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Christian Brilla
"The Demons" - They Are Always There

March 29, 2024

Background

The original Russian novel by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (1821 - 81) has the title "Besy" (Бѣсы), which rather means "evil spirits" deeply rooted in Russian mythology. That would also be in German - I have read the translation by Nora Urban - a much better title. In addition, numerous German phrases of the text are inaccurately chosen within the context, sometimes even appear grotesque, or get lost in a dissolute chatter. That was rather not intended by Dostoyevsky, marked by a death sentence for conspiracy, which is also the subject of this novel, and in no way is appropriate to the evil content of the story - unless one considers gossip as one of the varieties of evil.

Note: After a sham execution, the sentence for Dostoyevsky was converted to banishment into a camp for prisoners in Siberia with subsequent military service (1849 - 1859).

First edition of the novel "Besy" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1873

To make matters worse, in the present edition, the chapter “At Tichon", which had been censored for blasphemy at his time, is completely omitted, that would have contributed to a sharper characterization of one of the main characters (Nikolai Vsevolodovich Stavrogin), and whose question to the bishop Tichon, “can one believe in the devil, if one doesn’t believe in God?", reveals the core of the whole novel, because evil - manifested in nihilism and moral decline - is the central issue of the novel. In fact, this novel by Dostoyevsky is not easy to read, on the one hand through the emotionless nature of the narrator used by Dostoyevsky, that contrasts the evil of the novel, on the other hand through the entangled, not immediately clear relationships of the acting persons in the novel which covers 516 pages in the present version of the Eduard Kaiser Edition from Klagenfurt and is divided into three parts with 5 – 10 chapters each.

While in the first two parts the relationship between Varvara Petrovna Stavrogina, the wealthy widow of Lieutenant General Stavrogin, who died on the way to the Crimean War (1853 - 56), and the scholar Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky is being focused and is told very tenaciously, the events within the third part happen very quickly around the previously carefully introduced, actual main characters of the story, Varvara Petrovna’s only son, Nikolai Vsevolodovich Stavrogin, and the son of Stepan Trofimovich, Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky, emerged from an earlier, superficial relationship with an easy-to-have woman, born in Paris. He was brought to Russia as a child after his mother’s death and raised by aunts far from his father, to whom he had no real relationship. The story takes place “on the eve” of the Russian Revolution, a time marked by idealism and the desire for freedom throughout Europe.

The ideas of the French Revolution of 1789, "Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité", had already spread across Europe over a long time and resonated within the educated youth of a rapidly developing bourgeoisie. The Napoleonic Empire (1804 - 15) was basically a final surge of absolutism against the enormous social changes during this time that came across all the small German dukedoms and powerful Prussia in the first third of the 19th century for the dissolution of serfdom, in Prussia already in 1808 (in my hometown Brunswick in the Duchy of the Guelphs this had already happened in 1433), last in the Kingdom of Hanover in 1833, in order to stifle further attempts at democracy, as it happened in 1848 after the election of the first parliament in Germany and its constituent meeting in the Paul’s Church in Frankfurt/Main. This led to a large wave of emigration to the established democracy of the United States of America. In Russia, the widespread serfdom was only abolished in 1861 by Tsar Alexander II. to counter the increasing unrest among the peasants in the vast empire. About 40% of the population of the Russian Empire were serfs. Basically, the huge social upheavals in Russia took place at the height of its territorial expansion across three continents. In the middle of the 19th century, the Russian Empire extended from the border with Prussia in the west to the American continent to the Canadian border beyond the Bering Sea in the east, from the Arctic Sea in the north to the Himalaya in the south.

In the second half of the 19th century, social upheavals in Russia were profound. A major educational reform was implemented that allowed lower social classes and women access to secondary schools and universities. The censorship of the media was largely loosened. However, that did not fall on constructive grounds, but awakened hidden, destructive movements. Thus, the philosophical background at this time was marked by nihilism, defined by Ivan Turgenev in his novel "Father and Sons" that also included the sons of aristocratic families. Those spoiled young men of privileged families, to whom everything was open without their own achievement, often fell into decadence or nihilism. Radical democratic positions were put forward against all authorities, be it family, state or church. Student unrests developed, and in St. Petersburg there were several arsons. Aristocracy was to be eliminated. The first assassination attempt on the Tsar took place in 1866, that resulted in the reintroduction of censorship and extended right of the police to intervene. However, one could not get rid of the spirits which were awakened in this unstable time, and extremism developed. Tsar Alexander II survived two more attacks on his person in 1879, before finally falling victim to an assassination in 1881.

Evil is always present, hidden in times of stability, in times of change, when something new is to emerge, appearing again on the surface with the appearance of destructive elements. Since if something new is to be created, something old must always be destroyed. This competition between good and evil, between construction and destruction, causes each other.

The content of the novel

Part 1

The entire novel is told by a sober official, Anton Lavrentyevich, who had access to all acting persons. However, he has no essential relevance in the narrative - with the exception of an encounter with the writer Karmasinov and a conversation with one of the minor figures, the construction engineer Kirillov. Karmasinov, who achieved considerable fame in Russia with his early works, is aptly characterized by him: “all ... moderately talented persons, which are usually thought to be ingenious during their lifetime, (will) disappear from the memory of men not only with their death - almost without leaving any trace - but sometimes even before their grave... " (Part 1, Chapter 3.2) The conversation with Kirillov is about another kind of hidden evil, suicide. "What do you think is holding people back from committing suicide," he asks. Kirillov answers: "Two prejudices hold people back", pain and the unknown afterlife. There are supposed to be two kinds of suicides, on the one hand those who are thinking about that for a long time, and on the other hand those who do it due to an affect. Most people “think about it a lot”, and “if the prejudice were not, there would be more, much more”, just like he is doing. Kirillov has carried suicidal thoughts with him for a long time, and implements them out of own conviction in the course of the story, in order to be truly free. Thus, the evil is destructive and turns against life where it can. He also allows himself to be instrumentalized by the evil by innocently taking on the murder of a comrade for the protection of evil before his suicide. Kirillov says: “The human being is completely free only if it is not important for him, whether he lives or not. That is our aim." The narrator responds: "Man is afraid of death because he loves life." "Here is the fraud! Life is pain, life is fear, and man is unhappy... the current human is not the real human being. There will be a new man, a happy and proud man. He will be indifferent whether he lives or not, he will become the new human being!" (part 1, chapter 3.8). The “human being of a new type” is an essential utopia of communism where the individual is not in the foreground, but the needs of the collective. Herein, the individual degrades to a part of a whole, which is antihuman in its narrowest sense.

Stepan Trofimovich is an idealistic scholar who, like many scholars, likes to lecture, yet owns nothing but his lively mind. He was the tutor of Varvara Petrovna’s son, and had awakened in him a close, friendly relationship of almost homophile desires that could not be satisfied (part 1, chapter 2.1). His greatest work was a bizarre poem. „A civilized young man walks between rocks, picking herbs and sucking them. Asked by a fairy why he is doing that, he replies that he is suffering from an overabundance of physical forces, looking for oblivion and finding this in the juice of these herbs. However, (it is) his greatest wish to lose his mind as soon as possible... Then suddenly a young man appears on a black horse, whose beauty cannot even be described, and countless peoples are following him. The youth is the death and all follow him ...They sing a song of hope, whereupon the previous ruler runs away..." (part 1, chapter 1.1). This poetry was considered dangerous by the authorities. Even after Nikolai Vsevolodovich’s adulthood and the termination of his teaching position, he remained in the service of Varvara Petrovna, with whom he established a close, almost marital relationship. Stepan Trofimovich lives on her estate in a house given to him with a maid assigned to him. In the end, he lives off her provided with food, lodging, and generous pocket money. In return, he enriches her salons, social evenings in her manor house, which were “en vogue” in Russia at that time, representing the center of social life of the “high society”. There, as in all aristocratic houses of Russia, French was spoken. Many Russian nobles could not even speak their national language. Stepan Trofimovich also speaks half Russian, half French, comparable to “Denglish" in today’s Germany as an expression of the cultural idol, the U.S.A. Fashion, design, table manners were taken over from France at that time, as today the “American way of life" generally determines life in Germany. The manor house of Varvara Petrovna was located in Skvoreshniki, in the province of the capital St. Petersburg, the city that was once founded by Peter the Great, when Russian society was characterized by stability and growth. Now the social conditions were completely different.

After the victory over the megalomaniac warlord Napoleon and the subsequent Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Tsarist empire reached the height of its power. The accompanying wealth of his noble families was accompanied by extraordinary cultural achievements in music (e.g., Tchaikovsky 1840 - 93), fine arts (e.g., Kramskoy 1837 - 87), literature (e.g., Tolstoy 1828 - 1910) and science (e.g., Mendeleev 1834 - 1907). However, the huge empire did not keep pace with the enormous social changes inside. A great empire always disintegrates from within, it implodes - so did Russia “on the eve” of the revolution by the Bolsheviks.

Russian Tsarist Empire, 1867

Dostoyevsky describes the social conditions less analytically than Tolstoy, but instinctively as the "awakening of evil spirits" in the sons of Varvara Petrovna and Stepan Trofimovich. Varvara Petrovna’s son Nikolai Vsevolodovich has been abroad for a long time after a debauched life in St. Petersburg. He is a lost soul - outside an attractive, educated man with most noble manners, inside a moral-ethical wreck possessed by evil. On the one hand, he managed as a young officer to enter the highest social circles in St. Petersburg. On the other hand, his nature manifested itself through “wild intemperance, drunkenness and card gambling; he might have run people over with his trotters, and publicly insulted a lady of the high society in the meanest way, with whom he had a relationship. He had become a brutal man and rowdy, seeking fights everywhere for pure fun“ (part 1, chapter 2.1).  The censored chapter "At Tichon" shows that he abused the 12-year-old daughter of his landlady abroad, that had driven this under-aged girl, broken by that, into suicide. After losing a bet, he secretly married Maria Timofeyevna Lebiadkina, who was limping and mentally retarded, even though all great relationships were open to him. Now, his mother suspects a sexual relationship with her young, extraordinarily beautiful ward, the daughter of her deceased faithful, serfdom servant. Therefore, she proposes to 53-year-old Stepan Trofimovich that he marries her 20-year-old ward Darya Pavlovna Shatova to counteract rumors of an illegitimate relationship with her son, in order to have her son engaged for marriage with a wealthy, well-off woman, Lisaveta Nikolayevna Drosdova (part 1, chapter 2.7). This unintentionally humiliates Stepan Trofimovich, who rather assumed an imminent marriage to Varvara Petrovna in order to give her intimate, marriage-like relationship an adequate expression. Of course, he had never been sexually associated with her.

