Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sixty Four Years since the Christiansborg Crossroads Shootings

Today is the 64th anniversary of the Christiansborg Crossroads Shootings. On 28 February 1948 a British police officer fired on a demonstration by Gold Coast veterans of WWII. The initial shooting killed three men. Later violence resulted in twelve more deaths over the next five days. The British colonial government then detained without trial the six most prominent leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention including future Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah.

Source: F.K. Buah, A History of Ghana: Revised and Updated (Oxford: Macmillan, 1998), pp. 154-155.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Teaching schedule

For some reason this semester I have a teaching schedule that does not agree with my bio-rhythms. I have to teach from 3:30 to 5:30 on Fridays then go to Accra to teach from 6:30 to 8:30 and don't get home until about 9:30. Then I have to teach again at 7:30 am on Monday mornings. I would prefer to have all my classes closer to the middle of the day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Publishing norms?

I have now finished sending off my paper on cotton in German Togoland. It is my second publication dealing at least in part with an African subject. Since I have started working at the University of Ghana a year ago I have had one peer reviewed journal article and one book chapter accepted for publication. The journal article is available online now at SpringerLink, but I do not know when the print version will be out. I also noticed that six encyclopedia articles for three different volumes that I wrote before coming here were published last semester. That gives me eight small publications this academic year. I am not sure what the average is for most history lecturers in the world. I suspect at US universities it might be much, much, higher, but I do not really know. I would, however, like to know how I rank in terms of productivity compared to the average starting lecturer in the US or Europe. Can anybody give me an idea how much a starting assistant professor publishes each year at a typical US institution of higher learning? Am I way behind the US and European norms for publishing?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Alternate Bio

I just finished sending off the cotton paper. These things usually ask for a short autobiography and I try and keep them as short and simple as possible. But, just once I think it would be fun to send something like the following.

J. Otto Pohl has finally gotten a position as a lecturer seven years after earning his PhD. He spent two years of that time living in the deserts of Arivaca eating moths and beetles. During this time he wasted a huge amount of effort and postage applying for jobs in the US. Instead he should have been looking for jobs in Africa. From 2007 to 2010 he lived and worked in Central Asia. But, he still wasted time and energy that he will never get back looking for a job in the US instead of looking in Africa where it would have done him a lot more good. Now he is not wasting any time or calories attempting to get a job at a US university and as a result was able to write and edit this book chapter on cotton in German Togoland.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I did not explode

Yesterday at lunch I was eating banku and okra stew at the night market. I also had two bags of water to wash it down with. The woman across the table from me, however, was making a lot of strange hand gestures at me in a panicked way. At first I thought she might be a witch trying to curse me with juju.The man sitting next to her, however,  said she was dumb as in mute and was trying to tell me not to eat and drink water at the same time or my stomach would explode. Apparently this is a widely held Ghanaian folk belief.

Sixty Eight Years since the Deportation of the Chechens and Ingush

Today is the 68th anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechens and Ingush to special settlement restrictions in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Beria carefully oversaw this mass uprooting of humanity which ultimately resulted in over a quarter of the Chechen and Ingush population perishing during the next five years. On 26 November 1948, the Stalin regime decreed the exile of the Chechens, Ingush, and other deported peoples to be permanent. I still maintain that the deportation of an entire group defined by an ethnicity assigned by the state at birth to restricted territories forever is a racist act. I also maintain that the very act of deporting to unprepared territories an entire national group consisting in the majority of women, children, and the elderly during war time conditions in the middle of winter shows an intent to kill off a large portion of them regardless of stated motives. I am well aware that the orthodox position in American academia is that the Soviet action was neither racist or genocidal, but I stand by my position.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Soviet Apartheid: Stalin's Ethnic Deportations, Special Settlement Restrictions, and the Labor Army: The Case of the Ethnic Germans in the USSR" available online

I am pretty sure that the number of people who read this blog who might possibly have access to full text articles on SpringerLink is probably pretty limited. But, just in case one or two comes across here by accident, my most recent peer reviewed journal article has been available online since 15 January 2012. The title of the article is "Soviet Apartheid: Stalin's Ethnic Deportations, Special Settlement Restrictions, and the Labor Army: The Case of the Ethnic Germans in the USSR," Human Rights Review. 

