December 22, 2016
Tapestry From Hitler’s Home Is Returned To Germany From US
By Jamie Stengle
Dallas (AP) - Growing up, Cathy Hinz and her five siblings would run up and down the stairs at their Minneapolis home, one hand on the banister, the other skimming a memento hanging on the wall that their father had brought back after fighting in World War II: a 16th century tapestry that once graced Adolf Hitler’s retreat perched high in the Bavarian Alps.
On Friday, December 16, that tapestry, purchased for Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest the year before the war began from a Munich art gallery owned by a Jewish family, was formally returned in a ceremony in Germany. It will eventually be displayed at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich.
``The tapestry has been on a journey, and now it’s going home,’’ Hinz said.
The tapestry’s trip back to Germany began when Hinz gave it to the National World War II
Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest
Museum in New Orleans. Enough was known about its past that Gordon ``Nick’’ Mueller, president and CEO of the museum, and Robert Edsel, a board member and founder of the Dallas-based Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, knew it needed to be returned to its rightful owner.
So Edsel began untangling the mystery.
Hinz’s father, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Paul Danahy, often told the story of taking the tapestry after being struck by the historical significance of the moment after his 101st Airborne Division made it to the Eagle’s Nest above Berchtesgaden and began interrogating German officers. Danahy, who served in the war as an intelligence officer, died in 1986 at the age of 71, and the tapestry eventually landed on the wall of Hinz’s dining room.
Seeing carefully preserved tapestries on a trip to Italy in 2000 gave Hinz pause about continuing to keep the 7-foot-by-7-foot tapestry depicting a courtly hunting scene. She knew it was time to let go of it, she just wasn’t sure how.
Edsel said the key was determining whether the September 1938 sale of the tapestry would have been considered forced. His foundation endeavors not only to honor but also continue the work of the Monuments Men, a group of art experts from more than a dozen countries who worked with Allied forces to protect cultural treasures during the war, and afterward to return works stolen by the Nazis.
Thomas R. Kline, a Washington D.C.-based attorney who specializes in art restitution, said multiple factors can go into determining if a sale was forced. For instance, some gallery owners decided to sell collections for fear the Nazis would confiscate them anyway.
It was the family of Konrad Bernheimer, a present-day Munich art dealer, who owned the gallery that sold the tapestry.
``My first reaction was, if you have the invoice then let’s have a look at how much they paid,’’ Bernheimer said. ``There are two possibilities: Either it was sold below the actual value - then it would indicate that this was a false sale. Or it was sold at the full price - then I would not be able to say it’s a false sale.’’
Bernheimer said he didn’t consider it a false sale because the full price - about $10,000 U.S. dollars at the time - was paid. ``Not everything that was sold between 1933 and 1945 could be considered a false sale,’’ he said.
Bernheimer said that up until the Nazis’ attacks on Jewish synagogues, businesses, schools and homes on Kristallnacht in November 1938, his family was convinced they were safe. After that, family members were taken to a concentration camp, and the Nazis took over their gallery. They were eventually able to rebuild the business after the war.
So with Bernheimer not laying claim to it, the tapestry goes to the Bavarian State, the heir to items once belonging to Hitler. Bavarian National Museum official Alfred Grimm said the tapestry will be restored, studied and then displayed at the museum.
Edsel said the return is a reminder to family members of World War II soldiers to be aware of what items might be found in their homes.
``They’re going to inherit these things, and so this is going to be a good chance for us if we can make sure people are aware of the foundation to come forward without feeling any sense of concern about getting in trouble - that’s not what we’re about,’’ he said.
Edsel founded his group in 2007 and has written several books on the efforts to save art during WWII, including ``The Monuments Men,’’ on which the 2014 George Clooney movie of the same name was based. Last fall he announced his foundation would likely be closing due to a lack of funds, but it was reinvigorated after a donation and the offer to participate in a television show called ``Hunting Nazi Treasure’’ that will air next year.
