Preußisches Heeresarchiv in Potsdam, Zentralnachweiseamt für Kriegerverluste und Kriegsgräber in Berlin

The “Prussian Military Archive” in Potsdam and the “Central Registry Office for Warrior Losses and War Graves” in Berlin.

These archives were destroyed by bombing in 1945, making it harder to research German participation in World War I. This according to historian Jesper Zedlitz.

Mr. Zedlitz analyzed 31,000 pages of official “losses lists” from W.W.I by crowdsourcing them to hundreds of volunteers who were interested in learning about their ancestors. The 700 volunteers indexed about 90% of the pages.

The German Reich published these lists from 1914 to 1919. They contained the names of people killed, wounded, missing and captured. The names weren’t in alphabetical order, but sorted by military unit: regiments, batallions, companies, etc. Also, the Prussian, Bavarian, Württembergisch and Saxon armies, the Kaiser’s Navy and the Kaiser’s Protective Troops all kept their own counts and published separate lists. The lists were in tiny print, in the difficult obsolete “Fraktur” fonts, in three columns with about 300 entries per page.

Mr. Zedlitz said during the war many errors were made in the many steps between dictating the names in the field and publishing the losses lists in Berlin. Handwriting was involved. Typesetting keyboards were also different from today’s qwerty keyboards, and so typical typesetting errors involved switching different letters.

Observations from the accessed data:

In 1917 they stopped publishing the identifying date of birth, presumably because this would tell the enemy that the German army was sending soldiers into the field who were too old and too young. The Navy’s losses lists included very sad descriptions of unidentified dead sailors who washed up on beaches, with details to help in possible identification.

Unknown No. 191. On 26 Aug 1917, a body washed ashore on the seacoast near Bangsaa (Thisted district, Denmark), floating in a white-striped unmarked lifesaver. The dead man wore a shirt, embroidered wool suspenders, underpants, gray wool socks, jackboots, blue jacket, and blue trousers with a buttoning trapdoor, whose buttons were stamped ‘Kaiser’s Navy.’ On the outside of the right forearm was an anchor and a figure supposed to represent the bust of a woman. On the inside of the same arm, was a complete portrait of a woman, extending from the elbow to the wrist. The middle finger of the left hand was tattooed with a signet ring. On the middle finger of the right hand was a wedding ring engraved with ‘T. Henne 07.'”

(PROYSS ish ess   HAIR ess archh eef   in   POTS dom,   tsen TRALL NOCHH vice omt   fir   CREE gah feah LOOSE tah   oont   CREEGS gray bah   in   beah LYNN.)

Schlichtungsstelle für Suchmaschinen

Mediation board for search engines.

Since the European Court of Justice’s recent decision that Google (and all search engines) must delete on request links to pages that E.U. burghers feel violate their personality rights, thousands of deletion requests have been sent to the company.

Germany’s coalition government announced they want a board to be created to help search engines process these requests so the search engines are not the sole deciders. They said they want clear rules about how these requests are evaluated. Clear credible rules for how the “forget” requests are handled are also necessary: in the U.S.’s data protectionless jungle, companies frequently respond to consumers’ requests to forget or correct information with demands for more information, all of which is certainly not deleted. Who will be allowed access to the forget requests? Who can make copies of them, and how secure are the copies?

Germany’s data protection officers have demanded they have a significant role in the evaluation of the link deletion requests.

Update on 30 May 2014: Germany’s data protection officers have criticized that the “forget” request page Google has provided requires a scan of the requestor’s passport or other photo identification. Hamburg state data protection officer Johannes Caspar, who deals with Google questions, said that the automatic saving of personal ID’s by non-public entities was illegal and must be changed immediately. Google promptly changed the wording on the online submission form to “Please attach a legible copy of a document that identifies you.”

(SHLIH chh toongs SHTELL ah   fir   ZOO chh mosh ee nen.)

Perfektion protegiert Pädophilie

Perfection sponsors pedophilia.

