Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Stolpersteine in Gladbeck

A Stolperstein (from German, literally "stumbling stone", metaphorically a "stumbling block" or a stone to "stumble upon", plural Stolpersteine) is a cobblestone-size concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution. 
The Stolperstein art project was initiated by the German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, and is still ongoing. It aims at commemorating individual persons at exactly the last place of residency—or, sometimes, work—which was freely chosen by the person before he or she fell victim to Nazi terror, euthanasia, eugenics, was deported to a concentration or extermination camp, or escaped persecution by emigration or suicide.
As of 31 January 2017, over 56,000 Stolpersteine have been laid in 22 European countries, making the Stolperstein project the world's largest decentralized memorial.
Boinero Peter Jarosch cycles around 4000 kilometers a year in the city of Gladbeck and surroundings. 
Jarosch received the town plaque, especially because of his services to the regular care of the "Stolpersteine" in the city area, reminding the fate of the Nazis persecuted and murdered Gladbeckers.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Günter Willumeit

Günter Willumeit (1941 - 2013) was a German humorist, parodist, entertainer and dentist.
At the end of the war, in 1945, he fled to Holstein (Germany) with his parents and sister as refugees from East Prussia.
He studied dentistry and in his spare time he performed as an entertainer in pubs, and had much success with his jokes and parodies. His source of inspiration: the village environment in which he had grown up.
His best known performance, or alter ego, was farmer/tractor driver Herr Piepenbrink.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bernard Heiliger

Bernhard Heiliger (1915  - 1995, Berlin) was a German artist. He was considered "West Germany's foremost sculptor", and his large public artworks are a prominent presence in many German cities, especially Berlin.
He studied under Arno Breker. In 1941 he was drafted into the army and served as a radio operator on the Eastern Front for two years, before he received an exemption from military service through the intervention of Breker. Despite this he was drafted again in 1944, after which he fled as a deserter through northern Germany.
Heiliger's design for the Memorial to Unknown Political Prisoners (1953) brought him his first international recognition, earning him the Prize of the National Government and a prize from the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Heiliger participated in several prominent international exhibits, such as the documenta I & II in Kassel (1955 and 1959) and the Venice Biennale (1956), and by commissions such as sculptures for the German pavilion at the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels. In 1956 he became a member of the Berlin Academy of Art.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


A few days ago I watched the beautiful documentary Kedi (Turkish for Cats), a documentary about the thousands of scrappy wild cats that prowl Istanbul with insouciance.
Not just an entertaining insight into a magnificent city (cherishing good memories of many visits), I found the film deeply humane. And better still, it portrayed a Turkish boinero (and there are not many around).
And for the cat loving boineros among you: check out the 'Cat Berets' at the One-Offs page.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Hildegard Knef

Hildegard Frieda Albertine Knef (1925 –2002) was a German actress, singer and writer. She was billed in some English language films as Hildegard Neff or Hildegarde Neff.
Knef began studying acting at the age of 14, in 1940 and at 15 became an apprentice animator with Universum Film AG. After she had a successful screen test, she went to the State Film School at Babelsberg, Berlin, where she studied acting, ballet and elocution. Hitler's propaganda minister Josef Goebbels wrote to her and asked to meet her, but Knef's friends wanted her to stay away from him.
Knef appeared in several films before the fall of the Third Reich, but most were released only afterward. During the Battle of Berlin, Knef dressed as a soldier in order to stay with her lover Ewald von Demandowsky, and joined him in the defence of Schmargendorf. The Soviets captured her and sent her to a prison camp.
Her reputation in the U.S. was hurt because of her nude scenes in the German film Die Sünderin (1950) and because at the age of 19 she fell in love with a Nazi.
During her career, she performed in over 50 films. Nineteen of her films were produced in different countries other than Germany; the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Austria and Spain.
Knef died in Berlin where she moved after German reunification. The Associated Press reported that she died of a lung infection at the age of 76. Knef smoked heavily for most of her life and suffered from emphysema.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Wolf Vostell

Wolf Vostell (1932 –1998) was a German painter and sculptor, considered one of the early adopters of video art and installation art and pioneer of Happening and Fluxus. Techniques such as blurring and Dé-coll/age are characteristic of his work, as is embedding objects in concrete and the use of television sets in his works.
His first Happening, Theater is in the Street, took place in Paris in 1958, and incorporated auto parts and a TV. In 1958, he took part in the first European Happening in Paris and he produced his first objects with television sets and car parts.
Wolf Vostell was the first artist in art history to integrate a television set into a work of art. Vostell’s sculptures made from cars and concrete are to be found in Cologne Ruhender Verkehr (Stationary traffic) from 1969, in Berlin Zwei Beton-Cadillacs in Form der nackten Maja (Concrete Cadillacs) from 1987 as well as VOAEX (Viaje de (H)ormigón por la Alta Extremadura) from 1976 in the Museo Vostell Malpartida in Malpartida de Cáceres, Spain and Concrete Traffic from 1970 in Chicago.
Vostell also gained recognition for his drawings and objects, such as images of American B-52 bombers, published under the rubric "capitalist realism" and as a result of his inclusion of television sets with his paintings. Nam June Paik and Vostell were both participants in the Fluxus movement and the work of both artists involved a critique of the fetishization of television and the culture of consumption.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


