructions during my stay with him and Marlis in the summer of 2009, I immediately remonstrated with him about the inconsistency of planning musical performances  on the stage of the concert  hall, without providing an orchestra pit, an obviously necessary professional-standard facility. He countered that an orchestra pit would be too expensive! “Too expensive?” When they were planning to build, not a local village hall, but a world class, multi-million Swiss Francs, arts complex, to serve a large area, that would include an art gallery, a safe art depository, and the concert hall - the only one of its kind and scale in the neighbourhood - with a bus station and car parking underneath it all???

In preparation for my journey I contacted various persons concerned in the project, including the architect, Rudy Ricciotti, who said that he would not be in Gstaad, but that I would be welcome to come and see him in Bandol. So I flew to Nice, where Michel Callyannis had kindly arranged for me to stay at the same hotel as two years ago, the Floride, on the 22 bus route into town, up the hill, a bit inland, with a wonderful sunny view over the town and hills from my balcony, the coloured lights at night. And Boris Slioussarenko collected me from the airport. And the next day he drove me to Bandol.

Rudy Ricciotti talked to us about the superb acoustics that the concert hall would have, and expressed his concern, that there was not enough money to continue the architectural work, and that there was not enough money to build the building. And why didn’t one of the wealthy residents of Gstaad simply pay for the lot, and lend his name to the building. I concur with that sentiment. I was relieved that building work had not yet started: I had had no access to information about the progress of the project until I came to Bandol...

We then had a conference with Rudy’s enthusiastic project manager, Rasko Rob, at which I would like to have   been shown more detailed plans – on the internet sketches the stage appears rather high for an orchestral podium -  but I could see from the plans which I was shown that the hall had no orchestra pit. I pointed this out to Rasko, and he said that there was space underneath it for one to be installed, as there was car parking below the hall at that point which did not require the total height of the ceiling. When I asked him why there was no orchestra pit, he replied that none had been specified by Les Arts Gstaad. So I realised that this crucial facility – crucial, as it is intended to present ballet etc ON THE STAGE! - which I had been pleading for in speech, emails and letters and on my blog for two years now, was still not going to be provided, to my view a disastrous compromise. A house without a water closet. I mentioned that London’s Royal Festival Hall had been built in 1951 simply as a concert hall, with a podium for the orchestra. But it was found necessary to present a long season of ballet in the hall each summer, as musical customers were attending the BBC promenade concerts in the huge Albert Hall. So a make-shift stage for the dancers had to be erected in the Royal Festival Hall each year. With its recent renovation, the hall received a completely new, flexible, stage and orchestra pit, and the chorus seats can now be moved away hydraulically, so as to provide a clear performance area. Rasko stated that no chorus seats were arranged for. This is a double lack, as they can accommodate members of the audience when not needed for a chorus, the audience thus surrounding the orchestra as in a private salon, giving a more intimate ambiance, and providing cheap seats behind the orchestra. Memories of early concert-going to the Proms in the Queen’s Hall...

With my now up to date if, alas, incomplete, information of the concert hall, I flew along the Mediterranean, over the white-tipped Alps, and along the huge Lake Geneva; took the train along the lake to Montreux, and then the little mountain railway up to Gstaad. I wheeled my zipper the few meters to the luxurious small chalet Hotel Christiania, with its welcoming host, in the main street.

I had an appointment for coffee the next day with Frank Mueller-Brand, the editor of the Anzeiger von Saanen, and I fetched him from the office, and we sat in the sun in a cafe, and I put my case. It was a delightful meeting, the outcome of which was for him to say that I needed a ‘Gespraechspartner’ to voice my continuing concerns, somebody with authority within the organisation of Les Arts Gstaad to speak to. He suggested Hans-Ueli Tschanz, Kultur Engagement, who rang me the next day, to say that he was not the right man, but that I must meet Kurt Aellen in Bern, the architect member of the Board of Les Arts Gstaad.

But first I had to keep my appointment in Zuerich with Dr Peter Hagmann, feuilleton-editor of the Neue Zuercher Zeitung. I was out of breath by the time I had given him a resume of my case for an orchestra pit. Then there was a silence. And I thought he was thinking me a fusspot over such a detail as an orchestra pit. But he went much further than me. He quoted other new concert halls in Switzerland, all of which were extremely flexible, and one of which had innumerable squares of floor, that could all be lowered and raised individually, in any configuration so that, for example, the audience could sit in the centre, with the action going on around them. He proposed to pass on my information to his colleague dealing with architecture. I have emailed Peter Hagmann with detailed supportive notes for his colleague: About the missing orchestra pit; about the missing choir stalls; and about the apparently also missing organ; none was mentioned in my talk with the architects.    
Concerning the missing windows in the building, I pleaded for daylight in all dressing rooms – with those wondrous views of the valley, the snow-capped mountains - in the green room, and in the canteen, and in the rooms for the technicians, for the orchestra and for the chorus.

