My Travel Diary. 1936: Between Two Worlds by Paul Tillich
Paul Tillich is generally considered one of the century's outstanding and influential thinkers. After teaching theology and philosophy at various German universities, he came to the United States in 1933. For many years he was Professor of Philosophical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, then University Professor at Harvard University. His books include Systematic Theology; The Courage to Be; Dynamics of Faith; Love, Power and Justice; Morality and Beyond; and Theology of Culture. This book was edited by Jerald C. Brauer. Translation by Maria Pelikan. Published by Harper & Row, New York, Evanston, and London, 1970. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
Chapter 3: June
At ten o’clock I lecture on "The People and The State," pinpointing the German ideology. After lunch, discussion of the economic situation.
Preparation for the evening lecture, the last of the series. The Werners stay in the hotel: Mother has caught a cold. The weather is icy. My final lecture offers the solution inherent in the idea of the religious-socialist alliance. Afterward everyone gathers around the fireplace and I have to talk about America. Dead tired to bed.
Ten o’clock, final discussion, outdoors, in the warm sunshine. The Werners come, too. Speeches expressing gratitude; speeches of farewell. The course was a great success, the discussion had been at a consistently high level, the whole thing was very well managed by Leni and Karolus. After the farewell luncheon, to bed where I write a birthday letter to my father. He has offered to give Elisabeth 200 marks for the journey, but he himself does not want to come.
By car through the beautiful Dutch countryside with the Werners and M. L. We visit an ancient village on the Zuider Sea. Everyone there is in native costume; the children especially are cute. Very old narrow streets with low-slung houses, like dollhouses, and crowds of people in native dress. Beautiful fishing port. We drive back over the dykes to pay another visit to the Hilversum Town Hall.
I say good-by to the Werners at their hotel. Both are deeply moved. Mother wants to get the inheritance free by making it over to Rend. The question is whether it can be done. Both were very sweet, Mother very gray. On their way back they are going to visit some relatives at The Hague.
Dinner at the Mennickes’ with our beloved M. L. Then I take her to the train. She talks about the collapse of ideals and how impossible it is to go on fighting the thing with irony. She insists that the Psychoanalytical Society has not been dissolved, but admits that it is struggling desperately. We had a very charming evening with her. She longs for letters from Hannah.
In the evening Karolus and I discuss our respective positions. Result: his is progressive-optimistic, while mine is tragic-dialectic; his Erasmic -- mine Lutheran. He rejects the idea of the daemonic and of catastrophe, which explains his completely negative stand on Communism. I am glad that the perpetual, palpable tension between us has at last been given clear, conceptual expression.
I get up early to pack. Then I say good-by to Karolus and Karola. All leave-takings are different nowadays. One never knows when . . .
To the train with Leni and Lilly. I am going to Eushede at the German border to meet Staehlin. Lilly takes the same train all the way to Berlin. Communism and the things that have happened to her have turned her into a mature human being. Her infantile traits have disappeared. She tells me that for a year and half Fritz was facing the threat of imprisonment every day. They used to say good-by every morning as if it were forever. In their house, a woman, whose husband is in prison, gave birth to a child -- that sort of thing is now happening all the time.
During my lectures Lilly made friends with the Communist couple. The man was so deeply stirred after my final lecture that he came the next day, all the way from Amsterdam, and asked me to turn my ideas into a pamphlet for clandestine distribution. I am writing this in a little waiting-room restaurant, waiting for Staehlin to arrive.
Finally he arrives, and we talk for four hours. It is one of my most important encounters on this entire journey. We start immediately, with the problem closest to his heart: the Confessing Church. His report is shattering: the most rigid, fanatical orthodoxy; anyone who disagrees on questions of dogma is instantly expelled. Denunciations are the order of the day. Everyone is required to submit unconditionally to the brotherhood counsels. A few weeks ago fourteen students boycotted his seminar because he was conducting exams together with "German Christians." Anyone who dares disagree is accused of heresy. On the other side, the Church committees are slowly but steadily working toward some kind of cooperation, for instance in Saxony. However, they may fail in the attempt, and if they do, there will be nothing left but the orthodox sect, fruit of Barthian theology.
Staehlin judges the world situation of Protestantism exactly as I do, which is to say: negatively. He sees it defenseless against Catholicism. At this point I read him the last paragraph of my "Protestantism in the Present World Situation," and he takes it down in shorthand. Amazing how much we still think alike after four years of separation! The idea of the religious order lies at the center of his thinking. He expresses his own conviction -- shared by Oldham, he maintains -- that all really decisive matters cannot really take effect for at least fifty years. He feels we must arm ourselves against the time of chaos. He himself has asked to be retired; he wants to become the Abbot of a Protestant monastery he founded near Rothenburg, Fulda. If the Kultusministerium refuses to pension him, he plans simply to quit. When he told this to his Dean, the Dean said, after a moment of shocked silence: "You still have a future. What you propose here is senseless."
Staehlin says that work at the universities is hopeless, work at the theological faculties senseless. Men from secular life -- not young theology students -- should be the leaders of the communities. He rejects Nazism unconditionally. He thinks that those who have gone through it might develop a new pagan Christianity which might be able to overcome the confessional split. He tells me that the leading Catholic liturgist, a Benedictine monk, said to him that they and his (Staehlin’s) wing of the Protestant Church would someday fight side by side against Rome. But on the whole he is very pessimistic about the possibility of realizing his ideas in Germany. What he would like best would be to establish a German branch of the Anglican Church.
The Berneuchner Brotherhood has about 300 members. Each is assigned as a helper to another man. Staehlin, for instance, has been assigned to Frede, about whom he worries. He feels that Frede has never got over Johanna’s death, and that he is thus unable to regain a fully positive orientation toward life. This, he says, makes him liturgically useless, nor can he give Trudchen a completely positive attitude toward life, or a feeling of fulfillment. Trudchen herself thinks that she won’t live much longer. Staehlin also says that Ritter has developed very well, and was twice in prison . . . . He is suspicious of H. Staehlin talks of daemonic sacraments and analyzes the Nazi swastika as a cross with claws instead of tails such as the real Indian sun-wheel has. He is reading Goethe’s Chromatology in order to analyze the color brown (the color of the Nazis). He says he rarely has visions but is now plagued by one that shows Germany turned into a battlefield. On the day of Potsdam he cried all afternoon.
I broach the social angle. He admits that this is his weak point, but insists that the brotherhood’s apolitical attitude and community organization must be regarded as symbolic. He does admit that such an attitude may bring with it the danger of seeming to support those in power. There is a contradiction here concerning their basic intentions.
He speaks of S. and says he can no longer put down roots anywhere, that he has taken to the nomadic life: the breaking of his engagement is a typical example. It is, Staehlin says, too late for him.
The total impression of our meeting: the idea of the religious order is encountered everywhere. Nobody believes any longer that the masses can be directly reeducated. This is a retreat, to be sure. But it also makes it possible for the leading intellectual and religious forces to regroup and gather strength.
At eight o’clock we say good-by, our friendship reaffirmed. Past Amersfoort to Amsterdam. Magnificent sunset. Beautiful entrance into Amsterdam past the illuminated harbor. By car to the Ides’ where, after a glass of wine, I go to bed, very tired.
I get up late, visit the de Hoops. He stays only for a little while, but we manage to have a pleasant conversation about Austria and Holland. An Austrian countess arrives and immediately spreads a delightful atmosphere of Old Vienna. Both she and Mrs. de Hoop are monarchists, and anti-Nazis. The two ladies consider Starhemberg a "dashing" figure.
Lunch at the Sinzheimers’; we discuss the problem of the books. Then I go to say good-bye to the Ides, who are leaving for England. Ten minutes later I myself am at the railroad station.
