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 5: August
Up at seven. My final seminar is received with tremendous, repeated applause. I am greatly relieved: it was difficult because of the German Nazi delegates, since I had to speak the truth but could not endanger the seminar.
A few hours at the Café de Genève, writing this, Schairer comes along, walks me to the International House where we had planned to dine; he and his wife; Anna Selig, and Maria Kullmann. However, Mrs. Kullmann sends her regrets. Anna Selig has great plans for Vienna. She has rented a beautiful old palace and wants to found an International House there, a kind of anti-National Socialist Austrian Cultural center. She expects great things from this and has all sorts of big ideas; she does seem to have financial backing, too. We go back to the Café with the Schairers. Later Anna Selig joins us there and, for a moment, Mrs. Kullmann puts in an appearance.
I meet three German Lutherans and we talk about the Barthian separation of the realms. It is a pleasure to have a discussion in German once again. Their mood is none too friendly toward the Nazis.
The Schairers and I go to a nice French restaurant. Good atmosphere. Afterward we walk out in the rain to see the buildings which are illuminated in honor of the Swiss National holiday. To a not so pleasant bar, where I dance one dance with Gerda Schairer. Late to bed.
A quiet Sunday morning at the pension. After lunch the members of the seminar meet for a stroll. I find myself among Polish students who speak some English and some German. They have an even harder time getting out of their country than the Germans do. The Poles want to cut them off from German culture and from the German church. Nationalism’s best weapon is the scarcity of foreign exchange which in turn makes traveling almost impossible. Travel has always been the most dangerous enemy of dogmatism.
We eat in a restaurant atop a mountain ridge facing Mont Blanc which, however, we do not see since it is hidden by clouds.
I walk back with an intelligent Bavarian student. He talks of the disastrously small membership in the students’ organizations, and he maintains that the student fraternities are still in existence, that the fraternity houses have not yet been taken away. The struggle continues without letup.
Sohn-Rethel appears, and we eat dinner together at his pension. He was fired just a little while ago, right after he had achieved some economic advantages for Germany in Egypt. He has a manuscript about the further development of Marxist dialectics which I am to read and give to Horkheimer. He looks miserable and ravaged. They live poorly, in the most unsuitable place, Lucerne.
We take the Perle du Lac, where we come upon the Schairers. Schairer and I urge Sohn-Rethel to take immediate advantage of the chance to become a French citizen. He demurs because his fifteen-year-old daughter has set her head against it.
Marvelous moonlit night over Lake Geneva. I quote: "In such a night as this" -- from The Merchant of Venice. Huge, illuminated fountain in Lake Geneva, taller than the highest towers. Pearls of lights along the shore. Moon over the mountains, on the water, through the trees. I return home with Sohn-Rethel.
Lilje gives a lecture; it is very good, its contents strongly derived from my own "Religious Realization." Another I lecture by a Japanese Christian leader, Kagawa. A fantastic, brilliant-abstruse representation of the scale of values, and its religious versus its economic application. Very radical "Religious Socialism." I have to translate and explain the furious drawings on the blackboard. The strain is so great it almost gives me a heart attack. Afterward we have our picture taken, arm in arm.
Lunch at the Kotschnigs’. He has a very nice wife and very nice children. He is vital and good-looking, has been offered a chair at Smith College where he will be a colleague of Sommerfeld’s. She, though an Englishwoman, is afraid to leave Europe. He clears up the tension between Schairer on one side and himself and Kullmann on the other. He tells me that the present High Commissioner for Emigrants is even worse than the last one was; this one keeps falling asleep at meetings. He, as Visser’t Hooft, wants Kullmann to leave the League of Nations where his talent is wasted. I have a last talk with Sohn-Rethel just before I send him to speak to Kotschnig. Later I learn that Kotschnig insisted on Sohn-Rethel’s immediately applying for French citizenship.
To the university, where I meet young Seeberg and Privatdozent Meinhold. We go to a café. The reason they’ve asked to see me is instantly clear to me: I am to be persuaded that things in Germany "are not really so bad"; at the same time, I am to be sounded out as to what my thinking really is. I am quite frank about my theory of the struggle between National Socialist philosophy and religion. They insist that things are gradually easing up. For instance, they tell me that Rosenberg recently asked Erich Seeberg to come and see him, then talked to him very reasonably, almost timidly. Young Seeberg and his father regard the Confessing Church as a misfortune. The most important remark was made on the subject of war: "It is inevitable that the system receives its sanctification and sanction through force of arms . . . ."
Dinner with Visser and Lilje at the pension. Lilje reports in detail on the case "Tillich-Althaus." Althaus was asked by the "foreign minister" of the German bishop, to inquire whether he was permitted to read from the same platform as the "emigrant Tillich." Thereupon the Lutheran Council and the Confessing Church turned the case into a matter of principle. Lilje, with the consent of Maharens and the Bavarian bishop, Meiser, made it clear to the Foreign Office that an isolationist policy was nonsense. The Foreign Office agreed fully, and so did the Consul in Geneva -- much to Althaus’ embarrassment.
