Journey into Bliss (Fahrt ins Glück)

Halbinsel Darß, Urlauberinnen im Strandkorb

I drag my Rolls-Suiza out of the the boathouse, check the propeller, and set off. The overland route is through Holstein, past the village of Lütjenburg, where Jakob Wasa fought the famous battle of Lütjenburg with Georg the Heizbare, in the year 1601, in which six horses were killed under him. The crowns of trees and hills greet me, and there lies the Baltic Sea. The road leads through Haffkrug, Scharbeutz, and Timmendorfer Strand.

It is autumn, and the villas, hotels and spas are empty. Here and there a beach chair, with bunting and a flag, sticks out. The manicurists sit bored in the sunshine in front of the hairdressers‘ salons and do their own nails to keep in practice. Dogs mooch around and sniff at old newspapers, read a little, and raise their legs. The Baltic is really already packed away. And the further I go, the more I puff myself up. I expand visibly, and almost get a pot belly from Schadenfreude. What was it that the Marquis de Sade did? He roasted little girls and garnished them with essence of young man? That’s nothing! Me, I am enjoying the summer holidays which I was not forced to enjoy.

My ecstatic imagination populates these empty streets and houses. It is hot, crowded and dusty. Everywhere is full, and the landlords are as shameless as vultures who only eat for the sake of it. “We only rent single rooms to families of eight!“ The Baltic lies there lazily like an old pond. The caged beast of prey sits there stinking grudgingly, and the people say, “Oh, how refreshing it is here!” A cloud of poisonous perspiration lies over Scharbeutz, Timmendorfer Strand and Haffkrug. Plates rattle, dogs bark, children whinge, and a stodgy mass of conversation is emptied onto the beach:

„Go over there, to Röper. Tell them we sent you!“
„Will you take a look at Frau Lahmers. What does she look like? How does she do that?“
„Look there, a Jew!“ „These Goys have an Umchain[1]!”
„If anyone tries to take the black, white and red flag[2] down from my beach chair, I’ll give them such a… No, that would be a joke. We are here for recreation!“
„Do I really need to hoist the black, white and red flag? We are here for recreation!“
„He has summoned you for this evening? I wouldn’t go… Elli, you can‘t! Or take me with you!”
„That depends entirely on the circumstances, dear lady!” “On what circumstances, Herr Magistrate?”
„Nero! Nero! Come here! Come here! Come here! Nero! Peep! Peeeeeeep! Can’t you hear me? Nero!“
„Mummy, Lilly is throwing snot around!”
„Doctor! Doctoor! You have forgotten your bra!“ „Don’t shout like that!“ „Don’t you think that everyone can see?”
„My whole holiday is ruined!“
„In my opinion, Germany can only be saved by the colonies. So, gentlemen, England…“
„One small coffee, two forty, a teaspoon, eighty, a glass of water, fifty, a cup, thirty, you didn’t have any cake, so that’s forty all together…“
„My God, that woman’s got curves“

And I wasn’t there!

„My whole holiday is ruined!“ Mothers rage, and you can decide for yourself whether they have not been loved or not beaten enough. The convulsions of mixed up wombs poison entire lives. Children cry, fathers curse, the dogs also pull in their tails, and the state is based on the family, no doubt about it.

Now I am pumped up like a balloon, meanness gas fills my every pore. Not having to be there when this mass of humanity gets together for recreation. “Herr Panter, how do you reconcile that with your social convictions? These poor people amuse themselves as well as they can, and you…“ „Oh, give it a rest!“ There is a jelly pudding which quivers on the dish out of disgust for itself. Everything swims in the same sauce. In the evening, there are bottles of sparkling wine on the tables of the reunion, and rivers of it flow out of pain for the humiliating peace treaty of Versailles… Nobody washes themselves any more because they are going to take a dip in the defenceless Baltic tomorrow. Why, when we are going bathing tomorrow? Emmy, you’re a pig. It is hot and dusty, and smells of milk, small children, milk and piss. It is as pleasant as only nature and people can achieve together. And I’m not there!

High-collared political assassins with wooden expressions, in whose cold eyes an ever-ready cruelty glints. Recuperating female book-keepers: six Mark fifty per day, plus drinks. Their hearts contain just enough kindness for one; they are bad-tempered and unfriendly to everyone else.

Sometimes it’s nice to be own your own. Sometimes it’s nice to not belong to any group. Sometimes it’s nice to just drive past.

The autumn day is blue, the tall trees are rustling, and purple with meanness I pass by the sites of summer desire, which can not be as great as mine to not have to partake of it. Nietzsche in reverse. Collectivism. The typical bourgeois intellectual. A cheek. In the name of the Committee of the Imperial Association of German Baltic Resort Societies. The Parisian Jew, Peter Panter. Sooo tasteless to utter antisemitic opinions. Where do you go for recreation, my good man? We greatly regret that we are unable to publish this article in our periodical. For further information, please consult the adverts in it. You don’t have children. Where is Scharbeutz, anyway? This year, we were in Zinnowitz, where there are, thank God, no Jews. We were in Westerland this year: a most elegant crowd. I really don’t see his problem.

The autumn day is blue, the tall trees are rustling, the Baltic sounds like Saxony, and I drive blissfully through the autumn forests of Holstein. Going round, passing by.


[1] I haven’t been able to find a translation for this presumably yiddish word. Probably written umkhain in English transliteration.

[2] The flag of the monarchists, nationalists and reactionaries

Author: Kurt Tucholsky

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