Germany: a Self-Portrait: A Collection of German Writings from 1914 to 1943

By Harlan R. Crippen | Go to book overview

SELF-BONDAGE

by FERDINAND BRUCKNER, translated by J. M. Bernstein

WE SEEM NOW to have emerged from a state which later generations will define as one of the most characteristic phenomena of our times. At the moment we lack a word for it. Perhaps it may be best described as a state of self-bondage arising from fear.

In the past--and it is not yet altogether a thing of the past--the idea was prevalent that you could protect yourself best by keeping your hands tied. We in Germany did just that. As Hitler rose to power we protected ourselves with hands tied and eyes bound. When that did not help and we had to leave Germany, we saw the rest of Europe do the same thing; and we were shocked by such folly and blindness. We had already forgotten, or did not yet entirely realize, that we had set the example and were therefore in no position to blame others for imitating us. No wonder that after 1933 the French and the English were loath to recognize the menace of Hitlerism. Had not many among us, before 1933, laughed in the face of those who tried to awaken us to the same menace? Those who cried, 'Wolf, wolf!' seemed to be merely bad jokers, unworthy of the twentieth century; while those who refused to be frightened were the reasonable people, the brainy, enlightened people, who knew their twentieth century.

But we must add that we were not the only ones. Self-bondage did not begin as a result of Hitler. He was simply the one who exploited it most recklessly. It was still limited to Germany, or at most to Europe. Yet this flight into weakness was the symptom of a mass self-hypnosis which gripped most of the earth, at least five- sixths of it. A great and free country like the United States looked on while its Congress passed the Neutrality Act, crippling its freedom of action without even hinting at reciprocal obligations from the other side, in order to insure itself against any temptation to participate in somebody else's war.

In those days it was generally believed, and especially in the democracies, that war was only a temptation; a temptation, let us say, to conquer or get rich. Somehow you had only to renounce

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Germany: a Self-Portrait: A Collection of German Writings from 1914 to 1943
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Book One - Iron Cross 1
  • Order of the Crown, Fourth Class 26
  • Into the Abyss 43
  • Verdun 57
  • The Judgment 73
  • On Leave 79
  • Letters from Prison 83
  • Homecoming 104
  • Book Two - Reluctant Republic 111
  • The Ninth of November 115
  • 'Groener Speaking . . .' 121
  • The Spartacus Manifesto 126
  • Our New Masters 133
  • The Constitution of the German Reich Of 11 August 1919 142
  • Look Through the Bars 157
  • Black Armies 169
  • Fever Dance 185
  • Adventure in a Beer Hall 201
  • The Way of the New Germany 217
  • A Laborer in Leuna 229
  • Lampion's Reply 237
  • A Fairy Tale for Christmas 244
  • The Program of the National Socialist German Workers' Party 257
  • My Personal and Financial Relations With the Nazi Party 261
  • The Landslide 270
  • These Literary Anti-Semites 289
  • Invaders and Exiles 302
  • Book Three - Crooked Cross 311
  • Fire in Leipzig 315
  • 'Peaceful Night, Holy Night . . .' 331
  • Family Portrait 342
  • The Age of the Fish 352
  • An Exchange of Letters 370
  • Who Shall Tell Us Today 377
  • Hans Zauner Becomes a Soldier 382
  • Fritz Giga 406
  • Shelter 423
  • The Ballad of the German Soldier's Bride 432
  • Letter from Moscow 433
  • Self-Bondage 452
  • The Blossoming to Come 457
  • Acknowledgments 459
  • Bibliography 465
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