Walther Rathenau, His Life and Work

Walther Rathenau, His Life and Work

Walther Rathenau, His Life and Work

Walther Rathenau, His Life and Work

Excerpt

No estimate of Walther Rathenau, the founder of Germany's new foreign policy and of the post-war rationalization of German industry, can do him justice that is not based on his singular personality. The profoundly Jewish, and yet no less profoundly Prussian, mechanism of his mind and instincts can always be discerned behind his political and social ideas. Scientific proofs for his theories he utterly disdained, appealing for their truth solely to the rightness of his vision and the sureness of his instinct. He propounded them not like a great man of science who proves his point step by step, proceeding from proof to proof, from discovery to discovery, from statistics to statistics, but like an artist who gives you his vision in a flash, as the image of a personal revelation, a thing complete in itself. Thus what in the case of a great economist or practical statesman bears a merely outward relation to his work--the details of his life and character--becomes in the case of Walther Rathenau the very measure of his worth as a teacher and prophet.

But a peculiar difficulty attaches to any presentation of Rathenau's personality. Though he surrounded himself with an atmosphere of impenetrable coolness, not many were able to remain cool in his presence: people were violently attracted or repelled by him--or both simultaneously. That was part of his tragedy: the crystalline coolness for which he laboured recoiled on him in the shape of passionate adoration or passionate hatred. And now that he is dead, this same atmosphere, though it tends to thicken around him into a haze of misunderstandings, yet has also certain advantages; the student who ap-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.