Visser and Lilje walk with me to my discussion. The "German delegation’s" spokesmen are Leo Weiss and Privatdozent Meinhold. The former tries to prove that I painted too dark a picture of the situation. In doing so, he confuses "tragic" with "bad." Meinhold defends German Lutheranism by pointing out how many important theological movements it has produced within the last few years. Some Germans and Swiss -- radical Barthians -- speak out with biblical pathos. In between all this, a Russian monk -- the only really good speaker -- takes the floor. The whole thing was poorly organized by Keller. In my final address I speak on war, the proletariat, and the English-American world, which puts the "German delegation," those from Berlin -- not all the Germans present -- into a bad mood, since they interpret everything from the patriotic angle. Beer with Keller, Visser, and Schairer. Mrs. Kotschnig, who had been at the meeting, too, says we are her comfort for America.
I receive a telephone call from the Blums: Hermann has difficulties over foreign exchange. I have a very late break- fast in bed. This week has practically exhausted me. I spend the rest of the morning sleeping and writing.
To the lake. Under the three fantastic trees at the pier I meet the Schairers. The lake and mountains are wonderful, as we go by steamer to the palace of Mine. de Stael, storm center of Romantic reaction against the French Revolution and Napoleon. Schairer is very passionately against the Nazis; he finds even the parallel with Communism impossible; he says that Hitler knows everything and that he is brutal and sly.
At the Schairers’ -- a beautiful old house belonging to the Rockefeller Foundation. Photographs. Walk to the Perle du Lac, where Visser ‘t Hooft and Lilje await me. Dinner and good wine, later the moon. Lilje is more radical than I am. He tells me that a Nazi said to him he wished for Hitler’s death because that would give them "their god." We talk about various members of the Confessing Church, which he defends against Frede’s criticism. He begs me to lend him Heiden’s Hitler, which I always carry with me because I consider it the most effective book. Visser tells us about a conversation with Himmler, whom he describes as a comfortable and well-educated bourgeois. We drive to the Bavaria, where countless excellent caricatures of members of the League of Nations decorate the walls, and where a circle of students is waiting for us.
Fruitless effort to reach Hermann by telephone. Tired talk.
Hermann has to wait for foreign money. I ride to Mrs. Kullmann’s. Half an hour by train. Her place is on the other side of Lake Geneva, among vineyards, fields, and parks with a view of Mont Blanc. It is a farmhouse furnished with antiques.
We eat outdoors, next to a vineyard. I ask for some wine made from these grapes, and we drink it. Deep sleep in the grass beside the vines. Coffee while Mont Blanc unveils itself. We discuss Kullmann’s situation.
Back to Geneva. Frl. Baader and I talk about the theological situation in Germany during a long boat ride -- wonderful colors.
Dinner at the Bavaria, and a farewell beer with the Schairers. I return early to my pension to pack my bags.
I take the train to Lausanne where I am met at the station by B., E.’s handsome brother; we visit C. who is in bed, sick, and very confused. The third friend is there, too. On the way there, B. tells me that C.’s sister has been condemned to five years in prison because of illegal activities, and that we must not talk about her. He himself, C., is slowly going to pieces because he cannot get any work.
B. and I eat together. He is doing quite well, writing short stories and crime stories; he is obviously on the way to becoming a journalist.
We are in a tall building, American style, with a café on the 14th floor and a view of Lake Geneva and the Dent du Midi.
I ride to Montreux, change over into the Alpine Railway to Les Avants, 4,000 feet above the lake, incredibly beautiful. There, at the Grand Hotel, a conference of the World Students Christian Federation is taking place under the guidance of Visser. Discussion outdoors, about a lecture by the Frenchman, Maury, on "Christian Ethics"; Piper, formerly in Münster, translates into German. I have come only for his sake. He has his family in Germany, since he does not make enough money in England. His wife is here, a very lively Jewish girl from Berlin, who looks completely Aryan. They tell me how infamously N. has behaved toward them. They blame him for Piper’s dismissal, for which the party was not responsible. They tell me about their son who was being ill-treated in school because he is half-Jewish. The instigator: the son of another professor of theology.
Wonderful evening stroll up to a mountain ridge. Later I share a bottle of Burgundy with Piper, Visser, and Maury.
Up early. View of the Dent du Midi. Visser and Piper take me to the train. I ride to Montreux where I take the express train over the Simplon Pass to Domodossola -- through the endlessly long, fertile Rhone Valley. I get into conversation about psychological and theological problems with a Catholic French-Swiss girl. My French comes as smoothly as ever. At Domodossola I change trains again, this time in southerly, warm, rainy weather. Through the Centovalli Valley to Locarno, the same route I once traveled in the opposite direction, playing chess with Heinrich.
In Locarno, Friedrich Spiegelberg awaits me at the station. He wears a mustache in imitation of an Indian guru, has deeply etched Indian features. Everything about him has changed greatly. He embraces me. During the ride to Ascona we have our first discussion of the situation. If he cannot find anything else, he will be allowed to go on lecturing here through the winter, though this is not really desirable since the Department of Cultural Sciences is about to be dissolved. Afterward he faces the void. His goal is to go to India.
