Saturday, October 22, 2016

On a Sunny Saturday Afternoon

Red Baron lives in a place called Wiehre. The Wiehre was first mentioned in a document dating 1008 in which King Heinrich II gave the hunting grounds in the area to his loyal vassal Archbishop Aldabero II of Basel as a feud. The Wiehre initially located on the banks of the Dreisam River - the word meaning Wehr (barrage) - is older than Freiburg that was founded in 1220.

Today the Wiehre, Freiburg's largest quarter, is located solely on the left hand side of the river. The city administration distinguishes four parts: the Oberwiehre, i.e., upstream of the Dreisam, the Mittelwiehre, the Unterwiehre and further downstream in the south-west the Heldenviertel (heroes' quarter) where the streets are named after "heroes" of the First World War, e.g., Manfred von Richthofen aka the flying Red Baron.

Last Saturday the blogging Red Baron participated in a guided tour of the Mittelwiehre where my apartment is located. Although I know my quarter pretty well I am never too old to learn something new.

I had tried to reserve a ticket but the people at the Volkshochschule (adult education center) informed me that the tour was fully booked. Nevertheless I went to the meeting point and got in an argument with guide Carola: I cannot take more than twenty people. To make a long story short: At the end five registered persons did not show up what made everybody happy.

We started at the corner of Günterstal-/Urachstraße where before the First World War a hotel named Hohenzollern existed, its name paying tribute to the ruling imperial house. Now the building houses lawyers' offices and doctors' practices.

Note the original streetcars (©Carola Schark)

Here is what is left of Hotel Hohenzollern

Built 1898 by C.Hoßmann - F. Weber, restored 1997

Nearby on Urachstraße the Freiburg transport company (VAG) built their main streetcar depot in 1901. It was used until 1994 when the VAG moved to modern premises in Freiburg's industrial zone west. Now the local fire brigade occupies half of the vast halls while in the other half the Freunde der Freiburger Straßenbahn (Friends of Freiburg Streetcars) restore historical rolling stock.

Streetcar parade in front of the depot
in the years before the First World War (©Carola Schark)
On October 14, 1901 two electrical streetcar lines started operating in Freiburg: Rennweg-Lorettostraße and Rennweg-Günterstal both passing the intersection Günterstal-/Urachstraße. We were just one day late for the 115 years anniversary of the city's electrical streetcar system.

Here is streetcar 38 one of those in the parade above. In service until 1971 it is now in a bad state but will be restored.

Streetcar number 2 was in service until 1954 and was already rebuilt. Its electrical equipment by Siemens dates from 1901 and is still operational. The short wagons with their serial numbers 1 to 71 were making screeching noises when going around narrow bends and therefore Freiburgers affectionately called them Hobl (Alemannic for slicer).

The conservator proudly presents his baby

Carola waving her folder is calling the group to order
We passed the former Anglican church built in 1894 that is now used by Adventists for whom Saturday and not Sunday is the day of rest ...

The saturday afternoon service had just finished

Red Baron had to bow his head
... and the Christuskirche from 1890, the first Lutheran church in the Wiehre, now under reconstruction for the celebration of 500 years of Reformation next year.

Modelling the outside
The oldest school building in historized style initially exclusively for girls is located at the corner Turnsee-/Talstraße:

Municipal primary school
Von der Stadt Freiburg als Mädchenschule erbaut 1899-1902

(Built by the City of Freiburg as a school for girls 1899-1902).
On our way to the rebuilt St. Marienhaus, now a retirement home, we passed Freiburg's Jungendzentrum (youth center) newly built in the 1950s. We just arrived when the Saturday offener Familienbereich (open family sector) from 1400 to 1600 hours had finished. Kids and even babies animated the entrance area.

Freiburg's Youth Center
In the years before 1960 the site was occupied by the municipal sawmill. Firewood from municipal forests was cut up and donated to the poor.

Water driven sawmill (©Carola Schark)
Now the former creek is a miserable rivulet hardly visible through the leaves.

A modern entrance to St. Marienhaus
St. Marienhaus on Talstraße used to be a home for Catholic girls coming to Freiburg as housemaids protecting them against the vices of the "big" city. A historical enamel sign serves as a reminder.

