Who is Brode, what is he?
November 17, 2017 1:37 PM   Subscribe

My grandfather had a habit in correspondence using last names only. Thus, in 1931, he was in Berlin, attending a gathering of the International Women's League for Peace, where spoke: "The Ohioan (we should guess Czech) Brode [who] propounded the program of his own city society – a league emphasizing the word “progress” - and tried to get a Berlin branch started." And so forth. Who he, what his proposed program? (A half dozen other mystery guests after the jump, if Brode is unfamiliar, and if the upcoming Christmas Challenge questions are too easy for you)

“Higgins, an American lawyer who has been in Berlin 20 years and lectures at the University"

"A Yale professor, pupil of Hans Reichenbach, who is writing a book on inductive geometry, and hopes to entice Reichenbach to New Haven”

"a very crowded meeting, where Einstein, Schrödinger, and Rahmeisen (that is only an approximation of his name) of the engineering school discussed recent results in science and their influence on views of life." Brackets in the original.

“'The Barber of Rooslagen', a farce with a new and ridiculous plot" This describes a 1929 play, presumably he means Roslagen, but that's no help

"“He promised us a bird for our room. I have brought in an “Erika”." Erika is sometimes German for heather but that makes little sense. German slang for something useful? Money would very much have been an object, so any Erika would have had to have been cheap.

He notes an advert for "A book on William the Second, as an answer to the censorship which forbade the display of the film on which the book was based." (Presumably Kaiser Wilhelm, but what might the book be?

(Extended Brode quote- "He began by complimenting the League as being nearly his ideal than the union of League of Nations Associations – for the League is too much an organ for peacefully maintaining the status quo, too little an organ for the increase of freedom.")
posted by BWA to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
"A Yale professor, pupil of Hans Reichenbach" is probably Carl Hempel. See here and here
posted by blob at 1:42 PM on November 17, 2017


WILPF themselves might be able to link you to more sources re 1931 meeting that could help? http://wilpf.org/wilpf/history/
posted by bimbam at 1:43 PM on November 17, 2017


The "very crowded meeting where Einstein, Schrödinger and [etc]" may be one of the Solvay conferences. In particular the 1927 conference had pretty much all the superstars of physics attending.
posted by blob at 1:51 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


I suspect, without proof, that the Higgins referenced was A. Pearce Higgins who published on international law in that time frame (e.g. "The Binding Force of International Law" from 1910). The facts don't quite line up though.
posted by blob at 2:00 PM on November 17, 2017


I was thinking maybe Wallace R. Brode , but I'm not sure. Brode was intensely politically active, but I don't see that he founded any sort of Progressive league, and wasn't likely to as his politics were hardcore anti-Communist! He does seem to have spoken German according to his collected letters finding aid (well, he would've had to), but I don't see any reference to the speech there.

WILPF didn't have a Congress in Berlin in 1931. That + the fact that he got the first two words of the league transposed makes me think your grandpa might've been talking about an event held by the German equivalent, the "Internationale Frauenliga für Frieden und Freiheit". But my German isn't good enough to search for notes from that.
posted by peppercorn at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2017


Impressive! That said, the time was 1931 and Hempel doesn't appear to have gotten to Yale until after the war. I should have mentioned that Higgins was also identified as having spent the WWI years in Germany and was probably American, so A. Pearce is out. Solvay did not meet in 1931 alas, and none of the names for other years look much like Rahmeisen. I will get in touch with WILPF, however, see what they have. His wife my grandmother was a longstanding member.

Many thanks for all answers, we soldier on.
posted by BWA at 5:54 PM on November 17, 2017



"“He promised us a bird for our room. I have brought in an “Erika”." Erika is sometimes German for heather but that makes little sense. German slang for something useful? Money would very much have been an object, so any Erika would have had to have been cheap.


Unless context rules it out: the Erika.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:42 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


The reference to "an Erika" as a replacement or alternative to a bird may be his way of saying he got a music box or a phonograph disc that plays "Erika," a popular song of the time, thought to be composed around 1930.

I suspect the book-of-the-film about the Kaiser is Dosio Koffler's satire Wilhelm II, released 1931.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 9:04 PM on November 17, 2017



He notes an advert for "A book on William the Second, as an answer to the censorship which forbade the display of the film on which the book was based." (Presumably Kaiser Wilhelm, but what might the book be?


is it possible the film (though not the book alluding to it?) was All Quiet on the Western Front?

(And/or is it possible the sentence got a little mixed around and he meant to say the censorship of the book on which the film was based? because the book AQotWF was released in 1928, banned in 1930 in Germany, and the film, released in 1930, was -- I think -- not officially banned until 1933 but was effectively unwatchable before then because of staged demonstrations preventing screenings from taking place. or so my hasty internet researches indicate. the timeline of when things were banned versus just suppressed is a little unclear to me.)

edited to retract -- I think the suggestion above mine is more likely to be it.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:08 PM on November 17, 2017


A likewise retraction, I think the Erika is more likely to be a typewriter than a music box.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 9:18 PM on November 17, 2017


Context actually rules it very much in. From that point onward, his correspondence goes from script to type writing. Good work my friend!

Never heard of Dosio Koffler, either, and I think that one is right as well. Color me impressed. And grateful to all.

Two down, four to go.
posted by BWA at 6:44 AM on November 18, 2017


Is it possible that Rahmeisen is a really bad mishearing of Alexander Meissner? He was in Berlin by 1921 according to this article in Proceedings of the IEEE, and later taught at "the engineering school" - Technische Universität (at that time Hochschule) Berlin.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 6:24 PM on November 18, 2017


Funny you should say so. I got the same suggestion from an historian of this era just this morning, and he (Meissner) was also there in '31, AND grandfather was not hanging with the TU crowd so much as the U of B crowd. On rechecking the letter, though, I wonder - the meeting turns out to have been organized by Alice Salomon and was one of those Science and Society discussions, so it's possible that the fellow was not science guy at all.
posted by BWA at 1:13 PM on November 19, 2017


« Older Where to get facsimile maps?   |   What part of speech are mathematic operands? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.