“ESSAYS AND LETTERS FROM OCCUPIED POLAND 1942-1943”: CZESLAW MILOSZ BOOK

April 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Art, Books, Germany, History, Literary, Philosophy | Leave a comment

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Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942-1943  

Czeslaw Milosz (Author)

Madeline Levine (Translator)

Jaroslaw Anders (Introduction)

These essays, written in Warsaw in 1942-43 during the Nazi occupation, were his efforts to discover “Why …the European spirit succumb(ed) to such a devastating disaster”.

Book Description

Publication Date: September 22, 2005

Legends of Modernity, now available in English for the first time, brings together some of Czeslaw Milosz’s early essays and letters, composed in German-occupied Warsaw during the winter of 1942-43.

“Why did the European spirit succumb to such a devastating fiasco?” the young Milosz asks. Half a century later, when Legends of Modernity saw its first publication in Poland, Milosz said: “If everything inside you is agitation, hatred, and despair, write measured, perfectly calm sentences…” While the essays here reflect a “perfect calm,” the accompanying contemporaneous exchange of letters between Milosz and Jerzy Andrzejewski express the raw emotions of “agitation, hatred and despair” experienced by these two close friends struggling to understand the proximate causes of this debacle of western civilization, and the relevance, if any, of the teachings of the Catholic church.

Passionate, poignant, and compelling, Legends of Modernity is a deeply moving insight into the mind and emotions of one of the greatest writers of our time.

 In his landmark 1953 book, The Captive Mind, Nobel-winning poet and essayist Milosz discoursed on the havoc totalitarian rule plays on the mental processes of intellectuals. Here we see Milosz’s own mind at work in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, crafting essays of ideas, pursuing a fantastically high-minded correspondence with friend and fellow writer Jerzy Andrzejewski, and developing themes inspired by the works of Defoe, Balzac, Gide, Stendhal and Nietzsche. Call it “The Captive Mind in Action.” Curiously, the tension implied by Milosz’s situation is hardly evident in the essays: where one might expect his tone to be skittish, fearful, foreboding, the most remarkable aspect is his ability to ensconce his steady authorial voice so luxuriantly in the unpressing issues of, say, the imaginative projection required today to view Giotto’s medieval saints properly. The most interesting essay demonstrating this phlegmatic tone enlists Tolstoy’s War and Peace to help Milosz understand the global conflagration of his own time. But anger, bitterness and self-recrimination rage in some of the letters, where he says he thinks of writing a “confession… that would exceed in its violence and scream of pain, [the] Romantic era’s settling of accounts of the conscience.” For those who hanker for the high seriousness of continental thinkers like Camus, this volume is a welcome beacon from the past. (Oct. 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Milosz’s essays adroitly reveal the historical contingency at the heart of modern culture’s most cherished values.” — Clare Cavanagh, Bookforum

“These early reflections by Milosz. . .form a remarkable testament to an uncaptive mind consecrated to living in truth.” — Jacob Heilbrunn, The New York Times Book Review

“[This is] Milosz’s attempt to reconcile everything he knows about literature and humanity with the total destruction he was witnessing.” — Anne Applebaum, The New York Sun

Product Details:

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • September 22, 2005
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374184992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374184995
What the greatest poet of the 20th Century was worried about under German occupation, July 14, 2006

This review is from: Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942-1943 (Hardcover)

When Abbe Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes was asked what he did during the French revolution, he responded “J’ai vecu”–“I survived”. For many, that was exactly their ambition when they found themselves in Nazi-occupied Warsaw between 1939 and 1944 and it often involved daily heroism. But today we admire those that joined the armed resistance, the couriers that kept the links with the Government- in-Exile, the teachers that taught in underground schools, and the intellectuals who sought to protect the Polish culture that, in the Nazi scheme of things, had no business existing.

“Legends of Modernity” is a collection of eight essays by Milosz and an exchange of nine essay-length letters between Milosz and Jerzy Andrzejewski written in 1942-43. For a reader who would not pay attention to where and when these essays were written, but who was merely interested in the history of European ideas and wanted to observe a keen intelligence at work, there is plenty here to keep him fascinated.

“The basic theme, threaded through numerous digressions, is an attempt to clear the field of convictions about man’s natural impulses and also about the natural conditions of his life–not without the hope that by destroying the legends he creates about himself, it will be possible to locate the surest footing. The chapter about Daniel Dafoe is aimed against belief in natural goodness outside of civilization. The chapter about Balzac describes the evil spell cast by civilization conceived of as an automatic process subject to laws of natural evolution. The chapters about Stendhal and Andre Gide grapple with the position of an individual who identified the laws of nature with the laws of human society, and taking it further, arrived at a cult of power. The chapter about William James criticized the acceptance of fictions and legends as a normal condition that we cannot move beyond. The fragment from Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is used as an example of disillusionment with civilization and the miseries connected with this disillusionment. Marian Zdziechowski makes his appearance as a specimen of religion founded on the innate demands of the heart. The rather long sketch about Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz shines a light on metaphysical theories of art.” (From Milosz’s 1944 Preface)

While the essays are quite detached and calm, the letters to and from Andzejewski are less so. Their chief theme is the crisis of the Western Civilization and the role that the Catholic Church might have in rescuing it. The feeling of being affected by what was happening in the streets outside is somewhat easier to discern.

One can read this book to be dazzled by the display of critical wisdom by a 30-year old author. Or, one can remember that the writer was a simple laborer in 1942 when this book was written, and one could look at this book as an assertion of independence from the everyday reality, however horrible. In this sense, the book ought to be read alongside books such as Bartoszewski’s “1859 Dni Warszawy” or Szarota’s “Okupowanej Warszawy Dzien Powszedni”.

Josif Brodsky saw Milosz as a 20th century Job. Nothing less.

(Originally written for the Polish Library in Washington DC)

This review is from: Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942-1943 (Hardcover)

Czeslaw Milosz, who won a Nobel Prize for literature in 1980, after becoming a professor at the University of California at Berkeley in 1960, lived in Warsaw when it was occupied by the Nazis during the winter of 1942-1943, and wrote the essays and letters now translated into English in LEGENDS OF MODERNITY during that winter. The book does not have an index, and the Contents on pages v-vi only includes the names of four Polish authors, one of whom (the Catholic writer Jerzy Andrzejewski 1909-1985) wrote four letters to Czeslaw Milosz which are included on pages 160-172, 187-201 (dated September 1, 1942), 213-225, and 239-244. Notes to the 1996 Polish Edition on pages 259-262 reveal that the letters were exchanged in a café in the center of Warsaw, a coffeehouse with two pianos where the bartender was film director Antoni Bohdziewicz. Though the Notes to the Essays on pages 263-266 include French, Dutch, and German writers, the only American cited in “The Boundaries of Art” might be Edgar Allan Poe (n.5, n. 6, and n. 7, p. 265). William James is mentioned in “Absolute Freedom” in connection with Nietzsche, André Gide, and breaking with “Platonism,” the traditional understanding of good and evil. (p. 54). The fascist movements were the first examples to come to mind of man-God themes. (p. 55).