Concerning the other missing feature, the restaurant, I learnt that it had been deleted from the original plans in deference to the interests of the nearby hotel restaurants and cafes!  A completely wrong decision, to my mind, about which I raised the following six points:

1)      That it would be more proper for Les Arts Gstaad to represent the interests of Les Arts Gstaad, and of its public, its artists, and its technicians, rather than representing the interests of nearby hotel restaurants and cafes;

2)      that these nearby hotel restaurants and cafes have the opportunity of applying for a licence to run the restaurant;

3)      that a restaurant would support the project financially;

4)      that, together with the originally planned terrace, the restaurant would encourage the public to visit Les Arts Gstaad;

5)      that a restaurant was all the more necessary, as the building had activities for the public all day, as well as in the evenings;

6)      and that eating and drinking served a hugely important social function.
The next day I took the same series of trains to Bern, to meet Kurt Aellen, the architect, le maitre d’ouvrage, as Rudy called him. A fantastic meeting. Thrilling. Because it turned out that he thought that the solution of the Royal Festival Hall could solve the problem of the Gstaad hall: Raise the stage one meter. Extend the front of the stage one meter. Remove 5 rows of seats. And, hey presto! you have an orchestra pit, without having to build one. Both a technical, and a financial, solution! Irony has it that I had circulated the full details of the Royal Festival Hall scheme, together with those of Eddy Smith, the Technical Director of the South Bank – the man they should consult! -  of the company that designed and installed the new stage, and of the architects overseeing the renovation of the hall to Rudy, to Markus, and to a number of other persons concerned in Les Arts Gstaad, in November 2009, twenty one months ago!

After our meeting Kurt Aellen insisted on driving me to see the wondrous Renzo Piano. Paul Klee. art gallery on the outskirts of Bern, where I had a quick look inside this amazing huge steel and glass ‘conservatory’, built in three curved waves...

I rushed back from Bern to Gstaad for a delayed meeting with Leonz Blunschi, the chairman of the Yehudi Menuhin Festival. I asked him what he expected, hoped for, needed, from the concert hall, pointing out that the Festival was the first known potential customer of the new facilities. But Herr Blunschi refused to answer. The beginning of our conversation was also its end. He said that he was not concerned with technical questions, and stated that, if everybody talked to everybody about the scheme, there would be utter chaos. People should talk only to Markus Kappeler. I was nonplussed. First of all Markus Kappeler was no longer on speaking terms with me, so that that avenue was closed to me. Then I wasn’t “everybody”. I had a very particular involvement in the project; and where did freedom of speech come in? After sleeping on this extraordinary interview I emailed Herr Blunschi, and suggested to him that he appeared to have erected a fascist image of the structure of Les Arts Gstaad, and to have attributed to Markus the role of dictator, a notion less than palatable to me, with my personal experience of Germany 1933! In his reply Herr Blunschi countered my definition by describing what they had set up in Les Arts Gstaad as a “klare Organisations- und Entscheid-Kultur”, literally a clear organizational and decision culture”. I accepted Herr Blunschi’s definition, but said that I still found that conversation, that discussion, with whomever, and between whomever, about  what was, after all, a public project, and not some private person’s venture or company, should not only be permitted, but should be actively encouraged.                                                                                                                                                        

And, further, that I was in the unique position of having been the actual person to propose to Markus to take on this project which became Les Arts Gstaad, and that I should therefore be all the more permitted to participate in the discussion. I had been introduced to the subject some 25 years ago by my architect friends in Berlin. It was the student project of Wieka Muthesius, of a concert hall inside a mountain in Gstaad, which was set by her professor, later her husband, Alfred Grazioli. That extraordinary image has been with me for a quarter of a   century.

While I was in Gstaad I should very much like to have been given the opportunity of meeting the Artistic Director of the Menuhin Festival, Christoph Mueller, particularly as I, too, have directed a number of British arts festivals, and have been involved in concert promotion, and theatre and opera production and direction. I would like to have been able to talk to him about these professional practicalities, that appear to have been neglected in this visually exquisite building.


