Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Donner und Blitzen!
No, I am not referring to two of Santa's reindeer, nor uttering a mild imprecation in German. Thunder and lightning sound better to my ears in German, and this is a report of an unusual happening in Berkeley. I grew up frequently hearing thunder and lightning in the UK, and they are a common occurrence, usually in the afternoon when we are staying at our place in Colorado. I remember being shown, as a child, the function of a lightning conductor, and I was very glad that our Berkeley home is equipped with one. The lightning actually struck our house, and someone working at a computer in my office observed a blue flash appearing on my computer screen. I was relieved to find out that everything was still working when I next went online. "Blitz" is most familiar from its use in the word "blitzkrieg". I and my fellow countrymen became very familiar with that term: the German invasion of Poland and Denmark were certainly examples of lightning warfare. Defeat did not come so rapidly in Norway or the Low Countries, nor did the Nazis succeed in Hitler's plans to invade Britain. The German aerial warfare on London and elsewhere in the British Isles began in 1940. It was anything but a lightning success for the Luftwaffe. Nevertheless, the term "the Blitz" became embedded in the English language, referring to the years of aerial attacks.