Hinz, who is traveling to Munich for the return ceremony, said she’s been a bit nostalgic about seeing the tapestry go so far away, but says it feels right.
``My thought was, you know, it never was ours to begin with. It’s something that came into our lives as a result of a moment in history, but the tapestry itself is so much more than our history with it,’’ she said.
Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art
Mandate For Renewable Energy To Put 18th Century Mine To Use
By Mary Esch
Mineville, NY (AP) - Some look at an abandoned, centuries-old iron mine in New York’s Adirondacks and see a relic.
An ambitious group of engineers sees the shafts in Mineville as a new way to provide a steady flow of electricity in a growing market for renewable energy.
They are pitching a plan to circulate some of the millions of gallons of groundwater that have flooded the mine shafts over the years to power an array of 100 hydroelectric turbines a half-mile underground.
They envision the operation as a solution for solar and wind power producers, who need ways to ensure an uninterrupted flow of energy when the sun isn’t shining and winds are still.
``Today, everyone’s recognizing that a critical part of our energy infrastructure is going to be storage,’’ said Jim Besha, head of Albany Engineering Corp., as he gave officials a tour of the mine site about 100 miles north of Albany. ``You can think of it as a bank. If someone has excess solar energy, they would pay a fee to store it overnight.’’
While logistically complex, the plan is at the same time incredibly simple: Engineers would drain roughly half of the water from the shafts and pump the remainder into an upper chamber. The water would then be released into a lower chamber, powering turbines and creating electricity. The turbines would be reversed to pump the water back up to repeat the process.
Cat walk for miners at the top of image of Mineville mine
Technically, the pumped water is considered stored energy, to be released strategically when power is needed.
The Mineville Pumped Storage Project still faces federal approvals and up to three years of construction, but it could become one of the first projects of its kind in the nation.
It also would mark a 21st century re-use of a mine that famously contributed iron for the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War on nearby Lake Champlain and was mined for the last time in 1971.
For the locals, the pumped storage project would breathe new life into a depressed former mining town, doubling the local tax base, generating hundreds of construction jobs and a dozen permanent ones, and providing extras like a new highway garage and water lines, said Tom Scozzafava, supervisor of the surrounding town of Moriah.
``It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a community that has never fully recovered from the closing of the mine,’’ Scozzafava said. ``And environmentally, it’s very clean. It’s all underground and utilizes the same water source continuously. You can’t find a cleaner way to produce and store power than pumped storage.’’
Besha first envisioned his plans in 1990 after Scozzafava came to him looking for a way to make the defunct mine profitable again. The project languished until 2005 as interest in renewable energy projects grew.
``Now it looks like it could be online just when it’s needed,’’ Besha said, noting Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2030.
The project is basically an underground version of big outdoor projects that rely on the same principle. The New York Power Authority’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Project in the Catskills and the proposed Eagle Mountain project in southern California, for example, use outdoor, hilltop lakes as the upper reservoirs.
The large-scale pumped storage projects, which have been used for decades to meet peak demand for electricity produced by fossil fuel and nuclear plants, represent 97 percent of the nation’s energy storage today.
Now the Department of Energy is calling for a big increase in pumped storage capacity by 2050 to meet the needs of renewable energy sources that are growing so fast the Energy Information Administration predicts they’ll overtake nuclear energy by 2021 and coal by 2030.
``Pumped storage enables greater integration of variable renewables, like wind and solar, into the grid by utilizing excess generation, and being ready to produce power during low wind and solar generation periods,’’ said LeRoy Coleman, of the National Hydropower Association.
Underground projects using mines, caverns and excavated spaces have become attractive because of reduced environmental effects. In addition to Mineville, projects have been proposed for an abandoned mine and quarry in Elmhurst, Illinois, and underground caverns in Wisacasset, Maine.