In its thousand-year-old quest for perfection, the Vatican under St. Pope John Paul II was staffed with high officials who were supporters of a group called the Legion of Christ and of its charismatic founder, Marcial Maciel (born 1920 in Mexico, died 2008 in U.S.A.), a man who sexually abused children. German newspaper articles said Marcial Maciel raped children, using his Legionary students and priests as “lustknaben” [lust boys], weekly but possibly daily since the 1940’s. He used to summon young people to his bed at night to massage his stomachaches; after ruining their lives he reportedly told them the pope had given him permission to assuage his ills in this manner to enable him to continue his marvellous good works. He switched to women in the 1970’s and was known to have fathered several children. When he was 56, he used a false identity to seduce a 19-year-old girl, founding a family with her, then founding a second family ten years later. “According to his women, of his four children he didn’t sexually abuse only one of them,” said the F.A.Z. [“Nur eines seiner vier Kinder missbrauchte er nach Angaben seiner Frauen nicht.”: a bit convoluted].

Marcial Maciel’s qualification as a priest and his education have been called into question, because he was kicked out of several Catholic education institutions as a teenager in Mexico despite the support of several bishop uncles before being ordained by one of those uncles.

Mr. Maciel apparently had a serious opiate addiction since the 1940’s, and used to send confidants hundreds of miles with faked prescriptions to obtain medications for him, and get nuns to administer shots and tablets to him.

The high point of Marcial Maciel Degollado’s power was in 1994, said the F.A.Z.

The Legion of Christ—which still exists and e.g. has a location in Germany, in Bavaria—has been described, in its conservative attitudes and rigorous discipline, as a bit similar to the Opus Dei and Pius Brothers groups. Founded in 1941, the organization also used anti-communism as a way to surf to power during the Cold War. It’s said to have been close to the Franco dictatorship in Spain. The Legion successfully recruited wealthy aristocrats as supporters throughout the 20th century, apparently in countries like Spain, Austria and Germany. Süddeutsche Zeitung said the Italian l’Espresso newspaper and Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal reported that the Legionaries have had huge financial resources, possibly due to Marcial Maciel’s close involvement with Carlos Slim, possibly the richest man in the world, and the German branch’s recruitment of the former “C.E.O. of the United Nations’ Refugee Agency and chair of the German Fundraising Association” [Deutscher Fundraisingverband, it’s not clear who that is or for whom they raise funds]. The Legionaries have an organization for laypeople called Regnum Christi that’s been said to have or have had 50,000 members.

Supporters of Marcial Maciel inside the Vatican included:

  • Cardinal Angelo Sodano at the State Secretariat, who has been accused of leading a “coverup faction” that tried to hide priests’ pedophilia at very high levels. Cardinal Sodano may have had good connections to the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet because “as a nuncio he introduced Maciel into Chilean society during the time of the Pinochet military dictatorship,” according to the F.A.Z.
  • Pope John Paul II’s secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz, who became the cardinal-archbishop of Krakow.

Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published a book in 2012 about the discoveries he made in materials revealed by the Vatileaks Vatican whistleblowing. In Süddeutsche Zeitung, Mr. Nuzzi said that Marcial Maciel’s secretary, Pater Alfredo Moreno, met with Pope Benedict’s secretary in 2011 and reported that he had destroyed documents containing evidence of Mr. Maciel’s crimes. According to the Vatileaks information, at the 2011 meeting Pater Moreno said he was refused an audience by John Paul II’s Vatican when he tried to report this in 2003. Other German-language newspaper articles show there were decades of notifications to the Vatican about this man’s crimes. The Swiss Tagesanzeiger said a victim was refused an audience with John Paul II to discuss Mr. Maciel’s abuse in 1983. In the late 1970’s a victim sent the Vatican a letter describing what had happened to him and some of his brothers but there was no response, said the Frankfurter Rundschau. In 1956 the Vatican investigated accusations against Mr. Maciel (which they had now also received from the U.S. and Spain, in addition to Mexico); that report too has disappeared in the Vatican archives, “as have all other letters and reports containing information on Maciel’s practices,” said the F.A.Z., adding that since the 1950’s Mr. Maciel’s strategy of favorably influencing key cardinals with money and gifts created an impenetrable armor around him.

