A Jewish woman sits on a park bench marked “Only for Jews”, 1938

((Photo credit: Institute for Contemporary History and Wiener Library))

(THIS ARTICLE IS A COPY PASTE FROM ‘RARE HISTORICAL PHOTOS’)

A concentration camp victim identifies a SS guard, 1945

((Photo credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / Harold Royall).)

(THIS ARTICLE IS A COPY PASTE OF THEIR ARTICLE)

Russian survivor liberated U.S. Army in Buchenwald camp in Germany identified a former guard who were brutally beating prisoners. April 14, 1945. Colorized version. The original photograph.

Russian survivor liberated by the U.S. Army in Buchenwald camp in Germany identified a former guard who were brutally beating prisoners. April 14, 1945. Colorized version. The original photograph.

The picture depicts a liberated Russian inmate pointing an identifying and accusing finger at a Nazi guard who was especially cruel towards the prisoners in Buchenwald camp (original picture). There’s something really fascinating about this picture. We can only see so much of the prisoner’s expression here, but that finger means so much. Days, maybe even hours earlier, that prisoner might have been afraid to cross paths with or even make eye contact with this man. Now he’s casting an accusatory finger that’s as well as pointing a gun at the back of the man’s head, and the defeated look on his face seems horribly aware of that.

That medal on the guard’s chest looks like a World War One imperial wound badge, meaning this guard fought for the German Imperial Army during the Great War. The badge is the black variant (3rd class, representing Iron) and was given to those wounded once or twice by hostile action (including air raids), or frostbitten in the line of duty.

After the outbreak of World War II, Buchenwald continued to house political prisoners and, later, Poles and Russians. Most inmates worked as slave labourers at nearby work sites in 12-hour shifts around the clock. There were some 18,000 prisoners after Kristallnacht, 11,000 on the eve of the war, 63,000 by the end of 1944, and 86,000 in February 1945, when Buchenwald became the destination for some of the inmates forcibly evacuated from Auschwitz.

Although there were no gas chambers, hundreds perished each month from disease, malnutrition, exhaustion, beatings, and executions. Camp records indicate that throughout its existence some 240,000 prisoners from at least 30 countries were confined at Buchenwald. At least 10,000 were shipped to extermination camps, and some 43,000 people died at the camp.

(Photo credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / Harold Royall).

Can The German President Bail Chancellor Merkel Out Of Political Jam?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Frank-Walter Steinmeier: Can Germany’s ‘anti-Trump’ end Merkel’s political crisis?

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been thrust into the limelight this week after coalition talks collapsed.

(CNN)Just over a year ago, Frank-Walter Steinmeier was nominated for the job of German President. “My joy at the task is great,” he said in an acceptance speech in Berlin.

But not everyone was happy.
Some doom-mongers grumbled that Steinmeier was much too important for him to be “consigned to the periphery of power.”
After all, as Torben Luetjen and Lars Geiges wrote in their biography of Steinmeier, German presidents “don’t really have to make many decisions.”
That all changed on Monday.
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After coalition talks to form a new government unexpectedly collapsed late on Sunday, dealing a blow to longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel, it was President Steinmeier — a man more accustomed to unveiling monuments than dirtying his hands with parliamentary politics — who was given the unenviable task of restoring order.
This week he’s meeting with five party leaders, urging them to restart talks — or begin new ones.
If they refuse, Steinmeier is the man who could set the country on a complicated path to new elections — unprecedented in post-war German history.
“Courage is the lifeblood of democracy,” he said in his first speech as President in March this year. He’ll need plenty of that in the days and weeks ahead.
So who is Frank-Walter Steinmeier?

The pragmatic bureaucrat

Steinmeier’s journey from a working-class home in northwest Germany — his father was a carpenter and his mother a factory worker — to the office of the President is a remarkable one.
But he’s otherwise unremarkable, according to Luetjen. “There’s nothing extraordinary about him … He’s usually described as someone rather dull.”
Steinmeier’s first foray into politics came in 1991 when he took a job with Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder — state president at the time and later German Chancellor — and was soon running his office.
According to Luetjen, Steinmeier quickly began to fit the mold of a typical German bureaucrat.

As German Foreign Minister, Steinmeier supported Barack Obama's bid for the presidency and the two men worked closely together. Steinmeier has spoken much less favorably about President Trump.

