Sunday, January 15, 2017

Léon Bollack and His Forgotten Project



Fiat Lingua

Chapman, H. S. 2010. "Léon Bollack and His
Forgotten Project." FL-000002-00,

Léon Bollack and His Forgotten Project
Léon Bollack (1859 – 1925), creator of a language project designed to compete with Esperanto, was born in the same year as Dr L.L. Zamenhof, but, whilst there are some similarities, in many ways there are stark contrasts between the two men. There have been numerous biographies of Zamenhof in a large number of languages, and in 2009 there were celebrations, lectures, conferences of all sorts to celebrate 150 years since the birth of thefounder of Esperanto, a number of books following on from Korĵenkov’s history of Esperanto (2005), offering a more critical view of Zamenhof’s life and his role in the Esperanto movement; in stark contrast the 150 years since the birth of Bollack went completely unnoticed.
Wikipedia in all its different language versions provides no information at all about Léon Bollack apart from the publication of the language which bore his name. Bollack was born in1859, but little has been known about him apart from his published work, and even that has not all been recorded. “No biographical material is available, and the authors have been unable to ascertain the year of his death” (“Blue-sky thinking?: Léon Bollack and ...” Hornsby, David; Jones, Mari C., 2006,Language Problems & Language Planning, Volume 30, Number 3, 2006 , pp. 215-38). Wikipedia (January 2010) speculated wrongly that he died
during the First World War. In fact, he died on 23 September 1925. He lived for most of his adult life at 147 Avenue Malakoff, Paris, an address which appears on his publications.
Léon Bollack was born into a Jewish family in Paris on 4 May 1859, the son of Hermann Bollack and of Rachel Léon Amélie Picard, daughter of Alphonse Mayer and Sara Lucie Lévy. His father was from Kreuznach in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, where the family name had been present for centuries. His wife was from a Portuguese family with roots in the Netherlands too (information from Andre Convers) and his father-in-law was founder of the Synagogue in rue Buffault. A plaque in this synagogue built by Sepharadic Jews commemorates Hillel, whom Zamenhof admired, amongst others. Bollack’s Jewish roots received no attention at the time just as Zamenhof’s Jewishness was systematically and consciously not mentioned by the French pioneers of Esperanto. Indeed, the French organizers of the first Esperanto Congress in 1905 went to great lengths to obscure Zamenhof’s Jewishness, and the result was noted—with evident pride—by Zamenhof’s close Jewish associate, the oculist Emile Javal: “Of 700 articles in the press, only one mentioned Zamenhof’s Jewishness.” In contrast, Léon Bollack was “outed” as a Freemason in a 1911,work by people who saw Freemasonry as a dangerous enemy within France.
Léon and Amelie had three children: a son, Lucien Armand Bollack
(1892 – 1963), who became an engineer who died in Nice, and daughters Fanny Louise Bollack (1898 – 1958), and Léontine Rachel Alice who died in 1969. They share the family grave in the Jewish part of Montmartre cemetery, Paris. Léon dedicated his first book in his planned language in 1899 to his beloved children, Alice, 8½, Lucien, 7, and Louise, 15 months. Lucien went on to become an inventor whose “radioelectric control device” was accorded a U.S. patent in 1940.
In light of Bollack’s oft-cited proverb in his constructed language, “Ate manu seri reru” (All men are brothers), it is particularly poignant that his niece Suzanne Léontine Vorms, née Bollack, was deported from Paris in 1944 and died with her husband and son in Auschwitz during the Second World War.
It is not known how Léon Bollack made the fortune which he was to invest in his planned language. It may have been as a result of property development by his father. He was a near neighbour of Alfred Nobel (the Nobel of dynamite and Nobel Prize fame) in the Avenue Malakoff, a fashionable quarter near the Arc de Triomphe and Bois-de-Boulogne.
First presented to the world in an 1899 work entitled simply “La Langue Bleue – Bolak”, Bollack’s Blue Language (which mixed a posteriori and a priori elements) emerged at a time of great enthusiasm for artificial languages. The last quarter of the nineteenth century had seen a number of competing proposals, and campaigns in support of Volapük (invented in 1880, by Johann Martin Schleyer), and shortly afterwards Esperanto (first published in 1887, by Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof), had already enjoyed a measure of success.Between 1899 and 1902 a series of publications were published on La Langue Bleue:
‣Grammaire abrégée de la langue bleue (1900)
‣Méthode et vocabulaire de la langue bleue, Bolak: langue internationale pratique (1900)
‣Premier vocabulaire de la langue bleue Bolak(1902)
‣Textes français traduits dans la langue bleue — Bolak — langue internationale pratique (1902)
‣Vers la langue internationale(1902)
 The Grammaire Abrégée was even translated into English (1900) and