Catholic Protection of Girls, Freiburg'Br.
Catholic girls and saleswomen find advice, shelter & job placement,
 the former at Marienhaus Talstr. No 31,
the latter at St. Annastift Holzmarktplatz No. 12.
Nowadays the building of the Saint Anna Foundation is a retirement home too.

Another reminder of the old premises is the steeple of the former chapel. It was conserved and serves as decoration of the courtyard of the retirement home.

A cosy courtyard
On our way back through Hildastraße we discovered two somewhat hidden landmarks. More than 70 years after the war the front wall of house number 28 still shows a luminescent arrow pointing to the nearest air-raid shelter in the Hof (courtyard).

Never again
In a corner of the front wall of house number 47 a fastening hook for the catenary of Freiburg's streetcar is preserved. The line running through Hildastraße connecting the Hauptbahnhof (main station) with the old Wiehrebahnhof (Wiehre station) was already stopped in 1916 during the First World War.

A painted-over landmark
Our walk in the Mittelwiehre ended at the Kita, i.e., Kindertagesstätte (day care center) opposite of the old Wiehrebahnhof. In the years after the war wooden shanties at the site served various charitable organizations (Swiss Donation, Quaker, CARE) supporting hungry Freiburg citizens. Thank you.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

More Hacking

Dear readers,

In July I reported on the hacking of my blog statistics that came from the east. Now a guy living on the territory of the United States loves to boost the number of my readers. A you may see from the graph there are periodic spikes of 30, i.e., multiples of 10, in the number of visits of my blog.

These fake visits in steps of 10 are clearly visible in the following graph too superimposed by a few real visits.

Yesterday night I suppressed the completely meaningless display of the weekly blog statistics and o wonder, I see no spikes in the upper graph anymore!

What kind of satisfaction do hackers get from spoiling the visitor statistics of my innocent blog? Can't those people use their brains (?) to program something useful? I shall again complain to Google and know already the outcome: no response.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Yesterday evening I received the following e-mail:

Project Update #92: iExpander - an expansion device for your iPhone by Charlie Corry

Status Update posted by Charlie Corry (Creator)

Hi everyone,

I had hoped to be able to give everyone a production schedule by now but are still waiting for the quote from the Engineering & Contract Assembly company to tell us the lead-time and cost to make the minor tweaks to get the product production ready. They have been working in it for 3.5 weeks. We have followed up numerous times and cannot get a commitment from them on a date. As you know, the samples worked but while we were testing them, we did find some things that need to be fixed for the final production run. As soon as we get the dates, I will let you all know.

On other note regarding updates in general: Some of you have stated your desire not to be included on these updates any longer. I would gladly oblige but there is no way for me to take anyone off the email list. The Kickstarter system automatically sends all updates to the email address on file. The only thing I can suggest is setting up your email to automatically send these updates to spam or trash.


This e-mail was the trigger to publish a blog that I had started drafting already two months ago:

The other day Der Spiegel published an article about crowdfunding stressing that some people lost lots of money when projects did not materialize. Naturally these people are mad or as we say in German they are sauer (sour) so the Spiegel article was titled Sauercrowd. The title alone is worth writing a blog about my experience with kickstarter projects and their crowdfunding.

Red Baron likes crowdfunding and has supported tolle Ideen (great ideas) on several occasions. I invested in many startups admittedly with mixed success. Some of the gadgets I pledged for, paid for, and received I never used, however others turned out to be rather practical so I adopted them, but one of the projects never materialized. Well, shit happens. So here comes what will explain the aforementioned e-mail:

My worst case is (possibly was) the so-called iExpander that was supposed to expand "the iPhone's Memory, Camera and Battery Life. Expandable SD Memory, Great Low Light Images & 2X Battery Life!" for the iPhone 4 and later for the iPhone 5! 