The real evil is manifested in Pyotr Verkhovensky, who, like Nikolai Vsevolodovich, comes back home from abroad after many years and has nothing better to do than publicly humiliating his good-natured father during a gathering of all the essential persons of the coming events in the manor house of Varvara Petrovna, by making public the very private, negative statements made to him by his father in a letter about the offer of his patron, Varvara Petrovna, whereupon Varvara Petrovna angrily banned Stepan Trofimovich, because the marriage she had planned could no longer come true. In addition to the above the following persons are present: the narrator, Ivan Pavlovich Shatov, Darya Pavlovna Shatova’s brother, Lizaveta Nikolayevna together with her fiancée Mawrikiy Nikolayevich, whom she actually does not love, and her mother, as well as Maria Timofeyevna, who met Varvara Petrovna just before at a mass in the cathedral. There, astonishing all present church visitors, the mentally confused Maria Timofeyevna knelt before Varvara Petrovna, who misinterpreted this situation as a begging approach, unaware that she had her daughter-in-law before her. Instinctively, however, she has taken her home together with Lizaveta Nikolayevna, the chosen woman for her son. Subsequently, Darya Pavlovna, Captain Lebiadkin, the brother of Maria Timofeyevna, and Nikolai Vsevollodovich joined them. The alcoholic captain Lebiadkin wants to return the money out of pride that Varvara Petrovna had given to his sister Maria Timofeyevna in the cathedral, assuming she was a simple petitioner. He does not want to tell the truth that she is the wife of her only son, because he is obliged to secrecy, otherwise he would endanger the financial support of his sister by Nikolai Vsevollodovich. Thus, Varvara Petrovna directly asks her recently joined son to gain clarity about her more and more emerging assumption about the relationship with this strange woman: “Nikolai Vsevollodovich, ... I’m asking you to tell me..., is it true that this unhappy, lame woman...is your rightful wife?" Without any honesty, Nikolai Vsevollodovich denies his marriage to Maria Timofeyevna, kissing his mother’s hand, and turning to Maria Tmofeyevna, “who had supplicantly folded her hands" with the words: “I, although your most faithful friend, yet in no closer relationship with you and neither your husband ... nor being your groom," whereupon he leads the young, handicapped, almost collapsed woman out of the salon (part 1, chapter 5.5). Pyotr Verkhovensky confirms the false statement of Nikolai Vsevollodovich, probably calculating that he can later integrate him into his subversive urges because of this service: "Nikolai Vsevollodovich is guiltless. I have known him since Petersburg, and the whole story only does Nikolai Vsevollodovich credit if you want to use this strange word...", because he does not believe in honor, not at all. “Nikolai Vsevollodovich never paid any attention to her. But once, when the girl was particularly upset, he grabbed an officer by the collar and threw him out the window... I recall that Miss Lebiadkina finally went so far in her fantasies as to imagine that Nikolai Vsevollodovich was something like her groom... There was a lot of laughter about it. The matter ended with the fact that Nikolai Vsevollodovich, when he then travelled back to this place, had taken care of her maintenance before departure ... " (part 1, chapter 5.6). The meeting ends when Ivan Shatov unexpectedly slaps Nikolai Vsevollodovich in the face. In contrast to his nature, Nikolai Vsevollodovich accepts this, and the first part is ending.

It is a key scene of the novel. Actually, everything should have been clarified at this meeting. From Varvara Petrovna’s point of view, the planned marriage between Stepan Trofimovich and Darya Pavlovna should have been announced, so that the way would have been cleared for Nikolai Vsevollodovich and Lizaveta Nikolaevna. Nikolai Vsevollodovich should have clarified everything and not become entangled in lies. However, the truth and decisions remained unspoken; the further progress was left to the evil, because the evil always lurks. It is up to us to control that and make decisions at the right time. If we just let things go or fall into apathy, one is ultimately subject to evil.

Part 2

Thus, the rise of evil becomes apparent in the  part of the novel. Nikolai Vsevollodovich visits Shatov. He can’t really let the punch go. Shatov explains to him: “I did it because you fell down so low ... because of your lie"and “because you meant so much in my life” (part 2, chapter 1.6). Because of this deep reverence, Nikolai Vsevollodovich warns him: "Pyotr Verkhovensky came here, among other things, to finally settle your matter ... You ..., as one who knows too much and might denounce to get rid of." He also tells Shatov that he wants to make his marriage with Maria Timofeyevna public. Shatov is favoring the truth, however, does not understand why Nikolai Vsevollodovich wants to humiliate himself so publicly. He reminds him of his earlier impressive thoughts, which made him appear so great in his eyes: "Rome proclaimed a Christ who did not resist to the devil’s third temptation (note: to gain omnipotence on earth that he actually resisted), ... invoked the power of the Antichrist and brought the whole western world to ruin." Nikolai Vsevollodovich once said, "Not a single people has ever lived its life on a foundation of scientific achievements ... (as Marxism teaches) Socialism is supposed to be atheism by its very nature, ... is based solely on the foundations of knowledge and reason. However, reason and science have played only a subordinate, serving role in the life of peoples from the beginning of time." It had never happened that various people had a common God and “there has never been a people without religion, i.e., without the concept of good and evil. Every people has its own idea of good and evil.... If these concepts become common to several peoples, their decay begins, and even the difference between good and evil disappears” (Part 2, chapter 1.7). Reason has never been able to separate good from evil. Basically, positions of the Potschwennitschestwo movement in Russia of the 19th century, to which Dostoyevsky was attracted, has been included, a reaction to the “westernization” since Peter the Great in the 18th century. The Potschwenniki did not want to completely turning away from the “west”, instead a synthesis based on Russian Orthodox religion and peasant community. Then, he reproaches Nikolai Vsevollodovich: “You married for the joy of torture, remorse, ethical lust." This is Shatov’s point. Nikolai Vsevollodovich wants to punish himself for his past sins and torture himself and his noble family in a masochistic way, which corresponds to his earlier exclamation that Marquis de Sade had much to learn from him. In the end, evil has also seized him.

Nikolai Vsevollodovich then makes his way to his disabled wife Maria Timofeyevna. On the way he is surprised by meeting the convict Fedka, apparently hired by Pyotr Verkhovensky. He pretends to solve Nikolai’s problems with his marriage forever and even tells him his price for it - 1500 rubles. He just needs a minor down-payment. Nikolai Vsevollodovich sends him to hell because he has other plans. However, Maria Timofeyevna does not accept Nikolai’s suggestion to live with him somewhere remote in Switzerland. She sees him as her prince, who he is not. She does not even recognize him as her husband: "My husband bows himself even to God only when he wants, however, Shatushka (Shatov) has slapped... you!... Go away, you’re a cheater” (part 2, chapter 2.3). He has to admit that she is completely out of her mind and leaves meeting on his way back Fedka again, who has waited for him. Again, he begs him for three rubles. Nikolai Vsevollodovich ultimately throws a whole bunch of rubles at him to get rid of him, however, intelligent enough to know what this will induce, and what he later confesses to his Dasha (Darya Pavlovna), who responds: “God protect you from your demon" (Part 2, Chapter 3.4). When Nikolai Vsevollodovich unequivocally admits to Mawriky Nikolayevich that he is already married, he dismisses him completely confused, as he was about to cede his fiancée Lizaveta Nikolayevna to him, because he has realized that she has fallen in love to Nikolai. Then, the other evil man, Pyotr Verkhovensky, enters to pick up Nikolai Vsevollodovich to a meeting “of our own". On the way, Nikolai Vsevollodovich advises him, “what could lead to the formation of revolutionary groups. Bureaucracy and sentimentality are a good binder, yet there is something better: you need to tell four of your members to kill a fifth, because he is, call it, a denunciator, and the spilled blood will stick these people together stronger than any rope. Those guys become immediately your slaves..." (Part 2, Chapter 6.7).

Pyotr Verkhovensky wants to use the increasing unrest in the country mercilessly. He is fanatically driven by the idea to topple all authorities.  To this end, he intrigues on all sides, in particular by using his good relationship with Yulia Mikhailovna, the wife of the governor Andrei Antonovich of Lembke, and ruthlessly uses an organized alliance. Thus, one meets in the house of a comrade, Wirginsky, under the pretext of celebrating his name day. About 50 carefully selected comrades are coming together, among them his closest circle, the Committee of Five, to which besides Wirginsky, his brother-in-law Zhilyev, the official Liputin, Laemschin, and Tolkatschenko, who has a good network of criminals, are belonging. The extended setting includes Shatov and Kirillov. Pyotr Verkhovensky pretends that they are included in one out of thousands of revolutionary cells spread across the country, controlled by a secret headquarter, which in turn is connected with the world revolution prepared in Europe. Basically, he behaves as his father Stepan Trofimovich has theoretically formulated: “...the real truth is always unlikely... To make the truth probable, it is necessary to add a small lie."(2nd part, chapter 1.2).  He imagines that through unrest throughout the country and with the help of Nikolai Vsevollodovich, who is obliged to him due to his support by lieing about his actual marriage to Maria Timofeyevna, he can establish a political system designed by Shigalyov, in which 90 percent of all human beings have to work at a primitive level of existence with absolute obedience and are fully controlled by the remaining 10 percent. (Note: That will actually develop under the Bolsheviks after a half century.) Pyotr Verkhovensky is a man of action and does not only want to debate, as occurred within the last 30 years, but to implement a coup of the ruling political system. If “one screams a hundred million heads! ... even taken literally, nothing about that is terrible..." (part 2, chapter 7.2). Shatov can no longer listen to the whole scenario and leaves the assembly first, which is resented by those present. Denunciation is feared, which is, however, absurd, because a real denunciator would never reveal himself so openly.

After him, Nikolai Vsevollodovich and Pyotr Verkhovensky also left the meeting. Pyotr Verkhovensky openly offers to Nikolai Vsevollodovich to have his disabled wife together with her brother killed, in order to bind him to himself and his plans for the revolution forever. Nikolai Vsevollodovich fully understands and rejects that. Pyotr Verkhovensky is obsessed with the fact that “everything is out of control". He wants to implement Shigalyov’s ideas of equality. “According to him, each member of the society must monitor the other... Anybody belongs to everyone, and all belong to everyone; in the extreme case, one may proceed with denunciation and murder, the main thing being equality. Above all, the level of science and talent will be lowered” (Part 2, Chapter 8.1), because that is only achievable to the gifted, who have always become despots. "One has to chase them away or execute them.” An absolute levelling of everything, equality, abolishment of any individuality is the aim, a human being of a new type. “The desire for education is already aristocratic; the desire for property grows with the family or love. We must strangle such desire and promote denunciation. We will kill any ingenious individual during infancy ... the Pope will rule in the West, but with us… - you!" Like Satan tried to seduce Jesus, Pyotr Verkhovensky tries to win Nikolai Vsevollodovich for his cause. "I am a nihilist, yet I love the beauty! And you are my idol!" He wants to evoke absolute anarchy having Nikolai Vsevollodovich as a figurehead. He promises not only to have Maria Timofeyevna eliminated but also to bring him the desirable Lizaweta Nikolayevna, if he follows his movement as "Tsarevich". Nikolai Vsevollodovich does not respond. However, he does not categorically reject this offer; he lets things go. How seriously Pyotr Verkhovensky means everything, is also shown by the fact that he himself denounces his own father, who is revered as a brilliant thinker, to the authorities, so that his house is searched. Two potentially offensive leaflets are actually found there, which is why Stepan Trofimovich has to explain himself to the governor. There, he and his friend, the narrator of the story, witness brutal violence by police forces at their crackdown of an actually harmless delegation of workers who just want to complain about their dismissal. The authorities had seen in them rebels, which they were not. The governor recognizes the innocence of Stepan Trofimovich and the wickedness of Pyotr Verkhovensky, although his wife naively protects him. The second part ends with the revelation of Nikolai Vsevollodovich to Lizaweta Nikolaevna and to his mother, Varvara Petrovna, that handicapped Maria Timofeyevna has actually been his wife for almost five years, that subsequently becomes the talk of the town.

