Little Will and Testament (Kleines Testament)

OssietzkyStamp

Part 5 of: Drawing Balance (Rechenschaft)

And I wish their lordships Bassanier and Jean Moutaint, the severe judges,
a great reputation among murderers, robbers and thieves.

Villon

In the next few weeks, my dear colleague Panter, may well write a few nice things about me. Don’t believe him. Unfortunately, I cannot submit an official correction from where I am now, but the truth is…

It has been almost exactly five years since I became the editor of the Weltbühne. S.J’s inheritance existed in a time which was soon to lose everything that had made the Weltbühne what it was. Nobody knows better than I how much of the old, noble splendour I have had to renounce. The Weltbühne, as I took it over from S.J, was a wonderfully driven metal vessel in which the finest things were collected. It sparkled seductively in the sunset of the bourgeois age. The last warrior in a noble line. Now it is full of politics and economics, and the refuge of beauty has become a storehouse of troubles. But the Weltbühne has survived this transition in good health, and I leave the editorial team in the knowledge of having brought das Blättchen, as S.J. liked to call it, intact through a few years which must be classified as war years, and in which even more characters than businesses have collapsed.

Hellmut von Gerlach, who is making his extensive experience available to us, and whose honourable background, unstained by a single concession, guarantees that nothing will change in the position of the Weltbühne, will be the political editor. S.J. established his reputation as a theatre critic under Hellmut von Gerlach, in the Welt am Montag, more than thirty years ago. I modelled my first work on his example, as a very young man, more than twenty years ago.

Theobald Tiger wrote that throughout the world, from the North to the South Pole, everything depends on two hundred people. Well, I am now handing in my sword in the cloakroom. What more is to be said? The attractive horn-rimmed glasses with the blue lenses which one of my numerous female admirers gave me for my flight, I bequeath to General von Schleicher. Similarly the false beard, which a long-term subscriber from Prague donated. He may need it some time. And to the advocate Jorns, a well-preserved copy of the speech by Paul Levi about him.

I thank all the good people who wanted to supply me with chocolate for the period of my incarceration, but as I do not have a particularly sweet tooth, please send it to the fourth criminal court. During the trial, I noticed that the Imperial Justices always showed signs of restlessness and fatigue in the hour before lunch. Julius Caesar himself sang the praises of well-fed men. If he had been the accused instead of the dictator, he would have said that hungry judges are dangerous.

Foreign newspapers intended for me are also to be sent to Herr Joel, who likes to emphasize that he is an objective, unpolitical official, and is not interested in the opinion of the press, especially the foreign press. The German justice system could benefit from them.

I hereby humbly ask all authors whom I have made to wait too long for the publication of their manuscripts, for pardon. Similarly, all those to whom I promised on the telephone, “Next week.” I humbly beg Herr Walter Mehring to forgive me for not reviewing his book. He will soon be writing from and about Paris.

I ask the German people, united in all its tribes, to try to not wipe each other out, so that the Weltbühne doesn’t run out of material. I don’t expect it to be boring in Germany in the next eighteen months.

In the last few months, a number of colleagues with whom I had previously crossed swords have expressed their sympathy and friendship. A lot of ladies and gentlemen whom I have often annoyed in the Weltbühne, have taken my part energetically. I thank them all that their solidarity is more powerful than their memories.

And I take my leave of all who followed my work in the red magazine, whether as friends or opponents, like the good soldier Schwejk from the old sapper Woditschka, “See you after the war, at 6 p.m, in the public bar!”

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