Front of the iExpander ©Charlie Corry

Back of the iExpander©
Kickstarter launch was on September 15, 2012, and the funding ended on October 25 with my US $75 included. I shall skip some steps and only mention the scheduled production start on November 22, and the beginning of shipping of the iExpander to Kickstarter backers on December 6, 2012. A tight schedule indeed that was never honored. Yet even now I am still receiving sporadic e-mails. Here is #89 to all backers dated August 26, 2016:

Hi everyone,

Here is the message we received this morning from the Texas design team:

"We have the 2 boards tested and operational. They are being packed up today for shipment tomorrow! No kidding..."

I hope they work for us when we get them. I will advise when we have tested them. Thanks.


No kidding. From all what I have read over the years it seems that the project people are steadily crawling backwards at a time when I acquired the iPhone 7 plus*. Charlie not giving up is fighting a honorable rearguard action.
*The only reason is that the dual camera will allow me to take quality photos in lectures from slide projections.

Being a masochist I am really looking forward to receiving more "progress" reports on the iExpander. But what will I do with a device for my iPhone 5, since long ditched, when the iExpander eventually arrives?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Mystery Solved

At the Museumsgesellschaft yesterday evening Red Baron listened to a talk by Professor Benoît Sittler of the Institut für Naturschutz und Landschaftsökologie in Freiburg: Grönland im Griff des Klimawandels (Greenland in the grip of climatic change). Dr. Sittler, an Alsatien, had been working from 1988 until his retirement in 2014 for the Karupelv-Valley Project in North-East Greenland National Park at an outpost on the eastern coast. Sittler was studying among other ecological topics the lemming mystery.

There is a strong belief that when a lemming population becomes too big the animals commit collective suicide to normalize their number with respect to the food available in the region. Here is what Dr. Sittler and his collaborators found out:

The population of lemmings is closely related to the population of one of their predators, the ermines. The story goes like this:

Lemmings are terribly reproductive with four gestations during an arctic summer. A big population of lemmings presents welcome food to ermines. However, the population of the latter increases slowly with the increasing food supply for ermines have an unusually long gestation period of nine months. As the ermine population increases and that of the lemmings is eaten their population eventually decreases to a level that there is no longer enough food for all those ermines. When then the ermine population decreases due to starvation that of the lemmings starts to rise again*. This interaction formed a periodic cycle of four years until 2000 when a dramatic change in the population of lemmings was observed that is attributed to climatic change.
*A colleague wrote me that such a timely behavior is described by the Lotka–Volterra equations, a system of coupled multi-parameter differential equations with periodic solutions. Thanks Walter.

Greenland suffers from an accentuated climatic change as the two photos below show. Snow and ice in the mountains have dramatically decreased between 1989 and 2007.

Following the year 2000 the Sittler's research team observed another anomaly: an increasing number of polar bears going ashore in their quest for food.

The ice floes from where the polar bears used to hunt seals, their favorite food, practically disappeared at the shore near Sittler's camp starting around 2000. The aggressiveness of those hungry polar bears becomes dangerous so the researchers had to protect their tents with a high-voltage charged fence during the night.

Greenland is losing ice at a rapid rate. Icebergs are calving from the front fold line of glaciers:

Here is a graph about the build-up of Greenland's kilometer-thick ice cap showing how its weight depresses the land level.

With the lemming mystery solved another mystery is shown in the following diagram:

Temperature black, CO2 concentration blue
When analyzing deep borings of Greenland's ice cap glacial and warm periods are observed over the last 400,000 years. The periodic cycle of about 100,000 years is attributed among other things to changes in the position of the Earth in comparison to the Sun, now known as Milankovitch cycles. It was noted that at the same time the CO2 concentration of the air in the ice borings varying from 180 to 280 ppm runs nicely in parallel with the temperature as the diagram shows.

In fact, over the last 10,000 years the mean concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere stayed around 280 ppm but during the last 150 years that value has risen to 350 ppm caused by human activities. This increase above 280 ppm is said to be responsible for the observed global warming.

What can we learn from the above long-term graph? What caused the CO2 concentration to vary with temperature? One mystery solved, a new one to be understood.

N.B. All pictures are © Dr. Benoît Sittler

Friday, October 7, 2016

Renaming One Dozen

In 2012 Freiburg's city council engaged a commission of experts to assess the names of Freiburg's streets in terms of persecution of minorities, dictatorship, antisemitism, militarism, nationalism, chauvinism, and colonialism.

