My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
The Near East

IN spite of the bicycle on which I spent such a disproportionately large sum as a fifth-former in 1893, my favourite exercise all my life has been walking. It is thanks, first and foremost, to the walking-tours I have made during my life that I am able, at the age of seventy-six, to smoke my daily cigars with impunity and remain untouched by all the diseases of civilization usually attendant on a sedentary existence.

As a third-term student I followed up the end of my stay in Munich by a walk right across the Alps as far as Milan. Important as this feat appeared to me at the age of nineteen, it was a mere stroll compared with another tour in 1902, from Vladikavkas over the Caucasus to Tiflis, on to Echmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Patriarch, and back again over the icy Caucasus by the Becho Pass to the Black Sea port of Novorossisk.

Of the three Oriental trips I made between 1902 and 1909 this was by far the most strenuous and at the same time the loveliest. Paul Rohrbach had organized it and collected a group of nine young fellows. One of them was Hello von Gerlach, the only deputy who had been sent to the Reichstag by Friedrich Naumann's Nationalsozialer Verein (National Social Union) in 1896. The remaining six were likewise members of Naumann's set. There is a delightful and graphic account of our expedition from Rohrbach's pen in some old back numbers of Die Zeit, the first magazine published by Naumann between 1901 and 1903.

Paul Rohrbach, the well-known journalist and politician, was at that time thirty-three years old and a friend of Naumann whom I also knew. Friedrich Naumann and his teacher Stoecker were Evangelical social reformers, but while Stoecker was a conservative, Naumann betook himself and his ideas to the liberal-minded groups. After the First World War Naumann exercised considerable influence in the drafting of the Weimar Constitution. He died in 1919. One of his surviving pupils is Theodor Heuss, now President of the West German Federal Republic.

I have never belonged to Naumann's set even though I was intimate with one or two of them. A group whose purpose is to bring together such opposite sections of society as industrial workers and

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