Monday, July 19, 2021

 PREFACE

Twelve years ago, when I sat down to write 21 Aldgate, I wanted to record history, history that my generation and that of my parents had lived through.  I interviewed survivors of the Holocaust and those who, as children, escaped the Nazi regime, were brought to England on the Kinder Transport program. Many of whom never saw their families again. They spoke about their own experiences, and each one had a story to tell.  As each day passes, my generation becomes lesser in number, so it behooves us to continue to speak out.  Hitler, with his propaganda and constant lies, promised bread and work for everyone. Goebbels had stated early on: “He who can conquer the street can also conquer the masses and thereby conquer the state. The Weimar Republic, under Hitler’s rule, disintegrated and became a lawless society. It was a terrible mistake. Once Hitler was in power, it was too late to rectify and led to the horrors of the Second World War.

I re-read 21 Aldgate to see if it held up, to make sure I had accomplished what I set out to do, only to realize I could write it all over again, only this time, not about the past but about the present. The theme of 21 Aldgate is as relevant today as it was when I first put pen to paper. We have all the makings of an all-out attempt to ignore history, to deny what is actually documented. These are close to identical situations of the 1930s and ’40s; refugees on our borders, children in cages.  Globally, autocratic politicians vying for positions of importance. Antisemitism on the rise. Undisguised racial prejudice. Nazi and Confederate flags held high on protest marches and, what we thought unimaginable, an attack on The Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Democracy is in danger because lies are interpreted as truth. Conspiracy theories run rife. Politicians with more charisma than actual knowledge given pulpits galore; unconstitutional voter discrimination, gerrymandering to shift districts to win votes.

When has this happened before? We saw it when Hitler rallied his followers and blamed the Jews. I wrote about it in 21 Aldgate, except then they were Blackshirts and autocrats believing there would be ‘peace in our time.’ Autocrats who couldn’t have been proven more out of touch with reality. Today, they are Cowboys, Oath takers, Qanon, and Proud Boys.  White Supremacists with prejudice against Jews; Muslims, immigrants, socialists, liberals, people of color– in fact, anyone who does not match their profile. This happening in a country founded on the principles of freedom, liberty, and equality of all men? A country built by immigrants from every nation, race, and ethnicity.

In your reading of 21 Aldgate, I have every hope for you to compare the Thirties and Forties of the last century to this period of this twenty-first century. I fear for my grand and great-grandchildren, for they could well inherit what can be avoided if only we look back to recognize the dangers and commit to not repeat what came to pass in my lifetime.

Patricia Friedberg

Thursday, May 20, 2021

 Jews and Zionist Jews

I was a Jewish child in London during the 2nd World War - (of course, there was no Israel during that time). Jews, at the hands of the Nazis in Germany, and in occupied countries in Europe: Poland, Hungary and, Czechoslovakia, were incarcerated in concentration camps resulting in what is now called The Holocaust.  

I attended Hebrew School three times a week, my father went to Synagogue every Saturday and all  Jewish holidays. Sometimes I would go with him. I had mostly non-Jewish friends and never once did I experience antisemitism. 

 At the end of the war, Jews that survived the death camps were moved to displaced person camps all over Europe.  From there many went to Israel when it became a country in 1948. Those Jews refused to talk about their experiences until their children and grandchildren demanded to know, to try to understand.

What is happening in Israel today is unacceptable.  Palestinians deserve better - not Hamas - the people of Gaza and the West Bank.  There has to be a two-State solution. We Jews must be better than this for we once were who they are now; displaced people.  Stop the bombing. Stop the rockets. Stop aiding all aggressors.  We can only halt the media from referring to Israel as an apartheid society when we Jews remember our past. Whether it comes under, 'do unto others, etc.,' or 'the greatest form of retribution is not to become like your enemies' Marcus Aurelius. Call it what you like but this madness has to stop.  If it doesn't, antisemitism, already on the rise, will climb even higher, and once again Jews in the diaspora will bear the brunt. 

