Some of you, who were customers at Politico's back in the good old days, will remember a huge mural that we had on the wall above the biography section. We've just hung it on the wall in the Total Politics office, where it has caused some consternation among certain members of our admittedly teenage staff. "Who's the one above Lenin?," they ask. Sigh. "Is it Alan Sugar?" asked Grant Tucker...
Eventually, Sam Carter, who is our new publishing editor came up with the right answer, while the others hung their heads in shame. "Did none of you do any modern history at school?" I asked in a head shaking sort of way? Shane drew me a diagram to display his historical knowledge.
And they say educational standards have risen since I went to school...
PS And if you don't know who it is either, click on Comments below and the answer is revealed in the first comment.
Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany 1949-63 and one of my political heroes.
Seeing as how Harold Wilson is barely recognisable from his depiction in that mural, are you quite sure it's Adenauer? Looks more like Kurt Waldheim to me.
Christ, that's particularly embarrassing, given that I grew up next to a street called Konrad-Adenauer-Strasse, and used to walk across a bridge called Konrad-Adenauer-Bruecke to work every day. I had it down as Spiro Agnew, for some reason...
Studied this guy, very interesting man.
Recognised Adenaur ot Hadanour as we used to call him , but what is Elton John doing on the mural?
Your being a bit unfair: I studied GCSE history not too long ago (2001) and one of the courses was "Germany 1919-1990". Studying the 'economic miracle' of West Germany after 1945 was absolutely fascinating. You can't fail to be in awe of Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard.
That said, I didn't recognise Adenauer until I saw the post-it note with 1990 on it.
Iain did you have to mention Adenauer! I'd have been inclined to sadistically enjoy watching people get it wrong, but that's just me.
Plus you denied those of us who did know, the chance to show that we aren't all so ignorant! Ah well. So ist das Leben! :-/
Oh and I sometimes used to pop by Politicos when it was around. Was v.useful once when I needed to get hold of some extra Labour Party rosettes, but totally forgot about the mural until I saw the picture
As has been pointed out in one of BBC Four's excellent current series about German history and art, British schoolchildren are taught about Hitler and the Nazis and nothing much else, thus confining their knowledge of one of the intellectual and economic powerhouses of Europe to an aberrant 15 year period.
In “Al Murray’s German Adventure” last week, which is a serious (if somewhat perfunctory) look at German culture, he touched on the Baltic coastal towns, the Hanseatic League, Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Hamburg, the Bauhaus, Berlin, Brecht, Potsdam, San Souci etc etc.
I recommend anyone who missed it to take a look at it on-line while they can, and not to miss tonight's episode.
Good piece. I eventually got Adenauer but wasn't completely certain - he was before my time as I was only 4 when he left the Chancellorship. I think he's one of those figures who has come under revision in recent years - with my somewhat hesitant German, I was able to stumble through a few books about him on my last trip to Berlin and gathered the gist of the critique. He is seen by some historians in Germany as having been too willing to play along with the US/Soviet cold war game and therefore too eager to cement the division. I think this might be the ease of hindsight though - he seems to have been an exceptionally skilful leader and Germany was lucky to have him. The other criticism, that despite his determination to recompense Israel, he was too lenient on Nazi war criminals, seems to have more validity.
Is he related to Comrade Adenoids
[AKA Red Ed]?
Looks like Stanley Baldwin to me.
I thought it was Sir Jack Cohen, founder of Tesco's!
I was wondering what Sid James was doing on there!
When I was at school, we studied the 19th century through to 1939, and then post 1945 but in a very piece-meal way - specific items rather than broad trends.
It all stopped before the end of the Cold War, which I've always regarded as a shame...
What annoys me is when youngsters on quiz shows are unable to answer a simple question and then say indignantly: "How should I know that? It was before I was born."
(However, I have been very impressed with the standards of general knowledge in the latest series of "University Challenge.")
I must admit my knowledge of German history is rather patchy:
Although I still stand by my point, it looks like Alan Sugar!
@Blogger b3nharris said...
Interestingly, West Germany, after the war, re-modelled its education on our existing tri-partite system. It is still in place there. They are in pretty good shape economically, and have an educated work force.
Contrast what has happened here since the Socialist brought in the one-size-fits-all dogma. Enough to make you weep.
