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Reconstructing Jewish Lives in 20th Century France: Restitution, Republicanism and the Meaning of Home

April 25, 2018
by

fogg

Last week Shannon Fogg, Professor and Chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Missouri University of Science and Technology, gave a talk about topics from her new book Stealing Home: Looting, Restitution and Reconstructing Jewish Lives in France, 1942-1947. Her book explores the meaning of home and the role it plays in the reconstruction of Jewish lives, by looking into the looting and restoration of private property.

sh

Dr. Fogg began the talk by discussing the memoir of a young Jewish girl who returned home after the World War II, found her family home to be bare, and stripped of its belongings. This loss of material and memorabilia represented the physical and emotional displacement of Jews in France during this time. After the war, housing shortages only added to the struggle for people to rebuild their lives and homes.

Dr. Fogg discussed the war period mainly describing the Nazi furniture operation and its effects. This operation was the systematic looting of uninhabited Jewish homes in France. Paris consisted of 2/3 of the Jewish population in France, many of whom fled the capital after the invasion in 1940. Those who fled were not allowed to return, leaving many uninhabited homes. Then, in 1941, Hitler approved the “looting” of these uninhabited Jewish homes. The logic being they would no longer need the contents or space because they were not returning. The uninhabited homes’ contents were packaged and shipped as a set to Germany. The sets were classified by class and apartment size (e.g. Working class 2 bedroom) so German citizens could replace items in their damaged or destroyed homes according to their class and apartment size. In April 1942, the first train of furniture was sent to Germany. Over the next two years, there were even more deserted apartments due to the arrests of many Jewish families. In 1944, when the furniture operation ended, around 38,000 apartments had been emptied and 674 trainloads of goods had been sent to Germany.

Dr. Fogg then examined the impact these material losses had on people in France after the war, especially Jews. Many Jews remained in camps in France because their homes and belongings were gone and they had no means to live by nor work to come back to. Under the new republican government, the lack of available housing and loss of material items was high on the agenda. Restitution law in 1944 ordained that original occupants could request to return to their old home if they had “been forced to leave without consent.” However, they could not remove the new occupants if they were; a bombing victim, POW, evacuee, soldier or spouse or close relative of a soldier or POW; Dr. Fogg emphasized that this list of exceptions amounted to almost everyone after the war. This led to massive overcrowding while many were still looking for housing, those that did have housing often had multiple people to a room, and some did not have hot water. The home was no longer a personal or social dwelling it became simply a shelter.

Along with trying to get people back into homes, in January 1945, the provisional government passed the Restitution Services of Goods of Victims in order to return personal possessions to their rightful owners. This, however, was especially difficult because the Germans, who usually kept detailed records, kept no records of the goods they took from homes. Although they systematically looted and packaged the goods in the apartments and houses, they also saw it as illegal and therefore kept no records. Dr. Fogg explains that while it is difficult to explain their logic, it accounts for their lack of records on this matter. Next, Dr. Fogg described the process people had to go through if they wanted their furniture back. The government required you to create and send in a detailed inventory of your belongings certified by a witness or landlord and then get it certified and stamped by the police. After the initial claim, you could be invited to visit the furniture depots, however, few people were actually invited and even fewer were able to get any items back. Thousands of letters and inventories were received but only 200 pieces of furniture were actually returned.

femme

Dr. Fogg described how the letters that accompanied inventories reflected a feeling of difference in treatment between foreign and French, as well more traditional views of men and women. Men usually submitted the paperwork highlighting either their maleness or French-ness and often described their fighting or resistance to receive more preferential treatment. Widows or unmarried women emphasized their male family members, especially if they were deportees or soldiers in the letters. Another common factor was a lack of references to the informal, more emotional word for home, foyer. They tended to use the more formal word for home, maison, reflecting the fact that home no longer held the same meaning as before. It was merely a shelter stripped of its emotional meaning and nostalgia. For Jews, this was especially true because during the war their home and belongings became a trap. After the war, they had to rediscover what home meant. Many people that returned to their pre-war apartments saw the emptiness and were only given the bare necessities. The loss of memorabilia was often described as more painful than materials and the initial return home became a reminder of all that had been lost.