Patricia Friedberg - author 21 Aldgate/



Thursday, March 18, 2021


MYRTLE SAITOWITZ – OBITUARY MARCH 2021

Myrtle Saitowitz contacted my publisher and asked if she could call me; I did not know what to expect, and yet, from that moment on, Myrtle Saitowitz became a dear and devoted friend, all because she had read 21 Aldgate.

Our conversation began with these words: "You have written my life story."  Myrtle began.

I recognized her accent immediately. She was a Londoner and probably from the East End, a hint I wasn't expecting, and why she so related to 21 Aldgate.

Myrtle continued:  Before I left. London, I worked for a Lord (I cannot recall his name) and traveled, just like Clara, from the East End to his posh residence in Belgravia. The more I immersed myself in your book, the more it brought back memories that I had long forgotten. Your descriptions, your dialogue, you hadn't made it up.  It was real; it all happened. You described in a narrative that needed to be told, and for that, I wanted to personally thank you.

After that phone call, Myrtle became my unpaid publicist – my book talk arranger. My most avid admirer and, most of all, premier 21 Aldgate promoter. She arranged a flight for myself and my agent to Beverly Hills, where we were picked up and chauffeured to a hotel.  There we met Myrtle for the first time.  But it didn't feel like that – it felt as if I had known her all my life, a genuine, unassuming caring woman. The following day, I talked on behalf of The Israel Bond Fund, at a significant donor's Hollywood mansion home. I'd given many book talks, but this one was extra special. Myrtle was in her element – I was her protégé, her collector of cockney ditties. The one who connected her to the past and she to mine. On the way back to the hotel, we sang our hearts out – what I remembered she'd forgotten – what she sang – I remembered my parents teaching me, having heard their parents—vaudeville performers in Music Halls and Pubs.

Myrtle was a rare gift, one I least expected to receive, late in my life and late in hers. We may not have been in constant contact, but she was never far from my thoughts.  I had hoped to meet up with her one more time, but it was not to be.  Covid interfered with our traveling plans. I am grateful we met. I'm sad she is gone. She will remain in the songs we shared and the book I wrote, 21 Aldgate.



Friday, March 5, 2021



The introduction to Paul Maze's book 'Frenchman in Khaki' is written by   Winston Churchill - their friendship and artist collaboration continued from their first meeting during the First World War and continued through the 2nd World War and after until the time of Churchill's death in 1969.

 Tutored by French Artist, PAUL MAZE Winston Churchill's painting of Marrakech—given to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and sold by Angelina Jolie—sells for record £8.2m


Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque was one of three works by the former British prime minister sold at Christie's tonight for a total of £11.2m—to the same buyer

ANNA BRADY

1st March 2021 21:01 GMT The Art Newspaper

Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque by Winston Churchill, sold for £8.2m with fees Courtesy of Christie's

The former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a keen amateur painter, tutored by PAUL MAZE. Churchill’s landscapes frequently come up at auction, but his works do not sell for the sort of sums that might have persuaded him to give up the day job. That is, until now, when

Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque (1943)—the only painting done by Churchill during the Second World War and which he gave to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943 —sold for a record £7m (£8.2m with fees) at Christie's Modern British art evening sale.

Adding further American gloss to the provenance, it was being sold by what Christie's coyly referred to as "The Jolie Family Collection", aka the actress Angelina Jolie.


Churchill painted the oil on canvas in Marrakech following the Casablanca Conference in January 1943—he had invited Roosevelt to go with him to Marrakech the day after the conference ended, insisting he must see the sun set over Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains before returning to the US. Churchill then painted this view the day after and gave it to Roosevelt as a memento—a gesture as political as it was personal. The work has stayed in the US ever since and was given to Jolie by her ex-partner, Brad Pitt.

The previous record for a work by Churchill stood at £1.7m (including fees), set by The goldfish pool at Chartwell at Sotheby's sale of the collection of Churchill's daughter, Mary Soames, in London in 2014—a record that was broken twice tonight.