Of course, in your day it wasn't history Iain, it was current affairs...
It's very easy to pick holes in people's knowledge, given that there's just so much of the stuff these days. Even those who did GCSE/O-Level history will have patchy knowledge of some periods over others - certainly in my day there was far too much of WWII to the exclusion of almost everything else. But then I didn't do history - I did German instead. Is it more important to recognise Adenauer's face or to speak to his grandchildren in their native tongue?
I still know who he was, I just didn't recognise the face. And it's really not that important in the global scheme of things.
I'd suggest that the average arts graduate is even weaker on the scientific bits of what should be considered general knowledge - could you identify Max Perutz or Fred Sanger, or even explain what they did? Sanger has a fair claim to Greatest Living Englishman, but I'd guess most of the political classes have never heard of him.
b3harris mentioning Ludwig Earhart reminded me, aren't we supposed to have had our own 'bonfire of controls'. Or was that just to get the vote out, not to actually do ?
Just because someone doesn't recognise a picture doesn't mean they haven't heard of the person though. I couldn't recognise Adenauer for the life of me, but I could talk about him and his accomplishments for quite a while.
yes I knew it was KA. But I'm glad to see you chose the right candidate to be your PA. :-)
BTW - maybe you should have instigated an 'apprentice' style reality show to chose your new PA.
You could have called it 'Strictly Dancing with Dale in the Jungle on Ice Factor.
It could have been scheduled on Dave+1 right after 'Katie Wants a New Friend'
Like Sic Semper Tyrannus, I thought it was Sid James
Has anyone identified the owner of the body (top left) and the head (bottom left)?
I think that bottom left is Neville Chamberlain, but am stumped by top left.
Incidentally, whilst I did guess Adenauer, if someone had assertively said Alan Sugar, I would have agreed and abandonned the old man.
I only did history up to GCSE and we stopped in 1939. I realised when watching Andrew Marr's history of modern Britain that I had this gap in my knowledge from 1946 until I became aware of politics in the early 70s. His book fills that gap very nicely
Konrad, a real pain in the arse to the British Occupation in the early years, briefly imprisoned, released and tolerated whilst he manouvered for position.
Suspected of being a communist mole, notwithstanding his ultra left wing views.
Frankly an all round pest, nuisance, and first class pain.
The Adenauer spirit could sink the Euro. The Germans might start to see that One World Government is not all it's cracked up to be, and they can do better breaking free from the Eurozone.
Germans have historically stood apart from western empires, starting with the Romans.
Bottom Left: Franklin D Roosevelt
Top Left: Charles De Gaulle
Was the one with half its head missing painted by Francis Bacon?
I'm with Grant on this one - he does look like Alan Sugar.
Never knew what Konrad Adenauer looked like, so quick Google lookup.
Erm the picture still looks more like Alan Sugar than the Old Man.
Well, bugger me sideways!
I rely on the diagram that Father Ted drew for Father Dougal. That and a small piece of paper with Port is Left Starboard is Right written on it.
it's probably that not a lot of people recognize adenauer because the mural is not a very good likeness. it's kind of ironic that all the wrong guesses (sid james, alan sugar, jack cohen) have been jews, considering that your hero adenauer bears a lot of responsibility for the fact that so few Nazis were held to account for their crimes.
i also agree with the comments arguing that you can be quite knowledgeable about an historical figure without recognizing them. recognizable historical figures tend to either be so famous as to be iconic (eg che guevara) or to have very memorable faces (eg moshe dayan's eye patch)
Depends what kind of history you studied at school I suppose. My school was very old fashioned and we did 19th century British political history (corn laws, reform act etc.) Consequently I can recognise a drawing of Sir Charles Dilke or Joachim Goschen at a hundred paces. As it stands however I thought it was Alan Sugar as well!
They have risen, Ian. When you went to school, you had no idea about ANYTHING after 1990. Probably thought we'd all be wearing moon boots. Whizz For Atomms!
If you took the picture along to the House of Commons and showed it to the inmates, how many of therm would recognise Adenauer?
About one in five would be my guess.
Nice. But isn't a mural a painting directly ONTO a wall? If it's hanging on the wall it ain't a mural.
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