Part 3

With or without Nikolai’s consent, Pyotr Verkhovensky is pushing things forward. A suitable occasion to expose the state authority of the people to ridicule is the big festival, which Julia Mihajlovna has been organizing for months. Pyotr Verkhovensky has skillfully integrated his comrades into the party committee. In general, he has gained great influence on Julia Mihajlovna through continuous flattery. Pyotr Verkhovensky is fulfilled by evil. He wants to destroy the ordered structures in his homeland from its basis, not shying away from any human disgrace. Evil is often hidden behind a flattering mask. The weak governor von Lembke and his wife Julia Mihajlovna are an easy game for him. “In fact, from the very first moment, the young Verkhovensky showed decisive disrespect ...".  Von Lembke complains from time to time, e.g.: "I can’t tolerate that he claims in my presence and in front of many other people that the government deliberately gives the people brandy(note: actually vodka), to dumb them down and thereby prevent any revolt" (part 2, chapter 4.3). However, his wife repeatedly puts her protective hand over Pyotr Verkhovensky, so that the governor is ultimately driven into furious jealousy. Basically, Pyotr Verkhovensky recognized an effective rule principle. The enormous consumption of vodka is still welcome in Russia today under the dictatorship of President Putin and his henchmen. People who get drunk don’t start a rebellion. By the way, the same applies to the use of drugs in the U.S.A. In a formal democracy, the extreme difference between the "to have" and "to have not" can be bridged just by that, by ultimately letting the underprivileged people dream away in a state of intoxication.

Back to the festival, which should just be the starting signal for the anarchic activities of Pyotr Verkhovensky and his group. Hundreds of guests flocked in festive attire from all over the area. Before the actual program of the day should start, Liputin, one of Pyotr Verkhovensky’s henchmen, asks for permission to recite a poem spontaneously sent on the occasion of the celebration, that is granted to him. “To the fatherland governess of this region dedicated by a poet on the feast day: greetings, little governess, rejoice, feel deeply! May you be red like George-Sandchen, or quite conservative! " (part 3, chapter 1.1). The continuation of the poem is a string of silly verses that should induce nothing but laughter and disrespect to the present authorities. The subsequent appearance of the famous but in his self-love excessive writer Karmasinov fuels the dissatisfaction of the audience in addition to widespread unrest. He allows himself simply to read more than an hour from his last work, "a report on feelings and memories", to bore the audience terribly. “Without punishment, no one can endure a public literary lecture longer than 20 minutes" (part 3, chapter 1.2). To make matters worse, he reacts to interjections like "nonsense" and finally has to retreat, “cooked by the audience”having a red face, by taking an exaggerated, deep bow to the audience. In this heated mood, as next Stepan Trofimovich has to present proclaiming the thesis: “stupidity is just as necessary to the destiny of mankind as ingenious minds." It is never constructive to provoke a less educated audience as a lecturing scholar. At the peak of excitement, he has to scream to be heard at all: "I declare that Shakespeare and Raphael stand higher than ... the nation, higher than socialism, higher than almost all humanity, because they are the ... true fruits of mankind. Don’t you know that humanity can survive ..., even without Russia ... and even without bread – however, not without beauty, because then the world would be desolate!" (part 3, chapter 1.3). Widespread turmoil develops. Stepan Trofimovich basically made a beginner’s mistake. He didn’t adapt his performance to the audience. I have given over a hundred medical lectures in my life. When preparing a lecture, my first question always was: what kind of audience I talk to, scientists, specialists, or general practitioners. The same content must then be presented differently so that it can be accepted by the audience and not misunderstood. Self-loving presenters, who just want to hear themselves, are misplaced. Stepan Trofimovich has never recovered from this failure.

Julia Michajlovna sees the misguided literary morning of her festival as a conspiracy against her, that Pyotr Verkhovensky talks her out with all his eloquence. Because she is supposed to attend the festive ball planned for the evening, what she actually does together with her husband, the governor – however, just to experience the same disrespectful disaster. Then, at the height of the turmoil, someone suddenly screams “fire! The whole city across the river is burning!" - independently of each other at three different places, that immediately causes greatest fear: "Arson" (part 3, chapter 2.3). In fact, three workers of that delegation, who had previously been ruthlessly beaten down under the assumption of a rebellion, were obviously involved in the arson - stirred up by Pyotr Verkhovensky’s lackey, the former convict Fedka, who brutally murdered the drunken Captain Lebiadkin and his sister Maria Timofeyevna, the wife of Nikolai Vsewolodovich, as well as their maid. The fire should simply serve to cover up this cruel act. During the following general unrest looting appeares, and the legal system is suspended. No one pays attention anymore to the governor, rushing to the burning place, and his orders. Thus, he screams “nihilism! When something burns, it is nihilism!” The naked truth always has something shocking, the narrator notes (part 3, chapter 2.4). Indeed, the arsonists apparently believed in nothing, had neither honor nor morality, and did not shy away from death. They just wanted to destroy. While trying to rescue a screaming old woman from her burning house, the governor is hit by a falling beam and unconsciously falls to the ground. The next morning, Maria Timofeyevna is found, all of her body pierced by knife wounds, along with her brother, who was completely bled out with his neck cut. The maid, who obviously surprised the murderer, had the skull smashed. Since the house had been rented by Nikolai Vsevollodovich for his wife, and, as it had been observed, he had fetched Lizaveta Nikolayevna to his place on that night, the rumor quickly spread in the city that the murder had only been committed, so that he was free for his new relationship - an assumption that was true, albeit with other actors.

Indeed meanwhile, Lizaweta Nikolayevna says goodbye to Nikolai Vsevollodovich after a nice night together: "we will not stay together for long", to which he blankly answers: “I love you even more now than yesterday".She has realized that she does not want to flee abroad with Nikolai. She wants to hold court in Moscow, but this is not possible because of his married state. She doesn’t know anything yet about the death of his wife during this night. “Liza, what happened yesterday?" reminding her of their happy hours together. She replies: "It was what it was", to which he responds in shock: “This is impossible! This is cruel", to which she promptly reacts: "If it is cruel, you just have to stand it... why don’t you calm down? Due to harmed vanity, because a woman lets you down before you let her go?... and this is Stavrogin, the bloodsucker Stavrogin, as a local lady calls you... I must confess, even then in Switzerland, I had the idea that you had something terrible, dirty and bloody on your mind..." (part 3, chapter 3.1), probably somehow feeling the suicide of the seduced under-aged girl. Why she has spent the night with him at all is not rationally explainable, as it is so often the case when one is attracted to someone and when it is evil. Nikolai Vsevollodovich is alerted by a noise outside the room and leaves Lizaweta behind. Outside, Pyotr Verkhovensky rushes in and tells him about the events of the night, that Lizaweta only hears in fragments in the adjacent room. When then she hears about the murder of Nikolai’s wife, she asks him if he has anything to do with it: "Nikolai Vsevollodovich, tell me, as if you would stand before God, are you guilty or not? I swear to you that I will believe your word like the word of God and follow you to the end of the world!" Nikolai has no other choice but to tell the truth, the pure truth: "I did not kill her and I was against it, yet I knew that she should be killed and did not withhold the killers. Go, Liza" (Part 3, Chapter 3.2). "Liza left the house covering her face with her hands.” She is immediately heading to the place of the terrible murder, completely drenched by the rain and accompanied by Mawriky Nikolayevich, who waited all night in front of Stavrogin’s house for her. Why is she doing this? Again, she is attracted by the evil. She is even guessing that by saying to her fiancée, “I will die, I will die very soon..." (Part 3, Chapter 3.3). Evil is like a shadow; it is always with us, even within us, in our subconscious. On the way, she meets Stepan Trofimowitsch in hiking clothes, who retreated from his previous life and just wants to leave this terrible place. “I’m escaping a fever dream, I’m fleeing to look for Russia", he says. Arriving at the burning place of the Lebiadkins, she is recognized and beaten to death by the angry mob, who is seeing her as an accomplice. Evil is spreading unstoppably.

And it goes on. Pyotr Verkhovensky, following the advice of Nikolai Vsevollodovich, wants to bind his confidants from the Committee of Five closely to himself, by willing to murder an inconvenient critic to him, Ivan Shatov, brother of Varvara Petrovna’s ward Darja, even a member of his secret circle. He enforces that without regard to the concerns of his comrades and convinces them, because Kirillov, planning his suicide anyway, wants to take the blame in a farewell letter. He arbitrarily accuses Shatov to be a potential traitor. At the same time, Shatov’s pregnant wife Maria Ignatyevna suddenly appears at Shatov’s place, from whom he had been living apart for three years. Although the unborn child is not of him, instead presumably of the woman-seducer Stavrogin (Maria: "Nikolai Stavrogin is a bastard!"), he takes care of his wife with selfless devotion, gets a midwife, Wirginskij’s wife. The introverted Kirillov supplies him with hot tea. Somehow, he has already closed his mind leaving his thoughts flowing: "There are seconds - five or six - where you suddenly feel the presence of the completely achieved, eternal harmony. This is nothing earthly ...the human being ...must either physically transform or die. It is as if one could perceive the entire nature” (part 3, chapter 5.5). Then the child is born; Maria wants to call it Ivan - after Shatov, whom she looks at with completely different eyes because of his care. "The secret of the appearance of a new being is an inexplicable mystery", Shatov notes, and says to Maria Ignatyevna: “Let us work, and us three begin a new way...” (Part 3, chapter 5.6).

That same night, Shatov was lured into the park of Skvoreshniki under false pretences. Maria does not want to let him go, only with his promise that this is the last service for his group, how true! The group knows that Shatov’s wife has just given birth to a child and that in his happiness he cannot think of denunciation. Nevertheless, due to forced incitement by the young Verkhovensky, he is insidiously murdered collectively, where Pyotr Verkhovensky shoots him defenselessly laying on the ground in the head. Thereafter, he is weighed down with stones and thrown into the park lake. Pyotr Verkhovensky comments on the cruel act: “for the time being, all our actions must be aimed at bringing everything falling apart, both the country and its morality. Only we will be left then, we who are destined from the beginning to take over violence, we have to transform a whole generation ... We still have many thousands of such Shatovs ahead of us” (Part 3, chapter 6.1). How right he should be, if one considers the 280,000 partly most cruel executions (skinning, impaling) during the “Red Terror" in the first years after the October Revolution until 1922 and the at least 700,000 executions under Stalin, just in the years of the great purges in 1937/38.

