Friedman On The Escalating Rhetoric Between Trump And Kim Jong-Un

Today, my friend Gronda has shared the astute, well-reasoned words of one of my favourite political analysts, Thomas Friedman. This post needs no introduction from me, as it speaks for itself. Excellent post, Gronda … thank you!

Gronda Morin

Image result for images of kim jong unOne of my favorite columnist/ thinker, Thomas L. Friedman has shared his take regarding the situation with N Korea and Its leader, Kim Jong Un.

Here’s the rest of the story…

On August 10, 2017, Thomas L.  Friedmam of the New York Times penned the following opinion piece,  “Be Strategic, Not Impulsive, On North Korea.


“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Americans who are concerned about the situation in North Korea “should sleep well at night.” Of course! Donald Trump and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un — neither of whom has any aides who can stand up to them — are trading fire and brimstone threats with their fingers cocked on nuclear weapons. What could possibly keep a person up at night? Surely Tillerson jests or is high on Ambien.”

Image result for images of kim jong un

“Have we already become so inured to the madness of the Trump administration that we have…

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Boys with Toys

I have left the situation between Trump and Kim Jong-un alone, mostly because it is a volatile situation that I truly do not know how to address. I do not think it behooves us to panic, but we also must be aware that it is a potentially dangerous situation for humanity around the globe. Blogger-friend Keith has written a short, but excellent post that deserves to be shared. Please take a moment to read and ponder. Thank you, Keith, for your calm and reasoned voice in the middle of the chaos and turmoil, and for allowing me to share your words.


In the James Bond movie “Goldeneye,” Polish born actress Izabella Scorupca played my favorite Bond female character Natalya Simonova. She gave Bond the devil for his penchant for using violence with any weapon or machinery around. “What is it with you boys with toys,” she admonished him.

I think of this line as two separate countries are led by a man-child who are both acting like “boys with toys.” The scary part is the toys include nuclear weapons and both are beating on their chest like apes ready to do battle.

I have written a parable about the younger of the two leaders called “A Monkey with a Hand Grenade.” Since the hand grenade is a substitute for a nuclear weapon, we must be careful, judicious and diligent in our actions and words. Just a few days ago, our Secretary of State said the right things about “not advocating for…

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In Memory of Hiroshima – 6 August 1945

Today, 06 August 2017, marks the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima by the United States.  I have written before my thoughts on this tragic event, and will not bore my readers with a repeat, however for new readers, I will include links at the end of this post.

In observance of the anniversary, Japan held their annual ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, attended by some 50,000 people representing 80 nations.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for global cooperation to end nuclear weapons.

“For us to truly realize a world without nuclear weapons, the participation of both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states is necessary.”

Last month, the United Nations reached its first agreement to ban nuclear weapons. But Japan, along with the nine nuclear-armed nations, including the United States, refused to take part in the negotiations and the vote, saying it does nothing to counter the “grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.”

Japan already adheres to a policy of not possessing, producing or allowing nuclear weapons on its territory. It is the only country to have ever come under nuclear attack.

Today, the U.N. Secretary General António Guterres issued a message calling for the United States and other nuclear-armed countries to do more to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

“Our dream of a world free of nuclear weapons remains far from reality. The states possessing nuclear weapons have a special responsibility to undertake concrete and irreversible steps in nuclear disarmament.”

Contrary to the “dream of a world free of nuclear weapons”, in February Trump told Reuters that “if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”  Trump, in fact, has said some chilling things along these lines:

  • Trump said he might use nuclear weapons and questioned why we would make them if we wouldn’t use them. – March 2016
  • “Europe is a big place. I’m not going to take cards off the table.” (Answering a question whether he would ever ‘nuke’ Europe) – March 2016
  • Trump said that “you want to be unpredictable” with nuclear weapons – January 2016
  • Trump reiterated that it was important to be “unpredictable” with nuclear weapons – March 2016
  • Trump said he’d be OK with a nuclear arms race in Asia – May 2016

He has made other, similar comments, and I won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say that he does not, apparently, realize what the use of nuclear weapons by any country on the globe would mean for the future of mankind. He needs to be educated.