If you are interested in Dr. Fogg’s book here is a link to the publication: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/stealing-home-9780198787129?cc=us&lang=en&

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France and the Power of Art in Diplomacy

April 19, 2018

FRANCE-SAUDI-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY

(L) French President Emmanuel Macron and (R) Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)

Last week France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, ended a diplomatic visit with the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), by taking him on a private tour of the Louvre’s Eugene Delacroix retrospective. The retrospective, the first in fifty years, is one of the more significant art exhibitions of the year in Paris and it makes for an interesting choice to end this diplomatic visit. Macron and MBS also enjoyed a private dinner in the museum and talked for over two hours, though the content of this discussion is unknown as the entire museum was closed for the visit. The choice to visit the museum and have pictures taken of them in front of Delacroix’s most famous painting, Liberty Leading the People, is just the latest move in a pattern of President Macron using cultural diplomacy to engage with the Middle East.

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Macron and MBS in front of Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People

Last November, the U.A.E. opened the billion dollar Louvre Abu Dhabi, which was the product of a decade long partnership with France and the Louvre, which has a 30 year and half a billion dollar agreement with the museum. Macron, along with top officials from France and the U.A.E., was there for the grand opening of the museum on November 8th. Soon after that, the record-shattering Salvator Mundi, by Leonardo da Vinci, was bought by MBS for $450 million and it was announced that the painting would be headed to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

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Louvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

This acquisition along with a number of other cultural initiatives on the part of MBS has shown that the Saudis are also intent on using cultural diplomacy to further their goals. During MBS’s visit to Paris, he signed an agreement with France, to develop the Al-Ula region, along with the UNESCO world heritage site of Mada’in Saleh, into a cultural tourism destination. While Saudi Arabia will be financing the entirety of the $20 billion project, France will provide support in crafting blueprints for the museum complex that will be three times as large as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, as well as planning for conservation, transportation, infrastructure, hotels and training. Campus France has also created a $150 million deal for education and training in Saudi Arabia.

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Structures at Mada’in Saleh, Al Madinah Region, Saudi Arabia

Smaller initiatives between France and Saudi Arabia have also developed over the past few months, with plans for Saudi films to be entered into the Cannes Film Festival for the first time as well as the Paris Opera agreeing to help develop a national orchestra and opera in Saudi Arabia. It is evident that President Macron, along with the cultural leaders throughout France like the Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez, have a clear plan to strengthen relations with Saudi Arabia and its allies, while simultaneously ensuring that France has a strong presence in the Middle East and the world stage.

While France has shown a strong commitment to working with the Saudis, it has not limited itself to just Saudi Arabia. The Louvre has partnered with Iran and secured a four year agreement that includes archeological projects as well as exhibitions. This agreement is the first of its kind, as the Louvre was the first major institution to start working with Iran after the lifting of sanctions and embargoes in 2016. In March, an exhibition of works from the Louvre’s collection, titled The Louvre in Tehran, began in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran.  In addition to this an exhibition on Iran’s Qajar Dynasty began at the Louvre-Lens in northern France. This agreement is a remarkable change from 2011 when Iran had cut off all cultural ties with France over a dispute in which Iran claimed the Louvre failed to follow-through on an exhibition.

FRANCE-IRAN-DIPLOMACY-ECONOMY

(R) Louvre Director Jean-Luc Martinez with Iranian officials

Additionally, the Louvre is present in 75 countries around the world and is planning exhibitions in Sudan, Uzbekistan and Bulgaria. It has widespread training programs and archeological projects in many of these countries and continues to expand. Martinez has shown a commitment to cultural diplomacy and the influence he is able to wield in his position as director of the Louvre. He recently said in an interview that, “The Louvre’s operations overseas contribute to France’s international outreach and, yes, the museum must take into account the government’s priorities and foreign policies.” With statements like this, in conjunction with the actions of President Macron, it is clear that art and culture have become successful and central tools in France’s foreign policy toolkit.