The woman in childbed, Maria Ignatyevna, who is waiting in vain for her husband the following morning, feels forced to get outdoors into the cold together with the newborn child, full of bad previsions, in order to look for him. The heavy rain and the cold air are too much for her and the child, both of whom die. Meanwhile, after accomplished murder of her husband, Pyotr Verkhovnskiy goes to Kirillov to make sure that he takes the blame for the crime before his suicide, of which he could not yet know. Kirillov makes clear to himself and Pyotr Verkhovensky: "I am obliged to shoot myself, because the most important point of my free will is to take my life by myself." For him it is clear: nobody asked us to come into this world, to be born. He wants to prevent this at least at his death, which otherwise also comes to us without being asked. “Man has never done anything else than for himself ... inventing a god, again and again, just to live” (3rd part, chapter 6.2), - and to invent the illusion of living forever. “The attribute of my deity is the will!" Before killing himself by a shot in his head - according to his will - he signs the farewell letter as requested. Pyotr Verkhovensky then leaves Skvoreshniki by train. His father has also left his homeland. He’s determined to die on the country road.

The novel ends with an insane Stepan Trofimovich, who, as a good-natured idealist, completely loses his grounding in the world ruled by evil. Before his death, he wants to hear again the “allegory of the sows”, from a Christian-naive woman who met him on the road. “There was a large flock of swine… on the mountain..., and they asked him (Jesus) to allow … to get them obsessed… Then the devils departed from the man, and went into the pigs, and the flock rushed with a rush into the lake, and drowned. When the shepherds saw... what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the devils had gone out, sitting at (his) feet ...and … proclaimed… how the obsessed has been cured” (Lk 8:32-33).  Stepan Trofimovich compares these devils to all the evil ghosts that have accumulated over centuries in his beloved Russia. Then he is finally released from his pain and dies in the arms of his adored Warwara Petrovna, who had been looking for him, with the words: “Love is higher than existence, it is the crown of existence, and how can existence not be subordinated to it? " (Part 3, chapter 7.2) For him, loving is a proof of immortality.

In the end, the actions of evil cause the following victims in Skvoreshniki: Maria Timofeyevna, wife of Nikolai Vsevollodovich, her brother Captain Lebiadkin and her maid, as well as the hired murderer Fedka, who later has been found dead after a dispute with Pyotr Verkhovensky; in addition, Ivan Shahtov and his recently birthing wife Maria Ignatyevna with her newborn, Lizaweta Nikolaevna Drosdova, Stepan Trofimovich, and finally Nikolai Vsevollodovich, whose death has been erroneously mentioned too early by Dostoyevsky’s narrator (before the actual description of the event). He hangs himself due to dissatisfaction with his life, when his lover Darya Pavlovna, whom he has once again surrounded after Lizaweta’s death, reacts only one night too late to his advances. Faced with this loss, all the wealth and pride of his mother fades, who unconsciously sinks to the ground when finding her hanged son. The authorities decipher the terrible events faster than thought by Pyotr Verkhovensky, because the cohesion of the Committee of Five proved not to be real without his presence. Liamschin delivers a full confession after a failed suicide attempt. “It was done for the purpose of a systematic shock of the foundations, a planned dismantling of the society and all principles". But the evil itself, Pyotr Verkhovensky, simply disappears to do its mischief elsewhere. The real evil is just not catchable. It disappears underground to reappear on the surface as soon as weaknesses or unstable conditions appear in a society.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, surrounded by darkness in 1872, when he wrote the novel “The Demons” ("Besy"); painting by Vasily Perov (oil on canvas, 100 x 81 cm), Tretjakov Gallery, Moscow

Perception

It is a great novel and not surprising that Franz Kafka was inspired by this dark narrative to his surreal stories. Of course, the dormant evil in man was awakened by this novel. The propaganda minister of Nazi Germany and besides Hitler most influential Nazi, Joseph Goebbels, had placed a citation from Dostoyevsky’s "The Demons" in the preface of his dissertation for the academic degree “Dr. phil.” at the Department of German Studies of the University of Heidelberg: “Reason and knowledge always have played just a secondary… role in the life of peoples - ...; nations are shaped by a completely different force, - ... by a commanding and compelling force.” In the 1920s, Dostoyevsky was a bestseller in Germany, with 400,000 books sold in Germany in 1920 - 22 alone. Albert Camus was so impressed by this work that he adapted it for the stage. He even put the importance of Dostoyevsky above that of Karl Marx, because the nihilistic social structures described in the novel had a greater prophetic power for him than the sober, scientific-philosophical predictions of Marx’s historical materialism previsioning the social catastrophe of the 20th century ahead.

Dostoyevsky used the activities of the nihilist Sergei Gennadievich Nethayev (1847 - 82) and the assassination of a young member of his revolutionary group by him (1869) during the student riots in St. Petersburg in the 1860s. The murdered member bore the same first name as the figure Shatov in his novel, Ivan, was also beaten up and executed by a shot in the head.  Also Nethayev’s secret society Narodnaya Rasprawa (People’s Criminal Court) consisted only of a group of five, to which he suggested the belief in a conspiracy with numerous other underground groups. After the murder, Nethayev escaped to Switzerland, however, was extradited to Russia in 1872, where he served a prison sentence in St. Peterburg and died 10 years later. Dostoyevsky has guessed what his homeland, his beloved Russia, would expect in the future. Before the great day of the proclamation of the abolition of serfdom by the Tsar, his idealistic protagonist Stepan Trofimovich automatically grumbled again and again: „Peasants armed with hatchets will come, terrible things will happen" (part 1, chapter 1.8). Under the Bolsheviks and the Stalinist purges, more people were either murdered in Russia or were left to starvation than killed by the atrocities of the henchmen of Nazi Germany who had fallen over Russia - and that was 24 million, the pure evil.

Epilogue: The Evil

Huge social changes, even for the supposedly good, are always accompanied by destruction and evil. Since if something new is to be built, the old usually has to be destroyed. This is also because the old, i.e., the old rulers want to defend their privileges to the end.

This was also the case with the French Revolution of 1789, the transition of the aristocratic to a bourgeois society. How many thousands of innocent people were led to the guillotine alongside aristocratic exploiters until the revolution ate their own children. Even Maximilien de Robespierre, a leader of the revolution, was executed by the guillotine. The death toll is estimated at around 300,000. More than 20,000 people were publicly executed by the guillotine alone. Following the October Revolution in Russia, Lenin ordered the entire tsar family to be murdered without mercy, including the wife and the five children aged 13 - 22, including four girls. Stalin cruelly executed even those who made the communist revolution possible. For instance, Leonid Trotsky, who as People’s Commissar for War Affairs built up the Red Army and was instrumental in the victory of the Bolsheviks, was brutally slain by an assassin using an axe, in his exile in Mexico on 8-21-1940, because he was a potential danger to the evil-obsessed Stalin. Hitler allegedly killed himself with cyanide and was burned in order to avoid falling into the hands of the liberators of Germany. Evil will not surrender to good. It wants to destroy life and without hesitation turns itself without any emotions against its protagonists. This should be clear to every henchman of evil.

The Manifestation of Evil Throughout Human History

The evil was always there and goes back to the Genesis of mankind, written down in the Old Testament of the Bible of the 9th century BC, describing events that took place far before our time and were handed down orally over generations. Thus, it came already with the children of the mythologically first human beings, out of pure envy to the terrible fratricide of Cain to Abel - because the supposedly omniscient God preferred Abel’s offerings without obviously having suspected what this did in Cain (Gen 4,4-8). In the further early course of human history, a huge flood is described, which should extinguish the evil among men and allegedly occurred between 2578 - 2282 BC.

But when the Lord saw that man’s wickedness was great on earth...,

Then he regretted that he had made the people...

And he said, I will exterminate all human beings on earth...

But Noah found mercy before the Lord...

Then God said to Noah: Make you a box of fir...

Three hundred ells be the length, fifty ells the width, and thirty ells the height...

For behold, I will bring a flood upon earth..." (Gen 6,5-27).

The God of the Jews, representing the good, demanded from Abraham, who, descended from the Babylonian city of Ur, most likely had lived around 2000 BC, that he had to offer him his only son Isaac as a human sacrifice. He didn’t let it go until the last moment, when Abraham actually wanted to use the knife. God wanted to test Abraham if he loved him more than his own son - what a test to demand absolute evil, “that he should slaughter his son" (Gen 22, 1-12). In another recorded story, God tormented the deeply believing Job with unspeakable plagues only to prove to the evil and his incarnation Satan how much Job believes in him. Here, at the latest, the idea of an almighty God who alone can put evil in its place must be assigned to the realm of illusions. For he himself fell for the cunning of evil, which provoked God and caused Job to endure so many atrocities. “The Lord gave it - the Lord took it... Haven’t we received good from God and should we not accept evil? " (Job 1:6-21; 2:1-10). Job defended God to the end, even before his wife, but could not finally understand that, despite his goodness, he had to endure so much calamity, and complained, “Why do the wicked live, grow old and increase in goods?" - a question that must be asked today more than ever, because justice is not a principle of life, but power.

In Greek mythology written down by Hesiod, around 700 BC, Pandora had been sent to the humankind by Zeus. Pandora, as so often evil masked with dazzling appearance, unleashed plagues, diseases, epidemics and hunger from her box on the people. Only hope remained in the box, which dies last - to which so many people cling and thereby fail to really live, if they always just hope. Ultimately, hope as central part of Christian religion is the essence of what Karl Marx described as "opium of the people", namely to hope for justice in the afterlife to endure the ongoing torment in real life. A differentiated conception of the function of evil was developed in ancient Persia. In the 6th century BC (some historians even date it back to the 18th century BC) Zoroaster (Zarathustra) was teaching, that there is a dualism of good and evil in the world, and man is the only living creature who can distinguish between good and evil. According to him, there is only one God, whose son came to earth and at the end of time, “the Last Judgment”, will decide which people are allowed to attend God in eternity because of their good way of life. Christianity later adopted this idea. In the 1st century BC, Cicero warned that nothing should be taken care of more than to follow a flock like a sheep without criticism, because the flock may be influenced by evil. He himself suffered absolute evil in the transition of the republic to monarchy. His head and hands were cut off and publicly displayed at the Forum Romanum, when he potentially could become dangerous to the political interests of Octavian, the later Emperor Augustus (43 BC). The reign of terror of the subsequent Roman emperors Caligula (37 - 41 AD) and Nero, who set large parts of Rome on fire for his amusement (64 AD), was unprecedented until then. That year, the apostle Paul (5 - 64 AD) must also have fallen victim to the cruel persecution of Christians by the Romans. In a letter to the Romans, Paul expressed that evil always lingers in us:

“For I know that there is nothing good in me, that is, in my flesh...

I don’t do the good that I want, but the evil that I don’t want...

Yet, if I do what I do not want, it is not myself who does it, but the sin that dwells in me" (Rom 7:18-20).