In my opinion, the absolute worst invention in the world … ever … was the invention of nuclear weapons that are capable of killing hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of seconds.  This is not a toy, not something funny to play around with, and it is damn sure not something that should be used to threaten other nations.  Certainly Kim Jong-un in North Korea needs to be stopped from his childish threats, but responding to one threat with another is not the way to achieve world peace.

Today, let us simply remember the atrocities, the horrors, of August 6th and August 9th, 1945.  And let us hope that somehow, someday, we can have a world free of the nuclear threat.

In Memory …


Related posts:

On President Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima

A Serious Conversation

Some Good News On Energy …

There’s some good news on the environmental front this week …

Thumbs up to Royal Dutch Shell CEO …

shellWhen the CEO of the world’s fourth largest petroleum company and the largest in Europe says that his next car will be an electric car, it speaks volumes.  Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell said, “The next buy I do is my next car, which will be an electric vehicle”. A Shell spokesman told Bloomberg the CEO will get a plug-in Mercedes-Benz S500e in September, while the Chief Financial Officer “already drives a BMW i3 electric car.”

So, oil demand might peak around 2030. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) pointed out last year that a global glut of just 2 million barrels a day is what triggered the 2014 oil price collapse. They’ve already told investors to expect the big crash in oil as soon as 2023.

We are at the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era.

EPA reverses course

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a decision to halt the rule created under President Obama to reduce methane leaks from new and modified oil and natural gas drilling wells. Oil and gas companies would no longer be required to detect and repair leaks of methane and other air pollution at new operations. The EPA recently found that the problem of escaping methane is even worse than initially feared, and offsets any emissions benefit from transitioning the electricity sector from coal to natural gas-fired power plants.

gas-drilling.jpegThe ruling was unpopular even with the oil and gas producers, who said they were already subject to state rules on methane emissions and had a financial incentive to capture methane and put it onto the market. But EPA head Scott Pruitt and Trump believed they knew best and proceeded with their agenda to erase all regulation on businesses.

Between May and August, the attorneys general in 15 states and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits against the EPA!

“By illegally blocking these vital clean air protections, Administrator Pruitt is endangering the health and safety of millions — but attorneys general have made clear: we won’t hesitate to fight back to protect our residents and our states,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the lawsuit, said in a statement. Schneiderman was joined in filing the lawsuit by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Each of these states deserves a round of applause in my book.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the EPA’s attempt to suspend methane restrictions for the sector, formally vacating the agency’s 90-day stay of key provisions of New Source Performance Standards. On Wednesday, the EPA reversed course in yet another setback for the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback agenda.

pruitt.jpgScott Pruitt, in keeping with the Trump-tradition, denied that the reversal of his May ruling was in any way related to the lawsuits and the ruling by the court, saying, “We believe in dialogue with, and being responsive to, our state partners.  Today’s action reinforces our commitment to working with the states through the complex designation process.”  Yeah, yeah, right Scottie.  And donkeys fly, too.

What Keith has said many times appears to be true:  we have come too far to turn back on environmental protections and clean energy initiatives.  Score one for Mother Earth!

The Wall That Was Never Meant To Be …

It may not be the biggest news of the day, but it is important in two ways:  1) it shows us, as if we didn’t already know, the character, or lack thereof, of the man who is called “president”, and 2) it proves the point that all the rhetoric about “building a wall” along the U.S.-Mexican border was never anything more than talk, a way to gain the support of the conservatives whose goal is to “make America white again”.