Ethnic Complexity

I had thought that the North Caucasus was ethnically complex before I came to Ghana. But, today after hearing another presentation on ethnic conflict in northern Ghana I am convinced that the ethnic divisions in the Caucasus are rather simple and straight forward compared to those in north-eastern Ghana. I am pretty sure that neither the Germans or the British actually fully figured out the ethnic divisions in this region during colonial rule and that this lack of understanding was one of the reasons for conflict in the area.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cotton Paper Revisions

Today after I finished teaching my 7:30 am class on European history from 1789 to 1945 I did some work revising my paper on cotton in German Togoland which is due early next week. I met with my co-author this morning and I finished changing the citations into Harvard style and the spelling into British ones today. Tomorrow I hope to finish writing up the revisions so I can send it off before the end of the week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More on GKO Order 1281ss

GKO Order 1281ss ordered the forced mobilization of Russian-Germans living in the eastern regions of the USSR before 1941 into the labor army. Yesterday I posted a translation of the decree itself. Here are some links to earlier posts on the subject. The first post is a brief history of the implementation of this decree. By April 1942 the Soviet government had inducted 40,864 additional Russian-German men into the labor army with this decree. Next is a post on the mobilization of ethnic Germans in Kyrgyzstan under this and later decrees for work in the labor army. Among those mobilized were a large number of Mennonites, particularly from the Talas region.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seventy Years Since GKO Order No. 1281ss

"On Mobilizing Germans- Men of Conscript Age from 17 to 50 Years, Permanently Living in Oblasts, Krais, Autonomous and Union Republics."

Resolution of the GKO USSR No. 1281 ss from 14 February 1942.

The State Committee of Defense Resolves:

1. All Germans - Men of the ages from 17 to 50 years, capable of physical labor, permanently living in Arkhangelsk, Vologoda, Ivanova, Molotov, Penzen, Svedlovsk, Tambov, Chita, Cheliabinsk, Chkalovsk, Yaroslav, Kirov, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Kubyshev, and Irkutsk oblasts, Primore, Khabarovsk, Altai, and Krasnoiarsk krais, Bashkir, Mordvin, Mari, Tatar, Udmurdt, Chuvash, Buriat-Mongolian and Komi ASSRs, Kazakh, Turkmen, Tadzhik, Kirgiz and Uzbek SSRs - are to be mobilized into work columns for the entire duration of the war and handed over to the NKVD USSR for use in the construction of rail roads.

The carrying out of the mobilization is to be entrusted to the NKO (comrade Shchadenko) together with the NKVD USSR. The mobilization is to be completed by 25 March 1942.

2. Requires the NKPS and the Administration of military communications of the NKO to provide transport to the mobilized Germans with accountable delivery of them to their place of work as announced by the NKVD USSR not later than 30 March.

3. Distribute the order of mobilization and upkeep of the mobilized Germans, established by the resolution of the GKO from 10 January 1942 No. 1123 ss points 2,3,4, again to all mobilized.

4.  Requires the Peoples' Commissariat of Food Industry, Peoples' Commissariat of Meat and Milk Industry, Peoples' Commissariat of Procurement, Peoples' Commissariat of Fish Industry to assign for the month of March and second quarter to the GULAG NKVD USSR at their expense the remaining food goods from these industries, according to the addendum.  Forward to the Peoples' Commissariat of Trade of the USSR the provision of food and industrial supplies for the mobilized on the basis of point 6 in resolution of the GKO No. 1123 from 10. 1. 42.

5. People's Commissariat of Finance USSR together with NKVD USSR are to provide for in the finance plan of the NKVD USSR the necessary funds to pay for the transport of the Germans and other expenses to the officials in charge of providing their supplies.

Chairman of the State Committee Defense

I. Stalin

Source: A.A. German, T.S. Ilarionova, I.R. Pleve, Istoriia Nemtsev Rossii: Khrestomatiia (Moscow, MSNK Press, 2005), pp. 272-273.

Translation from Russian to English by J. Otto Pohl

Arizona turns 100 years old

Arizona was the last state in the lower 48 to join the union. It officially became a state exactly a century ago on 14 February 1912. Of all the places in the US I have lived I liked Arizona the best.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Last night I stayed up until eleven pm to take my malaria medicine. Then I got up in the night twice before having to get up at six am for my seven thirty am class. So now after a weekend bought of malaria and insufficient sleep last night I am tired. I am going to go home soon and take a nap.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Power Cord

Wednesday night the power cord to my laptop died. I had to go get a new one. I was going to do it on Thursday, but ran out of time and money after buying new shoes and then finding out all the ATM machines were down. Then on Friday between going to the hospital and teaching four hours with malaria I not only had no time, but did not feel well enough to do it on Saturday. Finally, today I purchased a new power cord from Maxi Mart for 45 cedis. It is currently charging the battery on my laptop.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Surviving Malaria

Last night and earlier today I did not feel so well. But, now the anti-malarial drugs seem to have kicked in and I feel pretty good. My first experience with malaria was not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I found out as a result of a routine blood test and did not feel any symptoms until hours after I had started the treatment course. I had expected to have a raging fever and splitting headache when I inevitably first contracted malaria like almost everybody else in Ghana. Instead I had some flu like symptoms for one night and one day. Considering the disease used to kill the vast majority of white people that landed on these shores I think I have fared pretty well.