into German (1900),and translations were produced in Spanish (1900) as
Gramática abreviada de la Lengua Azul "Bolak", lengua internacional práctica / Léon Bollack ; adaptada para el uso de los españoles y los hispano-americanosand in Italian,Grammatica della Lingua Azzurra per il
Professor M. Lanzani. It appears in German as Kurze Grammatik der Blauen Sprache von A. L. Picard, licencie es-lettres. Drezen (1991, p.208) mentions a Czech edition, but any bibliographical details of this Czech version cannot be traced if it existed.These publications represent a tremendous effort and expense. Although they all bore a cover price, there is no evidence that a single one was sold or that Bollack gained a single adherent. Langue Bleue or Bolak was entering a crowded field, as we have seen, and required a major campaign of promotion if it were to compete with Zamenhof’s creation in particular. Bollack needed to convince the public both of the need for his language and of the soundness of the principles on which it had been created.
He wrote, without excess of modesty, “Je crois avoir obtenu un perfectionnement dans la création d’un langage international” (1899:viii).
(I think I have achieved perfection in the creation of an international language).
Bollack was resourceful and lacking in financial constraints when it came to propagating his new creation. Firstly, he approached the Société Linguistique de Paris in 1899, but they declared themselves incompetent to make a decision on what the international language should be (Bulletin de La Société de Linguistique, Séance du 18 Novembre 1899). Because money was not a problem, he sent out a blizzard of his materials to notable and influentialfigures, beginning in 1899. An article ostensibly about the future evolution of the French language entitled “La Langue Française en l'an 2003”, but in reality about the qualities of a planned language, also caught the attention of H.G.Wells who mentioned it and Bolak in a footnote to his A Modern Utopia (1905:14).
Some of the feedback he received appeared in a publication called
Langage Extranational Pratique in 1904. Detailed reading of those responses reveals the courteous thanks traditional in that age, but many comments can be seen as little more than acknowledgement of receipt.
The quotations which follow are the author’s translations from the French.
Pierre Émile Levasseur (1828 – 1911), an eminent French economist,
said that “the method suggested has been judged worthy of attention by a certain number of competent people.” Jacques Novicow of Odessa, a writer on sociology, said “The idea of fixing the meaning of a word according to its appearance seems very ingenious to me.” M. G. Dottin, a Celticist, grammarian, and Professor at the University of Rennes, wrote “I
should like to congratulate you on the ingenuity and the simplicity of your system.” Verner von Heidenstam (1859 - 1940), a Swedish poet and novelist, added “I thank you a thousand times for sending your extraordinarily interesting work”.
Otto Donner was a professor of Sanskrit and comparative linguistics at the University of Helsinki and founder of the Finno-Ugric Society (a nationalistic organization for studying the languages, ethnology, and history of Finno-Ugric peoples) wrote, “The rigour with which you have undertaken your system seems to me to be its most characteristic feature compared to previous attempts.” 
Elib Reclus, an ethnologist in Brussels, wrote “You have persuaded me of the practicability of an international language.”
Bollack went on to cite the opinion of Raoul de la Grasserie, a sociologist who had written in a monograph on the essential principles of an international auxiliary language: “One of the essential principles is not to seek to obtain linguistic perfection.” Curiously Raoul de la Grasserie went on to prepare his own international language called Spokil and presented it in direct competition to Bolak in 1907, as we shall see. Raoul de la Grasserie was also the author of Apolema / Langue Pacifiste published in 1907. One M. J. de Hoon of Ghent, Belgium, opined that “It is incontestable that Bolak has great advantages over all the systems of artificial languages and in particular over Esperanto.”
Dr Moreau, a lecturer in medicine in Algiers, also made a direct comparison with Esperanto: “Today it’s Esperanto which seems to be in vogue. Why? Is it because of its perfection? It seems to me very inferior to the Langue Bleue.” 
Bollack gained support too from co-religionist C. T. Strauss of New York. In Chicago in 1893, Strauss became the first U.S. citizen formally to convert to Buddhism in the United States. He was also a pioneer vegetarian. Despite his apparent commitment to Bolak, he transferred his loyalty to Ido and later went on to edit an early Buddhist tract in Ido:
Buddho e sua Doktrino (redaktita da C.T. Strauss), (Zürich: Ido-Verlag, 51pp). C. T. Strauss wrote, “I was excited by the question of the international language! More than twenty years ago I received from the author of Volapuk the title of ‘Volapukatidel’ (Teacher of Volapuk); having
discovered the errors of that system, I became a partisan of Spelin, for which I published a short grammar in New York, and I have got to know Bolak which has been published since. I consider your method superior to all the others, although it is not completely perfect, but it could be made perfect.”
Greek scholar d'O. Knuth, in Berlin, a former member of the Volapuk academy, wrote: “If you want to know my judgement on your grammatical proposals, I will tell you only this: the projects of Schleyer (Volapuk) and Samenhoff (Esperanto) were fine inventions, but the Blue Language is superior to them in its simplicity and logic. it is only the vocabulary which
seems rather defective here and there ...Idiom Neutral, a sort of Volapuk has been sent to me, but I prefer your system. Ex-Volapukists were the most favourable on the whole.
Bollack had clearly selected the most favourable opinions he could, but even here there is some damning with faint praise. Significant by its absence is any commitment to actually learn and use this new tongue.
Bollack had not been well served by his translator into English. The British Medical Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2145 (Feb. 8, 1902), pp. 346-347 seems to be mocking the unusual, unnatural English of Bollack’s book in its translation by a Professor Tischer. “Strange English! It is indeed obvious to understand that this facility of comprehension between persons of different nationalities will forcibly raise a Holy Communion of thoughts and of pacification among peoples dealing together. Therefore all those who foresee that many causes of dissent may be thus driven away, all those who wish heartily the universal pacification of minds, all those who think of a better future for mankind, cannot do otherwise than sympathize with this purpose of concord. Giving their hearty cooperation to the author, all men animated by these generous thoughts will surely contribute to the universal peace and harmony ad Majorem humanitatis gloriam. Forward to the Fraternity, through the international idiom, through the language colour of heavens, through the Blue Language!”
The Delegation for the Adoption of an International Auxiliary Language (French: Délégationpour l'Adoption d'une Langue Auxiliaire Internationale) was a body of academics convened in the early part of the twentieth century to decide on the issue of the which international
auxiliary language should be chosen for international use. In June 1907, the Delegation convened and refused to decide the ultimate issue, but rather, at the insistence of Louis Couturat, created a committee to make the decision.The inventors of language systems had been invited to attend either in person or by representative to defend their systems. This offer was taken up by Dr. Nicolas (Spokil), Mr. Spitzer (Parla) and Mr. Bollack (La Langue Bleue); moreover Dr. Zamenhof was represented by Mr. de Beaufront, who had been propagating Esperanto for many years; and almost as representative of Idiom Neutral came Mr. Monseur,
professor of comparative philology in Brussels. The ultimate decision of the committee charged by the Delegation was to adopt the Esperanto language, but with certain reforms. The result became a distinct language known as Ido in 1907.
Despite the attention of Wells and money invested by Bollack, the blue language Bolak gained no adherents, and Monsieur Bollack went on to support Ido, according to Otto Jespersen, writing in 1912 in "The History of our Language". 
Bollack was not modest about his achievement or in his aims:
“Le vœu ardent de l’auteur est que sa méthode soit choisie pour réaliser le rêve de l’humanité soucieuse de concorde ; et c’est pourquoi il a donné à son oeuvre le nom de la couleur même du firmament” (Bollack, L. 1900.
Grammaire abrégée de la langue bleue. Paris: Editions de
la Langue Bleue). The English version of this appears as: “The fondest wish of the author is that his method may be chosen in order to realize the dream of humanity anxious for concord; and therefore he has given to his work the name of the very colour of the firmament.” It is no
tribute to his modesty that he wrote “The simplified name of the author will be the denomination of the Blue Language in the new idiom.”
Bollack had wide social and political interests. He was also concerned to combat chauvinist attitudes in his own country, France, towards Germany, his father’s home country. He published a 64 page pamphlet arguing against the return of Alsace and Lorraine to France – hardly a popular view. It should also be remembered that he was a member of an international diaspora. His pamphlets, particularly the political ones, on the way the world is organised are the logical, philosophical, and political corollary of creating or advocating an international language. He
certainly reflected the times he lived in, by referring to “civilised peoples”. We know that Bollack’s interests were not limited to the linguistic. We know that he argued the case for a universal currency: “La monnaie internationale” (La Revue, June 15, 1911). He produced a booklet on the humane use of feathers: (L'emploi rationnel de la plume des oiseaux sauvages: Réglementation, oui; prohibition, non..Publ. du. Comite d’Ornithologie Economique, 1914.). He argued for world federation (Vers La Fédération Mondiale) in Revue "Les Documents Du Progres " - Revue Internationale. He wrote against war: Comment tuer la guerre - La loi mondiale de boycottage douanier. Rapport présenté à la Commission juridique du XIXe Congrès universel de la paix (Genève, septembre 1912) sur les sanctions économiques. He had some daring thoughts such as a five-day work week including a one-day weekend.
 
