Letter from Munich – 021
Letter from Munich – the Joseph Affair – 21
EINE DEUTSCHE FASSUNG STEHT WEITER UNTEN.
1 June 2001
Dear Mr. Graf, dear friends,
This is a continuation of a letter sent on 18 May:
“I ran across something that Sakharov wrote,” Sabine had said. “His Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Listen. ‘Other civilizations, perhaps more successful ones, may exist an infinite number of times on the preceding and following pages of the Book of the Universe. Yet we should not minimize our sacred endeavors in the world, where, like faint glimmers in the dark, we have emerged for a moment from the nothingness of unconsciousness into material existence. We must make good the demands of reason and create a life worthy of ourselves and of the goals we only dimly perceive.’”
“God, is that bullshit,” said Heinrich.
Before Sabine could respond, a young male voice came from one of the distant, softly lit corners of the room. “One key to the problem of the Joseph affair – and to many of the serious problems in the German state of Saxony – is still Kurt Biedenkopf, ‘King Kurt,’ Saxony’s Prime Minister. I wonder whatever happened to the real German spirit, the spirit that once made the Germans a great nation, the nation of poets and thinkers,” said the young man, opening a book he was holding. “In one of Felix Dahn’s historical novels – Dahn is one of the great German novelists of the nineteenth century – there’s a scene where the Goths have discovered their king has betrayed them. One outraged old man stands up speaks and says they must depose their king: ‘And this we do, not unjustly, but according to the law. For we have always been free men, under our kings, and have preferred to lose our kings rather than our freedom. No king is so high above us that he cannot stand before his people to answer for murder, treason, and the breaking of his oath.’ Then apostrophizing the absent king, the old man thunders on, ‘And so I deprive you of crown and kingdom, of rights and life. A fugitive shall you be, unheeded, unhonored, without claim to any right. And wherever Christian people enter church or heathens visit sacrificial altars; wherever fire burns or the earth turns green; wherever ships sail or shields shine; wherever the falcon flies the long spring day, with the wind beneath his pinions, deprived shall you be of house and hall and the company of good people. Deprived shall you be of every dwelling, except for a dwelling in hell. Your heritage and property I distribute to the Gothic folk. Your flesh and blood I give to the ravens overhead.’ ”
For a moment there was silence.
“Oh, for God’s sake, I never heard such kitsch,” said Heinrich as he stalked out of the room, but not before stopping and turning round to us and saying in an odd sort of choked voice, “You think you’ll get Biedenkopf, my friends? I have news for you. You’ll NEVER get Biedenkopf.”
I was at a total loss. I really know so little about politics in Germany, I didn’t know what to make of the whole scene. Maybe you can make something of it, though.
Robert John Bennett