To publish a story today in the old fashioned linear way called a book means to discard a lot of the features of our networked world. This is my story. As in real life most of it is forgotten, some short episodes appear to have been very long and intense, other periods seem to have had not one episode to remember.
Life is like the famous
Garden of the bifurcating Paths (El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan) written 1941 by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, republished in its entirety in Ficciones (Fictions) in 1944. I had the privilege to meet Borges in Buenos Aires in 1981.
Together with Anne Peters, the cultural attaché of the German embassy, I visited Jorge Luis Borges in his apartment at calle Maipú in the centre of Buenos Aires. At the door we were greeted by Maria Kodama, who cared for Borges at that time. Borges sat in a big arm-chair in his library. He stood up and I remember that he talked about his new enthusiasm for old-norse literature, in particular the Edda. He was also very interested in the German writer Ernst Jünger. He saw some motives of fantastic literature similar to his own in Jünger’s ouevre. We invited Jorge Luis Borges to visit Germany. „I would love to see Germany again!“ – said the blind Borges accepting the invitation. When he came to Germany he met Ernst Jünger in his home in Baden-Württemberg.
More about Jorge Luis Borges in Wikipedia.
A Curriculum Vitae is a form of fiction because it gives the impression that life had a clear path to follow. This is the fallacy of looking backwards when everything looks as if there were no alternatives. However if anybody thinks it is a valuable effort here is my Curriculum Vitae.
My mother gave birth to a boy on June 24, 1948 around 1 o’clock in the morning. I was not aware that it was me coming-into-life at this moment. In the year 1948 my mother Eva Boomgaarden was just married to my father Hero Boomgaarden. At the time of my birth my father was fishing in the coastal waters near Greetsiel. Suddenly the crank driving the screw of his boat broke. He had a hard time to get out of this mess and come home.
My mother came down with me in the city hospital of Emden. The maternity room was eight meters below the ground in an old bunker. The city of Emden had been heavily bombed during the Second World War, so the hospital had been installed in a sheltered area. Three years after the war most houses in Emden lay in ruins.
My health was fragile. One doctor told my mother that she should not expect the baby to survive the first year. My grandmother, Marie Boomgaarden in Greetsiel, had a different view. She gave me real East-Frisian tea – a strong mix from different teas mainly from India, and the problems went away. My grandfather, Anno Boomgaarden, ran one of the two bakeries in Greetsiel, a small village at the North Sea coast. People there lived mainly from fishing and agriculture. Today tourism has become a main source of income.
During my professional life I had to do a lot of speeches and lectures. And I regularly put down notes on different political topics. Here I collected some texts which I found relevant even when reading them again after a long time. They are an expression of the time when they were drafted, but they sometimes became an impulse for new thoughts. Those notes I wrote for official purposes, like analyses or proposals for action to our Foreign Office are explicitly not included here – you may read them in the archives of the ministry when they are opened. But I also made private notes which may be interesting to read again if only to find out how far they gave a more or less correct picture in hindsight.
Writing memoirs is a dangerous business. Some blow up the role of the author in history in a ridiculous way, others play down their role in a way that I ask myself why should then anybody read this. So I do not want to write the memoirs of my professional life. The core of my autobiographic network are small narrations coming as postings which I call biographical episodes. You find them under the category
biographical episodes. Based on a very unreliable memory I will not even pretend to be objective. My actual interpretation of facts and texts is coloured by later experience. The limits between facts and fiction are blurred. Old letters or written notes support my memory, but there are very few of them left. Therefore the biographical episodes are the result of a quarry of memories and later interpretations.
When I arrived on this planet the others were already there: with big eyes I looked at parents, grandparents and a whole bunch of relatives, the whole big family. It took me years to learn who-is-who in the family and I never completed learning about it. The history of my ancestors is not very complete and I know very little about it. The Boomgaarden and the Backer families – ancestors of my father – were living in East Frisia for a long time. Some ancestors came from West Frisia from an area near to the city of Groningen. There are very few documents on the family of my mother who left Eastern Pomerania after the end of the Second World War in October 1945.
The family of Christiane’s mother fled from East Prussia in 1945. I also know very little about them, mainly from Christianes parents.
The families of Christiane’s father Ulrich von Blücher, and the family of her grandmother Anita Stockfleth were especially keen on studying their genealogy. The ancestry of the Stockfleth family, who were merchants in Hambur, goes back to Charlemagne and the Carolingians as well as to the first German king Henry I and early English kings like Alfred of Wessex. There are some well worked out family histories about the Blücher family or other branches of Christiane’s family. When somebody finds out that Christiane’s maiden name is Blücher, there is always the question about the relation to the Field Marshal Lebrecht von Blücher who fought with the Duke of Wellington in Waterloo. In fact Christiane descends from a cousin of the Field Marshal.
Finally I want to include in my postings some fiction I wrote over the years. The texts do not pretend to be literature, but they may be nice to read. They are all written in German. I will continue to write some more stories. Later I may try to translate some of them.
Most of the other contributions shall be published at the same time in English and in German. In fact I will not translate everything literally but more or less in a way that makes sense. Speeches or lectures I gave in German, English or Spanish (some also in Russian) are generally not translated but published in the original language.