I wrote the following letter as an answer to a request sent to me by a close associate of Paul Fromm from the Canadian Association for Free Expression. On that day I had been in prison for almost a year. It describes the routine of the 44 months I spent in various German prisons.
October 7, 2006
Thanks a lot for your letter of August 30, which I received yesterday, after I had not received any mail for exactly 3 weeks. Such gaps have happened before, and the only guess I have is that the person in charge of censoring my mail is on vacation rather frequently, so things pile up unprocessed for weeks in a row.
I assume that your questions relating to my daily routine are meant to extract some answers that you – or Paul – intend to post online or use otherwise, like spreading it to other distributors, which is perfectly fine with me.
Let me therefore give you a summary of my weekly life, after I have described to you my cell here, so people can imagine how I live. It includes a sink and a toilet right next to the door. My bed is 6-feet long, which is to say, it is 5 inches shorter than I am. But the mattress on it is 6 feet 6, so that works out. Pillow and blanket are the standard I am used to, and the mattress itself is fortunately harder than what I have in the U.S. (They were all way too soft). The bed itself has a plywood board instead of spring box or other fancy bouncing mechanism, which is preferred as well, since I like it hard.
Next, I have a locker – without a lock though. A chair (of simple and tough design, since many prisoners seem to use it as a missile, but it seems to be able to handle it pretty well, I have heard) and a small, rather old table. Next, there are 2 shelf boards. Then there is a fluorescent lamp, a radiator keeping us properly warmed in cold times, and a window I can actually open, with a view out to the courtyard that has a nice lawn and the obligatory 30-feet high wall.
Since I am on the fourth floor, I can barely look over that wall and see some of the surroundings of this Stuttgart suburb. Since the prison is at the very verge of the developed area, I can see some fields and forests close by. I enjoy observing birds coming back to their seasonal life in spring, species I hadn’t seen in so many years, since the U.S. has a completely different fauna. I enjoyed meeting all of my old companions. The window has, of course, the usual steel bars in front of it plus a steel screen to prevent prisoners from throwing stuff out the window and trading items with other inmates on other levels.
In the meantime, I have turned various cardboard boxes I obtained when buying food supplements to construct a series of additional shelves in which I can store food, sanitary and medical supplies as well as stationery. Usually, the built-in wooden shelves serve, among other things, to carry a TV that every cell has. But because I would have to pay 14 Euros (some 17 dollars) per month for rent and electricity, I told them to keep it to themselves. So I have no TV. Since I never owned one to begin with, this is no change in my lifestyle.
Now to my daily and weekly routine.
First the everyday events. On weekdays, an electronic tri-tone wakes us up at 5:45, which is pretty much around the time I was used to getting up while free as well, so no change, really. On weekends they give us an hour more, but I am up around 6 then as well. Can’t change my habits :) . Breakfast is served roughly half an hour later, on which occasion our doors are opened and food is handed to us. Unfortunately, the regular breakfast is rather poor. We can have bread – either wheat or mixed rye-wheat – and butter plus coffee. I can’t vouch for the coffee’s quality since I hate coffee and never drink it. The bread is always a few days old so people don’t eat too much good-tasting freshly baked bread. Then we receive, alternating each day, either half a liter of long-life milk or some 25 grams of some spread (jam, honey, Nutella, the latter two only at weekends). Fridays they give us small 20-gram packs of spread cheese. So, if, say, you eat 2 slices of bread every morning, you have to spread 25 grams over 4 slices, which is like giving it only a remote flavor of having anything on it. In the meantime, I have been able to purchase some jam, honey and Nutella, so my bread doesn’t stay dry half the time. Because of being notoriously underweight, the physician also prescribed three more 1/2-liter packs of milk per week as well as half a pound of quark every day (the American reader may ask himself what quark is. It’s not the subatomic particle, which bears the same name, but a milk product gained from the solid parts of soured milk, if I am not mistaken. It’s very rich in protein and fat.) A little of the quark I use to mix with jam and honey on my breakfast bread (I usually eat only one slice right now for lack of exercise, since I hurt my left wrist and had to stop doing upper body exercises).
Next, after breakfast is done, including washing the dishes and brushing teeth, I sweep my “apartment” and do some abs and back muscle exercises, during which, after each set, I read some philosophical book. At the moment I am reading Karl R. Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery, but I have already left some Aristotle, Hegel, Schopenhauer and more Popper behind me. I usually read only 2-3 pages between each set, so I don’t get more done than some 15-20 pages in the morning. Since I usually don’t get enough sleep during the night (see later for the reason), I frequently am rather tired after my philosophical workout and I sleep a little more, half an hour so, before we are let out to our daily one-hour courtyard walk at 9:15.