His two stints as Foreign Minister — during which he tackled a military crisis in Ukraine, Greece’s financial meltdown and unprecedented levels of refugee arrivals to Europe and was instrumental in negotiating the nuclear deal with Iran — only confirmed that impression.
He may not be “overly exciting,” as Luetjen admits, but he’s pragmatic, patient and rarely fazed.
“He’s good at finding deals and talking to all sides,” says Luetjen. “Now that we have this situation — close to a constitutional crisis — those are talents that are really needed.”

The deal maker

Steinmeier’s nomination as President came as a surprise to many. He’s a man who “enjoyed real power,” Luetjen explains.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the previously powerful role of President became largely ceremonial.
He or she is the public face of the nation, a German ambassador to the world. When Steinmeier speaks, people listen.
But he’s not known as a great speaker. And “he didn’t seem comfortable with becoming a public figure” at the start of his presidency, Luetjen says.

On Tuesday, Steinmeier met with Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Democrats and the man who announced his party's withdrawal from coalition talks Sunday night.

He believes that Steinmeier — the deal maker, the man who “likes to get things done” — will be embracing the challenge of restoring order in the currently chaotic German political landscape.
“Now he’s back, doing real politics,” Luetjen says.

What are his chances of success?

Luetjen and Geiges describe Steinmeier as the “master of anti-chaos.”
“If anyone can (make a breakthrough), then it’s him,” says Luetjen. “Yes, I think he’s capable of doing this.”
Making a brief statement from his official residence on Monday afternoon, Steinmeier had the aura of a disapproving school principal admonishing a group of unruly students.
He urged all parties to come to the table and refused to entertain the possibility of fresh elections — the option favored by Merkel and Martin Schulz, leader of Steinmeier’s own Social Democratic Party.
“I expect everyone to be willing to negotiate to make it possible to form a government in the foreseeable future,” he said. Responsibility can’t simply be “handed back to the voters.”

Despite their different party allegiances, Steinmeier has worked closely with Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2005 and they share a pragmatic, cautious approach to politics.

For all his caution and composure, Steinmeier does not mince his words. Three months before Donald Trump was elected US President, Steinmeier (then foreign minister) described him as a “hate preacher.”
And speaking just after Trump’s election, Steinmeier made no attempt to disguise his deep disappointment. “Nothing will be easier (now),” he said, “lots will be more difficult.”
He has even been described in the German media as the “anti-Trump.”
Steinmeier has spoken out strongly against the rise of populism in Germany too, embodied in the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered the federal Parliament for the first time in September’s election, winning 12.6% of the vote.
Despite the country’s history, Germany is not immune to populism and the damage it does to democracy, Steinmeier warned in March.
With Merkel partly to blame for the AfD’s recent success — according to some German politicians — and weakened by a poor election result and failed coalition talks, Steinmeier is the “most stable figure in German politics right now,” according to Luetjen.
“He’s the last survivor of a generation. And he might be the right federal president at the right time.”

German government talks collapse; Merkel seeks to reassure

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

German government talks collapse; Merkel seeks to reassure


address the media during a news conference about the results of their exploratory talks on a coalition of their parties in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. (Michael Sohn/Associated Press)
 November 19 at 8:49 PM
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged early Monday to maintain stability after the Free Democratic Party pulled out of talks on forming a new government with her conservative bloc and the left-leaning Greens, raising the possibility of new elections.Merkel told reporters that the parties had been close to reaching a consensus on how to proceed with formal coalition talks but that the Free Democrats decided abruptly to pull out just before midnight Sunday — a move she said she respected, but found “regrettable.”

She said she would consult with Germany’s president later in the day to brief him on the negotiations and discuss what comes next.

Without bringing the Free Democrats back to the table, Merkel will be forced to try to continue her current governing coalition with the Social Democrats, although that center-left party has said it will not do so, or she could try to form a minority government, which was seen as unlikely. Otherwise, Germany will have to hold new elections.

“It is at least a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany,” Merkel said. “But I will do everything possible to ensure that this country will be well led through these difficult weeks.”

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and sister Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, the pro-business Free Democrats and the left-leaning Greens had already blown past Merkel’s own deadline of Thursday to agree on a basis for opening formal negotiations on a coalition of all four parties, a configuration that has never been tried at a national level in Germany.

Key sticking points were the issues of migration and climate change.

Among other things the Greens were pushing for Germany to end its use of coal and combustion engines by 2030, though they had signaled they were open to some compromise.

The other parties are also committed to reducing carbon emissions, but Merkel’s bloc hadn’t put a date on when to phase out coal. The Free Democrats also expressed concern about what the moves would mean for jobs and Germany’s economic competitiveness.