As a poet, Czeslaw Milosz has a very intellectual approach to political difficulties in historical times. Rather than attempting to locate the themes which I found interesting in the essays, I would prefer to adopt a bad analogy for the history of the twentieth century and attempt to apply thoughts from Milosz to explain the aspects of the analogy which relate to the contents of this book. Having just done a little research on videos that are currently available about Evel Knievel, I would like to apply his assertion that he was like a Roman general who believed that what was considered impossible would eventually be done. One famous stunt involved a motorcycle jump over the fountain at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. As I remember the video clip shown in the movie starring George Hamilton, Evel Knievel was flying prone over his motorcycle with his hands on the handlebars when the rear wheel of the cycle came down on the short side of the lip at the far edge of the fountain, bouncing the motorcycle up into the vulnerable underside of Evel Knievel’s body, busting bones and rendering Knievel unconscious for a month. The stunt had a certain appeal because many people had seen the fountain at Caesar’s Palace and were genuinely curious about what a motorcycle could do besides wheelies. Whatever terror Evel Knievel may have felt, he was clearly outnumbered by the crowd who wanted to see the stunt accomplished or the splatter that would result otherwise.

The first essay in Legends of Modernity, “The Legend of the Island,” on Robinson Crusoe’s island, is about being able to free “himself from the evil influences of the crowd,” (p. 8). “The Legend of the Monster City” examines Balzac’s celebration of “The observer, smiling benignly at the picture of mindless desires and mindless efforts, is like a child standing over an anthill. He inserts a stick and is delighted with the insects’ chaotic scurrying. The crazier the actions of his victims, the more they lead to total infatuation” (pp. 22-23). The third essay, “The Legend of the Will,” discusses THE RED AND THE BLACK by Stendhal. “Julien Sorel is totally consumed by ambition.” (p. 36). “And he gave tit for tat, with hatred and contempt.” (p. 44). As a fellow exile-to-be, Milosz shows great appreciation for “The matter of Stendhal’s national defection (he considered himself spiritually a Milanese, not a Frenchman) demonstrates how much effort he invested in extracting himself from the authority of others’ opinions, how painstakingly he selected his privileged position, a position on the sidelines.” (p. 44).

Religion is the main topic considered from William James’s THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE in “Beyond Truth and Falsehood.” The same essay ventures into “a contradiction that was the driving force of Byron’s creative work.” (p. 68). Being able to identify the source of creative tension is like Evel Knievel’s ability to conceive of stunts that people would like to see, however dangerously the actual experience might turn out to fall short of the perfect expectation. “Is this the inevitable consequence of the collision of several value systems appearing in a simplified form between the hour of history and the hour of religion? I think not.” (p. 69). Dangerous myths include “the myth of labor or the myth of the dictatorship of the proletariat, propagated by the various branches of Marxism.” (p. 72).

An essay, “The Experience of War,” in which “we are condemned to self-examination” (p. 75), takes a stab at Pierre Bezukhov in Tolstoy’s WAR AND PEACE in which, “A vague imperative, incomprehensible even to him, crystallizes into a bizarre decision: Pierre decides to stab Napoleon, the author of all his fatherland’s woes.” (p. 77). Similarly, “To be sure, there is no truth, no beauty, no goodness–but there is German truth, German beauty, and German goodness; and thus the void was filled, and within the confines of the new canon there was room for heroism, dedication, friendship, and so forth.” (p. 82). The following essay, “Zdziechowski’s Religiosity,” considers flirtatiousness as adopting a particular mentalité totally lacking in the statement written in 1922 that, “We are a small part of Europe, we are linked with her fate, we are infected with the same diseases of communism and nationalism as she is, and together with her, biting at each other in a mad rage, we are rushing headlong into the abyss.” (p. 91). Key to understanding the identity of dogma is that it “is constantly acquiring new forms, is continually realized anew, and by the very necessity of struggle in a changing historical environment, it profits from new ways of understanding the world.” (p. 93).

This review is from:

Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942-1943 (Hardcover)

There are several aspects to ‘Legends of Modernity’ that make it worth recommending – the immediacy of its subject matter, its relevance to today, the lively mind of the author – but above all, I’ll have to admit to developing a sense of hero worship for Czeslaw Milosz since I’ve read it.

These essays, written in Warsaw in 1942-43 during the Nazi occupation, were his efforts to discover “Why …the European spirit succumb(ed) to such a devastating disaster”.

Watching footage of smiling German crowds cheering Hitler as he stormed through his tirades, I have often wondered the same. Political theory and historical events do not give me satisfactory answers. Perhaps there are none, but Mr. Milosz’s inquest into the spirit of his times, written from amidst the rubble, is an amazing intellectual record – not only because of his insights, which are certainly interesting stepping stones for further thought, but for the man’s grit and tenacity and faith.

‘Legends of Modernity’ is not an account of Mr. Milosz’s experiences during the occupation – that is rarely commented on. Instead, it is an attempt to make sense of events, and its basic thrust is that the particular madness of both National Socialism and Stalinism did not arise circumstantially, but that they flourished because the cumulative effect of humanistic ideas over the centuries had slowly and almost imperceptibly prepared the modern mind to accept destructive ideologies as not only natural but desirable. The author’s contention is that this build-up of humanistic ideas, these ‘legends’, is the skeletal structure on which Modernity is constructed, which in turn set the stage for the various destructive isms of the early and mid twentieth century.

That specific observation is probably not groundbreaking, not now or then, though the usual bogeymen for this argument are Nietzche, Marx, and Darwin. Those three have a role to play, according to Mr. Milosz, but only at the end of a long chain – what I found surprising, and fascinating, was how the author connected his ‘modernity legends’ to people with which I would not normally have associated them. Daniel Defoe, Balzac, Stendhal, André Gide, and even William James all take center stage, and illustrate, through their literature, examples of the legends and myths that facilitated man’s rejection of a supernatural force as a limiting factor on his behavior. Though I understood some of these authors and their roles in the formation of modern thought, I’d never before considered them as Mr. Milosz does here – as a linked group reflecting the blow each generation gave in turn to the wedge that society was driving between God and man.

The first strike of the wedge’s tip is almost unnoticeable. Robinson Crusoe, somewhat of a prodigal before his shipwreck, discovers religion and a moral life away from ‘wicked’ society, and away from the communal aspects of the church. As Jaroslaw Anders sums up nicely in the introduction, “The human soul becomes its own government and its own church”. The succeeding essays follow this basic idea as it develops and changes through the years, leading up to the pragmatism of William James, which sweeps aside objective truth and only recognizes the ‘truth’ of action. The concluding essays, while still relevant, are not as linearly connected, dealing with the experience of war, and critiques of religious and artistic thought and individuals in the interwar decades of the twenties and thirties.