On Thursday morning, The Washington Post published a transcript obtained by the Post’s Greg Miller of Donald Trump’s call to Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto on 27 January. The gist of the conversation is that Trump told Peña Nieto that the wall is not really that important, but that he needed Peña Nieto to stop saying publicly that Mexico would not pay for the wall, as it was making him (Trump) look bad.  He threated Peña Nieto with tariffs and ultimately threatened to cease the friendly relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.  A few of the more salient moments:

Trump: “The only thing I will ask you though is on the wall, you and I both have a political problem. My people stand up and say, “Mexico will pay for the wall” and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language. But the fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to.

So what I would like to recommend is – if we are going to have continued dialogue – we will work out the wall. They are going to say, “who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?” to both of us, and we should both say, “we will work it out.”

Because you and I are both at a point now where we are both saying we are not to pay for the wall. From a political standpoint, that is what we will say. We cannot say that anymore because if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that. I am willing to say that we will work it out, but that means it will come out in the wash and that is okay. But you cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall. I am just going to say that we are working it out. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about.”

Peña Nieto: “I understand you well, Mr. President. I understand this critical point and I understand the critical political position that this constitutes for your country and for you, Mr. President. Let us look for a creative way to jump over this obstacle. I clearly understand what this issue constitutes for you in the United States.“

Trump: “Okay, Enrique, that is fine and I think it is fair. I do not bring up the wall but when the press brings up the wall, I will say, “let us see how it is going – let us see how it is working out with Mexico.” Because from an economic issue, it is the least important thing we were talking about, but psychologically, it means something so let us just say “we will work it out.” And if you want to do that, then we will go back to the negotiation table with Jared and Luis. And I am sure they can work something out that is good for both nations, and obviously that would be a positive thing. And I am sort of in this bad position because the deal that they are making is not nearly as good as the deal I could impose tomorrow – in fact this afternoon. I do not have to go back to Congress or to the Senate. I do not need the vote of 400 people. I have the powers to do all of this, and I came to the office this morning and I met with a group of people – we had a plan to just go into what I wanted to do for two years. But I know what you are saying, it is something that is good for you. It is very important for you to understand this – I want the best solution also for Mexico.”

The remainder of the conversation centered around the drug trade and trade in general, and ended on a cordial note.  President Peña Nieto’s approval rating at that time was somewhere between 12% and 17%, even lower than Trump’s.  He did himself no favour among his people when he stopped saying publicly that Mexico would not pay for Trump’s wall.

wallThe important take in all of this is that Trump doesn’t actually care whether the wall gets built or not, and likely never did.  It was rhetoric, pure and simple.  It was an idea – a bad one at that – that riled the masses, that incited the people who wrongly believed that stopping immigrants from entering the U.S. would somehow improve the economy and society of the U.S.  Trump told them so, and blindly, without thinking too long or hard, they believed and they cheered and they voted for the man with the plan for a wall.

Mind you, the wall was never a sound idea to begin with.  It would have cost an estimated $67 billion by the time all costs were taken into account, and taken 3.5 years to build.  Mexico was never going to pay for the wall, and despite Trump’s threats, there is no way to force them to.  The wall would not have stopped illegal immigration.  The wall would have damaged the economies of both Mexico and the U.S.  Tourism would have dropped dramatically, trade would have been diminished, and the relationship between the two countries damaged.  More importantly, there are other ways, far cheaper ways, to get a handle on illegal immigration.

The wall was never meant to be … it was only meant to serve one purpose. Trump lied to get votes.  No surprise, but I feel pity for his supporters for whom the border wall and ban on Muslim immigrants were the key reason for supporting him.  First, because they were duped by a con man, and second because their views are so narrow that they have shut themselves off from the rich culture of the rest of the world.  And yet … undoubtedly they will find a way to justify Trump’s lies and deceit once again.

