Spanyolnátha művészeti folyóirat

Deák-Takács Szilvia

(Ka)ssák survived it, (Ka)ffka did not

VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF THE SPANISH FLU

Nose-cold- rhinitis acuta: an error of the interaction between the human body and viruses. Grippe. Constipación.

Spanish — Castilian. Flamenco.

 

Spanish Flu — mutating several times. The body destroying its own cells. La Grippe. 40 million deaths. One of the biggest catastrophes in human history. 1918—19 — world epidemic. More victims than in World War I. Infecting more than one fifth of the population of the world. Not a military act. La Grippe. People sick with the flu on every bed of every hospital in the cities. Closed cinemas, theatres, obligatory to wear masks.

Spain. Where it made a bigger uproar. Where in 1918 a member of the Spanish royal family dies from it — hence the name: Spanish Flu. Not only young children and old people. Not only the sick and the weak. Anyone. Even the vigorous ones. Victims.

Passed. Probably only under eighteen months.

Today frozen bodies. Tissue samples. Reconstructed pathogens. Really unavoidable. A few hours, getting laid up, could die the next day.

 

first victim

Albert Gitchell, cook of the American army. Temperature close to 40 degrees. Kansas, 4th of March, 1918. Suddenly. No help. The first victim of Spanish Flu known by name.

 

five hundred and twenty-one victims

March 5th and 6th. Sick comrades. The epidemic starts its destructive course. American soldiers carry it. Again and again, into Europe. Almost four years into World War I. Censorship in the army: the news is bad, reports of the mysterious sickness forbidden. The Spanish call it French Flu. Alaska — South Africa — Brazil — Fiji Islands. Travels without civilian air traffic. August — in Hungary.

 

no victims

In smaller, isolated places, no registered victims: The Netherlands. Denmark. No success in identifying the pathogen — suspicious of bacteria instead of a virus — no hope in developing a antidote. They are afraid to use Aspirin the latest medicine from the US. Made in Germany — fear of the possibility that the enemy might poison it. Question: the return of the plague from the Middle Ages? Also in Australia in 1919.

 

well-known victim

The Polish Wilhelm Apollinaris [Kostrowitzky] as known as Guillaume Apollinaire — at age 38. According to Picasso’s rumours, child of Pope Leo XIII. According to his mother and himself, son of Italian count Fligi d’Aspremont. Gunner then infantryman. Apollinaire-image: headshot in battle. Operation, iron ring to hold his skull in one piece till his death. Only a year and a half left. Only 38 years altogether till 9th of November, 1918. Pére Lachaise cemetary, Paris.

 

triple victims

“Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.” Words of Egon Shiele in 1911. In 1918 a tragic family portrait — desired idyll: himself, his wife and a child never born. In reality, death: Edith, the pregnant woman with the six-month old fetus. Some days later the 28-year-old Shiele. Make-believe and reality. Idyll. Death.

 

Provençal victim

Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand — French poet, dramatist, youngest writer of Académie Française. Successful in burlesque, author of The Princess Far-away. His heroic verse drama, Cyrano de Bergerac is considered to be one of his most important works, it is popular on all stages - its hero is a swordsman in love. L’Aigon is (The young eagle) is a six-scene sentimental, patriotic tragedy about Napoleon’s son, who died in pulmonary disease. For Rostand: pleurisy, treatments, moving to Villa Arnaga in Cambo-les-Bains, the French part of Basque Country. Today there is a museum there about his life, the Basque architecture and crafts. Dies on 2nd of December, 1918 in Paris — laid to rest in a cemetery in Marseilles.

 

woman writer victim

My picture of motherly worries of Margit Kaffka. In her correspondence: “Just ease my worries and write more often, on the card I sent you reply as soon as possible about whether there was a case of the Spanish Flu at the boarding school, and if yes, how many? I understand my dear son that you would like to come home and I would like to see you, too, but until it is a must, I could not bear the thought of bringing you to Pest. I thought you could go to uncle Ervin to Temesvár, but I read it in today’s paper that there are ten thousand sick there, too. Write back soon my dearest son. A thousand hugs. Your loving mother. (Without a date, end of October or beginning of November.) The Dévai boarding school is closed. Lacika comes home to his mother to Budapest. 1st of December: first the worrying mother, then the next day Lacika dies.

 

writer’s wife victim

The wife of Frigyes Karinthy, Etel Judik, actress. Nickname: Boga. My spectacular hat-picture of her. In 1918, after five years of marriage, only 30 years old, left him with the feeling of guilt.

 

graphic artist victim

Albert Váradi, who brought printing press from Munich to his studio - making plans in Paris: commissions for book illustrations, instead of their fulfilment, death.

 

supposed victim

Gustav Klimt — prolific paintings of women —. In his studio in Hietzing, far from the collapsing world he draws and paints almost all the way to till the end — half paralyzed by cerebral haemorrhage, then down with the Spanish Flu, pneumonic. Dies not a month before the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed.