The author isn’t really in the business of drawing dogmatic conclusions, though it isn’t difficult to see where his sympathies lie, especially when you consider the wartime correspondence between Mr. Milosz and Jerzy Andrzejewski, also included in this volume. I have never been interested enough in the personal letters of any figure to read a volume dedicated to it, so I have no experience with which to compare this small selection. Their archival value seems evident, and they do give insight into both men and their thought processes during the occupation, but overall I thought this section weaker than the preceding essays. Much of the argument between the two concerns rationalism and irrationalism, and the role of Catholicism and faith between these two techniques, but their exchange sounds weighty and ponderous to me, almost affected.

It isn’t necessary to accept all of Mr. Milosz’s arguments to appreciate this collection – I didn’t, but I found that just by reading the way he framed them that I had a clearer picture of the various ideas and movements (and how they are connected) leading up to the twentieth century. Too often, with these sort of discussions, I find myself sinking into a pit of jargon from which I can’t break free. That doesn’t mean ‘Legends of Modernity’ was easy for me either, just that there didn’t seem to be an artificial barrier between author and reader.

Finally, as I read through these essays, I developed a distinctly favorable impression of Czeslaw Milosz, apart from his intellectual powers. This is harder for me to articulate, but I think of him as a role model for the thinking man – a man who didn’t lose himself to the madness that surrounded him.
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“THE CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION IN WEIMAR GERMANY”: ROGER WOODS BOOK

October 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Posted in Books, Germany, History, Philosophy | Leave a comment

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The Conservative Revolution in the Weimar Republic

Roger Woods (Author)

Book Description

ISBN-10: 033365014X | ISBN-13: 978-0333650141 | Publication Date: September 1997

 Embracing some of Germany’s best known writers, academics, journalists and philosophers, the Conservative Revolution in the Weimar Republic was the intellectual vanguard of the Right.

By approaching the Conservative Revolution as an intellectual movement, this study sheds light on the evolution of its ideas on the meaning of World War I, its appropriation of the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, its enthusiasm for political activism and a strong leader, and its ambiguous relationship with National Socialism.

Product Details:

  • Hardcover: 173 pages
  • Publisher: MacMillan
  • September 1997
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033365014X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333650141

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GERMAN POLITICAL POSTER FROM 1932: “MARXISM IS THE GUARDIAN ANGEL OF CAPITALISM”

August 27, 2011 at 12:41 am | Posted in Germany, History | Leave a comment

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German political posters:

Marxism is the guarding angel of capitalism,

Vote for National-Socialists List No. 1

Der Marxismus ist der Schutzengel des

Kapitalismus , Wählt Natio…

Title  Der Marxismus ist der Schutzengel des Kapitalismus,

Wählt Nationalsozialisten Liste 1

Marxism is the guarding angel of capitalism,

Vote for National-Socialists List No. 1

Creator  Holz, Karl

Period  Interwar Period (1918-1939)

Description  Drawing of personification of Marxism and Social-Democracy together in one figure, leading a smaller figure personifying capitalism with “typical” Nazi-way of depicting Jews, through a dark night of “swastika-stars”

Subject Terms  Germany. Politics and Government. 20th century. Posters
Nationalsozialstische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei
Political campaigns
Jew

Series  War Posters [German political posters]

Related Sites  (Relationship=”IsPartOf)
http://digital.lib.umn.edu/warposters/
Holding  University of Minnesota Libraries
Provenance  Digital image created with IMLS support.

Published  Lichtenau/Mfr. : Gerbers Nachf.C. Seebrecht

Record Number  msp00696

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“SHADOWS IN PARADISE: HITLER’S EXILES IN HOLLYWOOD”

June 2, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Film, Germany, History, USA | Leave a comment

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 Shadows In Paradise: Hitler’s Exiles In Hollywood

By 1939 30,000 intellectuals and radicals were exiled from Europe, 80% were Jewish. These dramatic events sent many of the greatest minds of the 20th century into exile in the United States. The manna of creative intensity that hovered over Berlin in the 20’s, – in music, art, theater and film -that glow of aesthetic productivity was extinguished. In some ways, Los Angeles in the 30’s and early 40’s may be seen as its afterglow…when scores of émigrés, fleeing the upsurge of European fascism, briefly transformed Southern California into one of the capitals of world culture, and profoundly altered the horizons of American music, literature and the arts. 
Studio Kultur Films Inc.

Orig Year 2008

Discs 1

Release Date Sep 30, 2008

Running Time 60 Minutes

Movie Details  Color

 Shadows In Paradise: Hitler’s Exiles In Hollywood

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“HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT OF TIME”: HEIDEGGER BOOK FROM 1925

April 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Posted in Books, Germany, Philosophy | Leave a comment

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History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena

(Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy)

Martin Heidegger (Author)

“ In other words, “originally and to begin with,” one does not really hear noises and sonorous complexes but the creaking wagon, the ‘electric’ streetcar, the motorcycle, the column on the march, the north wind. Tp ‘hear’ something like a ‘pure noise’ already requires a very artificial and complicated attitude. But the fact that we first directly hear things like motorcycles and wagons, which basically still sounds remarkable, is the phenomenological evidence for what has already been underscored., that in our very being in the world we are first always already involved with the world itself, and not with ‘sensations’ first and then, on the basis of a kind of theater, finally involved with the things. We do not first need to process and shape a tumult and medley of feelings” we are right from the start involved with what is understood itself. Sensations and sensed are first of all outside the scope of natural experience.”

“History of the Concept of Time,” Heidegger, Indiana University Press, 1985, page 266

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

“… an excellent translation of an extremely important book.” — The Modern Schoolman

This early version of Being and Time (1927) offers a unique glimpse into the motivations that prompted the writing of this great philosopher’s master work and the presuppositions that gave shape to it. Theodore Kisiel’s outstanding translation permits English readers to appreciate the central importance of this text for the development of Heidegger’s thought.

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) 

Product Details:

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • 1st Midland Book ed edition January 13, 2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253207177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253207173

`Heidegger’s History of the Concept of Time’, translated by Kisiel, is a compilation of Heidegger’s lecture notes from a 1925 course taught at the University of Marburg. These lectures cover much of the same ground articulated in `Being and Time’ (1927), and can be read as a draft of Heidegger’s magnum opus.

Often one of the greatest challenges that students face in reading historic thinkers is the question of context. That is, what is the intellectual milieu that the writer is working within, and, what question(s) are they seeking to address? Getting a feel for these considerations can be particularly difficult with an abstruse writer such as Heidegger. As such, these lecture notes are invaluable in situating the reader and providing valuable context.

Kisiel’s translation of `History of the Concept of Time’ is clear and accessible possessing a smoothness that is absent in some English translations of Heidegger. John Drabinski’s `Between Husserl and Heidegger’ (available on-line course), is an excellent companion to when reading this text – it discusses “History of the Concept of Time” in addition to other works by Husserl and Heidegger. Drabinski is a capable commentator and his pedagogical approach of working from within Heidegger’s language, while challenging for the novice, is an ultimately rewarding approach.

Overall, `The History of the Concept of Time’ is an excellent addition to the corpus of Heideggerian work available in English.

“History of the Concept of Time” offers clarification. Since it is a collection of lecture notes, the writing is usually more straightforward, which as we know is a blessing when it comes to Heidegger.

