• Upcoming trips



    13-23 January, 2018 Cruise out of New York around the Caribbean on the Norwegian Gem. Note : this trip has been cancelled altogether because of the damage caused by the hurricanes to the Caribbean islands.

    October 31st - 11 November. Caribbean cruise to break up the winter. Note: The itinerary has not yet been determined owing to the havoc wreaked by the hurricanes.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    October 8 Went to BAM, for the first time since Ethel died, to hear a wonderful modern opera composed and written by Matthew Aucoin called “Crossing”. It is based on Walt Whitman’s experience and the libretto is largely taken from his poetry.

    The story is multi-themed, as modern plays tend to be; the first is a harrowing anti war depiction of the suffering wounded seen through Whitman’s eyes when he volunteered as a nurse during the American civil war; the second is Slavery and its effect upon a run-away slave who fights on the Union side; the third is treachery portrayed by a guilt-laden deserter who spies for the South. And forth, inevitably these days, is the (entirely fictional) homosexual one.

    The powerful music fits the story perfectly and the voices of the lead singers and the chorus is magnificent; Rod Gilfry, bass-baritone, sings the part of Walt Whitman, Alexander Lewis plays John Wormley, the deserter, and Davone Tines, whose baritone reminded me, distinctly, of the sound of the legendary Paul Robeson.  Both Christine and I were extremely moved by the work. We newly discovered Walt Whitman’s poetry, too.

    October 20. Thanks to the invitation of our friend Francia, who is a member, we went to the Diller-Quaile School of Music to listen to a chamber concert given by the Diller-Quaile String Quartet. The program was comprised of Haydn and Debussy quartets; played magnificently by very experienced and talented musicians in an intimate. and perfectly designed, music space. Chatting with the musicians after the concert added to a first class evening.

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Allegro on the River Elbe – 2. Potsdam

From East Berlin we coached to Potsdam, a ride of about 1 1/2 hours and spent the rest of the morning visiting the Cecilienhof Palace.

It is unlikely that many  of us will remember the name of this place, or, indeed, have ever heard of it, but it was the scene of the most momentous event of the twentieth century; one which directed and accelerated the course of the change from nations to regional alliances and now, to globalization of  the human population.

As I looked at the collection of photographs and other artifacts on display, memories of the event came flooding back to me. I recalled, for example, the interminable arguments which went on concerning the seemingly trivial question of what shape of table was to be used! My recollections were, of course, secondhand since I was still on my way back from the war at the time.  But the world’s newspapers were reporting nothing else.

Click on the pictures for detail

Entrance to the Palace

Entrance to the Palace

 

Layout of the rooms

Layout of the rooms

 

Historical note

Historical note

 

Tudor-like construction

Tudor-like construction

 

Inner Courtyard

Inner Courtyard

 

Magnificent staircase

Magnificent staircase

 

Old Pals. Now safely in the ground.

Old Pals. Now safely in the ground.

 

The entrance  by which Stalin chose to enter the  Conference Room I have no idea of the significance of the steamer in the foreground.

The entrance by which Stalin chose to enter the Conference Room–I have no idea of the significance of the steamer in the foreground.

 

Diplomacy demands odd bedfellows

Diplomacy demands odd bedfellows

 

Desk used by Truman

Desk used by Truman

 

Who are the two men besides Roosevelt and Churchill?

Who are the two men besides Roosevelt and Churchill?

 

Sammy James, junior sitting on the back of the Jeep with (possibly) a young Dean Martin?

Sammy Davis, junior sitting on the back of the Jeep with (possibly) a young Dean Martin?

 

The paparazzi were at it even in those days!

The paparazzi were at it even in those days!

 

Monty and war-time ally

Monty and war-time ally

 

The famous ROUND table

The famous ROUND table

 

This image has special significance--It shows Harry Truman who had just succeeded President Roosevelt after his death and, in (the background) Clement Attlee who had just defeated Winston Churchill at the polls

This image has special significance–It shows Harry Truman who had just succeeded President Roosevelt after his death and, in (the background) Clement Attlee who had just defeated Winston Churchill at the polls!

 

The end result of all the high-powered haggling; a piece of paper which determined our history and made some kind of order out of the chaos of WWII

The end result of all the high-powered haggling; a piece of paper which determined our history and made some kind of order out of the chaos of WWII

Clement Attlee with King George VI

Clement Attlee with King George VI

Although the following images have no immediate connection with the  Potsdam Agreement, the events recorded in them did facilitate it, and, on a personal note, I would not be here to write this blog if it had not been for them:

The bombs and their effect> . . . . .

The bombs and their effect> . . . . .

 . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

To be continued

 

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2 Responses

  1. What a remarkable trip, Ben. Thanks for sharing your memories and this slice of history. It sounds like a perfect trip to share with Kim. I thought of my own father while reading this, imagining the tour he would have been able to give us had we visited his memory places of WWII. It’s a wonderful gift to have given your daughter and, of course, all of us who read here! You have a talent for bringing a place and a time to life.

    Love,
    Nancy

    • Thank you, Nancy. I really did enjoy revisiting the memories of my younger days. I can hardly believe that those times are now consigned to marginal notes in the history books! I am sure your father would have enjoyed the experience just as much.
      Kim and I felt that we were sharing an earlier, and happier, phase in our lives, too. Love, Ben.

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