This evening, Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque sold to a bidder on the phone with Christie's Surrealism specialist Olivier Camu, who was spending big on Churchill—auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen referred to the bidder as being from Belgium (Camu is also Belgian-born). The same client bought all three Churchill paintings in tonight's sale, all for well above their estimates. The other two works were Scene at Marrakech (around 1935), which sold for £1.5m (£1.8m with fees, three times its £300,000 to £500,000 estimate)—underbid by an online client in Texas—and a 1927 view of St Paul's Churchyard, which went for £880,000 (£1m with fees) above a £200,000 to £300,000 estimate—also underbid by the Texan.

In total, the Churchill-mad bidder spent £11.2m (including fees) tonight on works by the prime minister-cum-painter. Unusually, none of the works in the sale was guaranteed.


 


 



 



Wednesday, March 3, 2021

                             

                              Dear Pat,                                                       March 3, 2021

I just finished your magnificent book 21 ALDGATE and I feel the need to tell you that it’s one of those rare books that leave me feeling sad when it’s finished!  It’s like I’m leaving my friends!  Your descriptions of each character made each one so clear in my mind.  When I would read about Henry in his stall at the market, I pictured Stewart Haylock at the Red Barn!
The one question that still troubles me is that I wonder how people were able to rebuild their damaged homes.  Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover war damages.
I’ve heard so much about the war from my father’s point of view, and, while our country certainly suffered losses, this made me so much more aware of how much more horrific it was for those living in the battleground.
Thank God that our own version of Hitler didn’t get re-elected, no matter what lies he professes.  Everyone should read about history and vow never to let it be repeated.
Thanks for your wonderful novel,
Kathy Reilly

Sunday, January 24, 2021

THE SPOILS OF WAR

 A teapot, a milk jug, a hot water carafe, and a sugar bowl.  What can this possibly have anything to do with 21 Aldgate?  My daughter had attended a British teapot exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, she called me to share her enthusiasm. She found it fascinating and so did I. In fact, it brought back memories of the teapot set I had inherited. I hadn't looked at it for years but recalled instantly the manner in which my mother had acquired it. 

At the height of the London blitz by Germany's Luftwaffe, Heals, a famous London Furniture Store was hit by an oil bomb and incendiary bomb. On the very next morning, Clara, of 21 Aldgate, reading about the raid and the damage caused to that establishment made a quick decision.  Without a moment's hesitation, she got dressed, left a note for her husband who was in the garden digging for victory, and walked a mile to the tube station to board a train to Goodge Street Station.  Coming out into the open from the underground she saw what was left of Heals. It was surrounded by Heal's guards and firemen gushing water on smoldering embers. She also saw it appeared to be open and she wasn't the only one sorting through what was left. Knowing exactly what she was looking for she ran in, found it, shoved all four items in a damp cardboard box, paid a shaken employee, and left. 

Clara arrived home many hours later, having been informed all trains had stopped and only buses were running, though none directly to her destination. Once home, she did not receive a hero's welcome. Her frantic husband asked her if she'd taken leave of her senses, while her daughter, who'd spent the night in a shelter with a friend, couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. After all, she'd never seen such a shiny, lovely tea service, while Clara, her mother, though somewhat disheveled, didn't seem any the worse for wear.

The ironic end to this tale is when I looked at the bottom of the teapot I found it was made in Bavaria - Germany - during the Bauhaus period.

The London blitz last eight long months, from September 1940 to May 1941

Patricia Friedberg

Monday, December 28, 2020

WHAT IF?

