August 15, 2007

August 15, 2007

Dear Fredrick,

I have in front of me your letters of May 23 – the one that went astray – and of August 1. I won’t comment on the newspaper clippings/letters-to-the-editor you included in your May letter. I’ve always considered letter writing to mass media a waste of time – like throwing pearls before swine. But that may be only so because I had other, better things to do while roaming freely.

To your questions: by court order I have been kept in a single cell. Hence I was never together with others, which is a blessing. The various cells I have been in are comparable to my student rooms of the 1980s while studying in Bonn/Frankfurt/Stuttgart – hence a mere step back in time.

They keep Ernst Zundel separate from me and I haven’t met him so far. It could happen accidentally, in the waiting room at the prison hospital. So far, though, no such luck. [That changed several weeks later when Ernst was moved into the same prison wing where I was lodged at that time.]

I exercise five days a week: daily 80 minutes workout, 5 km jogging, plus Monday night it’s volleyball in the gym, and since Monday I can participate in the afternoon activity because I am off from kitchen work. This means I can play volleyball every day, but I actually restrict it to the time after I finish my daily 5 km run. I tried vegetarian food at Heidelberg prison and strongly disliked it. I am now on Muslim food which has much better meat. I try to eat muesli every evening, which is difficult to organize because I cannot buy any yoghurt here in the prison supermarket. And so I have to trade it with other inmates who are on some diet containing yogurt but who are willing to give it up for this or that favour or alternative item they need. You know how it is. [A few weeks later I actually learned from a kind, elderly Turkish inmate how to make my own yogurt.]

Contrary to prison rules governing sentenced prisoners, the state prosecutor put me back on full mail censorship, phone ban and visitation surveillance – except for close family members whom I can call and whose visits are not supervised.

The reason for this is that I wrote an 18+ pages critique of my verdict, which according to prison authorities proves my lack of remorse and my recalcitrance. Hence, they now try to make certain that I do not have any contact with individuals considered a threat to my getting brainwashed, i.e. I need to be protected by the German government against thoughts that could damage my mind – although they aren’t doing anything overt to wash my brain, quite to the contrary. He who uses force has proved that he has no arguments left with which to convince anyone of their point of view.

Anyway, these ‘security measures’ don’t bother me at all because I don’t care if some official reads my mail. I had even suggested to them that they may even learn something, but when I suggested this back in June they said they didn’t have the staff for it. Now that I have proved to be obstreperous and unrepenting, they suddenly have the staff to supervise my visits and censor my mail. The supervision of some of my visits – those attended by my ‘fans’ – is welcome because I don’t know most of them. So, having an official joining in with our discussion is actually a good thing because they, too, can learn something this way – and they do!

After some seven weeks of adjusting I must say that I feel much more comfortable in here than I did initially. Most of the really essential things have been sorted out to my liking, for example, being able to regularly call my wife in the USA, getting dental floss – quite an issue for the security paranoid officials – knee-pads for volleyball, a “well-paid” job with which I can finance the calls to my wife; plenty of sport.

All I need now to make me – almost – happy is yoghurt and/or quark on a regular basis. That’s my next project. Also, soon I hope to start my English language course. I recently enrolled, and am now waiting for the confirmation and for the first paperwork to get going. It’s not exactly that I am inept when it comes to English but one can always learn something, and it is really important for me to keep using the lingo because I haven’t had any opportunity to speak it since I got locked up 22 months ago – except for my wife’s visits during the summer months. It is also a little intellectual challenge that is desperately needed in this environment.

I guess that’s all for now. Oh, reading-wise, I focus on National Geographic, Scientific American and Science Magazine, that is to say: back to my roots as an exacting scientist. No politics, please! It just drives me up the wall.