They All Laughed at Christopher Columbus
October 06, 1992
I Excuse me for noticing, but haven't we been commemorating Columbus's quincentennial in the wrong year? I know that dates and math aren't America's strong suit right now, but it doesn't take advanced calculus to figure that 1492 plus 500 equals 1992. What is it about Columbus that makes for botched commemoration? The Quatercentennial Columbian Exposition opened a year late, in 1893, delayed by the enormous scale of the show and by the protesting groups (yes, even then) who saw themselves more as victims than as beneficiaries of 1492.
January 01, 1990
East Germany struggles with the future.
How Buildings Remember
August 28, 1989
“Did you see the gas vans?” Claude Lanzmann asks Mrs. Michelsohn, an old German woman, in his film Shoah. Mrs. Michelsohn lived in Chelmno, 50 yards from the spot where Jews were loaded onto the vans at the Nazi extermination center. “No,” she answers at first, with a look of annoyance. Then her face registers the recognition that Lanzmann and his movie cameras will not be deflected. “Yes,” she acknowledges, she saw the vans, “from the outside. They shuttled back and forth. I never looked inside; I didn’t see the Jews in them.