In Flanders Field

My very dear friend David Prosser, whose blog Barsetshirediaries always brings a smile to my face, recently introduced me to his second blog, The BUTHIDARS. This second blog (you’ll have to ask David where he got the name, as I have no idea) is one of peace, love and hugs. It is based on kindness to all, and is a place where “smiling and hugging are the order of the day”. The most recent post on this blog begins with a poem we have all heard many times, In Flanders Field by John McCrae. Reading the story behind the poem, and then David’s beautifully written commentary brought a tear to my eye, but not in a bad way. David calls for peace, for an end to wars so that we can direct our attentions to more important things. Please take a few moments to read this exceptional post … and if you feel so inclined, give his blog a follow! Thank you, David, for pointing me toward this excellent blog and for permission to share! And … HUGS!


by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit…

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A Late Night Call From Vladimir …

Vladimir Putin is not a happy camper.  Specifically he is unhappy with his friend, little Donnie Trump. A late night phone call from Vladimir to little Donnie …

Vlad:  Donnie … what is this I hear that you are signing a bill that will stop you from keeping our agreement?

Donnie:  Hey, Vlad … I don’t have a choice … really I don’t … I don’t have a choice.  The namby-pambies over on the Hill … they … they are just so unfair to me …

Vlad:  Donnie … I spent a lot of time, effort and money to buy you what you asked for, the election.  You owe me the very chair you are sitting in right now.  And all I asked in return is that you lift a few very unfair sanctions.  You can’t even do that???

baby-trumpDonnie:  You don’t understand, Vlad … you gotta … I mean they … it’s just so unfair the way they are tying … they’re tying up my little hands, Vlad.

Vlad:  Don’t call me ‘Vlad’ … it is “President Putin” to you from now on.

Donnie:  I’m gonna make this right … I’m … I’m the president, so I can … maybe I can sign an executive order … my lawyers are looking into it .. don’t be mad …

Vlad:  Oh, I am not ‘mad’, Donnie.  I am beyond that. I did you a favour, and now you are going to punish me for doing you that favour?  I think not.  Remember that warehouse here in Moscow used by your embassy staff?  It’s mine now.  And that lovely bucolic site along the Moscow River where your staff members walk their dogs and have those disgusting barbecues?  MINE NOW!  Bwahahaha …

baby-trumpDonnie:  Geez, Vlad … er … President Putin … give me … this is so unfair … just … you gotta give me … I’m not gonna let you down, Vlad … but Congress … it’s just so unfair to me …

Vlad: Stop whining, Donnie … no wonder your people laugh behind your back and refer to you as a ‘man-child’!  But I am not finished.  I want most of your embassy staff out of here by the first of September.  For now, I will allow you to leave 455 here, but if you do not come up with a solution soon, perhaps I will send those home also.

Donnie: What can I … what can I do, Vlad?  They are so unfair and they have … they have tied my hands.  So unfair!  Sad.

Vlad: I am out of patience with you, Donnie.  I kept my part of the bargain, and I have waited six months … six months, Donnie, for you to do one simple thing:  lift the Проклятые санкции!!!

Donnie: Covfefe?puppet-3



Are you sure you want to double down on fossil fuels?

On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offered clear signs that it is likely to weaken Obama’s fuel economy standards: It is considering freezing the fuel efficiency targets, instead of raising them each year as the Obama administration had proposed. This is a step in the wrong direction if one cares about the planet. Blogger-friend Keith Wilson, however, has written an inspiring post telling us of what some other nations are doing to drastically reduce or even eliminate emissions from autos! Please take a moment to read and ponder! Thank you, Keith, for some great news and for implied permission to share!


The United Kingdom just announced it will ban sales of combustible engine cars in 2040. Australia announced the same week the planned development of a super highway for electric cars, complete with charging stations.

These announcements come a month after France made a similar decision to the more recent UK one to ban combustible cars and Volvo said they would no longer make combustible cars after 2019. And, not to be outdone, several cities like Paris, Mexico City, Madrid et al, want to ban combustible cars much sooner by 2025.

