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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 6: September


September 1

Reinhardt, who is supposed to come from Amersfoort, sends me a telegram to say he cannot come because of "technical" difficulties. I am very sad.

I go sightseeing in the old part of town. There are many ancient streets but few antiquities. Wonderful are the surrounding walls of rock and the deep valleys beyond. Lunch at the old Restaurant Cravate; excellent French food.

After a short rest I get ready to move on tomorrow. Margot and I take a long walk into the surrounding countryside. Margot is afraid of dogs, just like Hannah. Stubble fields, autumnal haze, autumn flowers. I am deeply drawn into the autumnal atmosphere. Dinner at Cravate with Burgundy. I explain my ideas systematically.

September 2

Up at 6:30 -- I leave for Paris. It is a hazy autumn morning. The train follows my old wartime furlough route, Longuyon-Sedan; today is Sedan Day in the old Germany. The sun breaks through the clouds: this wonderful autumn day reminds me of maneuvers of old. It gets warmer and warmer. We pass Mezieres-Charleville, where I often went when it was the German headquarters, and where Captain Pfeiffer discovered his Suzanne. Challerange, where the switchyard for the Reims front used to be; Rethel, the first stopping place, Bézancourt, where one of our regiments was stationed; Vity les Reims, of which I have particularly horrible memories; Reims itself with its cold-looking renovated cathedral; in between, artillery emplacements, trenches, soldiers. Cemeteries. Near Meuse, a monument to the battle of the Maine. Heavenly Maine landscape! We enter Paris. I go to my old hotel where lots of mail awaits me.

Preparing the homeward journey is hard labor. I go to the French Line, to the Gare St. Lazare and to the Gare de Lyon. I also spend an hour at the Tuileries, writing a letter to Loewe. Countless brilliant late summer flowers glow under the evening sun. The Louvre is visible in the background -- this is my quietest, most beautiful hour in weeks.

After dinner at good old Delpuech’s I ride to Montparnasse and stroll through the streets where Eckhart and I had said good-bye. The moon is out. There are crowds at the Café Coupole.

I visit the bar of the Monocle, which is a rather done-up night club with a floor show.September 3

I have tea in bed, take a bath, write some letters. At the Sainte Chapelle the windows are easier to see and as beautiful as those at Chartres.

La Conciergerie, the prison of the Revolution and the September murders: Marie Antoinette shall stoop (bend down) when led to her cell; for this purpose, a small opening is cut out of the tall door and the rest is nailed shut. Compare today’s revolutions!

Inside Notre Dame: more beautiful and clearer than I had remembered it. I walk past Notre Dame on the opposite shore and back through old streets to St. Michel Lunch at Steingart’s, our favorite place ten years ago. Very good, but expensive.

Ancient streets near St. Jacques le Pauvre. The bookstalls on the bank of the Seine. I stop at a café in the rue Rivoli, then walk through the Palais Royal. I also buy a new hat and a few other things.

There is a continuous exchange of air mail letters between Loewe and me. England now seems uncertain.

In the evening I have a good dinner on Montmartre, then look in on the Tabarin and on some tourist places, but find them very unsatisfactory. Thus I get to bed by one o’clock.

September 4

After writing some letters, I go to the Louvre where I repeat the routine of my last visit. Everything here is nearly smothered by its own sheer quantity. Only the very greatest works stand out. The way things are hung in the grand galerie is basically barbarous; it reminds me of the Palazzo Pitti.

In the morning, just as I finish my tea in bed, Professor Marti of Oberlin appears and talks to me about Spiegelberg’s chances in America.

For lunch I meet Mr. H. Sahl, Emmy Sach’s friend, the "typical" intellectual immigrant; terribly starved, delighted with the Vouvray at Delpuech’s. He tells the fantastic story of George Bernhard and the rape of the Paris daily. He also says that the Communists support corruption, all because of the Front Populaire. He declares that he has been pushed aside because of this struggle against corruption among emigrants; he wants to go to America. While he tells me all this, his chief opponent keeps walking past our café. Sahl also talks of Rollkommandos (vigilantes) among the emigrants. It sounds ghastly.