On migration, the Christian Social Union wanted an annual cap on refugees, while the Greens sought to allow more categories of recent migrants to bring their closest relatives to join them.

Merkel said that “we thought we were on a path where we could have reached an agreement,” when that the Free Democrats decided to pull out.

Free Democrat leader Christian Lindner told reporters that his party decided to withdraw rather than further compromise its principles and sign on to policies the party was not convinced of.

“It is better not to govern than to govern falsely,” he said.

Greens politician Reinhard Buetikofer criticized Lindner’s decision, saying on Twitter that the Free Democrat had chosen “a kind of populist agitation instead of governmental responsibility.”

Looking ahead, if it comes to a new election, polls currently suggest it would produce a very similar parliament to the current one, which would make efforts to form a new government similarly difficult.

Though Merkel could also abandon the Free Democrats and the Greens and instead form a coalition with the center-left Social Democrats, her current partners in the outgoing government, the Social Democrats have been adamant about going into opposition following its disastrous result in the Sept. 24 election.

Party leader Martin Schulz as recently as Sunday again ruled out the possibility of pairing up with Merkel’s bloc to form a new government.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

What Christians In Wittenberg Germany Were Thinking on the 500th Anniversary of The Reformmation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

What American Christians in Wittenberg Were Thinking on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

(PHOTO: THE CHRISTIAN POST)Interior of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

WITTENBERG — American Christians were among the tens of thousands who marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in the city where it all began.

Last Tuesday, evangelical Protestants around the world marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. On that day, it is widely believed that an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg. Luther’s theses objected to, among other things, the Roman Church practice of selling papal indulgences.

Church services and speakers commemorated the day in various ways on Oct. 31 and the streets and town square were set up with craftsmen and sellers of all kinds of German foods, beer, and several places where visitors could purchase mulled wine in clay cups.

Paige Brinks and Rachel Dieleman, two friends who are recent graduates of Calvin College in Michigan and are both living in Europe for graduate and teaching fellowships, said the journey was spiritually significant for them.

“It’s a very interesting feeling knowing Luther was here. I’ve been hearing these stories my whole life but to actually see where he lived and the church where he nailed the 95 theses on, it makes it feel a lot more real,” Brinks told The Christian Post in an interview off the main street in downtown Wittenberg.

The two attended the morning worship service at 10 a.m inside All Saints Church (Castle Church), which was mostly in German with certain greetings and scriptures also read in English. The opening hymn was Luther’s famous “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (“Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott”).

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(PHOTO: THE CHRISTIAN POST)St. Mary’s Church in downtown Wittenberg, Germany, on Oct. 30, 2017.

“It’s neat to think about the progression of society in 500 years and to see how there is still the basis of religion that still exists. Even though we live in a secular culture, in a time that often puts down the foundations, it’s very inspiring to think about our forefathers, how they were religious and how they influenced us to shape culture,” Dieleman said.

“It was inspiring to have the reminder of Luther’s confidence in his faith and to not be afraid and be scared of what people are going to say or think. Personally, that has inspired me just living right now in France in more of a secular nation and more liberal, just to be firm in my beliefs and to speak up for what I believe in.”

Danielle Hitchen, the author of Bible Basics who made the pilgrimage to Wittenberg for the Reformation’s 500th anniversary with her husband and two children, said Martin Luther is one of the main reasons why she is now an Anglican.

“I started reading Martin Luther’s theology in college as part of our curriculum and Martin Luther talked about the Eucharist and the way it is the climax of the church service and I thought it was so beautiful,” she told CP just outside St. Mary’s church in Wittenberg where Luther often preached.

Hitchen grew up in a nondenominational evangelical household but moved to a liturgical tradition in light of the Reformer’s words, a spiritual transition she describes as “the most meaningful theological move of my life,” one which made her faith more real.

“It’s amazing to think that this man (Luther) who did so much theological work that continues to have ripples 500 years later walked these streets and preached right here in this church. It’s just amazing to be here,” Hitchen said.

The Rev. Michael Kumm, a Lutheran pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod who chairs the LCMS Board of Directors and is from Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, described the day as a “once in a lifetime experience.” He is also the chair of the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg.

“Having been a lifelong Lutheran I have learned about the Lutheran Reformation all my life.” he noted, recounting the “waft of emotion” that came over him as he got to preach the Gospel at one of the services that took place in the city that day.

With his wife Janet by his side, he told CP he believes that despite the rise of secularism in the West, God continues to move.

