May 10, 2008

May 10, 2008

Dear Paul,

Thanks a lot for your letter of April 25.

Since April 10th I’ve been working in a department which assembles fluorescent lamps. It is mind-numbing work, but without it I could not buy much supplementary food and could not call my wife in the U.S., so it has to be. Right the very first day at work an older inmate asked me if he could move into my cell, because he was annoyed by his current cellmate watching TV all day long. After he agreed that he wouldn’t smoke in my cell, that there would be no TV at all, and that he doesn’t snore, he moved in the next day. During the first night it turned out that he does snore all night long, and pretty loudly so. It also turned out that he has his radio on all day long, 24/7, which means: it’s running even all night long, although with very low volume. Fortunately, I have some earplugs, so I can deal with it somehow, but it is annoying. He will have finished his term in a few days, so I’ll be by myself again starting Wednesday next week, only to be confronted with some other weirdo sooner or later. Prison would be quite bearable, if it weren’t for the other prisoners who turn this entire predicament into a constant torture. I had been chatting on and off with one fairly decent inmate from Switzerland, who was quite appalled by the clientele residing here as well, but he has been transferred to a different part of the prison for open detention, so that sole opportunity to talk reasonably is gone for good. Now I’m back in the desert. Brutes and morons simply aren’t my usual social environment, so I cannot adjust to this place.

Having complained about the restrictions imposed on all of us regarding the use of our private money to recharge our phone account – we can use only some 30 Euros of it per month – another inmate spontaneously offered me a cell phone, although they are illegal in here. He even demonstrated it to me and let me find out how much a call to the U.S. costs. While discussing to transfer the account to somebody out in the free world who can recharge it for me, we realized that we need a new card for the phone, which is when I was told that this can be organized within just two days. The whole thing made me increasingly nervous, so eventually I backed down. A few weeks later we had a massive cell search in this building, during which some 9 cell phones were found. But it took only a few days for new cell phones being on offer once again.

That tells you something about how well the officials here have a control over what’s going on here. I won’t even get into drugs, as I stay miles away from it, but needless to say that several inmates keep soliciting them, some even bragging about the broad range of drugs they can offer. All in all, I think there is no place in the world where illegal activities are concentrated higher than they are here. At least when it comes to drugs. Oh well, I stay out of it.

The irony of it all is that the prison is suppose to prepare us for a life without crime, when in fact the only thing you really learn here is how to become a professional criminal, if you haven’t already been one when arriving here.

Security in this place is a bad joke. There was some of this going on in Stuttgart and in Mannheim as well, but not to such an extent. The problem I am facing is that my mail is being censored because I am not allowed to receive any revisionist, right-wing, anti-Jewish and similar stuff. But looking at some of the printed matter I have received over the past 8 weeks or so, I must say that this censorship isn’t working either, because as soon as incoming mail is in the English language, nobody seems to bother anymore. So I’ve been receiving material from Frederick Toben, from some U.S. radical Muslim group, and from some diehard Confederates in Alabama, all having tough material on Jews, Revisionism, and what have you in them.

I brought this to the attention of the official in charge of security here, but so far to no avail. What did happen, though, is that a letter I wrote to a German supporter of mine, describing these ridiculous security gaps, got confiscated because in it, so the prison official claimed, I made grossly untrue statements about the prison.

So it seems to me that security issues here are solved not by addressing the issues but by sweeping them under the carpet. But then again, I’m not even sure exactly why my letter has been confiscated, because they won’t tell me. I only know that it is said to contain some untrue statement.

As to my physical shape, it seems that my right foot has caved in. I feared something like that. Fact is that I always had flat feet and that I never ran or jogged much in my life, to my feet’s advantage. It changed in here because there aren’t any bicycles or swimming pools in prison, so I had to start running, I thought. It turns out that this was probably not a good idea after all. The little camber which there has been in my right foot is reduced considerably, if compared with my left foot, and it hurts almost constantly, starting on January 15 of this year. The physician said that I shouldn’t jog anymore for the rest of my life and should not stand or walk much for the next six months or so to let the foot recover somewhat. I should focus on cardiovascular activities like cycling, rowing, and swimming.

Well, as if I had known this all my life, because that’s what I’ve been doing since I turned 18. Alas, no such things to be had here, so I guess I have to simply sit it out and wait for freedom to return. The few training bikes they have here I cannot use right now, because they are reserved a) for inmates waiting for work, b) for inmates who have signed up for special sports groups. I’ve signed up for them as well, but the waiting list is 2 inches long, the official in charge said, so maybe next year…

My cell workout has been suspended as well, because my right breast muscle started acting up again a few weeks ago after overdoing push-ups – it’s the old injury from volleyball from August last year. Plus my left shoulder hurts as well as my right wrist, the latter from completely unknown and obscure reasons; the shoulder, however, I blame on a combination of my own stupidity and the bad influence of working out with friends. I overstretched my ligaments in the left shoulder in late spring 2004 when doing some workout …

Alas, I overdid it somewhere, although I don’t know where, when and how. But at 43 I’m no longer 20 and need to take it slowly. I must say, though, that I suspended my exercise on a very high level, so high that I had decided not to increase the load anymore, because I started to worry about any detrimental effects it could have if I go to more extremes. So it’s probably a good thing to take a break and enjoy the summer sun for a month or two. I keep doing my sit-ups, though, because my back and abs muscles don’t ever seem to let me down, plus they are the most important anyway right after the heart, particularly for a guy of 6 ft. 5. Many, if not most inmates have a backaches of some sort at some time, because nobody has proper beds, chairs, tables, etc., but at least in this regard I’ve had no real problems so far, except for a little bit of overdoing it here and there.

In Mannheim earlier this year I had such a phase, so the doc sent me to a physiotherapist. She had some 6 inmates there all complaining about backaches, but when she had us do some exercises, she said to me that I am supple like a snake man and overly exercised. That was the trouble. I stopped doing any exercises for a few weeks, and that put a stop to my mild backache. So if I’m doing anything wrong, it’s that I’m doing too much. Seems to be my nature. Not just when it comes to sports. Overachieving everywhere…

That’s all from here. You can convey this letter completely to the net community if you wish.

Best Regards,