Afterward I take a nap, then go shopping. In the evening I have dinner near the Porte St. Martin. Later I walk to the empty quarter of Montparnasse. From there through the Halles. I sit down in a café where a slightly demented, totally ragged and filthy old Jew begs for bread and wine with great dignity. In front of the café, mountains of cabbage and cauliflower are piled up into pyramids. The cabbage is very fragrant.

I overhear a political discussion between an intellectual leftist and a self-assured rightist, at a table nearby. The rightest is a much better speaker, but not likable.

All the streets are full of cabbage and fruit. Fantastic mountains of red radishes.

September 5 and 6

Adolf telephones from England to say I absolutely must come because of Manchester. He had planned to come to Paris to visit with Hilde Oppenheimer, who has now been Frau Dr. Blum for the last two months. This might have saved me the trip to England. I accept his invitation, then spend the morning and afternoon getting my tickets and taking care of my luggage. Lunch near the Madeleine. At 5:00 P.M. I leave from St. Lazare for Le Havre, via Rouen.

The weather gets rougher. Wind and rain squalls. In Le Havre, by taxi to the ship for England. I check my luggage in a gloomy harbor street, then walk to the harbor, right up to the water’s edge, in darkness, storm, and rain. At the ship’s starting point the streets are full of bordellos; in every hallway stands a fat old madam, calling you in. Instead, I go on board and am somewhat appalled by the smallness of the ship. I had thought at first that this was the tender that would take us to the ship itself. There are only two classes: first and second. Second class is like the oldtime steerage: a single room with tiered bunks for about forty men. I spend the hour before the ship sails on deck, looking out at the harbor lights and at the ships of Le Havre and -- on the other side -- the lights from Trouville and Deauville of happy memory. The waves in the harbor get bigger, our ship begins to roll. We pull away from the Continent; red and green lights. I take a Vasano pill, but, foolishly, after a glass of beer. Therefore, the pill has no effect. After half an hour I begin to be seasick. It lasts almost four hours and is more horrible than anything I have so far experienced in this respect. The ship dances and, at every turn, my insides erupt until the last drop of bitterness is spilled. Some others in the room are somewhat better off than I, but the majority are much worse. At five o’clock I catch an hour’s sleep in the Channel after Southampton. Then up for passport inspection and luggage.

To the railroad station to catch a train to Bournemouth, I interpret for a French lady. As we have to wait for almost two hours for the next train, I go to the nearest hotel to freshen up and have some breakfast. The stomach accepts tea and buttered bread.

Long train ride along the southern coast; change of trains, then a cross-country taxi ride. Shortly before Toller I meet Adolf and the youngest child. We go to their house together.

Lunch and a long nap. During an extended walk with Adolf, I speak without any voice; the terrible retching has strained my throat.

Wonderful, wavy green landscape; in the background lies the sea. We discuss the Manchester offer in detail, also in respect to the general world situation and in view of our task. We also go very thoroughly into the financial aspect of the proposal. We return in the rain and have dinner; talk about some of Adolf’s work and works. About Peter’s book which has led to conflict between him and both of us, which he takes personally in my case. Very tired, I go to bed, while the storm rages outside. With a compress over my throat, I find ten hours of the deepest kind of sleep.

September 7

Sunshine and a northwesterly wind. Continued, very detailed conversations with Adolf. We talk about the problem of personal sacrifices, while wandering up a hill. There is a cornfield and a view over many hills, to the sea. Lunch.

The Stocks call for us in a car and drive us through the green Dorset countryside. We walk up a hill with a pre-Roman settlement characterized by high earthworks. Wonderful view of sea and hills.

The Stocks’ house in West Bay lies directly at the outlet of a little harbor into the sea. Northwesterly storm and high waves, although it is low tide. The shores are steeply eroded by the sea.

We talk about Manchester. He offers me a lectureship with £500-not as he had originally told Adolf, a readership, which goes up to £750. Three to four hours a week, more than five months’ vacation, no pension; compulsory insurance. The connection with other universities would be difficult, but not impossible. He feels himself that this offer is inadequate, saying that he is suggesting to a "whale" what would be suitable for a "trout." His best argument is the beauty of the English countryside and the small work load. After we get back, Adolf and I decide we must hold out for the readership.

