Australia’s Prime Minister and human rights issues in China


Australia’s Prime Minister and human rights issues in China.

Human Rights Review
Human Rights Review (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Australia’s Prime Minister Ms Julia Gillard spoke at the Australia China Economic and Cooperation Trade Forum during her current trip to China and in her keynote speech she told her audience that the last 30 years the dual way trade with China has gone from 100 million dollars to 100  billion dollars. China is Australia’s largest trading partner. One quarter of Australia’s export is in China. There will be new mutual agreements on clean energy research as part of slowing down the scale of global warming. It will be however interesting to see how Australia will balance both its relationships with the US and China, with pending defence coöperation. Whilst the interests are not necessarily conflicting there could be a difficult issue if e.g South Korea would be vigorously defended by the US in case of a large-scale attack from North Korea.

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China being prosperous in the region is not only good for Australia but for the rest of the world as well. Still China is in a place to use its leverage on North Korea to dismantle nuclear weapons, as due to its increasing regional influence. Australia’s PM has been clearly balancing on mutual and constructive economic ties and the human right issues, but in a tone of common sense and reason, which is effective enough.

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The scope to improve human rights records in China is still much and this need is quite clear within the context of the  recent largest crack downs on human rights in China since the last 2 decades.

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Evidently there are tensions between Washington and Beijing. Obviously the recent crack down on dissidents in China needs to be viewed within the context of the spreading unrest within the Arab world. China however does not feel it has taken a step back on the issue of human rights and recognises the need for improvements, but has tightened up its control on activists , dissidents and religious freedom.

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The US – China human rights dialogue which starts today will be focussed on the main concerning values in which China and the US disagree. Those discussions take place during and after the worst Chinese crack down in years on dissidents and human right groups with mass detention as  a result. For the US applies as well that economic ties with China have been quite important since the ruling Communist Party in China opened up the doors to the market forces in the world. During the Chinese President’s State visit to the US in January, he acknowledged the global importance of human rights and reflected that “still a lot needs to be done in China”.  He mentioned as well: “>to take into account the different national circumstances when it comes to the universal value in human rights<“.

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Interesting the views on human rights are different in so far that China does not only view those rights as each being a personal right but in particular containing collective rights as well.  For instance the right of national independence, development and the right to subsistence. Poverty reduction is e.g. high on the national agenda of China, as part of this reason. Three universities have been recently implemented in China on the area of national human rights education and for the Chines police force there is a human rights manual close to completion.

Like the US did change some aspects of its culture towards human rights not so long ago in history, with law enforcement to be followed, – similar may happen in China.  If we look at the changes in the US in the 60-ties it is clear that certain dynamics need time, especially for the movement of social change amidst the protests against the Vietnam war.

Liberty and tolerance are at the base of improving records of human rights. To allow people to live in harmony in countries, liberty can’t be turned into licences of any kind encroaching on the rights of others. There is however a broader context. People are not really free when they are compromised to build up their lives with purpose. Positive freedom is the freedom as well to meet areas of personal potential. If we divine the distinction between the two aspects of freedom as both interpersonal liberty with certain restrictions and intrapersonal freedom, (being empowered to meet certain goals with value, nurtured as such within a person), – we are reaching somehow  the broader context of freedom and liberty.

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Liberty at State (Nation) level is neither a licence to kill in pointless war’s nor a licence to start “a war on terror” with over the years which followed inflicting mass casualties with both restricted civil liberties and gross compromises on human rights. The torture of prisoners by US military personnel at detentions centre’s in Iraq and Guantanamo in Cuba are the latest US examples of America’s conviction during the last administration that liberties best defender is irreleberality.There are most unfortunate examples how the US did work inside the borders of some foreign countries during the last decades and it is up to the US to evaluate its role in the world, which is clearly in the process of happening during the Obama administration. Whilst there is nothing against opposing a crack down on the terror of human right atrocities in Syria in the strongest possible  terms, – generally spoken a degree of humility of approaching the subject of human rights by those countries who have been culprits in the area of human rights abuses itself, – seems sensible and may create a more trustworthy partnership on this issue where extensive dialogues are required.

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If we look at human right abuses over the last 45 years it would seem unfair to say that China has worse records than the US itself. Where the US was involved in various war’s far outside its borders, with lots of human rights violations in numbers,  it wasted most of its financial resources  before even considering its own middle class and other disadvantaged groups, deserving basic healthcare, education and other rights. The budget deficit as it reached its current levels is the result of some faltering past administrations compromising as well on basic essential rights of its own citizens. being before one of the most wealthiest countries in the world.

Tolerance is a virtue of toleration, in particular an ingredient of liberty and freedom. Still members of major religions at many countries are unwilling to tolerate their opponents or their religious beliefs. There is today however more tolerance when it comes to the colour of skin, ethnic origins, sexuality and lifestyle choices. Generally the level of tolerance is proportionate to the degree of disapproval. The problem arises when tolerance is considered to be a virtue when certain practices or beliefs are morally wrong or even evil. In those cases of the paradox applies that if you can avoid certain things from happening, it is wrong not to do so.

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Human diversity makes both tolerance, liberty (within its boundaries) and respect for human rights more than virtues of the fittest or the richest, – it makes it a need for all our chances of survival on this planet. Hence the required direction of better understanding and implementing  human rights in all its dimensions,  should be encouraged all over the world. Most countries however have entirely different historical dynamics and widespread revolutions and turmoil have provided far too much bloodshed and tears in the past,  – which is the reason – besides preserving the core securities of countries – to carry out required reforms with both added value and respect for life.

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Creating harmony among plenty of differences is the cornerstone of tolerance, which is the virtue that makes it possible to replace the culture and politics of war by both the politics and culture of peace. It is a responsibility which respects life, human rights, diversity, democracy and the law enforcement a real democracy insists on. When people take their rights in their own hands, more often the loser is the law, not rarely at a cost of freedom. The problem of extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they often show intolerance. It is not about their cause, but what they both have to say about their opponents and what they do with their opponents.

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Increasing globalisation, swiftly evolving technology in terms of increasing worldwide mobility and communication, changing social patterns, increasing interdependence and integration  are the major marks of our time. Large scale migrations and displacements are also less positive marks of our time. Tolerance for this reason is more essential than ever before and should be the point of reference of any country in the world, within certain restrictions where this tolerance goes beyond the boundaries of respect for life or provokes violence. Escalating intolerance and violence are potentially menaces in every region.

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We need to keep the liberties of free men, not as a license to kill those who may think differently, but as an obligation to preserve harmony and tolerance among nations, where the principles of respect of life are not compromised. With this attitude some terror groups may put down their weapons.

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In ancient Greece people were not slaves of their passions, but the plants of reason were nurtured in people. It is with this meaning of “reason” in mind to say in fairness that it will be impossible to abolish all forms of human injustice. Injustice is part of life and part of life is that we can learn from it. Reason however only, – is restricted as it only tells us what the senses do.

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Neither reason nor faith are the sole entities of the divining moments in the future, they need to work together to embrace both the concept of more justice and tolerance.

In all corners of the earth  still applies  the command of Isaiah: to “undo the heavy burdens” (eventually) ” and to let the oppressed go free”.

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Respecting human rights will make Nations better places and people more committed to give their best endeavours.

This is a concept within reason for China as well.

Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard did raise the subject quite well as with better mutual understanding and coöperation on various other issues, the domain of our own values and perceptions on this issue may be well taken on board.

There is only really however one way forward, –  for all of us eventually:

—–>”To undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free!!!”<—-

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf

Henry Kissinger – China as a Rising Power

Autralian PM discussing human rights in China.

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China military 2011



Our future lies in our children as well!

Vietnam (Photo credit: jamesonwu)

Our future lies in our children as well!

Fortunately, in history, we still  have remarkable  people, – people who left their foot prints, their legacy,  at the times they lived.

People who reflected courage at times of the worst violation of human rights.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian before and during the 2nd World War, saw  the dynamics leading to the upcoming of Hitler. He sensed at an early stage the dangers and went to the US, – realising however that he could not commit to a post war engagement without being involved in the German resistance against Hitler.

He returned to Germany and during the 2nd world war he became increasingly aware that taking Hitler out of the total picture could perhaps save millions of lives.

He engaged himself in a plot to take Hitler’s life but by “miracle” (as Hitler called it),  2 serious assassination attempts failed very closely. It did reinforce Hitler however in his belief that he was supported by supernatural powers.

Bonhoeffer was arrested by the Gestapo and put in a concentration camp. Just before the end of the 2nd world war he was killed  following explicit instructions from the German government. He left some literature providing an insight in the moral dilemma’s he faced with taking an (evil) life, – to preserve many other lives.

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He was an example of true courage.  He said once: “>The test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children<.” – I would like to add to this that the moral value of a society is neither its reputation in the world nor its gross national product. The level of greatest morality in society is far more connected with the way its looks after its children, the elderly and the frail, – facilitating optimal education to offer people a future with value and dignity, in peace.

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This world is still a world where children do suffer. In various countries uprooted by civil war, poverty and lack of basic education. Besides this there are many countries where many thousands of children (millions perhaps) are sold or disappeared in the sex trade or child pornography. Daily abused in the most horrible dimensions. Often the perpetrators walk free as e.g the case recently with a Belgian Arch Bishop. He abused children in his care and in the 21st century in Belgium, he was only advised to leave the country – without any prosecution.

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Not to speak about countries reigned by some dictators, often far worse, – but these dimensions about child abuse are almost at a global level. This is the violence different from the bomb at night in Gaza, slower than the shot in Afghanistan, – but at least as deadly in terms of physical and mental torture. It is the silent violence and the slow decay within existing institutions supposed serving the countries, – like e.g. in  Belgium, where high-ranking government officials have been involved in  pedophile rings, and where some influentially in the top of the Roman Catholic Church walk free.

