Tag Archives: Napoleon

Carla Drift – Behaviour 3

People accept tensions and feelings of injustice (or perceived injustice) to a certain extend. They adapt themselves to these tensions or (perceived) humiliations. Examples are: those who see their life completely change after a defeat, those who must live within a society that doesn’t fit their needs, those who are dominated by a dictatorial regime that never seems to end.

Very long, people can tolerate this tension and discontent until a breakpoint is reached. Suddenly a tipping point of no return arises. Man revolts [1]


A situation that was still bearable before the tipping point, suddenly is absurd and unbearable. The social inhibitions, the normal rule of justice and the ethical principles are temporarily abolished. Suddenly everything is permitted to end these tensions and the feelings of (supposed) injustice.

A primary form of extreme rebellion is seen when a man suddenly acts extremely violent whereby all forms of social behaviour, legal norms and common ethics are put aside. Usually family, friends, acquaintances and society have not foreseen this violent action in any way. After the violent act, they try to explain the extreme behaviour – the explanation is usually more meant to restore mutual trust than to clarify this particular flare-up of violence. This primary form of rebellion is found in all times and in all societies. In Indonesia and Malaysia, these unexpected acts of violence – whereby the rebel attacks all and everyone in his way – is indicated by “amok”. In the Western world all amok-rebels, if they survive their deeds, end in a psychiatric asylum where often no apparent mental disorder is found for this murderous behaviour [3]. We see this manner of primary rebellion in persons who start shooting with a firearm at a crowd or within a school without any reason.

Another primary form of extreme revolt is seen in a small group of people who suddenly do not accept their (perceived) injustice. They rebel against their situation. Examples are: lynchings and murders against individuals or small groups that exceed any form of case-law, norms and ethics. In Dutch history an example of this rebellion is the murder of the brothers de Witt by a mob in The Hague [4].

A weakened form of rebellion are rioting by supporters. These riots of supporters are of all times. An example of riots of supporters that eventually culminate in a serious rebellion, is the Nika revolt [5] in Constantinople in 532 A.C. where 30,000 people lost their lives. Small riots during chariot racing occurred often in that time; after these riots convictions of arrested participants followed. In January 532 A.C. two escaped convicts of these riots sought refuge in the sanctuary of a church under protection of a crowd. The position of Emperor Justinian was weakened by political problems. He wanted to assert his authority and the convicts were arrested again. During the next chariot races serious riots broke out in the hippodrome. The Emperor decided to flee, but Empress Theodora said: “It is not important if a woman must say to men to behave brave. One must do what one can in the event of danger. Flight is foolish. Everyone must die once and I have decided to die as Empress” (and not as a refugee). Two generals – with their battle hardened Germanic troops – decided to crush the rebellion. Hereto they lured a part of the rebellions out of the hippodrome with money coins. The remaining 30,000 rebellions were massacred in hippodrome by the troops .


In the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, I always visit the place for the Empress in the women’s gallery. From her place I see the sanctuary and from the ground floor, I look to the women’s gallery: “Empress for once and for always”.


A complete society can accept tensions and feelings of (perceived) injustice to a certain degree. Until the tipping point, the situation is seen as perfectly normal. Everyone has a suitable place until the rapid change occurs in society. The outward cause for the tipping point often seems a tiny issue for an outsider.

At the end of the 18th century the Ancient Regime in France was outdated financially, administratively and intellectually. According to a large part of the population it no longer suited the changes in that society. A decline in wages was foreseen and riots broke out. By clumsy interventions of the Government the riots got out of hand and the trust in Government declined further. The storming of the Bastille by armed revolutionaries was the start of a period when social inhibitions disappeared and the sense of justice and ethical awareness declined. The guillotine did overtime and after a very short time the revolutionaries were worse than the Ancient Regime ever was. The French State began its existence with the slogan “Egalité, Fraternité et Liberté”, but it took a long time before it was realised.