To Brussels in a beautiful second-class carriage (which has been donated by the French Line). The border inspection is quick and easy.
Gaby’s butler comes up to me, then Gaby herself appears, warm and cheerful as always, her face a vivid red. By car to 21 Avenue Victoria, at the edge of the Bois, which has the most wonderful trees. The house reminds me of Frankfurt, only a little smaller. The old familiar furniture and pictures are here. A very well-kept garden, many terraces. My room overlooks the Bois.
Dinner, with a torrent of questions and answers. Paul is very nice, the two boys have grown enormously and are intelligent. Gaby has become a little heavier in the face, but Paul is quite unchanged. He is working on problems of logic and managing his estate. We immediately get into a discussion.
To bed very early, with a good French book.
To town with Gaby. La Grande Place is the most beautiful square in the world -- after San Marco. I admire the magnificent architecture of St. Gudule and regret the absence of good stained-glass windows. We wander through the harmoniously designed Street of Secretariats, past the Royal Palace, to the most beautiful house in Brussels, which is owned by Gaby’s brother. Louis XVI outside and inside -- full of beautiful things.
Mine. Evero receives us and regales us with wine. Later Paul comes to call for us there. But first Gaby and I look over the house. The most remarkable feature are two facing alcove beds in the upstairs bedroom: behind each bed is a mirror -- which gives rise to certain jocular remarks, especially as the house was once owned by monks. There are several secret staircases, too.
Lunch at the Oppenheims’ with invited guests. A professor of Byzantinism expresses -- with brilliant French rhetoric -- the very same views I had expounded in England. He says: the dictatorial countries are making history, and the democratic countries are making diplomacy. Next to me, a beautiful Australian woman wants to stab me with her table knife when I say she looks like an American. She hates all things colonial, as a result of her Australian experience. She says that Australia is like a nightmare for her.
Later I walk through the Bois with Paul, in the rain. We have coffee on the island. Magnificent trees everywhere. We argue about positivistic logic and come closer to each other’s viewpoint than Paul ever did with Horkheimer, even though Horkheimer is a positivist.
At night Gaby and I go on the town. After a delightful dinner we visit a dance hall which is quite empty but pervaded by good atmosphere. Gaby shows me how to hold myself while dancing. On to a Russian place with intellectuals and, by American standards, an impossibly inept floor show. We try to speak French, but it is too strenuous for me in the long run. So we stick to English.
To the art gallery, by myself. It is wonderful, much more impressive than Rotterdam; the early Flemish school; Rogier van der Weyden; Hugo van der Goes; Gerard David; Petrus Christus; Patinir. A roomful of Cranach, another with small paintings by Rubens; a room of Brueghel and Bosch: Bethle- hem, The Fall of Icarus, etc.
After lunch I change and go to a café. There I sit until about 5:30, writing and watching the stream of passers-by -- as in the old days. The people are a little too provincial.
At six o’clock there is a big cocktail party at the Oppenheims’. Eighty guests, beautiful women and clever men; a brilliant gathering of the haute bourgeoisie and intelligentsia of Brussels. Gaby’s brother with his wife; a lovely Australian; a Swiss correspondent of the Neue Zuericher Zeitung to whom I explain my ideas and who agrees wholeheartedly. A Flemish Communist painter (female) with whom I discuss Diego Rivera; Dr. Hempel, Paul’s co-worker in philosophy, with his beautiful wife. The party takes place indoors as well as out in the garden. There is dancing on the terrace. Though they are offering an abundance of cocktails, I have only one, knowing what they can do to you. My lack of French bothers me very much. I have to speak English all the time. French, which I used to love so, has become difficult, almost unpleasant for me.
Most of the guests leave at eight o’clock. At that time I walk to a nearby students’ home, where N. is staying. She had written to Gaby and Gaby had got her a room there. N. has grown a little heavier, her eyes are greatly changed by her illness; but she is wide awake and full of life. She soon tells me that she had become converted to Catholicism last year. Now a member of the Catholic Caritas Society, she has to teach nuns in a big hospital in Cologne. She became a Catholic because she needed something beyond the finite, but she did not dare write about it because of the persecution of Catholics in Germany. After three quarters of an hour I have to return to the Oppenheims’, to dress for a ball. I cannot accomplish this immediately because the remnants of the cocktail party -- in highest spirits -- have settled down all over the floor and are playing masquerade. The two Oppenheim sons, who are charming, surround the daughter of Vandevelde, a Bauhaus forerunner in Weimar. Only after an hour and a half of concerted effort, do Paul and Gaby manage to throw out the last of their guests. In other words, the party was a huge success.
Gaby and I change, and, with the lovely Australian leading the way, go to the ball which is being given at a club. A bit formal at first, then very gay -- many beautiful women. I talk a great deal with an Austrian analyst who specializes in speech impediments. She is a little strange but very clever, acknowledges many mystical things, lectures on women’s problems. Also, the lovely Australian, and a blonde with an interesting face and silver-tipped toes.
To bed around three.
Rent’s birthday. There are moments when I have to sup-press my longing for him with all my might. It is almost unbearable to think how he must be changing from day to day.
After a late breakfast, I go to see N. We have a very serious and good talk. She came to Catholicism on her own, without a father confessor; through reading and thinking. I challenge her by asking where she stands on the question of dogma, and find her completely unsure in this respect. First she tries to counter with the need for submission to dogmatic authority. Then she realizes that this is utterly impossible. She affirms the extrafinite aspect of the Church. She has many reasons for changing: a psychological reason, her loneliness after the coming of the Nazis; the impossibility of a concerted protest front, except within the framework of the Church; rejection of Protestantism, perhaps a form of protest against her father.
I explain my own position and it seems as if a new world were opening up for her. She is deeply grateful for the program idea and the idea of the religious order, regards it as a new way to approach the social question.
Lunch at the Oppenheims’. N. reports that anti-Catholic and especially antireligious-order laws are expected to be announced at the time of the Party Day. The prosecution of foreign-exchange smugglers and the League of Decency are the first steps in that direction.
She talks about Heidegger who, it appears, had been driven into the thing. She says that he now talks in such a dangerous way that one of his students had to come all the way from Berlin to warn him that he was in danger of being sent to a concentration camp. She says he is very upset, and that he now profoundly regrets the speech he made when he became rector. No one knows whether he will be able to recover. Riezler has been to see him again. And he has asked his former assistant Brock, whom he had treated so badly and who is now in England, to come back.
N. also tells us that last year the Catholics offered to enter into an alliance against the Nazis with the Evangelical Church, but the latter declined because of its own Nazi leanings.
N. and I spend an hour walking in the Bois which is heavy with rain and dark-moist; the birds sing like mad. Then I take her back to the students’ home, and we say good-by.
The Oppenheims are enchanted with her. Dr. Hempel has come in the meantime, and we philosophize for three hours about truth and authenticity. But first I have to read Carnap. What is deeply shocking is the complete absence of any sphere of value. Value is regarded as a psychological factor. All very sterile. I retire to my room early, and am writing this, and thinking of the birthday boy.
Up early. Gaby and I go to Ghent by train. Past wheat fields and tree-lined roads. It reminds me of the landscape in which the battle of the Somme was fought.
In Ghent, the cathedral and the Altar of Ghent (from which the stolen panel of the Just Judges is missing). Gaby is very good and thoughtful when looking at pictures. The donor portraits on the back of the panels are especially surprising.
We see: a magnificent municipal tower; a row of old guild houses along the waterfront; the castle of the Counts of Flanders, surrounded by water, thick-walled and uncanny inside. The City Hall is classical in style, built of corroded white-gray stone. Another half-hour’s train ride takes us to Bruges. We have lunch in the wonderful marketplace where there is a whole string of restaurants, with tables extending deep into the square. French food, wine, medieval atmosphere. We walk through the ancient streets, along the canals with their tall trees and old stone bridges, to the cathedral. Then in a real horse-drawn carriage to the Beghinage which consists of many gray houses with green shutters. A large square with grass and trees lies at the center. Great silence. Farther on there is a nesting place for swans. The ground is white with feathers.
