Tribute to Donny George

Only good memerories

Published on 17 March 2011

Author(s): Rene Teijgeler

Type:  Tribute

When working in crisis-effected countries (the newest terminology) you gain many friends and unfortunately loose some too. Most of these so-called friendships are born out of necessity and hardly last after you have left the area. After all, in a violent conflict or a natural disaster you need each other more than ever and...there is only work, hard work and no time for pleasure even if you wanted to. All of us need this 'bonding' to survive. However, sometimes friendships remain after you return to your home country. You keep seeing each other professionally at international meetings but there also seems to be room for personal contact: you stay friends. Donny was a friend like that for me.

Between July 2004 and March 2005 when I was the senior cultural advisor at the US embassy in Baghdad, Donny and I were just about in contact every day. We shared many problems and solved them together. When we met he would pick me up in his old black BMW all alone - no escort whatsoever. He knew he took a risk and that he was constantly in danger. Like all of us Donny changed his daily pattern of coming and going every day as to confuse those who wanted to harm him.

The legacy of Sadam that the US army confiscated - mostly kitsch - for which return to the proper Iraq authorities I was responsible, ended up at the warehouse of the museum. I knew that Donny was not very taken with that but he hardly complained. We had to transport the ugly furniture and extreme ugly coaches at night for security reasons. That meant that somebody at the other end had to be there too, doing overtime.

I could be frank with Donny and he always answered my often much too direct questions. Normally very impolite in the Middle East Donny knew that there are occasions that politeness loses from the acuteness of the problems. He was a friend I could count on.

He died in harnass always on the road to fight for the preservation and protection of Iraq’s cultural heritage, the country he missed and loved so much.

Goodbye my friend.

Officially handover and signing the transfer of Babylon to the SBAH. 23 December 2004

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First Iraq ICC-subcommittee meeting on Babylon. Berlin - 25 November 2005

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Speech at the German Parliament in Berlin. 22 November 2007

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