We know from shipping records that Bollack went to the United States of America in 1910. Strangely, Zamenhof went to the USA in that very same year. In America Bollack delivered a series of lectures on international conciliation at Leland Stanford Junior University. The printed version of the syllabus of lectures, published by The World Peace Foundation, Boston, in 1912 lists Bollack among the “leading workers for peace”, alongside David Lloyd-George: Chancellor of the Exchequer, London, and J. Ramsey Macdonald, MP, London.
There are some striking similarities between the contemporaries Zamenhof and Bollack. Both had a plurilingual background. Both were Jews, although it is striking that in none of  Bollack's works is his Jewish identity mentioned. Zamenhof was open about his ethnicity, but supporters of the language in France were cautious about it, perhaps because of the sensitivity of the Dreyfus case which had caused great divisions in France.
Clear differences also relate to money. While Bollack had no financial worries at all, Zamenhof faced financial crises on a number of occasions. Indeed, he was only able to print his first booklet in 1887 thanks to the dowry he received when he married Klara Silbernik. Idealism lay behind Zamenhof's language creation. His vision for a better world was explicit
in homaranismo, hilelismo and in the language's internal idea. Bollack too had a sense of idealism which was in a more rationalist, less mystical tradition. Zamenhof also spoke of the“internal idea” of Esperanto, of the notion that the ideal of Esperanto contained a set of core beliefs or values.
The views of the two men on poetry were very different. Bollack saw no value at all in poetry in a planned language, whereas Zamenhof used poetic imagery to both shape and convey his view of Esperanto’s role.
The greatest difference, perhaps, lay in the characters of the two men. Bollack claimed perfection for his project; Zamenhof did not.