In fact, as reported in the book “Climate of Hope” by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Sierra Club ED Carl Pope, cities around the world are leading the way on the climate change fight. They are making huge strides in making buildings more green, improving the time for taxis and cars to move across the city which produces less…

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Good People Doing Good Things – Ariel Nessel and the Pollination Project

Today’s good person, believe it or not, is a real estate developer. I never thought … well, never mind … suffice it to say that there are good and bad people in every walk of life.

The first time the Pollination Project came onto my radar a few months ago, I rejected it after a quick glance, seeing the words “seed grants”, and thinking that what they did was give away money to buy seeds.  That in itself is a noble thing, of course, but I did not feel it provided enough material for an entire post.  The Pollination Project and its founder, Ariel Nessel, however, are persistent and they once more became a blip on the radar this week, when I decided to give them a bit more than a cursory glance.  I am so glad I did!  This organization actually has very little to do with plant seeds, and a whole lot to do with humanity and compassion!  So without further ado, allow me to introduce to you Mr. Ariel Nessel, co-founder of the Pollination Project.

Wed-nessel-1Mr. Nessel is a successful real estate developer in Dallas, Texas, where he purchases older, dilapidated buildings and brings them back to their original condition, or better.  “Through efforts to increase the energy efficiency of our properties and extend their useful lives, we help create housing which is much more environmentally sustainable. By offering yoga classes, after school programs for children, and installing bird feeders, hammocks, water fountains, sculptures, fire pits, and bark parks, Nessel Development endeavors to create a sanctuary of peace for our Residents in an often high-stress world. We endeavor to be generous with the fruits of our labor by making significant donations to charities that promote living that is compassionate, peaceful and environmentally sustainable.” He donates more than 30% of his operating income to charity.  However, it is not his business that I want to talk about today.

In 2013, Ariel and his sister-in-law,  Stephanie Klempner, came up with the idea for the Pollination Project, an organization that makes daily seed grants to “inspiring social change-makers who are committed to a world that works for all. Our daily grant making began on January 1, 2013 and since then, we have funded a different project every single day. We also make larger impact grants of up to $5000 to projects that have demonstrated impact and success.”

The daily $1,000 grants are available for anyone who sincerely wants to use their resources to improve the world.  There are some qualifications: “One is that everything we support is volunteer based, it’s service based. None of the money we provide can be used to pay yourself for your work. It’s an orientation towards service. Some other qualifications are that we look at … This is early seed. We’re trying to water seeds and not to water oak trees. If you’re part of a larger organization, or any organization that has full-time paid staff, any paid staff, then that would not qualify for the Pollination Project.”

Pollination Project does not merely issue a check for $1,000 based on a good idea and then walk away.  They have a 3-program process that includes:

  • The seed grants – “We make $1000 seed grants to individual changemakers all over the world, helping them launch and expand grassroots social change projects.”
  • Philanthropic education – “We provide educational events, writing and presentations on the topic of innovations in philanthropy.”
  • Grantee Capacity Building – “We provide an assortment of tools, resources, coaching, training, p/r and more to support our grantees in growing their leadership and building their project, far beyond what our seed grant of $1,000 provides.”

In 2015, the Pollination Project teamed up with Levi Strauss & Co. to make seed grants that give a leg up to young people working on environmental solutions all over the globe. The goal is to develop the next generation of global environmental leaders who will conserve, protect, restore and advocate for the ecosystems upon which our civilization depends.

Let’s take a look at some of the young people who have been given a leg up by this joint effort …

Wed-KirstenNine-year-old Kirsten Chavis has been an activist since age five. She explains, “I have been involved in all sorts of outreach and have attended a lot of council meetings, events, fundraisers, and workshops alongside my mother. My experiences range from taking notes in Board Meetings to collecting food for families and running green lessons.” Kirsten runs the Youth Earth Club at her inner city Los Angeles middle school. Her project brings environmental and health education and events to the school’s population of primarily low-income Latino and African American families, including kids with special needs, and kids in foster care. Kirsten’s club teaches kids much more than recycling. “Now kids can tell you about indoor and outdoor composting, e-waste, and different ways of saving water like by turning off the running water while brushing your teeth.”

