THE KOLLWITZ CALAMITIES
A Megan Crespi Mystery Series Novel
1. Two monumental granite statues by Käthe Kollwitz—the Grieving Parents—have been stolen from the German Soldiers Cemetery near Diksmide in Belgium. What could the motive have been for such an unlikely theft?
2. While retired art history professor Megan Crespi is visiting Dr. Laura Forelle, director of the Kollwitz Museum in Cologne, a call comes in that two major Kollwitz statues have been stolen. Forelle persuades Crespi, who is traveling with her old friend Dee Totebusch Whally on a Totebusch ancestor hunt in Germany, to go to the Belgian cemetery and investigate. What do the two women also discuss at length?
3. Famed surgeon Dr. Abraham Rückgabe has two passions. One is his clinic, perhaps the most successful one in private hands in Berlin. The other is an intriguing collection of thirty-six diaries he inherited from his grandmother. What is his clinic’s specialty and who are its main clients? Does the physician’s surname reflect this? And whose diaries are in his possession?
4. At Prora, on the island of Rügen off the Pomeranian coast in the Baltic Sea, an urgent meeting is taking place. Reinhold Fromm, CEO and founder of Dorotek, one of Germany’s largest manufacturers, was in heated discussion with his company’s physician, Dr. Iliana Frankel, his company lawyer, Wilhelm Schlau and his chief engineer, Ferdinand Fehler. It has come to light that the Dorotek factory buildings, originally built by Hitler as a resort for loyal German workers, contain asbestos and thirteen lawsuits have been filed against Dorotek. What is Fromm’s plan to combat the legal proceedings against Dorotek?
5. As Dr. Iliana Frankel walks to her train to Berlin, the sight of tired workers shuffling into and out of the Prora train station looked just like a poignant image she had recently seen in the window of a small Berlin Antiquariat near her Prenzlauer Allee train stop. What does she decide to do?
6. In the summer of 1943, finally persuaded by her anxious family to flee the intensified bombing raids over Berlin, seventy-five year-old Käthe Kollwitz reluctantly abandoned her Wörther Platz home of fifty years and moved to Nordhausen. Did she remain there? Also in 1943, a special complex had been built there by the Nazis. What was its purpose?
Some three-quarters of a century later, Yusri Pahlavi, youngest son of the late Shah of Iran, has just finished building a vast compound outside Nordheim which he named Jamshad—shining river—overlooking the Zorge River. Do we know yet why an Arab prince has elected to construct a royal residence in the heart of ancient Thuringia?
7. Megan and Dee drive from Cologne to Belgium and have lunch in Ghent. For what is Ghent famous? And what holds Megan’s attention when regarding it? At the cemetery where the Kollwitz statues have been stolen something catches Megan’s eye. What does she find and what new light on the theft does it suggest?
8. Iliana Frankel acquires the drawing she had seen in an antique store’s window in her Berlin neighborhood. When she removes it from its mat she finds a handwritten title “Workers Going Home at the Lehrter Railroad Station.” There is also an illegible signature and a date, 1897. What is at the site of the former Lehrter Bahnhof now? Why does Iliana call her colleague Abraham Rückgabe?
9. Twenty-one-year-old Akram al-Aljamie, only son of the famous Iraqi archaeologist Dief al-Aljamie, has persuaded his father to let him study sculpture in Berlin. During his final year at the university he meets the mysterious, head-turning beauty, Monika von Putbus. They are instantly attracted to each other and begin meeting in the Neue Wache, not far from where they both live. There, they admire a large bronze sculpture showing a mourning mother holding her dead son in her arms. The artist, unknown to either of them, is Käthe Kollwitz. Where and why is the sculpture placed inside the Neue Wache? Months after Akram and Monika have become gentle lovers, she reveals her aristocratic family heritage to him and decides to show him the Putbus sites on Rügen island. At the family’s romantic hunting lodge she reveals a secret to Akram. What is the secret and why does it prompt Akram’s proposal of marriage? What is Trosthaus and what unusual object does it contain? What are their wedding gifts to each other? And what is Akram’s one worry?
10. Kadeem Tawfeek was not enjoying the good fortune of his surname. His precious misbahah was missing. He accuses his helper Jarir of stealing it. What does he do then? After Abraham Rückgabe arrives at Iliana Frankel’s apartment what happens?