The yard is some 300 x 150 feet and has plenty of lawn. Right now, I am using the first 20 minutes to jog 4 km. Never having been a runner at all – I did some cycling and swimming as cardiovascular activity, but always hated running – I had to start slowly in the winter, reaching 4 km only in June (after suffering 2 pulled muscle fibers in my right calf back in January and March during step aerobics on courtyard benches, which are way too high for such an exercise).
By now, I have reduced my initial 4 K time from 24 minutes down to 20 minutes and strive to get it as low as 15 minutes in my prison athletic career. During the remaining time outside I used to take a shower – (there are 6 cold water showers in the yard which nobody except me dares to use any more during that time of the year) and then to socialized with any inmate that can get a straight German sentence – or English, if there is such a chance – out of their mouth that makes some sense. That is unfortunately not the rule in such a place, as the average IQ is well below average, and the percentage of Germans is even lower. It boils down to rare encounters.
After we are locked up again in our cells, we get lunch roughly half an hour later (11:00 a.m.). During lunch (as well as dinner), I read the various issues of the magazines friendly supporters of mine have subscribed for me: Scientific American, National Geographic, Greenpeace Magazine, and three small German magazines on historical and political issues.
After lunch, I usually take a nap of half an hour or maybe even an hour, depending on my constitution. The rest of the day is usually divided into 3 sections: up to 3 p.m., when dinner is dished out, then up to the time I actually eat my dinner, depending on my stomach’s regimen, then up to bedtime. I occupy my time in the afternoon and evening with several activities: answering letters (like this one), translating documents for my upcoming trial, drawing pictures for my wife, the only gift I can make for her (I bought color pencils for that purpose), listening to music (I was allowed to buy a CD player and have receive a large amount of music CDs from my generous supporters), writing down the lyrics of those I love best, and singing along, sometimes, when I know them well enough, even singing them without any music. I also was able to receive my mother’s mouth harmonica, on which I play some pieces once in a while (I even received a book of German folk songs with notes so I can learn more).
My relatives in the U.S. provide me with Sudoku puzzles, which I am about to become an addict of, and of course there is the abundance of books that I work myself through. Currently I am reading Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, Emerson’s Essential Writings, and next on my list is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. There is no shortage at that front.
The end of each day sees me sitting at the table writing a diary entry for my wife, for she receives letters from me ever so often, whenever three sheets of paper have been filled with my thoughts and sorrows of the days. For dinner we get bread (wheat, wheat-rye, or whole grain), butter, some German wurst, which I have always despised, and tea, of which I drink only fruit teas. Fortunately, they have a wurst exchange program for those not eating this disgusting processed meat, so I get cheese instead, which has always been my favorite, particularly if put on whole grain bread.
Every second day, however, I use the quark I received for breakfast to make myself a nice muesli. I can buy oats, muesli, and all the other supplies needed (sugar, fruits, additional milk), so this is quite a bargain, since I was raised not on hamburgers and hot dogs, but on muesli all of my life. I used to eat that at least once a day. Also while being in the U.S. Since we get some salad every third day at lunch, but I cannot eat it then (it would be too much), I make myself a real nice salad every other day for dinner by adding some cut-up cheese, feta (which I can buy), tomatoes (also bought), crouton (self-made by cutting up wheat bread and drying it on the radiator or in the sun on the window sill, depending on weather and temperature) and a delicious vinegar/sunflower oil/orange juice dressing I created myself, because the vinegar/oil dressing we get with the salads is so boring (and often they add only a few drops, leaving the salad rather dry), so that in pure desperation one day I poured some orange juice over that dry salad, only to discover that this was an ingenious invention!
During the summer, I actually managed to grow blue cheese on my cheese, meaning blue cheese fungi cultures, giving me some variety – as a lover of blue cheese, this was quite a pleasure!