Sunday, July 17, 2016



Pioneers of Esperanto in Plymouth

Esperanto was first published in 1887 by an idealistic Polish man, Dr Zamenhof (1859-1917) and its first adepts lived in the then Russian Empire, but it began to gain adherents in Great Britain from about 1900 onwards. 1917 will see the 130th anniversary of the language and a century since the death of its founder.

The names and addresses of early speakers of Esperanto in Plymouth, with their registration numbers are as follows in the Adresaro de Esperantistoj (collection of addresses of Esperantists) of January 1902 to January 1903 (Series XXIII) to January 1908 to January 1909 (Series XXVII). All of the following are listed in Plymouth, Anglujo, i.e. England. Each individual is ascribed a unique number, which I do not reproduce here. Indeed, early users of the language frequently signed articles with that number alone, knowing that anyone wanting to contact them could easily find their address in the published Adresaro.

Here are the names of those Plymouth pioneers of over a century ago:

Hirste HAYWOOD, 57 Connaught Avenue
Fraŭlino (=Miss) Marjorie Hirste HAYWOOD, 57 Connaught Avenue, Mannamead
(Serio XXIII (1902-01-14 to 1903-01-14)

Lilian HOLT, 13 Connaught Avenue, Mutley
Mrs Lilian HOLT 6. Barton Crescent, Mannamead
Miss A. L. HOLT 13, Connaught Avenue, Mutley - a curious double listing, perhaps
(Serio XXIV, 1903-01-14 to 1904-01-01)

Bennett M. BANKS, 4 Beaumont Road
F. J. UNDERHILL, 18 Seaton Ave.
J. N. HEARN, A. C. P., Lipson road, 53 Chaddlewood Ave.
Rev. W. E. WADDINGTON, Pennycross Vicarage
Master C. AKASTER, 31 Connaught Ave. Mutley
(Serio XXV 1904-01-01 to 1905-01-01)

F. JACOBS, 7 Endsleigh Place
EDGAR R. WILLIAMS,1 Citadel Terrace, The Hoe, Staffa House
W. F. FORD.9, Whimple St.  
L. DOUGLAS LEONARD, 4 Whiteford Road, Mannamead
R. W. LEONARD.  4, Whiteford Road, Mannamead
W. P. TERVET, Waverley, 106 South View Terrace, Beaumont Road
Joseph HAWKYARD, Near Plymouth, 16, Norman Ave., Stoke  
S-ino (=Mrs) A. E. TILBY, 6 Windsor Crescent Mannamead
S-ino (=Mrs) C. H. HEATH, 48 Whiteford Rd. Mannamead
L. ISAACSON, 1 Milbay House, Citadel Rd.
S-ino (=Mrs) A. B. SEARLE, 10 Hill Park Crescent
(Serio XXVI, 1905-01-01 to 1906-01-01)

Vernon T. PEDLAR, 24 Edgcumbe St, East Stonehouse
F-ino (=Miss) Alice GARD, 1 Townsend Villas, Mannamead  
F-ino  (=Miss) J. R. MacCARTHY, 13 Tothill Avenue
(Serio XXVII, 1906-01-01 to 1907-01-01)


Wm. E. STITSON, 9 Federation Rd, Laira
(Serio XXIX, 1908-01-01 to 1909-01-01)

After about 1908, there was no longer any need to ‘sign up’ to Esperanto, and text books about Esperanto in a variety of languages, including English, were becoming more common. An increasingly large number of magazines catered for users of the language seeking contacts in other countries.