11. Megan and Dee leave the Kollwitz cemetery and decide to make the thirty-minute drive to Belgian artist James Ensor’s house/museum in Ostend, where they will spend the night. How does Megan characterize the intensity of Ensor’s work as compared with that of Kollwitz?
12. Akram telephones his father with the news of his marriage to a German woman and his conversion to her Catholic faith. What is the father’s reaction?
13. At his Dorotek office on Rügen, Reinhold Fromm is fretting over yet another lawsuit claiming asbestos poisoning caused by his company. Going over the names of the complainants he realizes suddenly that four of them are Muslim Turks. What happens next?
14. Abraham and Iliana arrive at his apartment and she is amazed by all the Kollwitz prints she sees on his walls. He explains the difference between lithography and etching and talks her through the six prints of The Weavers Revolt. What are the themes of the six images?
15. At his Nordhausen complex, Iranian prince Yusri Pahlavi contemplates his family’s tragic past. How did a chance encounter with two works of art three years earlier affect what he has done now? How does his mother fit into his actions?
16. Megan and Dee visit the Ensor house/museum and spot a first edition Kollwitz print from A Weavers Revolt on the wall. What does the museum caretaker tell them about it? Why do they decide to spend one more night in Ostend?
17. “Give me twenty-four hours and I can rectify this.” Kadeem and Jarir have unloaded the two Kollwitz statues at Jamshad and Yusri Pahlavi sees the scar damage on the sides of the statues. He is furious. What is the daring plan Kadeem comes up with?
18. Akram and Monika visit the Kollwitz Museum in Berlin, heading immediately for the top floor where the sculptures are. What are the themes of the sculptures and what happens when they leave the museum?
19. Iliana is at Abraham’s flat again to learn more about the life of Kollwitz. He reads aloud to her from one of the journals and shows her one of the “Secreta” drawings the artist kept to the end of her life. The intimate drawings are the result of an extramarital affair Kollwitz had had with a charismatic Jewish activist from Vienna. Why does Iliana’s face go white when Abraham tells her the man’s name?
20. Kaheed and three new helpers carry out a daring theft of the two Kollwitz Grieving Parents replicas from Cologne’s Alt St. Alban Church ruins. How do they accomplish this difficult operation?
21. On the way back to Cologne, Megan learns from Laura Forelle that two more Kollwitz statues have been stolen. Megan confers with Laura and Detective Herbert Schauen. They go over a list of possible suspects, including one whom Schauen describes as a “Wagnerian Jew.” Why and who are the other suspects? And what unlikely news do they learn when Schauen’s cellphone rings?
22. In Stralsund on the mainland two apartments of two Muslim Turkish families suing Dorotek are simultaneously blown apart. What is the apparent cause?
23. Akram and Monika visit Akram’s sculpture studio. What new project is Akram working on and why? Is there anything of which the two are unaware?
24. On their way from Cologne to Berlin Megan persuades Dee to drive by way of Weimar so they can visit the “Wagnerian Jew” suspect. Are they successful?
25. Dorotek CEO Fromm receives the call he has been waiting for. What is it?
26. Akram’s studio has been ransacked. What has been destroyed? And who is Rolf von Putbus?
27. Iliana picks up a newspaper as she exits the Prora station. The headline causes her to confer with Dorotek company lawyer Wilhelm Schau. What does she learn and why does she decide to visit her patient Mahdi Kartal that evening? What terrible news does she have to give him?
28. When Megan and Dee meet Siegfried Schocken and his wife Sandra, they are both wearing mourning bands. Why and what do the Schockens show them that is such a shock?
29. What is Mahdi Kartal’s reaction when Iliana gives him his medical diagnosis? And what is his diagnosis?
30. Jarir Uthman, fired by Kadeem, has not yet returned the rental boom truck. After reading about a second set of Kollwitz statues being stolen from Cologne, why does he research the artist and what daring plan springs to mind?
31. As Megan and Dee drive from Weimar to Berlin they are almost in a traffic accident. Do we have any idea who might have jumped the median?
32. After Fromm receives news concerning the lawsuits initiated against Dorotek by Muslim Turk families, he sees two items in the day’s newspaper that make him decide to go to Berlin the next day. What are they and why do they hold such interest for him?
33. Abraham and Iliana are discussing how the migrant situation in Germany is changing things for physicians. What are some of the new problems? And what uplifting event do they both look forward to the following evening?
