The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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For the good of all

October 7th, 2015 · No Comments

“Over 1,500 factories had been evacuated from the western regions of the Soviet Union to behind the Volga, particularly the Urals, and reassembled by armies of technicians slaving through the winter. Few factories had any heating. Many had no windows at first, or proper roofing. Once the production lines started, they never stopped, unless halted by breakdowns, power failures, or shortages of particular parts. Manpower posed less of a problem. The Soviet authorities simply drafted in new populations of workers. Soviet bureaucracy wasted the time and talents of its civilian people, and squandered their lives in industrial accidents, with as much indifference for the individual as military planners showed towards their soldiers, yet the collective sacrifice—both forced and willing at the same time—represented a terrifyingly impressive achievement.” – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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Learning their lessons

October 6th, 2015 · No Comments

“Although shelter was the first priority, civilians faced the virtual impossibility of finding food and water. Each time there was a lull in the bombardments, women and children appeared out of holes in the ground to cut slabs of meat off dead horses before homeless dogs and rats stripped the carcass. The chief foragers were children. Younger, smaller and more agile, they presented less of a target. They sneaked down at night to the badly burned grain elevator south of the Tsaritsa, which the Germans had finally captured. There, they often managed to fill bags of satchels with scorched wheat and scamper away, but German sentries, protecting the silos for their own army’s use, shot a number of them. Those who attempted to steal German Army ration tins were also shot on the spot.” – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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If you can’t crawl, we will carry you

October 5th, 2015 · No Comments

“The medical services in the Red Army were seldom regarded as a high priority by commanders. A seriously wounded soldier was out of the battle, and senior officers were more concerned with replacing him. Yet this attitude did not deter the very bravest figures on the Stalingrad battlefield, who were the medical orderlies, mainly female students or high-school graduates with only the most basic first-aid training. The commander of the 62nd Army’s hundred-strong sanitary company, Zinaida Georgevna Gavrielova, was an eighteen-year-old medical student, who had received the job on the basis of a strong recommendation from the cavalry regiment in which she had just served. Her medical orderlies, few of them much older than herself, had to conquer their terror and crawl forward, often under heavy fire, to reach the wounded. They then dragged them out of the way, until it was safe to carry them on their backs.” – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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You can’t get a medal for that

October 4th, 2015 · No Comments

“Men fell silent when the vodka was produced, everyone eyeing the bottle. The strain of battle was so great that the ration was never considered enough, and soldiers were prepared to go to desperate lengths to meet their need. Surgical spirit was seldom used for its official purpose. Industrial alcohol and even anti-freeze were drunk after being passed through the activated carbon filter of a gas mask. Many soldiers had thrown their gas masks away during the retreats of the previous year, so those who had held on to them could bargain. The result could be much worse than just a bad headache. Most recovered because they were young and healthy and did not resort to it frequently, but those who tried too often went blind.” – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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Fate worse than death

October 3rd, 2015 · No Comments

“With ill-defined front lines, and a defence in depth of no more than a few hundred yards in places, command posts were almost as vulnerable as forward positions. ‘Shells exploding on top of our command post were a common occurrence,’ wrote Colonel Timofey Naumovich Vishnevsky, the commander of the 62nd Army’s artillery division, to a friend from hospital. ‘When I left the bunker, I could hear sub-machine-gun fire on all sides. Sometimes it seemed as if the Germans were all around us.’ A German tank came right up to the entrance of his bunker and ‘its hull blocked the only way out’. Vishnevsky and his officers had to dig for their lives to escape into the gully on the far side. The colonel was badly wounded. ‘My face is completely disfigured,’ he wrote, ‘and consequently I will now be the lowest form of life in the eyes of women.’ ” – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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They’ll slap you silly, you try any of that monkey business