We arrive in Ascona where a path along a wall near the post office leads up to the Villa Voltata. The Spiegelbergs live downstairs, I am upstairs with a bedroom, living room, bathroom, and a big veranda overlooking the lake in three directions. I pay 4.50 fr. -- $l.50. Next door, there is another room which costs only 1.50 fr. H. Schafft is supposed to stay there. Roesli receives us with coffee. She is pretty.
We wait for a telephone call from Berne. At last, Hermann’s voice on the telephone. He is coming, but he will first go to Geneva for one day, to see Claudia Baader.
We take our first walk through the town, past the Piazza, to the Lido, back to the Café Urbano, which has been somewhat enlarged; two more cafés have opened. Otherwise, everything is the way it was.
Dinner on our veranda. Phone call from Fides who has Kaete staying with her. To the Grotto garden, to meet Fides and Kaete -- down near the lake, on the road to Ronco. Dancing outdoors with lights and a moon, while the lake splashes accompaniment. Delightful European-Asconese atmosphere. Fides and Kaete arrive, both in excellent shape. Kaete is quite brown and youthful-looking from her stay in Porto Fino; Fides strong and young as ever. Late to bed.
Kaete calls for us and takes us to the Lido. It is as hot as being inside an oven. Around noon the "Maloia wind" springs up. I take a solitary walk along the Lido which is quite unchanged. Many beautiful and melancholy memories. We swim in water which is not cold at all. Picnic with wine, wild frolicking in the meadows, beatific, godlike existence in joyous nature.
To the village, where everyone runs around with sandals on bare feet. Ursula von Wiese, now Frau Dr. Guggenheim, turns up. They live in Ascona. Guggenheim is a theater director, at the moment without employment. She has become heavier and calmer; there is something very maternal about her.
To Quattrino’s for dinner, with Kaete. The same grape arbor, the same huge tree. Marvelous food and white Chianti.
In the evening there is a big dance at the Taverna. At a table opposite, I see Frau Werner who still has a house in Ascona. We dance, and talk about the past. It seems that the political situation has split the people here, too. Frau Werner has turned toward the left, Frau Fritsch toward the right -- and they no longer see each other. Fides seems to stand somewhere in the middle.
Much dancing and a bottle of Asti. Roesli dances with halo, the best dancer in Ascona. Late to bed.
Working on the veranda in wonderful sunshine, while Sunday bells are ringing. Lunch at Quattrino’s.
After a short nap I go to call on Frau Dr. Froebe-Kaptein, the "president" of the Eranos-Group. There I encounter some unfamiliar types: members of the high aristocracy. But first I take a swim in her garden, in the lake, near Mscha. Marvelous vegetation. A lotus flower opened just a few days ago. A Princess Mohenlohe, a Count Luettschau. I am constantly on the offensive, turning the conversation toward the fact that German professors, including Friedrich, are forbidden to participate. I speak about the need for the spirit to make a decision, and inveigh against the Group’s own saint, Rudolf Otto, because he appears to have conformed to the Nazis.
Dinner on the veranda. To the Grotto where we meet a professor who explains the self-destruction of the Western powers as being caused by black magic. He is a friend of Else Lasker-Schueler’s whom I had seen briefly in the afternoon. She was angry at Hugo Simon, hoarse and nervous, but looked attractive
A telephone call in the morning announces Hermann’s imminent arrival. At the same time, Frau Froebe calls to ask whether I want to speak at the Eranos. I accept; am to speak on "Salvation" -- the main theme of the conference -- "and the Masses."
To the Lido where I swim for fifteen minutes. Lunch at the Guggenheims’. He, very fat, with a huge shock of hair, was born in St. Gallen and knows Wolfers well. He plans to establish a traveling theater soon. They have charming children and a children’s nurse. A friend from Kassel, Miss Zimmer, talks about a Spanish acquaintance who has just arrived from Barcelona. He was saved almost by a miracle and says the atrocities in Barcelona -- not the Communists’ but the anarchists -- are worse than the newspapers report. He, a radical anti-Fascist, would rather see the Fascists in power than these anarchist gangsters.
Hermann arrives; his face is handsome, very young and fresh. I am so glad to see him again that I simply cannot complain about all the back-and-forth of the last few days. I take him to our place; he is delighted with the view from the balcony. To the Café Centrale, where Fides arrives on her bicycle. She makes a tremendous impression on Hermann. Then Kaete, with whom a cheery conversational tone is quickly established. We -- all except for the Spiegelbergs -- take the bus to Heinrich’s plot and climb up the famous path. Everything is as it once was. At the top, tea is served in a grape arbor. Fides’ three children are there; all have wonderful faces. One of the twins, "Heinrich," resembles Heinrich strikingly. Hermann Schafft is so overwhelmed by all this beauty that he cannot say a word, later withdraws to a corner of the garden.
Fides wants to sell, and to keep only the little house at the side. With the money from the sale she wants to buy something for her brothers and sister in Germany. Dusk comes on and the lake, with Heinrich’s beloved view to the south, shimmers in marvelous colors. The two women sing his songs. His purest essence is present, binding us to each other.
We eat dinner in the dark, with red Chianti. The rooms are clean and meticulously neat; there is no sign of the former dirt. We start to go. Fides gives me the ring for Erdmuthe. We descend with a lantern -- it is strenuous, almost dangerous.
