Monday, September 30, 2013

Map of Volga German Workers' Commune 1922

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ghana's Rock Anthem

This video has some great film footage of Ghana. The first part shows Cape Coast Castle, the largest slave fort along the coast of Ghana. Some of the later footage is historical including scenes from Ghana's first Independence Day on 6 March 1957. Overall it is 106 seconds well spent.

A picture of me from this morning.

Here is a picture of me in Legon this morning. My friend Marc Becker who is a Visiting Scholar here from Truman State University in Missouri took this photography while I was waiting for him to join me for pancakes this morning at Coffee Cue. I was reading Orhan Pomuk's Snow right before I noticed Marc sneaking up on me with a camera.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mack Sigis Porter - Sunday In Neon Lights [1972 Heavy Rock Ghana]

Here is a fantastic song by one of Ghana's greatest rockers.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Comparative Forced Labour Paper Update

Today I got a first complete draft of my comparative forced labour paper done for the proposed conference in Ho. Although nobody has heard from the German conference organizers in Berlin yet I am still going to finish the manuscript. I also still feel that the sections on Africa, particularly the specific case studies of Angola and Mozambique under the Portuguese and Rhodesia under the British are the weakest parts of the paper. So if the conference does not come through those sections will be stripped out when I revise the manuscript for publication elsewhere. The current draft is over 10,000 words right now so ripping out a couple of thousand words won't really hurt it in terms of heft. Right now I am still hoping that the conference will still be going forward as planned in January and that the proceedings will be published as a book. If nothing else I have considerably increased my knowledge of how forced labour worked in Portuguese Mozambique and learning new things is something we should all try and do on a regular basis.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Moving in a Cultural Direction

At this point I feel like I am largely writing this blog for myself since my site meter and comments show that I have virtually no readers other than those with the surname Pohl. The advantage of writing for myself and having almost no audience is that I am under fewer constraints in what I write. It is not as if my audience can shrink into negative numbers. So it makes no difference if nobody else in the blog reading world is interested in what I put here or not. The Internet is still largely dominated by White North Americans and Western Europeans so there is little interest in Africa or any of the other things I post on here. It would be nice if at least the intellectual and educated elite in the US would expand its interests beyond themselves. But, they are in fact the most parochial section of the population in Obrunistan. So I have concluded it is just best to ignore the tenured radicals at least until one of them pulls a Guzman and establishes a US version of Sendero Luminoso. In the meantime I think I am going to take this blog in a more cultural direction. Africa is a continent rich in culture, particularly music, which is a medium that is particularly easy to share on the Internet. I don't expect that many people on the net will share my enthusiasm for Zamrock, Ghanaian High Life, and Algerian Rai, but I no longer care either. It is not as if anybody not named Pohl reads this blog any ways.

If you like good music, rock and roll music...

If you are looking for some great suggestions for music that you just never get to hear on the radio in the US or even most places in Europe then check out The Day After the Sabbath. He has some great obscure bands listed. I especially enjoyed his list of African songs. That is where I discovered the Psychedelic Aliens. His compilation of Japanese songs is also well worth listening to as is the Greek collection.  I understand he is working on putting together a list of 60s and 70s songs for South East Asia. So if anybody reading this has any familiarity with the music scene during those decades in that region of the world go over and drop him some suggestions. It has been a long time since I have plugged another blog here and usually they belong to people I know personally. But after finding The Day After the Sabbath I had so much fun exploring YouTube videos of African music that I thought I would put in a good word for the site. I was very surprised to find out that in the 1970s there was a very active and talented rock scene in Zambia that was so large that Zamrock was actually a thing just like Prog Rock or Heavy Metal. It is also making a comeback so a lot of it is available on the net. I have pretty eclectic tastes in music and finding a site that has number of guides to music from countries outside of the US, UK, Canada, and Australia has resulted in me finding a lot of great music I would never of heard of otherwise.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Psychedelic Aliens - Extraordinary Woman

