Constantin Joffé: the fate of a prisoner-of-war

Liberation.c.930

Liberation.c.930

One of the most striking aspects of the Liberation Collection is the huge number of books consisting of personal narratives, containing the memories of people involved in and affected by World War II. Through dealing with these books one becomes very intrigued by and connected with their authors, their experiences and their suffering. Instances of personal narratives in the Liberation Collection vary widely, in terms of the backgrounds to which the authors belonged, in terms of the topics they choose to address or the quality of the publications themselves. But they all share a deeply human and personal view of the tragic conflict. Here is one example. Continue reading

“Not so much as a loin-cloth”

The World Naked bike ride comes to Cambridge for the third time on Saturday and this prompted me to think about how differing attitudes to nudity across Europe would be reflected in the University Library’s collections. Further research revealed that our holdings are reasonably strong in English, French and German but almost non-existent in other languages. I think this in itself is an indication of the places where naturist movements have been more prevalent or of more interest. Indeed it was Germany and France that led the way in the early 20th century with organised nudist groups.

In Germany, naturism is still referred to as FKK, short for Freikörperkultur, a movement led by Adolf Koch during the 1920s and 1930s. Nacktheit und Kultur: Adolf Koch und die proletarische Freikörperkultur (C207.c.1308) by Andrey Georgieff and Freikörperkultur und Lebenswelt: Studien zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte der Freikörperkultur in Deutschland (416.d.99.13) tell more of this story. For an English language analysis see Naked Germany: health, race and the nation (570:35.c.200.52) by Chad Ross. During the East German regime FKK was particularly popular, perhaps as a way of displaying individuality in a somewhat restrictive State, and differences between the former East and West are still noticeable today. Continue reading

New Weimar on the Pacific

This post is written by David Lowe, who retired from our department in April.  We hope it is the first of many retirement-era contributions.

When in August 2001 the University Library acquired its copy of Roland Jaeger’s New Weimar on the Pacific: the Pazifische Presse and German exile publishing in Los Angeles, 1942-48 (862.c.504), a history of the small private press which published eleven German language titles between 1942 and 1948, we had none of the books in the collection.  That omission has now been partly rectified, and in recent years we have bought four titles, three of them presented by the Friends of the Library from the legacy of Mrs Margaret Green, wife of the former Schröder Professor of German Dennis Green.

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Cricket: A very Flemish game

If you are a cricket fan you will know that the ICC Champions Trophy started yesterday. This guest post by Dr Jaap Harskamp (formerly Curator of Dutch & Flemish collections at the British Library) gives some interesting background to the history of the game and connections with Flanders and the Flemish.

During the medieval period Flanders dominated the European textile industry, but had to import wool from England since its own production was insufficient in quantity. In return, England imported Flemish cloth. To remind the nation of the importance of the trade, Edward III ordered that the Speaker of the House of Lords should sit on a woolsack. Large numbers of Flemish immigrants crossed the Channel and settled in England. Weavers Lane in Southwark, is a reminder that Flemish craftsmen once occupied the area. Immigrants also established the so-called New Draperies, first into Norwich and then to villages in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex during the 1570s, producing fabrics that were lighter and cheaper than the traditional woollens.

Cricket originated in the sheep-rearing country of the South East, where the short grass of its fields made it possible to bowl a ball of wool at a target. That target was usually the wicket-gate of the sheep pasture, which was defended with a bat in the form of a shepherd’s crooked staff. The word wicket – in the original sense of a small door or grille – was derived from Anglo-Norman French and Old Northern French ‘wiket’. The word was also in use in Middle Dutch. Continue reading

Serbia’s Great War in photographs : the May 2017 Slavonic item of the month

The Kingdom of Serbia’s involvement in the First World War saw a proportional loss of life which far outstripped that of the other Allies.  Ratni album (War album), published in Belgrade in 1926, commemorates the war with both reverence and realism.  From photographic portraits of victorious generals to pictures of the combatant and civilian dead, this extraordinary volume captures it all.

The front cover, with a standard ruler along the left to provide scale.  Close-ups of some details of the cover are provided at the end of this post.

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