“I’m a baby boomer and we were the generation that really started to move away from the church, to be blunt about it. And I see the younger generations coming up today; they are looking, they are searching, they are yearning for tradition, the faithful teaching, the truth. They want to be told ‘what does this mean,'” regarding the Word of God, Kumm said, noting that “what does this mean” was one of Luther’s favorite phrases.

“I really think that [young people] have gotten beyond the previous generations who want to change the church into society. I really think that society is asking God to come back into them and bring the church back into society again. Thanks be to God for that.”

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(PHOTO: THE CHRISTIAN POST)The famous 95 theses doors of Wittenberg Castle Church on Oct. 30, 2017.

David Dickey of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, had been planning to be in Wittenberg for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation for 15 years. A member of the Air Force, he and his family were stationed in Germany 10 years ago and thought then that they must return to Wittenberg when 2017 rolled around. Today, they attend a Presbyterian (PCA) church.

“Martin Luther is an awesome example of faith and courage and conviction, which is a very timely message today,” Dickey told CP Tuesday evening, standing a short distance away from the famous Castle Church doors where Luther’s 95 theses were posted.

“It’s so interesting to be an in a place that, five centuries ago, played such a huge role in the Christian church and in the development of the church in the world.”

He regards the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as one event in a long series of events over time that represents the movement of God on the earth and throughout the world.

“The Church waxes and wanes in various places,” he added, noting that you can see what has happened to Germany since Martin Luther’s day.

“But where you see it wane you see it ascending in other areas. And it’s one of the amazing things about the faith — that we can’t predict where it goes or how it goes. But it always goes.”

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225,000 Hungarian Holocaust Victims Identified

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Yad Vashem identifies 225,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims

The Holocaust museum’s specially trained team pored over pages of records, mapping forgotten victims no one cared to document on the way to their deaths

Hungarian Jews were marched down Wesselenyi Street in the heart of Budapest's Jewish Quarter, on their way to be deported to Auschwitz. (Bundesarchiv Bild)

Hungarian Jews were marched down Wesselenyi Street in the heart of Budapest’s Jewish Quarter, on their way to be deported to Auschwitz. (Bundesarchiv Bild)

Born in Budapest in 1937, Chayim Herzl remembers being taken by his mother Eugenia to visit his father Reuven Salgo at a labor camp outside the city in 1943.

“My hand was small, and I was able to pass some food to him through the fence. That was the last time I saw him,” said Herzl.

He lost his mother in early 1945 when men from Hungary’s Arrow Cross took her  from their safe house outside the ghetto, organized by diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, while he hid under the bed.

Having lost his father at age six and mother at eight, Herzl has only fleeting memories of his parents. Now, thanks to a comprehensive decade-long project to collect names of Hungarian Holocaust victims, completed in a collaboration between Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum Yad Vashem and funded by the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, Herzl has regained something he calls, “indescribably priceless” — information.

Through the project, Herzl learned that his father died just days before the end of the war in a POW death march, after having been forced into a labor corps in the Hungarian army fighting on the Eastern front. Beyond that, he now has a document with his father’s signature. The signature, his father’s orthographic fingerprint, is the only piece of his father’s writing Herzl owns.

“Through the efforts of Yad Vashem’s Names Collection project in Hungary, I was finally able to find a sense of closure in knowing what happened to my father. Finding a document containing his signature is evidence to the world that my father lived and a testimony to the tragic fate that befell him and so many Hungarian Jews,” said Herzl.

“The job is not yet complete: My mother, from the day she was taken from me, has vanished from the face of the earth and remains among the undocumented. I know that Yad Vashem is committed to leaving no stone unturned in the effort to identify as many Holocaust victims as possible,” Herzl told The Times of Israel.

Chayim Herzl (Salgo) was born in 1937 in Budapest, Hungary, the only child of Reuven (Rudolf) and Eugenia (Geni) Salgo, née Herzl. (courtesy Yad Vashem)

Ten years ago, approximately 40 percent of Hungarian victims were identified after the advances made by Holocaust historian and Holocaust survivor Serge Klarsfeld. Klarsfeld in the 1980s launched the Nevek Project, gathering names from lists of prisoners of forced labor and concentration camps during WWII. Due to funding and bureaucratic issues, he abandoned his project.

Building on Klarsfeld’s Nevek Project, Yad Vashem-trained historians have added some 225,000 victims’ names over the past 10 years of intensive research. This major project was funded by the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah and supported by the late French politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, who served as its first president. On Thursday, Yad Vashem hosted an event that included a special tribute to Veil.