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This violence again is different from e.g. the violence applied by the US in Vietnam some decades ago, where the US Government was in a place to decide which areas in Vietnam would be destroyed with mass bombardments. It is the violence different as applied in many other pointless war’s as happened e.g in Iraq. Nevertheless it is often institutional violence, like it was institutional violence which intervened in John F Kennedy’s Presidency of the US, with high-ranking Governments officials being involved with cover up’s at the highest level of US Government. It was this institutional violence as well which killed both Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert F Kennedy during the anti Vietnam-war demonstrations,  – preparing as such (in a way)  the winning campaign of Richard Nixon.  Even in the US there are potentially dangerous dynamics if not wisely put to an end.  Still e.g. the Iraq war and 9/11 left many unanswered questions and if the Bush administration with Dick Cheney & Donald Rumsfeld would stand trial in an International Court of Justice, the verdict could be less favourable than most people would think, – if all available evidence would be presented. The potential however in the US reflects still the choices being possible to change the political climate, which is different from some other countries. The choices of not allowing the past to become the future of our children. The statue of liberty however has only value with a supplementary statue of responsibility in the White House. If the US would falter and loses its freedom it is: “because we destroyed ourselves”, – Abraham Lincoln once said.

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Neither western democracies nor countries elsewhere on the world are free of failures of both judgement and perceptions, but  with democracies is has been rarely necessary to put dissidents in jail whilst this seems common practice in those countries where there are no free elections. The beauties of a democracy remain restricted if  most value their right to remain indifferent against potential evil systems tolerated in their own society. Every democratic country gets the criminals it deserves in the highest positions, where there is a free vote, – but on the other hand each free vote can add to the law enforcement being required. People being elected at various levels of government do represent the choices of people and in real democracies it is not really justified to blame politics for everything, – as everyone in those positions of government can be replaced through those who are committed to their democratic votes and the legitimate need for change. The dynamics in e.g Syria are far less straightforward, especially when the crack down on dissidents is relentless and supported by Teheran.

Nevertheless certain countries can’t continue killing their own people without repercussions on the long-term. It happened in the former Yugoslavia and there are still trials in The Hague with generals involved in genocide and all other abuses of human rights.

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Like the principle of non involvement in business does not work in the time of knowledge workers, non involvement does not work in the business of the political administration of any country, and most of the non democratic leaders are operating from obsolete and inflated paradigms driving their countries on the brink of disaster.

In 2008 the US made a choice for profound change and Barack Obama became the first African American President. Despite a multi trillion federal budget deficit inherited from past Administrations, he was able to carry out various reforms. Without compromising on the needs for the children, the frail, the elderly and the middle class he needs to find ways to attempt a significant reduction in the federal budget deficit to keep the US a sustainable country. No representative of the Republican Party during the 2012 elections will prove to have similar credentials as this first African-American President, who may prove in retrospect  to be one of the finest US Presidents in history, – provided being able to serve his 8 years term in office.

Education is the key to help less privileged groups to better standards of living all over the world. It can push countries to the next levels of their endeavours. The inhumanity and dilemma’s of this swiftly changing planet can’t be resolved by ongoing oppression of groups who want to see positive changes in their society. The world can neither be moved by those who represent a dying history of obsolete principles of government, with full prove that it does not work, – nor can it be moved by democracies with decay in their systems as allowed by those having a free vote. Our security can’t be secured anymore by nuclear warheads. – Security is far more likely to be settled in the way reason meets across the borders of division. The future will be an achievement for those who find ways to work together at the forefront of those challenges in our time.

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The world is wicked dark and grey, despite its beauties on many of its corners. Obstruction is in the midst whilst oppression does not leave from the streets. If we ask the children all over the world what makes their times bad, they will tell. They will tell the stories about hunger and dysfunctional families. They will tell their stories about violence and rape. They will tell the stories about schools without books. They will tell the stories about friends being gunned or knifed down. They will tell the stories about trading childs for sex in Taiwan and Cambodia, apart from other countries. It is this silent violence which goes barefaced often under the protection of civil servants or in some countries – the church. The grievances of many under oppression are loud and clear but often not heard. Often they are wiped under the carpets. Those carpets often so nicely shining from the top, but so dusty and dirty at the bottom where nobody looks.  As long as the world will exist there are always wicked leaders who ruin the ethical principles of life by wearing out the people who refuse to remain indifferent towards human suffering and humiliation.

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Through the agony of deep divisions we need to change our world by our choices. We need the world and the world needs us. ….Those who take history as a relentless master in the challenge to keep both reverence for life and diversity, will always meet the world as a strange place, – whilst it take miles to make it change. However there is a time fixed for this…This time will come at the fittest time where people will be set free… This optimism takes no account of the present but is worth both enduring inspiration vitality and hope for the future, – where others have resigned to claim the future for themselves.

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And still, we see this hope and optimism in children.  And don’t let us forsake them, – they are our future!!

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf



Fukushima: why is vital technology arriving so late?

Fukushima (Photo credit: zigazou76)

Obviously it was a good thing to see a roaring Antonov N-124 cargo plane from Russia flying into Atlanta airport this week, picking up a specially designed 86180 kg concrete pump, retrofitted and mounted on a 26-wheel truck to pour water on the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant.This Putzmeister made pump in Wisconsin is able to shoot water into hard-to-reach areas like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,  and  as it happened in 1986 when two of such pumps have been used to pour concrete over the most “risk parts” of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine.

Japanese authorities from the beginning have been facing  the problem to cool the plant’s  reactors after the recent earthquake and tsunami, fully crippling out the backup cooling equipment.

Needless to say that this technology will offer real help. This equipment is both able to pump and spray enough water to cool down an overheated reactor, where fire trucks and helicopters  are not efficient, – but  this equipment is also able to pour concrete over parts of nuclear plants if so required. Really great this technology!  But why on earth is  this technology arriving so late at its proper destination?

This equipment has a boom which can reach out some 70 meter, besides really  the opportunity to be operated at least 3 km away by remote control.

Lets face it,  a more proactive approach with sending this type of equipment in a far more timely way could have prevented excessive radiation and could have limited as such death and morbidity at a large-scale.

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Japan‘s latest estimates about radiation being  released in the air from the Fukushima plant, seems about 370 terabecquerels of iodine 131.  This is about 7-8 % of the estimated 5200 terabecquerels released at Chernobyl. The difference  is mainly caused by  the fact when the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl happened, the reactor had power, – whilst the Fukushima plant had no power at the time of the earthquake. It could have been a worst case scenario if the plant at Fukushima  had full power on impact, which could have been possible.  Of note as well that Caesium -137 levels last far longer than those of iodine and further measurements of Caesium -137 levels and its spreading may give a more detailed indication on the future implications, if full transparency is in place.

Still however  the question after Chernobyl – why international support on the most vital point of attack in scenario’s like the one at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been so slow, with now so many implications for Japan. It is clear that the International Atomic Energy Agency, apart from judging matters of radiation in terms of INES scales in retrospect,  need to seek support at the level of international governments and vice versa. The aim is to have rapid response teams quickly available with the inclusion of pumps as designed e.g. at Putsmeister, and e.g Russian cargo planes at times of such disasters being on stand by, – besides other things. This actually will show proper and proactive support in the future and may cut both damage and danger in any further events down the line. It is clear that Fukushima needs to give lesson’s for the future, like the BP oil disaster in the US needs to be a lesson in terms of specific required international technology being rapidly on the spot. The last simply as a need to combat destructive implications at an early stage, with speed.

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If e.g a major bus accident happens on the road with many being seriously injured, – rapid response is vital as the earlier you can pay attention to those who have breathing problems or those who are bleeding, the better the survival rate. In a way this is similar with what happened at Fukushima. If Putzmeister pumps would have been on the spot within let’s say 4 days, if achievable, the implications would have been less dramatic on both the short and the long-term for people who have tried to fight this disaster at the forefront, – now being exposed to measures both discriminatory and reminiscent due to stigma’s being applied – and confusion about radiation.

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It is clear that proactive disaster management plans to the future need to be in place in those areas which could provoke major threats on human lives if disasters of any such kind are not dealt with properly, – with all technology being required in place in the quickest way. This requires on its own international coöperation, which failed Japan in crucial areas, or at least arrived to late.

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf

Further memories

Many things happened.

English: West Schouwen lighthouse (Haamstede) ...
English: West Schouwen lighthouse (Haamstede) Nederlands: Westerlichttoren – eigen foto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mum and dad met during the 2nd world war and whilst my dad was actively involved as one of the leaders of the “Flying Brigade” resistance group, my mum was dedicated to her role as a “courier” for this group. Many messages and documents went as such from one group to the other. Intelligence about German defence systems across parts of the Dutch coast line passed as such as well to  Allied Forces in England.

Both my mum and dad were the only survivors  following someone  betrayed the “Flying Brigade”, and this fate, this coincidence actually, determined the road to their marriage – which ended some 26 years after the 2nd world war.

In retrospect my parents were good and decent people and though their relationship with each other had such imperfections that it could not sustain, they tried to live life as good as possible. They made an impact in what they provided for their children and what they expressed in their own ways to friends and relatives.

I loved the walks with my dad in the forests near Haamstede when I was young, as he always told me about things of interest and he showed a lot of interesting places in Zeeland, like eg  particular spots at Zierikzee and Middelburg.

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I still see my mum cooking in the kitchen of our house in Haamstede on the hot summer evenings, with the evening sun shining through the side window, and children sharing the table after playing football.

The owner of the little local Foodland at the time (“Van Dijke”/ van Dike) was always kind enough to bring a supply of shopping home in those early days, or bringing e.g. a new gas bottle.