Here is some old school Ghanaian rock music for your enjoyment.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Relaxing in Africa

The three day weekend is coming to an end. I didn't do anything special for it. But, it was relaxing nonetheless. Not constantly worrying about things has done wonders for my health. Most notably it has greatly lowered my blood pressure which at one time was dangerously high. There is no sense in constantly living in a high level of anxiety and risking a stroke. So now I live a much more relaxed life. Africa is good for that. In fact I suspect that my life expectancy has increased significantly as a result of my move here. If you don't die as a child from malaria or get hit by a tro-tro you stand a very good chance to make it into your 90s in Ghana. In Obrunistan stress and bad diet tends to kill a lot of people still in their 70s or even earlier. There is literally no future in worrying and eating yourself to death.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Terrorist Attack in Nairobi Kills Prominent Ghanaian

The ongoing terrorist attack at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya has now claimed the lives of 59 people including Professor Kofi Awoonor from Ghana. The murder of a Ghanaian in this attack is extremely unfortunate. Ghana is a peaceful country and her citizens have no desire to be involved in any armed conflicts. The attack in Nairobi is believed to be the work of Al-Shabab from Somalia, a militant Islamic movement alleged to have had ties in the past to Al-Qaeda. Since the crises is still ongoing with some gunmen still holed up in the mall with hostages, the exact motives of the attackers are still unclear. But, the choice of a mall frequented by nationals of many different countries makes this an international crime. In addition to Professor Awoonor, the terrorists have killed British, Canadian, French, and of course Kenyan citizens. I fervently hope to some one day to live in an Africa where this type of violence has permanently become a thing of the past.

Another Difference between Academics in Africa and those in Obrunistan

It seems to be coming a regular occurrence that some radical left wing professor in the US will kick up a storm of controversy by advocating violence against members of the NRA or their families. First there was Dr. Loomis demanding that Wayne LaPierre be arrested, tried as a terrorist, and imprisoned for life. Now Professor Guth has publicly stated that he thinks that the children of NRA members should be killed as some sort of divinely sanctioned revenge. Personally, I don't care about gun control either way. I currently live in a country where gun ownership is restricted to the military and police, and private possession of a handgun is a serious crime. I don't have a problem with that. When I last lived in the US I lived in a small town, Arivaca Arizona, where a large percentage of the population had guns and many of them wore them into town to drink coffee at the Gadsden Cafe or shop at the Mercantile. Neither the prohibition on firearm ownership in Ghana or the open carrying in Arivaca bothers me one way or the other. But, the wishing of violence including state violence in the form of incarceration upon political opponents does bother me. Because the violent revolutionary rhetoric about incarcerating or killing political opponents by US professors reminds me of similar rhetoric by radical leftists elsewhere. Radical leftists who unlike Loomis and Guth so far who did not stop at mere rhetoric, but put their words into actions. The history of the Left using state power to imprison and kill its political enemies in the USSR, China, Cambodia and elsewhere is of course well documented even if still seriously downplayed by US academia. However, I find the closest parallel to Guth's recent outburst to be in a country where the Left came very close to taking power, but was fortunately ultimately defeated. Abimael Guzman was a professor of philosophy in Peru and the founder of the radical Maoist terrorist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) responsible for murdering thousands of people during the 1980s. Most of his victims were peasants who disagreed with his vision of violently restructuring the Peruvian countryside along the lines of the Great Leap Forward in China. Why does the hard core Left that dominates American academia feel that it is necessary not just to disagree and condemn the policies of the NRA, but to advocate repression and violence against its members and their families? After all I don't think Loomis or Guth should go to prison or have their families killed just because I disagree with them.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