The first newspaper report about this was apparently published in the U.S.A.’s Hartford Courant in 1997 by journalists Jason Berry and Gerald Renner. Then there were reports in Mexican media. All were heavily squashed: “Libel lawsuits, advertizing boycotts, freezing out journalists who dared to take up the topic, getting personalities from public life to defend Maciel—nothing was not tried,” said the F.A.Z. Before dying mysteriously, a former Legionary well-known in Mexico asked the priest Alberto Athié to ensure that justice was served, and in 1998 Fr. Athié filed a lawsuit in Rome with eight former Legionaries against Mr. Maciel for abusing the sacrament of confession by hearing his victims’ confession after a shared night, issuing the victims absolution with an order to maintain silence. But the head of the department responsible for hearing Fr. Athié’s lawsuit, the Congregation of the Faith’s Cardinal Josef Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), decided not to allow the 1998 proceedings despite the fact that his department at the Vatican was not the one in which previous complaints against Mr. Maciel had always disappeared and despite the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger was not known to have been one of the cardinals accepting envelopes full of money from Mr. Maciel’s network. In 1999, the archbishop of Mexico City stripped Fr. Athié of all his church functions.

(Peah FECKED shown   pro tej jeert   pay dough feel EE.)

Handschrift des Arztes muss lesbar sein

“Physicians’ handwriting must be legible” in patients’ medical records according to the current version of Germany’s patients’ rights law, passed last year.

Frank Leopold, head of a Verein that advocates for medical patients, told Spiegel.de some other salient aspects of the patients’ rights law [German Civil Code, §630a et seqq.]:

Upon request, patients must be given access to view their full medical records, unless it could harm them or endanger the rights of third parties. If the patient so desires, this access must be granted directly after treatment, “without delay” [unverzüglich]. If physicians use the “harm” reason as grounds to refuse patients access to their full medical records, an appropriate diagnosis must have been made.

Patients have the right to get copies of their medical records, though the patient must pay for the copies.

Everything in a patient’s medical record must be left there. Any corrections and changes must be made so that the original content is still apparent, and must be signed and dated by the physician.

Software that keeps medical records must meet the same requirements. All changes and original content must remain apparent.

Handwriting in medical records must be legible, even physicians’ handwriting.

Mr. Leopold was skeptical about preventing manipulation to electronic records, but said he didn’t know enough about the software to comment.

He said it’s important to talk about this in public fora, because it’s important for patients and physicians to know patients’ current rights, to prevent confusion.

(HONNED shrift   dess   OTTS tess   moose   LAZE bah   z eye n.)

Europeana1914-1918.eu

Wonderful pan-European website of digitized photos and documents about World War One from libraries, archives, online submissions and, among other things, family history roadshows taking place in many European cities. Now available in the languages Danish, Dutch, English, French, German and Slovenian, the website’s collections are intended to tell the stories of regular people, “simple soldiers,” and their families who were involved in the “war to end all wars.” The collections, research and electronic documentation have been going on for three years now. Organizers said this might be the world’s largest collection so far of European WWI items from private owners, i.e. the families involved. It is intended to “show, well, perhaps unity in suffering,” said historian Frank Drauschke.

Even public school systems that teach more than 0–1 year of history have problems with societal forgetting, it seems. As part of their commemorations of the centenary, German television news programs recently did street interviews with German high school students asking basic facts about the First World War but discovering a shocking lack of answers. Apparently teaching the atrocities of World War Two to German schoolchildren has over time come to overshadow teaching about its causes and its first iteration.

This Europeana.eu project also seems wonderful because it probably preserved so many materials by digitizing them and posting them online. It saved the stories of descendants who still remember why each item is important. The format allows people to see the war from inside more than one of the countries that participated in it. While providing jobs to historians and translators!

Legislativer Fussabdruck

Legislative footprint.

A Spiegel.de article about the financial industry’s efforts to lobby officials in Brussels mentioned that the E.U. has voluntary self-registration of lobbyists in its “transparency register.” The authors said the U.S.’s “legislative footprint” to register lobbyists and their undertakings is a better system in that Washington’s is mandatory.

Update on 06 Jan 2013: The U.S.A.’s archives of lists of lobbyists and political donations may have been hacked.

The Federal Election Commission’s inspector general’s 2013 audit report said the F.E.C. was, briefly describing two examples of “intrusions” that were discussed in the audit. “In May 2012, the FEC was a victim of a network intrusion by an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT). Several FEC systems and a Commissioner’s user account were compromised by this specific threat. For approximately eight months, the Commissioner’s computer contained malware…” [p. 8].

(Ledge iss lah TEEV ah   FOOSS ob drook.)