“Simone Veil saw special importance in the collection of names of Hungarian Jews. She witnessed firsthand the arrival and extermination of Hungary’s Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was important to her that their identities be memorialized and therefore decided to support this important initiative,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.

But the scope of Yad Vashem’s Names Collection project goes well beyond identifying Jewish Hungarian victims. It is, to date, the largest project Yad Vashem has undertaken and represents a holistic approach to collecting information and documents that far surpasses previous efforts.

“This is the most successful project that Yad Vashem’s Archives has undertaken. The holistic approach of the project has become a model for other endeavors we are currently promoting in the name-gathering process, in particular the Polish Names Project, and we hope that with the continued support of the French Foundation we will achieve similar results to those we obtained in collecting names of Jewish victims from Hungary,” said Shalev.

In addition to Poland, which has signed a cooperation agreement with the institution, Yad Vashem is implementing the information-gathering model it founded in Hungary to its names recovery efforts in the territories of the former Soviet Union and the Balkan States.

In conversation with The Times of Israel Thursday, Dr. Alexander Avram, director of the Hall of Names and the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, explained the project’s procedures and resonance.

Eugenia (Geni) Salgo, née Herzl, mother of Chayim Herzl (Salgo). (Courtesy Yad Vashem)

Unlike the initial goals of the Nevek Project of attaching a name to every victim, the Yad Vashem project “has revealed part of their individual stories, and in some cases, for the first time was able to connect a rare photograph with the name of the faceless murdered,” said Avram.

The intensive work began in 2007 and was conducted under the leadership of three Yad Vashem historians who trained a staff of some 20 researchers who were on-the-ground in Greater Hungary: Hungary, Slovakia, parts of Romania, Serbia, and Transylvania. Through special diplomatic agreements forged with the Hungarian government in 2005 and 2006, said Avram, the researchers were granted full access to all state archives for this specific project.

“It is not easy in these countries to find documentation about the Holocaust and Jews,” said Avram. “They are no key words for catalogues; there is no archive in Europe that has a topic ‘Holocaust’ and catalogues for this or for Jews.”

The team pored over archive material from all sorts of offices — including the Ministries of the Interior, Defense and Agriculture — “page by page, to map those documents important to Jews and the Holocaust,” he said. The important pages were scanned and sent to Yad Vashem, which is in the process of uploading the pages into its database.

The team, trained by Yad Vashem, must be fluent in Hungarian, and have skills in German, Romanian, Serbian and other languages of the region to decipher the handwriting of the pre-World War II documents.

In December, the intensive research collection is finishing, but the team will continue to decipher documents to add more names and stories into the database.

“In our database we have 4,700,000 names of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. That means that more than 1 million who are not identified,” said Avram. Whereas in central and western Europe some 95% of the victims documented as Jews were arrested, sent to transit camps, and then on to death camps, in eastern Europe there is less of a paper trail.

A Hungarian Jewish woman and young children walk towards the gas chambers in Auschwitz. (Budesarchiv Bild)

Although he said the teams of researchers at Yad Vashem will continue to document victims, it is important to note, said Avram, that the teams have “exhausted most of the easy sources, and now look for names scattered in less unexplored sources where they will sometimes read a book of 500 pages to reach four or five names.”

“We are focusing our efforts in the countries where we have a more significant gap in names of victims,” said Avram. In Hungary, for example, although there were organized transports, “nobody cared to register the names of the Jews on the transports,” he said.

Like the case for Herzl, who discovered his father’s fate through the Yad Vashem project, Avram hopes to find more than mere monikers for the remainder of the victims.

“We can sometimes build a personal story. Previous attempts were to document names of victims; in this project we are trying to go further than that,” he said, and transform the name into a person.

READ MORE:

Study Shows That 75% Of Insects Have Disappeared In Last 3 Decades

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

New study suggests insect populations have declined by 75% over 3 decades

Story highlights

  • Study shows dramatic declines in insect populations in Germany
  • Much smaller insect populations could have significant knock-on effects for the health of the planet

(CNN)A new scientific study has found “dramatic” and “alarming” declines in insect populations in areas in Germany, which researchers say could have far-reaching consequences for the world’s crop production and natural ecosystems.