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“SKUSHNO” AS A KIND OF SPIRITUAL VOID: GREGOR VON REZZORI

April 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Posted in Books, Germany, History, Literary, Philosophy | Leave a comment

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Gregor von Rezzori (May 13, 1914 – April 23, 1998)

“The Russian word skushno is introduced in his writings. It appears in Gregor von Rezzori’s novel Memoirs of an Anti-Semite. That novel begins in Czernowitz, close to the scene of the action in Nine Lives.

Rezzori admits that skushno is a difficult word to translate but suggests ‘a spiritual void that sucks you in like a vague but intensely urgent longing’.”

Gregor von Rezzori (born Gregor Arnulph Hilarius d’Arezzo; May 13, 1914 – April 23, 1998) was an Austrian-born German-language novelist, memoirist, screenwriter and author of radio plays, as well as an actor, journalist, visual artist, art critic and art collector. He was fluent in German, Romanian, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Yiddish, French, and English; during his life, von Rezzori was successively a citizen of Austria-Hungary, Romania, and the Soviet Union, before becoming a stateless person and spending his final years as a citizen of Austria. He married Beatrice Monti della Corte.

Biography

He was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina, part of Austria-Hungary at the time. He originated in a Sicilian aristocratic family from the Province of Ragusa, who had settled in Vienna by the mid-18th century. His father was an Austrian civil servant based in Czernowitz. The family remained in the region after it became part of the Romanian Kingdom, and Gregor von Rezzori obtained Romanian citizenship.

After World War I, von Rezzori studied in colleges in Braşov, Fürstenfeld and Vienna. He began studying mining at the University of Leoben, then architecture and medicine at the University of Vienna, where he eventually graduated in arts.

In mid-1930 he moved to Bucharest, took up military service in the Romanian Army, and made a living as an artist. In 1938 he moved to Berlin, where he became active as a novelist, journalist, writer in radio broadcasting, and film production. Given his Romanian citizenship, von Rezzori was not drafted by Nazi authorities during World War II.

Until the mid-1950s, he worked as an author at the broadcast company Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk. He regularly published novels and stories, as well as being engaged in film production as a screenplay author and actor (starring alongside actors such as Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Anna Karina, Marcello Mastroianni or Charles Aznavour). Beginning in the early 1960s, Rezzori lived between Rome and Paris, with sojourns in the United States, eventually settling in Tuscany.

Besides authoring and performing, he and his spouse Beatrice Monti della Corte were significant art collectors, and together founded the Santa Maddalena Retreat for Writers. He died in Santa Maddalena, part of Florence‘s Donnini frazione.

Literary works

Rezzori began his career as a writer of light novels, but he first encountered success in 1953 with the Maghrebinian Tales, a suite of droll stories and anecdotes from an imaginary land called “Maghrebinia”, which reunited in a grotesque and parodic key traits of his multicultural Bukovinian birthplace, of extinct Austria-Hungary and of Bucharest of his youth. Over the years, Rezzori published further Maghrebinian Tales, which increased his reputation of language virtuosity and free spirit, writing with wit, insight and elegance.[1]

Other books, such as The Death of My Brother Abel, Oedipus at Stalingrad, or The Snows of Yesteryear, recording the fading world at the time of the World Wars, have been celebrated for their powerful descriptive prose, nuance and style.[2]

Von Rezzori first came to the attention of English-speaking readers with the 1969 publication of the story “Memoirs of an Anti-Semite,” in The New Yorker. On this occasion, Elie Wiesel, who was born in Bukovina’s neighboring Maramureş, wrote:

“Rezzori addresses the major problems of our time, and his voice echoes with the disturbing and wonderful magic of a true storyteller.”[3]

In his Guide for Idiots through the German Society, von Rezzori also used his noted taste for satire. Although he was not unanimously perceived as a major author in the German-speaking area, his posthumous reception has arguably confirmed him among the most important modern German-language authors.[2]

Published titles

  • Flamme, die sich verzehrt (“Self-extinguishing Flame”, novel, 1940)
  • Rombachs einsame Jahre, (“Rombach’s Lonely Years”, novel, 1942)
  • Rose Manzani (novel, 1944)
  • Maghrebinische Geschichten (“Tales of Maghrebinia”, 1953)
  • Ödipus siegt bei Stalingrad (“Oedipus at Stalingrad”, 1954)
  • Männerfibel, 1955
  • Ein Hermelin in Tschernopol. Ein maghrebinischer Roman (“The Hussar”, 1958)
  • Bogdan im Knoblauchwald. Ein maghrebinisches Märchen (“Bogdan in the Garlic Forest. A Maghrebinian Tale”, 1962)
  • Die Toten auf ihre Plätze. Tagebuch des Films Viva Maria (“The Dead on their Places. Journal of the Movie ‘Viva Maria'”, 1966)
  • 1001 Jahr Maghrebinien. Eine Festschrift (1967)
  • Der Tod meines Bruders Abel (“The Death of My Brother Abel”, novel, 1976)
  • Greif zur Geige, Frau Vergangenheit (novel, 1978)
  • Denkwürdigkeiten eines Antisemiten (“The Memoirs of an Anti-Semite”, 1979)
  • Der arbeitslose König. Maghrebinisches Märchen (“The Jobless King. A Maghrebinian Tale”, 1981)
  • A Stranger in Lolitaland. An Essay, first published in English by Vanity Fair
  • Blumen im Schnee – Portraitstudien zu einer Autobiographie, die ich nie schreiben werde. Auch: Versuch der Erzählweise eines gleicherweise nie geschriebenen Bildungsromans (“The Snows Of Yesteryear”, autobiographical essays, 1989)
  • Über dem Kliff (“Beyond the Cliff”, stories, 1991)
  • Idiotenführer durch die Deutsche Gesellschaft. Hochadel, Adel, Schickeria, Prominenz (“Guide for Idiots through the German Society. Aristocracy, Swells, Notables”, 1992)
  • Begegnungen (“Encounters”, 1992)
  • Greisengemurmel. Ein Rechenschaftsbericht (1994)
  • Italien, Vaterland der Legenden, Mutterland der Mythen. Reisen durch die europäischen Vaterländer oder wie althergebrachte Gemeinplätze durch neue zu ersetzen sind (1996)
  • Frankreich. Gottesland der Frauen und der Phrasen. Reisen durch die europäischen Vaterländer oder wie althergebrachte Gemeinplätze durch neue zu ersetzen sind (1997)
  • Mir auf der Spur (“On My Own Traces”, 1997)
  • Kain. Das letzte Manuskript (posthumous novel, 2001)

Awards

Filmography

Screenwriter

  • Kopfjäger von Borneo, 1936
  • Unter den Sternen von Capri, 1953
  • Labyrinth, 1959
  • The Dear Augustin, 1959
  • Sturm im Wasserglas, 1960
  • Man nennt es Amore , 1961
  • Geliebte Hochstaplerin, 1961
  • Die Herren, 1965
  • Mord und Totschlag, 1967