104 years since the birth of Kwame Nkrumah

If Nkrumah were still alive he would be 104 today. He died of cancer in Bucharest Romania in 1972. He was the first leader of Ghana after it gained its independence from the British on 6 March 1957 and ruled until his overthrow in a military coup on 24 February 1966. After which he lived most of the rest of his life in exile in Guinea. Much of the state and physical infrastructure of Ghana was built during his tenure as president. Among other things he built Tema Harbour and Akosombo Dam. This latter project created Lake Volta which remains today the largest man made lake in the world and a major supplier of fish, an important source of protein for Ghanaians. In addition to being a visionary leader for Ghana, Nkrumah was an important Pan-African thinker and leader. He was instrumental in helping form the Casablanca Group and the Organization of African Unity as well as playing a key role in the Non-Aligned Movement. During the late 1950s and early 1960s he was the most prominent African leader south of the Sahara on the world stage. The only other African leader at this time to play such an important international role was Nasser in Egypt. In 2009 President Mills declared Nkrumah's birthday a national holiday here in Ghana and gave it the official title of Founder's Day.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What I was doing last night - Concert by Abaji

I went to see this guy perform last night at the Alliance Francais. The tickets were only two cedis. The concert was quite entertaining.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Meanwhile back in the Homeland

From 2005 to 2007 I lived in Arivaca, Arizona. To get to Arivaca you have to pass a Border Patrol checkpoint that is located 30 miles north of the border. There is no other road to get to Arivaca from Green Valley, Tucson, or Nogales. So every time somebody living in Arivaca wants to go into town they have to pass through a border check point even though they have not left Pima County yet alone the US. This checkpoint essentially creates a border zone separate from the rest of the US in the vicinity of Arivaca. This means that the US citizens and legal resident aliens living in Arivaca are not treated with the same respect by the US government as people living elsewhere. Instead they are viewed as suspects with regards to the laws dealing with the cross-border smuggling of migrants and drugs. Now granted having to stop and show ID at an artificial internal border while dogs sniff your vehicle every time you want to leave your home town is not the worst possible fate. But, it is a considerable annoyance. Especially since I haven't seen any evidence that harassing people in this manner has any effect at all on illegal immigration or drug importation into the US. Well, now there are some residents of Arivaca organizing to protest against the check point. There is a meeting on  22 September 2013 at the Arivaca Community Center to discuss the issue. It will be interesting to see what develops.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

More Good News

The German government has now amended its laws to make it easier for ethnic Germans in the former USSR and eastern Europe to settle in Germany. In 2005 the German government imposed draconian restrictions that reduced the migration of Spaetaussiedler to only a couple  of thousand people a year. The remaining nearly 600,000 ethnic Germans in the Russian Federation and over 200,000 in Kazakhstan thus became largely ineligible to settle in Germany after 2005. The liberalization of the Bundesvertriebenengesetzes (Federal expellee law) will place a greater emphasis on family reunification and reduce the importance of the language test. These changes will allow more of the remaining ethnic Germans in Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asia to settle in Germany.

Wanlov The Kubolor - For the River ft Long John

This video in addition to having some great Ghanaian Hiplife music also has some fantastic film footage of Ghana.

Ayyads to Keep Cliff Hotel

The Israeli government has withdrawn at least temporarily its attempts to seize the Cliff Hotel on the border of East Jerusalem and Abu Dis under the racist Absentee Property Law. The hotel has belonged to the Ayyad family for generations. The Israeli theft of Palestinian land is a routine measure. But, in this case I happen to be personal friends of some of the Ayyads. In particular I have had the fortune to enjoy the friendship of Abdulhaddi Ayyad, who asked me to go busking with him on the streets of London over a decade ago. The Ayyads had to fight a hard and long legal battle in Israeli courts to keep property that is indisputably theirs. But, sometimes the good guys do win and it looks like the Israelis are abandoning their efforts to seize the Cliff Hotel from the Ayyads. I think the event merits a celebration. Every so often God shows his presence on this planet with miracles just to prove to even the densest of us that he does exist and he does love us.

