Thursday, 16 December 2010

Hello Mainz!

As ever pitiful excuses all round for my failure to post something on here in the last few days. My Uncle and Dad visited me over the weekend which took up a lot of time, then there was the matter of the usual workload to contend with. Next week will be far quieter, a break I will take advantage of to put the finishing touches on my guided tour of Dachau. Sometimes I long for my student days when procrastination required a small dose of Bullshit to avoid being found out - now faiure to get work done has consequences!

Having said that, I'm writing this from a small guest 'cell' in the Carmel in Mainz, Rhineland Palatinate. I posted a couple of months ago on my plan to write a short biography of Br. Raphael Tijhuis, who was in captivity for five years, three of which were spent in KZ Dachau, for the Dachau Remembrance Book project. The ever friendly Br. Thomas Feiten, O.Carm invited me to come to Mainz, where many of Raphael's documents are kept, so that I could undertake some research while enjoying Carmelite hospitality! It's actually quite a moving experience to be staying with the same community Raphael lived with. The Carmelite Province (region) of the Netherlands played an important role in the re-establishment of a Carmel in Mainz during the early 1930s, and Raphael moved to Mainz in 1933 to help with this work. It was also here in Mainz that on the 25th July 1940 he was arrested by the Gestapo after a throwaway comment in a letter to one of his Dutch superiors about not being able to ring the Church bells. The Sacristy, where he was informed by one of the brothers that the Gestapo had come for him, is now the community chapel.

I will tell you more as my time in Mainz progresses. For now I'm admiring the perfect view from my window of the Mainz Hilton - the second best place to stay in town!

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