Actor

Further reading

  • Valentina Glajar: After Empire: ‘Postcolonial’ Bukovina in Gregor von Rezzori’s ‘Blumen im Schnee’ (1989) . In: The German Legacy in East Central Europe as Recorded in Recent German-Language Literature. Columbia, SC: Camden House. 2004. ISBN 1-57113-256-2
  • Katarzyna Jaśtal, Erzählte Zeiträume. Kindheitserinnerungen aus den Randgebieten der Habsburgermonarchie von Manès Sperber, Elias Canetti und Gregor von Rezzori, Aureus, Kraków, 1998
  • Gerhard Köpf, Vor-Bilder. Tübinger Poetik-Vorlesung, Konkursbuchverlag, Tübingen, 1999
  • Jacques Lajarrige, Gregor von Rezzori. Etudes réunies, Université de Rouen, Centre d’Études et de Recherches Autrichiennes, Mont-Saint-Aignan, 2003
  • Gilbert Ravy, “Rezzori et la France”, in Austriaca, No. 54 (2002), p. 41-58
  • Tetyana Basnyak. The mythologeme of East European culture in Gregor von Rezzori’s creative work. – Manuscript. Thesis for а scientific degree of Candidate of Philology. Speciality 10.01.04 – Literature of Foreign Countries. – T. H. Shevchenko Institute of Literature of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. – Kiev, 2010.

Notes

  1. 1. Killy, p. 410
  2. 2. a b Kraft, p.1027–1029
  3. 3. Wiesel, in MIT Tech Talk

References

Skushno

The Russian word skushno is introduced in his writings. It appears in Gregor von Rezzori’s novel Memoirs of an Anti-Semite. That novel begins in Czernowitz, close to the scene of the action in Nine Lives.

Rezzori admits that skushno is a difficult word to translate but suggests ‘a spiritual void that sucks you in like a vague but intensely urgent longing’.

Gregor von Rezzori (born Gregor Arnulph Hilarius d’Arezzo; May 13, 1914 – April 23, 1998)

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“THE DEATH OF MY BROTHER ABEL”: GREGOR VON REZZORI BOOK ON THE DEATH OF OLD EUROPE

April 7, 2011 at 8:23 am | Posted in Books, Germany, History | Leave a comment

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The Death of My Brother Abel

Gregor Von Rezzori (Author)

Joachim Neugroschel (Translator)

Product Details:

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • November 4, 1986
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140096906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140096903

“The ultimate “Abel” of the book is meaning itself.

Why remember, why reflect, why contemplate in such a world?”

“In the new world, in our world that is, ‘Memory is a sin.’”

The book predicts its own obscure destiny due to the death of the cultured reader, or cultured person for that matter. It is an essentially a swan song for the civilized Western World (particularly Paris) before it became, as our narrator tells a friend (who is also the vicarious reader, of course), “for Americans: a super-dimensional Disneyland. People like us are looking for something completely different: namely, THE CITY, the metropolis with all its perverse charms and exquisite terrors, above all the unreal and surreal.” Beware all who pick up this book and do not know basic French! And yet, the tone is jaunty rather than jaundiced, comical, world-mocking and self-mocking. Rezzori’s poetic prose skips over the destruction of Western values with a wry smile. How else could one make it through the 600 pages? During the funeral of his dear friend Schwab near the end, he describes the officiating priest thus: “By way of demonstrating that he truly believed in the faith with which he wanted to fortify the faith of all the others, he had disguised himself as a mountebank at a medieval fair.” The book is strewn with such chuckling observations, even during the Nuremberg trials! But, let there be no doubt, the book is one of loss, the loss of a whole world, an entire mindset, above all, of the art of remembering.

In the new world, in our world that is, “Memory is a sin.”

So many lovely passages abound here. The narrator describes his memory of his childhood strikingly, as it was in 1938: “Bessarabia, the landscape of my childhood, has also frozen, a land of hoar and frost, with white foggy mornings before the icy blue of the sky stiffens the mist into feathery star crystals.” But, again, the overarching theme is bleak.

The shared culture that held people together and the language that has bound them has been destroyed along with the burned out European cities.

“In the new world, in our world that is, “Memory is a sin.”

A passage describing the attempt to be a literary author in such a milieu, with such a lack of a Zeitgeist, where everything – language and people – are, not to put too fine a point on it, “For Sale” is shattering:

“What a blessing: to be loved by a whore, who submits to anyone, whom anyone uses unhesitatingly, and to be loved by her because of your superior dealings with language, which is similarly a whore, whom everyone (aside from a chosen few) uses unhesitatingly…the never wholly dissolved remnant of hatred and disgust that lurks in every love, beyond the struggle between the sexes, a battle never waged to the point of purification…”

In the end, old Europe has the crepuscular charm of “one of the old hookers who have wafted around the Place des Terres like autumn leaves and whose final lure is despair.”

The book teems with so many gems that one is unable to cover them in the space of this review.

The ultimate “Abel” of the book is meaning itself. Why remember, why reflect, why contemplate in such a world?

One might conclude here with the narrator’s thoughts on his fading memories of two of his former selves:

“Still, a secret rapport existed between the two of them (the realization they were I), in which I was not included. They existed through me and beyond me, in a higher form of existence than I had yet attained…It (the rapport) sounded like my own echo, but I had forgotten the words of the original call, and the echo had died away no sooner than I thought I had caught it.”

A humane and beautiful swan song indeed.

The Death of My Brother Abel

Rezzori packs copious amounts of philosophical reflection into a tale about pre/during and after WW2 Germany.

Rezzori focuses on what makes up the Zeitgeist of an era. There were plenty of Germans who had no time for Hitler, but history has forgotten them and the whole of German history has been revised in many ways to give a picture of something inevitable about the rise of fascism. But fascism was a ‘popular’ parlor alternative to Communism; the effect of the depression on all world politics is overlooked; the Jews were always a convenient European scapegoat…

Rezzori looks at the pre war-almost-serfdom(that was doomed to go; to be replaced by what?) and the ‘economic miracle’ of post war Germany and the ‘US’ standardization of European culture.

“The ultimate “Abel” of the book is meaning itself.

Why remember, why reflect, why contemplate in such a world?”

“In the new world, in our world that is, ‘Memory is a sin.’”

The Death of My Brother Abel

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HISTORY IN SONGS: THE MOVIE “CASABLANCA” AND THE SONGS “J’ATTENDRAI” AND “PARLEZ-MOI D’AMOUR”

February 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Posted in Art, Film, France, Germany, History, Literary | Leave a comment

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Soundtrack for
Casablanca
(1942)

  • · “La Marseillaise”
    (1792) (uncredited)
    Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
    Arranged by Max Steiner
    Played during the opening credits
    Sung by Madeleine Lebeau and others at Rick’s
    Variations played often in the score

  • ·It Had to Be You”
    (1924) (uncredited)
    Music by Isham Jones
    Lyrics by Gus Kahn
    Played during the opening shot of Rick’s Café
    Performed by Dooley Wilson (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)
    Also played when Laszlo and Ilsa return to Rick’s

  • · “Shine”
    (1910) (uncredited)
    Music by Ford Dabney
    Lyrics by Lew Brown and Cecil Mack
    Performed by Dooley Wilson during the opening scene at Rick’s (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • · “Crazy Rhythm”
    (1928) (uncredited)
    Music by Joseph Meyer and Roger Wolfe Kahn
    Played when Rick turns the man away and then talks to Ugarte
    (originally from the 1928 Broadway musical “Here’s Howe!”)