The study, published on Wednesday in peer-reviewed journal PLOS One has found that, in German nature reserves, flying insect populations have declined by more than 75% over the duration of the 27-year study.
“The flying insect community as a whole… has been decimated over the last few decades,” said the study, which was conducted by Researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and the Entomological Society Krefeld in Germany.
“Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services.”
Co-author Caspar Hallman said he and his colleagues were “very, very surprised” by the results.
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“These are not agricultural areas, these are locations meant to preserve biodiversity, but still we see the insects slipping out of our hands,” he told CNN.

‘Could be everywhere’

Entomologists have long had evidence of the decline of individual species, said Tanya Latty, a research and teaching fellow in entomology at Sydney University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
However, few studies have taken such a broad view of entire insect populations, she says.
“This study lumps all flying insects together,” she said, which gives researchers a more accurate picture of the overall decline.
“If you see these sort of dramatic declines in protected areas it makes me worry that this (trend) could be everywhere,” she said.
“There’s no reason to think this isn’t happening everywhere.”
Hallman said he hoped the study could be “repeated in other parts of the world.”

Worrying decline

The long-term study used Malaise traps — a sophisticated kind of insect net which catches a wide variety of insects — set up in 63 German nature protection areas over the course of 27 years.
By measuring the weight of the insect catch — known as the biomass — from each of the Malaise traps, researchers were able to ascertain the drop in insect numbers.
The study reported a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study.
“We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type,” the study says.
Latty says it’s particularly worrying that the study recorded the declines in protected areas, meaning that for agricultural or urban areas the trend could be even more pronounced.
The report suggests climate change, loss of insect habitats and potentially the use of pesticides, are behind the alarming decline. Latty says it’s unlikely there’s one “smoking gun,” but rather a combination of contributing factors.

Underestimated

Latty says the importance of insects — which make up around 70% of all animal species — is underestimated.
“We don’t often think about insects other than ‘eww, an insect.’ But these are the organisms running the world.
“Insects pollinate the crops we eat, they contribute to pest control, we’d have to use more pesticide. They’re even crucial in waste control — most of the waste in urban areas is taken care of by ants and cockroaches.”
Insects, she says, are “crucial” to biodiversity, and “we exist because of biodiversity.”

Bees learn 'soccer' in new study

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Knock-on effects

Species who rely on insects as their food source — and, up the food chain, the predators which eat these animals — are likely to suffer from these declines. Pollination of both crops and wild plants are also affected, as is nutrient cycling in the soil.
Indeed, “ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the USA,” the study says, quoting an earlier study.
Some 80% of wild plants rely on insects for pollination; 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study.
Latty says she hopes the decline is reversible.
“The first step is acknowledging that we have a problem, and working to correct that — how do we design our agriculture to encourage insects? It could be something as simple as growing wildflowers along the edges of fields.”
She says we also need to improve people’s education around insect populations — “that insects are important, absolutely crucial to our survival,” and to deal with pests sensibly.
“There’s so much going on out there, it’s a struggle to convince people that insects are important. We’ve probably only identified only 10% of insects and some are going extinct before we can even name them.”

After migrant influx, voters ask: What makes a German?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

After migrant influx, voters ask: What makes a German?

While absorption of migrants has long been an issue in Germany, recent surge has highlighted question of identity ahead of Sunday’s elections

This file photo taken on November 18, 2015, shows migrants walking to a train at the central railway station in Passau, Germany. (AFP Photo/Chirstof Stache)

This file photo taken on November 18, 2015, shows migrants walking to a train at the central railway station in Passau, Germany. (AFP Photo/Chirstof Stache)

BERLIN (AFP) — Germans vote in a general election on Sunday after a campaign which has seen parties spar over how closely refugees and immigrants should integrate into the national culture, sparking fierce discussions about what it means to be German.

What started the debate?

The armies of Turkish “guest workers” brought over for German factories after the devastation of World War II had kept the integration debate simmering for decades.

But it was propelled to center stage in the 1990s by university professor Bassam Tibi, himself from a migrant background.

Tibi suggested that the country needed a “Leitkultur” or “leading culture” which would transmit European Enlightenment values like democracy, tolerance and pluralism to new arrivals.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses an election campaign rally of her Christian Democratic Union party in Fritzlar, Germany, on September 21, 2017. (AFP Photo/dpa/Swen Pförtner)

But the term was quickly embraced by rightwingers in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to mean an essentially German culture.

Since then, “the term is used to mean that there is something typically German, or Christian-European, that should unite a diverse population,” said Alexander Schunka, a professor at the Free University of Berlin.

“No one has ever really understood the term,” Tibi told the Tagesspiegel daily in July.