Kaete told me that toward the end, Heinrich had sunk more and more into a fear of black magic. At his death he felt himself pursued by hordes of gray ghosts.
We walk along the shore to the Grotto. Our melancholy mood dissolves in dancing. Fides asks me repeatedly not to forget to give Hannah her regards. She wants to be loved, not admired.
Conversations with a psychotherapist about dreams of numbers and Jung’s collective unconscious.
With Hermann on the veranda, working and chatting, I dictate English letters to Friedrich. Lunch with Hermann and Kaete at Quattrino’s. Deep Sleep.
Suzanne Blum comes for three days; we call for her and put her up in a nearby place. Despite some cloudiness, we go to the Lido where we swim for twenty minutes, though the water is cold. I am now back at the house, alone, sitting on the balcony, writing this; all the mountains are gray-blue.
The others return. A big dinner table is set up on my balcony: Hermann, Friedrich, myself, Kaete, Roesli, Suzanne. We have bread, ham, peaches, and Marsala. Afterward all of us, including Fides, go down to the Taverna where we meet a painter named Frick. He is a good expressionist, a fine personality, Heinrich’s oldest friend among us. I watch the dancing and work on my lecture. Kaete treats us to Asti. I fall asleep deliciously by rain and wind.
Roesli and I walk to the Eranos. The weather is hot. Friedrich cannot come along because his government has forbidden it. Visheslaszeff lectures on the tragic in Europe and India. Siva-snake and Laocoön-snake.
I sit in the garden, working on my lecture while an Italian speaks.
Lunch at Frau Froebe’s, who offers me her house to work in. Next to me, an old Englishwoman who knows a great deal about "Gautama" (Buddha). Frl. Pallat, the daughter of the Ministerialrat, works here as a secretary; she brings me regards from Reichwein who wants to get out of Germany.
To the Lido. A very long swim, more than twenty minutes. I make some last-minute notes for my lecture. Dinner with Friedrich, Roesli, and Suzanne; Hermann spends all day going back and forth between Ronco and Saleggio, helping Fides to move kit, caboodle, children, and maid into a tent on the lake shore; Kaete is invited to Frick’s.
A large audience has assembled for my lecture. I speak with one intermission, twice three quarters of an hour. Frau Froebe is on pins and needles for fear that I might make a political gaff. I make none, though I speak very radically on politics: the idea of salvation in the present time, and Protestantism. The reaction is mixed. I learn later that the young people were all on my side, while some of the older ones felt my lecture did not belong there; and in this they were perfectly right. For what they practice there is unpolitical mysticism.
Afterward, to the Grotto where I find myself next to a handwriting expert, Pulver, who is frequently consulted by government offices. For instance, he had been asked to analyze Hitler’s handwriting. He declares Hitler to be purely medial, without any personal essence of his own; and he says that Hitler will hang himself if he ever loses his medial power. After seeing a few lines of Roesli’s handwriting, he knows that she has undergone an operation. He calls Friedrich an amazing recording machine, in danger of losing its self. He tells me that during my lecture, a man whom he took to be an informer had sat down next to him -- and had left the hall as soon as he gave him the criminalists’ secret signal. Very late to bed.
On the balcony in wonderful weather. Hermann takes Kaete to Locarno while I have a visit from Frl. Zimmer of Kassel, a friend of Ursula Guggenheim’s. She asks me additional questions regarding my lecture and talks about the awful impression Hess’s face made on her.
To Fides’ tent at the Lido, where Hermann faithfully keeps watch. Fides and I take out a canoe. Hermann sulks on the shore. Tea in front of the tent, swimming, writing on the veranda.
Up to August 18
The Phaeacian life of Ascona, favored by magnificent weather and a soft atmosphere, blots out all memory of individual days. The general daily life is as follows: strong dislocation experiences at night, which can be mastered with the help of the phosphorescent clock face, and which point to something still to be overcome. We arise every morning in radiant sunshine. Friedrich brings breakfast -- prepared by Roesli, himself, and Suzanne Blum -- up to my veranda. Hermann usually visits Fides and the children at their tent. He has promised to teach the rather timid Juergen to swim. After breakfast I write letters, and make birthday preparations which are interrupted by occasional conversations. Lunch with Hermann and Suzanne at Quattrino’s with a pint of white Chianti and discussions of Hermann’s abstinence. Coffee on the Piazza. To the Lido to visit Fides’ tent and to swim, a little longer each day if possible. Back at six. I write, the women shop for dinner: bread, butter, ham, salami, fish, fruit; and Frascati. After dinner we visit the Grotto Chinci or the Grotto Centrale, the Taverna or the Nelly Bar. During the evenings of the Tessin folk festival, we go to the Piazza; and then, much too late, to bed.
Within this general framework, the following special events are to be noted: Thursday night in the Taverna with the wife and daughter of an antiquarian from Leipzig; though non-Aryans, they are still being tolerated by the Nazis. Fernando and Julietta, he intelligently drunk, a native of the Tessin; she elegant, German.