My summer visit to Berlin was earlier this year – I caught the full season of asparagus! – because I was invited to come to Berlin to be interviewed on 23 May for a television documentary film by Radio Berlin Brandenburg, rbb-Fernsehdokumentation "Geheimnisvolle Orte: Wannsee”, “Mysterious/sinister places: Wannsee”. Nazi crimes were perpetrated in this lovely suburb set round the lake and by the river Havel. It had been largely started by the enterprise and money of wealthy Jewish residents who were all replaced by Nazi bigwigs and other ‘Aryans’ after 1933, till when I had spent my glorious childhood weekends at my father’s swish sailing club, the Verein Seglerhaus am Wannsee. And just down the road from the club was the notorious house of the Wannsee Konferenz, where the Nazis had decided on the ‘final solution’ of the Jews.

The director of the programme, Karin Reiss, had picked up on my blog the story of my father’s friend and co-owner of our sailing yacht, Adolf Hain – picnics on board with the two families – who turned rabid Nazi boss of the club, and was responsible for kicking out the Jewish members post haste, a story I discovered 70 years later... I was interviewed on the terrace of the club where, total irony, I now have my birthday parties and, in the dining room, we celebrate our annual crisp Christmas goose!

In Berlin one feels all the time that the past is running parallel to one’s daily experiences…

We Berliners dispersed throughout the world get a journal issued by the Berlin Buergermeister twice a year, and they published a letter of mine, in which I described my recent discovery that I dont speak high German,   that I speak berlinerish! I don’t eat ‘Kaese’ – I eat Kese! This pleased me enormously: Ich bin ein Berlienr… Twelve Berliners from all over the world wrote to, phoned or emailed me, touched by this reference to their past, their childhood, their family, their identity. One of these, Hanni Levi, who lives in Paris, was also coming to Berlin, for the laying of some ‘Stolpersteine’, literally ‘tripping stones’, those 4 inch square brass memorial plaques set on cubes of concrete and let into the pavement in front of the houses where Jewish residents had lived before they were murdered by the Nazis.

I collected Hanni and her friend Huguette from their pension nearby – we three had met over dinner the night before -  and we went to the block of flats in the Nollendorfstrasse for the laying of these stones, eleven of them. Now, in this house, Hanni had been secretly accommodated from 1942 till the end of the war by a non-Jewish German family, a hugely brave action. Hanni had peroxided her hair, and had played the role of a normal, ‘Aryan’ German girl. She had had to act completely naturally, with Berlin chutzpah, not be cowed, otherwise people might have become suspicious. And in that way she sometimes actually forgot, that she was leading a secret life!

Some of the descendents of the family that had saved her life were present at the laying of the Stolpersteine, as well as the residents in the flats, all of whom had worked together 2

to unearth the past of the building they were living in, had known about the eleven victims in the house, and had known about Hanni, had been astounded when Hanni had one day turned up with her grandson, whom she had wanted to show where she had lived in hiding. There had been unanimous agreement in the house that                                                                                                                                                
they would erect a wall plaque in the entrance of the block of flats to honour the family that had  risked their lives to save Hanni, and they had arranged a celebration in their honour, to which Hanni had been invited. That was the background to the celebration I attended. When the eleven Stolpersteine had been cemented into the pavement a Jewish man and his son donned their little caps, and the elder read a prayer, which reminded me that of course these historic victims had never had a funeral, had never been buried. I wasnt the only one who was moved. A woman came towards me, and diffidently asked me whether I perhaps had also lost relatives, for whom I might like to set Stolpersteine in front of their last homes. I thanked her for her concern, and said that I could not but  agree to consider her suggestion, although I had never thought before of setting one for Anita’s sister, my Tante Erna, for my father’s sister Hilde, and for my grandfather’s sister Lilly Kirstein, but would welcome her help in checking their last addresses. She found Tante Erna’s, but the information about the other two is as yet not quite convincing, and needs more research. The organisation that deals with this remarkable artistic invention of the Stolpersteine also does research for them. I shall arrange for one certainly for Tante Erna.

So this time Berlin was particularly dramatic, on top of the pleasure of music, theatre, opera, exhibition, favourite restaurants, enjoying the spaciousness and architectural variety and the lovely surroundings of the city of my birth. And seeing my dear friends. Birthday party at Amelie’s; breakfasts at Pitt’s; family dinner at Elisabeth and David’s; Gerhard’s private cembalo recital of the Bach family and of his own work; Amnesty International conference with Annette; meeting Margaret Ewing at the delicious free Tuesday recital in the foyer of the Philharmonie, the Reissner connection; long ramble along the Kleine Wannsee and the Havel with Annelie, with asparagus to follow! Gudrun’s book reading about her research of the Bayerische Viertel, another aspect of the Nazi pogrom; tea party for ten in the sailing club with my new friends; and many other meetings. Not enough time to see everybody...