Independent Claims University of Ghana Students Working as Male Prostitutes

Recently the Independent ran an article claiming that a number of male students at the University of Ghana in Legon spend their nights working as rent boys. The article quotes one anonymous rent boy who claims that he uses the money he gets from johns for drugs and to pay his university fees. It also quotes one anonymous police officer. These two anonymous informants appear to be the article's only sources. The article also gives no quantification as to actually how many students from Legon are working as rent boys.  The evidence presented in the article suggests they found one person who claimed to be both a rent boy and a University of Ghana student. But, by listing Accra Mall, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, High Street, East Legon, the area near the Togolese Embassy, and Lapaz as areas where student rent boys work at night, the article gives the impression that they number in the dozens. There are currently nearly 30,000 students enrolled at the University of Ghana of which about 20,000 are male. So I don't doubt that there are a few people out of that 20,000 that are working as rent boys. But, I am guessing that the number is quite small and that the article in the Independent is just another example of the irresponsible sensationalism that tends to dominate the media in Ghana.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Taxi Cab Ethnography and African Gypsies

Hanging around the front of Accra Mall and other places such as Nkrumah Circle there are these child beggars. They are not Ghanaian. In fact they don't even look African. They look like the Gypsies you see in Europe and Central Asia. They have brown skin and South Asian features. They also act like the Gypsies in Europe and Asia. You never see any adult men, just children begging for money. I have asked a number of cab drivers about the origins of these people. Each and every one of them has a different story, but in every case they identify them as coming from the north. Some say they come from Mali, others Burkina Faso, still others Niger, some say they are from Chad, and one guy even claimed they came from Somalia. Although to be honest they don't look Somali to me. They look and act like Roma to me. Also like the indigenous peoples of Europe and Asia, the local Ghanaians do not have a very high opinion of these immigrants who seem to be composed entirely of beggars. I have read a little bit about the Roma in Europe, but even though by some accounts they supposedly entered the Balkans via Egypt, hence the name Gypsies, I have not seen any scholarly references to this ethnic group making its way to Ghana via the Sahel. Does anybody know anything about the origins of the Gypsies in the Accra area?

Dutch Government Finally Apologizes for Colonial Atrocities in Indonesia 66 Years Ago

Yesterday the Dutch government finally apologized for the brutal atrocities its army committed in Indonesia during 1945-1949 when it reoccupied the archipelago after it declared independence on 17 August 1945. About 150,000 Indonesians versus 5,000 Dutch died during the war for independence during which the Dutch military employed summary executions and torture as routine instruments in its counterinsurgency strategy. The Dutch military regularly shot unarmed men in these summary executions. In some villages such as Rawegede in Java the Dutch killed the entire adult male population. In Rawegede this amounted to 431 men. The tactics of the Dutch military had more than a passing resemblance to those used by the Nazis to suppress partisan resistance in the countries they occupied during World War II. The Dutch were particularly vicious on the island of Sulawesi. From December 1946 to March 1947, Dutch soldiers under the command of Captain Raymond Westerling summarily executed over 40,000 Indonesians in the southern part of this island. There has never been any trials of any Dutch soldiers involved in the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the people of Indonesia.

Sources: Al Jazeera, UCA, and The Japan Times

Classes Today

Today I finally had my first full day of teaching of the semester. I taught one class in Legon and then one at City Campus in Accra. Traffic was particularly bad. There was a horrible bottleneck around the  Kanda/Nima area. We left Legon at 1:15 and arrived at City Campus at 2:15, an hour long trip that should have taken only 20 minutes if traffic had not been insane even for Accra. Coming back at 4:30 was even worse. But, the important thing is that the students at City Campus finally showed up for class. Last week I sent my TA there to give them the readings and nobody showed up.