The church scholar Origines from Alexandria (185 - 253), who repeatedly confronted the increasingly institutionalized church, went even further in his ideas. "Recedere (autem) a bono, non aliud est quam effici in malo" (To withdraw from the good is nothing else than to become evil). For me, this is a guiding principle, not to stop supporting the good, to stand up for the common good. In contrast, the entire wealth of Rome and its rulers was built on subjugation and enslavement of entire peoples by continuous war campaigns, that is often overlooked today in view of the many cultural achievements of Romans. This also applies to the cultural people of the Mayas on the other side of the earth (21st century BC - 16th century AD). Their ritual of cutting out the hearts of defeated warriors alive could not be matched in cruelty anywhere else (10th - 16th century).

From the idea of the dualism of good and evil, Manichaeism developed, through which Augustine, the first great scholar of the Church, had been shaped.  Manichaeism is based on two notions: 1) Good, light, and evil, darkness, are uncreated, thus, without beginning; 2) Good, the constructive, and evil, the destructive, are in constant conflict with each other and, thereby, ensure the balance on earth. A tower of Babel could not grow indefinitely and naturally had to collapse at some point so that something new could emerge again, as today’s rampant capitalism appears to come to an end. Goethe later included this central idea in his drama "Faust", where Satan (Mephistopheles) introduces himself to the scholar Faust:

Faust: “Well, who are you?"

Mephistopheles: "A part of the power that always wants evil and always creates good."

Faust: "What does this puzzling word mean? "

Mephistopheles: "I am the Spirit who always denies! And rightly so, for all that arises is worth perishing; Therefore, it would be better that nothing would arise. So, everything you call sin, destruction, in short evil, is my actual element.”

Faust: "You call yourself a part, and yet stand as entireness in front of me."

Mephistopheles: ...If man, the little world of fools, usually considers himself a whole - I am a part of the part that was everything in the beginning, a part of the darkness that bore the light, the proud light, which now disputes with mother night, her old rank, the space ... It flows from bodies, makes them beautiful ...and with the bodies, it will perish."

(Faust, the Tragedy Part 1).

The spirit that always denies" is the diabolical entity, which literally means "turning upside down". It is this Mephistophelian power of destruction that is the prerequisite for anything new to become. A second essential thought is that evil has always been, a part of the darkness, the “Mother Night”, from which the light, all life, and what we call good, came into being. Goethe took up the elementary idea of Orphic cosmogony from Greek mythology, in which the dark chaos existed before the emergence of all life. It was only through the pairing of chaos with the earth Goddess Gaia in the omnipresent darkness that Eros, the God of love, the vital power of all life, emerged.

In the beginning, Christianity certainly wanted only good things for the people. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus of Nazareth (4 BC – 31 AD) taught: „You have heard that it was said that you should love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I’m telling you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Mt 5:43-44). His intention was to have any violent or warlike conflicts being suppressed from the beginning because it all starts with either hate or greed and ends with revenge. Unfortunately, this central idea of his Sermon on the Mount is suppressed by the evil until today, even though the Sermon on the Mount is regarded as the core of Jesus' teaching. The evil could only fight the merit of Christian doctrine by infiltrating the Church. Although Jesus himself also had to wrestle with evil, as his “curse of the (innocent) fig tree” (Mt 21, 18-19) showed, evil, represented by the figure of Satan, could not seduce him, even not by the promise to lay the whole world down at his feet:

„Again (for the third time) the devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and said to him: I will give all this to you, if you fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him: Turn away, Satan!“ (Mt 4:8-10).

Thus, the devil had no choice but either to build an institution or to subvert those who claim the right to be God’s representatives on earth, yet whose actions often consist of exploitation, threat and violence. The commandment of love is preached, yet only as part of oppression, to this day including the prohibition of birth control in overpopulated African countries and the frequent sexual abuse of those young kids supposed to be under protection. As a result, not only the messengers of Christian doctrine should be perceived as liars, but also the doctrine itself as a lie. In a diabolical manner, throughout the history of the Church, all dissidents who deviated from the dogmas of the Church were executed as heretics. The intellectuals in the early church, the gnostics were mercilessly persecuted and their writings prohibited. According to them, the highest god principle is Abraxas, a term attributed to the gnostic scholar Basilides of Alexandria (85 - 145 AD). It is the energy that sustains all being and causes the countless manifestations of matter. One level below there is the God known to us for creation and its opposite, the devil, for destruction - a dualism, which has already been recognized by Zoroaster some 700 years earlier. In the 5th century, in Alexandria, the scholar Hypatia, the daughter of the last director of the great library, was brutally butchered by an angry Christian mob.  Whole peoples were exterminated throughout history during the Christianization, if they did not submit to the laws of the church, masked as a saving religion. Before the Spanish conquistadors came to Haiti in the 15th century, 500,000 indigenous people lived there - after the mission, 500. Francisco Pizarro, an originally unskilled day worker who could neither read nor write, but who was all the more nefarious, had captured the friendly appearing Inca king Atahualpa, after he had his body guard of 6000 men slaughtered by his heavily armed warriors. Thereafter, he did not comply his promise to release him, if his people would fill a whole tent of gold over the height of a man and two more with silver, according to his evil nature, but had him executed by the garotte. Atahualpa had recognized the evil gold greed of the Spanish conquerors according to his words before his death on 8-19-1533: 'They want gold. They whine for gold, they cry for gold, they tear each other up for gold." After the murder of Atahualpa, Pizarro marched with his troops and against the Incas stirred up indigenous tribes murdering and pillaging through Peru, conquered the capital Cuzco and finally destroyed the high culture of the Incas. In fact, Pizarro subsequently killed even his closest brother-in-arms, Diego de Almagro, because of pure greed for power. His supporters in turn murdered Francisco Pizarro for revenge on 6-26-1541 in the newly founded capital Lima. If one gives free rein to evil, it does not spare anyone, not even its henchmen.

During the Middle Ages, which is rightly called "Dark Ages" in Anglo-Saxon countries, thinking was not desired. One should believe, of course, what the Church dictated: cruel rulers had been declared as “given by God.” To this day, a Frankish emperor named Charles is honored as the "Great", who had tens of thousands of Saxons beheaded on one occasion alone, because they did not bow to the cross, the Christian religion. All science has been oppressed by the Church, if not strictly in accordance with its rules. Only great, powerful personalities, such as Frederico Secundo, the great King of Sicily and later Hohenstaufen Emperor of the entire Holy Roman Empire could free himself. The Roman Catholic inquisition (12th - 18th century) was responsible for cruel tortures and executions at the stake or by the axe. Up to 60,000 women alone fell victim to the delusional witch hunts across Christianized, superstitious Europe and North America.  If, for example, a beautiful woman was desired by a man penetrated by evil, and the woman rejected him, he had just to denounce her as a witch out of revenge, which she often confessed under hard torture. She was burned alive. According to surviving records of rape cases, men only had to pretend that they had been bewitched by the rape victim in order to convict her to the scaffold. This perpetrator-victim reversal is still a popular means of evil today, as can be seen in the exaggerated criticism of Israel attacked by the terrorist organization Hamas. In 1347, the plague epidemic began in Europe, to which millions of people would fall victim in the following centuries. As a result, there were repeated pogroms of the Jews, such as in Strasbourg, Basel, Freiburg and Erfurt in 1349. The Jews were blamed for the plague, although their way of life is particularly hygienic, simply because they could be easily identified as a minority - a scapegoat – due to their lived traditions. In addition, they were pushed early by the Christians into the banking and trading business, because Christians were not allowed to take interest, and Jews were forbidden to own and order land. Thus, Jews were almost pushed into lucrative business, which made many very wealthy and fueled the envy of Christians.  

There have already been evil persecutions of the Jews in earlier years, and these were not only done by Christians. In 38 AD, the documented first persecution of Jews took place in Alexandria, at that time the second largest city of the Roman Empire with 500,000 inhabitants. It had been triggered by the polytheistic population of Greek origin, among whom homosexuality and pedophilia were widespread, which was considered sinful by the Jews. When the 200,000 Jews living there had applied for full citizenship for their services to the city, they were cruelly massacred by the privileged Greeks out of pure hatred, with the Roman governor’s permission. The interests of the Roman governor were shaped by greed. He simply wanted to be able to continue collecting the Jews' head tax as non-citizens. The evil, Islamic anti-Semitism that is in the foreground today broke out already during the lifetime of Muhammad, who felt betrayed by the rich Jews of Medina and had them either murdered or enslaved by his followers. Later, in 1066, it came out of pure envy to a barbaric pogrom of Jews, when the Muslim mob stormed the Caliph palace in southern Spain, in al-Andalus, because a Jew had advanced to become the Grand Vizier due to his skills. They crucified him and massacred most of the Jewish population. On 3-14-1182, King Philip II of France issued a verdict to expropriate all Jews and to expel them from the country, just to compensate his ailing state treasury by their assets.  

Niccolo Machiavelli justified in his book "Il Principe" (1532) the right, even the duty of the rulers to evil, violence and cruelty. However, not only Jews were persecuted. On Bartholomew’s Night (1572), thousands of Huguenots fell victim to the majority of Catholics in Paris due to their Protestant faith. Giordano Bruno, probably the greatest philosopher of the Middle Ages, had been condemned by the Inquisition for his pioneering thoughts on the construction of the universe and the possible existence of extraterrestrial life and had been burned on the Campo de Fiori in Rome (1600). During the Thirty Years' War (1618 - 48), a religious war between Catholics and Protestants basically caused by secular rulers converting to Protestantism in order to confiscate the large lands of the Catholic Church, one third of the population of Central Europe was eliminated by war, hunger and plague. Some areas in Germany lost up to 80% of the population, and the evil spread across Europe. Besides World War II, it was the most terrible war in Europe. Gottfried-Wilhelm Leibniz later justified in his "Theodicy" all this evil (1710), because it would basically only lead to the good and contributes to the balance in the world. However, that was in contrast to his own thesis that man may only get evil by turning away from God, termed “malum morale”.

In the end, it was not until 1720, the following epoch of Enlightenment, with its motto “sapere aude (dare to think)”, when a turnaround and rapid development of philosophy and science for the benefit of mankind began to develop. In terms of church history, the theodicy, that is, the desperate attempt to justify how an almighty, good God allows so much evil, had its actual origin in 1755. It was the 1st of November, the Christian holiday “All Saints' Day”, when the strictly Catholic population of Lisbon lit candles in their houses to honor God and all the saints.  After a terrible earth-/seaquake, a large part of the buildings was first brought to collapse, then large parts of the city have been flooded by a tsunami, and finally almost the entire city were devastated by a large fire caused by the many lit candles. On this day, about one third of the entire population of Lisbon, a city that was then having approx. 250,000 inhabitants as big as London, had been wiped out. How could an almighty, kind God allow so many people who believe in him to die cruelly on a church holiday? Philosophers, such as Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804), subsequently took apart all so-called proofs of God. In 1793, Kant directly addressed the "radical evil" as integral part of human nature in his treatise “Religion Within the Limits of Mere Reason”, because human beings aren’t just creatures with reason having material, animalistic desires as well. As well in the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau assumed that man is inherently good, whereby good does not mean good in a moral sense, but naturally living. By external circumstances, however, people would be forced to connect with others to form larger communities, thereby enabling the entry of evil (e.g., jealousy, striving for fame) into the world. “How many crimes, wars, how much misery and terror would have been spared to the human race, if someone had pulled out the stakes (of their fences, which their land demarcated) and shouted to their fellowmen: beware, if you forget that the fruits belong to all of you, but the earth doesn’t belong to anyone," according to Rousseau.

