Home' Greymouth Star : February 13th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, February 13, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1542 - England’s Q ueen Catherine Howard
is executed for treason on the orders of her
husband Henry VIII.
1633 - Italian astronomer Galileo arrives
in Rome and is detained by Roman Catholic
1689 - English Parliament adopts
a Bill of Rights.
1945 - Allied warplanes firebomb
Dresden, Germany, wiping out the
city and killing more than 25,000
1974 - Alexander Solzhenitsyn,
Nobel Prize-winning author, is
deported and stripped of Soviet citizenship.
1989 - Soviet Red Army leaves Afghan
capital of Kabul.
1990 - Roaring crowds give Nelson Mandela
a hero’s welcome when he returns to the black
township of Soweto after being released from
1996 - Israeli troops seal off the West Bank
and Gaza to prevent terrorist attacks. The
restrictions last for years.
2002 - The Scottish Parliament votes to ban
fox hunting, making Scotland the first part of
Britain to ban the centuries-old sport.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Kim Novak, US actress (1933-); George Segal,
US actor (1934-); Oliver Reed, British actor
(1938-1999); Andrew Peacock,
Australian politician (1939-); Carol
Linley, US actress (1942-); Peter
Tork, US musician-The Monkees
(1942-); Stockard Channing, US
actress (1944-); Jerry Springer, US
talkshow host (1944-); Peter Gabriel,
British singer (1950-); Matt Salinger,
US actor (1960-); Robbie Williams, British
singer (1974-); Mena Suvari, actress (1979-) .
“An explanation of cause is not a justification
by reason.” — C S Lewis, English author
“Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching people.”
— (Luke 5.10).
An explosion rocked
municipal gasworks in
the early hours of this
morning. Fire broke out shortly after wards in
the coal bunker, and Greymouth firemen were
on the job until after 9 o’clock this morning.
However first inspections revealed that the
extent of the damage was not great. No one
was injured and there was no actual structural
Breathing apparatus was used by firemen
to extinguish the fire, thought to have been
caused through heating from the explosion.
Mr A Auld, superintendent of Mines Rescue
stations in the Greymouth area, was called
in this morning as an expert on coal dust to
diagnose the origin of the explosion and fire.
The extension of the last major link with a
country area from Charleston to Meybille Bay
will be investigated by the Buller Power Board.
At the monthly meeting on Wednesday night
the chairman, Mr G G Hawes said officers
of the Rural Electric Reticulation Council
believed there was a very wide gap between the
guarantees offered and the cost of construction.
Hay ’s, on the intersection of Mackay and
Tainui streets, appears to have gone in for a
new line in ‘window decorating’. Instead of wax
models displayed in the window, a tip-truck
had its rear end parked across the footpath
today while men shovelled shingle through the
space from which glass had been removed.
However, this was no salesman’s gimmick. A
concrete floor is being laid to replace the old
wooden floor since it was found that women’s
stiletto heels had punched their way through
uFood for thought
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03 755 8422
eventy years have passed since
Allied bombing raids killed
25,000 people and laid to
waste its Baroque churches and
palaces but resentment still
lingers in Dresden, providing
fertile soil for far-right and anti-Muslim
Every year on February 13, neo-
Nazis from all over Europe gather to
commemorate what they call the ‘bombing
holocaust ’ unleashed on the German city
less than three months before the end of
World War Two.
This year some fear the emergence of
Pegida, an anti-Islam group which warns
of Germany being overrun by Muslims,
will boost the traditional far-right
rally and overshadow a ceremony with
Uncertainty about the death toll and
whether the city was a legitimate target
fed a ‘myth of victimhood’ that Dresden’s
suffering was unique. It was invented
by the Nazis, usurped by East German
Communists and then assumed by the far
“How can you justify killing so many
civilians so near the end of the war? Of
course we still feel it. It was a war crime,”
Michael Pickert, 47, said at a Pegida rally
The group, whose initials in German
stand for Patriotic Europeans Against
the Islamisation of the West, has plunged
into disarray since its leader resigned last
month over pictures showing him posing
as Hitler. Five founding members then
quit to set up a rival movement.