Not much is known to me about many of those listed. A striking exception is Cedric H. Akaster (1893 – 1970) who advertised for Esperanto penfriends in the February 1905 magazine The British Esperantist. Cedric Akaster was a son of a solicitor and is bdescribed as a law student in 1911. He was also a musician who went on to compose military marches.

Joseph Hirste Haywood (born about 1858 in Calcutta, died in 1940) can claim the title as the first Esperantist in Plymouth. In the 1901 census he was serving as a Church of England clergyman. Marjorie his daughter (born about 1889) also took up the study of Dr Zamenhof’s planned language.

Bennett Maxwell Banks (1882-1954) was the son of a shipbuilder. In the 1901 census he is an assistant to a wholesale tea merchant, but ten years later he was a theological student, before becoming an Anglican clergyman.

Alice B. Searle was 38 years old in 1901 according to that year’s census. She is described as having her own means. Perhaps the D. Searle mentioned later is her son Donald.

Alice Gard (born 1875 in Witheridge, Devon) married an Albert Ernest Green in 1903, but I cannot be sure that this was the same Alice Gard who learned the language some time in 1906. William Ernest Stitson was born in Plymouth in 1874, and died in the city in 1949. He was a schoolteacher.

Vernon Trevail Pedlar was born in 1883 and died in Plymouth in 1948. He is described in the 1911 census as an “elementary school teacher”.

William Peirson Tervet (1879 – 1948), of Scottish origins, was the Gas Engineer for Devonport Borough Council in 1914. Devonport today is just a district within the City of Plymouth but until 1914 it was a town in itself.

Joseph Hawkyard was born in Yorkshire and at the time of the 1911 census was working as a ship fitter (mechanical) at the government dockyard.

Rev. William Edward Waddington M.A. was vicar of Weston Peverel in 1902, according to Kelly's directory of Devon, 1902.

Edgar R Williams was 14 at the time of the 1901 census.

Compared with the founders of the Keighley Esperanto Society in Yorkshire in 1902, the pioneers of Esperanto in Plymouth were much more middle class. They include three Anglican clergymen, schoolteachers and professional men as well as students. Men greatly outnumbered the women.

Clearly those interested in the language, although spread over the city, came together from time to time. According to the inside cover (p.ii) of The British Esperantist magazine for 1905an Esperanto Society in Plymouth had been founded in March 1903. Its Secretary is given as Mr Grindley of 22 Gifford Place, Plymouth, and the President is listed as J. Thill Esq.. The latter wrote a bilingual Esperanto – English text in the very first issue of The British Esperantist magazine and in some subsequent issues. J.A. Thill became a Fellow of the British Esperanto Association in August 1905.

The same magazine reported in March 1905 that a Plymouth Esperanto Group met every Monday at 6.30 pm at Mr Thill’s house and at 8.30 pm every Thursday at the Ruskin Institute, Regent Street. In the April magazine, we learn that the group consists of three separate classes and a number of isolated individuals. A meeting was planned for the 27th of April 1905 at the Borough Arms Coffee House, Bedford Street. According to the May magazine, the meeting was chaired by Dr T.G. Vawdrey, and it was decided thatr the Three Towns, Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse should form one group and affiliate to the national association. The December 1905 magazine lists people offering tuition in Plymouth free of charge as follows:  Mr J. Hawkyard, St George’s Hiuse, Devonport, Mr C. Lee, YMCA, Devonport, Mr D. Searle, 10 Hillpark Crescent, Miss L. Holt and Mr J. Thill.

The June 1905 magazine mentions a Mr Gordon Lee who had printed and bound the rules of the Society at his own expense. A Mr Llewelyn is also mentioned. The September-October edition mentions Mr Hawkyard in the chair. Mr Thill was one of the 688 individuals who attended the very first World Esperanto Congress in Boulogne in the summer of 1905. A Mr A.C. Body of 34 Greenbank Avenue, Plymouth advertised for penfriends overseas in an early magazine.


One wonders what happened to Esperanto in Plymouth the dates given here. I have been told that a group continued to meet there. Are there early minute books of its activities in existence? Did any of these enthusiasts pass on letters or postcards in the language to later generations?

Acknowledgement. I am grateful to my wife Patricia for her help in tracing some of the individuals involved.





Thursday, January 7, 2016

A surprising historical postcard

A Liverpool woman who learned Esperanto prior to the First World War and corresponded with a Japanese scientist in Esperanto was the recipient of this postcard. Catherine Jenkins (1882 – 1975) was born and brought up the Walton area of Liverpool. She was present at the flowering of Esperanto in Liverpool from about 1904 on. She became sufficiently competent to pass the Advanced Examination of the British Esperanto Association in 1914, becoming a Fellow of BEA in May of that year. She emigrated to the United States of America, dying in St Petersburg, Florida in 1975.