A few nights ago, I watched the original version of, It's a Wonderful Life, a movie I'd seen countless times and admired. The dialogue, the direction, and the performances of those wonderful unsurpassed Hollywood actors never fail to engross me. Clarence, an angel from heaven, is sent down to convince George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, that his life is worth living. George, who is on the verge of committing suicide, asks, 'why me.? Clarence answers to show you what it would be like if you hadn't been born

Shortly after the movie ended, I turned off the television and went to bed but not to sleep. The movie had awakened the 21 Aldgate story, which was never far from the surface of my mind. I asked myself the question Clarence asked George Bailey. What if I hadn't been born?  Clara, on whom the story of  21 ALDGATE is based often mused about her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who would not have existed had she lost her life during the bombings in London during the war and in my mind, similarly my offspring.

Neither would there be a 21 Aldgate in any of the versions and different formats I've attempted from its inception. Each one finished, re-edited, and returned to publishers. I waited for positive results. They never came. Oh yes, it still had possibilities but needed a lot of work. It began as a musical, for which I composed the music and helped write the dialogue. Unfortunately, the producers presented it at the wrong time - a show called Blitz had literally just bombed in London's West End, and no one wanted to take a chance on another World War II content production. 

Never being one to give up, my agent suggested I write it as a play; which attracted much interest but no takers. For a while, it lay dormant in my computer documents. Occasionally, I'd play the musical CD, but mostly I concentrated on writing another book, a memoir Letters from Wankie. Then, one day, while looking through boxes of earlier writings, I came across one-labeled 21 Aldgate - pages of it with suggestions from editors all of which I had tried to no avail.  I called my agent.  She, a forthright no-nonsense woman, with no holes barred, stated, "forgot about the musical, dump the play, and write it as a novel". And so I did.  And the rest we know, except now 21Aldgate has taken on yet another life.  It has the interest of a director and the expertise of a competent LA  producer, and once Covid19 leaves us, it will have added another dimension, a TV series.

It's not a wonderful life, the one we are living in now.  It is a sad challenging one, but then so it was in the 1930's- 40's era of 21 Aldgate. With the help of Clarence, George Bailey came through the challenges that were set before him. I believe, there's a Clara watching over us who will help 21 Aldgate do so, too.

Paticia Friedberg


Sunday, December 6, 2020

 

FROM THE AUTHOR - DECEMBER 2020

It has been close to ten years since 21 Aldgate was published.  I've given book talks in Europe, Africa, and America; on ships, in cafes, in private homes and pubs. And because I no longer communicate with the readers of my book personally I'll use our blog to tell you how I'm coping with the Covid epidemic and the ridiculous political situation we find ourselves in here in America. I have dual citizenship - born a Brit, hence the story told in 21, and a resident in the USA, .- which brings me to what I am witnessing now.

Covid has isolated us - we are informed by our television broadcasters depending on the channels we watch. The party in power won't give an inch.  The opposition remains resolute. Education is interrupted. Social gatherings where opinions could be given, limited to just a few and they mostly agree with each other. The internet has taken over.  Tweets are the new information deliverers. Our Ma and Pa shops are closing. We are cut off from our families and cannot safely travel.  A curse has been put upon us and the world and we're only just beginning to work out how to deal with it. And worse of all science is ridiculed and magical thinking has taken its place.

History should have taught us we are heading for yet another disaster.  We have re-entered the era of the thirties.  We have half the population indoctrinated and the other half trying to bring some normality back into our lives.  You only have to watch documentaries of how the Nazis came into power to realize the similarities we're experiencing now.  It's the same - find someone, something, anything to blame and keep repeating the same lies and you have all the converts you need.  Then send money to the loudest voices, pass disinformation onto those who have swallowed the Kool-Aid and make sure your children and grandchildren get the message. And so it grows and becomes a movement which has every possibility in time of overthrowing democracy and the promise of the very reason America came about. If this doesn't sound like the period leading up to the Second World War then we are deafened by the rhetoric and blinded by the images set before us.

I haven't opened 21 Aldgate for many years, but I'm thinking of reading it one more time - why? Because it will remind me of my youth and what it led to in the 1940s, of my life as it was then, and I need a refresher course.  Perhaps you do, too.

PATRICIA FRIEDBERG