Why is identity back in the spotlight?

The arrival of more than a million asylum seekers since 2015, mainly from Muslim countries, has deeply divided Germany.

The Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, in particular has capitalized on anger over the influx, transforming itself from an anti-euro upstart into an anti-Islam, anti-immigration party.

In this file photo from Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, an election campaign poster of the AfD party is attached to a streetlamp close to the headquarters of the CDU party in Berlin. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Some of the party’s views shade into conspiracy theories, including the “great replacement” belief that politicians plan to repopulate Europe with cheap, pliable immigrants.

And warnings that Islamic culture will overrun Germany are omnipresent in the party’s messaging.

AfD campaign posters feature messages like “New Germans? We’ll make them ourselves!” over a picture of a beaming pregnant white woman, or “Burkas? We prefer bikinis!” plastered across an image of nubile beachgoers.

What exactly is German culture?

The trouble with calling for a German culture to overshadow whatever migrants have brought from elsewhere is deciding who gets to define what that means.

Centuries of history as a patchwork of princedoms before unification in 1871 have left Germany with dozens of strong local cultures, cuisines and dialects.

Most of those do not conform to the beer-and-lederhosen stereotype held by many foreigners, which reflects the heritage of southern Bavaria — as residents of the Franconia region in northern Bavaria would insist most strongly of all.

When integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz, who has a Turkish background, recently tried to make this point, the AfD’s lead candidate Alexander Gauland proposed that she be “dumped in Anatolia.”

The top candidates in the AfD party for upcoming general elections Alice Weidel (L) and Alexander Gauland leave after giving a press conference on September 18, 2017, in Berlin. (AFP Photo/Tobias Schwarz)

The remark implied that he saw her German citizenship as meaningless, and harked back to “the worst memories our country has left all over the world,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

Merkel herself had a go at defining what it means to be German in an A-to-Z article for the Bild newspaper earlier this year, in which C stood for “Christian-Jewish tradition” and M for “Muslim” and “migration background.”

Bratwurst, Oktoberfest and the national football team also had a place in her Germany.

Fertile ground for the AfD?

Other politicians have also latched onto the integration theme, out of fear of losing voters to the AfD.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, of Merkel’s conservative CDU party, laid out his idea of essential touchstones of German culture in a May article for Bild, emphasizing “respect and tolerance,” “hard work” and “enlightened patriotism.”

“Social norms” like shaking hands and not covering one’s face — two endlessly debated questions about Muslim women — were top of his list.

Meanwhile, figures on the left of the spectrum have tried to expand “Leitkultur” to a broader definition closer to Tibi’s original concept.

Social Democratic politician Raed Saleh has just published a book called “German Me. The New Leitkultur,” which calls for Muslims to develop their own, specifically German vision of Islam.

“Why don’t we give the millions of Muslims who live in Germany a sense that they belong to society?” he told AFP.

Red faces as Russia’s Kalashnikov monument shows Nazi gun

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Red faces as Russia’s Kalashnikov monument shows Nazi gun

Erroneous drawing on statue was of an StG44 — for Sturmgewehr (Storm Rifle), a name reputedly conferred by Hitler himself

A sketch allegedly featuring the German StG44 rifle at a fragment of the newly unveiled monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, in downtown Moscow on September 22, 2017. (AFP/Mladen Antonov)

A sketch allegedly featuring the German StG44 rifle at a fragment of the newly unveiled monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, in downtown Moscow on September 22, 2017. (AFP/Mladen Antonov)

MOSCOW, Russia — Workers in Moscow on Friday erased the illustration of a gun from a freshly inaugurated monument of Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the legendary AK-47 assault rifle, after it was found that the drawing was of a Nazi weapon.

“We have checked the information about a mistake. It is confirmed. The sculptor, Salavat Shtsherbakoff, has acknowledged his mistake,” the state-supported Russian Military History Society, which backed the monument, told TASS news agency.

The erroneous drawing was of an StG44 — for Sturmgewehr (Storm Rifle), a name reputedly conferred by Hitler himself. It became the Nazis’ frontline weapon on the bloody Eastern Front.

A worker used an angle grinder to obliterate the offending depiction of the StG44, an AFP photographer saw.

A general view of the newly unveiled monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, in downtown Moscow on September 22, 2017. (AFP/Mladen Antonov)

Kalashnikov was elevated to hero status in the Soviet Union for inventing a simple, rugged, reliable and easy-to-manufacture automatic weapon for the Red Army.