On Friday night at Frick’s, the painter, for dinner. He has a wonderful house on the mountain, with beautiful, if not important, pictures. He knew Heinrich since 1909. He tells me about the opposition to my lecture in the Eranos by the feudal-reactionary groups. After dinner about fifteen guests arrive. Interesting discussion between the handwriting expert, Pulver, and myself. I try to extract the methodical and metaphysical elements of his specialty. He says there are three elements: the image, the flow, and the stroke. The last is the most important and cannot be imitated. Every counterfeiter can be caught by that. He uses tenfold magnification to examine a person’s handwriting which is studied in three ways: through individual analysis, intuition, and radiation. There are people who are so sensitive to the radiation of handwriting that they can judge it accurately when the page is in a dark room and behind a curtain, but the curtain cannot be of silk because that cuts off the rays. Afterward there is a great discussion between Pulver -- a Goethian-Freudian humanist; Friedrich -- an Indian-Buddhist mystic; and myself -- a Kierkegaardian Protestant. I stand alone in my intention to defend Christianity.
Sunday night with Friedrich at Frau Froebe’s; conversation about "manliness" and "effeminacy" against the Nazi ideal of heroism and the "masculinization" of Christianity. Discussion about Buber.
I have many talks with Friedrich about India. He attacks Christianity which Hermann counters with apologetic zeal. There is much tension between him and Friedrich. Friedrich considers him absurdly rigid. Hermann says Friedrich is unfair and dictatorial.
Beautiful flatboat trip with Hermann. It is touching how he looks after Fides’ children. I meet him, coming out of the shrubbery, with Heinrich on his right, Marianne on his left hand -- an indescribably charming picture.
I have a long talk with Frau Werner who is politically left, has helped so many refugees that she is now forbidden to take in any more lodgers, and stands in danger of being exiled. I get a report -- so far unconfirmed but unfortunately all too probable -- that Hirschfeld has been exiled.
Monday morning Hermann and I go on a day’s excursion to the Monte Bré and the higher mountains behind it. First by bus from Locarno, up a very winding road, then on foot, without hobnails or knapsacks, carrying our lunch in a briefcase. View of Monte Rosa, the Gotthard Group, and many peaks. It is a very strenuous climb in broiling heat. We have lunch at the top. On the way up Hermann explains his objections to the Confessing Church and his reasons for working with the committees. I agree, provided he remains firm in principle. I criticize his constant use of the word "genuine," and tell him that there are no "pure cases" and that it will take a hundred years for the world to know what is "genuine" now. I do this in order to prevent him from using his hope for a "clear decision" as an excuse to avoid making any decisions of his own at all.
On the way down we keep falling on our "behind" in the tall, slippery grass. Finally my briefcase slips from my hand and rolls down a slope. We go after it, sliding on our "dignity." Hermann finds -- first my fountain pen, which had jumped out, in a bush -- and then the briefcase. He himself usually loses one or two of his things each day.
Coffee, wine, and a wonderful view in Monte Bré. The first drops of a gathering shower begin to fall on us. We return by bus and have dinner in Locarno, accompanied by thunder and lightning.
I help Visheslaszeff and his wife, who cannot stay in Monte Veneta now that the Eranos Conference is over, to find a place near us. I have come to know him better and find him very likable.
The eve of my birthday. Emil Blum turns up at the Café Verbanol. The others have called it off, and the Stepuns want to see me in Geneva. We go to Seewald, the painter whom we visited nine years ago when he was planning his garden. In the Great Bear exhibition his painting was the best: similar to Kanold. He shows us interesting sketches of his trip to Greece. If we want to go there, we must talk to him. He has fine brown eyes and has become a strict Catholic. His wife has a beautiful large mouth and looks as interesting as she did nine years ago. He is decorating the Pilgrims’ Chapel at Ronco, near Fides’ property: a wonderful job. I am happy that such things exist, and I tell him about Rivera. I walk past my steel-and-concrete house in Ronco, and past the chestnut tree by the church: the most beautiful spot on the lake. We descend through Heinrich’s property and once again his spirit touches us.
While Hermann and Emil take a swim on the property, I go to visit Frau Froebe. We are quite alone, and she tells me about her exercises in concentration -- every day for ten years; after about five years she began to have gnostic experiences; nowadays she can achieve concentration at will, without exercises. She herself is apolitical, rather defends my lecture, and invites us to live on her property.
Later, at the Taverna, Kaete appears unexpectedly. She had taken Ilse to the Black Forest and then simply had come back here. I go to bed dead tired after a first birthday round of clinking glasses at midnight.
I wake up at a quarter to seven Suddenly, at seven, a four-part chorus; "Die gueldene Sonne, der Mensch hat nichts so eigen" ("The golden sun, man hath no good more rare"). I bawl without restraint and beg Hermann not to let anyone come in. Twenty years ago the regimental band, R.R. 72, played Schier dreissig Jahre bist du alt" ("Full thirty years old are you now") on the dot of seven, just like today. This is too much. And once again the people I love best are far away.
Get up. Breakfast with fifty red candles and one big yellow life-light whose streams of lava feed the smaller lights and keep them going. By and by they all burn holes into the black soil on an old serving tray which begins to look like an astronomer’s map. Cake, flowers. Everyone has joined in the singing, including Fides and the Fricks. I throw them all out and read my birthday letters. The two best ones came three days ago, from Hannah and Erdmuthe.