First Napoleon with the French Grande Armee had to retreat from Moscow [9] and afterwards defeated at Leipzig and Waterloo. This revolution caused next to a stream of blood also that militarism became endemic in our society and rationality was shaped inter alia in the meter and the kilogram.

The following post is about my personal life.

[1] See also: Camus, Albert, De Mens in Opstand. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1974

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rebel_(book) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus

[3] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amok en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_amok

[4] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_de_Witt

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots and Cotterell, Arthur, Chariot – From chariot to tank, the astounding rise and fall of the world’s first war machine.” New York: The Overlook Press, 2004, p, 280 – 288

[6] Remnants of the hypodrome in Istanbul. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marianne_(embleem)

[9] See also: Zamoyski, Adam, 1812 – Napoleons fatale veldtocht naar Moskou. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Balans, 2005


Man Leben – Dust of a journey

Wovon man nicht leben kann, darüber muss man schweigen [1]

Whereof one cannot live, thereof one must be silent.

You continue with the story of your life:

“Around 1990 after studying Oriental wisdom, I more or less lost my guilt and shame about my existence. Within a short period my aunt and my godmother died in 1993. Poland was easily accessible at that time. It was time to go to Auschwitz.

The name Auschwitz is derived from the Polish city name Oświęcim near the camp. Many Jews who lived in Oświęcim before the war, called this place Oshpitzin – the Yiddish word for guest – because this place was known for its hospitality before World War II [2].

In preparation for this visit, I have studies Shoah [3] made by Claude Lanzmann. On seeing this documentary I noticed how extensive and detailed the logistics must have been for the transportation and the accommodation of the many millions of people under difficult circumstances in time of war. These were targeted and far-reaching enterprises. Many people who were interviewed between 1974 and 1985, had repressed or altered their memories of the scale and scope – and their share in it. After questioning, these people did know the scope of the transports and the purpose of the camps often with embarrassment and shame. Their share was presented as fulfilling their orders as a minuscule wheel in a big scheme.


I have also looked at the statistics. Dachau was a concentration camp or a work camp where the prisoners were brought together to work. Most deaths in these camps were caused by heavy work, malnutrition, disease and abuse. Auschwitz II – also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau – was a death camp. Accurate data are no longer available, because these data have been destroyed near the end of the war. Most estimates indicate that approximately 1.3 million people are deported to the camps near Auschwitz. About 1.1 million people died. In Auschwitz II, more than 900,000 people have died according to estimates, of which 57 000 Dutch people – probably my father was one of them. After a journey of many days by train, a selection was made at arrival near the camp. Only the strongest people were selected for labour, the others went their death [5]. The number of deceased Jews in Auschwitz II is similar to all the inhabitants of Amsterdam including several nearby municipalities.


About three quarters of the Dutch Jews have not survived the war. The Jews have been easily selected by the accurate population registers. The deportees have been written out the population registers as “emigrated”. In total, approximately 110,000 Jews are deported from the Netherlands, of which about 5,000 have survived the concentration camps. The number of deceased Dutch Jews is similar to the full population of a city like Delft – including all the elderly and new-borns.

During the Second World War the other government caused the death of between 5,4 and 6 million Jews in Europe [7]. This is more than 700 times the number of soldiers buried on the war cemeteries in Omaha Beach near Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy or Henri Chapelle in Belgium: bottomless suffering.

The train journey to Oświęcim has lasted two days. In Oświęcim I have stepped into the footsteps of my aunt. I have never spoken about my visit to the camps at Auschwitz: I cannot do that and I do not want to. A week later I have returned to Amsterdam; empty inside and empty outside.

Several months later I have written three short poems:

Dust of a journey

Cannot be shaken away

Homely ashes


Volatile lives

Included in our marrow

Infinite time


All and all the world

Shapes in time’s rivers

Animated breath

In the camps near Dachau, I could not find reconciliation. The rooms for reconciliation in Dachau were not inviting for me to enter. On my journey to Dachau I had seen the study model for the continuum in Ulm. This study model included the entire universe in all Her simplicity and limitation. This room for reconciliation gave shelter and it included everything from the universe breathable in security and responsiveness.