Yesterday the commission presented a short list A of streets to be renamed and a longer list B where explanatory texts should be added to existing street signs.

Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler's Steigbügelhalter (stirrup holder), leads the dozen.
Here are the short list of names A, links to Wikipedia, and some explanatory remarks:

Alban-Stolz-Straße: Alban Stolz (1808-1883) was a professor of theology and a professing anti-Semite. His literary works are marked by a racist-based aggressive antisemitism.

Eckerstraße: Alexander Ecker (1816-1887) was a professor of anatomy. He assembled a collection of skulls from Africa, Peru, and Malaysia that according to the commission helped found racist ideologies in the 20th century.

Gallwitzstraße: Max von Gallwitz (1852-1937) was a general in the First World War. He was a strong supporter of the Dolchstoßlegende (stab-in-the-back myth) and a revisionist of the Versailles Treaty as being a Schanddiktat (dictate of shame).

Hegarstraße: Ernst Ludwig Alfred Hegar (1830-1914) was a professor of gynaecology. He was one of the first advocates of a state regulated reproduction of humans.

HindenburgstraßePaul von Hindenburg (1847-1934) started it all!

Julius-Brecht-Straße: Although after the war Julius Brecht (1900-1962) was member of the SPD and of Germany's Bundestag (House of Representatives) he had joined the NSDAP in 1938 and  defrauding Jewish citizens in the Nazi era. A renaming commission in Hannover was faster with its "negative" vote than the one in Freiburg.

Lexerstraße: Erich Lexer (1867-1937) was a professor of surgery. He was a supporting member of the SS and responsible for the forced sterilization of 1050 persons.

Ludwig-Aschoff-Platz: Ludwig Aschoff (1866-1942) was a professor of pathology. His thinking, research, and political actions were determined by race hygienic and ethnic nationalism.

Ludwig-Heilmeier-Weg: Ludwig Heilmeyer (1899-1969) was a professor of medicine. He was member in the SA Freikorps (volunteer corps) and co-founder of the National Socialist German Dozentenbund (federation of university lecturers).

Martin-Heidegger-Weg: About Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) you may want to re-read my blogs starting with Heidegger's Götterdämmerung, through Heidegger's Black Notebooks, and ending with Heidegger And No End.

Rennerstraße: Johann Jacob Renner (around 1600) was Schultheiß (sheriff) in Freiburg. In 1599 he sent twelve women to be burned at the stake as witches. Note that J. J. Renner has no article in Wikipedia but will surely get one.

Sepp-Allgeier-Straße: Sepp Allgeier (1895-1968) was a prominent cinematographer before and during the Third Reich where he made Nazi propaganda films.

You will note that most those persons were professors at Freiburg's university. So the university will certainly comment on the recommendation of the commission.

In the meantime a shitstorm has broken loose on Facebook.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Berlin Theater

Germany's capital has a flourishing theater scene. Long before I travelled to Berlin for a family celebration in September I looked through the offers on the Internet and choose two plays on two consecutive evenings: Die Räuber (The Robbers) by Friedrich Schiller at the Brecht Theater and Die Mutter (The Mother) by Bertold Brecht, well not at the Schiller Theater* but at the Schaubühne.
*Berlin's Schiller Theater closed in 1993 due to financial problems.

Red Baron loves the theater and had his fill when living in Munich as a student and young scientist. During my time at CERN I really missed the cool German acting compared to the theatrical performance of French actors. Therefore I took any opportunity to go to the theater when in Austria (Vienna's Burgtheater!) or in Germany. However, as time went by I saw original classical texts modified, in later years plays were even rewritten so that eventually the so-called Regietheater (director's theater) started to piss me off.

This is one reason that my enthusiasm for the theater has somewhat declined. However last year I saw a remarkable performance of Les mains sales (Dirty hands) by Jean-Paul Sartre at Berlin's Deutsches Theater so I decided to give Berlin's theaters another try during my recent visit.