Sources:

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/interview/louvre-s-director-we-are-active-in-75-countries

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/emmanuel-macron-saudi-mohammed-bin-salman-1263698

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/second-time-lucky-louvre-seals-iran-deal

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/france-to-help-build-a-new-petra-in-saudi-arabia-with-estimated-usd20bn-development-deal

EURO Celebrates 26th MMEU!

April 12, 2018
by

Last week, the Institute for European Studies was proud to host the 26th edition of the Midwest Model European Union (MMEU). The MMEU is the second oldest intercollegiate simulation of the EU in North America. Participating colleges send delegations of 7 members each, representing the 28 EU member states. Over a period of 48 hours, they meet in formal and informal sessions as the European Council, the European Commission, and several different councils of ministers.
From Thursday afternoon through Saturday afternoon, students introduce, discuss, and reach decisions on EU policy. National leaders provide overall direction, ministers huddle to work out the details of policy, commissioners and their directors-general try to give new direction to foreign and security policy, the single market, eastward enlargement, and the development of the euro, and emergency joint meetings are held to break impasses.

This year’s MMEU, held in the IU Bloomington campus, was a resounding success. With 14 participating schools (some of them fielding more than one delegation), a diverse array of students had the opportunity to experience the inner workings of a supranational institution and learn first hand how to navigate the complex environment of high-stakes policy negotiations. The event took place in an atmosphere of professionalism and hard work, as participants took their roles seriously and endeavored to recreate the level of intensity that one would expect of discussions aiming to shape the future of an entire continent. From the very beginning, the students demonstrated their preparation through their active engagement with keynote speaker Dr. Kerry Longhurst (Jean Monnet Professor at Collegium Civitas and senior Researcher at the College of Europe) following her opening remarks, and that same level of engagement carried over into the remainder of the event as each group of delegates began work on their assigned roles.

As in other years, towards the end of the simulation the participants in each of the simulated EU bodies voted to decide what delegation had performed best in their role, once the work of that body had come to a conclusion on Saturday. Although there were many tight vote counts, Iowa State finally emerged as the overall winner, and we at EURO would like to congratulate them for their fantastic performance, as well as all the other schools that gave out their best to make of this year’s MMEU a fantastic experience. We are already looking forward to the next edition of the event in the Spring of 2019!

The West’s Punishment of Russia over poisoning in the UK

March 30, 2018
by

On Sunday, March 4th. Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found passed out on a bench in Salisbury, England. They had been poisoned with a nerve agent, which is a highly poisonous chemical that prevents the body’s nervous system from functioning properly. The officer who was the first to arrive at the scene was also affected by the poison. All three were taken to the ICU and are now in stable, but critical, condition.

skripal

Sergei Skripal is an ex-spy who worked for the Russian agency GRU (Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye or Main Intelligence Directorate) in the 1990s. In 2004, Skripal was accused of selling secrets to MI6 and was arrested. Skripal was sentenced to 13 years in a high security facility in 2006. In 2010, however, he became part of a spy swap between the US and Russia, after which he gained asylum in England where he has been living since 2011. Yulia, visiting her father from Russia, is one of Skripal’s only immediate family members still alive. Skripal lost his wife, brother, and son in recent years.

The U.K believes Russia is behind the poisoning. Last week, EU leaders agreed there was “no other plausible explanation” than that Moscow was behind the attempted killing of the ex-spy on English soil using a nerve agent. The Kremlin still denies they were behind the poisoning and calls the West’s reaction a “violation of common sense norms of civilized international dialogue and international law.” They also threatened to retaliate any action taken against them. Western leaders also agreed that additional measures might still be taken in the near future, including additional expulsions, visa bans, and freezes against Russian individuals.