The women are in the kitchen, preparing lunch which has been provided by the Berks and will be served in the garden of the Villa Voltata. A birthday spread with much Asti Spumante, sandwiches and fruit, beneath a pear tree. Behind the bushes, luncheon music from one of the cafes, provided by Hermann. At the table: Hermann, Fides, the Spiegelbergs, Frick and Frau Fellinger, the Visheslaszeffs, the Blums, Kaete, Frau Dr. Rumpf who happened to stop by here on her way to Pallenza. The atmosphere is charming. Hermann and Frau Fellinger take lots of photographs.
General nap time. Then coffee, and off to the lake by motorboat. We have a great swim in indescribable water. At six everyone assembles on my balcony for a discussion. Subject: the idea of progress. I initiate the discussion from the American viewpoint. Speeches by Frick, Hermann, Emil, and, best of all, Visheslaszeff. Frick has given me a sketch suggesting Ascona. It is very beautifully executed. We feel a profound liking for each other. The postman brings the folder with tributes from various friends. "That is Hannah’s work." Thank you, my dearest!
Great dinner table at Quattrino’s. The best vino nostrano, pollo amato; after dinner, renewed discussion. I come out too vehemently against Hermann.
We dance at the Taverna. I go to bed very late, and very much moved by torrents of love. Telegram from Loewe and Staudinger.
I wake up, a man of fifty, Kaete and Dr. Rumpf depart. I take a last swim in indescribable water. Then I visit Dr. Heilbrunn (not Heilbrunner). He knows me from Hiddensee and Frankfurt. He sees Europe as I do and is very perceptive. Farewell gathering at the Grotto Chindi. Fides wants to leave while I am dancing. But I tell her that we must not become sentimental. We have found each other in Heinrich’s memory -- and only in that. For the rest, I find her strange and admirable.
Back to Ascona in Frl. Pallat’s canoe. Very late to bed.
Up very early. At 8:00 the trunks are picked up. At 8:30 I say good-by to Hermann, which is very hard, just as it was during the war. At 9:30 I say good-by to the Fricks, the Blums, and the Spiegelbergs -- all framed by the window of a bus; I look at their faces as if it were for the last time. Half an hour earlier I had dictated a letter to Friedrich asking Oldham to help Friedrich get to India. Friedrich was the most mature person there: he has become an Indian.
On August 19 he had given my handwriting to Pulver. The verdict was shattering: ambivalence between richly developed instinctual life and built-up intellectual development. Lack in the dimension of the soul, symptoms of dissolution threatening psychophysical catastrophe. Some errors there, but most of it is correct. Ascona was a profound analytical move into the past for me.
I forgot to mention a charming birthday telegram from Else Lasker-Schueler: "To the 15-year-old or 50-year-old."
I have great difficulty in tearing myself away, but in the last analysis I am quite glad to leave. The train goes through Centovalli which I experience more intensely than ever be-fore. Across the Simplon, through the Rhone Valley, to Montingy. Then, in the Alpine train, to Chamonix. I am very tired. It is cloudy. The Hotel Stadtgang is very big and chic. The glaciers of the Mont Blanc Range almost reach all the way down here. I am writing this at the Music Café, while it rains outside. I go to bed, reeling with fatigue, and have ten hours of deep sleep.
I wake up in Chamonix to sunshine and fog. Breakfast in bed, after which I take care of my mail, the watch, and some other errands. In sunny-cloudy weather, I ride up to Mont Anvers, the chief starting point of all Alpine tours, complete with hotel. I spend an hour on the glacier: Mer de Glace. If you have no nails on your shoes you can buy socks here for walking on the ice -- but my white shoes are all right. Lunch at the hotel, then a long walk beneath stone fields and glaciers, across the Chamonix Valley to Plan des Aiguilles. Clouds shroud the peaks which become visible for a few moments only. Magnificent, especially the Aiguille de Dru. I have coffee at the Plan House.
To the Lac des Nantemilles, where I am haunted by persistent memories of the Lies Grischus -- Hanno Gelau experiences.
I fight down the temptation to walk across Le Glacier des Pélègrins to the Station des Glaciers. For two hours I descend at a furious pace through dark woods. Dinner and coffee at Chamonix. Deep sleep. I dream of having to seek a warrant for my arrest at the Gestapo, not finding it, and deciding to flee.
As I get up, the sun begins to break through the prevailing haze. To the post office, where I meet Dr. Metzger and Frau Klausner-Levi, the nice woman who came to see us in New York. She is now married to Metzger, is charming and happy -- he seems much better than before. We sit in the café until eleven o’clock. He talks about the Philosophers’ Congress that is to take place in Paris in 1937; he wants to get me invited to it. He is professor at the Jewish School in Berlin. She would like him to go to Paris where he has a chance of obtaining French citizenship. I urge him to listen to her. He wants to climb Mont Blanc the day after tomorrow and asks me to come with him. I decline, weeping silently.
He tells me about Veronika Czapski who has written some excellent new poems but whose basic development is hampered, he says, by her marriage and bourgeois surroundings.