This card was send to her by Wasaburo Oishi (Ōishi Wasaburō) (1874 - 1950), a Japanese meteorologist who became best known for his discovery of the high-altitude air currents now known as the jet stream. He was also an important Esperantist, serving as President of the Japan Esperanto Institute from 1930 to 1945. It was Oishi who wrote the first official report from Japan's Aerological Observatory (written in 1926 in Esperanto).  In this report, data was stratified by season and used to produce the mean seasonal wind profiles. The profile for winter gave the first known evidence of the persistent strong westerlies over Japan that would later become known as the jet stream. Nineteen reports were published between 1926 and 1944, all of them written in Esperanto.

Wasaburo Oishi's studies on the jet stream enabled Japan to attack the United States, Catherine Jenkins’s new homeland,  during World War II with at least 9,000 incendiary bombs carried by stratospheric balloons.




Surpriza poŝtkarto historia

Estis granda surprizo por mi trovi en aǔkcio la poŝtkarton kiun vi vidas ĉi-tie.

Virino en la angla urbo Liverpool kiu lernis Esperanton antaŭ la Unua Mondmilito kaj korespondis kun japana sciencisto en Esperanto estis la ricevinto de ĉi tiu poŝtkarto. Catherine Jenkins (1882 - 1975) naskIĝis en Walton,  kvartalo de Liverpool. Ŝi ĉeestis  la ekfloradon de Esperanto en Liverpool ekde proksimume 1904. Ŝi fariĝis sufiĉe kompetenta por sukcese pasi la Altnivelan Ekzamenon de Brita Esperantista Asocio en 1914, iĝante Fratulo de BEA en majo de tiu jaro. Ŝi elmigris al Usono kaj forpasis en St Petersburg, Florido en 1975.

La sendinto OISHI Wasaburo (ōiŝi ŭasaburō) (1874 - 1950), estis japana esperantisto kaj meteologo, direktoro de Aerologia Observatorio de Tateno. Ĉefdirektoro kaj iam prezidanto de de Japana Esperanto-Instituto. Li estis Esperantisto de 1910 kaj rolis kiel komitatano de la faka asocio pr sciencistoj  ISAE. Li eldonis dikan, grandformatan (30x22 cm.) nur Esperante Raporton de la Aerologia Observatorio de Tateno, No. 1 1926—No 6. (1931), entute 1246 paĝojn. Li ja estis kuraĝa Esperanto-pioniro sur scienca kampo. Oishi Wasaburo estis la unua en la mondo kiu science esploris, de 1923 ĝis 1925, la jetfluojn. Pri tio li redaktis raporton en Esperanto prefere ol en la japana por diskonigi tutmonde tiun atmosferan fenomenon.

La studoj de Oishi Wasaburo pri la jetofluo ebligis al Japanio ataki la novan hejmlandon de Catherine Jenkins dum la Dua Mondmilito per almenaŭ 9,000 incendiaj  bomboj portitaj fare de stratosferaj balonoj.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Esperanto and the incendiary bombs



A surprising historical postcard

A Liverpool woman who learned Esperanto prior to the First World War and corresponded with a Japanese scientist in Esperanto was the recipient of this postcard. Catherine Jenkins (1882 – 1975) was born and brought up in the Walton area of Liverpool. She was present at the flowering of Esperanto in Liverpool from about 1904 on. She became sufficiently competent to pass the Advanced Examination of the British Esperanto Association in 1914, becoming a Fellow of BEA in May of that year. She emigrated to the United States of America, dying in St Petersburg, Florida in 1975.

This card was send to her by Wasaburo Oishi (Ōishi Wasaburō) (1874 - 1950), a Japanese meteorologist who became best known for his discovery of the high-altitude air currents now known as the jet stream. He was also an important Esperantist, serving as President of the Japan Esperanto Institute from 1930 to 1945. It was Oishi who wrote the first official report from Japan's Aerological Observatory (written in 1926 in Esperanto).  In this report, data was stratified by season and used to produce the mean seasonal wind profiles. The profile for winter gave the first known evidence of the persistent strong westerlies over Japan that would later become known as the jet stream. Nineteen reports were published between 1926 and 1944, all of them written in Esperanto.

Wasaburo Oishi's studies on the jet stream enabled Japan to attack the United States, Catherine Jenkins’s new homeland,  during World War II with at least 9,000 incendiary bombs carried by stratospheric balloons.




Surpriza poŝtkarto historia

Estis granda surprizo por mi trovi en aǔkcio la poŝtkarton kiun vi vidas ĉi-tie.
Virino en la angla urbo Liverpool kiu lernis Esperanton antaŭ la Unua Mondmilito kaj korespondis kun japana sciencisto en Esperanto estis la ricevinto de ĉi tiu poŝtkarto. Catherine Jenkins (1882 - 1975) naskIĝis en  Walton,  kvartalo de Liverpool. Ŝi ĉeestis  la ekfloradon de Esperanto en Liverpool ekde proksimume 1904. Ŝi fariĝis sufiĉe kompetenta por sukcese pasi la Altnivelan Ekzamenon de Brita Esperantista Asocio en 1914, iĝante Fratulo de BEA en majo de tiu jaro. Ŝi elmigris al Usono kaj forpasis en St Petersburg, Florido en 1975.