20 July 2011

Thursday, 13 October 2011


I am sometimes forced to the conclusion that the average intelligence in this country is well below average! Went to have another blood test at the still pretty new, purpose-built, University College Hospital – or is it the University Cottage Hospital? – where the designated waiting area for patients who have come for a blood test is far too small for the number of patients dropping in, and there are far too few chairs for patients to sit on. The woman patient sitting waiting at the entrance to the treatment room had to keep her feet tucked under her chair so as not to impede the circulation of patients and staff in and out, between the waiting space and the treatment room. And patients crowd the entrance and the passage to Outpatients, and have to be regularly ushered away to sit in another space some way along the passage, which means that staff have to go and fetch them when their number is up. Now this has been going on, and has been known about, ever since the hospital was built. I’ve known about it from the start. In fact I wrote in about it. Never got an answer. And of course nothing was done about it.

Since I had my last blood test at the UCH they have removed the rounded reception counter on the opposite side of the passage, whereas they could, and should, have removed the rounded reception counter on the side of the blood test clinic. They could then have easily put 20 more chairs for 20 more sitting waiting patients in the vacated space. Why don’t they use their brains? I find it agony to observe these mistakes, these blunders that are not corrected, and then these missed opportunities, these decisions in the hands of people without invention, without nous, gumption, savvy, common sense. And this is the great hospital that looks after the various parts of my old body – bar the feeble physiotherapy for my hip – so superlatively...


And Thanks!!! 


Wakey!  Wakey!  Wakey!  UCH...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Just found among my papers…

When I walk
I just walk
I don’t eat
I don’t drink
I don’t read
I don’t phone
I just walk
And I look
And I think
That’s enough


I am all the things I am

Monday, 3 October 2011

Like the Niggers of yore…

W G Sebald, in his ‘The Rings of Saturn’, where he recounts his ramble through Suffolk, goes off at a tangent, as he will, and recounts the crass and large scale murderous cruelties of the Belgians in subjugating the peoples of their African colony, the Congo. He then recounts the similar treatment of the native populations in South America, in the jungles of Peru, of Columbia, and of Brazil, by the Amazon Company, whose headquarters were in the City of London. And it strikes me that the imperialist attitude still persists in this country today, in the form of its attitude to, and its treatment of, the ‘lower orders’, that is, of a large section of its own people, whom it treats like the niggers of yore, in fact, as the despised enemy…Those in power and in possession of the goodies of the country, who enjoy the privileges of their position, blame the poor for their poverty, instead of taking responsibility for the grossly uneven distribution of wealth, and legislating for a fairer sharing of those goodies. To me the fact that our prisons are fuller than those of all the other European countries, ties in with that imperialist attitude, which runs counter to an understanding of the rebellion generated by the utterly unfair distribution of those goodies, and which metes out the vicious and vindictive punishment of the transgressors, whose crimes arise largely out of the social conditions for which those in power hold sole responsibility.…

Of course the imperialist attitude is also the basis of the country’s foreign policy, resulting in its military interference all over the world, costing vast sums of money, which could well be better channelled to the needs of its own people.

Sunday, 28 August 2011


From a letter to my friends, the Rooneys

28 August 2011…

“My blog may interest... I havent put down how I detest the government of this island country, for its warmongering – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya ( wish it had done something about Hitler in 1930 bloody three!!! ) and for its gross social injustice, which it is intensifying daily. In my anger I can well understand the 2000 + rioters, though fire and shooting are well outside my permitted range of action... But to give a young fellow 4 months for twittering about rioting is just vindictive. And how come the politicians are allowed to influence the independent legal process??? Instructing judges and magistrates to make examples of the rioters? So, does justice include ‘making an example’ of somebody???

The government is starting a national investment fund to fight poverty, to save the taxpayer money. But surely it’s ‘the taxpayer’ who is responsible for causing the poverty in the first place! ( together with the government, which is responsible for the inequitable way it budgets! ) He hasnt paid in enough for the goodies to go round. And he hasnt paid enough to pay for the government’s irresponsible extravagance, e.g. a dozen new army military helicopters which it has just ordered, WHICH COST THE EARTH, needed for the government's world-wide ranging warmongering. So the government borrows wildly. Hence the financial debt crisis, turned into a national disaster by the government's far too violent panic cuts .