Wed-JulienBuilding on his experiences with the 4-H Million Trees project, 16-year-old California student Julien Levy founded Seeding Malawi to create an immediate win-win solution to rampant malnourishment among students in Malawi. Julien explained that while he was working in Malawi to establish tree nurseries in schools, the children were so malnourished that “tree planting events had to be in the morning, because they were too hungry and had no energy by the afternoon.” Seeding Malawi is establishing permaculture gardens at schools throughout the country. Participating villages will set aside a football field-sized plot of land on school grounds and students and residents will be given instruction in permaculture techniques. Each garden will provide food for up to 3,000 children, and will also serve as a means of teaching best-practice permaculture and agriculture techniques to youth and the communities they live in.

Wed-donieceA number of the Pollination Project’s grantees have received awards or public recognition, for example Doniece Sandoval who was featured on CNN this June. Doniece Sandoval noted a jump in San Francisco homelessness with an economic downturn. The homeless, many of them elderly, lacked basic amenities like bathing facilities. Determined to help, Sandoval bought old buses and turned them into mobile showers. Her nonprofit, Lava Mae, has since provided more than 20,000 showers to more than 4,000 homeless individuals.

Wed-Ponce-3I was especially thrilled to find that one of my previous “Good People” from May, young Thomas Ponce  received a grant from the Pollination Project!  Life is full of little coincidences.

There are so many great, humanitarian projects that have been helped by the Pollination Project that I wish I could share them all.  In fact, to date, the project has awarded 2,236 grants in 107 nations around the globe.  There is a special East African hub that is led by a team of local change-makers who are also Pollination Project grantees themselves. Their goal is to reach geographically and technologically marginalized grant applicants (with no internet access, no computer skills and limited English).

wed-east-africaThe types of programs the Pollination Project supports are widely varied:

  • Animal Rights & Welfare
  • Arts & Culture
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Health & Wellness
  • Human Rights & Dignity
  • Kindness & Generosity
  • Leadership Development
  • Schools & Education
  • Youth

Unfortunately, I cannot begin to cover all the great projects that have begun with just a $1,000 grant from the Pollination Project, but their website  is a veritable treasure trove of information, including a brief summary of all the projects they have funded and the impact they have had all over the world.  $1,000 is not a lot of money, but it is amazing to see what it can do in the right hands.  Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of help, and knowing there is somebody who believes in you.

Hats off to Mr. Nessel, the Pollination Project, and all those beneficiaries who are going the extra mile to help make the world just a little bit better place for us all!


Art From The Holocaust

Last week, a new art exhibit opened in the German Historical Museum in Berlin. Its title? Art From The Holocaust. A blogger who I only discovered yesterday, thanks to Rob Goldstein, has written a beautiful tribute to this exhibit, complete with some wonderful pictures. This is a bit outside my normal subject matter, but I thought it was very tasteful and beautifully written, and I wanted to share it with my readers. Many thanks to artinmanyforms for this post, and for permission to share!


A new exhibition in Berlin explores the grim realities of life for Jews in Nazi camps and ghettoes.

A historic new exhibit, Art from the Holocaust, opened in the rear wing of the German Historical Museum in Berlin last week. For the first time ever, art from the collection of Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Museum is being shown outside in Germany. The exhibit features 100 works, mostly drawings and paintings, by Jewish inmates of labour camps, ghettoes and concentration camps. Many of the works portray the dark realities of day-to-day life in Nazi imprisonment. The fact that the works survived to the present day is, in most cases, a miracle: many were hidden or smuggled out at great risk by friends of the artists.

The show, which is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel, comes at a moment of…

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