34. One Totebusch has been found by Megan and Dee in Berlin’s “Socialist” cemetery. They also look at the honor graves of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Who were they? And what happens when they head for the Kollwitz family grave?
35. Jarir and his helper Nadeem sell an unusual artwork they have brought down from Berlin to Yusri Pahlavi at his palatial Nordhausen complex. What is it and why does the gatekeeper who looks like a bulldog smile when Pahlavi instructs him to proceed, after the artwork’s placement, “as you did with Kadeem and his men”?
36. The Kollwitz sculptures stolen now number six. What obsession does Megan think the robber or robbers must have? And which two famous paintings by Caspar David Friedrich does she show Dee? What are their multiple meanings?
37. In Berlin, Fromm visits the Galerie Zamann. What particular drawings does he study intently? And what sort of a name is “Zamann”?
38. Instead of repairing the sculpture damage at his studio, Akram is motivated to give a new sculpture to Monika in celebration of the child they will soon have. What does he have in mind and where is the sculpture site?
39. Megan and Dee are heartily greeted by Grete Bulliet, director of the Berlin Kollwitz Museum, when they arrive for the lecture Megan will give on “The Unknown Kollwitz.” What do they do before Megan speaks? Do we know the true identity of the lady in the wheelchair attending Megan’s lecture, Marie Schmidt?
40. Akram and pregnant Monika arrive for Megan’s lecture at the Kollwitz museum quite early. Why does he leave Monika downstairs and where does he go? Among the characters we have met so far, which ones attend Megan’s lecture? And who is the woman wearing a hijab who leaves immediately afterward? A long line has formed to talk to Megan after her lecture with its great surprise. What is that surprise and who are some of the people in that line?
41. At Nordhausen, Wafiyy, the gatekeeper who looks like a bulldog, smiles at his master. Prince Pahlavi is actually complimenting him on a job well done. What is that job?
42. How is it that Megan knows the real identity of the mysterious Marie Schmidt? Will they meet?
43. Hudun, wife of Kadeem Tawfeek speaks for the wives of all four missing men to the elders of the Muslim Brotherhood. From which Berlin district are the missing men and why is that so meaningful?
44. After dinner together at a Wedding restaurant the next evening, Megan, Abraham, and Iliana retire to his apartment and he reads aloud various entries from Kollwitz’s journals. What are the themes that interest Megan and what advice does she give Abraham concerning the diaries?
45. During that same night Akram carries out his bold plan to “borrow” something. What does he do and is he successful?
46. On their last day in Berlin, Megan and Dee decide to visit the Kollwitzplatz. Why? Akram, also visiting the square with Monika, recognizes Megan and invites her to join them at their picnic table. What dreadful thing happens when, just as they reach Monika, a woman wearing a hijab jumps out from the hedge behind them?
47. Megan and Dee drive a devastated Akram back to his apartment. He beseeches them to stay with him at Trosthaus, as they are all leaving for Rügen the next morning.
48. Arriving at Trosthaus the next morning, Akram discovers that someone has boarded up the entry door and placed a sign on it. What does the sign say? And who does Akram think might have left it? A high whining sound brings Akram to the door and he is faced by a little wounded kitten. What does this signify for him and what does he do?
49. Fromm receives an unannounced visit from Emil Schnüffler, a Department of Labor inspector who announces he will be conducting an immediate investigation of the Dorotek factory. Why?
50. Akram’s vengeful father replaces his female agent with a male one, Hamzah el-Hashem. What are his instructions?
51. Yusri Pahlavi is blissful. He is about to join his chauffeur for the three-hour drive to the Frankfurt airport to pick up his mother—a meeting he has been looking forward to for three years. What has he planned for her?
52. Abraham’s clinic has been vandalized, its front windows hacked to pieces and a sign has been left bearing a hateful accusation. What does the sign say?
53. Fromm desperately confers with Dorotek’s lawyer, engineer, and physician on how to deflect government investigation of his factory. Why is the government investigating Dorotek? What happens when Iliana refuses to help Fromm? And what does Fromm do next?
54. Shot in the heart, Jarir regains consciousness. Where is he? Later he is found by a passing motorcyclist on the outskirts of Nordhausen and rushed to the ER. What are his chances for recovery.
55. The conversation between reunited mother and son ranges widely as they are driven back from the Frankfurt airport to Yusri’s compound at Nordhausen. When a newspaper falls from her purse, she shows him an “outrageous” illustrated account of the spate of thefts of sculptures by a woman artist named Kollwitz. Yusri feels his blood suddenly run cold. What does he do?