I was really fortunate enough being born within comfortable circumstances. No matter what the difficulties were at some stage,  no matter what the challenges were when I was a teenager,  where it really comes to in life  is affection, respect, encouragement and good examples   generating the sort of strength and love – which is essential in life, besides meaning.

Personally I  had many good examples, both nearby and far away. Still do I have warm feelings for all those people for what they gave me during various moments in life. This appeared often in little things and most of the times they were not aware. It is one of the mysterious things in life of what we give  to each other without knowing it, and the impact it has at times. Sometimes this happens during trivial circumstances and simple encounters, – sometimes this happens during  vital moments within our human endeavours. Moments with seeds being planted in our hearts and minds,  and wisdom – at times many years later – growing through the grace of God.  In my case there have been people I never met who made an impact.

In moments of reflection we may look back at the colours of our own life. For each of us they are different. If we are lucky,  the colours may get warmer when the years pass by. However not for all of us do the blend of light and the peace of nature come together, – like it may happen e.g. in those late sunny afternoons where the mix of circumstances and light do create an inner peace with whatever we experienced in life.

Both my oldest and younger brother are still alive.  One brother, 4 years older only, died suddenly in 1999.  His name was Tjakko.  Among the brothers he was perhaps the “lion” of the Wolves,  both fierce if required but also kind and generous. We played a lot when we were young and apart from some rivalry there was always encouragement and support.

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Many of  my childhood memories go back to the town of Haamstede at the lighthouse, where so often we went on holidays during the summers in the company of childhood friends. Like my dad,  – Tjakko later went to study law (in Utrecht). It was within reason perhaps to suspect that he did consider a career in politics at some stage,  but the political dynamics in the Netherlands did not really appeal to him, neither was he attracted to courts of justice. At young age he became director of a road construction company. Both as a result of this and his investing endeavours in property he became quite prosperous in Haamstede, where he lived for years already.  Before  he died he was able to reconsider his options in life as he had the type of wealth he could afford this. He was not the type of person who would be happy with an easy lifestyle as he had a degree of restlessness making him to seek new endeavours. Three days before he died we had a last telephone conversation in which we discussed a family reunion in the Netherlands. I was living at that stage with my wife and children in Scotland. When we heard about his sudden death on monday, we  traveled as soon as possible to Haamstede to be part of the funeral preparations and share with the family in sadness, together with his wife.  They had no children.  Quite a number of people were profound devastated.

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For various reasons his life was an unfinished life, – he died far too early.  – Still I do remember sailing with him at the lake near Veere (Veerse meer) in the county of  Zeeland, both with him and his future wife at young age.

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Some years between the age of 16 and 18 I spent with a lovely foster family in Apeldoorn. I was able here to finish secondary school as only this environment provided the support being required at this stage in life to help me with some attention & concentration issues at school. This was a somewhat different environment than I was used to. Quite an artistic and warm hearted family actually.  There were 3 other children, all a bit younger.   Wilgert, the oldest, died at the age of 25 in Groningen following an accident with a bus, one of those terrible moments where a split second of lacking perhaps the required concentration to avoid pending danger proved to be fatal.

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Five years ago we went for a broad family reunion and stayed obviously in Haamstede, – besides travelling to Scotland and see old other friends. Having had the opportunity to live so close to the sea in Cullen,  in-between Inverness and Aberdeen, was a great experience for both my wife and 3 children. Together with their friends, our children often jumped from the harbour in the sea. There has been always something special with Scotland, the country of both “the high road and the low road.”  Very special as well was both our stay in England and South Africa,  before this.

When I was 4 or 5  I was hit by a motor bike whilst skiving off preschool, – on my way to a friend’s house.  Can’t remember the impact but when I woke up there with many faces bending over me, but I lost conscious and woke up days later in the hospital of Goes, in the county of Zeeland. Considerable head injury and an open fracture of my leg was the verdict. My poor pre school teacher Miss Mathla was possibly in trouble as young kids are not supposed to escape from preschool. I could recover that summer in Haamstede but it was not the most pleasant holiday.

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Funny enough I still remember some preschool events and St Nickolas arriving by boat in the harbour of Goes. Goes was a great place in my perception and I was sad for days with the prospect of moving to Apeldoorn, if I knew what sadness was in those days. At least I did not like it.

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Adapting to Apeldoorn took time. The school was different, likewise the culture. However, also there were friends at an interesting primary school being called the Sondorp school, named after the previous school inspector. There are many stories about this school and my old school mates have many memories as well, last but not least about the head master. He made the school what it was with pride, but on another note he often used his hands when kids were naughty, or when “he thought” the kids were naughty. He reigned with a vigorous regime, not rarely at a cost of the children. Practices as in those days at schools would not be tolerated today and it always puzzled me why my dad did not make the required efforts to tame this man, – but it would seem that the other teachers did respect the way up with his approach. He became the victim of his own attitude and one day -(so I was  led to believe)-  a mob of teenagers were waiting for him.

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We had a good class though, – at the time of this headmaster, united in our awareness of the daily potential dangers. Some pupils were  however more at risk than others. My performance was seriously not that great with this teacher in the last class of primary school, whilst with some other teachers before I worked hard because they were really nice and genuine.

The first part of secondary school was not that good. Often in trouble with teachers. The school system at that particular school at the Church Lane (Kerklaan) in Apeldoorn, next door to the swimming pool, was less than inviting or stimulating – the least.  It went somewhat better at a different school but I think my mind was a bit preoccupied with other things going on. Things were not ideal at home.

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Matters profoundly changed after finishing the Teaching Training College in Amsterdam,  after passing an entry test for the medical faculty. I found direction.

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Being able to do the medicine study in Maastricht, the most beautiful city of the Netherlands, did open various doors to the future. The city was great for students who liked the outdoors as e.g. rowing on the Maas, or climbing rocks in the hills of Belgium.

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Life evolved further in Sneek, the county of Friesland. This as part of a hospital job which combined General Surgery, Obstetrics and A&E.  It was reasonable preparation for working and living in Venda (South Africa), which we did at Siloam.

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With England and Scotland in between, we arrived 10 years later in Australia…..


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We all may have our specific mission or goal in life which provides fulfilment, despite obstacles. No matter what can be taken away from us, still at the end we have the last choice within the given set of circumstances we have.

The lighthouse in Haamstede was built to give light, was built to endure burning.  I still have this picture in mind and it has a meaning for me. Lighthouses do not move, they give direction.

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Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf

From Pol Pot to Darfur

On the 25th of April each year, Australians  commemorate ANZAC day, the landing of Australian and New Zealand Troops at Gallipoli in 1915. The spirit of this day – as suggested by the official war historian C.E.W Bean – both stand and stood for “reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat”. It also encompasses the laughter, the love and pride of life which fits most Australians as well. Anzac was a terrible day in history with about 265000 casualties on Allied forces. including 7594 Australian soldiers.

It’s a day indeed not to forget and for Australians it is an important day. Like D-day and other battlefields were many people lost their lives. John Masefield wrote in his tribute about those bold, laughing soldiers, -“they seemed to be of one race, for all of them had something of the same bearing, and the same look of humorous swift action.” On an other occasion John Masefield made a tribute on the heritage of English universities, being places where ignorance has been despises and where people strive to know, “where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see. ” Unfortunately we can’t say that ignorance has been despises as the  “modern” world still builds on the legacy of genocide and an increasing ignorance of human rights, – besides controlling most of the world’s oil, most of the world’s weapons, most of the world’s money, and most of the world’s media. The energies of most countries are going 10 times more to either being well prepared – and eventually going to war, – rather than eliminating the chances of war with the risk of partial or total self-destruction, as being possible in the times we live today.

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Never ever nuclear powers will surrender in times of conflict without resort to those forces and this risk is growing year by year. If we look into recent history and see the level of irrationality among some of the worst tyrants, – whilst the world has made minimal efforts to stop those leaders at an early stage, – there is a real concern when any of those countries and it’s leaders have either access to nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons. I am under no illusion North Korea (with its current leadership) would be able to destroy a few nuclear power plants on the east coast of the US, if it is able to develop long-range missiles. They would have no mercy.

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Even when some countries do have nuclear weapons for not using them (“deterrent”), – other countries with less rational leaders acquire those weapons with the purpose of irrational use, if they feel fit to do so. In any significant nuclear encounter where one single nuclear explosive alone is almost 12 times the explosive force applied by all the Allied airforce during the 2nd world war,- the military encounters at Gallipoli with the losses of 265000 soldiers are only trivial with the losses then being endured, and we can’t take any pride anymore by sending our “brave soldiers” to war (being slaughtered) whilst the nations in the word have failed to take drastic actions to prevent the spreading of nuclear energy.

John Masefield if still alive in such days would despise the ignorance of not having prevented those battle fields, and the failures of the UN to end tyranny and the abuses of human rights. The problem is that some member states abuse human rights themselves and are subject to gross tyranny at a cost of their own population.

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If we consider the most evil leaders in the world we can be pleased that at least Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot are not among the living anymore, – but they were tolerated to use their powers and have never been stopped at an earlier stage, – as such preventing the misery and deaths of millions all over the world.

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Still  there have been , – and still there are many other tyrants who exercise the most brutal powers and all forms of inhumanity. Many of those people have been and still are, – tolerated on the political scene,  even within the context of the United Nations. Some of those people are suffering from serious psychopathology but are still able to keep up  in a world of increasing themselves with more and more personal wealth, ethnic cleansing and coordinating often cruel obliteration of any political opposition. Some have, – others will get in the future excess to nuclear power plants, which will enable them to join the countries with the powers to use nuclear weapons eventually.