Both classes went well. They actually asked questions that showed that they were paying attention to the lecture and thinking about the material. That is always a good sign.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thirty Six Years Ago in South Africa

On this day in 1977, Steve Biko, an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa died of injuries he sustained due to beatings and torture by police while in custody. The police arrested him in Port Elizabeth  on 18 August 1977. They transferred him while in a coma to Pretoria on 11 September 1977. He died the next day shortly after arriving in the South African capital. He was only 30 years old.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

African Food

Evidently today is Ethiopian New Year. I am not sure what people do in Ethiopia to celebrate it, but I am now wishing there was an Ethiopian restaurant nearby. I quite like Ethiopian food which I first ate in 1985 at the Blue Nile in Berkeley.

Speaking of food, it occurred to me today that a lot more could be done with ocean fish in Ghanaian cuisine. Today I had tilapia and banku for lunch. But, other than tilapia, red fish, and white fish there are never any other options to go with banku or kenkey. How come tuna, salmon, mackerel, or other ocean fish are never offered? Kenkey is a Ga dish and the Ga settlements are right on the ocean. There is even a fishing village on the beach in front of Jamestown.

Comparative Forced Labour Paper

Today I went back to writing my paper for the German conference in Ho on colonial forced labour in Africa. Originally it was supposed to be a conference on colonial forced labour in general, but the sponsors changed the topic on me. This is causing me some problems as I explain below. Although, I am not sure what the status of the conference is currently since none of the people who submitted abstracts in July have heard anything from the organizers in Berlin. My paper is a comparison of the conscription of ethnic Germans in Soviet Kazakhstan and Central Asia into the labour army and forced labour in Southern Africa during the nineteen forties. I wrote most of a first draft while I was in Kyrgyzstan this summer for two months. But, I had to wait until I came back to Africa to get access to the sources dealing with Mozambique. While I am not an expert on the colonial history of Mozambique, I have written about the cultivation of cotton before and much of the forced labour in this colony was devoted to the cultivation of this crop. Still I am having trouble specifically with the sections of the paper dealing with Mozambique. The rest of the paper is almost done.  Honestly, looking through the first draft my section on ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan and Central Asia reads to me as much stronger so far than the part on Africa. Now, if the original topic had been maintained I could have dispensed with the comparison with colonial Mozambique and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and dealt solely with Kazakhstan and Central Asia which I argue in the paper were semi-colonies in the USSR. It may, however, turn out that the conference gets cancelled in which case I will reorganize the article by removing the parts dealing with Africa.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Communism in the Gold Coast Research Project

Today I started writing an article about the communist movement in the Gold Coast in the 1930s. In particular the activities and ties to Soviet front groups of Isaac Wallace-Johnson, a radical from Sierra Leone who was engaged in communist agitation in the Gold Coast from 1933-1936. There is some secondary material available on JSTOR and there appears to be a fair bit in the PRAAD archives (I will have to go to the archives and check out these sources), but no full length history of communism in British West Africa has ever been written. Of course given that the number of communists in the Gold Coast was only a handful this is not too surprising. Their significance is also not as great as communist movements in Asia due to the success of the British colonial authorities in almost completely suppressing the movement. Nevertheless communism was an international movement during the 1930s and the role of British West Africa and the Gold Coast in particular in that movement still remains to be integrated into the larger narrative. Every piece of the jigsaw no matter how small is necessary to complete the puzzle. So I am currently working on fitting this small piece into the grand narrative of international communism during the 1930s. I got about three pages written today.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

7 September 1941

On 7 September 1941 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued a decree dividing the territory of the Volga German ASSR between Stalingrad and Saratov oblasts. This occurred in the middle of the deportation of the Volga Germans from 3-20 September 1941. The map to the right shows the territorial division of the republic between the adjacent oblasts. Below I have translated the decree from Russian into English. Note the transliteration of the canton names from German to Russian and back into Latin letters may result in some differences between my translation and the original German names. But I have tried to confirm and put the original German spellings down below whenever possible.

Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
On the administrative construction of the  territory of the former Volga German Republic
In connection with the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 28 August 1941 "On resettling Germans living in the region of the Volga", it is deemed necessary to:
1. Include in the composition of Saratov Oblast the following districts of the former Volga German Republic: - Balzer, Solotoje, Kamenka, Ternowka, Kukkus, Seelmann, Krasnojar, Marxstadt, Unterwalden, Fjodorowka, Gnadenflur, Krasny-Kut, Lizenderg, Mariental, Ekheim
2. Include in the composition of Stalingrad Oblast the following districts of the former Volga German Republic: Frank, Erlenbach, Dobrinka, Pallasowka, Gmelinskaja, Old-Poltawka, Ilowatka.
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
M. Kalinin
Secretary of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
A. Gorkin
Moscow, Kremlin, 7 September 1941
The Soviet government never restored the Volga German ASSR. Along with the Crimean ASSR it was only one of two national territories at the ASSR level in the USSR belonging to deported peoples that was never reconstituted. The ethnic Germans in the Russian Federation still suffer from inequality and discrimination on the basis of natsional'nost due to their lack of a national territory to protect and promote their rights.

Source: V.A. Auman and V.G. Chebatoreva, Istoriia rossiiskikh nemtsev v dokumentakh (1763-1992),(Moscow: MIGP, 1993), p. 163.

New Shirt

I don't often buy new clothes, but yesterday I purchased a new shirt. That is picture of it over in the right hand corner. It is very different from the Obama version which says, "Make Syria into Fufu through War." At any rate I have wanted to get one of these shirts for a long time, but I have not seen any place selling them until yesterday. The company that produces them had a table at the street festival in Jamestown yesterday.  So right now I am proudly wearing my "MAKE FUFU NOT WAR" shirt.

Jamestown and Usshertown

Yesterday, I went to the annual art festival along John Evans Atta Mills High Street in Jamestown (British Accra) and Usshertown (Dutch Accra). There was music, dancing, and food.  I got talked into going up to the top of the lighthouse by a colleague visiting from the US for a semester. It looks a lot taller on the inside and the way up is very narrow and treacherous. The last flight is an old wooden ladder that has a broken step. At the top the platform slopes downward rather than being even so the vertigo factor is further enhanced. The only thing I have been on in recent years that compares is the Ferris wheel at Panifilov Park in Bishkek. A Ferris wheel built during the Khrushchev era and lacking any type of safety features whatsoever to prevent you from falling to your death. At any rate I had a good time at the festival. But, as a middle aged man I wish they would turn the music down a little bit. At times I felt like I was in a giant outdoor nightclub and had difficulty carrying on any type of conversation with people.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Letter from Beria 25 August 1941

The joint decree of the Council of People's Commissars (SNK) and Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union  (CPSU) ordering the deportation of the Volga Germans became finalized on 26 August 1941. However, earlier drafts of this resolution had already been circulated to the leadership of the NKVD and the first secretaries of the Oblast committees (Obkom) of the Volga German ASSR, Saratov Oblast, and Stalingrad Oblast before this date. A letter from 25 August 1941 by Beria, the head of the NKVD, to the Central Committee of the CPSU with the numerical designation No. 2514/B explicitly refers to an earlier draft of the 26 August 1941 decree ordering the deportation of the Volga Germans. The decision to deport the Volga Germans was thus made by the Soviet government before 25 August 1941. Below I have translated Beria's letter from Russian into English

25 August 1941

This is in connection to your orders as presented in the draft of the resolution of the SNK and CC CPSU (B) on the orderly resettlement from the Volga German Republic, Saratov and Stalingrad oblasts.
The total local population subject to exile is 479,841 people, of this number from the Volga German Republic - 401,746 people, from Saratov Oblast -54,389 people, from Stalingrad Oblast 23,756 people.
Resettlement is to take place in the north-eastern oblasts of the Kazakh SSR, Krasnoiarsk and Altai krais, Omsk and Novosibirsk oblasts.
Attached is the accompanying draft resolution for the first secretaries of the obkoms of the CPSU (B): Saratov - tov. Vlasov, Stalingrad - tov. Chuianov, Volga German Republic - tov. Malov to familiarize themselves with.
Awaiting your orders,
People's Commissar of Internal Affairs for the Union of SSRs

L. Beria

 So far I have not seen any copies of the draft referred to in this letter or any archival material on the deportation of the Volga Germans dated earlier than 25 August 1941. This letter by Beria appears to be the oldest surviving document pertaining to the operation to be unearthed by scholars to date.