  • ·Knock on Wood”
    (1942) (uncredited)
    Music by M.K. Jerome
    Lyrics by Jack Scholl
    Performed by Dooley Wilson and band (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • · “The Very Thought of You”
    (1934) (uncredited)
    Music by Ray Noble
    Played when Ferrari offers to buy Rick’s and when Rick sends Yvonne home
    Also played when Sascha kisses Rick after Rick’s good deed

  • · “Baby Face”
    (1926) (uncredited)
    Music by Harry Akst
    Performed by Dooley Wilson when Renault tells Rick that there’s going to be an arrest (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • · “I’m Just Wild About Harry”
    (uncredited)
    Music by Eubie Blake
    Played when Renault goes downstairs and joins Major Strasser’s party

  • ·Heaven Can Wait”
    (uncredited)
    Music by Jimmy Van Heusen
    Played when Rick is introduced to Major Strasser

  • ·Speak to Me of Love”
    (uncredited)
    Music by Jean Lenoir (song “Parlez-moi d’amour”)
    Played when Laszlo and Ilsa first enter Rick’s

  • ·Love for Sale”
    (uncredited)
    Music by Cole Porter
    Played when Renault joins Laszlo and Ilsa at their table

  • ·Tango Delle Rose”
    (1928) (uncredited)
    aka “The Song of the Rose”
    Written by Filippo Schreier and Aldo Bottero
    Performed by Corinna Mura (vocal and guitar)

  • ·Avalon”
    (1920) (uncredited)
    Music by Vincent Rose
    Performed by Dooley Wilson while talking to Ilsa (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • · “As Time Goes By”
    (1931) (uncredited)
    Written by Herman Hupfeld
    Performed by Dooley Wilson (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)
    Variations played often in the score
    (originally from the 1932 Broadway show “Everybody’s Welcome”)

  • · “Piano Improvisation”
    (uncredited)
    Music by Frank Perkins
    Performed by Dooley Wilson after trying to talk Rick into leaving (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • ·Perfidia
    (1939) (uncredited)
    Music by Alberto Domínguez
    Played when Rick and Ilsa are dancing at the Paris nightclub

  • · “If I Could Be with You”
    (1926) (uncredited)
    Music by James P. Johnson
    Played when the man gets his pocket picked and the Germans enter Rick’s

  • ·You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”
    (1938) (uncredited)
    Music by Harry Warren
    Played when Yvonne walks into Rick’s with the German officer

  • · “Die Wacht am Rhein”
    (1854) (uncredited)
    Music by Karl Wilhelm (1854)
    Lyrics by Max Schneckenburger (1840) (from his poem)
    Arranged by Max Steiner
    Sung by the Germans at Rick’s

  • · “Das Lied der Deutschen”
    (1841) (uncredited)
    aka “Deutschland über Alles”
    Music by Joseph Haydn (1797)
    Arranged by Max Steiner
    Played before and after Major Strasser orders Renault to shut down Rick’s

Comment:

“Speak to me of love” also appears in the 1990 movie, “Henry and June.”

  • ·Speak to Me of Love”
    (uncredited)
    Music by Jean Lenoir (song “Parlez-moi d’amour”)
    Played when Laszlo and Ilsa first enter Rick’s

The song “J’attendrai”, not listed above, also appears in “Casablanca” as a Paris memory, in the flashbacks.

J’attendrai Song

“J’attendrai” (French for “I Will Wait”[1]) is a French popular song recorded by Rina Ketty in 1938. It is a translation of the Italian song “Tornerai” (Italian for “You Will Return”[2]) composed by Dino Olivieri[3] (music) and Nino Rastelli (lyrics) in 1933; the French lyrics were written by Louis Potérat.[4] The song was also recorded in German under the title “Komm zurück”, in Czech as “Věřím vám” and in Polish as “Czekam cię” (with lyrics translated by Andrzej Włast).

Achieving great popularity in its day, the song has since come to be seen as emblematic of the start of World War II.

Other recordings

Mieczysław Fogg

Polish cover of this song, titled “Czekam cię”, with lyrics by Andrzej Włast, was recorded twice by Mieczysław Fogg – first recording was made in 1939 and released by Syrena Rekord under catalog number 2294[5]. Second rendition of this song was recorded about 1961 as a part of medley, and was issued on several LPs[6][7][8].
A more recent popular version was recorded by Dalida for her 1975 album J’attendrai. The following year, she covered the song again for her disco album Coup de chapeau au passé: that version reached the Dutch charts on February 21, 1976. It spent 4 weeks on the charts and as # 9 in 1 week.[9]

Antonella Ruggiero

A recent version of this song was recorded by Italian singer Antonella Ruggiero on the album Souvenir d’Italie, published in 2007 , and is currently available on iTunes.

Vicky Leandros

In 2010 Greek singer Vicky Leandros recorded this song in a new German version titled ” Wenn Du Gehst ” ( When you leave ) which is included in her album “Zeitlos” ( Timeless )

Other artists and usage in popular culture

The Rina Ketty recording appears in the German movie Das Boot or The Boat by Wolfgang Petersen starring Jürgen Prochnow. The commander plays it over the intercom shortly after leaving port.

The intro of J’attendrai is also heard in a sleeping quarters of the underground barracks of Fort Eben-Emael. The room shows visitors what sleeping quarters of regular soldiers looked like in 1940, when Belgium was attacked by Nazi-Germany.

J’attendrai is the main song in the Arch of Triumph, a 1985 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Lesley-Anne Down

J’attendrai has also been recorded by the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and by Tino Rossi. The song called J’attendrai by Claude François is a French version of Reach out I’ll be there.

A recording of J’attendrai by Jean Sablon features in the 2006 motion picture A Good Year. The Rina Ketty recording was used at the beginning of the 2007 documentary My Enemy’s Enemy, about the life and trial of Klaus Barbie.

The Vanessa Redgrave character, the Jewish songstress, sings it in “Playing for Time” where it also signals the winds of war leading directly to WW II.

References

1. LEO Dict: declination table of attendre

2. LEO Dict: declination table of tornare

3. IMDB: Dino Olivieri

4. Rina Ketty: profile

5. Tomasz Lerski (2004). Syrena Record – pierwsza polska wytwórnia fonograficzna – Poland’s first recording company – 1904-1939. New York, Warszawa: Karin. Label of company from 1920 to 1929 ISBN 978-83-917189-0-2.