On my way to the theater walking along Schiffbauerdamm on a lazy sunny late afternoon

The Bert Brecht Theater at Schiffbauerdamm.
Note the guy at the entrance selling pretzels.

The master cast in bronze
The Robbers was the first theater play young Friedrich Schiller wrote in his Sturm und Drang period. At that time Die Räuber was both a scandal and a success with the word Freiheit (liberty) being uttered and shouted throughout the play. Indeed, the story of the fight between the two brothers for their father's heritage and for the same girl leaves all liberties to stage directors.

Three years ago Red Baron had seen a performance of The Robbers at Freiburg's theater. The scenery had been reduced to an inclined plane that in the course of the drama became slippery with body fluids. The climax near the end concerned Amalia, the subject of all desire. She was standing at the top of the inclined plane looking down on to the two brothers Karl and Franz trying hard but in vain to climb the wet surface. To spur their efforts Amalia spontaneously lifted her robe and exposed her private parts.

Red Baron happened to be in a performance with many school kids watching Schiller's masterpiece possibly as an assignment who suddenly discharged their frustrations in a pubertal howling. This caused the actor who was playing Karl to come to the front of the stage and rebuke those adolescents seriously. There was a perfect silence on our way out.

When in Berlin one of my questions was: Can the director of Die Räuber at the Brecht Theater top the Freiburg performance? Body fluids again were an important ingredient copiously sprayed on a flat stage. As a precaution against any spill the first row of seats had been left empty. Nevertheless Red Baron sitting in third row was hit although just by a crumpled up paper that landed on my lap. It was Karl's famous letter that Franz had falsified. In the play Franz reads it aloud to his father blackening his brother.

My souvenir
Generally the action on stage was more animated and brutal than at Freiburg when, e.g., the gang of robbers used their six-shooters.

Wind machines and chaos ©Bert Brecht Theater
Near the end Amalia's performance in Freiburg was topped with Franz die Kanaille (the scoundrel) walking up to the front of the stage stark naked. Well, he did not turn me on.

The following evening I saw Brecht's play Die Mutter.The action is located in Czarist Russia in the years 1905 to 1917 where social tensions give rise to communist ideas. Mother Pelagea Vlassova is against her son's engagement in protest activities but as time goes by Pelagea not only supports Pavel's underground activities against the czarist oppression of the working class but becomes the leading figure in the fight for the workers' rights.

I noticed that in this play Brecht's famous Verfremdungseffekt (alienation effect) was somewhat lacking. This absence however posed no problem for the stage director.

Suddenly the colored (!) actor and bass guitar player in Czarist Russia (in the picture on the right) started reciting a strange text. Fortunately Mother Pelagea explained the mystery to me and the mostly young audience: Our colored friend had simply been carried away by his desire to become a serious actor in playing the Prince of Homburg. Although I had seen Heinrich von Kleist's Prinz von Homburg at Berlin's Maxim Gorki Theater in 2011 I had not recognized the unexpected words.

Looking at today's social situation: Is Brecht's key phrase in Die Mutter still valid? Already the Greek knew πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei) "everything flows".

* It does not remain as it stands ©Schaubühne
Red Baron enjoyed both evenings.

Monday, October 3, 2016


Since last Tuesday my neighborhood, die Wiehre, has been all excited. Over the preceding two weeks artist Tom Brane had been implementing a painting on the front of a house located at the corner of Konradstraße/Kirchstraße. He had the consent of the owner who apparently was happy that with Brane's embellishing action the ugly graffitis would disappear.

Red Baron frequently passes the building built during the 1870s in a historicist style. I had always wondered about the bad external condition of the house with front and side faces being disfigured by graffiti. Hence, Brane's work must be regarded as an improvement of the deplorable site. Here is a photo of his oeuvre still in progress:

It seems that there will be no progress anymore unless you regard a whitewash of Brane's painting as such. What happened? One of the neighbors felt disturbed by Brane's activity and informed Freiburg's construction authorities. They ordered the immediate stop of all painting activities with the argument that the house in question is under landmark preservation: Wir gehen im Moment davon aus, dass das Graffito eine erhebliche Beeinträchtigung des Denkmals darstellt (At the moment we consider the graffito as a substantial impairment of the landmark). The ordered stop also prevents the side face, still untouched, from being painted.