To the hospital where the Memling paintings are. They are much larger than I expected. But the very finest Memlings are at the museum, along with Weyden and van der Goes.
By boat through the canals. There is a different view every minute. On one of the bridges a girl sits reading, motionless, all afternoon. All of Bruges is like that.
After dinner de Man comes to visit. The Oppenheims welcome him briefly, then he and I talk from 8:30 to 11:30. This is a formidable task for him: only a few hours earlier his social-democratic party leader’s attempt to form a cabinet ended in failure. He is very warm and friendly, and very grateful for Hannah’s poems. He seems to have great influence with the cabinet, has himself been considered for the post of Prime Minister. Our discussion was in two parts:
international politics and socialism, very rich and interesting. His political theory: Germany must be placated, i.e.:
colonies, Austria, Eupen, Memel, the German part of Czecho. slovakia, the Polish Corridor must be ceded to her. Those, he says, are legitimate claims. He further proposes: (1) A coalition between England, France, and Russia to force Hitler into serious negotiations, and (2) total disarmament of all European countries, with an international control commission to be established in every country. He thinks it could be achieved but would be very difficult. But he sees no other road to peace, and he feels that to preserve the peace is the one absolutely necessary goal. In Belgium the fear of war is so great that Gaby is thinking of sending her boys to America. As for national politics, he is definitely critical of the workers parties. He thinks that the times when they were the carriers of Socialism are over. He says he often feels helpless with disgust at his own party. He wants to build a kind of Socialism Out of a combination of proletariat, Catholic Socialists, Flemish peasants, and the youth of Belgium. As this is exactly what Loewe and I had talked about, I tell him of the program-idea. He says that the practical work he is now doing makes him much happier than his theoretical work in Germany ever did. He would like to see an executive branch of the government established, independent of Parliament. We conclude our talk with the statement that Belgium is offering him a marvelous opportunity to experiment. For me, it all means a confirmation of my own thinking. If the war should devastate Western Europe, he would like to see Russia inherit the lead position.
I report to Paul and Gaby at Gaby’s bedside. Into town to change money, etc. Then packing, lunch, and farewell.
By train, to Paris. Past St. Quentin where the cathedral is still in the process of being built; Essigny le Grand where we went across the English trenches on March 24, 1918; Chauny, from where one always had to start out when going on leave; along the mountains of Sasigny where our division was wiped out; past the Oise-Canal. I feel that I am back in the war.
Arrive in Paris, I take a taxi to the Hotel Oxford et Cambridge. It is not expensive, but neither is it very Parisian. Located near the Tuileries. I decide to stay only one night. First walk through the Tuileries, and along the Quai de Voltaire with its bookstalls. Beautiful, wonderfully beautiful. Dinner at Delpuech, opposite the Comédie Française, where I often ate in 1926. The price is still the same: sixty-six cents for three courses and a bottle of wine. I get into conversation with a cute girl from Nice who happens to be sitting next to me. My French begins to come loose at last. We ride to Montmartre together and, after trying unsuccessfully to get into a place where someone is singing chansons, we settle for a glass of vermouth with Seltz, which was my favorite drink in 1926. Then she leaves and I take a cab to the Grands Boulevards and the Café de la Paix, where I strike up a neighborly conversation with a girl from Alsace which further improves my French. As I walk home through the rue St. Honoré, an elegant car suddenly stops beside me and the lady at the wheel asks me for "une allumette." I express my regrets. Next she asks if I want to go nightclubbing on Montmartre with her, which I decline because of lack of money, to our mutual regret. Dead tired to bed.
Breakfast at a sidewalk café. Very nontourist, a delightful street scene. I look for another hotel and find an attic room at the Hotel St. Romain, rue St. Roche: 12 fr. instead of 22 fr. -- about eighty cents a day.
I wander through the streets, past the stock exchange where the speculators are screaming their heads off. At one o’clock I meet Sabine Spiro. She has aged. Mendelsohn and Sabine want to get married as soon as possible. But they are not at all well off financially.
Home across the Place de la Concorde. Everything is incredibly beautiful under a soft sky that seems to dissolve into fluffy clouds.
I take care of some technicalities, letters, etc.; I have to change my clothes because the weather is so warm. At ten o’clock I am at the Place Pigalle, on Montmartre (having skipped dinner). Sabine Spiro comes for me and shows me one of many Montmartre cabarets. Everyone is dancing. Later there is a floor show featuring very nude girls. Police regulation: the girl must hold one hand over the decisive region. In between numbers they are very attractively and provocatively dressed. All this, with a glass of champagne, tips, etc., costs two dollars! I take a taxi (for half a dollar) back to my hotel after walking S.S. home. She lives at the very top of Montmartre.
At the Louvre: I visit the picture gallery only. But it is so overwhelming that I am at first more irritated than delighted. I spend a long time with the early Italians, including Cimabue and Giotto. I look at the frescoes, transferred intact, of Fra Angelico and Botticelli. In the center of the grande galerie are the six greatest works of all: the Gioconda (Mona Lisa), St. Anne with the Virgin and Infant Jesus; the Concert Champétre by Giorgone; Raphael, and Titian. It almost takes one’s breath away.
At one o’clock I meet Mendelsohn in front of a restaurant -- which is closed. The strike of restaurant and cafe employees has begun. After several vain attempts at finding a place to eat, we turn into a side street where the restaurant owners wives do their own cooking and are thus independent of the strike. Mendelsohn is old and ugly, quiet, but charming and very intelligent. After lunch he takes me through the old goldsmiths’ quarter, a part of Le Marais, the section of Paris that has changed least over the years. He visits the shops with which he does business and where he is on friendly terms with the aging master craftsmen. He himself has taken his master’s exam in Paris and makes his living executing small free-lance jobs in the jewelry field. His sister Anja is here, too. She works as a handwriting expert and psychologist. We discuss the strike with the master goldsmiths. Nobody seems to take the strike very seriously; some say that the government is actually behind the strike; others, that it is wrong to let the government down at this time. The pay is terribly low. There is a whole system of exploitation. Most of the people we talk to -- café managers and workers -- are Communists. They have completely accepted Mendelsohn. One of the master goldsmiths did all his gold-leafing for him free of charge -- because he is a refugee.
Some grévistes -- strikers -- come up to us and ask for contributions. I contribute something -- which may mean that I won’t eat tonight.
Resting in my attic room, I call Mrs. Geiger (with whom we visited the Negroes in New York that time). We find a very good, inexpensive restaurant in Montparnasse. Mrs. Geiger has had a very hard time: her unhappiness in America has manifested itself in two serious illnesses which caught up with her in Paris, where she had to spend most of her time in the clinic. She still cannot drink wine.
We go to a French Negro nightclub. Different from Harlem. The Negroes here are not being persecuted for their race; they are more self-assured and more lascivious. At one o’clock the strikers force the owners to close down the place, so we miss most of the Negro high spirits.
At the Louvre. I get my bearings by writing down all the names that mean the most to me: all the great artists are here, with one or several of their greatest works. What I had remembered from 1926 was rather sketchy after all. I am now sitting in the Louvre garden beside a fountain, facing a view of the greatest and most magnificent palace in a vanishing world. It is very quiet and the soul fills with silence. At this moment the arc lights come on. I must stop. But once again I know: man creates his world and there is none other -- natural or supernatural.