Oh, this small island moored off the Northern shores of the European continent! Would it dropped its megalomania. (Memories of Empire?) Would it left the top table... Would it had more conscience, more concern, greater compassion for, and a greater understanding of, the poor, the young, the disadvantaged...

Must blog this!!!”


Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Fantastic Loecknitz Schule Berlin Memorial Wall

Note: I was one of three ‘nominators’, together with Judith Blumenhein and Rahel Mann, invited to participate in this marvellous project by Gudrun Blankenburg, Berlin.

Frau Christa Niclasen,
Direktorin der Löcknitz-Grundschule in Berlin, Initiatorin, Projektbetreuerin und Weiterentwicklerin des Erinnerungsprojekts, ausgeführt von den Schülerinnen und Schülern der 6. Klassen der Löcknitz-Grundschule in Berlin Tempelhof-Schöneberg, die seit 1994 ununterbrochen ein einmaliges und eindringliches Denk-Mal für die ermordeten jüdischen Menschen gesetzt haben, die früher Nachbarn der Schule waren und von der Nazi-Diktatur ermordet worden sind.

Berchtesgadener Str. 10-11
10779 Berlin Schöneberg
T.: 030-90277-7164
F.: 030-90277-4315

Nominators: Judith Blumenhein; Rahel Mann; and Peter Zander

Peter Zander
Churchill Fellow
22 Romilly Street
London W1D 5AG
United Kingdom
Telephone + 44 (0) 20 7437 4767
U K Mobile + 44 (0) 79 20 12 55 09


Direktorin der Löcknitz-Grundschule, Berlin
Activities and/or projects:
Initiative, Betreuung und Weiterführung des Projektes ‘Denk-mal an jüdische Mitbürger‘. Entstehung einer Denksteinmauer auf dem Schulgelände der Löcknitz-Grundschule
Publications with (references):
‘Stein, Denk-Stein, Denk-Mal an jüdische Mitbürger.‘
München: Domino Verlag 1998
‚Denk-mal an jüdische Mitbürger. Entstehung einer Denksteinmauer auf dem Schulgelände der Löcknitz-Grundschule Bezirk Schöneberg.‘ Berlin 2011

‘Memorial to Jewish Fellow Citizens (Denk-mal an jüdische Mitbürger). Creation of a memorial wall on the schoolyard of the Löcknitz Primary School District Berlin-Schöneberg. A team project of the 6th class pupils and teachers.’ Berlin 2011

References to articles about the nominee:
Diverse Presseveröffentlichungen

Additional personal references:
Unter der Leitung von Frau Christa Niclasen bauen seit 1994 die Schülerinnen und Schüler der jeweiligen 6. Klasse der Löcknitz-Grundschule in Berlin Tempelhof-Schöneberg jedes Jahr an einem Denk-Mal, einer Gedenk-Mauer aus gelben Backsteinen. Die Schüler sind zu dieser Zeit 12 Jahre alt.
Jeder Backstein ist einem von der Nazi-Diktatur ermordeten jüdischen Menschen der Nachbarschaft gewidmet, und trägt ihren oder seinen Namen, sowie ihr oder sein Geburtsdatum, und auch das Todesdatum und den Ort des Todes, Auschwitz, Riga, Theresienstadt usw.

2011 wurde unter starker Aufmerksamkeit der Öffentlichkeit der 900. Gedenkstein verlegt. 900 Namen von Menschen, die früher als Nachbarn um die Schule herum wohnten.
Vielleicht hatte der jüdische Mensch in derselben Wohnung wie die Schülerin oder der Schüler gewohnt; vielleicht hatte er den gleichen Geburtstag wie der Schüler; vielleicht waren es die Eltern eines Schülers der Schule die umgebracht wurden... So kundschaften die Schüler aus, was in ihrem Haus, was in ihrem Wohnquartier, was in Berlin, was in Deutschland, was in Europa zu der Zeit Grausames und Grässliches passiert ist, und setzen ein Erinnerungszeichen denen, die ausgesetzt, gepeinigt, getötet wurden. Sie verfolgen das Schicksal einer Person, zeichnen deren Namen und Details schwarz auf einen Backstein. Dieser Backstein wird präpariert, sodass die Schrift nicht verwischt, und wird zu einer Mauer aufgestapelt. Die viele Meter lange Mauer, vielleicht 1 ½ Meter hoch, steht auf dem Schulhof, wo Schueler, Lehrer, Eltern, Besucher, Touristen, Interessentengruppen, Nachfahren der Eltern, der Großeltern, die umgekommen sind, sie sehen können; ein Fragezeichen, eine Metapher, ein Einfluss zum Verständnis zwischen den Menschen, ein Lehrmittel, eine Warnung, ein ‘Grab-Stein’ für diejenigen, die sonst kein Grab haben, ein ‘Denk-Mal’. Und auch eine Erinnerung an die schönen Zeiten, in der die jüdischen Bürger wesentliche deutsche Mitbürger waren, Berliner waren.

