Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Hilton Head Island: excellent company; EINSTEIN AND THE BOMB; a memento; prepared

Douglas has been repairing a family home in Scotland that will soon go on the market.  He plans to build a small cabin somewhere in the Highlands where he will live a solitary life.  He wrote to me recently, “Doubtless this will be considered crazy, but I will consider myself to be in excellent company.”  I smile and wish him well.  I know that alone he will indeed be in excellent company in the monastery of the land.

Last evening I watched an unexpectedly good movie on Netflix, EINSTEIN AND THE BOMB,  In begins by stating that it is based on true events in Einstein’s life and that all the words are his own, either spoken or written during his life time.  Among those words are his declaring his distrust of authorities and later in his life stating that he has been punished for that by being made an authority himself.

As has been stated here before I am among those who unequivocally believe that the atomic bombs should have been dropped on Japan.  I have related that I have met over the years four men, two British, one Australian, one American, who told me that but for the atomic bombs they would not likely be alive.  All were in mid-1945 being redeployed for the invasion of the Japanese home islands.  The willingness of the Japanese to die to the last man had been proven at Iwo Jima and Okinawa and many other places.  The estimated Allied casualties of the invasion of Japan was one million.  Many, many more Japanese would have died.  Only the atomic bombs enabled the Japanese to surrender without being obliterated.

The parts of the film about Hitler and the rise of Nazism and persecution of the Jews reminded me of a man I met many years ago.

He must have been born about 1930 in Hamburg, Germany.  In his early teens he was a member of the Hitler Youth.  That in itself does not mean much.  Membership was essentially mandatory.  Physically he was the image of the Nazi ideal.  Blood.  Blue eyed.  Handsome. Unfortunately he was small.  Less than average height.  Hardly an imposing member of the master race.

In 1945 while still a teenager he was among those too young and too old called into the army in Hitler’s last desperate and hopeless attempt to avoid defeat, which had been inevitable, unless the Germans developed the atomic bomb or some similar weapon before the Allies did, since Stalingrad and Kursk.  He survived a few weeks of combat and after Hitler’s suicide and Germany’s unconditional surrender walked I know not how many miles back to his family in Hamburg.

He studied and became a doctor of medicine and then, perhaps surprisingly, immigrated to the United States, one of the enemies against which he had fought, and had a successful medical career in Florida.

Hitler’s private yacht was confiscated at the end of the war and somehow ended up near Jacksonville, Florida.  From this photo of a sister ship, she was an elegant 85’ yawl, the OSTWIND.

I would have expected Hitler to have a huge power boat.  It is said that he was only on the OSTWIND a few times.

I met the man of whom I am writing on his own sailboat.  During our conversation he pointed at a small finely crafted wooden jewelry box beside the chart table and told me with pride that he had it made from wood taken from Hitler’s private yacht.

That is all there is to the story.  I find it strange.

I biked to a supermarket and liquor store this morning and then down to GANNET where I fit the Evo on the stern.  It started as it should and always has.  I tested a tiller pilot.  Moved the anchor and rode to under the forward hatch.  Tightened lifelines.  GANNET is ready to go sailing, but there is flat calm.  Skull Creek is glassy.  

Tomorrow I will go down to the little boat and take her from the dock, unless as is unlikely conditions prohibit that, and try to sail.  If there is no wind I will power slowly and anchor somewhere for the night.  I had planned to sail for a week or so in January, but COVID intervened.  I fly to Chicago a week from tomorrow.  This is my last chance for a while.

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