56. Akram serves an Arab meal to his guests at Trosthaus, Megan and Dee. They look at the night sky through the Bresser telescope under his tutelage. A threatening call comes through for Akram. What is the horrifying message?
57. Jarir seems to be recovering against all odds and his wife in Berlin is notified. She in turn calls Officer Reinhardt. What does he resolve to do immediately and why?
58. Yusri’s mother Farah is greatly impressed by the palatial complex he has built at Nordhausen. What does he propose to her? And what does she discover after taking a nap? How does she react?
59. Jarir’s sickbed confession to Reininger galvanizes him to ask for help from the local Nordhausen police. What did Jarir say?
60. Akram is aghast to realize Trosthaus is being watched. He connects a surveillance camera to an app on his smartphone but it does not catch what occurs during the night as he and his guests sleep. What happens?
61. Yusri’s mother confronts him about what she has discovered, tells him he is no longer her son, and commands that his chauffeur drive her back to the Frankfurt airport immediately. What has she discovered that would lead to such drastic actions?
62. Iliana is enjoying being home on weekdays with her cat Uli. But she is worried about Abraham and the vandalizing of his clinic. As for Abraham, an appealing idea has come to him. What is it?
64. Trying to blot Monika’s murder out of his mind, Akram gives his guests a tour of Rügen after Megan’s meeting with Fromm in the morning. What does the CEO of Dorotek show Megan in the privacy of his home? What does she discover about it that angers him so much, he commands her to leave?
65. Yusri, after a sleepless night, is devastated by his mother’s denunciation. He dismisses his staff for the day and weeps. Then, filled with purpose, he strides to the open courtyard containing the artworks his mother discovered. Can we guess what he will do next?
66. After lunch and dessert in Sassnitz, Akram drives his two American guests—his “angels sent by Monika”—to the great white cliffs Friedrich painted at Königsstuhl. His father’s agent reports that Akram is so heedless of the warnings he has been issued that he is actually showing tourists around Rügen! What does Akram’s father instruct his agent to do?
67. The Nordhausen police, having obtained their search warrant, raid Yusri Pahlavi’s complex. What do they find in the open courtyard? And what dreadful discovery do they make at the back of the complex?
68. Looking out from the Königsstuhl with Megan, Akram is suddenly rushed by a man wearing a hoodie. What happens next? And how is Dee involved? Returning to Akram’s van what unbelievable discovery does Megan make?
69. In his upstairs study Fromm is stabbed in the neck and back by his revenge-seeking employee Mahdi. Why is the man seeking revenge? What happens to him? And ironically to Fromm? Is it of his own doing?
70. Cologne detective Schauen calls Berlin officer Reininger and both have stunning news to tell the other. What is the news? And how does it leave one thief and one statue still to be discovered?
71. Travelling with the little kitten Lana, Megan and Dee arrive in Greifswald to hunt down Totebusch graves the next day. They have no luck at the churches in town nor at the Old Cemetery just outside the city. But as they turn off to see the motif Friedrich painted at the cloister ruins of Eldena, Megan makes an extraordinary find. What is it?
72. Megan and Dee play musical quiz games as they drive with their adopted kitten Lana the 250 miles south from Greifswald to Moritzburg .Grete Bulliet will also drive down to Moritzburg, site of the house where Kollwitz died. Why? Laura Forelle will also come from Cologne to be in on things and Officer Reininger decides to drive to the city as well. Again, why all this convergence on tiny Moritzburg?
73. After a civil wedding, Abraham and Iliana take a honeymoon trip with her cat Uli to Moritzburg. Why?
74. At the idyllic Hotel Landhaus Moritzburg, a diverse group of people are dining. They all have connections to Kollwitz. Who are they? And where is Megan?.
75. Megan is in the middle of a delayed dinner at Marie Schmidt’s castle when the owner of Galerie Zamann arrives with a delivery. He is uncrating it in her picture corridor. Marie is furious at the poor timing, and Megan catches a glimpse at what is in the crate. She manages a call to Dee. What does she say to her? What dramatic events happen next?
After the denouement, a group of seven Kollwitz fans celebrate at the Landhaus, toasting the artist. Who are they and what are they celebrating? What is the new future awaiting the furry felines, Lana and Uli?