EU and NATO allies of the UK have banded together to punish Russia for its poisoning of Sergei Skripal. In addition to the UK, who expelled the 23 Russian diplomats, eighteen other EU countries have expelled a total number of 40 Russian diplomats including; Belgium (8 [7 from Russia’s mission to NATO in Brussels and one from Russian embassy in Belgium]), Germany (4), France (4), Poland (4), Lithuania (3), Czech Republic (3), Spain (2), the Netherlands (2), Italy (2), Denmark (2), Estonia (1), Finland (1), Hungary (1), Romania (1), Latvia (1), Croatia (1), Ireland (1) and Sweden (1).

 

diplomats chart(The chart shows countries that have expelled Russian diplomats as of 03/26/2018 therefore it does not include Bulgaria, Ireland and Hungary who expelled Russian diplomats after March 26th)

This makes nine EU countries who have failed to join the others expressing solidarity with the UK. These countries include Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Portugal has stated that they prefer action at the supranational, EU level, believing this would be more effective than bilateral moves. Luxembourg, however, has very few Russian diplomats who they do not believe were involved in any espionage activities and fear if they acted, they would lose their only two diplomats in Russia to retaliatory measures, therefore terminating diplomatic relations. Austria said they want to keep the channels of communication to Russia open, seeing itself as a bridge builder between East and West. Bulgaria wants to maintain neutrality since they currently hold the rotating EU presidency. Greece has said it would never want to sanction a member of the UN permanent Security Council and seeks more evidence on what happened in the UK. Cyprus and Slovenia echoed Greece’s reasoning, stating it was too early to take action before it is determined what exactly happened in the UK.

Members of NATO have also shown their support in favor of the UK. The US have expelled 60 diplomats (48 from Washington and 12 from the UN in New York) and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. The US has made clear it “wants to make America safer and give Russia less of an opportunity to spy on Americans.” Canada has expelled four diplomats while calling Russia’s attack “a despicable, heinous and reckless act, potentially endangering lives of hundreds.” Ukraine, which is not in the EU or NATO, but aligns itself with the West, expelled 13 more Russians. Other countries who have expelled Russian diplomats can be seen in the chart above.

The British Foreign Minister has stated his appreciation of the action taken by these countries saying, “Today’s extraordinary international response by our allies stands in history as the largest collective of Russian intelligence officers ever and will help defend our shared security, Russian cannot break international rules with impunity.” This has been the largest collective expulsion of its kind in history.

On Thursday, March 29th, Russia escalated the situation and responded in retaliation saying they would expel 60 American diplomats. They also ordered the closing of the American consulate in St. Petersburg, exceeding the equivalent of US action against them. The St. Petersburg consulate, in Russia’s second largest city, is far bigger and more important in relations than the consulate in Seattle, making this a tough move. Moscow is furious at the response from the UK and other countries, and believes the actions taken against them are an anti-Russian campaign fueled by the US and the UK. With this tit for tat battle between the West and Russia along with already faltering relations, moves made by both sides in the next week will be vital to what happens next.

 

Sources:

https://euobserver.com/foreign/141449

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/07/europe/russian-spy-nerve-agent-intl/index.html

https://euobserver.com/foreign/141457

https://ria.ru/world/20180307/1515985651.html

https://www.statista.com/chart/13355/spy-poisoning_-where-russian-diplomats-were-expelled/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43550938

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/world/europe/russia-expels-diplomats.html

 

Scandal at the Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Ghent

March 22, 2018

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Works exhibited in the “Russian Modernism 1910-30” show at MSK

This week the wild story of the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (MSK) in Ghent, Belgium and their show of Russian Modernist artworks has taken another turn as Belgian police have begun raiding homes in connection to artworks within this show. The exhibition began in October 2017 and contained 26 artworks by a variety of Russian Modernist artists like Kandinsky, Malevich and Rodchenko among others, all of which were owned by the Dieleghem Foundation, a charity started by the Russian businessman Igor Toporovsky and his wife Olga.

