„I was just a fresh student teacher at the time“, some people say; it’s what they had read in books. I was not a fresh student teacher at the time, but I can still clearly remember the time after I had graduated, and all the revision for exams and everything was over, sitting at the feet of a great teacher, whose lectures I had disgraced, in the university, and some things suddenly became clear to me. I suddenly understood everything which just three years ago had been completely in the dark; then I saw connections, and paid attention, and didn’t sleep for a second; then I was an attentive and useful student. Then, when it was too late. And that is why I want to be student again.
Now, when everyone is wrapping up the war; when the last memoirs are congealing into books, when the time is very gently approaching in which the heroes of yesterday become the invalids of tomorrow, now, here is someone who wants to unburden his conscience. The midday sun reveals all, it must be said, he has carried it for seventeen years, he can’t carry it any longer. But let’s hear what he has to say:
For Hans M.
I recently ran into a boy from my school class, after so many years. It was just like in a storybook. The poor man was standing outside the fence, begging, and the rich man was inside, brushing the cake crumbs from his jacket. “Don’t you recognize me?“ asked the poor man, gently. And then the rich man recognized his former class-mate, and… I can’t remember how the story ends. Anyway, the boy from my school class, with whom I used to walk around the school playground in deep discussions, has become a government councillor. I probably won’t achieve anything respectable during my lifetime, either. And I have my doubts about afterwards as well.
While the left-wing parties fight out their quarrels with German thoroughness, the right is getting ready for battle. While the republican parties are conducting a more or less intellectual struggle against each other in the big cities, the monarchists are taking control of the countryside and rural areas, and they will soon be able to completely surround the cities and industrial areas. When shots fall in Berlin, the Pomeranian Vendée will dance for joy. The republic is bad, that is the political creed of innumerable Germans these days. The lack of self-control of the radical left-wing opposition is the best help that the reactionary right could hope for.
Did we survive all those Rumanian parties, shoulder to shoulder, just so that you don‘t write to me any more?