Weekend plans delayed

I think I am going to have to scale back my grandiose plans for the weekend due to having contracted malaria. Next weekend I should be physically able to perform much better. This weekend I will try and take it easy.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Running Man

Yesterday I spent most of my time running around. I walked so much my feet hurt. Fortunately, on my last trip a man calling out "white man," "white man," "white man" was selling trainers. He had a pair of black shoes at least claiming to be Nike in my size for 35 cedis. They have a lot thicker soles than my other pair of shoes and my feet do not hurt when I walk over the rocky dirt roads just outside of campus.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Lebanese Cuisine

Today I ate lunch at the Lebanese cafe in Maxi Mart. The food was good, but way over priced.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The wrong team won today

Today Ghana lost to Zambia 0-1 in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations. The Black Stars had a good run. On Sunday they will play the loser of the Mali vs. Ivory Coast game for third place.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Syllabus for Aspects of World History since 1945

Aspects of World History since 1945

HIST 418

Spring 2012

Department of History

University of Ghana

J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Meeting Time: 3:30-5:30 Fridays in JQB no. 9

Course Description: This course is a survey course of world history since the end of World War II in 1945. It examines the history of the world from 1945 to 1991 in the context of the Cold War between the US and the USSR. The course will focus on the foreign policies of the US and USSR and their effect on other regions of the world. Among other events the course will cover the reconstruction of Europe after World War II, the Arab-Israeli wars, the Vietnam War, and the emergence of newly independent states in Africa. Within the Soviet – US conflict the course will pay special attention to the socialist emphasis on the collectivization of agriculture versus traditional forms of agriculture. The course will look at the extension of collectivized agriculture influenced by the extension of the Soviet model to the Baltic States and Western Ukraine, Vietnam, and parts of Africa. The course will also deal extensively with the displacement of large numbers of people due to war and ethnic cleansing and the long term ramifications of such forced migration. In particular the course will look at forced migration in Europe and the Middle East. Other themes we will touch on are economic development, the emergence of international organizations, and the collapse of European colonialism in Asia and Africa.

Requirements: The goal of this class is to give students a general frame work of the history of the conflict between the US and USSR and other major international events from 1945 to 1991. Students need to attend class regularly and do the assigned readings. Material from both the readings and the lectures will appear on the final exam. No mobile phones are to be visible during class. They are to be out of sight and turned off. Finally, I have a significant hearing loss and may have to ask people to repeat their questions or statements from time to time. You can minimize this by speaking loudly and clearly. This syllabus is tentative and subject to change.

Readings: The readings are taken mainly from three books. These books are Geoffry Hosking, The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within, Second Enlarged Edition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), Martin Walker, The Cold War: A History (NY: Henry Holt and company, 1993), and Robert McMahon, The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2003). There are also a number of shorter readings, mostly journal articles. The instructor has copies of all the assigned readings and will make them available to the students. The shorter readings are listed below.

Clapham, Christopher, “Revolutionary Socialist Development in Ethiopia,” African Affairs, vol. 86, no. 343, (April 1987), pp. 151-165.

Esber, Rosemarie, “Rewriting the History of 1948: The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Question Revisited,” Holy Land Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (2005), pp. 55-72).

Hayden, Robert M., “Schindler’s Fate: Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Population Transfers,” Slavic Review, vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 727-748.

Khalidi, Rashid, “Observations on the Right of Return,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Winter 1992), pp. 29-40.

Luke, Timothy, “Angola and Mozambique: Institutionalizing Social Revolution in Africa,” The Review of Politics, Vol. 44, No. 3 (July 1982), pp. 413-436.

Raymond, Chad, “The Insoluble Internal Conflicts of Agricultural Collectivization in Vietnam,” Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 15, no. 2 (2001), pp. 41-70.

Statiev, Alexander, “Motivations and Goals of Soviet Deportations in the Western Borderlands,” The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 28, No. 6 (December 2005), pp. 977-1003.

Ther, Philip, “The Integration of Expellees in Germany and Poland after World War II: A Historical Reassessment,” Slavic Review, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 779-805.

Grading: The grade for the class will be based upon a mid-term exam and a comprehensive final essay exam at the end of the semester. The mid-term will be worth 25%of the final grade and the final exam will constitute the remaining 70% of the grade. Attendance will be 5% of the grade.

Class Schedule:

Week one: Introduction and Review of Syllabus

Week two: The US and USSR after World War II and the Start of the Cold War

Read: Hosking, pp. 296-325; Statiev, pp. 977-1003; Walker, pp. 1-28; McMahon, pp. 1-15.

If possible this week I would like to show the movie Red Terror on the Amber Coast: Soviet Occupation – Lithuanian Resistance 1939-1993 since it covers much of the material in the Hosking and especially the Statiev.

Week three: Europe in the wake of World War II

Read: Hayden, pp. 727-748; Ther 779-805; Walker, pp. 28-58; McMahon, pp. 16-34.