A wonderful telegram from Hannah came half an hour before the Stocks’ arrival.

The colors of the landscape are lovely; not so harsh as the autumn colors in America. After dinner we talk very comfortably by the light of petroleum lamps.

I have spent two great days with Loewe. Morning and afternoon walks in the green hillscape; along paths flanked by walls of greenery; blackberries; wide vistas; autumnal haze. I get up late, and go to bed late. We drink cider instead of wine. We celebrate Rahel’s birthday, visit an old farmhouse, use petroleum lamps and candles. There is an old cemetery with the graves of members of the Churchill family.

We talk in the mornings and afternoons during our walks. The second day we wander through fog to the pre-Roman settlement. Brambles, cows, sheep. Subject of our conversation, the dialectics of National Socialism in the aspect of the four stages: swampy meadow, hill, sea, high mountain range. (1) The present; (2) the immediate future; (3) the aimed-for-future; (4) the distant future. We must work toward (1) by overcoming (2) dialectically. The problem of dictatorship, even a dictatorship of our own. The idea of the democratic corrective. Discussions about religion, the super-id and the super-thou. The third stage in the sense of Joachim of Floris and Heinrich. The tasks: for Adolf -- the politico-economic aspect; for me -- the "dogmatics." General problems related to the Manchester problem. The path of "emptying out." Deepest community with Adolf. Review of friends.

September 10

Off to London after a telephone call to Oldham. On the train I get into conversation with a nice young Englishwoman. Mr. and Mrs. Oldham call for me and take me to lunch at the hotel. He is greatly excited about Manchester, insists that I accept nothing less than a readership. Then there would be further possibilities. We discuss the ecumenical situation; I report on the talks I have had with Loewe. He is delighted and says he would like to make me the director of Oxford in 1937. He wants to co-opt me for this purpose. His wife drives me to Waterloo Station

I take the train to Portsmouth and from there a ferry to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Julia is waiting for me at the bridge. We drive to Bimstead. They are living on an old country estate in a wild, unkempt park with incredible trees on the Watt side of the island. All the big ships pass by there. The Europa lay at anchor right in front of their house; next day the Lafayette was there, too.

Mannheim is in bed with a slight cold. My report on my travels in Europe moves them deeply because they feel farther from Europe, in England, than we do in America. They -- especially Karl -- reject England and criticize Adolf’s article about English conformity. Dinner at the pension. Conversaion at Karl’s bedside. Sherry, and deep sleep.

September 11

I have breakfast with a doe-eyed English medical student. Beautiful walk through the island to an old fishing place. The inflexibility of English conformity. I have my last lunch in Europe, then by bus across the island. I say good-by to the Mannheims: this is my last good-by.

Across to Southampton and down to the pier with my luggage. I stroll through the very beautiful old town, admire the magnificent town gate, the town walls, and some old warehouses.

Returned to the pier, I spend several hours on the tender. Sunset over the harbor. The train from London arrives, and I strike up an acquaintaince with a Miss Nix-James, a professor of educational psychology -- a mixture of schoolteacherish and lively. She knows about me from Woodbrook where there was much talk about my lecure. She also knows Heinrich Becker. We cross to the ship in the dark, which takes almost an hour and a half; then we go on board. Dinner is served around 11:00 P.M. Having located all my luggage, I find I am housed in a large stateroom with two other passengers. After some time up on deck, I have a good night, what with the artificial ventilation in the stateroom and neighbors who do not snore. The ship rocks gently, I am glad that my wanderings are over.

September 12

I am the first one up. After breakfast -- with cornflakes -- I take a deck chair. There is a broad groundswell and such a dense fog that the ship is occasionally forced to a complete standstill. Then warm sunshine replaces the fog. I begin to read manuscripts. Lunch with Miss Nix-James and two American professors: Professor Hall, a historian, who is a close friend of Niebuhin’s and who knows my book; and Professor Aksin, a political economist in Boston. We immediately plunge into interesting talk. Hall has spent three weeks in Germany with his two daughters, has visited twenty-seven youth camps, and says that, although he likes the German people more than any other Europeans, he came back literally ill because of their ideology: militaristic, anti-Semitic, anti-Negro, unchristian, adoration of Hitler. Aksin is afraid of American Fascism.