La sendinto OISHI Wasaburo (ōiŝi ŭasaburō) (1874 - 1950), estis japana esperantisto kaj meteologo, direktoro de Aerologia Observatorio de Tateno. Ĉefdirektoro kaj iam prezidanto de de Japana Esperanto-Instituto. Li estis Esperantisto de 1910 kaj rolis kiel komitatano de la faka asocio pr sciencistoj  ISAE. Li eldonis dikan, grandformatan (30x22 cm.) nur Esperante Raporton de la Aerologia Observatorio de Tateno, No. 1 1926—No 6. (1931), entute 1246 paĝojn. Li ja estis kuraĝa Esperanto-pioniro sur scienca kampo. Oishi Wasaburo estis la unua en la mondo kiu science esploris, de 1923 ĝis 1925, la jetfluojn. Pri tio li redaktis raporton en Esperanto prefere ol en la japana por diskonigi tutmonde tiun atmosferan fenomenon. 

La studoj de Oishi Wasaburo pri la jetofluo ebligis al Japanio ataki la novan hejmlandon de Catherine Jenkins dum la Dua Mondmilito per almenaŭ 9,000 incendiaj  bomboj portitaj fare de stratosferaj balonoj.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015



Hitler and Esperanto on Prague postcard

I’m one of those people who prefers the handwritten text on postcards rather than the picture side. I have spent many happy hours over the decades at car boot sales and at postcard fairs looking for cards in or about the planned language Esperanto.

It was a big surprise for me to find in an internet auction website the postcard that you see here. I immediately bought it, amazed that such a postcard in Esperanto could circulate in 1943. I am grateful to Marek Blahuš in the Czech Republic who kindly commented on the card for me. He translated the target address as follows:
Mr. Václav [= Wenceslaus] Rotbart, President of the Fire Brigade Insurance Company and meritorious Esperantist, leader of the [local] fire department, Prague-XIII, [street] Madridská [= Madrid] [No.] 26.

The postcard bears the non-postal stamp of "Klub malostranských esperantistů v Praze" ie " Esperanto  Club of of Malá Strana (central district) in Prague. Marek Blahuš was rather surprised that this hand-stamp is not bilingual in Czech and German, that he thought would compulsory for such a late year of the Second World War in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the protectorate which Nazi Germany established in the central parts of Bohemia (compare with the franking). However, there may be no German included  because it was not an official document, or because it was produced before the Germans invaded and established their protectorate in  March 1939.
German rule was relatively moderate during the first months of the occupation, but the Nazi regime became harsher for residents  as time went on. In June 1942, SS hardliner Reinhard Heydrich died after being wounded by an assassin, resulting in reprisals. The protectorate's existence came to an end with the surrender of Germany to the Allies in 1945.

It is clear that the author wrote his text on top of the hand stamp, i.e it was already there before the message was written. This Esperanto club had published its own postcards at one time but this is not one of those.

Considering that it was posted within Prague (according to both the handstamp  and the recipient), the sender may have been a Czech, because Blahuš notes the absence of the definite article in the Esperanto text in places where it could be used – suggesting that the sender was  a member of the Esperanto club in Malá Strana.

 Neither I nor Blahuš  can decipher he signature of the sender, and it does not look much like a Czech name.

The recipient Vaclav Rotbart has a Czech given name, but a German surname - not rare to this day in the Czech Republic, but we cannnot conclude anything about whether Rotbart was German or Czech. We do know that Rotbart is now a very rare name. Blahuš found a rare mention of Václav Rotbart in a list of graduates from a business school in the Prague district, where Václav Rotbart graduated in the school year 1918/1919. This suggests that he was born around the year 1900.
The mystery to me is why in 1943 a postcard in Esperanto with clear references to Esperanto could simultaneously carry a stamp with a picture of Adolf Hitler, who hated it so much. I am unable to say whether the fact that Hitler’s image appears sideways has any significance.

In Nazi Germany, Esperanto was persecuted well before the war, because Dr Zamenhof was Jewish, and because of  the internationalist nature of Esperanto, which was perceived as "Bolshevist".  In his infamous work, Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler specifically mentioned Esperanto as an example of a language that could be used by an international Jewish conspiracy once they achieved world domination. Treatment of the language and its speakers varied from one occupied country to another. The British scholar Forster recalls that “there was no systematic prohibition of Esperanto in France” in The Esperanto Movement (1982), page 222. In Denmark there was even some publishing in Esperanto during the war. This is the first evidence I have seen of the survival of Esperanto in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during World War Two.




