Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Scraper's Diary, Wednesday, March 26th, 1947, Verden

Street Scene in Bremen

We packed the lorries at 8.30 this morning, sat in the bus at 9 and left at 9.30. we drove to Oldenburg and thence to the American Ferry in American Bremen.

On being told that it would be four hours before we got across, we drove to Wesermunde and took two hours to cross. We drove in a sort of large Y shape South from Wilhelmshaven to Oldenburg and Bremen, then back up North to the bridge at Wesermunde and South again to Bremen and Verden.

Thus we took over four hours to cross the river Weser from Bremen West to Bremen East on the other side. We arrived here at 8.30, having had no food except three sandwiches each for over twelve hours, having been travelling for eleven hours and having played 144 rounds of solo, with over a hundred pass rounds in eight hours continuous play.

Bremen is lousy with Yanks and terribly bombed. I never dreamt to see such utter, efficient devastation. Occasional gaunt walls leapt up to the sunset, much as Egyptian obelisks do in cheap water colours.

A fleece of clouds was crimson above the West and ragged in the wind, like a sea of fire, unquenchable.

As I said, we got here at 8.30 and as we were expected at 1 pm, there was nothing ready. No plates, no lights in the rooms, no blankets. Now, at last, at 10 o'clock, everything is sorted out, all kit unpacked and everyone fed.



Thursday, March 27th, Verden

the smell of cheap scent, like the remembered touch of a silk stocking...........
grey clouds across a sombre sky, and all around, like the dubious security of a residential suburb.........

Is it better to know the agony of solitude, or is this disillusion a release, a kindness?
My old Gods look hollowly at their crumbling feet and as I am now without my painful worship, I feel a new emptiness, a sequestration........

Where ignorance is bliss.........

And yet I know that for the rest of my life I shall build new temples to my old, nostalgic, wistful, often profane deities, and, with a little tremor in my heart, I shall turn away when the rain dissolves their feet.


  1. You write in such an original way.

  2. The Scraper was quite a thinker and writer. "Is this disillusion a release, a kindness . . ." And still after having that sort of self- interrogatory epiphany, he goes on to say he knows he will build new deities and look away as their feet inevitably crumble. Sometimes I wish I did not believe that too.

    Very interesting Friko. Thank you.

  3. Friko

    I really look forward to reading these extracts.

    Last night I watched a programme on BBC2, about the bombing of Coventry in 1940. Bremen, Dresden, Hamburg, much pain and suffering. All the more reason why documents like 'The Scraper's Diary' should be aired, lest we ever forget.

  4. Friko as ever a fascianting insight into a terrible time. Under the humdrum day to day you can feel the pain and despair at his seeing such destruction and feel his exhasution.

  5. I love this. It's very evocative and beautifully-written.

  6. Good morning Friko.

    I have just read this post and the prior one about children at play. You have such a range in your ability to express yourself!

    My childhood was in a place and time that did allow freedom to choose where and how we played, without much observation. My playmates and I were lucky to live in a neighborhood that did provide pretty reliable safety along with so many possibilities for adventuring.

    I still cling to many memories of those times.

    The Scraper's Diary is far from a childhood tale, yet also gives indications that the Scraper just might once have know play.

    I so look forward to reading your posts. Best wishes. xo

  7. I read this one last night and decided to come back and read it again in the light of day. There's a bleakness here that went straight to my middle - the utter desolation, destruction of war and the necessity (and somehow the ability) to go on with what need to be done to move forward, stay alive. The Scraper opens with the everyday and then allows a glimpse at the struggle to keep on going.
    The woman in the photo - where is she going?...putting one foot in front of the other in a familiar way along familiar streets, horribly altered.

  8. Hi Friko,
    Good post, thanks for sharing.
    Came by to say hello and wish you a good Halloween weekend.

  9. I've been following the Scraper's Diary for a while now but rarely comment because there doesn't seem to be anything I can add - the extracts are complete and beautifully written.
    I'm wondering if you have any plans to publish? It certainly deserves a wider audience.

  10. Oh Friko, every time I read the diary it takes me back to my childhood. Those are like the pictures we saw on Pathe News at the theater. We didn't have TV just got the new at the theater or on the radio. I am posting a November 1937 item daily on my blog along with a thanksgiving for something. The highlighting my followers is must my thingie not the challenge on Leah's blog. Thanks for your visits and king words.

  11. Friko,
    thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.
    Reading your blog this morning it brought back very sad memories in my life. Today I wonder how my brother and I survived the aftermath of the war. But we did!!
    LG Gisela
    “We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.”
    Winston Churchill quotes (British Orator, Author and Prime Minister during World War II. 1874-1965)

  12. 'Is it better to know the agony of solitude, or is this disillusion a release, a kindness?'

    I think the former. It is part of your experience, dreadful as it may be. I am enjoying this series so much.

    Greetings from London.

  13. The words beginning with "My old Gods" put me in mind of Samuel Bak's paintings. I wonder if you know them (they can be seen online). Are these your words? It's very fine language - I admire it.

  14. I lived in Wilhelmshaven for 2 years and often visited prosperous, bustling Breman. That was 30 years after the Scraper was there. Every evidence of the destruction of war was erased. It's good to be reminded now and again. Thanks.

  15. fran Hill - thank you Fran

    Bonnie - the scraper was young and not yet cynical

    Martin H - thank you Martin, it helps to be reminded sometimes

    her at home - it can't have been easy, writing will have helped

    Around my Kitchen Table - thank you for visiting and thank you for your kind comment

    Frances - I am always glad to see you have visited and enjoy your comments very much

    Pondside - a very eloquent comment, thank you for taking the time

    Herrad - hope you are well, thanks for the good wishes

    When I am Rich - thank you for that. I don't think i will, the whole tour only took six weeks and I feel that the entries are too slight; I am very glad you feel able to praise the diary

    QMM - thanks for your friendly comment, I shall have to come over and have another look

    guild-rez - thank you Gisela, me too. Perhaps we should compare notes

    A Cuban in London - thank you for understanding

    Mark Kerstetter - I don't know the painter but will look him up. I am the editor of the scraper's diary, my alterations are minor

    20th century woman - I would like to know what took you there, perhaps you will tell me some time?

  16. I am late in reading this but I am glad I found it. The Scraper is very poetic in his writing about a cruel and terrible time in history.

    Thank you for this series. We were fortunate in the U. S. that our country did not suffer the destruction that Europe endured. However, we lost fathers, husbands, sons and friends and the horror of war was not lost on us.

  17. Your writing is a stunning as ever. It's always a joy to come for a visit; I'm only sorry I don't make it more often...

  18. I sometimes wonder if the gun toting violence and paranoia in the U.S is not a defense against the guilt of our part in the 20th century wars.
    Especially the part played by the ivory tower racist bigot Woodrow Wilson and his treaty of Versailles.

  19. Darlene - thank you for your comment, Darlene, may we never need to experience such times again

    Jinksy - Hi Jinksy, thanks for calling and definitely thanks for the compliment

    Lane Savant - thank you for your visit; you are not the only one to put this question, as I am sure you now. Do visit again

  20. Hi Friko~ Most of this is pure poetry! the writing at Verden, and "A fleece of clouds was crimson . . " Bremen looks so devastated. It must have been a time of introspection, a deep going-within. So poignant.

  21. Your best Scraper so far, I think.


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