After my visit to Auschwitz I have looked in each mirror for hope and consolation. In the mirrors I saw my sad, angry, guilty, acquiesced eyes. And also always the questions: “Who are you” and “How are you related to it and how are you separated from it”. On our Odyssey, we pose the same questions. In standing water I saw reflections of the world. With twigs and stones I have disrupted these images for a short time, but the images came back – bleak, cold, inhospitable.


The cracked glass of the Auschwitz Monument in Amsterdam reflects a part of my feelings after the visit to Auschwitz; personally, I would not crack the mirrors.


In the course of history, Auschwitz is not completely single out. If in a hunter/gatherers society a man wants to replace another man in the relation with a woman, than this struggle may cause the death of one of the men. Groups of people have fought with each other on the ownership of land: this often resulted in a casualty rate of 10% [10]. Since ancient times, the besiege and sacking of cities included customary rituals and rights: looting, killing men and leading women and children away as slaves was common practice. Since classical antiquity, warfare with professional armies is endemically anchored in our societies. With the arising of our current States, conscription is also introduced. By registration, the States did know exactly where the young men and the horses/vehicles were located for deployment during warfare. We know the consequences: on the way to Moscow, Napoleon caused more victims amongst his soldiers than during the horrors on the retreat [11]. The casualties among the soldiers during the German/French wars run into the millions. Battlefields have always been a Armageddon, but the extent and duration of the fighting increased vastly. In addition, the number of civilian victims increased dramatically and the massacres regularly include elements of genocide – think of systematic massacres in Africa and in Cambodia.

But Auschwitz II and the other death camps under the other government in Germany are exceptional. In 1942 and 1943 when the Germany’s conquests slowed down and the war effort were directly felt by the Germans, a scapegoat was easily found and stigmatised. It seems as though the other regime – that already had for 10 years a leader as a “person in the middle” for restoration of the disturbed trust – thought that the sacrifice of a scapegoat may reduce the problems. This sacrifice has been exceptional in size, effort and duration: “The sacrifice was performed with a scientific-systematic, technical nearly impeccable style. Without hurry, well designed, registered and regulated. The direct perpetrators: not rarely brutes and illiterates, but often well-educated and intellectuals with a ineradicable love for literature, arts and music; most of them have been caring house fathers” [12].

In the areas controlled by the other government, everything and everyone should have had a smaller or larger share in execution of this sacrifice. The subsequent efforts to hide this share speak for themselves [13]. In Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah [14] we see a reflection of these efforts to shielding. If I look in the mirror after my visit to Auschwitz, I still see a fraction of this effort for shielding – like my aunt I am not able to speak about this image in the mirror: I cannot and I do not want to.

Many years later, I read that a group of American Buddhists visited Auschwitz for consolation of everything and everyone [15]. From the long lists, they have recited the names of the deceased including the year of birth year and death year. Herewith the size became visible: the age of the deceased varies between a few months and more than 80 years.

My trip to Auschwitz took on breath, two weeks, more than 4500 years, from the beginning of the universe to the present, and from the day before yesterday to the day after tomorrow.

My everyday life In Amsterdam took its course again.

More about this in the following message”, you say.

The following post continues on your life after the journey to Auschwitz.

[1] Free rendering of the last sentence from: Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Amsterdam: Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennip, 1976 p. 152

[2] Source: Glassman, Bernie, Bearing Witness – A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace. New York: Bell Tower, 1998, p. 4

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoah_(film)

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Birkenau_gate.JPG

[5] Sources: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_(concentratiekamp)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_concentration_camp and http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_(concentratiekamp)

[7] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiegel_(optica)

[9] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Auschwitz_monument_amsterdam.JPG

[10] Source: Keegan, John, A History of Warfare. London: Pimlico – Random House, 2004

[11] Source: Zamoyski, Adam, 1812 – Napoleons fatale Veldtocht naar Moskou. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Balans, 2005

[12] Source: First paragraph of the Introduction from – Presser, Jacques, Ondergang. De vervolging en verdelging van het Nederlandse Jodendom 1940-1945 (twee delen), Den Haag: Staatsdrukkerij, 1985 – digitale version.