It entered service after World War II — the AK-47 comes from the Russian “Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947” — to became a standard weapon for Soviet forces and revolutionary movements around the world. Its image has also become notoriously intertwined with terrorism and massacres.

Acclaim of Kalashnikov continued after the fall of the Soviet Union, culminating with a project to erect a statue in his honor after he died in 2013.

The seven-meter (23-feet) -high statue, located in a central thoroughfare was unveiled to great pomp on Tuesday, with goose-stepping troops and Russian officials in attendance. Orthodox priests sprinkled it with holy water.

A man uses an angle grinder as he removes a sketch allegedly featuring the German StG44 rifle from a fragment of the newly unveiled monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, in downtown Moscow on September 22, 2017. (AFP/Mladen Antonov)

Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky praised the inventor and called the rifle — which has been reproduced an estimated 100 million times worldwide — a “cultural brand for Russia.”

The statue itself accurately features Kalashnikov clutching his invention. The StG44 was featured in an engineer’s drawing, located on part of the memorial that traces the history of the AK47.

The change to the statue coincided with the public unveiling in Moscow on Friday of a bronze bust of Stalin, fuelling concerns that the authorities are seeking to whitewash the Soviet dictator’s bloody history.

Honor guards march during the unveiling ceremony of a statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian inventor of the fabled AK-47 assault rifle, in downtown Moscow on September 19, 2017. (AFP/Maxim Zmeyev)

Stalin’s bust was one of seven sculptures spanning the history of the Soviet Union from Lenin to Mikhail Gorbachev.

They are the latest addition to a recently-opened “Alley of Rulers” that already features 33 Russian rulers.

The force behind the sculptures is the Russian Military History Society, founded by President Vladimir Putin and whose current president is Medinsky, known for fiercely nationalist views.

READ MORE:

Turkey’s Erdogan Slams Germany For Bowing To The Will Of The People

 

 

Turkeys Dictator Erdogan has blasted German politicians for bowing down to the wishes of the German people. To me, that sounds exactly like a man who has his own position through fraud, in other words, a Dictator. He is just like Russia’s President Putin when it comes to free open and honest Democratic elections because as Mr. Putin said “you never know who is going to win.” A little over one year ago there was a Coup in Turkey as some members of the military tried to over throw Erdogan while he was out of the country. Many think that this was a coup designed by members of Erdogan’s inner circle to draw out the Presidents opponents so that they could be eliminated. Whether this is true or not, who really knows? One thing that is for sure though is that Mr. Erdogan has used that event to totally crackdown on anyone that he personally does not like. Mr. Erdogan has proved without any doubt that he does not care what the people of his or any other country want.

 

What Mr. Erdogan is upset about is that the German leadership including the Chancellor Mrs. Merkel are singing a different tune concerning continuing to allow many thousands of people from Islamic countries to filter through Turkey into Europe. As most people in Europe have learned that way to many of the people flooding into their countries through Turkey are bringing their strict versions of Islam with them causing havoc on their countries legal and welfare system. The world is learning that the Islamic culture is not compatible with European culture, religions or laws or anywhere else in the world for that matter. When people move into your country and form their own communities then insist that the people of the host country change their laws and customs to conform to the Islamic culture there is always going to be friction. Host countries have two main options here, one tell the visitors that it is they who will conform to the host countries cultures or two, get out and go back to your home country. The will of the people in Germany is not the will of Mr. Erdogan and this obviously upsets him. How dare the political leaders of Germany bow down to the wishes of the lowly citizens.

 

There is one other main issue being discussed throughout Germany, Brussels and throughout the rest of Europe and that is the politicians and the citizens of Europe and the European Union do not want to allow Turkey to join the EU. When Tony Blair was Prime Minister of England a decade or so ago he was asked about Turkey joining the EU and he said “no, their not part of Europe so why should they be allowed into the EU?” This is the view that I have held ever since I first heard of this idea being broached. You can not allow a country that is ruled by a Dictator to become part of your country’s monetary, or legal system because their system is a deadly cancer to democracy. This would apply to countries like Russia also as long as they are ruled by the current Dictator Mr. Putin. This long Chess game that has been played between the EU and Turkey is about to come to a close and it is not going to end in Mr. Erdogan’s favor. The reason I say this is because if it did, the current politicians will be voted out of their political positions by those dastardly lowlife citizens. This is a concept that people like Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan makes sure cannot happen in their countries. The same goes for countries like Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba and China, places that the will of the people mean nothing.

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