In the meantime many neighbors are collecting signatures in favor of a continuation of Brane's oeuvre. The initiator of the supporting campaign thinks that the opinion of the people is clear: The artwork must be finished.

Brane himself argued that over the last 15 years nobody had given a hoot about landmark preservation when the house had been in a sad state disfigured by graffiti while his work embellishes the building. However, this is not a valid argument for it is obvious that landmark preservation cannot protect landmarks 24 hours a day against sprayers but must fight any deliberate modification.

Here is a close-up showing some supporting  slogans written on panels: We are Wiehre; We are Freiburg; We are cosmopolitan & tolerant; We love art, children, creativity*; We love a beautiful & harmonious life with each other.
*In German alliterated: Kunst, Kinder, Kreativität. Germany has advanced a long way from the three Ks being interpreted as Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church) in the Second Reich.

Please continue the painting
Will the book of petition signatures change into a book of condolences next week?

P.S.: On October 10, members of Freiburg's landmark commission visited the building and broke the deadlock without losing face. The commission inspected the inside of the house and stated that changes made between 1968 and 1979 to historical surfaces and equipment inside are such that the building can no longer be regarded as a landmark. Although this decision raises many a question what counts is that Tom Brane may continue with his graffito and everybody is happy.

Monday, September 26, 2016

University Ranking

Already last week the annual results of the World University Ranking 2016/2017 were published and Freiburg's university is among the top one hundred. Before you break into joy note that last year Freiburg ranked 84 and has lost eleven places since then. With respect to the national ranking the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität dropped too, i.e., from 7th into 9th place. Times Higher Education assessed 980 universities world-wide with respect to teaching, research, citations, technology transfer, and internationalization. The Badische Zeitung criticized that the recent study did not take into account Freiburg's new university library yet.

Red Baron studied at the universities of Tübingen, Göttingen, and Munich. Well, Tübingen, 89, now ranks in front of Freiburg, 95. Göttingen, the stronghold of physics in the twenties of the last century, is only in 112th place while Munich's university climbed to rank 30.

When I passed Göttingen train station last weekend on my way to my annual class reunion I read below the station panel: Stadt, die Wissen schafft (A play on words: Göttingen, not a city of science but a city generating knowledge). Do they really need that advertising and will the claim help pushing the ranking of my former alma mater next year?

©Wikipedia/Medoim 90
By the way, the ranking of the University of Wisconsin Madison in Freiburg's sister city is 45, an excellent position world-wide.

©Times Higher Education
Note that in the ranking from one to ten all universities are "English-speaking" except for the ETH Zürich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. But remember, languages are never a problem in polyglott Switzerland. The only surprise of this year's ranking is that venerable Oxford reached first place pushing Caltec into second place while all those famous American heavyweights like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and Princeton are following up whereas in the usual competition between Oxford and Cambridge (UK) the latter remains in fourth place.

Here on the lighter side I present a graffiti at a wall of Freiburg's university. I know about sexists but are there Sexistinnen, i.e., female sexists? Fact is that at Freiburg's university the number of female students, 52.6%, has surpassed the number of male students. In addition female students generally are more diligent and achieve better marks. Does this mean that they now show off with respect to their male colleagues? Was one of the latter frustrated when he demanded that female sexists should go home?


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ceci n'est pas une arme

Last week Red Baron changed languages. Instead of practicing his English he went to the French Summer University at the Frankreich Zentrum of Freiburg's university. This year's topic? Cartoons or rather caricatures before and after Charlie Hebdo. There were courses, conferences, and discussions on the history, the meaning, and the importance of caricatures.

I was particularly interested in political cartoons and will show you a collection starting with a graffiti found in Rome's catacombs. Many Roman citizens disliked the infiltration of the Christian faith into their society and were opposed to the new religion. The following drawing shows Christ on the cross with the head of a donkey and a caption written in clumsy Greek letters. The translation from Greek, the lingua franca of the ancient world, into the lingua franca of today: Alexancenos praying to God. Was it a classmate of Alexancenos who pulled his friend's leg?

