Home > Uncategorized > Heinrich Mann: Mission of letters in a world in rubble with 10 million corpses underground

Heinrich Mann: Mission of letters in a world in rubble with 10 million corpses underground

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

German writers on peace and war

Heinrich Mann: Nietzsche, war and the butchery of ten to twenty million souls

Heinrich Mann: Nowadays the real power is peace

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Heinrich Mann
From letter to his brother Thomas
January 5, 1918
Translated by Don Reneau

Self-righteousness? Oh, no – far more likely, rather, a feeling shared with those others who, like me, know how much all of us, the art of our generation and its cast of mind, are responsible for having allowed the catastrophe to come…

The inability to grasp the real earnestness of another’s life ultimately gives birth to monsters – thus you find that my letter, which was a gesture of simple friendliness, breathes triumph! Triumph over what? That everything “stands” well for me in the moment – namely, a world in rubble and 10 million corpses underground. Now that’s justification! That indeed promises satisfaction to the ideologue! But I am not the man to tailor the misery and death of peoples to the fancy of my mind, not I. I do not believe that the victory of one thing or another remains worth the words to mention it when people are perishing. After these last, utterly horrific events, whatever humanistic gains can be made in the future will taste bitter and sad. I don’t know if anyone can “help” his fellows “to live”; but let our literature, at least, not aid them toward death!

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