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Director Catherine de Zegher (L) and collector Igor Toporovsky (R)

The show ran smoothly until January 15th, when an open letter was published by ten art dealers, curators and historians who questioned whether the works were originals or fakes. In the letter the authors point out that these works had never been exhibited, had never been in publications and had no sales record. This prompted the museum to set up an expert committee to review the works, though the museum claimed they followed standard procedures for vetting the artworks before they were exhibited. On January 29th the museum pulled 24 of the 26 works citing the controversy they had caused and the need for the expert committee to have unrestricted access to the works. During this time The Art Newspaper published an expose in which they featured quotes from a number of experts, all of which contested the claims put forth by the Toporovskys and the authenticity of the works. Nearly every claim by the Toporovskys concerning the provenance and authenticity of the works in their collection were riddled with errors, inaccuracies and were refuted by the experts that were consulted.

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Known work by Yury Annenkov (L) and a contested work in the MSK show (R)

By March, the director of the museum, Catherine de Zegher had faced severe scrutiny and criticism from culture officials and the heads of other prominent museums. They condemned what they said was an “utter lack of transparency and refusal to accept responsibility” and said she “compromised the MSK’s own integrity and that of Flemish museums as a whole.” She responded with an email to sixty officials in which she condemned the statement and said the claims against her were “based on a manipulated story in the (Russian) press, and not on reality.” She was then summoned to meet with politicians on March 5th and explain what happened. There she defended her actions and said her experience as a curator would allow her to recognize fake artworks. She also claimed that the works and exhibition were reviewed by two art historians before going to show, though both of these historians have said they were in no way involved with this exhibition. On March 7th she was suspended from her role as director of the museum by the board of directors who explained that they had lost trust in her leadership.

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Painting attributed to Nicholas Roerich in the MSK show. This is contested by experts.

The most recent developments in this case are the police raids that were conducted on March 20th. The raids were done in response to a civil complaint that was filed by multiple art dealers and a relative of one of the artists exhibited in the show. Police raided several homes, including the Toporovsky home, in which computers and documents were taken. Police also interviewed Catherine de Zegher. What comes next is hard to predict though the evidence points to many of the artworks likely being fakes. If this is the case than there will most likely be legal action taken against the Toporovskys, de Zegher may be removed and the MSK will have suffered a blow to its integrity.

Sources

https://frieze.com/article/police-investigate-exhibition-fake-russian-avant-garde-artworks

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/the-story-behind-the-dubious-russian-avant-garde-art-show-in-ghent-museum

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/catherine-de-zegher-faces-the-music

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/leading-curators-and-dealers

https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/experts-say-russian-modernism-show-ghent-museum-highly-questionable-1198757

https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/russian-avant-garde-exhibition-closes-expose-1210742

 

The Elections in Italy and the Rise of Euroskepticism

March 9, 2018
by

Italian election results

Last week, it seemed that Europe could at last take a sigh of relief and look forward to some degree of stability in its near future. With the vote by members of the center-left SDP in favor of a “grand coalition” with Angela Merkel’s CDU, months of uncertainty seemingly came to an end, as the largest economy in the EU was finally able to produce a centrist, pro-European government (for more on the issues surrounding the formation of the grand coalition, see our prior post from Feb. 16). But just as one political frontline closed, another opened: on Sunday, Italian voters majoritarily chose to endorse the nation’s anti-establishment, Euroskeptic parties during the general elections, thus inaugurating a new period of uncertainty as speculation rages about the country’s future government. Only one thing is clear at this time: the Italian center has largely collapsed.

In a country were discontent has been on the rise and centrist parties are seen with an increasingly suspicious eye, two political formations were the main beneficiaries of the prevailing dissatisfaction. The party that received the most votes (32.22%) was the 5 Star Movement (M5S), an anti-establishment group founded by comedian Beppe Grillo and built around a Euroskeptic, anti-elite platform. Significantly behind in percentage of votes (17.69%), but reinforced by the support of other parties, the other main contender for power appears to be the League, a far-right formation that espouses a xenophobic, anti-immigration platform. The League, formerly a regional party (the Northern League) that focused on southern Italy as the object of its attacks, recently decided to shift its emphasis from southerners to Africans in order to broaden its appeal, and has succeeded in enlarging its base of support enough to become the principal group in the right-wing coalition that includes former Prime Minister Berlusconi’s Forza italia.