Die Gedenksteinmauer der Schüler steht genau an dem Platz, wo früher die Synagoge stand, deren Reste leider 1956 abgetragen wurden.

Ich bin als elf-jähriger mit meinen Eltern 1933 aus Berlin nach England emigriert. Ich war 1934 Weihnachten mit meiner Mutter auf Besuch wieder in Berlin. 1946-48 war ich wieder in Deutschland, im Britischen Roten Kreuz, als Wohlfahrtsoffizier des Save the Children Fund, der Britische Kinderhilfe, und jede 3 Monate war ich in Berlin, wo mein geliebter Großonkel Otto Loewi mit seiner arischen Frau Lotte die schlimme Zeit - man gerade! - überlebt hatte. Danach war ich unregelmässig immer mal wieder in Berlin. Seit 1985, das heißt in den letzten 26 Jahren, bin ich regelmäßig jedes Weihnachten, und oft auch im Sommer, 3 Wochen in meiner Geburtsstadt Berlin.
2010 wurde ich von der Stadtführerin Frau Gudrun Blankenburg eingeladen, zur Loeknitzschule mitzukommen. Ich hatte keine Ahnung was auf mich zukommt. Frau Blankenburg hatte einen Schlüssel zum Schulhof, und ließ uns drei rein – wir waren mit einem gemeinsamen Freund Hartmut Schulz da. Einige Kinder spielten auf dem Hof. Ich sah diese lange gelbe Mauer; ich sah die einzelnen Schwarz beschriebenen Backsteine, mit den Namen der Toten und ihren Daten und Schicksalen, in verschiedenen kindlichen Handschriften, manche in Suetterlin. Ich war baff, und in Tränen. Hartmut fotografierte die Mauer. Wir gingen die Mauer entlang; ich sah die losen Backsteine, die darauf warteten, in die Mauer mit eingebaut zu werden. Was für ein fantastisches Projekt! Zur Vergangenheitsbewältigung allerseits. Auch meiner. Denn warum komme ich denn immer wieder nach Berlin... Und zur Verständigung der verschiedenen Voelker, Rassen, Kulturen. Ein Gedenkwerk in Stein, dass die ermordeten jüdischen, deutschen, berliner, Mitbuerger nicht vergessen werden, als Mitbürger anerkannt werden; dass das Verbrechen, das an ihnen begangen worden ist, als solches genannt werde. Nie wieder...
Peter Zander
14ten August 2011

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


I would like M Strauss-Kahn, former Head of the International Monetary Fund, to know that I never believed that story of his alleged attack, invented by the hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, It didn’t make sense to me. France is a less puritanical country than these islands, and men can have mistresses, so why should a man in his position bother attacking hotel maids. I believed in his innocence throughout, and had my gravest doubts about her entire story. Those must have been terrible months for M and Mdme Strauss-Kahn, who have my sympathy. To be falsely accused, to have one’s integrity besmirched, to have one’s honour questioned, quite apart from the shattering professional collapse occasioned by this criminal, that’ll need quite a bit of repair work to be done. To this end M et Mdme Strauss-Kahn have my best wishes.

Peter Zander

24 August 2011

Monday, 15 August 2011


Churchill Fellow
Dr Peter Hagmann
Neue Zuercher Zeitung
Sehr geehrter Herr Dr Hagmann

Ich gestatte mir die fuenf Fragen nochmal zusammenzufassen, in einem Offenen Brief.
Nach meinen Besprechungen ueber den Konzertsaal des wunderbaren und schoenen Projekts “Les Arts Gstaad”, mit den Architekten und anderen Beteiligten, in Bandol, in Gstaad, in Bern, in Zuerich und in Berlin, sind die folgenden fuenf Fragen noch ungeklaert.
Der Orchestergraben.
Ist es jetzt doch beschlossen, in dem Konzertsaal, in dem auch auf der Buehne concertante Oper, Ballett und Tanz praesentiert werden soll, einen Orchestergraben einzubauen? Es ist meines Erachtens in einem Konzertsaal von Weltrang eine Selbstverstaendlichkeit. Ist die Loesung von der kuerzlich renovierten Londoner Royal Festival Hall, wie wir es besprachen, auch in Gstaad adoptiert worden? Also die Buehne einen Meter hochzufahren, und einen Meter nach vorne zu erweitern, und 5 Sitzreihen zu entfernen, um so einen Orchestergraben zu bewerkstelligen?

