Sunday, 17 January 2010

what were they thinking??

sometimes it's a tad embarrassing to be part German.
it's all very well that my grandparents left the country in 1936
when Pa was a babe in arms
one is still guilty by association

on the beach at Tranum there are two bunkers
built by the German armed forces
more probably
built by Danish farmers pressed firmly into service
by German armed forces

imagine Feldwebel Utting, aged 19, cowering in this dark and sinister hole
does he wonder what he's doing here?
why he's not at home brushing the cows
and raking the hay?
does he miss his mother?

viewed up close the walls are quite beautiful in their own way
calcium from the water has made marks
and visiting artists made a few others

and how many Viking arrowheads, flint pebbles and cowl stones are lost in the aggregate added to the concrete mix?

there's something odd, though

the bunkers appear to have been built using timber formwork
but at the back and on one other side
there are marks like runes
made from the attachment of some fibre object to the formwork
was it some enterprising Danish soul
adding a permanent message to the outside of this monstrous construction?

if it was a subversive act
did Obersturmbannführer Bielefeld order retaliation?

the only thing known for certain is that these bunkers were built to last
nothing short of blowing them up will remove them
and this violent act
is shunned by the Danes

a pretty awful thing to do to a country
take over by force
and then leave a lasting monument
like a big stinking pile of dog poo
on the beach

and yet, in an odd way, they have a strange beauty.
it's a curious whirled.

ps thanks for all your friendly visits and comments, they're much appreciated.
i'll drop in and visit when i'm back home and have more time


  1. I am descended from a similar ancestry. Thank you for sharing your view of this mark-making. Wander safely.

  2. a positive take on extreme evil. a witness, evidence; we need to remember. thank you for seeing more and telling a story.

  3. Your stories and perspective are "amazable." This is a term invented by my friend's four year old daughter to offer up a positive critique of the highest order.

  4. A far cry from seeing you in Northcote looking at Japanese fabrics.
    You do get around and have the most remarkable vision.I hope you can continue for a very long time doing what you do.

  5. Thanks for a wonderful post here, India. I suspect however 'ugly' these 'monuments' might appear to us, given their lack of aesthetic appeal, they are an important part of our history.

    I admire the German people of today for, by and large, I think they have worked hard to deal with the legacy of their past.

    There are many other nationalities throughout the world, most in fact, which have similar shameful legacies and they are not always so able and prepared to acknowledge and deal with them.

    Here in Australia the shameful treatment of our indigenous people comes immediately to mind and that's still alive. It was worse in the past perhaps but it's still bad now.

    My parents and ancestors are mainly Dutch but I have a German grandparent way back. The Dutch certainly suffered during the war, as my parents have told me, but the Dutch have also committed atrocities in their past on those countries they once colonised . I think of places like Indonesia.

    If we look back far enough in our pasts, we all have shameful aspects to our ancestry which we do well to acknowledge. That's why I respect and value the continuation of monuments such as the one you describe so powerfully here and I argue for the continuous telling and retelling of stories about the past.

    However much we will inevitably reconstruct the past, we still need to try to remember and address and evaluate as many perspectives as possible. How else can we learn if not from our past mistakes, as well as from our ancestors' achievements.

    Sorry for such a long comment but this post really hit me where it matters. Thanks again.

  6. Elisabeth gave a wonderful comment, it is a striking post. Here in my neighbourhood (the dunes of Noord-Holland the Netherlands) they still discover them in the sand. And dutch aren't dutch as they didn't change them into holliday homes....not my idea of vacation.
    Have a good time in're so close by I sense it (lol)

  7. Elisabeth has hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, I think taking over "by force and then leave a lasting monument like a big stinking pile of dog poo" is something just about every culture has done at one time or another...certainly we in the west are guilty of doing it over and over again throughout history.

  8. thank you all for your thoughts, especially Elisabeth who took the trouble to leave such a long and well-considered comment.
    i agree entirely that it's important not to forget
    and of course, these things are going on still, on every continent in the world.

  9. Some p-laces have a voice of their own, no matter how ugly the intention of the design, nature can soften. Some things, we need... One thing that irritates me so much about England is all of the silences and memorial days lest we forget. Yet we follow America into horrific and unecessary wars... These buildings speak louder than politicians and with a clarity.