Renzi

Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister and PD candidate. AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

One of the League’s central promises during the campaign was the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants crossing the Mediterranean into Italy, and it now seems that the League’s candidate, Matteo Salvini, may have an opportunity to deliver on that promise, to the terror of the many Africans seeking refuge in the country. The reason is that, putting together the votes of the League and Forza Italia, the right-wing coalition comes out as the biggest formation in Parliament, and therefore as the one with the most credible shot at forming a government. Not only that, but the Sunday elections saw Salvini’s League surpass Berlusconi’s party as the senior coalition partner, lending support to any demands by the former to head the future cabinet.

Nevertheless, the right wing coalition does not count with enough parliamentary backing to form a government of its own. This means that the formation of the future government is still up in the air, and will depend on any potential agreements between seemingly incompatible ideologies. One possibility, perhaps the one feared the most within the EU ranks, is an alliance between the right-wing coalition and M5S. But although both sides share a common Euroskepticism, it is not clear that the populist grillistas would be amenable to enter into deals with the right. On the other hand, although the anti-establishment M5S had initially discarded the possibility of entering into conversations with any other party, its current leader, Luigi Di Maio, has moderated the movement’s anti-politics stance ever since the elections, and has asserted his party’s openness to negotiating with anyone willing to talk.

Salvinin - Di Maio

Salvini (left) and Di Maio (right). BBC

Another option would be an alliance between the populist M5S and the center-left Democratic Party (PD), which obtained a historically low share of the vote at 18.9%. The PD leadership, however, has already rejected the possibility of negotiating with the anti-establishment party, and has asserted its predisposition towards forming part of the opposition. Conversely, an alliance between the PD and the right wing coalition seems even more improbable, given the incompatibility between the center-left’s pro-European stance and the League’s anti-immigrant Euroskepticism. Indeed, the League’s platform is built around the rejection of the very multiculturalism and integration that the PD espouses, and that the EU has helped construct as part of an unprecedented period of peace and cooperation among European nations. In general, the anti-European, anti-liberal sentiment hailed by both the far-right and the populist anti-establishment threatens to undermine the substantial progress achieved ever since the end of the Second World War on the continent. As Yascha Mounk wrote in a recent piece for The Guardian, “the very fact that young people have so little idea of what it would mean to live in a system other than their own may make them willing to engage in political experimentation. Used to seeing and criticizing the (very real) injustices and hypocrisies of the system in which they grew up, many of them have mistakenly started to take its positive aspects for granted.” Italy’s elections bear witness the materialization of this troublesome reality.

Be that as it may, it is not altogether clear whether the recent electoral results will conduce to the formation of a new government, or whether new elections will have to be convened in the absence of a viable coalition. The ball is now in the court of President Sergio Mattarella, who is responsible for assigning the task of trying to form a government to one of the contending candidates, or, alternatively, to call for new elections if the situation so requires. For now, both Di Maio (M5S) and Salvini (League) have asserted their respective claims to be the chosen figure, and will likely be spending some time seeking the necessary supports to give further credence to those claims. Whether their efforts will be successful, only time can tell. But whatever the final outcome, it seems evident that the Italian political panorama, and the European one with it, will be likely to face significant struggles and uncertainties in the future to come, thus making a stand for the common European project on the part of those committed to it more important now than ever.