 

probable one

István Chernel, naturalist, hunter, skier, composer, photographer, writer, avid researcher and protector of birds, father of the Birds and Trees Day. Did exciting research on birds: caught diseases in moors, swamps. Weakening. Pneumonia? Spanish Flu? Dies on the 21st of February, 1922 at Kőszeg. Chemistry professor Rudolf Fabinyi, science organizer, founder of the first journal on Chemistry in Hungarian. Forced to leave Kolozsvár. Escapes to Budapest with most of the teaching staff, dies in 1920. Pope Benedict XV, who spends four years in Spain — appointer of 32 cardinals, 8 archbishops, 26 bishops, 28 vicars, 8 apostolic prefects. Commemorates Dante’s death, canonizes Mary Margaret Alacoque and Jeanne d’Arc.

 

the victim with eight children

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph”-sighs Charles IV of Hungary in Funchal, Madeira on 1st April 1922. „Blessed” since 2004 by Pope John Paul II in a beatification ceremony at St. Peter’s Square.

 

apparition victim

Six apparitions happen in Fátima, Portugal in 1917: the Virgin Mary appears for three children while shepherding: ten-year-old Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos, nine-year-old Fransisco Marto, six-year-old Jacinta Marto see a shining light, a lady appearing next to an oak bush - picture of apparition in a chapel. Two deaths: Fransisco in 1919, Jacinta in 1920. One survivor: Lucia, later a nun, sees the Holy Mother again.

 

mother victim

Mother of Margaret Mitchell, Scarlett-mother of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, Gone With The Wind. The authoress applies to Smith College after leaving Washington Seminary, but quits before the finals. Returns home to Atlanta, works at home after her mother’s death.

 

mysterious victim

L. MacGregor Mathers, founder of the Hermetic Order. Together in the Order with Moina Bergson (sister of Anry Bergson), Constance Wilde (wife of Oscar Wilde), Florence Farral (mistress of Bernard Shaw). Mysterious cause of death. Assumptions: Spanish Flu? Exhausting work with the secret leaders of the Third Order? Location of body unknown. Cause of death on his death certificate empty.

 

knight victim

Just after reaching adulthood, Archduke Franz Salvator of Austria, knight of The Order of the Golden Fleece. Went to military school, survived the front, died at his parents castle in Spanish Flu. Laid to rest in the Habsburg family mausoleum.

 

diver victim

My Cathedral of Winchester picture: laying several tons of cement with his own hands — built on uneven foundations, architectural problems, working six hours a day for six years in the flooded tunnels and ducts underneath the walls of the cathedral. Six years later, at the age of 49 he dies from Spanish Flu.

 

had Spanish Flu as well

“You cannot turn anything back!” — were his last words on his last morning. Pox-fact. In addition to psychosis from strokes, cardiac and artery dilation. Less known fact: Spanish Flu and pneumonia. Liget Sanatorium, sounds nice. At his death, a nurse clapping from fear — my theatrical impression picture — growl after the camphor and caffeine injections: the death of Ady.

 

Flu survivors

The Lajos Kassák organism, weakened by excessive work and poor nutrition. A habit of suffering from cold and the flu. Weak lungs, tuberculosis, losing weight till nothing but skin and bone. Survival together with Jolán Simon: beating the Spanish Flu. Isolation hospital, scarlet fever, Endocarditis — not killed by Spanish Flu. Haile Selassie, Tafari by his Christian name, almost a ruler instead of the uneducated Zauditu. One of the first to get the disease. Three from his European doctors taking care of him die, one is so sick he cannot work, and the fifth has so much work to do, he almost dies from it. Tafari recovers, takes the throne as Haile Selassie I. meaning “The Power of Trinity”.

 

found victim

Centuries pass. Arabic and Latin words inscribed on the victim’s gravestone — belongs to Hadidze Hanum, Ottoman princess, daughter of Pasa Abdul Kerim, wife of Nadim bey, a Turkish major who fought on the side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I. Amongst her ancestors were the cousin of the pasha of Budapest, Szokoli Mustafa, vizier Szokoli Mohamed and princess Ismihan, the granddaughter of Suleiman II.

 

victim in a lead coffin

In a village cemetery near York, the remains of Sir Mark Skyes (a diplomat and representative) turn up - a 39-year-old Parisian victim. My picture of an unusual resting place: the deceased in a hermetically sealed lead coffin — live Spanish Flu virus? Does the body of Phyllis Burn (died at the age of 20) hold the whole genetic set of the virus as well? Hermetically sealed led coffin beneath the stone dome — not an eternal resting place any more.

90 years. Research. Today remembrances and fears. Tissue samples, exhumed bodies, frozen body, the “resurrection” of the causative agent. Influenza — an error of the interaction between the human body and viruses. Spanish Flu — mutating several times. The body destroying its own cells. La Grippe. Cinemas and theatres are open today. Flamenco.

A (Ka)ssák túlélte, (Ka)ffka nem című kiállítás/The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic In The Contemporary Media. Fotó: Kiss Tanne István