6. L0351 by Polskie Nagrania “Muza”

7. XL0272 by Polskie Nagrania “Muza”

8. PNCD0662 by Polskie Nagrania “Muza”

9. dutchcharts.nl – Dalida – J’attendrai

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVxl8kpD_mg

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“AN ORDINARY BERLINER WRITES THE TWENTIETH CENTURY”: PROFESSOR PETER FRITZSCHE’S BERLIN BOOK

February 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Books, Germany, History, Literary | Leave a comment

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The Turbulent World of Franz Göll: An Ordinary Berliner Writes the Twentieth Century

Peter Fritzsche (Author)

Review

An extraordinary portrait of an ordinary twentieth-century Berliner’s life. As an accomplished historian and a fine writer, Fritzsche uncovers the multiple resonances in Göll’s political, social, and intellectual worlds. His deft and systematic handling of the intensely self-reflective Göll is quite simply fascinating. –Konrad H. Jarausch, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The account Fritzsche weaves out of Göll’s idiosyncratic yet strangely representative diaries makes for fascinating, exciting reading. There are wonderful nuggets throughout, such as Göll’s thoughtful reaction after seeing a pro-euthanasia film in 1941—the only such account by an actual member of the German public of which I am aware—and Göll’s response to the notorious Nazi ‘degenerate art’ exhibition in 1937. This compelling book is for anyone who wants to view history from a more personal level. –Stephen Brockmann, Carnegie Mellon University

Product Description

Franz Göll was a thoroughly typical Berliner. He worked as a clerk, sometimes as a postal employee, night watchman, or publisher’s assistant. He enjoyed the movies, ate spice cake, wore a fedora, tamed sparrows, and drank beer or schnapps. He lived his entire life in a two-room apartment in Rote Insel, Berlin’s famous working-class district. What makes Franz Göll different is that he left behind one of the most comprehensive diaries available from the maelstrom of twentieth-century German life. Deftly weaving in Göll’s voice from his diary entries, Fritzsche narrates the quest of an ordinary citizen to make sense of a violent and bewildering century.

Peter Fritzsche paints a deeply affecting portrait of a self-educated man seized by an untamable impulse to record, who stayed put for nearly seventy years as history thundered around him. Determined to compose a “symphony” from the music of everyday life, Göll wrote of hungry winters during World War I, the bombing of Berlin, the rape of his neighbors by Russian soldiers in World War II, and the flexing of U.S. superpower during the Reagan years. In his early entries, Göll grappled with the intellectual shockwaves cast by Darwin, Freud, and Einstein, and later he struggled to engage with the strange lifestyles that marked Germany’s transition to a fluid, dynamic, unmistakably modern society. With expert analysis, Fritzsche shows how one man’s thoughts and desires can give poignant shape to the collective experience of twentieth-century life, registering its manifold shocks and rendering them legible.

Product Details:

Hardcover: 288 pages

Publisher: Harvard University Press

March 21, 2011

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0674055314

ISBN-13: 978-0674055315

The Turbulent World of Franz Göll: An Ordinary Berliner Writes the Twentieth Century

Peter Fritzsche (Author)

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BRAZILIAN COFFEE DESTRUCTION AS A SYMBOL OF OPPRESSIVE GLOBALIZATION: 1932 WEIMAR MOVIE CLASSIC “KUHLE WAMPE”

February 12, 2011 at 12:13 am | Posted in Germany, Globalization, History, World-system | Leave a comment

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Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?

“As the train starts moving, an older gentleman reads aloud a headline from the newspaper.

He informs the other passengers that Brazil burns 24 million pounds of coffee. Other passengers on the train discuss the issue of destroyed coffee. Anni briefly adds to the conversation stating that it’s malice for the Brazilians to burn their excess coffee. A young adult comments that no one on the train is going to change the world referring to the middle-aged and elderly passengers. A middle-aged passenger asks who will change the world. Gerda replies people that are not satisfied. The film concludes with the young adults walking out of the commuter train station while the group’s motto is sung in the background.

It’s reported that Bertolt Brecht directed this final “coffee debate” scene, which resembles a more sophisticated version of an agitprop play. The cutting style becomes very theatrical as the various speakers on the commuter train car reveal their political identities — conservative proto-fascist, clueless bourgeois, etc. Brecht peppers the talk with jokes and amusing character detail, while his main issue comes through strong: the existing capitalist system works for profits, not the good of humanity.”

The “coffee debate” is a symbol or microcosm of the world economy gripping the world ie globalization. The newspaper stories about worldwide unemployment levels is also a part of this “Weltwirtschaft” (world-economy) consciousness rising in the mind of average people.

Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?, the 1932 echt Weimar early talkie directed by Slatan Dudow from a script co-written by Bertolt Brecht, is a great Weimar classic of left politics.

The movie begins with a title card one unemployed worker less. After the title card, footage is shown of: the Brandenburg Gate, a smokestack, a few factories along a river way, a locomotive and buildings. The footage transitions to various newspaper headings that describe the current worldwide situation in addition to the unemployment in Germany. In the next scene, there is a group of young adults, mostly men, riding their bicycles or walking toward a community message board that is on the sidewalk. Upon the arrival of a delivery boy, the people are rushing him to grab the classified ads. There are more people than available classified ads and the delivery boy turned people away.

Those that were fortunate to receive a classified ad look over the paper and start bicycling together to a job site. Upon their arrival at a job site they are turned away by a sign that reads, workers will not be hired. They continue riding in unison to another job location. They are shown riding into the entrance way one moment and the next moment riding out of the place. The men continue their journey to a third location. They momentarily enter the place on their bicycles, but quickly leave walking alongside their bicycle. As they are walking out of the job site, one of the men crumples the classified ad and tosses it onto the street. One of the men departs the group as he approaches a building. Another man briefly stops to hear a duo playing on the street and continues walking.

The following scene shows a middle-aged man lying on the sofa reading a newspaper. He sits up from the sofa and tells his wife that he can no longer financially support his son. The wife does not reply prompting the man to rhetorically ask does she care about anything. The scene shifts to a young man entering the residence. It is the man that entered the building from the street. He enters the dinning room sitting next to his father looking dejected. The father and son do not speak to each other as the mother brings a pot to the table. As the mother is serving the food from the pot, a young lady enters the dinning room. Anni, the daughter, greets the family stating the social services office is assisting a neighbor with their rent. The father and son do not speak, but the mother comments that they are unable to receive financial assistance. The father and mother criticize their son for not finding employment. Anni interjects telling her parents that there are no jobs. The father replies that seven months unemployed is no excuse and believes that his son is lazy. Anni mentions that her brother is not lazy since he has been looking for work. She calls her father lazy. The father gets mad saying she sits around the welfare office looking for a handout and leaves the dinner table.

Upon the father’s departure, the mealtime concludes since the mother collects the leftover food. The mother mentions that everyday is the same argument. As the mother clears the dinner table, Anni and her brother remain at the table. Anni smiles at her brother trying to cheer him up. She notices her brother does not respond and is concerned. In the following scene, the brother remains dejected sitting at the dinner table as Anni is nearby putting on lipstick in front of the mirror. She calls out from the window to her friend on the street that she is coming. As Anni leaves the room, the brother gets out of the chair. He walks toward the window and takes off his wristwatch placing it on the table. As he jumps out the window a scream is heard.