At 12:30 the Riezlers come to my hotel. He looks older; she is as nice and elegant as ever. Both are full of warmth, delighted with my photos of Rend. We eat in a good French restaurant in the rue St. Anne. The main point of our conversation: they will not leave because of his mother-in-law, who has been utterly broken in spirit since Liebermann’s death. I say that I cannot write a testimonial for his brother’s book to which Furtwaengler has written the preface. That startles them somewhat. We talk about Heidegger, whom Riezler cut dead the last time they met. He also tells me that Werner Jaeger has been called to Chicago, that he has accepted, and that the Nazis are permitting him to go. He says that in today’s Germany one can work only "beyond time. We leave all practical questions for another time. At the Cafe Napolitain we write a post card to the Reinhardts.
It is late in the afternoon, and I am a little tired. The restaurant strike is over. The workers and employees have won all kinds of concessions. After dinner I sit in a small restaurant in the Louvre garden, writing this. Today, after two weeks of waiting and beginning to get rather worried-some letters from Hannah at last. I cannot write to anyone: the complications of travel make everything impossible. I can only write this, and even this is not easy.
Late at night I visit Mendelsohn. His balcony faces south and overlooks the entire city. The Eiffel Tower still carries the "Citrden" sign, just as it did ten years ago. We share a bottle of Mousseuse. Mendelsohn is translating Goethe’s Prometheus into French. He is also making a study of the French language which, in his opinion, is unique: it is the only language at which men have worked systematically for four hundred years, and which has thus grown into a miraculous work of art. It would take years for any one of us to learn to speak French so well that a Frenchman could bear to listen to us lecture in his langue. Mendelsohn calls my attention to still another element: French has continued the tradition of Latin in its pure form, whereas German had expelled its Latin components at the time of the mystics and Luther, thus separating itself from the European cultural tradition; which in turn has contributed to its rebarbarization.
I walk back to my hotel through the rue du Faubourg Montmartre, in the warm summer air.
I have my breakfast in bed, which doesn’t cost any more than it would to have it at a café. To the Louvre garden where I am writing this and several urgent letters. Warm, gentle air; European clouds. At every hour of the day new beauties are revealed in the flowers, clouds, trees, and buildings. For lunch to good old Depuech’s which is open once again. As I walk back to my hotel, I see someone limp across the sidewalk: Eckhart! I throw my arms around his neck right in front of everyone. I had not expected to see him until this afternoon, but he came as soon as he had arrived in Paris. He is staying at the house of an architect whose wife is a friend of his -- outside the Porte de Versailles. He seems quite unchanged, has not aged, is only a little tired from traveling all night. We are happy. He was just going to lunch. I go with him, and we laugh as I have not laughed during this entire trip. He talks about his friend who is now in the Promised Land; about M. L. toward whom his feelings are always rather ambivalent about his trip to Africa of which one never quite knows whether it will take place or not. We sit in the Cafe de la Paix for a long time. Then we go to his place, which entails a series of false starts since, of course, he does not have his house key. The house is tall and quite modern and has a lovely view of the castle of Mont Valérien and, beyond this, of St. Cloud and Versailles. The architect is a Hungarian who has succeeded in getting a foothold in Paris but is struggling, like all emigrants in Paris.
Eckhart takes a nap at my hotel while I spend another happy hour and a half writing letters in the garden. Later we stroll through the old streets, looking for a small place where a real Parisian might go to eat well and cheaply.
Our first political discussion. I describe the atmosphere and the ideas that prevail in the Western countries. He is for disarmament, and for acceding to Germany’s "justified" demands; for reestablishing the position Germany had when she was an empire. He regards all attempts to stem the tide of European tragedy as pure utopianism, and withdraws into his individual concerns.
We cross the eastern boulevards on a bus; our goal is the rue de Lappe, one-time street of Apaches, where ten years ago Molla and I witnessed a battle between two streetwalkers. It has since become an amusement area for the petite bourgeoisie. A dark entrance, a house with closed shutters; a winding, narrow corridor; a large room with many men standing and sitting, and some very nude girls running around between them, offering their favors. We are told that there are forty girls in all. It is Saturday night, and the place is in full swing: soldiers, working men, petits bourgeois, some very old and some very young men, drinking beer and watching. Some disappear up the stairs, others come back down. A few of the girls talk to us. They are very nice about it and do not insist. After awhile they go away. On some Saturdays and Sundays there is dancing, too. We look in on yet another place -- somewhat further down the social scale -- and go home early.
I spend half an hour in the garden -- the weather is wonderful. Then I go to meet Sabine Spiro at the Métro St. Paul for an official, paid, guided tour. Coming out of the Metro, I see and hear a street band playing the latest hit.
Because it is such a lovely day, only Mendelsohn, an old lady, and myself are taking the tour; we head for the oldest part of Paris, a section that once belonged to the Order of the Knights Templar, and is now part of the Jewish quarter. In between, it was a residential section for the nobility. We see the Palais from which Anne of Austria watched Louis XIII enter Paris in triumph after his victory in the Fronde; the houses of Mine. Maintenon and Mine. Lamballe, Marie Antoinette’s friend; the Temple Square where the king was imprisoned; a 500-year-old little street with a gutter running down its middle; the oldest Gothic house in Paris, etc., etc. It is a very worthwhile tour: these things are not easily found with a guidebook. On the Boulevard des Capucines I have a four-dollar dinner with wine -- for sixty-six cents. Home to rest.
Ride to the Bois de Boulogne. A busy, bustling afternoon. Beautiful trees stand in visible air; one of the sources of French Impressionist painting. I sit for a long time, just looking. Everything here, every square, every park, every bridge, invites the eye because everything has been planned and shaped according to an original vision. The exaggerated visiting of art galleries and museums strikes me as inadequate because it is not truly dynamic.
A letter from Spiegelberg saying he has been dismissed and wants to see me in Geneva or Ascona. I write back, saying that I consider his dismissal a piece of good fortune.
At dinnertime I meet Frl. Dr. Rumpf of the Frankfurt Hochstift. She describes the virtual isolation in which intellectuals live in Germany; the changing ways of life, the status of women, the horrible military drill which brings about mechanization and atrophy of the will. She tells me about a law that declares that employees who have been divorced can be dismissed without pensions, and about the lack of freedom in the production of scholarly books which is more and more confined to the state-controlled publishing houses where practically every paragraph is subjected to censorship. We walk along the brilliantly illuminated boulevards. She radiates happiness at every step: to be out of there for a change; family reasons keep her in Germany.
I am tired out from the fresh air and all that walking. My rooftop room is beginning to be very hot, it is not good for summer.
To the Luxembourg garden. I visit the street and the hotel where I lived ten years ago. Everything is quite unchanged. The park is so lovely that I stay a long time, watching a little boy sail his toy boat on the pond. Behind the pond are flowers and trees, and over everything there curves the kind of sky that turns the whole thing into a dream picture of beauty.
At twelve o’clock, back to the hotel where Riezler calls for me. We eat at Weber’s and talk for almost four hours. Of personal affairs: Werner Jaeger is going to Chicago; Reinhardt has become the pièce de rèsistance for good students in Frankfurt. Q is very unhappy, but not about world history, of which he notices nothing, but about their daughter’s divorce. Hocher is somewhat old-maidish. On the general situation. Riezler says that the great majority of the people reject the Nazi philosophy completely; that the students are in full revolt; that they all take part in May Day demonstrations and keep on wearing corps colors to show their opposition. Krueger and Gadamer, Privatdozenten in Marburg, are not being promoted, he says, because their dossier contains the word niveau, meaning that their intellectual niveau is too high. He feels the regime has a low efficiency. There are many regions where it doesn’t penetrate at all, for instance among the Bavarian peasants about whom he tells delicious anecdotes. But he thinks a collapse unlikely, unless Hitler were murdered by his own men, which he considers the safest solution. He sees the overall political situation in a very negative light, but feels that with a sensible government a temporary solution could be found, even if it were to take the form of an armed truce. Unless something of the sort happens, he feels, war is inevitable. He himself has thought about the idea of a religious order from the Greek-humanist viewpoint: to gather together those who would carry on the tradition and thus save it esoterically. He fully agrees with the second, the humanist, element of my idea. He insists on the religious element because no truly esotric movement can exist without it. He thinks that there ought to be corresponding members, too, otherwise the whole thing would become too narrow. Furthermore, we discover a strong affinity between the Kairos doctrine and his ontology.