[13] Amongst others the publishing of “Presser, Jacques, Ondergang. De vervolging en verdelging van het Nederlandse Jodendom 1940-1945 (twee delen)” in 1965 caused discussion on the participation of the Netherlands in this “Sacrifice”.

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoah_(film)

[15] See “Part I” of: Glassman, Bernie, Bearing Witness – A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace. New York: Bell Tower, 1998

You: Man Leben – your foreparents

Shrivelled face

Autumn leaves on the ground

Furrows of life

The first part of the description of your life is about your foreparents and parents before you came in their lives. You tell about you foreparents:

“About 4500 years ago my foreparents entered our history. Before this period they have lived an immeasurable time on earth. A coherent history of this first period is missing. During excavations, in wall paintings, in the landscape, in habits, in behaviours and in words we still see fragments of their lives. The last part of the history of my foreparents is described in the book Wanderings – The History of the Jews [1] by Chaim Potok. As far as I am aware, around 2500 BC my foreparents moved from Mesopotamia to their “Promised Land”. After a brief period in Egypt, they turned back to Jerusalem. Around 600 BC, the Babylonian King ordered to destroy Jerusalem. My foreparents were exiled as prisoners of war to Babylon – the world city with the hanging gardens, where they were treated surprisingly well. A part of my family remained in that city, but around 500 BC my foreparents moved back to Jerusalem – after the destruction Jerusalem was a place where the sheep grazed. Until recently, these old family ties with Babylon continued to exist: we have helped and advised each other through the ages.



After the fall and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans around 70 AD – only the Western Wall of the temple remained – my ancestors moved away to Europe.


Probably until the Crusades they were involved in international trade. At the beginning of the Crusades they have established themselves in Islamic Cordoba. Around the year 1000 AD, Cordoba was a city with more than half a million inhabitants. It was an important financial, commercial and cultural centre of the world and its library contained 400,000 books [5]. They probably were writers and bookkeepers.

In 1236 AD the Spanish King took possession of Cordoba: this was a downturn for my forefathers. They tried to escape persecution by converting themselves to the Catholic faith. This was to no avail, because the persecution was severe against converted Catholics – former Jews and Muslims – who secretly practised their traditional faith.

Finally, around 1500 AD my ancestors moved to the Baltic region in Northern Germany, Poland and Lithuania. They became traders.

A few years after the retreat of Napoleon from Russia, my ancestors moved to the centre of Germany. My mother’s family established themselves in Frankfurt am Main. The family of my father lived in several German cities. In 1927, my mother met my father when he studied at the University in Frankfurt am Main. Erich Fromm [6] was a distant acquaintance from the university. We will encounter his books [6] on our Odyssey. In the beginning of 1933 my parents married. In that same year another regime was established in Germany: Erich Fromm first left to Geneva and afterwards to the United States, and my parents moved to Amsterdam”, you say.

“Little is known of the history of my foreparents”, I say.

“That may be a blessing; many stories end with the words – and they lived happily ever after”, you say.

In the following post we continue with a description of the beginning of your life.

[1] Potok, Chaim, Omzwervingen – De Geschiedenis van het Joodse Volk. ‘s-Gravenhage: BZZTôH 1999

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Wall

[5] Sources: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%B3rdoba_(Spanje) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordoba,_Andalusia

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Fromm

[7] Fromm, Erich, Escape from Freedom. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1941

Fromm, Erich, The Forgotten Language. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1951

Fromm, Erich, The Sane Society (1955)

Fromm, Erich, The Art of Loving (1956)

– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”