Lunch, which I forgot to describe, is typically German and of a fine average quality. That is to say: I didn’t have such good food so regularly and often even since I left my mother’s home. So I won’t complain about that at all. It is sometimes a little short in calories, but for this I have my supplemental oats that fill the gap. We also get a desert every day when not getting a salad, which is usually a fruit. That ends up in my muesli. Also, I figured out that there are always some prisoners that do not like to eat their salads or fruits, which I them am happy to bear the responsibility for. So, considering that this is not a four-star hotel, one cannot complain about the food at all, provided one can buy a few supplements that are definitely lacking for breakfast and dinner. And this, as described, is usually possible. I go to bed usually around 11 p.m. Needing some 8 hours of sleep, this is one hour too late. But going to bed earlier is not a good idea, because many inmates are very noisy until around 11, when it quiets down considerably. I therefore gave up going to bed at a time when I used to go, and put in a few naps here and there during the day instead. That helps also to structure the day a little more, which is very important.
All right, this was the everyday routine. Now to weekly highlights, if you wish. There are the minor organizational events, which I mention only in passing, although they have a curious psychological effect by giving us the feeling of time actually passing, which is important for us desperately looking for the end of the tunnel.
Mondays our cells are cleaned (mopped), but I do not let them do it, since they (the inmate janitors) do a bad job. I insist on doing it myself. I have, by the way, a somewhat unique reputation here in prison for keeping my cell meticulously clean, for instance already by taking my shoes off before entering it, which was unheard of. Well, it’s where I am all day, so I might just as well make it as comfortable for me as I can. Anyway, Tuesdays once a fortnight they exchange our bed linen and sheets. Wednesdays they change our clothes (I am obliged to wear prison ‘uniform,’ though most prisoners can wear private clothes. The ‘uniform’ consists of rather normal clothes, though: shirt, jeans jacket, jeans trousers, black leather shoes). On Thursdays between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. the prison choir meets to learn and practice songs to be performed during church services. I joined some 2 months ago and have already done a solo 2 weeks ago, resulting in “encore” shouts from the barbarians in the audience. I used to sing in a youth choir back in my early adulthood, but haven’t had any experience since. I love it very much – I always loved singing. So this is a real relief for me emotionally.
Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays between 12:00 and 2:30 p.m. we are allowed to visit other prisoners in their cell (up to 4 inmates allowed per cell). I do not take the opportunity of each of these occasions, simply because there are so few inmates that are to be preferred to spend up to 3 hours with as compared to a good book. For instance. I am in a part of the prison where they jail people who are in investigative custody, awaiting trial, so fluctuation is high. Most people stay only a few months and are never heard of again. After almost a year of that one loses interest in trying to invest into any social relationship, since they are torn apart shortly afterwards anyway. Apart from the fact that the clients here aren’t exactly my cup of tea. Just recently, I had to somehow fend off a guy who used to come to me without announcing it beforehand or asking. He is a rather dull chap I have no real common basis with, so what am I supposed to do with him during 3 hours, when his topics – sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll – are of no interest to me.
If the choir performs, I get to go to 4 church services with the choir during the weekend, otherwise only to the one service assigned to me, or rather I am assigned to. I also just recently applied to partake at the English language “Jesus Group,” which is a religious discussion group for English language speakers, all of which are blacks from African countries, economic refugees. Their pigeon English isn’t exactly prone to improve my English, but it’s better than having no connection to the language of my home of choice at all. Permission to participate is pending, so I don’t know yet when that’ll be and if I am allowed to go to it, because originally I had so many security measures imposed on me – allegedly for my protection – that I couldn’t do anything apart from going to the daily courtyard walk. But by now, I have managed to melt some of the ice locking me into place. I forgot to mention that we can take showers under regular warm water shower showers twice a week (Monday and Thursday). Dermatologically seen, taking a shower only twice a week is allegedly sufficient, but my skin thinks otherwise, so after several weeks I started getting pimples all over the place, which I got under control only after exposing my skin to the sun starting in late spring and by taking my daily outdoors shower to clean me of the sweat I produce every day with my workout. But I expect those outside showers to be turned off in a few days or weeks at the latest, once frost threatens. Then we will see if my skin has adapted a little better to deal with its own emanations.
On an irregular basis I receive visits (maximum 120 minutes per month) mainly from my ex-wife with my 2 German kids and by all kinds of supporters and fans, organized by a friend who has taken responsibility to get this in shape and prevent chaos. During summer break in the U.S., my wife, who is a teacher, came with my baby daughter to see me as often as she could, back in June to August. Now I can call her once a month for 15 minutes. That’s not much, but an improvement compared to the first half year, when we corresponded only by letter. Finally, I have to go down to the “chamber” frequently to pick up books or CDs sent to me on the order of friends and supporters, which is always a nice feeling, like receiving a gift with the message: you are not forgotten and abandoned. The book and CD gift program is organized via the website dedicated to me at www.germarrudolf.com, in order to prevent double items and to distribute the gifts over a reasonable period of time with a moderate density (to prevent getting swamped around my birthday or for Easter/Christmas, but getting forgotten in between).
