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Rudolf Borchardt, Thomas Mann and the power of contempt: writing more beautifully


Our columnist uses examples from literature to show how powerful the German language can be. Episode 53: Rudolf Borchardt on unrequited patriotism.

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Rudolf Borchardt

Photo: Keystone Switzerland / laif

The relationship to the fatherland, like any love, is an absolute, indivisible whole or it is nothing.

You cannot play a sixteenth part of your full, holy, unabridged rights to your homeland, as you would in a class lottery, and put the loss on good luck.

In my individual case it is so that the honor of the position within the nation, which I have gained through the sacrifice of my whole life, has been denied and violated.

I do not accept remuneration and reinstatements from those who have done this to me.

You have no legitimacy on the one hand or on the other.

- Rudolf Borchardt, letter to Robert Davidsohn, January 4, 1934

It is probably no coincidence that Rudolf Borchardt, whose love of the fatherland grew the further the fatherland moved away from him, preferred to give information about this love in letters.

A love that no longer finds its addressee still has to be expressed - or maybe because of it.

Because otherwise the lover would choke on his love and on despair.

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Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2021-01-28

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