Reminder for the Future

It may be questionable to state one day, one event as beginning of a war, though it had been the first of September nineteen-hundred-thirty-nine that the German troops invaded Poland, under false accusations. The date is taken as occasion to post a reminder, unfortunately seeing today again so many reasons in so many countries to be mobilised against moves towards violence and war. Many ways can be imagined, many wise things said – in length and in short slogans and paintings and demands – as already Kaethe Kollwitz’ lithography from 1924,


demanding ‘Never again War’.

There is one short passage in Zuckmeyer’s The Devils General, which brings it in an impressive way the point – not translating well from the German. It is part of the dispute between SS-group-leader Schmidt-Lausitz and general Harras, the latter shouting against the group-leader:

What did you just say? Fatherland [Vaterland]? You? What do you understand as fatherland? Hä? Just spell it!

V as Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court of Justice)! A as hanging! T as death! E as shooting! R as racial persecution! L as camp! Ausschwitz, Neuengamme, Dachau

You see, this is how fatherland is spelled today in Germany!

the original German version:

“Watt haben Sie da gesagt?” Vaterland?! Sie? Was versteh Sie den darunter?

“Hä? Buchstabieren Sie doch mal”

“V wie Volksgerichtshof! A wie Aufhängen! T wie Tod! E wie Erschießen! R wie Rassenverfolgung! L wie Lager! Ausschwitz, Neuengamme, Dachau

Sehen Sie, so buchstabiert man heute in Deutschland Vaterland!”

[For the short scene from the film see here].

Terms and letters, occasions …, all this may be different – but the underlying patterns never changed!




[1]            Antikriegsplakat von Käthe Kollwitz für den Mitteldeutschen Jugendtag 1924 (Lithographie, 95,2 cm x 72,3 cm; Quelle: DHM) –; 22/08/17


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