I take the cable car up the side facing Mont Blanc, then walk the main road to Mont Bervent on foot, to save money. Climbing up a crevasse with my briefcase and in my white shoes. At the top, the most wonderful panorama presents itself: the Mont Blanc Range, the Bernese Uplands, the Dauphiné. Two hours to Point Flechers -- from where the view is more toward the Aiguille du Dru. The mountains are red and getting redder in the evening sun. Ecstasy of beauty. An idea for an address on beauty for American audiences occurs to me.
Down through the woods with glimpses of the red-glowing mountains. The glow fades from the 9,000-ft. and the 12,000-ft. peaks. Mont Blanc remains alone, the grandest of mountains. Then Mont Blanc, too, lies in darkness. There remains the moon -- the heavenly body. Ivory whiteness of the glacier. I walk back along a steaming brook
While having dinner and coffee I am barely able to move my arms or legs.
Up early to pack my bags. As the train goes along the Chamonix Valley, the view of the sun-baked Mont Blanc Range changes continually. The southwesterly peaks of Mont Blanc come into view.
At St. Gervais les Bains I change trains and continue along a wide valley with big hotels and wonderful distant view of Mont Blanc.
Through La Roche to Genève-Eaux-Vives. Schairer is at the station. We have lunch at the Régence. He is, as always, full of stories about the political situation. For instance, he tells me that Geldte has threatened that all Genevans will be sent to concentration camps when the Germans march into Switzerland. Kullmann calls for us in his car, and we race out to Céligny. Natascha appears; her face is unchanged, but she has grown much fatter, especially around the hips. Then Stepun, whose hair is now completely silver-white. They give me a very warm welcome.
My first talks with Stepun are about people. He describes Ida Bienert as all temperament. She lives very withdrawn, spends very little time in Dresden; her pictures are unchanged, but she won’t let anyone see them. The rest of the faculty has been dispersed. The teachers’ training program is in the pedagogic academy, Stepun in the department of economics, with four students and many unmatriculated listeners. The best is the historian Kuehn who speaks very openly against the regime. Stepun has social contact with Nazis and enjoys pulling the Gestapo’s leg. He feels that the Nazis are the framework within which it is still possible to work, refuses to attack the regime as such. I report on the European situation and on Hitler’s victory on the Continent. He is deeply shaken, feels that he has taken Nazism too lightly.
During dinner, outdoors, we have further basic discussions about the world situation, religion, and Communism. Kullmann and I are in complete agreement. We drive Schairer to the train. The Stepuns and I have rooms in the old tower; their room is above mine. These are circular rooms with terribly thick walls. Vine leaves and mosquito nets add to the very romantic atmosphere.
I wake up to the sounds of Russian songs -- sung by Stepun. We have coffee outdoors, followed by a morning discussion about Wolfers’ birthday contribution in which he discusses the Church and Communism. We agree on many things.
The morning paper carries the news that Stalin has had his former comrades-in-arms shot. A shattering revelation.
After lunch Kullmann and I go into town. Wally Schulz and Emmerich await us at the Café de la Régence. Wally is very youthful, has bicycled all the way here from Frankfurt. She tells me about everyone I know. Their main social contacts are the Reinhards. The Florsheims have got out, after his passport had been temporarily confiscated. Platzhof is dull and not very happy. There is a ubiquitous system of spies and informers, but one gradually becomes used to the pressure. The separation of Jews and Aryans is being more and more taken for granted. Wally would like to get out. Peter wants to be retired, since he can no longer bear to watch the destruction of the university. Reinhard is very cautiously influencing his students. The Hoechbergs are waiting for permission to emigrate.
Back to Céligny with Schairer and Kullmann. We have discussions by the fireplace which we continue, later, in our circular tower rooms. Religious discussions and questions with me. At the park wall, under the stars. Russian-mystical atmosphere.
In our final discussion, in the garden, we talk about the future of the Church and of Protestantism, and about the idea of a league, or order.
In the afternoon the Kullmanns take me into town where I meet Schairer at Lake Geneva. We talk about the youth conference in which he participates. Youth without leadership.
I make preparations to leave Switzerland. Hotel in town. View of Mont Blanc from above. I begin to rearrange my luggage for the trip back.
An autumnal haze lies over the lake. I go to bed early. Kullmann and Maria have suggested we say "thou" to each other.
Farewell ride up Mont-Salève which lies near Geneva but across the French border. Three thousand feet by cable car. All the peaks, Mont Blanc and all its promontories are visible above an ocean of haze in a delicately blue sky. Indescribable beauty. Gradually, the haze dissolves. City and lake emerge.
I have lunch at the top and return quite late to continue laboring over my luggage. Then I meet the Kullmanns at the Café Régence. They take me to Céligny by car. It is my farewell evening with them and the Stepuns. Chianti and phonograph records: Russian, French, Hungarian, Italian. The atmosphere is very beautiful and not at all abstract. Everyone is incredibly warm and cordial. Russian mysticism is in its vital sphere here. Afterward everyone comes along to take me to the station and we have an emotional leave-taking, filled with a profound sense of fate. Stepun wants to get out as soon as he can; but it is very hard for him. I walk back to my hotel along Lake Geneva, under a starry sky.
I get up early and spend the entire morning packing. The big trunks are ready to be shipped. The Kullmanns and Stepuns come to take me for a farewell lunch. At the Restaurant Globe with a wine called Vignes de Notre Seigneur. Stepun, the bon vivant. Final parting at the railroad station.