Needless to say what power graving inhumane leaders could provoke in the future, if the United Nations and the Global Community does not learn the lessons from the past and deal with those leaders at an early stage.  This should have happened with e.g. Pol Pot and Idi Amin, the last with a killer record of about 400000 and the first with even 3 million Cambodian’s being massacred under his responsibility. Pol Pot with his Khmer Rouge “revolution” has been (per head) possibly the deadliest in Asian history, and the world watched it happening…

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Terror and paranoia reigns at more places around the world, and early intervention would have prevented the ramifications of some of those brutal monsters.

To give a glimpse only and starting to speak about North Korea, – we all know the dangers associated with Kim Joni -il,  – the leader of this poverty-stricken and possibly one of the most isolated countries in the world. He is most unpredictable and acquired nuclear weapons ready to be used. Actually he is known as the world worst dictator now. His problem is the combination of personal paranoia,  his deadly weapons and his addiction to Hennessy cognac ( his yearly alcohol bill is over $200000,-). For many other countries apart of his own, – this  is a potential  lethal combination with the wrong decisions being made, despite diplomatic efforts to control the situation as long as it can be controlled.  A report compiled by Frederick L . Coolidge and Daniel L Segal (with help of a South Korean psychiatrist) concluded that the current North Korean leader has similar personality disorders as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein (sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic and schizoid). Although many stories about this man are perhaps somewhat exaggerated perhaps, – needless to say that he is a most dangerous commander of the “Korean People’s Army“, the 4th largest in the world. Two hundred thousand of North Korean people have been imprisoned as due to opposition. This country with this leader is able to create a nightmare scenario.

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In Iran we still have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is the leader who declared the Holocaust to be a lie and a myth, stating that the Jewish Nation should be wiped from the map. Later he denied this,  saying that he was not “passing judgement” on the Holocaust and that he “respects Jews very much.” The population in Iran has increased quite significant but has major problems in terms of unemployment and inflation. Obviously there are powers behind this President, but there is not enough clarity. The records on human rights are notorious and the nuclear ambitions are  potentially most dangerous. Having said this in a 2009 interview with reporter Ann Curry on the question whether the President of Iran would rule out an Iranian nuclear bomb in the future, – he responded: >”We have no need for nuclear weapons.” <->”Without such weapons we are very much able to defend ourselves.” <……Though  he may prove likely not to be consistent in his projections,  at least he is not as irrational as the North Korean leader. Being however both a controversial figure in and outside Iran, – Human Rights Watch has been quite explicit about tortures and mistreating dissidents. There is no tolerance for peaceful protest and gatherings. Within the context of the Middle East dynamics he proved to support Hizbullah against Israel and in October he did visit Lebanon. It would seem he is buying time within the Middle East dynamics.

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The current leader of Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has continued his family’s Ba’athist regime and rule of Syria. His secret police as part of normal routine imprisons, tortures and kills those people who disagree or speak out against his regime. In an interview with ABC news he stated that: “We don’t have such things as political prisoners.” Assad has been  logistically supporting & sponsoring various militant opposing groups against Israel as he is “anti-Israel”, though appears perhaps interested in a “peace treaty” today, – but not real peace. Besides this he is “anti – West” as well and a close ally of Iran. Large protests against the regime earlier this year have been crushed. His economic policies are in the range of gross neglect of his own country. Family members are holding key government positions to secure his power base.

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In Zimbabwe there is still President Robert Mugabe (the world’s 3rd nightmare dictator). Zimbabwe’s economic fall down is one of the worst being known, together with a dreadful record on human rights. Mugabe’s ruling party inflicted militias to support his campaign to hold on power during the 2008 elections. Vote counts were falsified Foreign Journalists were chased out of the country or detained. Supporters of the opposite party were either beaten or killed by Mugabe loyalists, using relentless torture methods being widespread documented. The South African President Tabu Mbeki watched in silence whilst the murder rate peaked, but brokered under international pressure a deal with the leader of the  Movement for Democratic Change (Morgan Tsvangirai), and the last became Prime Minister, – however under Mugabe’s rule. The process of white farmers being expelled from their properties is still ongoing. Mogabe’s regime and followers are not less than a gang of murderers and thieves, without any moral bearing and the majority who did support him should be sent to an international criminal tribunal, once there will be an M.D.C led government. Mugabe has been President since the early 1980ties and it is amazing that he still holding this position, in a country with so much bloodshed. Neither the dynamics in the Commonwealth, nor the dynamics in the United Nations or South Africa have been able to stop this man holding onto power.

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In Eritrea the leader still is Isaias Afewerki. Since the date he came into power in May 1993 he has been responsible of shutting down all human rights organisations, besides removing all international development agencies from the country. Elections have been canceled and Amnesty International did report excessive human rights violations, like in other countries. A war looms with Ethiopia and the government is under suspicion of supporting terrorism, hence pending economic privation, – despite 2/3 of the populations receiving food aid. Border conflicts and a poor economy are ongoing issues, besides frequent reports on human rights abuses.

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President Yahya Jammeh has ruled Gambia since 1994. Apart from being known for his herbs and banana cure for Aids, he is known to have decapitated gay’s. Not to mention the documented torture and imprisonment of dozens of journalists and political opponents who disappeared from the scene. In round up’s traditional “witches” in his country were taken from their hut’s and villages by bus to secret locations. Here they were forced to drink hallucinates causing terrible pains with provoked and mindless killings. Gambia might be the smallest country on mainland Africa but has a very large record of human right atrocities and President Jammeh counts Iran’s President being a close ally. Both countries have much military and trades ties. Hopefully there will be pending signs of a fracture in the junta leading to it collapse, and if this collapse could be supported it would only create a more favourable situation. However if Iran would export nuclear technology eventually to this country, not much imagination is required of what would happen next.

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In Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov became the leader after the declared independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.During a peaceful protest in Andijan in 2005, Karimov’s police murdered 750 civilians. Since the 90ties he has jailed  at least over 8000 Uzbeks for “Islāmic extremism”, with him having warm connections with the US when President Bush was in power. The war on terror as it would seem, allowed the West to turn a blind eye to all sorts of human rights atrocities (in which thousands have been killed) as long those countries were supportive towards anti terror policies of President Bush. Opponents of  this particular  regime and the democratic movement are nullified and President Karimov blames any uprise on “terrorist groups”. Karimov has been selected already as one of the world’s worst dictator’s because of his tactic’s on torture, media censorship and fake elections, which are notorious. Craig Murray, the British embassador from 2002 to 2004 in this country details in his memoirs the financial corruption and human right’s abuses, which he encountered during his term in office.

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Sudan’s dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for both war crimes and crimes against humanity within the committed Darfur genocide. He came to power in 1989 when he led a group of officers in a coup that ousted the Sadiq al – Mahdi government. The atrocities were committed during the war in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, which claimed over 300000 lives since 2003 and terrible mass displacements, – apart from torture, sexual violence and rape. An international arrest warrant (10 counts of genocide & war crimes) will be  issued in the dictator’s  name. However the regime may retaliate now against aid workers and peacekeeping soldiers in Darfur. International relief efforts could well be compromised resulting in more suffering among ordinary Sudanese people. Providing justice could have implications for peace keeping operations. Violence still continues in Sudan and the transition to a more peaceful civil society will prove to be a complicated process. Key transitional justice issues are envisioned already by Dr Mohammed Abdallah  Aisa, Physician and former Professor of Medicine at L Fasher University in Darfur. He has been much involved in the treatment of survivors of sexual violence and torture. Civil society in Darfur needs to be involved in crucial conversations about transitional justice to be well equipped to lead, once a peace agreement is in place.

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The list does not stop with this. One last example:

Than Shwe ( one of the world’s most terrible dictator’s) has been the military dictator of the ruling junta in Birma, but I am led to believe that since yesterday his role has somewhat reduced, – however he is still a very influential background figure. He imprisoned, tortured and executed Buddhist monks, opponents and even journalists. Birma is one of the 10 poorest countries on earth and during the late 80ties the “Democracy Summer” has been squashed with murdering thousands of demonstrators. The Human Rights world report in 2005 describes this country as one of the most repressive countries in Asia.  A country excelling in all forms of terror among its own people, besides being listed as possibly the 3rd most corrupt nation on earth. Mind you if such a nation, or any of the others would get access to nuclear power plants.

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Unrest is going on now at various levels in Middle East countries and China, where there is a call for more democratic reforms and freedom. Human rights have been often compromised in those countries as well.

Countries are different and follow different patterns of processes leading eventually to more democratic reforms. On the one hand we may hope that democracy and justice will prevail in those countries were the walls of oppression are still high. On the other hand it is not sure how many massacres those countries will have to endure.  However, keeping the world stable and safe it is better to start to make strategies for democratic reforms as at the end of the day they are legitimate and whatever happens they can’t be stopped. Delayed perhaps, but not stopped. Crushing the movements for reforms might be successful for some years but the resistance will grow and grow and trying to stop those movements will jeopardise the general stability and economy of each country trying to do this. Reconciliation at the end might be even more difficult as atrocities will not be easily forgotten.

Processes as they evolved eventually in South Africa with the election eventually of President Mandela in the 90ties are perhaps not everywhere applicable, but still the transition eventuated in a peaceful way where civil war would have been the alternative. Where leaders of countries like e.g.  China are able to make choices for the better of their country, it might be wise to do so as in the long term it will serve the purpose of China to be a peaceful super power in the world, with much leverage with surrounding countries in the region.