An abysmally evil consequence of private property was the development of a slaveholder society, which goes back to ancient times. Ultimately, the splendor of the Egyptian, Greek and Roman cities was based on the sweat and blood of the millions of slaves who were generally treated like cattle, apart from a few educated domestic slaves. Later, between 1519 and 1867, about 12 million Africans were deported to America as part of the transatlantic slave trade and caused the still ongoing racism in America, including in the technologically so highly developed U.S.A. ("black lives matter") and in African countries where Caucasians settled. Only the magnanimous behavior of Nelson Mandela could stop evil, the endless spiral of violence in South Africa, by the introduction of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996 - by him, to whom so much evil had happened having been imprisoned for 27 years. The number of slaves who died as a result of slavery, during intra-African and transatlantic transports, is estimated at about 1.5 million people. Another reason for mass murder is religious fanaticism. Spirituality, which helps man to endure the hardships of life and the inevitable death, can change his nature by fanaticism and turn against man, because only the followers of the same faith are accepted. This led to millions of deaths after the uprising of the Dungans, a Muslim minority in northwestern China, in 1862 - 77 and explains the rigorous actions of today’s communist rulers in China with the Muslim Uighurs, who repeatedly caused unrest. This is given far too little attention by the "woke" foreign policy of Western governments because of a lack of historical knowledge.

According to Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900), the good, the constructive, is always accompanied by evil, the destructive, based on the earlier thoughts of Zarathustra and the Manichaeism, whereby, unlike in Christian mythology, evil needs also be considered as necessary. It refers to the economy of the conservation of species, because everything in nature is primarily subordinated to species conservation - life wants to live, and even if parts of a life form have to perish for it. Even strokes of fate directed against oneself are to be accepted, even loved (“amor fati” - love fate). “State is called the coldest of all cold monsters, and it also lies in a cold manner... I, the state, am the people”. It is an illusion that the country serves its individuals being there for the people; it always serves the respective rulers in a society. Indeed, how well would be life nowadays, if we could get rid of national borders, if people could go everywhere they want offering their expertise and labor to establish a good living so long they don’t just want to drain welfare money. Thereby, they couldn’t be encaged and exploited somewhere by evil rulers because they would just leave. In "Beyond Good and Evil" and "On the Genealogy of Morality", Nietzsche made it clear that the traditional meanings of “good” and “evil” in our culture are shaped by Christianity and have the character of a slave morality, where the strong is evaluated as evil by the weak. This, of course, is nonsense, because only those who can control the evil that is always present, though often subliminal and hidden, are really strong.

With increasing nationalism, the rulers of Europe drifted into World War I in 1914, actually out of a globally insignificant and only locally important occasion. The heir to the throne of the K.u.K.-Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy was assassinated by a minor Serbian nationalist, that worked like a spark and rushed all European great powers against each other by their vicious nationalism. Kaiser Wilhelm II hesitated to stand by his "brother country" Austrian-Hungary, yet entered the war. However, the people incited by the media and the evil spirit of that time enthusiastically went to war screaming "hurrah", not knowing what cruel things would happen to Germany and Russia in the future. In the German parliament, which had to agree to the entry into the war, there was only one opposing vote, that one of the social democrat Karl Liebknecht, who was, therefore, later excluded from the SPD (socialist party of Germany) and was sentenced to 4 years in prison as a war traitor. One has to reflect that: a young “hothead” in a group of only few Serbian nationalists, murdered the Austrian Grand Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. As a result, Austria-Hungary declared war on small Serbia, which Russia had to stand by because of a pact. In turn, Germany, besides the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Bulgaria, stood by the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, and France, in turn, Russia. The British Empire did not remain neutral, although it was neither bound to Russia nor to France by a pact and turned mainly against the German Empire, which had become much too powerful for it. In the end, countries bound to the British Empire like Australia entered the war against the axis powers Germany and Austria-Hungary by expeditionary corps, whereby the U.S. was drawn into the war by accidental sinking of its merchant ships by German submarines. During the war, the Turks, unobserved by the world public, committed a genocide against Armenians with over 1 million deaths (1916/17). In addition, Italy and Japan joined the world war opposing Austria-Hungary and Germany, respectively, for territorial interests (Japan regarding the German colony of Tsingtao on the Chinese mainland) - overall, a madness, if one thinks of the trigger. Historians have puzzled over who was guilty of this disaster and overlooked that it was the latent evil itself that once unleashed in an uncontrolled manner has caused a chain reaction.

Hell on earth: atomic bomb "Fat Man", dropped by U.S. Air Force, Nagasaki 8-9-1945 leaving wasteland behind with 64,000 people immediately burned to death (modified collage, based on photographies by Charles Levy, US National Archives & Records Administration, and US government, public domain).

World War I, however, was just a "warm up" of evil, measured on that, what then came. A peace was imposed on Germany, as if Germany was solely responsible for the war - a debt from which the allies still cannot free themselves - and what should take revenge. In addition, a global economic crisis with galloping inflation occurred, that following an intermittent cultural boom in Germany during the “Golden 1920s” paved the way for the evil par excellence, Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. A simple private in World War I, an Austrian, put himself as the head of the German Empire by his seducing demagogy and sophisticated rhetoric. In 1933, the political power was legally taken over and converted into a dictatorship by means of an empowerment law and violent oppression of the KPD (communist party of Germany) and SPD with the consent of the bourgeois center parties, from which the CDU/CSU (Christian parties of Germany) would later emerge. An entire people had fallen prey to evil. Basically, everything that happened later on could have been predicted, because it was described in Hitler’s book "My Fight". Then, a genocide of all so-called unworthy life followed. Using an inhuman euthanasia program 250,000 mentally and physically handicapped were gassed. 250,000 gypsies and politically dissident people were systematically sent to concentration camps and ultimately killed in extermination camps. 7 million civilians and 3 million prisoners of war of the Soviet Union were massacred. 1.8 million Polish and more than 300,000 Serbian civilians were killed. The most extended persecution of Jews was organized that the world has ever seen. On 1-20-1942, the “Wannsee” Conference took place, where the "Final Solution" had been decided, that is, the extermination of all European Jews. A total of 6 million Jews had fallen as victims of the Shoah after horrific tortures. They were beaten to death, shot and massacred in gas chambers - women, children, without mercy. They have been considered as vermin. Scientists and doctors let themselves to be used to justify Jewish inferiority. Basically, the government under Hitler was primarily concerned with confiscating the assets of the Jews in order to finance their war of conquest. How could a normal thinking person even remotely believe that someone is inferior just because he/she belonged to another religion, while the Nazis being atheists anyway. One wanted to believe all that because non-Jews profited from it, be it that they could take over good professional positions that were previously occupied by Jews, or that they could take over assets of Jewish merchants cheaply. The Neckermann department store empire, which existed until after World War II, could thus develop its department stores because it could take over the houses of the Jewish family Wertheim at cheapest pricing - an example of many. I was happy when this department store chain disappeared in the 1970s due to mismanagement and final bankruptcy. In total, World War II claimed over 50 million lives, including 24 million, thus, almost half, Soviet civilians and soldiers. It is thanks to the Russians that Germany and the world were freed from this scourge of humanity, the diabolic Hitler. However, that was only possible under the emergence of another cruel tyrant, in their own ranks, Stalin.

Yet anyone who thinks that mankind is cured by the unspeakable murder in World War II and the post-war years in the Soviet Union is mistaken. Massacres between Hindus and Muslims forced the separation of the former Indian colony of the British Empire into two independent states, Pakistan and India. After the faked Tonkin incident in the Gulf of Hanoi and the elimination of pacifist-oriented U.S. President John F Kennedy by an assassination, the U.S. waged a long-standing war with North-Vietnam, that led to cruel human rights violations on both sides and claimed, in the years 1964 – 1973, more than 3 million lives, mostly Vietnamese. Moreover, more than 1 million Vietnamese have suffered permanent damage from the chemical weapon "Agent Orange" used by U.S. troops to defoliate the jungle. Back then, the “domino theory” was rampant. If South Vietnam fell into communist hands, one Southeast Asian country after another would fall like a domino stone and become communist. As we know, this was not the case except for Cambodia after the victory of North Vietnam over the U.S. Today the same argument is used for the war of conquest of Russia in Ukraine. If Ukraine were to fall, the Baltic states and Moldova would come next, despite the fact that the Baltic states are NATO members. An attack on them would result in an obligatory world war, which none of the conflict parties can seriously intend in view of the nuclear consequences for the entire humankind. These theories are allegedly promoted by the international arms industry. "It’s all about money.“  Around the same time as the Vietnam War, the cultural revolution initiated by Mao Zedong took place in the People’s Republic of China (1966 - 76).  As under the evil Nazi rule in Germany, parents and grandparents were denounced by indoctrinated children for allegedly counter-revolutionary activities and thus deported to concentration camps. It is estimated that up to 70 million people fell victim to the activities of Mao Zedong’s henchmen in China in these years. About Mao Zedong himself, who, despite widespread hunger in his country, stood out due to his large body fullness, it is reported that he was proud never to have to wash his genitals, because the most beautiful women of China are regularly supplied to him and he could do this “in them". Like Stalin and Hitler, he was seized by evil in his irrevocable supremacy. In 1975 - 79, under the Pol Pot communist regime of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia up to 2.5 million people of ethnic and religious minorities, as well as political dissidents had been killed by mass murder, torture and hunger. In 1994, a horrific genocide took place in Rwanda, when the majority of the Hutus slaughtered by machetes or shot down the Tutsis minority in about 100 days. In this short period of absolute evil, up to 1 million people died on the streets. In Gulf War III (2003 – 11), caused due to false accusations by the US claiming that weapons of mass destruction would have been developed in Iraq (which never could be found), there were more than 1 million victims, mainly citizens of Iraq, soldiers and civilians. Moreover, evil crimes against humanity, done by US soldiers, happened to occur. Thus, even a democratic model country like the U.S.A. can easily be fallen to evil.