At 4:30 1 am at the hotel, writing this. Late in the afternoon I walk to the Place de la Concorde. The light flows down the Champs Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe, blinding the eye; I have to walk under the trees. After the sun sets, the sky glows golden through the curve of the Arc -- as in an old painting. Later, to the Place St. Michel -- and to a Restaurant Alsacien, which is famous for its good food. I drink some very tart Alsatian muscatel.
Down the Boul’ Mich’ through a crowd of students from the Sorbonne, to the Coupole on Montparnasse. Delightful atmosphere. Arabs, Turks, Negroes, all kinds of models, etc. I have an apéritif and am filled with happiness. Paris is the greatest temptation in the world. But all who have been tempted, especially the immigrants, become as miserable as Tantalus who sees all the splendors of the world and cannot grasp them.
I walk to the Orangerie -- my hotel is quite centrally located -- to see the Cézanne exhibit, and spend the entire morning hard at work.
I divide the hundreds of Cézannes into: landscapes; groups in landscapes; pure groups; portraits; and still-lifes. The landscapes are best of all because their style is mystic pantheism. The Breakthrough, a train going through a tunnel in a hillside, wins first prize from me, then come the Berlin and New York Landscapes. Also La maison de l’homme perdu. Among the groups in landscapes, the two most important items are Les grandes Baigneuses (with its slanting trees) and the Battle of Life. Among the pure groups: The Card Players and The Pierrots. Of the portraits, the "Self-Portraits" and the "New Yorker Self-Portrait." The finest still-lifes are those in which inorganic nature "lives." The French call it nature morte.
In my Religious Situation I wrote that a still-life by Cézanne has more religious quality than a Jesus by Uhde. That remark has often been quoted, and I still believe it is true. And yet, today I feel compelled to correct it. In the first place, the physical charm of the still-life is so tremendous because of its color -- independent of content. And second: Cézanne proclaims a mystical devotion to life, and does so with the tools of a very great artist. Uhde proclaims ethical-social devotion with the tools of a minor artist. But basically he, too, is religious.
With Cézanne, landscape is all-important; everything less than landscape -- the still-lifes, for instance -- becomes landscape in his work. There is no nature morte in Cézanne -- although he calls almost half his pictures just that. On the other hand, his groups and portraits, too, become landscape. His great self-portraits are views of "the fullness of being," not of a formed personality. And furthermore, the pictures are beautiful, and that is the main thing.
But not only the pictures -- everything is beautiful: the rooms in which the pictures hang are themselves pictures. I had a similar experience in the grande galerie of the Louvre.
And the people, too, become pictures. There is, for instance, a perfectly picturesque middle-aged couple. Also, individual characteristics of Frenchmen and foreigners are fascinating to observe.
And outside, everything is all picture again. While I walk along the raised bank of the Seine, opposite the Quai d’Orsay, I feel that one would almost have to be negatively gifted not to be able to paint this.
Lunch at Léon, with especially good wine. The department stores are still closed. Trees, shimmering summer day. Deep sleep.
Through the Greek wing at the Louvre. There are few ancient originals, but some very beautiful Hellenistic and Roman copies. I ponder the facial expression of the gods. They are distant, self-contained, timeless, aloof from man and his humanity; whereas the pictures of the Christ show him in his nearness to man’s helplessness.
To Notre Dame which is about to close. On the square behind the choir a crowd of people looks just like a scene from the Middle Ages, women nursing their babies, children and old people. Behind them rise the black-gray, gigantic buttresses of Notre Dame, and to either side flows the river.
Back to my hotel, then to Oldham’s who is at the Hotel Royal. He is conducting a conference with several Protestant and Greek Orthodox bishops. I have a talk with Siegmund &hulze whom I expect to see again in Zurich.
Oldham invites me to dinner and a good bottle of wine. We talk about Brunner’s anthropology. I am to write a brief critical review.
Eckhart and I meet at the Café de la Paix. I stroll through the rue Pigalle. Everything is too expensive. I end up at a corner cafe with a view of the busy streets. Pernod and Montanier -- the famous apéritifs.
I call on Oldham. He takes me up to his room and once again we discuss the practical aspects of the religious-order idea. He is for an alliance of friends, which should produce a work center of its own on the one hand, while at the same time there should be recruitment among various congregations, groups, and political parties, for its ideas and aims. He then puts me through a kind of theological exam, and I am not quite sure whether I’ve passed it or not. He declares that, but for these two conversations with me, his stay in Paris would have been a waste of time.
Back to my hotel where Reizler sits waiting for me; Mrs. Riezler appears a few minutes later, and we go to eat in a little backyard restaurant.
Riezler’s idea: to get rid of the dictator with the help of English money. He would like to see certain claims honored, and rearmament to continue on a moderate scale; he feels that negotiations with a reasonable government should be possible.
After a short rest at my hotel I meet Eckhart, and we eat in a small garden restaurant. Then we ride to the Bois where I meet Eckhart’s hosts. He is a rather talkative architect, she a charming, clever historian who has not yet quite hit her stride. To the pond to watch the boats, torches, couples. We visit a cafe under the trees; music and thousands of people. Suddenly: a thunderstorm and rain. Eckhart and I return to the city. At the Cafe Weber we run into the Riezlers with a man from Frankfurt who knows me.
A busy morning on the telephone. Doering, who used to be union secretary in Frankfurt, calls on me. We meet at my hotel, then go to the Tuileries, and from there to Delpuech, where I invite him to lunch. He is in excellent shape, runs one of the "underground railways," talks about possibilities and impossibilities. He does not believe any real political effect is possible -- but that personal convictions can and must be strengthened. We talk about Hagen, who is in New York and with whom his relations are somewhat strained. Since the "underground railway" depends on the old Party head and Second International for funds, they must be careful not to become suspected of Communism. He asks that Loewe and I work out a program, since no one quite knows what they are working for. Of personal matters, he reports that poor Stoffer has been nabbed. Quite certain that nothing can be done at the moment.
I wait till he finishes eating; then I go to Hugo Simon’s office. He is successfully established in business here, after a year in Nice with his daughter, Mrs. Demeter. He has lost both his houses and all the money he had in Berlin, but says he does not regret it. He has saved his pictures, but not yet his books. He invites me to a good dinner, is as warm and cordial as an old friend. He has the same idea as Riezler: to get rid of the dictator and several others, to tear down the customs barriers, and to transform capitalism. His wife is in Nice. Demeter had first-rate reviews of his show here. What I have seen of his work is excellent. Simon has become heavier and grayer, but is as dignified and kindly as ever: Boas! He is optimistic about the inner-political situation in France, but very pessimistic about foreign policy, since the French don’t want to acknowledge the threat from the East: he thinks a new "migration of people" is inevitable.
I ride to the Paris office of the Institute for Social Research, and then that nice Dr. Brill and I go to the Café Capoulade on the Boul’ Mich’. The newspapers announce the following government decisions: dissolution of the rightist organizations; the forty-hour week; a subordination of the Bank of France to the government. Troops of students wander through the cafes, but laughter and cheerfulness prevail. Dr. Brill considers France a bulwark of anti-Fascism. The revolution of ‘89 cannot be undone, he says, while Frenchmen live. On the way back I run into Gurwitch, a student of Husserl’s, who wants to go to America. I tell him in what low esteem phenomenology is held in America.