October 2nd, 2015 · No Comments

“The armored spearhead of 16th Panzer Division had advanced virtually unopposed across the steppe for nearly twenty-five miles. ‘Around Gumrak,’ the division recorded, ‘enemy resistance became stronger and anti-aircraft guns began firing wildly at our armored vehicles from the north-west corner of Stalingrad.’ This resistance came from the batteries operated by young women volunteers, barely out of high school. Few had fired the guns before, owing to the shortage of ammunition, and none of them had been trained to take on targets on the ground. They had switched targets from the bombers over the city on sighting the panzers, whose crews ‘seemed to think they were on a Sunday promenade’. . . . The anti-aircraft battery crews were astonishingly resilient. According to [one officer], ‘the girls refused to go down into the bunkers.’ One of them, called Masha, is said to have ‘stayed at her post for four days without being relieved . . . . Russian soldiers treat such women with great wariness.’ “ – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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Only the young die good

October 1st, 2015 · No Comments

“Few forces were available to oppose [German] forces in the semi-barren Kalmyk steppe, which Russians from the north thought of as ‘the end of the world.’ Lev Lazarev, who commanded a detachment of marine infantry there, said of the area: ‘It’s not Russia, it’s Asia. It was hard to understand the reason to fight for such territory, yet we all knew that we had to stand or die there.’ With no soldiers available, the Soviet military authorities had turned to the navy. Brigades of sailors were transferred by rail across Siberia from the Far East fleet. Their officers were eighteen-year-old cadets originally from the naval academy in Leningrad . . . . The casualty rate for the young lieutenants would be terrible. Out of Lazarev’s class of twenty-one cadets, only two remained alive the following year.” – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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Suffer the children . . .

September 30th, 2015 · No Comments

“Throughout the region, the population was mobilized. All available men and women between sixteen and sixty-five—nearly 200,000—were mobilized in ‘workers’ columns’, organized by their district Party committees. As in Moscow the year before, women in kerchiefs and older children were marched out and given long-handled shovels and baskets to dig anti-tank ditches over six feet deep in the sandy earth. . . . Younger schoolchildren, meanwhile, were put to work building earth walls round the petroleum-storage tanks on the banks of the Volga. Supervised by teachers, they carried the earth on wooden stretchers.” – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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Borscht on the go

September 29th, 2015 · No Comments

“A regiment of night-fighters landing for the first time at a new base to support the Stalingrad Front discovered that their aerodrome was no more than a large field planted with watermelons and surrounded by tomato plants, which the local peasants continued to harvest even while fighters landed and took off.  The regiment’s presence was soon spotted by a Focke-Wulf reconnaissance aircraft, and when strafing Messerschmitts came in just above ground level, the adjacent peasant market was caught in their fire. In an instant the rural scene became one of total chaos, with panic-stricken horses rearing in the shafts of wagons, children screaming, awnings ripped by machine-gun bullets and stallholders killed among their fruits and vegetables. Less damage was done to the night-fighter regiment, which found itself forced to maintain an exhausting schedule of sorties. Often there was no time to eat at the field kitchen by the side of the runway, so ground crew would bring plates out to the aircraft at dispersal and pilots ate in their cockpit.” – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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Land of blood and honey

September 28th, 2015 · No Comments

“For soldiers of the Sixth Army, the summer of 1942 offered the last idylls of war. In Don Cossack Country, the villages of whitewashed cottages with thatched roofs, surrounded by small cherry orchards, willows and horses in meadows provided an attractive contrast to the usual dilapidation of villages taken over by collective farms. Most of the civilians, who had stayed behind in defiance of Communist evacuation orders, were friendly. Many of the older men had fought the Bolsheviks in the Russian civil war. Only the previous spring, just a few weeks before the German invasion, Cossacks had risen up in revolt at Shakhty, north of Rostov, declaring an independent republic. This had been stamped out by NKVD troops with a rapid and predictable brutality. To the surprise of a company commander of the 384th [German] Infantry Division, Cossacks remained friendly even after looting by his soldiers. They handed over eggs, milk, salted cucmber and even a whole ham as a gift. He then arranged to purchase geese for two Reichsmarks a bird. ‘To be honest, people give you everything they have if you treat them correctly,’ he wrote in his diary. ‘I’ve never eaten so much as here. we eat honey with spoons until we’re sick, and in the evening we eat boiled ham.’ “ – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