On Monday evening, about 2000 people
joined Pegida’s regular Monday night rally
in Dresden, a far cry from the roughly
25,000 it drew earlier this year. An anti-
racism demonstration last month attracted
35,000 people, showing there is also
strong opposition in the city to right-wing
But even if it proves a flash in the pan,
Pegida has shaken Germany. Chancellor
Angela Merkel said some of its members
had “hatred in their hearts”, and Foreign
Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
acknowledged it had damaged the
Historians say the events of February
1945 explain at least part of the reason
why the far-right has broader appeal in
this eastern city than in the rest of the
Helped by good visibility and a lack of
German anti-aircraft guns, British planes
pounded Dresden with a lethal mix of
explosive and incendiary bombs on the
night of February 13, creating a firestorm
that tore through the streets.
In the next two days, United States
planes joined the attack, hampering efforts
to retrieve the dead and wounded. In a
total of four raids, the Allies dropped at
least 3900 tonnes of bombs. The mission
to cause chaos and destroy civilian morale
“It ’s the raid that went horribly right,”
historian Frederick Taylor said.
Dresden was not alone. Other cities,
including Hamburg, Pforzheim in the
Black Forest and industrial towns in the
Ruhr, suffered tens of thousands of victims
from aerial bombing.
Yet for Dresden it was a defining
moment, Matthias Rogg, director of
Germany ’s Military History Museum in
the city, said.
“It ’s the point from which everything is
measured. It fed the myth that Dresden
was the innocent victim of a pointless war
and hid the fact that it was a centre of
Nazism and a significant hub for making
armaments,” he said.
“And while the bombing of Dresden
was dreadful, it’s crucial that without
September 1, 1939, without Warsaw,
Rotterdam, Coventry, London there
wouldn’t have been Dresden,” Rogg said,
recalling the date of the Nazi invasion
of Poland and a string of foreign cities
bombarded or blitzed by Hitler’s forces.
Immediately after the Dresden raids,
officials estimated the death toll at 25,000,
but kept it secret. O ver the years the
numbers were inflated, sometimes even
to 500,000. This suited Communists keen
to besmirch the “ western Imperialist ”
foe. After the Berlin Wall fell, it was the
turn of the far right to use it to stoke
“ You can’t underestimate how central
inflating the Dresden air raid figures is to
the far right. It’s a key for rousing mass
support, like a religious belief,” Taylor told
In 2010 a Historical Commission put
the official number at up to 25,000, close
to the original, concealed figures.
Dresden was known as the ‘F lorence
of the Elbe’ for its cultural splendours
including the Semper opera and domed
Frauenkirche, a church left as a symbolic
ruin until it was rebuilt after Germany ’s
But historians say it also housed
legitimate targets. A cigarette plant
produced bullets; camera makers turned to
torpedo guidance systems; major rail lines
Taylor says he considers the bombing of
Dresden to be “morally questionable”.
“The city has been largely rebuilt but the
trauma is intense. It ’s never recovered from
a diffuse grief and cultural pessimism,” he
said. This climate is hospitable to groups
like Pegida which feed on fears and
grievances, he added.
Today, with a population of about half
a million, the capital of the State of
Saxony is held up as a rare East German
success story. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s
conser vatives have ruled the State since
reunification almost 25 years ago.
But a State election last year showed
that almost 15% of voters favoured right-
leaning parties: the far-right National
Democratic Party (NPD) and the new
Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has
homed in on anxiety about immigration.
Against this backdrop, the museum’s
Rogg said he feels a special responsibility
to deconstruct the myth. “One of our most
important messages is that the picture is
Many witnesses to the bombing have
described horrifying hours cowering in
basements while their houses and families
burned around them.
“Screaming people burning like torches
passed us and collapsed. We couldn’t
stay upright so crawled on all fours.
Utter chaos surrounded us,” wrote Peter
Hoffmann, born in 1932.
Yet there are other stories too, like those
of dozens of Jewish forced labourers who
escaped deportation to concentration
camps thanks to the chaos unleashed by
the firestorm. — Reuters
A woman walks through a destroyed street in Dresden after the bombings during World War Two.
Chris Vellacott and Sujata Rao
With Russia battered by international
sanctions and weak oil prices, an
accelerating capital flight is turning into a
brain drain of entrepreneurs that threatens
to hurt the economy ’s long term health.