On the sidewalk people are standing around a body that is covered with a sheet. In the staircase two women are discussing that the person placed the wristwatch on the table before jumping. One lady says that the wristwatch would have been destroyed had the person wore it while jumping to their death. In another scene a lady states that the death is one unemployed worker less. A group of women say the person that jumped was a young fine man and that his father is unaware of the son’s suicide. The father is shown in a tavern speaking with another man that the unemployment in the United States is similar to Germany’s situation. The scene returns to the staircase where an elderly lady says that the boy had many years ahead of him. The camera shifts to the street where an ambulance is driving away with the body. A title card appears The best years of a young man.

The film shifts to footage of: a lake, grasslands and woodlands. Subsequently a magistrate appears on camera reading that the family must vacate the building for non-payment. In the following scene, Anni visits various social service offices seeking assistance. Turned away for financial assistance, she calls Fritz at work from a public telephone. Anni informs Fritz of her family’s situation. Fritz encourages Anni and her family to stay with him at Kuhle Wampe. In the following scene Fritz and Anni are driving in an automobile with furniture in the backseat. As they are driving down the street, a narrator explains that Kuhle Wampe is a tent city that is an hour outside of Berlin. Fritz, Anni and her family are seen bringing the furniture from the automobile and setting it down in an open space at Kuhle Wampe. As they are doing this, the camera shows that Kuhle Wampe is thriving since people are either playing chess, cards or cooking. Next, Fritz is shown hammering down the stacks to Anni and her family’s tent.

After Anni settles into the tent, she and Fritz go for a walk into the woodlands. The film shows footage of the grasslands and woodlands as a romantic song on intimacy is played. As the song concludes, Anni’s parents are sitting inside of their tent. The father is reading aloud a story from the newspaper, whereas the mother is writing an invoice of grocery expenses. In between the father reading and the mother writing is sporadic photos of food products and its price. In the next scene, Anni is working at a factory. Anni’s co-worker senses that she is not well and Anni admits something is bothering her. Subsequently, Fritz’s co-worker encourages him to marriage since alimony and taxes are the same amount in payment. Fritz replies that he wants his freedom.

Anni and Fritz are leaving the tent and walk past children. Anni starts to visualize images of children, healthcare clinics and caskets. After Anni’s visual sequence, she sees Fritz off to the streetcar. In the city, Fritz meets his friend outside of the theater. His friend asks Fritz about marrying Anni. Fritz replies that he wishes not to marry Anni. Next, Fritz is talking with an older gentleman over a cigarette about the situation with Anni. In this scene, Fritz mentions he has no other choice but to marry Anni. The older gentleman agrees to assist with the engagement party. At the engagement party, Anni and her mother are serving the guest food and beverages. Fritz is shuttling to and from the engagement party. He leaves with an empty case of beer bottles and returns with a full case of beer bottles. When Anni offers assistance to Fritz he rejects her offer. When she encourages him to take a break and mingle with the guest, Fritz declines. Anni asks Fritz why he put on an engagement party and he replied there was no choice. Upon hearing this, Anni walks away from Fritz. Inside the engagement party, the guests are joyous over beer and music.

As some of the guest at the engagement party are leaving drunk, Anni and her friend, Gerda, pack some belongings onto a cart. They inform a guest at the party of their departure from tent city. Annis parents tell Fritz they will stay, although their daughter plans to move away. In the following scene, Anni is at Gerda’s apartment. The friend suggests Anni should accompany her to the athletic competition in the following week to forget about Fritz. The following scene shows footage of industrial machinery and smokestacks. The footage fades out and there is a scene of young adults assembled inside a room. A banner inside the room describes that this is group of people participating in the athletic competition that Gerda mentioned. The camera shows various people helping out. A man is calling out peoples names to pass out fliers. Other people are making copies on a mimeograph. Some people are working on banners. Inside this room, a man asks Gerda where is Anni. She informs the individual that Anni is around and can speak with her on the day of the athletic competition.

The next scene shows a group of men riding on motorcycles. As the people depart on the motorcycles, another group starts marching and signing their group motto. In a subsequent scene, Anni is seen marching at the front of the group. Next, there is footage of: n motorcycle race, a rowing contest and a diving competition. During the footage of these athletic events, a song is played on togetherness and unity. Also, the song describes sacrifice to participate in athletic competition. The song concludes by showing the spectators cheering on the participants. During the celebratory moment a band interrupts singing they are the red megaphone. After the group briefly sings they put on a skit. The group impersonates a landlord throwing out a delinquent renter. As the skit is occurring, Anni is seen being attentive to the play. After the skit concludes, the group gets a loud ovation from the audience.

The motto that was sung as the group was walking down the street is heard again. As the motto is sung, the camera goes through the audience at the athletic competition. After the motto concluded, the participants and audience start to leave the area. Three people are sitting together as someone in the group is reading an excerpt from Hegel. Anni is sitting next to a guy friend. Next, some people are rowing away from the competition location. Others are riding away on their motorcycles and some people on bicycles. As people are departing the competition location, the group motto is heard in the background.

Next, the people are walking into the commuter train terminal and entering a train. On the train, Anni is smiling as she sees Gerda chatting with a guy.

As the commuter train starts moving, an older gentleman reads aloud a headline from the newspaper.

He informs the other passengers that Brazil burns 24 million pounds of coffee. Other passengers on the train discuss the issue of destroyed coffee. Anni briefly adds to the conversation stating that it’s malice for the Brazilians to burn their excess coffee. A young adult comments that no one on the train is going to change the world referring to the middle-aged and elderly passengers. A middle-aged passenger asks who will change the world. Gerda replies people that are not satisfied. The film concludes with the young adults walking out of the train station while the group’s motto is sung in the background.

It’s reported that Bertolt Brecht directed this final “coffee debate” scene, which resembles a more sophisticated version of an agitprop play. The cutting style becomes very theatrical as the various speakers on the subway car reveal their political identities — conservative proto-fascist, clueless bourgeois, etc. Brecht peppers the talk with jokes and amusing character detail, while his main issue comes through strong: the existing capitalist system works for profits, not the good of humanity.

The “coffee debate” is a symbol or microcosm of the world economy gripping the world ie globalization. The newspaper stories about worldwide unemployment levels is also a part of this “Weltwirtschaft” (world-economy) consciousness rising in the mind of average people.

Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?
DEFA / Omnimago
1932 / B&W 1:33 anamorphic widescreen 69 min.

Kuhle Wampe oder: Wem gehórt die Welt?
Starring Hertha Thiele, Ernst Busch, Martha Wolter, Adolf Fischer.
Cinematography Günther Krampf
Set Design Robert Scharfenberg, Carl Haacker
Film Editor Peter Meyrowitz
Original Music Hanns Eisler, Bertolt Brecht (Lyrics)
Written by Bertolt Brecht, Ernst Ottwalt
Produced by Willi Münzenberg; Lazar Wechsler
Directed by Slatan Dudow

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