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Springtime in Berlin

September 27th, 2015 · No Comments

“Through the springtime foliage of the Tiergarten the shells burst without interruption, destroying everything in their immediate vicinity, and small-arms fire erupted everywhere. Blinding sunshine lay over a gruesome scene. On the lawns of the Tiergarten under age-old but now mutilated trees, I could recognize artillery pieces, all put out of action by direct hits. The gunners who had not escaped were lying around, hardly recognizable as human remains. Everywhere in the streets, the dead were visible among the piles of dust-covered debris. Empty shoes lay here and there.” – Siegfried Knappe, “The End in the Bunker”

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Franny & Toby, by Tetman Callis

September 26th, 2015 · No Comments

“Not since Watership Down has there been such a whimsical, original take on humanity in the form of beloved members of the animal kingdom. Franny & Toby is a gorgeously rendered tale of love.”

– Suzy Vitello, author of The Empress Chronicles series

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Apocalypse then

September 26th, 2015 · No Comments

“By the end of April [1945], we no longer had any chance of defending Berlin. The horrible, hopeless battles in the streets continued. . . . Russian tanks were now driving around the city, German tank-hunter groups were chasing them . . . and both sides were shooting wildly in all directions.” – Siegfried Knappe, “The End in the Bunker”

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l’état, il était lui

September 25th, 2015 · No Comments

“I saluted, and Hitler walked toward me. As he neared, I was shocked by his appearance. He was stooped, and his left arm was bent and shaking. Half of his face drooped, as if he’d had a stroke, and his facial muscles on that side no longer worked. Both of his hands shook, and one was swollen. He looked like a very old man, at least twenty years older than his fifty-six years. . . . I wondered how it was possible that in only six years this idol of my whole generation could have become such a human wreck. It occurred to me then that Hitler was still the living symbol of Germany—but Germany as it was now. In the same six years, the flourishing, aspiring country had become a flaming pile of debris and ruin.” – Siegfried Knappe, “The End in the Bunker” (emphasis in original)

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Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide

September 24th, 2015 · No Comments

“Russian artillery shells were exploding everywhere, causing the earth to tremble and sending dirt, pavement, bricks, and other debris high into the air, where they became weapons dangerous to anyone under them when they fell. The roar of flames from burning buildings and the crunching sound of collapsing walls were terrifying. We dashed from doorway to doorway in short bursts to avoid not only shrapnel and other debris from the shells but also rifle and machine-gun fire.” – Siegfried Knappe, “The End in the Bunker”

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No sleeping in Hell

September 23rd, 2015 · No Comments

“The city’s defenders were red-eyed and sleepless, living in a world of little more than fire, smoke, death, and horror. Much of Berlin was burning like a bonfire.” – Siegfried Knappe, “The End in the Bunker”

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Asleep at the wheel’s falling off

September 22nd, 2015 · No Comments

“There was no such thing as a typical day. Sometimes the Russians would hit us at three in the morning, sometimes at six, and the day just unfolded from there. Our time was spent responding to crises that incessantly occurred. . . . We all caught a few moments’ rest whenever work permitted. Several times I took a call that woke me, listened to the problem of the caller, gave instructions to handle the situation, and then went back to sleep. When I awoke later I had no recollection of the conversation and did not know that I had given such orders, although eventually I would remember it. After that, I learned to put the telephone far enough away that I would have to stand up to answer it.” – Siegfried Knappe, “The End in the Bunker”

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Experienced only need apply

September 21st, 2015 · No Comments

“The sector commander I was visiting had his headquarters in the basement of a brewery. The entire sector staff consisted of amputees, but that at least meant they had combat experience.” – Siegfried Knappe, “The End in the Bunker”