The amount of unstable countries on this world with oppressive regimes and human rights abuses is quite staggering at the moment and the dangers on escalating violence are quite clear as e.g. illustrated in Libia. The UN did step in eventually in this area but the options in other areas are quite limited as veto rights will be exercised by other member states. This at the background of an increased number of  nuclear powers makes the world unstable and far from safe, with the experience that some leaders have the capacity to respond in a total irrational way due to the personality structure of some leaders themselves, – holding on to power with everything it takes, – even self-destruction.

The modern Hitler’s. Stalin’s and Pol pot’s may dominate the world if united efforts from within the UN do fail to stop the most dangerous people at an early stage, with genocides worse than the killing fields in Cambodia and Vietnam. The liberation movements can’t be terminated as the currents will get stronger and stronger, so that the mightiest wall’s of oppression will fall. This is what the late Senator Robert F Kennedy once said on a tour in South Africa, – at the time this country had a most oppressive regime. The point is that he is right, but the question is at which cost if the UN does not become more proactive in dealing with those countries who are at risk.

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As Elie Wiesel once commented – surviving both the Nazi Auschwitz death camp and Buchenwald: >”Have we really learned from our experiences? Are we less insensitive to the plight of victims of ethnic cleansing and other forms of injustices in places near and far?”<

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Democracy is not “the prescription” for no trouble, but with proper balance of powers being constructed within the constitution, allowing constitutional freedom of press and an obligation to preserve human rights, – it is at least the form of government allowing change if so required.

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf

Granddad and grandma Wolf (Rostock -Mecklenburg roots)

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My family roots is a story on its own, more detailed than being described below:
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Granddad (Louis Gustaaf Wolf) was born in Klundert ( the Netherlands) on the 15th of February 1865 and married grandma (Louise Ploos van Amstel) on the 3rd of May 1899. She was born in Reitsum on the 16th of July 1877  and was the daughter of Reverend Johannes Jacobus Ahasverus  van Amstel and Anna Geertruida Binksma. They had 6 children including 1 daughter who died at a very young age.
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The archives of the Wolf family go back to the 17th century. Elias Wolf was born in Rostock in July 1717. Becoming Mayor of Jever he married Margarethe Christiene   Kohnemann.  One of their children was another Elias Wolf, born in Jever on the 24th May 17 68 and he became the owner of some plantations in Essequebo (Guyana).  He was President and adviser in the criminal justice department of this colony and married on the 5th of May 1792 with Sarah Barkey in Rio Essquebo. They got 5 children, including Frederik Hendrik Elias Wolf, born on the 30th of November 1803 in Breda. He became Reverend in the Dutch Reformed Church at Leeuwen and married in Gendt on the 9th of April 1828 with Johanna Henrietta Coenen.  Both got 5 children including Elias Frederik Hendrik Wolf, being born in Leeuwen on the 18th of January 1829 and this Elias became a Reverend in the Dutch Reformed Church in Utrecht. He was married with Sophia Carolina Charlotte van der Goes.They got 7 children, one of which was my granddad.

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Considering the directions his brothers and sisters took in life, I can only assume granddad had a colourful family.

Actually I don’t know too much about granddad’s younger years. He went obviously through primary and secondary school and opted to go into medicine but in his 5th year, just before the clinical part, – he realised that this was not the future he wanted. After careful consideration he stopped medicine all together despite his good results  (I don’t think his own dad offered him to try a different study as there were more children to raise).

How and when he met grandma (oma ), I don’t know. He moved with his wife to Canada and started about 1890 one of the first Dutch settlements near Yorktown. Perhaps he was comfortable to be a bit away from his family as he did not follow the usual patterns of life, – or family expectations.  Who knows… Auntie Sophia was born in Yorktown and did live amidst the real Wolves and Indians. The stories were  quite colourful.

After a couple of years grandma became terribly homesick and both granddad and grandma returned to the Netherlands with the family. Obviously if grandma would not have been homesick in those days,  for sure I would not have been able to write this story in Australia.

History for our family would have been totally different. This applies as well when my dad and mum would have been caught by the Gestapo during the 2nd world war.

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The family had to settle again in the Netherlands after the Canada experience. For granddad this was perhaps not the easiest time in his life as he really liked Canada, – likewise his daughter Sophia who loved the lifestyle in the outback and the horse riding etc. For grandma it was clearly different as again she was more close to her own family.

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Granddad got eventually employment with the “N.V. Maas Buurt Spoorweg”  (Maas-Buurt Railway Company) in Brabant and became President – Director of this company in 1918  after the retirement of  President – Director J.M. Voorhoeve, – following the 1st world war. The 40th anniversary of this company was a huge event in October 1911 with lots of celebrations and praise for mr Voorhoeve, including an appreciation  from the Queen of the Netherlands at the time. When granddad took over the reigns it would seem he did do this in  an energetic way with leadership and insight in a time of challenges and turmoil. With an increasing number of bus companies in those days leading obviously to growing competition and with the economic recession, this job was really a tough job.  There was the need as well for more social reforms in those days in the company itself and granddad did properly engage to this, so I am led to believe. He loved his  job and cared for his employees.  He reflected fairness courage and determination, besides a good sense of humour. In speeches he could be quite funny.

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On the 1st of June 1935 he retired from this place and mr Schafers took over as President – Director. Later on the Dutch Railway lines (“Nederlandse Spoorwegen) took over this company and the future of the Maas – Buurt Railway Company came to an end. Granddad served the Maas – Buurt Railway Company for almost 35 years and left his legacy in the railway business in “good old Gennep”. He retired at the age of  70 and both grandma and granddad had 6 children. One daughter died at very young age and Elias (my dad’s only brother) died suddenly in 1934. His death drove grandma to total despair. She recovered very slowly.

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During the 2nd world war both provided shelter for Jews in their own home at the Parklaan in Bussum. This was at times nerve rocking,  last but not least as due to my dad’s activities in the resistance movement.  Granddad  loved to smoke his pipe and tell stories. He died on the 27th of March 1948 in Bussum at the age of 83 as a result of throat cancer.

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Even though he died before I was born, he made a real impact on me when I was a child.  His original painted picture frame is still positioned  in our hallway as if he is keeping an eye on the family.

Grandma was as remarkable as granddad, but in different ways. She survived him many years and died later in the 1968 after being moved to Apeldoorn. She left a history of memories in Bussum and at her age she could not coop with this transition.

I remember that she was cared for by miss Flick in Bussum.  “Juffrouw Flick” we called her.  She was never married and was some  10 years younger than grandma and she undertook it to look after her as there was no way grandma would move into a retirement home with more help. However at the  end she needed nearly as much care as grandma needed.

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As a family we did visit grandma on regular occasions when she lived in Bussum.  Always on her birthday, which was just before our holidays in Haamstede. Often we did visit her on a sunday and when we arrived she sat in the front bay window waving to us when we arrived. Miss Flick always moved her chair to the frontal window so that she could see us arriving on her drive way. We were always welcomed in the first instance  by mis Flick and a tiny dog who barked a lot but did not do any harm. I clearly remember the meal time events between 1 and 2 pm. All those warm meals were well prepared by miss Flick, who had a remarkable ability and reputation. As usual there were bible readings and prayers. Grandma was a very devote Christian. As children we kicked each other with our shoes under the table and giggled a lot during those moments,  being supposed to respect those serious moments, – despite angry looks of our parents. Obviously we looked during those prayers whether our parents did not look, and if they did not look there were again a few kicks under the table. Nevertheless grandma loved us as  grandchildren and she was always teary when we left again later in the afternoon. Her house was filled with furniture breathing an atmosphere of history and many memories. Her desk was full of family photo’s.

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She had a special chair on which we were not allowed to sit by our parents.  This chair was called the “holy chair”. At a stage in her life grandma had “an appearance from heaven”,  some time after her eldest son died – so we were told – and as ” this person” did sit in this chair the chair as such had a special meaning for her. As children we looked with the eyes of children and had no idea what she endured in her life. There was otherwise nothing unusual with grandma. She was grey and small, both very generous and reflecting at times the kind of wisdom perhaps not entirely from this earth. Somehow she was more closer to heaven than we have ever been and in silence she always prayed for us, more than we ever did. There was something around her which made her different from others, even different than our other grandma in Bussum where we had at times sleep overs. She was clearly my “Wolf grandma”, – a grandma of a special kind who reached a special age.

From the lives of this special granddad and grandma I sensed somehow that life may become harder when we live for others, but it also becomes happier and it brings more fulfilment.  Perhaps not everything was that positive in my later childhood, but examples were not the main thing  which gave direction in my life, it was the only thing. Hence that I am still grateful for all  the receptive moments of influence and decision, –  to make the desired circumstances. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is merely a matter of choice as some would say.

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf

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For those who are left behind…

English: The Anne Frank House alongside the Pr...
English: The Anne Frank House alongside the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Nederlands: Het Anne Frank Huis aan de Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, Nederland. Français : La maison d’Anne Frank sur Prinsengracht à Amsterdam, Pays-Bas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My dad’s story is like many untold stories anywhere in  the world. It includes my mum as well, as she was involved as well. This story in which they revealed something special to me,  is what I value so much in them long after they have gone. It happened at one particular stage in their lives.

The story where people at some stage stood up against what was evil and wrong in their times. The story of people  trying to protect the right of others and their own fellow countryman against the pressures of their oppressor’s.

It’s the kind of story still happening in day-to-day life  anywhere on this world, where people are shot perhaps or wounded by powers not having  justice at heart. People at the wrong side often being used as well as  puppets for those groups or powers preying on their victims, – those not being able to make the right distinctions between right or wrong, – but at least responsible for what they did.

Those are  story’s as they still unfold  in many countries, where people sense the evils of their times and want to change it, – where people see  what is wrong and try to make it right. Whatever they do in other areas of life, –  the measure of their character is what they did  when times were not comfortable  or easy anymore , what they did at times of pressure when the risks were high. The times when they showed ‘grace under pressure”, when their inner voice asked to do what they had to do.