October calls for Oktoberfest; a good cause to celebrate German Baskenmütze. Reduced in price and available in a variety of models in black and navy. 
Oktoberfest is the world's largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair). Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it is a 16- to 18-day folk festival, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year.
Locally, it is often called the Wiesn, after the colloquial name for the fairgrounds, Theresa's Fields (Theresienwiese). The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since the Middle Ages. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations that are modeled after the original Munich event.
During the event, large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed: during the 16-day festival in 2013, for example, 7.7 million litres were served.
Over the next few weeks, posts from and about Germany on The Beret Project.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Maréchal Pétain speaks to Peasants in Pau, 1941

These scans come from the official magazine published in honor of Marshall Pétain's visit to Pau (the capital of Béarn) in April, 1941.
The Marshall, hero of WWI and leader of the Nazi collaborative Vichy government during WWII, spoke to Béarnaise peasants and visited a livestock show.
After the war, Pétain was tried and convicted for treason. He was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Pétain died in 1951.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017


Yes, gone... But only for a few days during these (southern hemisphere) spring school holidays.
Back in Wellington in 5 days and all orders placed in the meantime will be posted immediately after my return.
And while away, a daily special beret picture every day.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Shepherd from Béarn

Auguste Casassus is a traditional shepherd in the Vallée d'Ossau (Béarn) and during the winter in the Gers district. 
This beautiful portrait shows what life is like for a shepherd during the summer months in the high Pyrenees. M Casussus was 78 years old at the time of filming. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Seán Hemingway

Seán Hemingway never knew his grandfather Ernest, but has gotten to know him by spending time with his original manuscripts. In 2004, after editing two collections of Ernest Hemingway's short-form writing, Seán took on the project of restoring A Moveable Feast, the great writer's memoir of his life in Paris during the 1920s, and worked on it during nights and weekends for five years while keeping his day job as curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Stilts in Gascony

In the wastes of Gascony stilt walking was formerly a means of locomotion adapted to the nature of the country. The waste lands were then great level plains covered with stunted bushes and dry heath. Moreover, on account of the permeability of the subsoil, all the declivities were transformed into marshes after the slightest fall of rain.
  There were no roads of any kind, and the population, relying upon sheep raising for a living, was much scattered. It was evidently in order to be able to move around under these very peculiar conditions that the shepherds devised and adopted stilts....
The shepherds of Landes, accustomed from their childhood to this sort of exercise, acquire an extraordinary freedom and skill therein. The tchanguè knows very well how to preserve his equilibrium; he walks with great strides, stands upright, runs with agility, or executes a few feats of true acrobatism, such as picking up a pebble from the ground, plucking a flower, simulating a fall and quickly rising, running on one foot, etc.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Thomas Page

Thomas Page was born in New York today 108 years ago. He attended high school for two years. During the early years of the Depression, Page was unable to find employment and for a brief period resorted to the illegal manufacture and sale of liquor. Page's politicization began through his involvement in the Unemployed Councils, and he joined the Communist party in 1934. 
"As I understood events in that particular era," he later remembered, "it was the Communist party who did anything. Everybody else just talked." Page left for Europe aboard the Washington, on March 10, 1937. In Spain his first assignment was to drive a truck in a convoy heading for the Cordoba Front. There he was attached to a machine gun company of the 20th International Battalion. Page was eventually reassigned to the XVth Brigade's Auto Park where he served as a driver. He later joined the Lincoln-Washington Battalion. Having proved himself in combat, Page was made a squad leader, noted for the care and time he took in training young Spanish conscripts assigned to his unit. During the Ebro Campaign, Page was twice cited for bravery. Late in the offensive he received severe wounds to his shoulder and stomach and spent much of his remaining time in Spain hospitalized. He returned to the United States on the Ausonia on December 20, 1938. Back in New York, Page worked as a guard at the Soviet Pavilion at the New York World's Fair and then in the New York fur market. When World War II began, Page joined the U. S. Army. Assigned to Company C, 376th Engineering Brigade he served in North Africa, Italy and France. After the war Page took up photography and learned camera repair. During the 1950s, he had several visits from the FBI. These eventually stopped because he persistently refused to talk to them. Later Page worked for the Bell Telephone Company until his retirement. He died in April 1985.