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Opera as a major-league sport

September 20th, 2015 · No Comments

“No one who did not live in Italy before 1848 can imagine what the opera house meant in those days. It was the only outlet for public life, and everyone took part. The success of a new opera was a capital event that stirred to its depths the town lucky enough to have witnessed it, and word of it ran all over Italy.” – John Roselli, Music and Musicians in Nineteenth Century Italy

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Nothing at all like what the USA did

September 19th, 2015 · No Comments

“The Great Patriotic War, with its devastation and suffering, colored the strategic thinking of an entire generation of Soviet leaders. Postwar Soviet governments created an elaborate system of buffer and client states, designed to not only expand Soviet influence, but to insulate the Soviet Union from attack. Although the Warsaw Pact countries contributed to Soviet defense and to the Soviet economy, their rebellious populations were a recurring threat to the regime’s sense of security. Outposts such as Cuba and Vietnam might appear to be useful gambits in the Cold War struggle with the West, but these outposts represented further drains on the Soviet economy. In the long run, the Soviet government probably lost as much as it gained from the buffer and client states. In retrospect, therefore, the determination to preserve the fruits of victory and preclude future attacks was a dangerous burden for the Moscow government. This determination, accompanied by huge military spending and ill-conceived foreign commitments, was a permanent handicap that helped doom the Soviet economy and with it, the Soviet state.” – David M. Glantz, Slaughterhouse

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The second fire

September 18th, 2015 · No Comments

“Safe wiring is not something to be learned after the fire trucks have left.” – ray2047, Forum Topic Moderator, “Extension cords – why do they need to be unplugged after each use?”

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Riots in the aisles, chaos in the cheap seats

September 17th, 2015 · No Comments

“Composers of [the early Nineteenth century] seldom saw their work published, royalties were rare, and copyright laws were nonexistent. Various middlemen prevented composers from knowing what their real box-office receipts were. What money they did earn had to be divided with hack librettists. Most impresarios viewed composers and librettists as quickly replaceable commodities—they were far more concerned with the digestion of the prima donna and the mood of the tenor than the quality of the opera. Audiences were usually unruly if not outrageous. Talking, eating, smoking, and screaming over high notes were all good sport. A night at the opera could be pandemonium.” – David Dubal, The Essential Canon of Classical Music

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September 16th, 2015 · No Comments

“As an editor confronting the day’s abundance, I want to find a reason to stop reading as soon as I can. As an editor in love with good writing, I want to find that I cannot stop.“ – Sven Birkerts, “Five Things the Submitting Writer Should Know”

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Setting the example

September 15th, 2015 · No Comments

“Jewish communities in Eastern Europe were more civilized—that is, socialized more to civil methods of settling disputes, populated with fewer individuals who were personally violent—than the Germans who assaulted them. They were also more civilized than most of the Gentile societies in which they were embedded. Jews historically had not conducted pogroms against Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Byelorussians, Ukrainians; it had been the other way around.” – Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death

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You can’t always take one with you

September 14th, 2015 · No Comments

“One of the most painful questions of the Holocaust, raised first of all by the SS perpetrators themselves, has been: Why did the Jews not resist? The question, with its ugly implication that the victims deserve blame—as if they murdered themselves—has many answers. Many victims did not know what was intended for them until after they had been brought under armed guard. Able-bodied men were usually seized first, leaving women, children and the elderly more vulnerable. The path to the killing pit or the transport was a gauntlet bristling with armed guards and vicious dogs, with machine guns positioned on the perimeter. Running away meant leaving family members behind. The shock of encountering the killing pits was paralyzing. Resistance is more difficult stripped naked. It was unusual for Jews to own weapons or to have experience using them. Jewish communities faced with Gentile hostility traditionally negotiated. Mass killing on the Nazi scale was incomprehensible.” – Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death