Hitler kaj Esperanto sur poŝtkarto el Prago

Preter ia dubo la grandega verko "Historio de la esperanta literaturo" (Kooperativo de Literatura Foiro. La Chaux-de-Fonds. 2015), fare de prof. Carlo Minnaja kaj Giorgio Silfer stimulos multajn homojn al legado kaj relegado de niaj literaturaj trezoroj. En la libro ankaǔ abundas informoj pri la historio pli ĝenerale de nia lingva komunumo. Je p. 105 de la  nova verko la aǔtoroj memorigas nin pri « la plej drastaj persekutoj kontraǔ nia lingvo kaj ĝia parolkumunumo » antaǔ kaj dum la dua mondmilito.

Estis granda surprizo por mi trovi en aǔkcia retejo la poŝtkarton kiun vi vidas ĉi-tie. Vidinte ĝin mi tuj aĉetis ĝin, mirante ke poŝtkarto tia povus cirkuli en 1943 . Mi tre dankas al Marek Blahuš en Ĉeĥio kiu bonvolis prikomenti la karton por mi. Li tradukis la cel-adreson ĉi tiel :
Estimata Sinjoro
sinjoro Václav[=Venceslao] Rotbart,
prezidanto de la Fajrobrigadista Asekurejo
kaj Meritplena Esperantisto, ĉefo de [loka] fajrobrigado [=P.O.]
en Prago-XIII.
[strato] Madridská[=Madrida] [n-ro] 26.

La poŝtkarto surhavas ne-poŝtan stampon de "Klub malostranských esperantistů v PRAZE" (t.e. "Klubo de esperantistoj de Malá Strana (centra kvartalo de Prago) en PRAGO"). Marek Blahuš i iom miras, ke ĝi ne estas dulingva ĉeĥa-germana, kion li supozus deviga dum tiom malfrua jaro de la dua mondmilito en la Protektorato Bohemio-Moravio (komparu kun la poŝta stampo), sed eble tio estas ĉar ĝi ne estis sufiĉe oficiala. Blahuš plue komentarias “Sed ja videblas, ke la verkinto skribis sian tekston super tiun stampon, do la stampon oni aldonis jam antaŭ ol la poŝtkarto estis verkita. Tiu klubo ja iam eldonadis ankaŭ proprajn poŝtkartojn (mi trovis unu rete, sed de la postmilita periodo), sed tiuj sufiĉe memkompreneble estis Esperantlingvaj kaj pri Prago, dum tiu ĉi portas ĉeĥlingvan priskribon de pentraĵo pri popolarto en lima regiono de okcidenta Bohemio, do verŝajne ne la klubo produktis la poŝtkarton mem”.

Konsiderante, ke ĝi estas en-Praga sendaĵo (laŭ la stampo/marko kaj la adresato), la sendinto eble estis ĉeĥo ĉar Blahuš notas la neĉeston de difinita artikolo en lokoj, kie oni ĝin povus konsideri – ekz. "en [la] korojn" plie indikas tion kaj membro de tiu E-klubo en Malá Strana.
 La subskribon de la sendinto  nek mi nek Blahuše sukcesas malĉifri kaj ĝi ne multe similas iun ĉeĥan nomo, laǔ Blahuš.

La adresato Václav Rotbart havas personan nomon ĉeĥan, sed familian nomon germanan – ne malofta ĝis hodiaŭ en Ĉeĥio, do nur ke per tio ĉi oni povas konkludi nenion pri lia germaneco/ĉeĥeco. Blahuš  komentas ke “la historio de la germana Esperanto-movado en nia lando ĝis nun ne estas bone priesplorita, pro la subita forpelo de la germana civitanaro post la dua mondmilito . Tamen (oni) sciu ke Rotbart estas nomo hodiaŭ tre malofta – laŭ la ministeriaj datumoj nur tri viroj de tiu nomo – kaj tri virinoj de ĝia virina formo – troveblas, ĉiuj en sama regiono iom okcidente de Prago (eble parencoj?). Rara mencio  pri Václav Rotbart troviĝas en listo de finstudintoj de (ĝis hodiaŭ ekzistanta) komerca altlernejo en la praga kvartalo Karlín, kie Václav Rotbart finstudis en la lerneja jaro 1918/1919. Tio supozigas ke li naskiĝis ĉirkaŭ la jaro 1900.» 

La persono Václav Rotbart ne estas menciita en la verko "Historio de la Esperanto-movado en Ĉeĥoslovakio", kiu tamen neniel pretendas esti kompleta, laǔ Blahuš.
La mistero por mi estas kial en 1943 poŝtkarto en esperanto kun klaraj aludoj al nia lingvo povis samtempe porti poŝtmarkon kun portreto pri Adolf Hitler, kiu tiom abomenis nian lingvon.