Tools of Evil

In the 20th century, Hannah Arendt (1906 – 75) investigated how evil can develop. Structures of power always emerge whenever people organize themselves. Thereby, the ”banality of evil” is often frightening, a term attributed to her, yet which she actually took over from her teacher Karl Jaspers (1883 - 1969), whereby Jaspers referred to the “banal criminal" of the Nazis and turned against a mystified demonization of Nazi henchmen.  However, Arendt is quite right; the evil likes to hide. It hides behind normality and fulfillment of duty in an amoral system or masks itself through a dazzling, seductive appearance. All silent followers are responsible; one cannot rely on the mere fulfilment of duty. Young Sophie Scholl, one of the few resistance fighters against evil itself, the fascism in Nazi Germany, expressed this even more precisely. “Tear up the cloak of apathy that you have put (around) your heart!" -  because apathy is an instrument of evil. Even the sciences are abused for the destruction and murder of hundreds of thousands of people by the evil itself. The dropping of the two atomic bombs on the civilians of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was probably the greatest crime against humanity after the atrocities of the Nazis, the political purges of the Bolsheviks, the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China, and the mass murders of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, caused by pure evil disguised in ideologies directed against life.

Evil cannot be eradicated. It is hidden in all of us as part of our development, according to Carl Gustav Jung (1875 - 1961) present in the subconscious of each individual as a shadow, the evil of each individual human being, that it is to be controlled. It follows man like his physical shadow at every step and can be brought out of the depths of the subconscious into consciousness - influenced by either the Anima (in man) or Animus (in the woman), respectively, the mediating psychic instance between the subconscious and consciousness. Who hasn’t ever had an evil thought before? Because of his comprehensive psychoanalytic work, Jung was convinced of the presence of evil and said literally: “It is in the realm of possibility that one recognizes the nature of relative evil, whereas it means a rare and shocking experience, to face absolute evil.“ Sin is nothing but the expression of the shadow. Evil in the world cannot be controlled by suppressing it, but only by constant confrontation with it by strong people and its taming.

On closer examination of evil, one needs to distinguish: 1) The evil of nature (e.g., catastrophes, epidemics and diseases, accidental accidents); 2) systemic evil (e.g., slavery, traditional female genital mutilation, forced prostitution, racism, anti-Semitism, religious fanaticism, totalitarian ideologies); 3) expedient evil (the end justifying means, e.g., torture in the fight against terrorism, lies); 4) perverse evil (e.g. megalomania, pedophilia, sodomy); and 5) sadism (e.g., satisfaction by pain of others, rape, masochism). While some forms of evil are generally recognized as such, it is precisely the systemic evil that is dangerous, since it is perceived differently or not at all as such by individual groups. For instance, the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China is still not perceived as abysmally evil. It is suppressed by ongoing evil in politics. We are currently witnessing a resurgence of anti-Semitism by extreme right-wing and left-wing political groups, as well as religious fanatics of Islam. Karl Jaspers found three levels of evil: 1) moral evil, manifested as neglecting moral laws (based on Kant, see below); 2) ethical evil, manifested as weakness of characters, often excused as having no alternatives; and 3) metaphysical evil, manifested as imbalance between love and hate, being and not being, creation and destruction. The first level requires the control of the inner drives, be it the power drive or the sex drive. At the second level, a strengthening of the character with a turn to truthfulness and to the categorical imperative, i.e., to absolutely want the good, is necessary. At the third level, one must oppose the will to evil, certainly the most difficult challenge, because evil is strong and exerts a great attraction, as in the popular movie series "Star Wars" so convincingly portrayed for the masses by “Darth Vader”, the naive Anakin Skywalker, who mutated to the “dark side” of power. It is an archetype, which is why this fictional film narrative, in addition to the pioneering technology used, still has such a great fascination for so many until today.

The means of evil are manifold. It makes use of emotionless apathy, fear, flattery, defamation, denunciation, restrictions on non-negotiable human rights as happened during the Corona crisis, up to the perpetrator-victim conversion, as we currently experience at the highest multinational level, the UN organization, in case of inadequate criticism of the defense of Israel against a bestial terror attack by religious fanatics. Other means of evil are insidiousness, cunning, fame addiction, often depicted as ambition, jealousy, greed, envy, hatred, lust for power and voluptuousness. Either decisiveness, anarchy or the uncritical herd consciousness of the main stream is a nourishing ground for the emergence and spread of evil. It can easily hide behind exaggerated friendliness, in lies and gossip. Another important medium of evil is the "assimilation" of all state organizations and public opinion as it was perfectly carried out under Hitler or Stalin. Today, this is recognizable in the demonization of alternative opinions and the defense of a pluralistic society, which wants to achieve best possible, good solutions to social problems in a discourse. Evil openly manifests itself in the desire to dominate, overplay, insult, and ultimately to murder oneself or others - to see others suffer. How much evil is latently present can be seen in how much the mass of "civilized" people loves crime movies and novels, where murder and manslaughter are usually at stake. I keep wondering how people can entertain themselves with that stuff. The TV is full of that human trash. I do not believe that this is a simple catharsis, i.e., the experience of evil emotions that you do not want to experience in all day’s life, because some fascination of these crime or violence addicts cannot be denied. I counted once all films about violence in the TV program preview per week and came up with such a terrible high number (over 50%), that I am not surprised that mean people are being getting carried away by the warmongering of the “Greens” (members of a political party having taken care about the natural environment in the past) and a pseudo-liberal Mrs. Strack-Zimmermann (a lobbyist of the weapon industry) of the FDP (liberal party of Germany) and believe all those interest-serving narratives for the benefit of the arms industry in the news of our public broadcasting - even the simplest lies, such as the Ukraine-Russia war “in the middle of Europe”. A quick look at the map shows that this terrible war is taking place on the eastern edge of Europe between two former Soviet republics and not in the middle of Europe, regardless of the fact that it is a terrible war of aggression by the Russian army, and Russian President Putin, gripped by evil, lied to the end of not wanting to attack Ukraine.

Evil is rarely as obvious as in above mentioned totalitarian regimes and wars. So hidden, as it is in each of us, so hidden and masked, it reaches the surface, because even “good” and “evil” are relative. What one thinks is good can be the spawn of evil for another. One of the previously mentioned tools of evil, cunning for instance, is considered as a smart feature in Chinese culture. Using cunning for the good might certainly be a way to get a better life. However, in most cases it is just used to take advantage of someone against his or her interests. The most famous example of cunning was that of the “Trojan Horse” built by Odysseus as described in the Iliad by Homer in the 8th/7th century BC. It has been used by the Greek to deceive the Trojans and was decisive to win the war against them. The Trojans thought that the giant wooden horse was a sacrifice of the Greek to their Gods for getting good winds to return to Greece after realizing that they can’t win the war against Troy. Thus, they proudly took it into their city protected by huge walls. However, the horse was hollow hiding the strongest Greek warriors. At night, they came out, killed the Trojan guards, set everything on fire, and opened the gates of the city wall to allow the Greek army to get in. Thereafter, they slaughtered every Trojan citizen who they could catch, including innocent civilians, women and kids, who had nothing to do with Paris’ robbery of Helena. As a result of this deadly and evil cunning, Odysseus has been sent by his fate on a decade long lasting “Odyssey” across the Mediterranean Sea to finally return home. Only very rarely we experience the absolute evil, as in the figure of Adolf Hitler, who, however, played very sensitively with his dog, a German Shepherd, and let himself be called with his lovely nick name “Adi” by his niece hiding his absolutely evil nature. He probably didn’t even consider himself evil, though he was the incarnation of it. Plato has worked out the relative character of evil in his dialogue "Menon", in which Socrates makes it clear that no one wishes evil for oneself unless one wishes to be an unhappy man.

Socrates: "Do you think that those who believe evil is useful also realize that it is bad?"

Menon: "I don’t think so."

Socrates: "Thus, it is clear that those who do not know evil do not seek it, instead they desire what they think is good, while then it’s actually evil.“

Menon: "It seems so."

Socrates: “In contrast, whoever desires evil and thinks that the bad... is harmful, … isn’t he realizing that he is being harmed?"

Menon: “Necessary."

Socrates: "Yet, don’t they believe that who suffers harm is also miserable...?"

Menon: "Necessarily..."

Socrates: "And considering the miserable being unhappy? "

Menon: "Yes, I think so."

Socrates: "Is there any person who wants to be miserable and unhappy?"

Menon: "I don’t think so, Socrates."

Socrates: "Thus, no one, Menon, wants evil (for oneself) if one doesn’t want to be miserable and unhappy otherwise."

Thus, Socrates concludes that those people, who are not able to recognize evil, are wishing or doing something bad or evil, because they think it is a good thing. I think, here, one needs to differentiate further: good or bad for whom - in general, for oneself or for another? The Nazis knew very well that the Jews had to suffer unspeakably. They even knew that their own henchmen, who had to perform those horrible things in person, had to suffer doing their "duty" in blind obedience. Confronted with the Holocaust, the “SS-Reichsführer” Heinrich Himmler addressed in his speech to SS henchmen in Posen in 1943: "Most of you are knowing what it means when 100 corpses lie together ...  when 1000 are laying there. To have endured this and to have kept integrity that made us hard and is a... never-to-be-written glory of our history." They did it for the sake of purity of the genetic pool, at least they pretended to do so. This was probably the case with the extermination of severely mentally or physically disabled people. In contrast, economic interests played the major role in the extermination of the Jews, that is still being suppressed today. For a sadist, just the pain of the other is satisfying. During a rape, the rapist is completely clear that his counterpart does not want this and does not like it and still does it to satisfy himself, either because he is a sadist or can only satisfy himself if he exercises power.

For Baruch de Spinoza (1632 - 77), there was no absolute evil or good; he considered that according to the life principle of relativity. In fact, what is good for one can be bad for another. For a person in bad mood, music can be just right to cheer him up, to be good. However, music appears to be unsuitable and bad for a mourner disturbing in his/her mourning work. For a deaf person, music is neither good nor evil, since he/she cannot hear it at all. Spinoza’s original work (Opera) is written in Latin where “malus” stands for "bad" as well as "evil". The distinction must be made from the context, in which he, like many Christian philosophers, has suppressed "evil", and usually applied “malus” in the meaning of “bad”. Dealing with evil was extremely dangerous in his time, so as not to get before the Inquisition. Thus, he defined very cautiously, good is “what we surely know to be useful to us”, and evil (bad) is “what we know for sure to be preventing us from being part of any good." It was important for him to understand that people are subject to affects. According to its definition, these are affections of the body, whereby its potential performance is increased or decreased. Today one would either speak of motivation versus demotivation or of lust versus displeasure. A negative affect leading to evil can only be abolished by an opposite affect with at least the same intensity. The human inability to control affects is their bondage to chance. I fully agree with that. Coincidences determine the life of an individual in essential things. Why does one fall in love with a particular woman or man, respectively? Why choosing this profession and not another? These vital things are often subject to chance. That also includes the development to evil: why does one become a good person while another is gripped by evil? Of course, there are predisposing factors. Adolf Hitler was not evil from the beginning. In contrast, as young man he had turned to fine arts, wanted to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and was shamefully rejected. Vladimir Putin wanted to approach the West, even wanted to lead Russia into NATO, and was shamefully rejected. At that time, the former world power Russia was degraded to be just a regional power by the naive US President Barak Obama, not knowing that wounded pride can induce evil.