I guess that pretty much covers my life here. As to this typewriter: I bought it here, costing me 150 Euros. It is an electric machine, using carbon ribbon tapes costing 5 Euros each and lasting merely 16 pages! That’s a rip-off, but textile ribbons could be used to strangle somebody or to lower oneself down the window (after cutting the bars…). I am not quite sure what ridiculous reason they have for not giving us reasonable tapes, but some things just can’t be changed. In case I do not write with the machine, it’s because I ran out of tapes and could not organize new ones. That’s life. Of course, it would be absolutely superb if I could have a computer, but that is a dream yet to come true. But I’ll try to get that organized as well at some point.
As to the situation of my family in the U.S.: I just received a letter from my wife, finding her in the greatest alarm caused by the news from my immigration lawyer that the U.S. government seems to ignore the Federal Court ruling, which had forced the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen my case and admit my application for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident due to my marriage with an American citizen. The government seems to give a f… about the law and do whatever pleases them. Not really new to us, is it? But that is only hearsay news from my wife who isn’t privy to the details of my case nor to any immigration matter for that sake, so she may have understood things wrongly. Anyway, one thing is for sure: the administration is at it again in one way or another.
My defense here in the Zionist-Occupied Zone of Europe is crumbling, because the defense lawyer I have used so far to prepare my case has vanished from my radar. I have heard that his wife is dying of lung cancer, hence he has other issues to take care of. That puts me in a bad spot, and I have no clue how my case will take off. But matters are rigged already anyway, so what does it matter at the end of the day? Your taking the side of the Germans is nice, although in the meantime I am well beyond that point. It’s not a German affair. Or about the Palestinians or the Lebanese, for instance, or the Iraqis, and so on. I am not going there in this letter.
Not having a TV, which, via cable, also has numerous radio channels, means that I cannot follow news. I also refused to subscribe to a daily newspaper; although, somebody subscribed a small weekly newspaper for me without my consent (as it has happened with several periodicals). I simply do not wish to be bothered with the news about any sack of rice toppling over in China and about the insanities in politics and society. It simply drives me up the wall.
Apart, I cannot stand German news media in general. I cannot even stand the German language, that is to say I developed a strong dislike against it while in the U.S. I can’t help it. It’s the language of my persecutors and torturers. So I despise German radio and TV channels already for their language. I can understand Jews today why they hate the German language, for what it stands for in their minds. It stands for the same thing in my mind.
I had a few letters from Ernst and responded accordingly, but we never really corresponded intensely at any time of our lives, since there is quite a gap between us in many regards, politically, intellectually. Hence we have never been each other’s favorite discussion partners. I also assume that his correspondence is restricted, so it is fine with me if he reserves the letters he is allowed to write for those that matter to him and his cause. I hope these revelations don’t’ shock you. Your nostalgic preference for people speaking their own language, even after decades of residing in a foreign country, is an exception, and may I presume it is restricted to certain ethnic groups?
My wife keeps complaining that the Mexican immigrants to the U.S. refuse to speak English and adjust to the U.S. culture (whatever that is). People have their cultural and ethnic preferences and prejudices, no matter how much people claim they are free of them. Nobody is.
I am not writing any memoirs. I am a bit younger than David Irving and intend to wait a little longer before I start writing them. Apart, I already have a kind of biographical sketch out there, in the appendix of my expert report even in English. I have many more things in mind to do once I am out of here, so it would be wrong to start writing something, when the most exciting parts haven’t even been fathomed yet. If writing a dense diary to my wife counts as a memoir, then that is what I am doing. But it is very personal in parts, so it’s not suited for publication, at least not for years to come. New projects I will aim at once my trial is over and I know how my prison rule will look like, depending greatly on the prison where I will end up. I’ll probably pick up my university studies again, going for another degree or trying to put the knowledge I assembled over the past 15 years to some use in this regard. I already collected lots of paperwork in this regard from various distance colleges, but unless my case is settled, there is no use in getting things going.
All right, I think that’ll do for your distribution. Please clean out my debris field of typos and other mistakes. This machine has no retype features, so once a button is pressed, it’s done and over with, no editing. But I am sure you can and will smooth out the rough spots for me.
Thanks a lot for helping me out staying connected to the world out there. With my best regards also to Paul,