1st volume, no. 18

For the introduction

In the first poem of this edition, Curt Bloch comments on his clandestine publishing work. He emphasizes that the Underwater Cabaret, which must under no circumstances fall into the wrong hands, will reflect the situation uncensored. No other newspaper in the Netherlands can offer its subscribers this freedom, even if the readership may be very small. As soon as peace finally comes, “The OWC immediately disappears.”

During a bombing raid on Berlin on November 23, 1943, the zoo was also hit, resulting in the death of numerous animals. Curt Bloch reports on this but misses the casualty figures for the city’s residents – “About this, one remains silent in fear.” Overall, the news is unsatisfying to him. Bloch finds it “a shame that the most dangerous beast remained unharmed.” This undoubtedly refers to Adolf Hitler.

The German leadership responds to the air raids by the British Air Force with furious threats of revenge. Curt Bloch wonders how this revenge could be carried out in practice: through an invisible miraculous airplane, an atomic bomb, deadly rays from a secret transmitter, life-threatening bacteria, or gassing? He regards the “Revenge Symphony” as a deceit and a fantasy designed to prolong the war.

From November 28 to December 1, 1943, the first conference of the government leaders of the three major Allies took place in Tehran. Participants included Franklin D. Roosevelt (USA), Winston Churchill (United Kingdom), and Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union), along with their military advisers. In his poem, Curt Bloch notes that Roosevelt and Churchill had to travel a very long way to reach Tehran, unlike Stalin. Bloch has the British Prime Minister ask why this remote location was chosen for the conference. Stalin’s response is that it was time for the Western Allies to accommodate him.

The photo of a decorated Wehrmacht soldier in the newspaper inspires Curt Bloch to create a Portrait of a Knight’s Cross Bearer. He describes him as a “bastard” – callous, bloodthirsty and devious – whose path leads over corpses. Such a wretched individual, Bloch concludes with reference to the Middle Ages, is indeed suited to bear the Knight’s Cross.