Die Chorsitze.
Sind jetzt fuer den Konzertsaal Chorsitze vorgesehen, fuer die grossen Chorwerke des klassischen Repertoires, die auch vom Publikum benutzt werden koennen, wenn sie nicht fuer einen Chor benoetigt werden, sodass man das Publikum rund um das Orchester hat, was gut ist fuer die Ambiance, wie in einem privaten Salon? Und wird man sie hydraulisch wegfahren koennen – wie in der Royal Festival Hall - um so eine saubere Flaeche fuer Auffuehrungen auf der Buehne zu gewinnen?

Die Fenster
Der ganze Bau scheint keine Fenster zu haben, was ihm natuerlich eine Einheit im Aussehen giebt. Aber als ehemaliger Schauspieler wuerde ich fuer Tageslicht plaedieren, und fuer eine schoene Aussicht auf die Berge, fuer alle Aufenthaltsraeume der Kuenstler und Techniker, fuer Garderoben, Chor und Orchesterraeume, Kantine usw. Wuerden Fenster nicht den schoenen Bau noch interessanter, mysterioeser und leichter im Aussehen machen?

In der No 2, August 2010, Broschuere von Les Arts Gstaad steht, dass es entschieden wurde “auf ein permanentes Restaurant zu verzichten”, man muesse “Ruecksicht auf die umliegenden Betriebe” nehmen. Ist es nicht wichtiger, Ruecksicht auf das Publikum, auf die Kuenstler, und auf die Techniker zu nehmen? Ist es nicht korrekter, die Interessen von Les Arts Gstaad zu vertreten, als die Interessen von den “umliegenden Betrieben”, die sich ja an einer Lizenz im Bau beteiligen koennten? Ein Restaurant scheint um so noetiger, als der Bau waerend des ganzen Tages – Kunstausstellungen - und am Abend Publikum beherbergt. Ausserdem wuerde ein Restaurant die Finanzen des ganzen Unternehmens unterstuetzen. Es wuerde auch, zusammen mit der urspruenglich geplanten Terasse – Giebt es sie noch? -das Publikum – und auch Reisende im Autobusbahnhof unter dem Saal – animieren, sich am Programm von Les Arts Gstaad zu beteiligen. Hat man sich vielleicht doch mittlerweile fuer ein Restaurant entschieden?

Die Orgel
Besteht die Absicht, eine Orgel an der hinteren Wand der Buehne einzubauen?-Sie ist ein wichtiger Bestandteil jedes Konzertsaals!

Mit freundlichen Gruessen


Peter Zander

Kopien dieses Offenen Briefes gehen an die folgenden Personen:
Frank Müller-Brand
Anzeiger von Saanen
Rudy Ricciotti
Kurt Aellen
Architekt EPFL SIA BSA
Jaques Markus Kappeler-Steffens
Les Arts Gstaad
Martin Bachofner
Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
Hans-Ueli Tschanz
Leonz Blunschi
Menuhin Festival Gstaad AG
Christoph Müller
Künstlerischer Leiter und Intendant
Menuhin Festival Gstaad AG
Cecilia Bartoli
Mitglied des Patronatskomitees
Professor Joachim Sartorius
Mitglied des Patronatskomitees

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Drei Prinzipien

In meiner Beziehung zu Les Arts Gstaad scheinen sich drei Prinzipien auszukristallisieren:

1) Das Prinzip, eine andere Meinung zu vertreten, und diese zu aeussern.

2) Das Prinzip das ‘Praktische’ (Funktion) zu foerdern, nicht nur das ‘Schoene’ (Klang, Erscheinung)

3) Das Prinzip, das Interessse des Projekts zu vertreten, nicht das Interesse anderer Restaurationen in der Nachbarschaft.

Ich hatte auch den grotesken Gedanken, dass es keinen Orchestergraben geben wird, einfach nur weil ich, “Der Feind”, ihn befuerworte, und das jetzt schon seit zwei Jahren!!!

Three Principles

Three principles are involved in my relationship with Les Arts Gstaad:

1) The principle of holding a different opinion, and of expressing that opinion.