In 1953, A Little Girls Sang About Wanting A
Hippopotamus For Christmas, And She Got One!
By John Rogers
Los Angeles (AP) - All a cute, curly haired 10-year-old girl named Gayla Peevey wanted for Christmas in 1953 was a hippopotamus.
And amazingly enough, after ``I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas’’ became the biggest hit song of that holiday season, she actually got one, a 700-pound baby named Matilda. She promptly donated it to the Oklahoma City Zoo, where it lived to be nearly 50, a ripe old age for hippos.
As for Peevey’s song, it may never die.
``That one just really took off, and it’s still going strong, stronger than ever. Sixty-three years later! Hard to believe,’’ Peevey, an ebullient woman of 73, says during a recent phone interview from her San Diego-area home.
So much so that it’s used as a cellphone ringtone these days, included on holiday ornaments and Christmas cards, available for download on iTunes. It’s even featured in a U.S. Postal Service commercial in which the post office boasts it ships more online gifts, hippopotamuses included, than anybody.
Gayla with the hippo fans bought her
Some people will tell you it’s an annoying ear worm, a tune with such silly lyrics and a melody so maddeningly memorable that it will play endlessly in your head every holiday season until New Year’s Day.
But that’s part of its charm, says Tim Moore, iHeart Radio’s New Hampshire programming director who over the decades has played it plenty of times.
``It’s got the sound of an old-time recording,’’ Moore says. ``It sounds dated. It sounds a little corny. But that’s the thing about it. Also, not to be discounted is its effect on children.’’
Yes, definitely don’t discount that.
For years, Peevey has been hearing from schoolteachers around the world who tell her their students perform the song and can’t get enough of it.
``Over 15 years now we’ve done it, and I don’t think we’re stopping,’’ laughs Dana Caro, who directs the second-grade Christmas music program at a suburban Southern California school.
Other songs come and go, says Caro, but ``Hippo’’ stays in the mix every year at Arcadia’s Longley Way Elementary School.
``Even in class today, we weren’t in rehearsal yet when one kid started singing it, and then they were all singing it,’’ added the teacher, who says it has a bounce and a cheeriness that kids love.
And who knows, singing it may actually get a kid a hippo. Unlikely, perhaps, but it did get one for Peevey.
Her hometown zoo, hippoless at the time, teamed with the local newspaper to encourage people to send in enough money to buy her one after she debuted the song on television’s ``The Ed Sullivan Show.’’
Three thousand dollars later, Matilda arrived on Christmas Eve, a fitting gift for someone who would so enthusiastically declare, ``No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses. I only like hippopotamuses. And hippopotamuses like me too.’’
Soon after, however, Peevey left her hippopotamus behind, moving to California.
Gayle Peevey today
She had been singing professionally for two years before recording ``Hippo,’’ moving up from local watermelon festivals to radio shows and then a spot on television’s ``Saturday Night Revue’’ hosted by Hoagy Carmichael.
But her hippo fame caught her off guard, and for months afterward she couldn’t move around Oklahoma City without being mobbed by fans. Her parents figured she’d blend in as just another ``normal kid’’ in California while recording a few more songs.
None would have the impact of that first one, written by John Rox and personally selected for Peevey by Columbia Records’ legendary producer and A&R man Mitch Miller, who backed her with his orchestra.
She did resurface briefly in 1959 with ``My Little Marine,’’ an aching teen ballad she’d written about her first crush. She recorded it under the name Jamie Horton, her manager not wanting people to dismiss it as another hippo song. It peaked at No. 84 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
``A hit but not a big hit,’’ she says now. ``Certainly not a hit as big as the hippopotamus song.’’
Soon after, she was off to college, then marriage and motherhood. Eventually she founded her own advertising agency, keeping her hand in music writing commercial jingles.
Retired and married for 53 years now, she still sings regularly in church.
``But not the hippo song,’’ Peevey says, laughing. ``It’s not really a church song.’’