Those examples still show ripples of hope to break the walls of oppression, for those suffering the implications of this oppression, – wherever they may live.

Often those story’s as they do occur are not heard, and often people disappear in e.g. the “chambers of hell”, being tortured in countries like e.g Libia  (as we watched on television), – but also in many other countries.

The stories are endless and often tragic, – and still it seems that despite the beauties of this world, the many positives and the many opportunities, – the burdens of human kind are as clear as they always have been, – and still human rights at a large-scale are allowed to be obstructed or compromised by those nations allowing to do so.

This is one of those many stories, – as it happened during the 2nd world war, in a place somewhere in that small country called the Netherlands.

Being the youngest with 3 older sisters and 1 older brother, my dad was born in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.  He grew up in a family with very different characters. His parents being well grounded in their beliefs and religion. Though I have not known granddad in person as he died before my time, the stories about him made me think he was the “pioneer” of  the family. He had a  good character as well, with a strong sense of justice.

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One of my dad’s sisters (Sophia)  was born in Canada and spent  some years in Canada before the family moved back to the Netherlands, being used to the Canadian style of life, – including horse riding.

Dad’s health at young age was not that great and at the age of 7  he had mild TB. For this reason he had prolonged in-treatment and could not attend primary school until he was a bit older. Other members of the family sustained other ailments and setbacks in those years between 1920 and 1930. When my dad spoke later in life at times about his youth, his family and other events, – he always spoke with a degree of respect for his parents.  He had to smile on the memory of his own mum (Louise Ploos van Amstel), who once did knit adapted underwear  and a bra for a naked little female statue, which he received from some of his friends whilst being a student in Amsterdam. The generations were different and dad was clearly the youngest. Grandma was lovely though, always kind  besides being sensitive.

Dad’s older brother Elias died suddenly in 1934, which obviously had a profound impact on the family. It drove grandma actually to total devastation and she needed a long time to recover. After my dad did finish secondary school (“gymnasium”),  he decided to study Law in Amsterdam at the V.U.

The 2nd world war however broke out which obviously disrupted his studies, as he decided to join an increasingly active resistance group, operating  mainly in both Amsterdam and Bussum. Quite a number of young students were involved. He worked close with Joop Kemper, who started this group called “The Flying Brigade” (FB).

Johan Louis KEMPERJoop Kemper

Dad and Joop Kemper became the leaders of the FB. One of the previous members of resistance group CS-6 joined the FB as well, though FB and CS-6 were not the same. FB worked together with CS-6, the “OD”, “Group X” and Professor Oranje.

The first aim of the group was to give shelter and money for Jews, to prevent them from being arrested and moved to the various concentration camps in Germany. For this purpose they tended to meet in the youth chapel in Bussum to discuss strategies and tactics. Besides this they collected information on defence material on coastal areas north of Amsterdam and in the county of Zeeland. Photo’s about harbours and other strategic points were sent to England by couriers. It proved however that providing shelter for Jews was not enough as dangerous Gestapo officers and collaborators compromised the safety of Jews.Many of the last were shot or put on transport to Germany. This was the reason the group (FB) decided to target the most dangerous Gestapo officers and collaborators as well, and they were able to collect weapons from other cooperating resistance groups.

Obviously the Gestapo became quite anxious to discover “the where about” of FB as a number sabotage targets and assassinations became succesful and damming for the Gestapo itself. —

One day FB was planning to liquidate a dangerous traitor called Somer but the Gestapo became aware of the plan and prepared an ambush via infiltrators.

On the 9th of September 1943 the group (FB) decided to meet again in the youth chapel on the Meent weg (Meentway) in Bussum, to discuss the assassination on Somer  the next day. Somer was as far as the archives concerned a dangerous spy and traitor, but the Gestapo was already fully prepared.

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The meeting was in process but the person being hired for the assassination proved in retrospect to be a Gestapo infiltrant, who managed to get the trust of one of the group members. He was a specialist assassin and seemed to be most suitable for the job, being recommended by “friends”. It was noticed on the 9th of September that various car’s were parked around the chapel place, the last next door to the Reformed Church. It would seem that some people were walking around at the time of the meeting, keeping a close eye on the youth chapel. During the meeting in which the potential assassin was involved,  my dad raised technical reservations about certain aspects of the planning and in particular the car being used. The plan was to go ahead with the execution the next day, at a place in Amsterdam.  Dad discussed his reservations in detail whilst feeling a degree of uneasiness about the situation.  Especially when 2 people in the group, the specialist assassin included, looked at each other in a particular way, – his intuition became on the alert, but he could not pin point the danger as yet. The others were oblivious about the raised concerns. The assassin was as I said introduced by a trustworthy member of FB and  nobody appeared to have any suspicion. My dad (who felt that something was not right) decided to go out the room to discuss “some financial issues” in a next door room, and said to get back as decisions needed being made, but to give it an hour or so. He disclosed his concerns to my later mum – who was a courier for the group at the time – and both decided to go outside to discuss the matter with Wim Hille, who appeared  the most proper person to discuss the matter as he was a senior member of the group.

They sensed  they were followed. When Wim Hille appeared not to be around and dad discovered a particular blue car being parked under the trees, – he became aware of an immediate critical danger and wanted to go straight back to the youth chapel to warn his friends.

Right within the main entrance already, – a car was parked and dad tried to get back via the back yard entrance of the youth chapel, – but he was stopped in the garden by the Reverend’s wife who told him only in a few words what happened. My later mum warned my later dad not to get back in the youth chapel itself, – as it appeared that the Gestapo had fully arrived.

Both managed to escape via the back garden, followed however for a little while by some men. The Gestapo action was obviously fully concentrated on all the people inside the chapel.

With full strength they had invaded the youth chapel  and instantly arrested everybody being around. There was not even the time for an exchange in gunfire.

The house of granddad and grandma at 27 Parklaan sustained extensive searches by the police that night, the next day included as well. Dad’s sister was taken to the police station but later released.

Following extensive Gestapo interrogation and torture, – all dad’s friends were shot on the 28th of October 1943. They were accused of assassinations on people in public life including the police president in Utrecht, a police captain in Bussum, but also sabotage, – providing Jews with money and shelter, – besides maintaining close coöperation with the resistance group CS-6. The last group was responsible for both the assassinations on General Seyffardt and Minister Folkert Posthuma.

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There was a moving church service  after the death sentences were executed. CS-6 was largely liquidated as well.  – In memory of those 8 people who died for their country, – on the 6th of November 1943 this church service was held in Bussum. The church was filled with emotions and (Reverend) Ds. J.J. Louet Feiser emphasised in the eulogy on the meaning of those lives being lost, and what those 8 people had to say. They did understand the critical situation and the evils of their time and responded in the way they did, – knowing that life could take an end as result of their joint efforts (>1 Peter 5,6 and 7 < – was at the centre of his reflections).

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My dad had to seek permanent shelter until the 5th of May 1945 as he became a prime target of the Gestapo. He always carried a pill with him, which would cause instantly his own death for when he would be caught by the Gestapo.

The war had a lifelong impact on dad, – largely as due to the loss of his group. As an Attorney and staff officer (section arrest) after the war he was able to question those Gestapo officers being responsible for the executions of his friends and he got a lot of information about the 2 traitors being involved.

He started after the war a law firm with a good friend and married my future mother, who survived the war as well.

Years and years went by and after changing profession and being a school inspector for a long time in different area’s of the country, besides 2 unhappy marriages, – he died in 1995, leaving a legacy among his friends in the education system  in the area’s where he worked,  – but for sure as well within the efforts and choices he made during the 2nd world war.

My dad had his struggles, but he had his victories as well. He was for certain not perfect but looking back he was brave enough to put his life at risk for his fellow Jewish human beings, who had to face the agony of Hitler Germany. In times of  real crisis he stood up. Like my mum did in those days, long ago now.

The courage of life in most occasions is less dramatic than the courage in the very last moments of critical decisions we may face, – however it is no less a spectacular mix of both triumph and tragedy,  for those who are able to finish their lives. Dad stood up as one with others against the evil systems of oppression during the 2nd world war, – knowing as well that life could take an end.

As Corry ten Boom once said: >”The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but it’s donation.”<

My dad’s story at times of crisis in circumstances of war, is one of the many available all over the world in all its many variations, – his story however being  trivial perhaps compared with what some others had to endure, those who did not survive as he did. Nevertheless he was no bystander watching how things were evolving, without doing anything within the domain of his decisions.

Many people after the war said: “We did not know!”      Many people in Germany said this as well, and in part many indeed in Germany were not aware of the concentration camps..

In history many died in their endeavours for their own people and still many will continue to die, – either at war or in their endeavours to fight for human rights, – or bringing  liberation to those being oppressed.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; – Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them. –Let us not forget”.

Viktor E. Frankl, a famous Psychiatrist who survived the concentration camps in Germany once said: >>”Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; – to life he can respond by being responsible. – – Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

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Let us not forget,- let us never forget!

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf

Early childhood in Goes, – a memory!

Image result for Oostsingel GoesOostsingel  Goes

The first 5 years of my early childhood were spent in Goes, – a city in the county of Zeeland (the Netherlands). It’s the county better known at present for the Delta works, aimed to protect the area against further flooding after the flood disaster in 1953, where some 1200 people died.

Still do I have warm memories on this area and our house at 70 Oost Singel, – where I often woke up at the second floor with the peaceful noises of pigeons. The earliest memories are there.

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The house had a beautiful outlook on the Singel, a small lake, pretty long though, – with a tiny island at the centre .