2) The principle of emphasising the ‘practical’ aspects of the design, its functions, not the beauty of its appearance, or of the sound in the auditorium.

3) The principle of representing the interests of the project, not the interests of the catering establishments in the vicinity.

And I had the grotesque notion, that there will be no orchestra pit, simply because I, ‘the enemy’, have been pleading for one, and have done so now for two years!!!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Der Brief blieb unbeantwortet...


Churchill Fellow

23 July 2011

Herrn Kurt Aellen EPFL SIA BSA


Merzenacker 27

CH-3006 Bern


Sehr geehrter Kurt Aellen

Es ist so schade, dass unsere Bekanntschaft, die mir eine Freundschaft zu versprechen schien, entgleist ist. Dann waere es doch auch ‘fuer die Sache’, der Sie dienen, und der ich diene, von Gewinn, wenn wir unseren Dialog wieder aufnaehmen, ihn fortsetzten. In der Hoffnung dieser Moeglichkeit moechte ich die folgenden fuenf Fragen stellen.

Der Orchestergraben

Da der Konzertsaal - ein Konzertsaal von Weltrang - auch auf der Buehne Ballett praesentieren wird, ist es, meines Erachtens, unbedingt noetig, dass ihm ein Orchestergraben zur Verfuegung steht. Haben wir, durch unser Gespraech ueber die Loesung der erneuerten londoner Royal Festival Hall Buehne, eine Loesung fuer Gstaad gefunden? Ist es jetzt beschlossen, durch das einen Meter Hochfahren der Buehne, das Erweitern der Buehne einen Meter nach vorne, und durch die Entfernung von den ersten fuenf Sitzreihen, einen Orchestergraben zu bewerkstelligen?

Die Chorsitze

Sind jetzt fuer den Konzertsaal Chorsitze vorgesehen, die vom Publikum benutzt werden koennen, wenn sie nicht fuer einen Chor benoetigt werd8en, sodass man Publikum rund um das Orchester hat, was gut ist fuer die Ambiance, und billige Plaetze schafft fuer Jung und Alt, wie in einem privaten Salon? Und wird man sie hydraulisch wegfahren koennen – wie in der Royal Festival Hall - um so eine saubere Flaeche zu gewinnen fuer Auffuehrungen auf der Buehne?


Der ganze Bau scheint keine Fenster zu haben, was ihm natuerlich eine Einheit im Aussehen giebt. Aber als ehemaliger Schauspieler wuerde ich fuer Tageslicht plaedieren, fuer alle Aufenthaltsraeume der Kuenstler und Techniker: Garderoben, Chor und Orchesterraeume, Kantine usw. Fenster wuerden natuerlich die senkrechten Linien der Baumstaemme der Verkleidung unterbrechen, aber das koennte sich aesthetisch positif auswirken - Ich denke an schweizer Chalets und Scheunen, und ich denke an Libeskinds dramatische schraege, eckige, Schnitte in seinen Mauern - und den schoenen Bau noch interessanter, mysterioeser und leichter im Aussehen machen?


Ich habe erfahren, (No 2, August 2010, Broschuere von Les Arts Gstaad) dass es entschieden wurde “auf ein permanentes Restaurant zu verzichten”. Es ist natuerlich sehr taktvoll “Ruecksicht auf die umliegenden Betriebe” zu nehmen. Aber es ist meines Erachtens sehr viel wesentlicher, Ruecksicht auf das Publikum, auf die Kuenstler, und auf die Techniker zu nehmen. Und es erscheint mir als korrekter, die Interessen von Les Arts Gstaad zu vertreten, als die Interessen von den “umliegenden Betrieben”, die sich ja an einer Lizenz im Bau beteiligen koennen. Ein Restaurant ist um so noetiger, als der Bau ja waerend des ganzen Tages und am Abend Publikum beherbergt. Und Essen und Trinken haben doch eine unglaublich wichtige gesellschaftliche Funktion. Ausserdem wuerde ein Restaurant die Finanzen des Unternehmens unterstuetzen, eine wichtige Pointe. Es wuerde auch, zusammen mit der urspruenglich geplanten Terasse, das Publikum zum Besuch animieren. Hat man sich vielleicht doch mittlerweile fuer ein Restaurant entschieden?

Die Orgel

Besteht die Absicht, eine Orgel - wichtiger Bestandteil eines Konzertsaals von Weltrang – an der hinteren Wand der Buehne einzubauen?

Mit freundlichen Gruessen


Peter Zander


Kurt Aellen beraet das Komite von Les Arts Gstaad