The time of the Reformation saw the breakthrough of political caricatures that were mostly aimed against the Church or simply anti-Semitic. Wood engravings were easily reproduced and copies widely distributed. Messages expressed in pictures even reached the mostly illiterate population. The caricature of 1545 is titled: The pope awards a concilium to Germany. Emperor Ferdinand had in fact planned a council dealing with the complaints of the Protestant movement against the Roman Church to be held on German territory. Instead Pope Paul III summoned his Catholic peers to Trient to discuss reforms within the Church excluding the Protestants. The cartoon shows the pope riding a pig and carrying a pile of stinking shit in place of a monstrance. Luther himself wrote the explanatory text: Pig you have to let yourself be ridden with spurs on both sides. You want to have a concilium? Well, take my poopilium instead.

A caricature dated 1305 of a Jewish Rabbi at the Marktkirche in Wittenberg sucks even more. In his essay Vom Schem Hamphoras (1543), Luther commented on this Judensau sculpture echoing the anti-Semitism of his time; he located the Talmud in the sow's bowels: Here on our church in Wittenberg a sow is sculpted in stone. Young pigs and Jews lie suckling under her. Behind the sow a rabbi is bent over the sow, lifting up her right leg, holding her tail high and looking intensely under her tail and into her Talmud, as though he were reading something acute or extraordinary, which is certainly where they get their Shemhamphoras*.
*The word describes the hidden name of God in the Kabbalah

I took the photo in 2004 during a bicycle tour to Lutherland
In 1988 Wittenberg's city council tried to mitigate the gross offence by placing a sculpture down below recognizing that during the Holocaust six million Jews were murdered "under the sign of the cross". Recently people have started a petition that on the occasion of next year's 500th anniversary of the Reformation the Judensau sculpture be removed.

©Wikipedia/Torsten Schleese
France has a rich tradition of political caricature that started much earlier than Honoré Daumier, the uncontested master. One of the sensations in modern history was the Renversement des Alliances when in 1756 Austria allied with the archenemy of the Reich against Prussia's Frederick the Great. In good Austrian tradition (Tu felix Austria nube) Maria-Theresia sealed the new alliance by marrying off her youngest daughter to the French Dauphin. In the caricature the Austrian ambassador presents a Pandora's Box containing Marie-Antoinette to a delighted Louis XV.

The reversal of the alliances was extremely unpopular in France and the citoyens directed their displeasure against the Austrian/ostrich chicken: I easily digest gold and money but I cannot swallow the constitution [of 1791].

Pigs remain popular in caricature with Miss Piggy and Pigs in Space but more than two centuries earlier in 1791 King Louis XVI and his family of pigs were returned to their stables. They had tried to escape the French Revolution and to reach the northern border where domestic and foreign reactionary forces were stationed. But in vain; the Royal Family was recognized half-way in the city of Varennes and triumphantly brought back to Paris by revolutionary troops.

Napoleon was a welcome target of caricatures. The famous James Gillray drew The Plum-pudding in danger: _or_State Epicures taking un Petit Souper. The cartoon shows William Pitt, wearing a regimental uniform and hat, sitting at a table with the petit caporal Napoleon who tries to make himself taller by wearing an enormous hat. Both are carving a large plum pudding representing the world. While Napoleon is all eager to cut out Europe Pitt is cutting much wider with his slice being considerably larger than that of Napoleon.

Later at the Vienna Congress the Big Four sit around a table eager to eat a pâté being described as indigestible. The cartoon refers to the year 1815 when Napoleon having escaped from his custody at Elba had a short hundred-day comeback in France. Hidden in the pâté he comments: They will not have an upset stomach. From left to right Prussia declares: I am hungry as a devil. Russia remarks: I think the pâté is rather stale, while Britain will generously procure the wine?! Finally Austria says: Let us attack together. Under the table we see Louis XVIII, the restored French king, complaining: I shall have the crumbs.

Let me finish with today's cartoon in the Badische Zeitung where a German(?) physician is checking the health of the presidential candidates.