After lunch I sleep deeply for two hours. Wonderful blue ocean. Before dinner I take a stroll through the first class. A chess game with the English miss. Watching the dancing. The autumnal sky is full of stars.

September 13

I am the second one up. Conversations with a student of Morris Cohn and with Professor Hall. The sky is blue, and it is windy. Sunday. I am reading the birthday manuscripts. A northwest wind springs up and brings some showers. At noon and in the evening I talk with the two professors. One of my cabin mates is the Swiss Vice-Consul in Mexico. He talks very interestingly about the impossibility of civilizing that country and about the corruption of the government which helps to make the task of settlement impossible.

In the evening, chess with Miss Nix-James. Dance on the enclosed deck, which is not very attractive.

September 14

As I wake up the ship rolls heavily, and I reach for the Vasano. Soft, rainy weather. I spend the morning writing, sorting letters and photographs. At lunch and dinner the two professors do not seem to feel too well. I spend the afternoon on deck in soft, moist weather.

In the evening -- four games of chess with a German businessman. I meet Brauer who was the mayor of Altona once and later lived in China and New York. I go to bed with the usual glass of vermouth.

September 15

Streaming rain -- and the ship rolls. Vasano. I work in the writing room. Northwest weather. The waves and wind increase. It is very cold.

I continue reading manuscripts. After lunch I spend a long time in bed. Between 4:00 and 6:00 P.M. I see countless rainbows, fantastic colors, huge waves. I feel slightly indisposed.

Dinner, then chess. I win one game, another ends in a draw. Early to bed. The ship rolls heavily. Sleep.

During lunch I had a conversation with Professor Aksin about the League of Nations and the possibility of power organization. He, too, is very skeptical.

September 16

Blue sky and a slight wind; it’s very cold. I read and write letters on deck. Clouds and rain. I withdraw to the writing room. The sky clears and it gets very cold. To the north of us there is an iceberg. It looks like a little glass tower, a white-greenish mass to the naked eye. I spend some time filling out customs forms.

Dinner with sauterne and lively talk. Professor Aksin has presided over the Jewish New Year’s celebration; he tells us about Jewish rites. He speaks Hebrew and Yiddish.

Chess. I win one game, lose two. Early to bed. Dislocation anxiety.

September 17

Autumnal spring weather. I feel tremendously relaxed and too lazy to work. Everyone is up on deck. At breakfast, conversation with a French-American schoolteacher; she is afraid of Hitler.

On deck I talk with an Englishwoman who is married to a Negro and seems to be very happy with him. They want to come and see us.

At night there is a big gala dinner with Vouvray sec mousseux. Afterward, a floor show by the guests, not very interesting.

Chess, until the chessmen are overturned by a cannonade of cotton balls. Moist warm air. In the afternoon I had a talk with a nice lively French girl who is to spend a year at an American college, teaching French sixteenth-century literature; she wonders how she will interpret Rabelais to the Americans. I also talked with a Spanish-American girl who had just spent three months in Barcelona and says all is quiet there now. She is passionately anti-Fascist, tells me about her brothers who are in the opposite camp.

September 18

Up early. The weather is hazy, which later turns to fog. Packing, more letters and some post cards to write. Good table talk about the American concept of Experience. Sleep. I write some last-minute letters and send a radiogram to Hannah.

The ground swell gets stronger. Reports of an approaching storm. At first there is fog, then rain. The sea looks uncanny and magnificent. At dinner everything is clamped down. I am not very hungry.

Victorious at chess, also against Brauer. I go to bed at 11:30

The ship rolls more violently than it did during the entire trip so far. The storm breaks; it is the tail end of the Bermuda hurricane. The ship rolls furiously and spray comes in through the porthole. Then the ship lies motionless for several hours, which produces an uncanny feeling. I get very little sleep.

September 19

I get up early to do my final packing. The weather is calm. Long Island comes into view. We arrive.

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