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On some warm summer evenings there were music bands on this island and there was a narrow (removable) bridge to this island, – where we were not allowed to come.  My older brother Tjakko once drowned nearly there and was saved  by one of his mates.

It was a nice place actually, peaceful, – it still is. The Singel was good for ice skating in the winter, and was well used for this purpose when the ice was strong enough. Testing the strength of the ice was an art on its own,  and not always without danger for playing children. My oldest brother Wiet was both good with testing the ice and ice skating.

The winters were really cosy in Goes. The last perhaps in part because St Nicholas did visit many homes including ours on the evening of the 5th of December.The doorbell went then at about 6 pm whilst everybody felt some tension as youngsters. This (holy) St Nickolas came from Spain and always had black helpers. When he entered our home they left first a washing basket full of presents at the front door. After this he came into the lounche and sat down in a special chair, taking his “secret” book from his bag, – with all the stories about the children in Goes. In the days before we had to put our shoes in front of the chimney and as children we were led to believe that presents arrived through the chimney, – provided we left something in our shoes for the holy man’s horse. The last one had a lot to do at night with the black helpers from St Nickolas, – and the chimney’s were at times dammed hot in winter.

From his book St Nickolas learnt from our good and “bad things”, – e.g. naughty stuff we did. We were always led to believe that if you were “bad”, his black helpers would take you to Spain, –  hence the efforts before the 5th of December to behave as good as possible as this increased the chance of getting decent presents, which was obviously the most important bit…It was the time of “speculaas” and chocolate in those early days in December. When you looked out from the front bay window from our house,  apart from the Singel you could see behind the houses on the other site of the Singel, – the Maria Magdalena Cathedral. In the olden days it could have been a Roman Catholic Church, but now it was a Protestant Church. It was built very close to the market place and the Town hall at the centre of Goes. Vaguely I remember strong working horses being either on show or for sale at this market place on certain days. It was often a lively market on weekdays with all sorts of things for sale. Good friends were living at the corner, – at the end of the Oost Singel and I did attend preschool just a few streets away from home.

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Walking to school meant that you could safely walk along the street of the Singel in the direction to the corner of the street where you had to cross over, at the end of the East Singel. One particular house on the East Singel looked dark and obscure, as if something mysterious was happening behind closed doors. In the afternoon a drunk old man was often sitting in front of the house and from his chair he made rude comments, – swearing a lot. It scared the hell out of me this man and when I returned from preschool I made sure that I walked sideways the street on the grassy area as close as possible to the water.  That low close to the water he could not see me when he was sitting in his chair. At times the man did wave with his walking stick. In my perception it was a house of potential horror. One day I did not see him anymore and he never returned, – the shutters remained always closed. Besides this the walk to school was always nice as I could get a glimpse of Carla Veldhof, often playing in the garden. The last at the corner of the Oost Singel just before you had to cross over a main street.

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 We often played there after school time. Carla had a brother called Louis and he was my best friend in those early days. We often played together.We either played at his house or in our house but the Wednesday afternoon was special as at his house there was the opportunity to watch television.  Strict at 5 pm “Pippo the Clown” was the favourite kids program.

At the very start of the Oost Singel,  not too far away from the market place in Goes, there was a complete empty abandoned house. This house was for us most interesting and both Louis and I found our way inside the house, making sure that nobody watched us doing this. Inside this house there were secret cupboards, a cellar and all sorts of other intriguing things attracting our full attention.It was a “real secret” play ground and it was always exciting not to get discovered by the owner of the house, as we realised that someone would own the house. We did however not know who this was. This house was very close to auntie Deer’s house who often invited us for a drink, together with auntie Mien. At times this was stress release for us as well as whilst playing in that secret house we had an awareness that there was a risk of being discovered. On a bad day, a very bad day, Louis’s mum did found out that we were playing there. I remember that Louis got a firm smack on his bottom and that I was not allowed to play  for a fortnight, at their house, – which meant as well that I could not watch Pippo the Clown,  – the last being a real disaster for me at the time. It was not my lucky day and I vaguely remember that my parents were informed as well, which made it even worse… His dad was an ENT surgeon and was strict (I thought) and when I was allowed to come back at their house I had to do my best to control my bladder, but all was back to normal and nothing was discussed anymore.  Watching  the ongoing stories of “Pippo the Clown” simply continued as usual whilst Carla’s mum made drinks and apple cake.

We however did do more things which were not allowed and I remember vaguely getting the engine of a truck started  at “Stienstra’s Garage”, which was an experience. The last was possible as the keys were left. Louis and I agreed that we better kept quiet about this issue as young as we were, – we knew that quite “bad things” could happen for us, – considering “some little damage”.

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Mum was always home after coming back from preschool in the afternoon and she always made tea with milk and sugar.

Often playing in the garden as well. Our garden was not that large but big enough to play around a beauty of an apple tree where you could climb. At the right time of the year there were plenty of apples and as kids we helped dad to get the apples in the cellar. The instructions however were very precise as the apples were put on various shelves and were not allowed to be too close together because when one apple would start to rot, the others would follow as well. This cellar was important for other reasons, not being fully understood by us as children as yet. In case of war it would be a good hiding place and every week the serene’s went to test the warning systems. Those warnings through the air were loud and clear and though the cellar was an exciting place, the noises of the warning systems made us vaguely aware that war was not pleasant but we had no idea what it was.

The summers could be warm and pleasant in Goes. The smell of flowers and the sight of large green trees always made a vivid impression on me  and life seemed endless.

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One of my other friends was Jan Keesje van de Vreugde. He developed leukaemia and my mum was kind enough to join me during the visits at his house when he was closing in on becoming terminal. Jan Keesje was very special to me in the way he knew  that he would die, – the way he seemed to perceive things after all the treatment failed. Obviously I have not a clear recollection on this but he was in peace. During his last days on earth he gave me a little record of Albert Schweitzer playing the organ. He did listen to the same record, day by day and night by night and it gave him the kind of peace you rarely see with people preparing to die and being taken away from their mum and dad. I did not attend his funeral, perhaps because my parents decided I was to young for this. After he died however  I did listen to this record of Albert Schweitzer which he gave me, not knowing what sadness was at the age of 5.  I played this record really for days and for days. Still do I have the same music and in retrospect I recognise that Schweitzer played some particular parts of Bach in a nearly poetic way, far more different from the usual ways of playing this music. In a receptive mood it may open an area beyond time and place, close to eternity and far away from here. Perhaps it was this which gave me some comfort after Jan Keesje died.

My dad was able to play the organ as well, skilled improvisations then, without being able to read the musical notes. At times he had access to the great Maria Magdalena Cathedral in Goes  as he was a member of the church committee. The sounds of this organ were always impressive in this large historical cathedral.

During our holidays in summer we always went to Haamstede near the lighthouse of the island of Schouwen Duiveland.

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My parents had a little Austrian style built house close to the dunes and the sea at 19 Populieren laan . There were the regular families with children coming  each summer. I remember when getting a bit older being able to join in with football in the evenings. Members of the van Everdingen family from Dordrecht played in particular very well. Everybody could join in but at times it was really rough. This family clan had 5 to 6 very sporty children. Their father was a GP and they lived at the start of the Populieren laan, just at the other side of a tiny lake being used at time by the fire brigade. They came every year like we did and came across as very straightforward. All the boys and the girls played as fanatic as possible on the football field.

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The memories and the smell of the sea, the forest and the bushy dunes, – being together with the family on this beautiful part of the country were a great gift at this young age. Often during the day during those summer holidays, and when the weather was suitable, I was allowed to help out on little things at the glider club at airport Haamstede. Often with a free flight in the evening.  Before the 2nd world war this was an active airport used by the KLM as well for short distance flights from Rotterdam. The runway is still there. During the war the Germans did build defensive bunkers and there have been quite real bombardments on this airport. The bunkers in my early years,  quite  some time after the war where still in place and a playground in the dunes.

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The transition and the move to Apeldoorn in the county of Gelderland in 1960 -1961, brought many different experiences, – not always that straightforward.  It was however so special  to have had the opportunity to start my life in Goes and nowhere else,  – as this place together with the first early childhood experiences in Haamstede, – provided a sound base for the rest of my life and helped me whatever happened later on to see in the positive, – by choice.

I am still happy for the gift of  this early childhood.

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf


The nuclear energy dangers in our times

English: Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Tigh...
English: Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Tight crop showing reactors 4, 3, 2 and 1, reading left (South) to right (North). Area shown is approximately 600 by 350 metres. 日本語: 福島第一原子力発電所。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The nuclear energy question has been raised on many occasions but the situation in Japan again reflects issues which if not resolved properly have implications for many future generations.

The question is not whether we can supply ourselves with efficient energy but the issue is whether the kind of energy we opt for is really safe.

As long as it proves that even one of the most advanced nations as Japan with modern nuclear plants do not have the abilities to contain the energies being released when things go wrong (in this case as a result of natural disaster), – there is no guarantee that those energies can be contained in times of conflict (war, terrorist attacks) where nuclear plants could be targeted. The risks are not only limited to natural disasters and earthquake prone areas, clear however as they are.

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The question of a sustainable energy supply when natural resources are coming to an end  at about 2070 can’t be ignored,  but the way this question will be resolved can’t be a shortcut in terms of >”easier to offer nuclear energy”<  if  the use of those energies can’t be guaranteed safely – to be contained.

We can’t turn a blind eye to the dangers on the long -term implications if e.g in over populated areas those energies are uncontrolled released, – either by natural disaster, acts of war, insufficient maintenance, mechanical error or any other human failings. Where some incidents may only have local implications, other incidents may have global implications resulting in radioactive pollution of both air and water, radio-active clouds & rains, upper and lower streams spreading radioactive material at high-speed in the atmospheres. Besides the risks that those energies are used in some countries for the wrong reasons, in other countries the technical know how and the financial resources eventually may prove to be insufficient to keep up their plants in line with the required quality & safety.