At the passport inspection in Bellegarde I am suspected of being a German spy against France because my route takes me through Luxembourg, where I hope to meet Margot and, perhaps, Reinhard. I am not allowed to get off the train at Sedan, Charleville, Reims. Signs of European tension. It is a long, hot train ride through a landscape that looks like one big garden, toward Dijon. I forgot to mention that on my last evening, from the Kullmanns’ place, I had a very affectionate telephone conversation with my father. Very moving farewell speeches over the telephone.
The Côte-d’Or comes into view; here is where Burgundy grapes are grown. Arrived in Dijon, I send my luggage straight through to Paris; then I go to the Hotel Central, feeling somewhat uneasy because of what happened at the border, and because of the situation in general.
I wake up -- to a blindingly bright Sunday morning -- after several moments of uncertainty during which I think that I am on top of a high mountain.
Sightseeing in this city, the former capital of Burgundy, is very rewarding. There are three main churches in the original Burgundian style; there is the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, and there are many amazing private houses, all in the richest of Renaissance styles: this is truly an old princely residence. I have a fantastic dinner, which includes white Burgundy, within view of the palace.
I continue on to Luxembourg, which is an eight-hour ride with five train changes. Add to this that it is Sunday afternoon and very hot. The landscape is very German and close to my heart.
Toward evening we reach the wartime region near Metz. At the Metz railroad station I re-experience the air-raid alarms of the time when I was on leave from the army -- then we pass through Pont-à-Mousson, Longuyon, etc. Many of my fellow passengers are soldiers in fantastic red uniforms. The moon emerges from between small white cumulus clouds.
I arrive punctually in Luxembourg and find a room at the Hotel Alpha. Dinner with Luxembourg Moselle at eleven o clock. It is nice to be able to drink Moselle with a good conscience and without breaking the boycott. The atmosphere has become noticeably German from Metz on: German soldiers’ songs on the train, German folk songs at the café played by an all-girl band; a German moon -- and a German landscape; but the official language, fortunately, is French.
At the cafe a gentleman starts up a conversation with me. In rather peculiar German he insists he has been to Africa and assures me that "order and discipline" reign in Germany, and that Communism cannot possibly win, etc. Though I do not react to any of this, he shakes my hand most cordially when saying good-bye; wants to see me again -- I don’t. Deep sleep after that strenuous trip.
I write letters till noon, then call for Margot Faust. At first we miss each other in the milling crowds at the station -- the Luxembourg kermesse. Then we meet at the hotel. Margot has aged gently and her hair is now gray; but otherwise she is as strong and tart as ever. At lunch we begin to talk, warming up slowly. She lives in Lübeck, totally alone, has no circle of friends or acquaintances. She reads voraciously, in winter up to six hours a day. She does have a steady friend in Saarbrücken whom she sees at least once a month; she also sees Erich. Erich is a big wheel, a member of a board of directors. He has a big garden which is taken care of by gardeners from the factory; also, a private car and an official car. He wants to move, preferably to Essen, perhaps as a director for Krupp.
We stroll through town, which is jammed with people from the country. All the shops are selling all their rubbish, outdoors.
We sit down in an old square with autumnal chestnut trees. Slowly, we get around to the subject of politics. Result: Erich and Margot are inwardly firm, nor do they make any outward concessions. They can afford this, since they are both popular and socially respected. In her view of the Nazis, Margot differentiates between cultural and social developments on the one hand, and achievements in organization and public works on the other. She approves of the latter, as almost everyone does, but rejects the former. She staunchly opposes the intrusion of the total state into education and other private spheres. She considers herself a liberal, and, as such, she also rejects the racial system, though she prefers it, in principle, to the Fascist system. There seems no doubt that the upper stratum of the working class has been integrated into the system and feels its situation has improved; nor, that the economy has been revitalized, even without rearmament activities. Also, that a number of individual edicts have dictatorially eliminated certain evils. One very clever move is being planned: some reliable "neutrals" are to be called into the party and to be given equivalent rank with those who carry party numbers below 100,000. Erich is among those who are being considered. Margot is very much against the resurgent militaristic ideology. Every boy wants to become an army officer, and the active officers are as overbearing as ever. A similar spirit makes itself felt everywhere. The other day Markus was beaten in school by the teacher. He, like Buzi before him, is to be sent to the Odenwald School, which is still tops.
At 6:30 Mr. Brasseur calls for us in his car. He is a Luxembourg iron merchant with a fabulous country estate. Very nice; he has a rather Dutch sense of humor. His wife is a pretty, somewhat vapid Rhenish type. We walk through the terraced park with its long flower beds and its view over 4 valley and woods. The house is a beautifully remodeled monastery, furnished in the French style. For dinner there is a wonderful Moselle. Agricultural conversation about a biologico-dynamic fertilizer system which Steiner invented and which is said to be excellent. Struggle against chemical fertilizers. Interest in American literature. Very pleasant atmosphere. On our way back, in his car, we stop to see the view from the highest part of town into the valley that surrounds Luxembourg like a huge moat. Margot and I continue our conversations at a café. She is very versatile and vivacious. At the end of the day I am dead tired.