Immigration lawyers, estate agents and
bankers in Europe are reporting a jump
in interest from middle class business
owners planning to move their ventures
and families outside Russia. London is
becoming a favourite among would-be
emigres seeking financial and political
“People are realising things aren’t going
to get better for a while and it is time to
establish themselves elsewhere,” Katya
Zenkovich, head of the Russia desk at
upmarket London property company
Knight Frank, said.
Publicly available data shows the
haemorrhage of money and people.
Consultancy Cross Border Capital,
which tracks financial flows, calculates
that $123.8 billion left Russia in 2014.
According to Russia’s statistics office,
more than 203,000 people left the
country in the first nine months of 2014,
compared with 186,382 in the whole of
2013 and just 33,578 in 2010.
Zenkovich says that since the middle
of last year she has fielded more inquiries
from Russian entrepreneurs, looking
for retail space in London or modest-
sized offices suitable to establish new
While some are high up the wealth scale
and ready to invest millions, others are
looking to put up as little as $230,000 to
$300,000 for a one-year lease on a central
London retail space, she said. On-line
inquiries to Knight Frank from inside
Russia for offices in Europe including
Britain jumped 75% during 2014 while
interest in retail properties was up around
10% from a year earlier.
London has an established community
of super rich Russians, such as Chelsea
Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.
But the arrival of a new wave of people
from Russia’s entrepreneurial class in the
millionaire rather than the billionaire
bracket is an ominous development for
the Russian economy.
Mid-sized enterprises often
form the backbone of an
economy and typically are
less mobile. But when they do
move, the departure could be
Small and medium-sized
enterprises make up around a
quarter of Russia’s economy,
according to the European
Investment Bank. This is a
smaller proportion than in
most economies but crucial if
Russia wants to wean itself off
dependence on energy exports.
Russia’s economy has lurched
downwards since Moscow
annexed Crimea from Ukraine
last March, with the West
imposing sanctions. More
recently a slide in the oil price
has slashed revenues from
Russia’s principal export and
the rouble has halved in value
against the dollar.
The economy is expected to
contract 3% this year, according
to official forecasts and many
reckon the recession could last
British government data
indicate rising demand from
Russians for ‘investor’ and
‘entrepreneur’ visas which
grant residency in return for
commitments to invest.
Britain granted no
entrepreneur visas to Russians
and 14 investor visas in the first quarter of
2011, according to the Home Office. This
has risen steadily since, with 73 investor
visas granted in the second quarter of
2014, easing back to 43 in the third
quarter, alongside 14 entrepreneur visas.
The entrepreneur visa requires an
investment of $413,392 in starting a
new enterprise while the investor visa is
conditional on $4.1million invested in
Ashley King-Christopher, a partner at
lawyers Charles Russell Speechlys, says
the exodus is being driven by the end of a
boom that followed the Cold War. “ We’re
getting a lot of these entrepreneurs from
the middle class who weren’t part of an
inner circle but they benefited from the
consumption boom,” he said.
Dmitri Rozanov, head of the Russia desk
at London private bank Coutts, says many
of his compatriots want political and
financial stability that is elusive at
home. “Locally in Russia certainly things
are not looking particularly optimistic for
people with any amount of wealth,” he
With an established Russian community,
a more dynamic economy than
continental Europe and a sought-after
private school system, Britain may seem a
“ We’re seeing quite a few new inquiries
whether it’s retail units, art galleries,
restaurants, office space ... People want to
come to a place where they consider their
lives, their future, their prosperity and
their income to be safe,” Gary Hersham,
co-owner of L ondon estate agent
Beauchamp Estates, said.
The arrivals often comprise entire
families. There are currently 2536 Russian
pupils at private schools in Britain,
16% up on a year ago, according to the
Independent Schools Council. That is
close to 5% of the total.
“ We would have loved to have stayed
in Russia but there’s a very deep crisis.
We looked at different options but an
English education is the best,” said one
Russian, declining to be identified for
fear of damaging the business interests of
her husband who flies back and forth but
plans to settle in Britain soon.
One established Russian entrepreneur
in L ondon, Igor Sagiryan, a former
investment banker who founded
restaurant chain Ping Pong, says the
exodus is “extremely bad for Russia”.
A recent foray back into Russia with a
real estate venture lost him money as the
“Business is a mess in Russia,
businessmen are losing money and as a
result lots of people are trying to get their
money out and start somewhere else,” he
says. — Reuters
Russia’s brain drain to Great Britain
London is a popular place for Russians to set up business.
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