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Where we have been able to discover forces of nature which can’t be controlled in the very best hands, we should be reluctant to allow it being used, – at least  in those countries  where international surveillance is insufficient. Japan’s Fukushima  nuclear power plant being badly damaged did affect local waters with radioactive iodine levels more than 1800 times the legal levels. Traces of radioactive iodine 131 have been found at 12 places in the air around South Korea.

Till so far the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history happened on the 26th of April in 1986 at Chernobyl, Ukraine (at that stage part of the Soviet Union). Radioactivity levels being released in the atmosphere were about 400 times higher than the fall out of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Still there is a 30 to 40 km exclusion zone surrounding the plant where over 300000 people had to abandon their homes.

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The argument that the use of increasing nuclear power plants would solve or reduce climate change is not valid. If the UK e.g. by 2024 would have some 10 new nuclear reactors being build, the UK carbon emissions would be reduced by only 4%.

Nuclear power plants simply create more nuclear waste for future generations, apart from the implications when things go wrong. At times of war nuclear power plants are most likely prime targets with conventional weapons. If e.g. the power plant in Petten (the Netherlands) would be as such destroyed, the nuclear energies being released would not only affect  the Netherlands on its own with its dense population, but surrounding countries as well, – not to speak about the nuclear material being released in the atmosphere, –  like it happened in Chernobyl.  Needless to say that at times of war more power plants at the same time are at risk of destruction by those who are totally irresponsible, – as history shows there have been many irresponsible minds at the forefront of decision-making.

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Just imagine the implications of 10 nuclear power plants being destroyed at the same time. Life on earth would be under potential threat with genetic malformations running in many generations.

At present in Japan drinking half a liter contaminated fresh drinking water would expose any person to their annual safe dose as far as Officials concerned. Needless to say that people need more fresh drinking water to sustain in life and that there will be accumulations with profound health effects on the long-term, not being seen as yet. Radioactive material released into the sea will spread due to the tides.

Iodine-131 has a half-life of eight days, however levels of Caesium -137 have a half-life in the range of 30 years and the local levels in Japan recently were close to 80 times the legal maximum. Radioactive iodine, caesium and cobalt levels in water in the turbine buildings next to the reactors 1 and 3 in Japan were 10000 times the normal level.

If the volatile uranium plutonium mix would start to burn really through its steel pressure vessel, there would be a worst case scenario in place, – nearly similar to the destruction of a nuclear power plant as a result of e.g the use of a conventional weapon during an act of war. Total destruction of nuclear power plants at times of conflict or natural disaster may create catastrophic implications, even worse than the Chernobyl disaster. Those implications may affect the food chain including farm and dairy products. At present in Japan the evacuation zone around the plant is 30 km, however still below the 80 km zone as advised by the United States. If such thing would happen in eg Petten (the Netherlands), it would mean evacuation of Amsterdam.

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Still the dangers of nuclear energy are often underestimated by the experts in both the national and international discussions and within the arena of politics not everybody seems to be familiar with those dangers, – and at times decisions with little real insight in the dangers of those nuclear energies are often made to short-term interests and not being taken with the long-term future at heart.  Some would still say believe that nuclear energies in advanced power plants are safe, but the incidents in Japan proves that they are far from safe.

If backup systems in unforeseen circumstances can’t be modified and/or improved, – if it is still allowed to build nuclear plants at earthquake prone areas (the area of San Fransisco is at risk if there would be nearby power plants), – and if nuclear energies in power plants can’t be secured and prevented from uncontrolled release in case of natural disaster, times of war and other human failure (either intentional or non intentional), – this form of energy will be an energetic liability for our own human genetic structure, where we survive such disasters in the short-term.

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The warnings of the Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant can’t be ignored or wiped underneath the carpet. At this time traces of radioactivity have been found in Europe, Korea and the United States. Rainwater in Ohio has been contaminated. There are significant import restrictions on food from Japan.  The potential presence of caesium, iodine and other radioactive material in fish are realistic dangers.

It is clear that the impact of a partial destructed nuclear power plant in Japan has ripple effects all over the world, not to speak about the nightmare scenario’s in case of destruction of nuclear power plants as a result of forces of nature or calculated acts at war, – including terrorist attacks.

We are using powers which can’t be controlled eventually and then there is nothing else we can do than running behind the facts as they will evolve over time. The last if collective reason is not taking over at the early start of this decade and make selective its use. under the proper circumstances with maximum safeguards in place including ongoing quality maintenance. The last will be most questionable if countries will be hit by significant economic crisis or together with natural disaster and even in the most advanced countries it proves that systems are not foolproof

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf

“To make gentle the life of this world.”

At times all of us would wish to live in a world more stable and tranquil, – but the fact is the world isn’t like this. Our times are both complicated and perplexing, but even though they are difficult and perplexing the challenges are still filled with hope and opportunity, even though the dynamics of reality are often confronting and little hopeful. It’s all about perceptions and choices.

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We simply have to look to the past weeks and learn from the events as they happened.

When we look around there is a lot of tragedy and suffering going on and though tragedy might be a tool to get wisdom for the living,  it is neither a guide by which to live, nor has it been showing a real learning curve in history. The challenges our world is faced with are hard to be solved by the sceptics who can’t look beyond their restricted perceptions of the obvious realities, neither can they be solved in the retaliation of violence where this should be avoided.

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I always found some comfort in the words spoken by Albert Schweitzer. He said in summary-that civilization is only working the right direction when life is considered to be sacred, and apart from human life he did include the lives of plants and animals.



As caretakers of this earth – he said – we have to protect and support life, within our reasonable options. It all has to do with compassion, which should embrace all living creatures as the guiding principle of morality. He called it: ” Reference for life.”


It might be hard to go that far, but if our choices tend to go more towards the direction protecting at least the human rights we need to stand for, this would be already an improvement.

As history unfortunately however shows at times, we had to go to war to remove the kind of criminals certain countries did not deserve to rule their nation. The sort of people who abused both their country and their people from a position of high authority.This is what happened when Allied Forces decided to strike Libia to stop Gaddafi killing far more of his civilians, and this decision was good as the intention was to prevent worse.

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More countries do show unrest and dissatisfaction at large scale with the way people are treated and suppressed, people disappearing through forces of eg secret police etc.

Demonstrations have spread across various countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Countries often with an oppressive leadership. Whilst human rights were seriously compromised in Egypt for many years already, – only during the uprise of the Egyptian people Hosni (Muhammad) Mubarak had to go.

Still there is a long way to go.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are seen as the most powerful Arab friends of the US and a strategic focus will be still in place and operational perhaps, despite liberation movements. It is not the easiest place for the US Obama administration as it could get easily caught in increasing policy contradictions where on the one hand there is a crack down on enemy governments which kills its people and on the other hand favouring countries like Bahrain and Yemen that kills its demonstrators.

Obviously bombing the Libyan leader Gaddafi’s air defences falls within the UN security council resolutions of imposing a “no -fly zone” (Resolution 1973) and taking the required actions to stop Gaddafi from killing civilians in his own country.

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This does not take away that with increasing unrest situations political courage and guiding principles are important where it comes to dealing with powers compromising human rights at a larger scale. The dilemma’s might be difficult. The question often is when it applies to countries not being familiar with democratic principles as we know them, what will happen if opponents remove a brutal dictator. What will happen in the aftermath and whether it is possible to rebuild the country with better law enforcement on human rights and basic other liberties, or whether matters get worse amidst chaos allowing eg Al-quaida elements to get the better in all the destruction, and more influence in such areas, – with even more human agony spreading down the line.

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Diplomacy on this issue requires utterly clarity on the right direction and support for all democratic movements around the globe which are stronger than the minority of their oppressors, and those who want to make a real break with a past of cruelty and violence. Like it is the ultimate aim to convince Colonel Gaddafi to step down from power, the same could apply to different leaders in the future as well.

It was Abraham Lincoln who once said that:”Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and to shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is the most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.”

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Whilst there is no easy answer for many predicaments in this world and smoke still spewing from 2 adjacent reactors at the Fukushimadaiichi nuclear plant, it is  that both the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear challenges in Japan are among the most expensive disasters and that rapid international support could have been more forthcoming at an earlier stage. Japan had  much  trouble with many natural disasters in the past but the death toll and aftermath for many of those living now amidst the extremes of sudden poverty and grief is beyond any imagination.

Like it is objectionable that it proved to be hard to get timely a UN resolution in place to stop Gaddafi, – it is objectionable as well that the countries who did perceive Japan as neighbours friends and partners (besides allies), did not join together in providing organised support to those who are displaced, -with little shelter or food.

With more natural disasters happening in the future, it would seem countries are more ready to go to war rather than helping each other in the scenario’s like Japan is facing today.

The UN needs to have rapid intervention forces for humanitarian aid, – available within 24 hours after a major disaster all over the world to cut prolonged anguish and suffering. We need to learn from those disasters and both learning and leadership are indispensable to each other as a tool.

The late US Senator Robert Kennedy once quoted from the Greeks  many years ago:”To tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” He did put it in the right context.when he used this quote amidst racial violence in the US and a Vietnam war during the mid 60ties of the last century.

We have a free choice to do it this way in the arena of our human activity, and change a small part of the burdens of our world.

At some stage all our acts will be written in the history of our families and communities, and if important enough in the history of our countries and in history itself.

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It’s about the bit we did on earth and how we did it, – when we are laid to rest.

And if our actions and choices were directed rightly, –  it was good.

Good enough to lay down in peace..

Thank you!


Paul Alexander Wolf

Challenges of our times and generation, memories and others.

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