Week four: Asia and the Middle East in the wake of World War II

Read: Raymond, pp. 41-70; Esber, pp. 55-72; Khalidi, pp. 29-40; Walker, pp. 59-82; McMahon, pp. 35-55.

Week five: The 1950s: Khrushchev vs. Eisenhower

Read: Hosking, pp. 326-362; Walker, pp. 83-135; McMahon, pp. 56-77.

Week six: Mid-term examination. The exam is worth 25% of the total grade.

Week seven: The 1960s: Cuba, Vietnam and other Conflict Zones

Read: Walker, pp. 136-206; McMahon, pp. 77-104.

Week eight: The USSR during the Era of Stagnation and the US at Home

Read: Hosking, pp. 364-445; McMahon, pp. 105-121.

Week nine: The Twilight of the Cold War

Read: Walker, pp. 207-277; McMahon, pp. 122-142.

Week ten: “Socialism” and Development in Africa

Read: Scott, pp. 223-261, Luke, pp. 413-436, and Clapham, pp. 151-165.

Week eleven: The End of the Cold War

Read: Walker, pp. 278-357; McMahon, pp. 143-168.

Week twelve: The End of the USSR

Read: Hosking, pp. 446-501.

Syllabus for European History 1789-1945

History of Europe 1789-1945

HIST 304

Spring 2012

Department of History

University of Ghana

J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Meeting Time: 7:30-9:30 am Monday in Stat 200

Course Description: This course is a survey course covering the political, economic, and social history of Europe from the French Revolution until the end of World War II. It will focus primarily on the ‘Long 19th Century’ from 1789 until 1914. The course will concentrate on large European states such as Great Britain, France, Prussia, Austria, and the Russian Empire. But, it will also cover some events in smaller states such as the unification of Italy and the Balkan Wars. Major themes and events the course will cover are the Napoleonic Wars, industrialization, the rise of Germany, the development of democratic and socialist movements, the triumph of nationalism as the primary source of popular legitimacy for European states, World War One, the success of totalitarian movements in the 1920s and 30s, and World War Two.

Requirements: Students need to attend class regularly and do the assigned readings. Material from both the readings and the lectures will appear on the final exam. No mobile phones are to be visible during class. They are to be out of sight and turned off. Finally, I have a significant hearing loss and may have to ask people to repeat their questions or statements from time to time. You can minimize this by speaking loudly and clearly. This syllabus is tentative and subject to change.

Readings: The text for this class is David Thomson, Europe Since Napoleon, Second Edition, Revised, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982).

Grading: The grade for the class will be based upon a mid-term exam and a comprehensive final essay exam at the end of the semester. The mid-term will be worth 25% of the final grade and the final exam will constitute the remaining 70% of the grade. Attendance will count for 5% of the total grade.

Class Schedule:

Week one: Introduction and review of the syllabus.

Week two: The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, 1789-1814.

Read pp. 1-58.

Week three: The Congress of Vienna, 1815

Read pp. 59-103

Week four: Revolutionary ferment and explosions, 1815-1850

Read pp. 107-210.

Week five: Redrawing the map of Europe, 1851-1871

Read pp. 211-318.

Week six: The development of modern political ideologies: Democracy, Socialism, and Nationalism.

Read pp. 319-422.

Week seven: The triumph of Empire, 1871-1914

Read pp. 423-508.

Week eight: Mid-Term Exam. The Mid-Term is worth 25% of the total grade.

Week nine: World War One and its aftermath, 1914-1923

Read pp. 509-608.

Week ten: The interwar period, 1924-1939

Read pp. 609-718.

Week eleven: World War Two, 1939-1945

Read pp. 719-772.

Week twelve: Wrap up and review of semester.

Ghana 2 Tunisia 1

Ghana beat Tunisia 2 to 1 in extra time yesterday. On Wednesday they play Zambia in the semi-finals. Ghana looks to have a shot to win the cup this year.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

History Department Trip to the Volta

Between the afternoon of 1 February 2012 until this morning I was on a History Department retreat on the other side of the Volta. That is the part of Ghana that was part of German Togoland before World War One. We redid the entire curriculum of the department and discussed ways in which we could recover the position we enjoyed in the 1950s and 60s as the best History Department on the continent of Africa. Now that we have some resources we can advance in this direction. Ultimately we would like to increase our full time permanent faculty from five to thirty. If any of my friends with PhDs in history from legitimate institutions would like to join me here in Ghana please send me an e-mail. Trust me it is a lot better to work in a growing department in a former Third World country than to be unemployed in a former First World country.

Ghanaian Football Update

Ghana tied Guinea 1 to 1 on Wednesday evening and will be going on to the quarter finals. Ghana and Mali were the two teams from their group to advance to the next round. Tomorrow the Black Stars play Tunisia.