Back to the hotel. Eckhart comes to see me, straight from a visit to an ancient Princess Bonaparte who has written a three-volume work on Edgar Allan Poe. This book is not sold in Germany because of its "Jewish author."
We eat in the same little restaurant. By now they receive us with open arms. Eckhart works his way through a lobster. Afterward we pick up Mendelsohn and Spiro and visit a cellar place where the songs are partly witty and partly incomprehensible. Then on to a Negro bar, featuring interesting types.
Peace in the garden, after a bad night of inhuman heat. The water from the fountain wafts coolness across my face while I write.
Mrs. Kleyes calls for me at lunchtime. She has become somewhat rounder, is calmer and looks very well. We eat in a small Lyonnais place, excellent meal, her treat. She declares that no Frankfurt hostess can produce this kind of dinner any more. She tells me that her attitude remains unchanged, that she is thoroughly aware of the situation, through taking care of Fraenzel whom she has brought to London; that because of foreign exchange regulations, it is difficult to take care of him; that W. was a Nazi at first, but has gone further and further away from Nazism, partly because of what is happening and partly owing to her influence; that the Adlerwerkes are not getting any more war contracts because they are situated too close to the border; that after a tremendous industrial boom, the industrialists are now beginning to worry about what is coming next; that she herself is inwardly resigned, since her idealism has been shattered; that she helps many people and always speaks her mind very frankly; that W. is withdrawing more and more into hunting and racing; that he is incapable of writing letters, and that she herself no longer writes, since it is really impossible to write from Germany. I tell her about my ideas and about the situation, but I cannot convince her in any positive sense.
We go to the apartment of a French family, friends of hers, whose daughter she had looked after in Germany. They express the German attitude: against the Popular Front and sympathy with Hitler. This is the mood of the bourgeoisie when faced with the threat of a strike.
Back to my hotel. With Eckhart to the famous Maison des Nations (maison d’amour de luxe). Can be seen -- for a few francs. Interesting rooms, gallery of beautiful girls. Only a prince can afford them -- for the last eighty years -- discretion! Dinner near the Porte St. Denis with Wagner-radio. Exploring old streets, including the rue de Lappe. Eckhart has to leave early, but I go on to the Dome and La Coupole. Plenty and Beauty. Life’s ideal: to sit in a chair at a café in Paris.
I move my bed so that it stands between the open window and the open door. It is terribly hot.
Sabine Spiro and I meet at the Gare de Montparnasse and we take the train to Chartres -- via Versailles, Saint-Cyr, Rambouillet. We devote the entire day to Chartres Cathedral. Our first view is from outside -- the Porte Royale. The open door draws you irresistibly toward the mystical stained-glass windows, which shimmer from a great distance behind the choir. The impression is tremendous and typically French: nave, choir, and all other parts have been fashioned with clarity and precision. The thirteenth-century windows are pure mysticism. Every window is a miracle in itself and must be studied in great detail. There are more than a hundred windows in all!! We spend an hour and a half, working with binoculars -- and are hardly making any headway. For lunch -- after walking out of a clip joint -- we find an excellent truck drivers’ inn, a place full of corners and nooks.
Back to the Cathedral. We alternate between inside and outside. We look at the buttresses with their slanting columns and at the South Portal; the importance of blue in the windows; the long crypt.
Afterward we walk to the city gate and take the train back to Paris. Dinner at the Gare du Montparnasse. I stop briefly at my hotel, then go to visit the Café Maxville, where the Croix-de-Feux are staging a demonstration. A man offers the Front Populaire in a loud voice. I applaud and buy a paper from him -- a kind of demonstration of my own.
Eckhart arrives after keeping me waiting for quite a while. Sunday excursion to the Maine. To the Chateau Vincennes and from there, by car, to Champigny. Charming river bath in the Maine. On the opposite bank there is a row of Corot trees. Green water. Everything is so very beautiful and well arranged. Although this is Sunday, there is an excellent crowd at the pool. A blonde from Hamburg with a Hungarian boyfriend, a Miss Basedow, knows many of our friends. She voluntarily left Germany in 1933 because she is a Socialist. We have some wine beside the pool in brilliant sunlight. Good conversation. Eckhart swims very well. Competition at the revolving swing: a delicately-built French girl wins over a sturdy German girl. Rain and thunderstorm. Walking along the Maine, I drink in the beauty of this landscape. Suddenly there appears Ida Berger, the little student from Frankfurt, with her husband and friends. Tremendous surprise! We make a date. The rain drives us into a restaurant beside the riverbank. While we wait for the rain to stop, we dance. By car to the subway. Eckhart and I eat dinner near the Madeleine.
I have a meeting with the Riezlers who have not yet left Paris. Important conversation about the possibility of finding one last rational criterion. For him, space and time are the basic categories of the structure of being. Problem: the relation of discoverable ontological structures of being to the structure of the criterion of revelation. Very warm mutual feelings. Anecdotes about the resistance of Bavarian peasants against the Nazis. Final farewells.
Many telephone calls. At ten o’clock Lieb calls for me and we walk to the garden, discussing the situation. He tells me that K. L. Schmidt wants to go to Vienna, that he feels too confined in Switzerland; and that Barth is very unhappy because there is no fertile soil for him there. That is how the "golden mountains" look at close range! Long live America! Lieb himself is going to reissue Orient and Occident which was ruined in Germany. He talks about developments in Russia where the Church is being given more freedom, but he feels that still more pressure should be exerted in this direction, in order to eliminate this particular objection the West can voice against Russia. He is very happy about the Front Populaire’s election victory in France and considers France safe, although he recognizes the danger inherent in French backwardness and isolation. He cannot make up his mind whether or not to follow a call to Basel for next year. I advise him against it because of my idea about emigration. I explain my ideas on this subject to him, and he agrees wholeheartedly.
At lunchtime Professor Alexejef calls for me. He is writing the essay on Christian and Marxist anthropology in Berdyaev’s place. I have read his outline which is rather good and am supposed to criticize it. Though he is an émigré, he is delighted with current developments in Russia. He feels they are partly due to the Russians’ desire to disassociate themselves from Hitler. He is a "religious socialist" from his Russian days.
To Mine. Rappaport, now Perade. The Riezlers had given her my address. She has not been able to get her money out of Germany, and is now working hard for some fashion magazines. She is pretty as always, no longer paints her fingernails red. Recently she was the last person to be fired from a German magazine. Her editor-in-chief was not allowed to have any further contact with her. She wants to come to America, for her own sake and especially for the sake of Beckmann who has been utterly crushed in Germany.
To Mrs. Kleyes’ where Eckhart awaits me. We all go to one of the big cafés on the Champs Èlyées. Mrs. Kleyes tells me about an evening with Picasso and others, all enthusiastic followers of the Front Populaire as she assures me. All leftist France is in a fever of expectation, whereas the rightists are frightened and are taking their money out of the country. The strike was a little revolution. The employees had barricaded themselves inside the buildings, behind lowered shutters, and it never even occurred to the government to send in the police. At night the men slept in the buildings and the women brought food to them. Blum is greatly respected, but there are doubts about his leadership qualities.
The sun burns through my suit and irritates the slight sunburn I contracted at the Maine pool; a veil seems to cover my eyes and ears; I rarely get more than four hours’ sleep a night. But I can still answer when someone speaks to me -- a peculiar feeling of fading away.
We visit. Serves, the publisher of the Cahiers d’Art, an impressive head. I ask about Mrs. Bienert and learn, to my amazement, that she has told him everything would be over within a year: a complete reversal of attitude. Eckhart and I wonder whether this is fact or tactics.
We go to Montparnasse. At Mrs. Geiger’s hotel I am told that she has gone to the clinic. Dinner with Eckhart who has moved into my hotel at last in order to be a little more Independent of his hosts.