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/05/italy-turns-back-on-europe-as-election-points-to-hung-parliament

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/03/05/italys-election-is-another-blow-to-the-european-establishment/?utm_term=.2f6015d1a371

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/07/italy-election-result-deepens-refugees-deportation-fears

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/why-the-center-collapsed-in-italy-recession-austerity-and-immigration

https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2018/mar/05/italian-elections-2018-full-results-renzi-berlusconi

Siberian Winds Blast Europe

March 2, 2018
by

snow higway

This week, cold air sweeps into Europe from Siberia, hitting England, Scotland, and Wales with some especially harsh winter weather. While other parts of Europe are being hit, some of the most severe warnings are for the United Kingdom. Freezing temperatures reaching -15 degrees Celsius (5⁰F) accompanied by heavy snow and high winds has led to warnings being declared in London, all of Wales, and emergencies declared in parts of Scotland. The Met Office, UK’s national weather service, issue yellow, amber, and red warnings for snow. This week they issued a red warning in Scotland for the first time ever.

uk warn

The Met office classifies a yellow warning as having heavy snow, potential road delays, and few rural communities with no power. An amber warning is heavy frequent snow that creates long delays, possible cancellations in transportation with likely road blockage and long interruptions to power. A red warning consists of heavy snow or blizzard like conditions that block roads and can leave people stranded in vehicles. A red warning also consists of cancelled bus, rail and, air travel, with power cut off and possible life-threatening conditions. Scotland is expected to receive as much as twenty inches of snow with England and Wales getting around eight inches. The harsh weather has been referred to as the “beast from the east” or the “Siberian bear” by the Dutch and “snow cannon” by the Swedes. Thursday, March 1st, the “beast from the east” met with Storm Emma to cause these hazardous conditions.

snowfall cm

 

radar snowfall

 

The weather has disrupted all modes of transportation across the UK. Over two-hundred trains in England were cancelled on Monday, with a few reopening throughout the week. The Glasgow Airport is closed, as well as other flights being cancelled or grounded. Roads have been closed along with thousands of schools and businesses. Police have urged people not to drive.

 

london snow

 

glasgow air

 

The “beast from the east” has also hit Germany, Spain, and Italy. This has been Rome’s first snowfall in six years and Naples heaviest in decades. In Germany, temperatures reached negative thirty degrees Celsius (-22⁰F).

 

cars germany Cars covered in Germany

This European cold snap is linked to a recent meteorological event called a Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event. The warming created a breakdown of usually western winds and led to cold eastern winds coming from Siberia, which in turn influence the temperatures in Europe. Unusually warm weather in the Arctic has caused the polar vortex to split and cold winds that are usually kept in the artic have been pushed into Europe.

 

polar vortex

Emergency shelters have been opened to accommodate the homeless in these conditions. Police in Belgium are allowed to detain people overnight if they refuse to go to shelters. The known deaths due to the cold weather across Europe has risen to 48 since Friday, when the first weather related death, a 75-year old man who was found in a field after being missing for two days, was reported. Many of these deaths are elderly or homeless people. The International Federation of the Red Cross appealed to the public to check on at-risk neighbors to make sure they had everything they need.

The Red Cross has emergency teams running shelters, providing food, blankets, and medical treatment for thousands of people across Europe. In Belgium, they have put up heated tents to protect stranded motorists and people caught in the cold. In France, they are asking people to donate blankets. In Spain, Italy, Germany, and Hungary the volunteers are patrolling streets to provide hot drinks and food to homeless.

Despite danger and temperatures, many people have been enjoying the snow;

run in snow                                    A man gets some exercise in around the Colesuem despite conditions.

priest snow.jpg                                                                             A priest in Vatican square has a snowball fight.

toursits                                                                            Tourists at St. Basilica still find time to sightsee.

surfer                                                                            A man in Redcar still tries to catch some waves.

scot                                                                                                                                                    Scotland

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43221384

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43197637

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43190440

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-43198134

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-somerset-43199496

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43218229

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/02/28/world/europe/ap-eu-europe-weather.html

https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/beast-from-the-east-storm-emma-to-deliver-one-two-punch-of-snow-to-the-uk/70004290

https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/press-release/red-cross-urges-public-check-neighbours-plunging-temperatures-put-elderly-isolated-danger/

https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/cold-weather-impacts-europe-arctic-sees-high-temperatures