My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE A Meeting with Bismarck

ALTHOUGH nowadays grammar-school pupils in the top forms have to tackle the differential calculus and organic chemistry, I don't believe that we sixth-formers had an easier time. In my day the school set especial store by the behaviour of the older boys. They were people of importance and were expected to behave as though they were already grown up.

Grave, stiff, dressed in dark suits, with white silk caps on our heads, we made our way daily to the vast building on the Speersort. But our gravity was sometimes deceptive. This became apparent when our old headmaster, Hoche, was succeeded by a new man who was to have the effect of a fresh breeze on the somewhat leisurely ways of the school. The new head, Schultes, was a firstrate man, only a bit too keen. The upper forms, which had grown large under Hoche's rule, were thoroughly riled by his keenness and determined to get their own back. There was to be a "binge" for the 1893 top-formers who had passed their leaving examination. At this party a Bierzeitung--a humorous gazette specially got up for the occasion--was read out. In it the "Muli" (the nickname given to the school-leavers after the examination and before they entered the university) unmercifully "guyed" their school and their headmaster. The new head took the whole thing in the wrong spirit and left the gathering, obviously deeply offended.

Personally, I got along very well indeed under Professor Schultes. My interests were many and varied, particularly in the realm of intellectual subjects, as well as contemporary history, geography, languages and literature. Schultes liked that. He encouraged his pupils to tackle unusual subjects. Occasionally, when he asked a question that had nothing to do with the subject, he would look at me through his spectacles and say: "Come along, Schacht, you know it!" Sometimes I knew the answer. Then he would grin with satisfaction. We got along very well together.

During those years I also learnt a lot from Uncle Wieding, whom I often used to meet on Sundays. We would go for a stroll along the river or forsake the town in favour of a country walk.

-57-

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