After dinner we stroll through Montparnasse; even the riddle of the Sphinx is quickly solved during a downpour. By car to the hotel, then to the Gare du Nord. We say good-by over a glass of champagne. I treat him to a nightcap. We part with heavy hearts. Afterward I walk for a long time through familiar and unfamiliar streets in the northern section of Paris.
Ida Berger arrives at my hotel at ten o’clock. We go directly to the Châtelet where I have an appointment with Benjamin, who gets there much too late. Ida Berger sits down to work at another table.
I explain my ideas to Benjamin; he says they go right to the heart of the matter, they are Columbus’ egg. But it may be too late; everything might well have to be destroyed first. He is particularly interested in the problem of esoterism in the spiritual dimension. Eckhart had objected, calling it a synthesis of various elements, not a new principle.
With I. Berger to the hospital to visit Mrs. Geiger who is confined to her bed for several more weeks. I meet Mrs. Lobernheim there, the mother of Lobernheim who visits us occasionally.
With I. Berger, who is expecting a baby, to the Place de Ia Concorde. From there to Hugo Simon’s. She tells me that she is married to a laborer, has become a French citizen, teaches at the Workers’ High School, and has settled happily into her life. She says her husband is charming. She says she owed her methodical education entirely to my seminars.
In Simon’s entrance hall I meet the writer Siemssen. The three of us ride to the Seine Island and have lunch in a restaurant called Chez Paul in an old square. When we want to order the same wine twice, the restaurateur becomes indignant and declares that we must order Beaujolais with the meat. We comply.
Our conversation develops in three directions: Siemssen wants to gather all anti-Fascist forces into the framework of the Popular Front; Simon wants to work against the Fuehrer in social-revolutionary style, i.e., with daggers and bombs; and I explain the idea of the religious order; this impresses Simon so greatly that he wants to arrange a conference for August, when I come back to Paris.
I see Sabine Spiro very briefly. She seems a bit less tired.
Mrs. J. calls for me. We talk for about three hours, walking mostly under the Rivoli and Vendome colonnades while lightning flashes across the sky and thunder growls.
Then dinner in a little restaurant. She declares categorically that she will have nothing to do with V., Mr. J’s. new wife, and the same goes for the children. I admit that love cannot be commandeered, but I also insist that some arrangements must be made to protect him from being emotionally and spiritually torn; for instance, a definite schedule for visiting the children ought to be established. I insist further that she should recognize the new marriage as valid, as a real marriage, due to his decision. She is not yet ready for that. She suffers a great deal, does not look well and feels unhappy in Paris, like most of the others. She tells heartrending stories about refugees in Paris: judges selling books from door to door, lawyers delivering milk and vegetables; a rash of suicides.
I take her to the bus stop. Afterward, a most beautiful walk between nine and ten o’clock at night; from the Louvre, through the Tuileries, across the Place de la Concorde, along the Champs Èlysées, to the Rond Point. Illuminated fountains everywhere. In the background, the Arc de Triomphe, bathed in floodlights. Over it all, the afterglow of the evening. Everything is infinitely beautiful.
At the Rond Point Café I meet Lucie Bieber. She has lived here three years and is doing quite well as a gymnastics teacher. Her husband is not doing nearly so well, and their money will soon run out. They are not happy in Paris and would actually like to go to America where being a refugee is quite different from what it is in France. Always the same story.
She has aged, her features are somewhat sharper, her hair is gray, but she is still good-looking. She tells me that a friend has just lost her second lover because of the race laws.
Back to the nocturnal Seine. First good night’s sleep, thanks to the cooler weather.
Up early -- and a long time packing. At the American Express office where I’ve gone to arrange about my ticket, I meet Professor Spann from Chapel Hill.
I finish packing, then go to have my last lunch in Paris, with champagne naturel. By train to Basel -- second class for six dollars!! Hot and tired. The train hurtles through a heavily wooded landscape. I have been writing this for the last four hours. Paris was incredibly rich, day after day, from the 9th to the 24th, from 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 at night, and I enjoyed it all with intense awareness. Since I had to alternate between seeing people and seeing the city for its own sake, this visit was not as serenely relaxed as the one I paid ten years ago, but this time the experience was far more intense, more real, more conscious. And the beauty of that most beautiful of cities has remained unchanged.
We ride through valleys of fragrant meadows. Hay is being carried on carts drawn by oxen or horses; there is no automobile in sight for five hours. The stormy evening lends marvelous colors to sky and earth. Dinner with a final bottle of French wine.
Arrival in Basel. Customs. K. L. Schmidt waits in the background. By train to Riehen, a tip of Basel that is surrounded on three sides by Germany. Uncanny feeling, like being pushed into a sack. The nearest lights are German, the streetcars cross the border; a German narrow-gauge train with German officials runs past the house.
I have left K. L.’s briefcase somewhere. Back the way we came: find it at the station’s Lost and Found Department. Beer in a garden where people are dancing. First talks. He might be called to Vienna. His wife is in the hospital again. She has been in bed for months, keeps having relapses. A former theology student who had studied under him and Hoelscher, now Mrs. Emmerich (married to a Jewish refugee) runs their household. She appears as we arrive at his house. She is ugly in a funny way, but intelligent and alert. The Basel air makes me deathly tired.
Fatigued despite long sleep. Spend the morning in the garden, sorting letters; arrange tomorrow’s schedule by telephone. Lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Emmerich and K. L. and two of the children. I am continually tired.
To town with K. L. We try in vain to visit Mrs. Schmidt; she has just had another relapse. We get a ride back in the car of an admirable religious-socialist pastor who has read everything I’ve written. After dinner he drives us to the Baumgartens’ who are giving a reception for me. Baumgarten looks older. She is pretty and wide-awake as always. About twenty people arrive, among them Menk and Sewald, many very fine heads. No ladies. After punch with strawberries, I have to speak on the problem of "The Tragic and the Ethical" in the present situation. Strong impact, especially on Sewald and Baumgarten. The latter says that my lectures have given him strength. Apparently he feels very much alone. One of the participants in the discussion defends England. Menk speaks about the necessity of the religious-order idea. Home by car. Overall impression: deepest pessimism everywhere.
In conversation with Mrs. Emmerich I learn that the Swiss Foreigners’ Police is turning into a kind of budding Gestapo, which may be important in times to come.
At 11:30, at Karl Barth’s. Extremely animated friend-to-friend conversation in which we trade insults. I tell him about Barth in America whereupon he declares that under the circumstances he won’t have to go there. I say that, unlike him, I feel closer to the early Christians than to the Reformation; that, for me, the criterion is all-important; that I feel his letter contradicted his theology. To which he can only add that he could not have done otherwise three years ago. He feels my existence in America is providential. We part as great friends.
From Barth’s directly to the Baumgartens’ for lunch. We talk of personal matters. Baumgarten had studied Russian for three years, then spent some very intensive weeks in Russia and is now practically rooted in Communist soil. Feels very lonely. We talk about the chances of my taking a trip to Russia. He could help me a lot.
They never received Hannah’s poems, which went instead to the Old Testament scholar, Baumgartner, whom we know from Marburg.
On to Sewald’s, who is rather unhappy about the narrowness of Swiss academic life. I try to make him see his role of immigrant in a more positive light.
To the hospital to see Mrs. Schmidt. She looks dangerously thin and transparent. I have a short, lively talk with her. As always, we agree in our basic ideas.
I meet Ministerialdirektor Richter. He gives me his view of the situation; it sounds even more hopeless than mine. He says that things of unimaginably low morality are continuously happening. He feels the universities are dead, transformed into mere cadet training grounds. He thinks that war is inevitable. He was at the Baumgartens’, too, last night, taking part in the discussion. He does not believe in a militarist-monarchist solution. He himself is studying theology in Basel, lives near the border because of his pension, has to cross the border twice a day. He is very unhappy about Eric Seeberg, predicts he’ll come to a tragic end someday, considers him politically inept and feels that he was most recently under the influence of his father.