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The vital first step

September 13th, 2015 · No Comments

“Characterizing a victim group as a relentless threat to a perpetrator group is the fundamental mechanism of genocide. It allows perpetrators to interpret their violence as defensive and therefore both justified and unavoidable.” – Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death

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They’re so civilized now

September 12th, 2015 · No Comments

“European society in medieval times and earlier had been dominated by malefically violent nobles who enforced their authority with serious physical violence, which they took pleasure in and celebrated. Homicide rates in medieval Europe even among commoners, who settled their disputes privately with little local interference from the law, were twenty to fifty times as high as in modern Europe. Violence declined across seven hundred years of Western history as monarchs moved to monopolize violence in order to monopolize taxation and thereby limit the power of the nobility and as an emerging middle class sought protection in official justice from the burdens of settling disputes at personal risk. Social controls over violence, primarily increasing access to courts of law, developed in parallel with changes in child-rearing practices away from physical brutalization. The criminal justice system vividly demonstrated this transformation. When official justice began to take control it advertised its authority with public torture and executions, spectacles attended by enthusiastic crowds. As private violence declined—that is, as populations were socialized to less personally violent identities—people lost their taste for such spectacles. Punishment retreated behind institutional walls.” – Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death

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The servants of Thanatos

September 11th, 2015 · No Comments

“The Nazi hecatomb was not ‘modern’ and ‘scientific,’ as it is frequently characterized, nor was it unique in human history. It was accomplished with the same simple equipment as the slaughters of European imperialism and, later, Asian and African civil war. State-sponsored massacre is a complex and recurring social epidemic. Understanding how its perpetrators learn to cope with its challenges is one important part of understanding how to prevent or limit further outbreaks, and no twentieth-century slaughter is better documented than the Third Reich’s.” – Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death

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The shooters’ shoulders got sore

September 10th, 2015 · No Comments

“The notorious gas chambers and crematoria of the death camps have come to typify the Holocaust, but in fact they were exceptional. The primary means of mass murder the Nazis deployed during the Second World War was firearms and lethal privation. Shooting was not less efficient than gassing, as many historians have assumed. It was harder on the shooters’ nerves, and the gas vans and chambers alleviated the burden. But shooting began earlier, continued throughout the war and produced far more victims if Slavs are counted, as they must be, as well as Jews. ‘The Nazi regime was the most genocidal the world has ever seen,’ writes sociologist Michael Mann. ‘During its short twelve years (overwhelmingly its last four) it killed approximately twenty million unarmed persons.’ “ – Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death

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Wild strawberries

September 9th, 2015 · No Comments

“Maps in Jewish museums from Riga to Odessa confirm that almost every village and town in the entire sweep of the Eastern territories has a killing site nearby. Two thousand Jews, for example, lived in and around the small town of Tykocin, northwest of Warsaw on the road to Bialystok in eastern Poland, worshiping in a square, fortified synagogue with a turreted tower and a red mansard roof, built in 1642, more than a century after Jewish settlement began in the region. Lush farm country surrounds Tykocin: wheat fields, prosperous villages, cattle in the fields, black-and-white storks brooding wide, flat nests on the chimneys of lucky houses. Each village maintains a forest, a dense oval stand of perhaps forty acres of red-barked pines harvested for firewood and house and barn construction. Inside the forests, even in the heat of summer, the air is cool and heady with pine; wild strawberries, small and sweet, strew the forest floor. Police Battalions 309 and 316, based in Bialystok, invaded Tykocin on 5 August 1941. They drove Jewish men, women and children screaming from their homes, killed laggards in the streets, loaded the living onto trucks and jarred them down a potholed, winding dirt road past the storks and the cattle to the Lopuchowo village forest two miles southwest. In the center of the Lopuchowo forest, men dug pits, piling up the sandy yellow soil, and then Police Battalions 309 and 316, out for the morning on excursion from Bialystok, murdered the Jews of Tykocin, man, woman and child. For months the forest buzzed and stank of death.” – Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death

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