I have to admit that there have been times over the last two years, when, running two blogs, I have either clearly been wrong to publish something, or I have posted an article that has created significant controversy and I subsequently wished I had not done so.
Life is always easy if one takes the uncontroversial path. I dare not mention the post I had in mind a year or so ago with the working title “Patrick Leigh Fermor: the Court Jester?” which was sparked by an interesting series of conversations and impressions I gained from reading ‘In Tearing Haste’. Whilst remaining an ardent admirer of Paddy, it would be wrong to say that he was a saint and beyond criticism. Few of us are.
Which brings me neatly to Taki, and the article that I posted last week entitled ‘Better a Hero Than a Celebrity’. Clearly Taki believes that he himself is beloved by all and can say and write what he wishes without fear of recrimination. He has a very old and a very thick skin. The article has sparked some significant debate in the comment section and I think it is worth bringing this to the attention of a wider audience for it sheds some light on Taki’s character and addresses some of the inaccuracies that I warn of in the introduction.
However, I stand by my response to the first comment which was as follows. Taki Theodoracopulos has had a place in European society over the last fifty years or so. Some may not like him, but clearly he has a role in commenting on the lives and loves of celebrities, which today appears to be of greater importance than the state of European banks and the future of the Euro; it is very big business. In fact Taki was one of the first ‘gossip columnists’. Whatever the inaccuracies of his article it meets the criteria of this blog. It is about Paddy and does possibly bring some new perspectives. This blog is fundamentally an archive of all on-line material about Paddy, and therefore the article stays.
I think it would be useful to all to highlight the points discussed in the Comments section, particularly the major error Taki made in stating that Paddy had killed Albert Fenske, the driver of General Kreipe’s car. Paddy had nothing to do with his death which was against orders and not at all part of the plan. Additionally the story about Paddy witnessing the death of the last German commanding General of Crete is pure fiction; it just did not happen like that.
So what is the moral of this tale? Yes, I would like it to be all sweetness and light, but you can’t please all the people all of the time. Let’s keep up the debate and remember I am more than willing to take in and publish articles that you have found or have written yourself.
Here are the comments up to this evening …..
From Chris Lawson:
“Known to the cognoscenti as Taki Takealotofcokeupthenose, Theodoracopulos is a man for whom the word “snob” might have been invented. Note the casual dropping of Agnelli’s name into his piece and Taki’s snide comments on Dirk Bogarde. It is NOT true that Paddy killed the driver of Kreipe’s car. Apart from the story of the execution of Kreipe’s successor (Name, details of crimes? Doesn’t mean Kreipe’s predecessor?), this brings nothing new to the saga of Paddy’s life. I would respectfully request that you remove the piece.”
“No Chris – I don’t do censorship. Your comment can stand as a beacon to my error in posting it. However, Taki has a place in society over the last 50 years and this blog is a repository about Paddy. It stays.”
Chris Lawson responds:
“Fine by me. Of course it was not an error posting it and I agree entirely and whole-heartedly about what you say about censorship. Yes, Taki certainly has a place in the cultural pantheon de nos jours, and my thoughts are just the latest in a stream of negative comments directed at the former inmate of H.M. prisons. Whatever else one has to say about the gent, he is certainly one of life’s great survivors.”
Tim Todd (who runs the Il Met by Moonlight site and is an expert on the operation) interjected:
“That Taki could be so fundamentally wrong about the death of Albert Fenske, Kreipe’s driver, tells me much about the appropriately named Taki.
I believe that Fenske’s death, at the hands of two of his Cretan andartes and contrary to instructions, caused Paddy no end of personal grief, perhaps second only to the accidental shooting of his Cretan friend. I once listened to Paddy talk about this latter incident when, in the mountains after a cadet’s exercise, he failed to check his rifle before cleaning it when it was returned to him. I have to tell you he was still mortified by the whole business and sixty odd years on he was still visibly upset by it. Tom our webmaster and I, know from the best of sources that Fenske’s death was much regretted by Paddy. My own feeling is that but for that we might have seen Paddy’s own account of the abduction published.
I am thoroughly disappointed that anyone claiming to know the man would dare suggest Fenske died at Paddy’s hand. Paddy, perhaps the most honourable man I have ever met, would though have accepted responsibility for anything that may have happened under his command. He was that sort of man.
It is perhaps as well that Tom has published Taki’s piece for it provides an opportunity to compare the two and set the record straight.
I am pleased to say that, through Annette Windgass, Fenske’s family have recently been made aware of Paddy’s great sadness of that particular outcome of the operation.”
Chris Lawson gave us some more about the story of the General’s death:
“On the General who succeeded Kreipe, and two predecessors
The Commandant of Crete, appointed on 1 May 1944 after Kreipe’s kidnapping, was Generalleutnant Helmut Friebe, Commander of the LXIV Armeekorps. He was captured by the Americans in May 1945 and released in 1947.
Two former commanders of Crete were tried and executed in Athens on 20 May 1947, the anniversary of the German invasion of Crete. One was the bloodsoaked Friedrich-Wilhelm Mueller, who was to have been the original target for the kidnapping until he was replaced by Kreipe. Mueller had a reputation for brutality and numerous atrocities were committed under his regime.
The other was General Bruno Bauer, a paratroop officer, who was appointed in 1942, replacing General Alexander Andrae. Bauer had gained the reputation of being hard and fair, and the “most humane commander” of Crete. Antony Beevor describes him as truly unfortunate, as he was executed for crimes “committed under another general”. Three years later the Association of Former German Paratroopers requested that his remains be returned to Crete. George Psychoundakis, resistance fighter and author of the Cretan Runner (already much-mentioned by Tom), reburied his remains.
Taki’s fourth paragraph is a complete fantasy.”
George joined the argument:
“The only readable part of Taki’s remembrance (sic ) is the last sentence, horrible in its clarity and even worse that it is written by someone whose trotters are deep in that particular trough.
His comments however, are an excellent example of the sponger’s wiles. The mildly mocking comment by Agnelli, humbly repeated to establish the writer’s honesty, while at the same time making it clear that the writer enjoys the same societal position.
Then the personal revelations as told uniquely to Taki, and no other. Who is to say it did not happen? Taki’s favourite method of asserting inside knowledge always has been to quote the ‘ confidences ‘ of dead people.
The lustrously depicted tale of an unrepentant Nazi Officer going blithely to his death comes straight out of ‘Boys Own ‘.
Next we have the gay bitchiness in his description of PLF’s relationship with his wife. Once again the vampire straddles an innocent’s grave seeking the lifeblood of fame by association.
Chris Lawson ( thank you ) marshalled all the necessary facts to give the lie to Taki’s comments. He was probably as irked by them as I was.”
Tim Todd concludes it all:
“Inaccurate accounts of historical events, for personal vanity, or a film-makers preference for ‘a story’ over fact, infuriate me. This is especially so when such accounts may subsequently become part of history for those without inquiring minds. Last week saw the release of a new video by National Geographic half of which was about the abduction of Kreipe. It is appallingly bad and inaccuracies abound. I am so glad that some colleagues of mine and I, who know a thing or two (but not all) about the abduction, rejected the film makers request to assist them for it has turned out every bit as bad as we feared. Having read some of Paddy’s comments about Ill Met By Moonlight, I can imagine what he might of thought of the latest misrepresentation.”
… and you say ….??