N. L. Pobol and P.M. Polian, (eds.), Stalinskie deportatsii 1928-1953: Dokumenty, (Moscow: MFD, Materik, 2005), doc. 3.1, p. 287.

Monday, September 02, 2013

No to US intervention in Syria

I don't claim to be an expert on the current civil war in Syria, but I see no advantage accruing to either the US or the majority of Syrians in the proposed military intervention against the Assad regime. If the Assad regime falls it could very well be replaced by something much worse. Indeed one thing that distinguished Syria under the current Assad and his father from some other Middle Eastern regimes was its secular nature. In terms of personal freedom Syria has been considerably more liberal than places like Saudi Arabia despite the dictatorial nature of the Ba'ath Party. So while the regime has been brutal I am by no means convinced that what ever replaces it will be an improvement and it could well be far worse than what existed before the start of the civil war. The main thing US military intervention will do is add to the death toll through "collateral damage" due to bombings and missile strikes. It could very well end up that the US and whatever allies we get to support us end up killing a lot of people in Syria and an Islamic regime that makes us nostalgic for the secular Arab nationalist dictatorship of old man Assad takes power. I am sure such a scenario has its own beneficiaries, but I am failing to see how either the majority of Americans or Syrians are among them.

Disaster is Averted.

Last night the VC issued the signed letter promising the remainder of our book and research allowance that the union had requested. In return the strike has been called off and we resumed teaching this morning. Since the only outstanding union demand for ending the strike was a formal letter with a time table promising to pay the remaining $800 of our book and research allowance this is a union victory. But, I would have enjoyed my weekend more if I didn't have to worry about a possible closure of the university today. Needless, to say I am greatly relieved. For those readers in the US have a Happy Labor Day. It certainly is for me.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Countdown to Potential Disaster

Tomorrow the VC will decide whether on not to shut down the University of Ghana for the whole academic year. If he does shut down the university it will be the worst disaster to strike Ghana in the last 30 years. I am fervently hoping not only for my own sake, but for the sake of all of the faculty, staff, and students here that he does not shut down the university. I enumerated some of the problems shutting down the university would cause in a previous post. There are of course a whole bunch of knock on effects that I have not enumerated or even imagined.

Excess Deaths in the USSR among Russian-Germans 1918-1948

The Soviet government killed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans through shootings, deportations, in camps, and by hunger. Between 1918 and 1948 excess deaths among Russian-Germans in the USSR due to repression and man made famine were at least 480,000 (Krieger 2013, p. 3). This is an absolute minimum figure and is equal to around a third of their 1939 population. Below is a breakdown of a very conservative estimate of the number of Russian-German victims of the Lenin and Stalin regimes made by Viktor Krieger.

Civil War and Famine 1918-1922

Volga Region - 108,000
Black Sea Region - 50,000-60,000

Total for former Russian Empire 180,000-200,000

Holodomor 1932-1933


Great Terror 1937-1938


Deportation, Special Settlements, and the Labor Army

Labor Army - 60,000-70,000
Special Settlements 1941-1945 - 70,000-80,000
Special Settlements 1946-1947 - 15,000-20,000

Total for USSR 1941-1948 - 150,000-160,000

Total for USSR 1918-1948 - 480,000-515,000


Viktor Krieger, Bundesburger russlanddeutscher Herkunft: Historische Schlusselerfahrungen und kollektives Gedachtnis (Munster: Lit Verlag, 2013), pp. 240-242.