My father-in-law, Bob Guditis, came from his home in Great Falls, Mont. to Minnesota last week to visit his daughters who live here. When he first told me about his trip a couple of months ago, I suggested he buy a Wisconsin turkey license so he could hunt while he was here.
Archive | May, 2009
May 26, 2009
May 18, 2009
Day 2 of my Wisconsin turkey season on May 14 found me sitting in a blind with my 87-year-old father, Ray. It was windy and the birds were silent. So, at 8 a.m., I got out of the blind and walked around the property we were hunting to see if I could strike up a bird. Nothing.
May 14, 2009
- The theme behind the plot is that science is getting revenge on religion “after centuries of persecution” by the church. References to Galileo and Copernicus are one part of the evidence for that, but conveniently missing are references to the likes of Gregor Mendel, the Augustinian priest who is rightly called “the father of modern genetics,” or Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, “the father of modern chemistry,” a Catholic beheaded during the French Revolution.
- There’s a tangential passage that takes hero Robert Langdon back recalling a Harvard University classroom scene in which he cleverly points to Catholic rituals as being unoriginal and borrowed from other cultures. Take the Eucharist: How the “god-eating” rite of the Aztecs were supposedly “borrowed” by Christianity seems to be quite a stretch, given that a man such as the evangelist Paul, writing in the 1st century, and the writers of the synoptic Gospels for that matter — pegged between 60 and 115 AD, aren’t likely to have even known of the existence of the Aztecs, the first reference to which appears in the 6th century.
- One of the minor characters sees the church as “an innocuous entity…a place for fellowship and introspection…sometimes just a place to sing out loud without people staring at her.”
And then, of course, there is that hauling out of the tired demonization of the Catholic Church for its “wealth.” Looking down a hallway at the Vatican, one character “was sickened by the opulence,” author Brown writes. “The gold leaf in the ceiling alone probably could have funded a year’s worth of cancer research.”
Is it jealousy that makes others point at the church and say it should give away all the timeless works of art therein to end poverty? Maybe the Louvre should do the same? And while we’re at it, let’s sell the U.S. Supreme Court Building to the highest bidder and put the court in the rented space of a closed auto dealership. Who needs artistry, craftsmanship and beauty? — bz
May 14, 2009
I have been chomping at the bit for weeks — actually, months — to go turkey hunting and the day finally arrived on Sunday, May 10. The opening day of my Minnesota season was on Mother’s Day, and it could have produced some tension, except I celebrated the day with my wife, Julie, on Friday when we went out for dinner. So, that left Sunday morning free.
May 9, 2009
by Neal Bascomb
The story finally is told how Holocaust survivors and Israel’s spies found the mastermind of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution,” the hideously well-organized plan that murdered six million Jews during World War II.
The subject of the quest, Adolf Eichmann, was the diabolical brain behind the extermination plan. It wasn’t until 15 years after the war ended that he was finally found and, after a lengthy trial that was front-page news around the world, hanged for his genocidal crimes.
It’s a helluva story, nonfiction that reads like a modern mystery with twists and turns, dead ends, near misses and tiny details that yield huge payoffs.
How Israel’s Mossad — helped by tips from survivors of the Nazi death camps — tracked Adolf Eichmann to Argentina and a miserable shack with no electricity or running water is nothing short of a miracle.
How Eichmann escaped Germany as World War II came to a crashing end around him could be seen as miraculous as well. How this wanted war criminal made his way to South America, however, includes a segment that will cause shame for members of the Catholic community.
Part of the network that helped Nazis escape, Bascomb’s research uncovered, included Bishop Alois Hudal, “an Austrian and a devotee of Hitler who proudly brandished his golden Nazi Party membership badge.”
Bishop Hudal personally wrote to Argentine dictator Juan Peron to request visa for 5,000 Germans and Austrians.
A string of monasteries and convents in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy served as refuge to hide and smuggle Nazis away from prosecution, and Eichmann took advantage, finally making his way across Europe to Genoa, Italy, and the Church of San Antonio. Franciscan Father Edoardo Domoter, a Hungarian sympathetic to fleeing Nazi’s, sheltered him in the rectory there while Eichmann secured a refugee’s passport from Red Cross officials and a visa from the Argentine consulate, and soon was on the passenger ship Giovanna C headed to South America with a number of other former Nazi bigwigs.
Bascomb notes that, while cardinals and priests were involved in helping war criminals escape prosecution, “Pope Pius XII did not officially approve of the Vatican’s involvement in the network, but he certainly turned a blind eye to it, primarily because of the church’s commitment to act as a bulwark against the spread of communism.”
Amazingly detailed research
The capture of Eichmann and especially the deception required to hide him and then spirit him out of Argentina to stand trial in Israel are as close to against-all-odds material as any fiction writer might dream up.
The fact that the Israelis were able to pull it off — find him, first of all, grab him off the street, secret him away for a number of days and whisk him off to Israel in the first El Al plane ever to visit Argentina — is terrific storytelling.
Pulling all the pieces of the story together through interviews and historical documents is truly the work of a gifted writer and team of researchers. The 327-page Houghton Mifflin Harcourt book includes an additional 27 pages of verifying footnotes and helpful bibliography and index. Photos taken with hidden suitcase cameras, maps of Eichmann’s Argentine neighborhood and even Eichmann’s Red Cross passport — using the alias Riccardo Klement — bring life and authenticity to the pages.
The world cannot forget
What Bascomb adds, though, as icing on the cake, is the reason that bringing Eichmann to trial on Israeli soil was so important for the Jewish people, especially for the younger generations of Israelis but even more importantly for the world. Bascomb writes in his epilogue:
“As for the rest of the world, the Eichmann affair rooted the Holocaust in the collective cultural consciousness. . . . The Holocaust was finally anchored in the world’s consciousness — never to be forgotten — by the outpouring of survivor memoirs, scholarly works, plays, novels, documentaries, paintings, museum exhibits, and films that followed in the wake of the trial and that still continues today. This consciousness, in Israel and throughout the world, is the enduring legacy of the operation to capture Adolf Eichmann.”
This is history every human should know. — bz
May 8, 2009
May 4, 2009
I have spent a lot of time in the last week or so watching the trees. The barren-looking treelines of winter are slowing changing color. The bright green of new leaves is emerging.
May 1, 2009
During the first part of the week, I was thinking a lot about Bishop Joe Charron of Des Moines and his wild turkey hunt. He had invited me to go down to Missouri and hunt with he and his friend, Joe Lane.