Seltene Sprachen und Dialekte, die über Crowdsourcing aufgenommen und gedolmetscht wurden

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have created a free app that lets speakers of endangered languages, whether encountered by academics doing field work or self-selected in networks of colingual neighbors and friends, use relatively cheap Android phones to record their speech. After the sound file is uploaded, people anywhere can listen, stop the playback at any point and record voice translations of the sentences into another language. The translation sound files are linked to the source sound files in the database, creating a vast verbal Rosetta stone that doesn’t require literacy to accomplish preservation and sharing. This archive of vocabulary, grammar and content—tales and histories—will be available for future linguists to explore, centuries from now.

In an interview about the project on Australian ABC Radio National, Dr. Bird said once the person demonstrating the software has explained how it works, it is older people especially in the village who are delighted and start recording story after story in these rare languages.

(ZELL ten ah   SHPRRROCHHH en   oont   dee ah LECKED ah,   dee   über   KRAUT sourcingk   ow! f geh nome en   oont   geh DOLE metched   voor den.)

Beweisvernichtungsbussgeld

“Fine for the destruction of evidence.” On 19 Sep 2013, Halliburton will plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in April 2010 and will pay the maximum fine for it, $200,000.

(Beh VICE fer NICHH toongs BOOSS geld.)

Akteneinsicht

“View into the files,” access to files, to audit records and check documentation systems. What inspectors and transparency advocates request.

(OCT en EYE n zichh t.)

“Wissen, wie es war”

“To know what it was like.” Motto for the twentieth anniversary of the museum for the Stasi documents, the files and systems of the East German secret police, that were saved from destruction, reconstructed despite destruction, archived, read, evaluated, reread and shown to visitors from all over the world.

The decision to preserve the files was not as obvious now as it may seem in retrospect. Some well-meaning West German deciders wondered if finishing the Stasi’s destruction of the files might not be a benison to the Stasi’s victims, in the extremely short term. Fortunately for victims, for voters who in the decades since might otherwise have elected candidates with an “inoffizielle Mitarbeiter” (“unofficial coworker,” “unofficial employee”) past, for people living in police states who are making plans about what to do when the dictatorship falls, and for people living in potential police states, the documents were not destroyed, systems were developed to work with them while preserving privacy for the innocent, and the people at these archives are happy to share what they’ve learned with visitors.

(VISS en   vee   ess   vahr.)

Achtung, die Historiker kommen

“Here come the historians.” For about a year now, reported tagesschau.de, historians have been studying the influence of ex-Nazis within post-WWII German federal ministries other than the Foreign Service (which a historians commission already investigated from 2005 to 2010 at Joschka Fischer’s instigation). At Justice, for example, historians found nearly half the top bureaucrats after WWII had a Nazi past or “eine sehr starke NS-Belastung,” “a quite strong Nazi load.” The head of the Chancellery (Adenauer’s chief of staff) for ten years after the war had helped write the “race laws” in the 1930’s, for example.

Marburg historian Eckart Conze said Joschka’s initial investigation found more Nazis worked at high positions in the Foreign Office e.g. in 1951–52 than in 1937–38.

To uncover more NSDAP-related sins of omission and commission in West German legislation, regulation and adjudication, the historians want to continue the project by churning through thousands of relevant documents that have not yet been read through in this investigation.

(OCHH toong,   dee   hist OR ick ah   COM men.)

Mumiensturm

“Storm of mummies.” Joschka Fischer was in the German Green Party the first time it managed to join a ruling federal coalition. He became foreign minister (Secretary of State). Years later it turned out the Foreign Office (State Department) had a cadre of elderly and/or retired diplomats who objected to the new government’s decision to stop publishing obituaries of colleagues who had been former nazis, egregious former nazis in the case they chose to start a ruckus over, in the foreign ministry’s small in-house magazine.

Joschka convened an international “Historians Commission” that spent five years researching the history of ex-nazis in the post-WWII German foreign service. They brought sunlight to a problem that had been made possible by, among other things, the fact that FO was the only cabinet ministry allowed to manage its own document archive and thus control and rewrite its own history; all the other cabinet ministries had had to submit their documents to a central federal government archive. Joschka was particularly irked by the following issue as well: there had been a few brave German diplomats during the 1930’s and 40’s who tried to resist the nazis; most were killed for their troubles; and they tended to be communists. After the war, many of the diplomats with a nazi past or who supported post-nazi colleagues pretended to have been in the resistance. Right wingers hiding behind the communists, Joschka called them. He also called their obituary-based revolution a “mummies storm” like in the Brendan Fraser movies.

(MOOM ee en SHTOORM.)

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