To Menk’s, who invites me for dinner. Excellent conversation about psychoanalysis and religion, especially the problem of whether the power to fulfill his own meaning is inherent in man. He postulates that every human being brings a "program" into the world, whose fulfillment is, at the same time, the fulfillment of the meaning of his life. We call for his wife at the theater, walking through ancient streets. She has white hair but seems young. We cross the Rhine and walk past nightspots full of soldiers and students who sing and drink wine: Europe!
I go back to Schmidt’s and we talk until two in the morning, over a bottle of good Swiss wine. I am astonished to discover that Schmidt has reverted to a primitive orthodoxy of inspiration; so has Mrs. Emmerich. He considers the virgin birth a photographically demonstrable fact; the same with the rest of the miracles, because the Bible says so -- such as the empty tomb and others. I can only think: my predictions have come true even faster than I expected.
Pack and leave for Zurich. By car to the Medicuses’. They live very agreeably in a house of their own, surrounded by a flowering garden. From the balcony in front of my room I see Lake Zurich. Frede calls. He and Trudchen have been living at the Pestalozzis’ for the last few days. We arrange to meet at the Café Odéon, my usual meeting place in Zurich.
They seem quite unchanged and are very sweet. We discuss our travel plans, talk about this and that, without touching on anything basic.
As I walk through the cafe, I suddenly find myself face to face with Hirschfeld, the friend of Emmy Sachs who used to be Intendant in Darmstadt, then went to Zurich, and is now working for Oprecht Publishers. We decide to get together on Sunday night.
Trudchen, Frede, and I walk to a new restaurant with a view of the lake. Trudchen is feeling much better. But both have to take it easy because of their hearts. They report that my beloved father is not really ill; it is a hysterical disturbance. The doctors have pronounced him in perfect physical health.
Dinner in an Italian restaurant with "bandits" and a beautiful, fat Italian woman. I walk Trudchen and Frede to the railroad station, then stroll through the town and finally ride back to the Medicuses’. He is happy to be a Swiss citizen, to have freed himself completely from Germany.
He talks about his children. They are very musical. Two of them, a son and a daughter, want to become opera singers, which worries their parents. Medicus himself had just come from the Bruckner festival. For him, music is the highest form of fulfillment.
To Mrs. v. Bendemann’s. She lives rather shabbily in exile with her son. Her works can no longer be published. She has suffered a severe illness. We talk about Mrs. Goldstein who wrote to her about having talked with me. I explain it all, and Mrs. v. Bendemann agrees with my ideas and promises to write to Mrs. Goldstein to that effect. We take a streetcar to the station. A young girl comes up to me. She turns out to be Leni Bun, the funny little girl at the Salis’ house. We travel together for ten minutes. She has become older but not much more sensible.
At the Oberrieden station Frede awaits me in Pestalozzi’s car. Drives me to their country house -- straight into paradise. View of the lake and the Alps. Wonderful garden, bordering on a forest. A simple meal with many children and good wine. Afterward Frede and I stretch out in deck chairs. Pestalozzi takes long trips and has taken beautiful photographs of which a book has now been published. He sees the existence of Switzerland as being problematic. Would like to combine the French part of Switzerland with France and says there is a strong tendency toward such a move. Frede says he is the "chauffeur" of Barth. He takes me to Kilchberg by car. There, on the shore of Lake Zurich, Leni Bun’s parents have a magnificent house. They receive me very cordially.
After a visit to Conrad Ferdinand Meyer’s grave, I take a streetcar to the Odéon to meet Hirschfeld. We eat in a nice old place where the sound of the Sunday evening bells is so overpowering that one can hardly talk. Later we discuss various books published by Oprecht on which he (Hirschfeld) has worked. At the moment the most important -- though not the best -- is I Cannot Keep Silent. His work on Langhof’s Moorsoldaten consisted in taking out the most gruesome parts and placing the beautiful passage about the prisoners’ theater in the center of the book. He was also instrumental in getting Langhof across the border. He himself was in Russia for a long time, studying the Russian theater. This brought him into close contact with the Russians; Eisenstein wanted to keep him there. But he preferred to stay in his embattled position in Zurich. He seems to have many underground connections. We walk back and forth on the Limmat Bridge, with the moon and thousands of lights across the lake. Later we sit in a beer garden where a band plays a medley of German songs. At ten o’clock we go to Medicuses’. Sitting beside an open window wall, we drink two bottles of wonderful wine. Medicus and Hirschfeld have a lively conversation about -- I think -- the world situation. But the moment is much too beautiful to be reminded about it.
I work on my lecture, in the garden. Salome Boller calls for me and we go for a walk together. She has been almost continually sick, but looks better than she did. She cannot leave, since she is her family’s only support.
Lunch at the Medicuses’. The very vivacious singer-daughter appears and is grateful when I say that she seems to have the right temperament for the stage.
Work on my lecture. To the Odéon, where Georgy FreySollberger, an old school friend of Johanna’s, is waiting for me. She has joined the Oxford Movement (Buchman), knows Brunner, and very enthusiastically describes the spiritual power that emanates from there. She seems very calm and serene. Her life has taken on direction, and she does much good. All decisions are made by community meditation. The superiors’ decisions must be obeyed. She describes Buchman as short, fat, and not very attractive.
To Siegmund-Schulze’s house. He lives on the mountain, has an incredible view over the lake and the Alps. He left Germany when he got a hint from the Foreign Office that there was no way of shielding him. He confirms my general impression of Switzerland.
It is pouring as I ride to the university. Lecture on "Protestantism and the World Situation." My analysis makes a deep impression on the large, excellent audience. My concrete suggestions have no noticeable effect. Two Rotarians, Julius Lehmann and Albert Hahn, are in the audience. Also, there is the art historian, who tried in vain to become a lecturer under Jantzen, with his beautiful Jewish wife who once had a photo studio in the Kaiserstrasse. Of course, the Fredes, the Pestalozzis, Georgy, Hirschfeld, Bendemann, and the Medicuses are there. Also Brunner, the Hollers, etc. Long discussion afterward. First, a very cordial debate -- almost tinged with personal warmth -- with Brunner about my theological position. Then with Medicus about the esoterics. Hahn adds a question on economics. After the discussion, to Julius Lehmann’s. He left Germany right away and so was able to get all his money out. He lives in a very beautiful place, has a car. His wife was there, too. He offers me a sum of money for myself and for the refugees. I accept. Albert Hahn, who did not come along, was charming. But he said he would not be in Ascona in August because his wife is expecting a baby.
Packing, telephone calls -- for instance, to good old Wendriner who was at my lecture, too, where he had told me briefly about Hannah’s birthday party.
Departure for Berne. I talk to a Swiss woman who owns the bookstore in the Basel railroad station. She describes the way Germans act when buying books that are forbidden in Germany: with fear and trembling. Hirschfeld told me that a German public prosecutor sometimes comes to visit him here, to spend the night breathlessly reading through the newer books.
At the station I meet the Blums and Wolfers who are taking the same train as far as Geneva. The Blums have a new apartment with partial view of the Bernese Uplands. Around the corner, view of the Alps with the Jungfrau in the center. After lunch we walk through beautiful old Berne with its arcades reminiscent of Bologna, its patrician town houses, and the bridges from which you see the Alps.
To the travel agency. Along the Aar River which is full of wild glacier water.
I change, dine, then go to my lecture. A small but select group has assembled. The students, reticent at first, are so impressed that they offer to get me further lecture engagements -- in Geneva, etc. During the discussion period I run into strong theological opposition from strict Barthians. But the younger ones are on my side.