Monday, April 28, 2014

Pictures at the Zoo

In Chapter 4, "Don't Ever Become Sentimental", of  Joachim Fest's Not I, there is picture of him with his two brothers, taken at the Berlin Zoo in 1933. The older two boys are holding lion cubs; the youngest shares a chair with the middle brother and holds his hand on the cub's hip. The older boys have a look of confidence, the younger seems to be worried about what the camera will make of him.

A friend of ours, some years dead, was born to a Jewish family in Berlin, and got to the US in 1936. The one picture of her German days that I remember showed her in a chair, holding a lion cub. She was a very pretty girl of about 10 or 12 when the picture was taken. If the bad times had arrived, they do not show in her face. I suppose that the picture could have been taken in 1933, and her cub could have been one of those in the picture with the Fests, and so for that matter her chair.

Was it a custom of the prosperous classes in Berlin to have such pictures taken? No American zoo of the last half century would want to risk the liability, I should think.

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