BERLIN – JEWISH LIVES IN SCHEUNENVIERTEL
“Some hundred and twenty Jewish refugees from the East lived in that lodging house. Many of the men were soldiers who’d just returned from Russian captivity. Their clothes were a grotesque melange of Rag-Internationale. In their eyes thousand years of suffering. Women were there, too. Carrying their children on their backs like bundles of dirty linen. And the children, crawling through the rickety world on bowed legs, sucked on pieces of dry bread-crust.”Joseph Roth about the Lodging House “Center” in Grenadierstraße 40 corner Hirtenstraße 11 in October 1920. The lodging house stood in what used to be Berlin’s old Jewish district, Schuenenviertel (Barn District), partly demolished in 1905-1907 and further refurbished int he 1920s.
THE GREY TENEMENTS
“And I am thinking about how each return to Berlin made my heart beat faster. How blessed I felt as a child when after four weeks of holidays I finally saw from the train the tall buildings of Berlin’s East, the tenements. Yes, the grey tenements of my hometown, Berlin.
Or when, as a grown-up man, I had to keep my lips from trembling each time I came back from foreign lands after long months of absence. How tears rolled down my face when in December 1918 – having fled the bloody killing, that whole misery and chaos – I returned from France and saw the first houses of Berlin, at night, by moonlight.“From the introduction to Adolf Heilborn’s 1925 book Die Reise nach Berlin, first published in 1921 as a series of articles for the local newspaper, the “Berliner Morgenpost”. (Translation own)
TUCHOLSKY IN AUTUMN
“One morning you can smell autumn. It is not yet chilly; it is not windy; in fact, nothing has changed – and yet everything has. It spreads in the air like a crackle – something has happened: until now the dice held its balance, it swayed…, and… and…, and now it has rolled onto the other side. All is as it was the day before: the leaves, the trees, the bushes… and still, now everything’s different. The light is bright, gossamer threads of spider silk are floating in the air, everything has been given a new start, magic is gone, the spell has been broken – it is straight autumn from now on. How many of those have you seen? This one is one of them. The wonder lasted some four, perhaps five days, and you wished it would never ever stop. This is the time when old gentlemen get sentimental – it’s not “the last of the summer wine”, it is something else. It is an optimistic premonition of Death, a cheerful acceptance of the End. Late summer, early autumn and what lies between them. A fleeting moment in each year.”
First published by Kurt Tucholsky (as Kaspar Hauser) in “Die Weltbühne” magazine in October 1929.
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