For oneself, something can appear to be good in a period of life, such as a certain style of music, so the high, hard tones of an electric guitar of rock music, and in advanced age rather excruciating. I still remember how I liked Carlos Santana’s "whining" guitar sounds in my youth, which now seem to me more like something cramped as if someone wants to get an orgasm but can’t. Everyone will have experienced that taste, i.e., the ratings “good or bad" change over time. In contrast to Spinoza, however, I have the opinion that there is actually something absolutely good and absolutely evil, simply because to be able to think of a rating scale between the absolute poles. As the absolute good, most imagine an "abstract God", and as the absolute evil the devil. In practice, the absolute good is represented by the love between two human beings. It is something mystical, actually not sayable, because every word would just diminish the feeling, would relativize the absoluteness of love. The same happens in the experience of "absolute evil," such as the cruel slaughter of a loved one, which one being forced to see with own eyes – happened on a massive scale under the rule of absolute evil in Nazi Germany or under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. These atrocities are unspeakable. It is "radical evil", as Hannah Arendt put it, that one can neither understand nor explain. She adopted that expression of Immanuel Kant, but used "radical" with a different meaning, namely in the sense of extreme. Here, a general change in the use of language took place, when earlier Kant relied on the original meaning and meant "fundamental", evil as an integral part of a human being. In his treatise “Religion Within the Limits of Mere Reason”, Kant, like very few philosophers, dealt intensively with evil. It is quite astonishing that Aristotle (384 - 322 BC), in his comprehensive treatise on “Nicomachean Ethics”, basically did not mention evil at all. For him, in contrast to the good, there was only the bad, badness (Gr. kakia). For instance, an excess of lust was considered as bad by him, because an exaggerated sexual lust leads to voluptuousness. An excessive lust for power is not only bad, but - from my point of view - seduces to evil. Power must always be controlled (“checks and balances") and limited, otherwise there is a danger that everything will be crushed by it - that is deeply evil. Aristotle, who survived his student Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BC), certainly heard of his wickedness when he impaled his unarmed childhood friend and army leader Kleitos by a spear (328 BC). How else than surprised by evil in affect, can this have happened? When Alexander realized his misdeed, he wanted to kill himself and had to be stopped by his loyal ones. In the Hellenistic world, that murder was discussed in detail, and attributed either Alexander or Kleitos, who irritated Alexander in their dispute, a "demon".

Kant determined a human being according to three criteria: 1) according to his animality, the animalistic drives of man; 2) according to his reason; and 3) according to his personality, the respect of moral laws. I would add 4) beauty and 5) strength. In particular, I consider strength of character to be very essential to resist evil, which rarely confronts one openly, but usually seductive. Moreover, beauty naturally does not want the ugly, the evil, as it is the case “mens sana in corpore sano” (a healthy mind is in a healthy body). As evil derailments of man concerning 1), Kant considered vices like gluttony and voluptuousness, regarding 2) e.g., selfishness, jealousy and envy, and 3) disrespect for moral laws. When a human being integrates the disrespect for moral laws into his "maxims", Kant described that as either an "evil human being" or an “evil by nature”, whereby it does not mean being inherited, instead always acquired through a corresponding socialization. In that way, he recognized gradations, someone who was simply unstable, someone who took up a mixture of moral and immoral maxims, and ultimately those who have a "desire" to evil accepting immoral maxims and are characterized by malice (“depravity”). They represent the "radical evil" of human nature. “This evil is radical, because it spoils the basis (foundation) of all maxims; at the same time....  not to be eradicated by human forces." According to Kant, a man is already called to be evil, who just occasionally prefers immoral laws in knowledge of morality. Man becomes evil by subjecting the moral laws to his self-love and its evil inclinations. According to Kant, self-love is therefore the source of evil, whereby it refers to exaggerated self-love, egoism, which puts everything, even morality under its desires. Kant spoke of an even "evil heart" when one is completely incapable of accepting moral laws within oneself, among one’s maxims. In order to become a morally good person, it is not enough to allow the source of good, which is certainly inherent in man, to develop, but it is also necessary to “fight the counteracting cause of evil in us", that is based on the teaching of the Stoics. The tool for it is virtue. Yet, the wickedness that undermines the mind with soul-spoiling principles is a well-hidden, often invisible enemy, that makes evil so dangerous. Good and evil, like heaven and hell, are two opposing principles in man, a thought that has been precisely worked out much earlier by Zarathustra and the Manichaeism based on him (see above).

Later, Arendt moved away from the term "radical evil", probably to circumvent the ambiguity of the word, and denied all depth and demonism of evil; it would just grow on the surface. However, Arendt overlooked that evil was always there, from the beginning of time, hidden and masked, and always comes to the surface when social situations are fragile, when there are major changes. It is radical (Latin: radix, the root) and has its roots even extended in our subconscious. It spreads its full force when it becomes an integral part of a systemic ideology under which all members of a society must submit, as happened in Nazi Germany or in the Soviet Union under Stalin, and now happening again under Putin. Only under these circumstances, evil is able to unfold its full power. Individuals, forced into line, lose any possibility of distinguishing between good and evil, if they do not have strong personalities. And those are just few.

Ayn Rand (1905 - 82) described the concentrated levelling of the power of judgement of each individual and, thus, the anti-human elimination of individuality in the name of an exaggerated collective (of the “people”, "proletariat", or today the “climate savior") in the narrower sense as evil. Today’s "political correctness" among the mass media is a glaring example of that. As soon as the media are synchronized, as during the reporting about the corona crisis, or now about the “climate catastrophe”, it becomes dangerous for humans, because alternate opinions, which are indispensable for finding the truth, are not allowed. An alarming sign is the increasing spread of a "restricted code" in language through the use of short messenger systems such as WhatsApp, which is in the interests of the rulers, in order to prevent any judgment by destroying the medium, a differentiated language. Many young people today can no longer write larger, coherent texts. That reminds me of the evil presentiments of George Orwell in his masterpiece "1984", in which he describes a purposeful development of a rudimentary language (“Newspeak”) in frightening detail. According to Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939), culture must oppose everything it has, including the basic Christian principle of “love your neighbor like yourself”, in order to counteract the aggression drive that is inherent in man, and opposing human nature’s self-love and the primary natural law of self-preservation. The destructive or death instinct of man, which explains the irrational war cry of uncontrolled masses and the warmongers, is aimed at destruction and opposed to the sexual instinct that promotes creation. “If the willingness to war is an emanation of the inner destructive drive, it is mandatory to call the opponent, Eros, against that drive. Everything that creates emotional connections between people must counteract any war," according to Sigmund Freud in a letter to Albert Einstein in 1932.

Evil is always marked by a rejection of the ruling order, as precisely described in Dostoyevsky’s "Demons", by destruction and a “terrorist loneliness” within the society (Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905 - 80). How else can a man, a jihadist, drive a truck into an innocent, celebrating crowd of people killing 13 men and women - in the belief that he must obey the requirements of his evil-preaching religious interpretation (terrorist attack on the Christmas market at the Memory Church in Berlin on 12-19-2016, which I had visited with my partner a few days earlier)? How can a group of terrorists open machine gun fire on innocent, dancing guests in the famous club “Reina” in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve 2016, which I visited together with my partner and her Brazilian girlfriend a couple of weeks before, if not driven by pure evil. The exercising element of evil is usually not a dominant sadist, but a person of a weak character with often humiliating experiences and the consecutive need for recognition, to which our media - in their stupidity - are willingly at service, by spreading the news of such terrorist attacks worldwide and thereby just preparing the stage for the inferior terrorist. If a terrorist would know that his/her actions would not be noticed at all, he or she would basically be deprived of any motivation, because he/she could thereby no longer trigger terror, a widespread fear. The same applies in many cases to the evil-driven killing madmen, if they are not simply driven to their wicked actions by a pathological alcohol or drug intoxication. Even Adolf Hitler, who embodied absolute evil in his terrible megalomania, was a person who had humiliating experiences during his socialization in Vienna. He was not a 1.90 m tall, blond, Nordic giant, but a slender, little guy with a big mouth and in his later years as dictator plagued by an essential tremor of his hands.

Killing a person is not easy. If one presses a button anonymously and thereby setting a deadly drone in motion, overcoming an inherent resistance may still be possible for a normal person. However, to attack someone with bare fists or only armed with a knife is basically not possible for a person under normal conditions. That is why the slogan of the cruel Khmer Rouge was: "Erase your hearts!" The obedient followers had to learn to overcome all humanity in them. They became "system people" who gave up their own individuality in favor of a system-defined thinking. The same applied to the Nazi SS henchmen or Stalin's Cheka, his secret police, who obediently worked through predetermined death lists. Evil systems use obedient followers without own judgement, which unfortunately are making the majority of a population - all those easy to manipulate "sheep" among men and women who prefer to believe anything instead of using their brain and judging. That principle even used by any rulers today - in the East and West – goes back to the ancient Romans as stated by Seneca: “unusquisque mavult credere, quam iudicare” (everybody wants rather to belief than to judge). If one considers that most people do any job just for living, and for that spend 46 weeks a year 10 hours per working day (including commuting) over 40 years of their working life, that deprives them of 15 years and 9 months of free life (outside the necessary sleeping time). Thus, it is no wonder that most people behave like slaves because they are - de facto (although not de iure). Therefore, evil systems do not need sadists or psycho-/sociopaths for their purposes, they have enough “slaves”. In contrast, the leaders of such evil systems are very often people with serious mental diseases, be it paranoia or narcissistic perversions. According to Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860), a very strong will that cannot be satisfied, because the desired wishes are simply unrealistic or even megalomaniac, can turn into malice. Hannah Arendt came to the conclusion that the ability to think and remember is essential for morality and avoiding evil. I would go even further, only reason can control the evil that always lurks. Schopenhauer rightly posed the question why, in view of the beauty and perfection of the physical world, the almighty Creator did not eliminate evil from the beginning? In order to eliminate evil, the freedom of the will was invented, which, however, is not free and directed, but a blind urge, the essence of everything, the things in themselves, which makes our world appear to us as a subjective imagination, to which evil also belongs.

It is up to each of us to fight evil. The evangelist Luke clearly expressed that by quoting Jesus of Nazareth, when he was questioned by the Pharisees, “when would the kingdom of God come", he replied: “The kingdom of God does not come in that way that everybody can observe it; one won’t say: see it is here, or there! You need to understand, the kingdom of God is in your midst." (Luke 17:20-21). Evil, however, is continuously repressed, as if it does not exist, which is its intention, in order to be able to act hidden. Our whole life is dualistic, from the subatomic elements of electrons and protons to man and woman in mankind. Dualism is a principle of life. We can only perceive something as bright if we know what darkness is. We can call something beautiful if we also know its opposite, the ugly. The same is true for "good" and "evil". "Good" is even inconceivable without evil; if everything were indistinguishably good, what would it be? Everything that we evaluate morally, we evaluate between these two poles. Good and evil, however, are not only abstract terms. Indeed, both manifest themselves in human actions that can lead to the destruction of others and self-destruction in the case of evil. It is existing. Everything that exists must have a reason for its existence, even if, as is often the case, chance. Indeed, chance is an essential means of life. When we know that something exists, we immediately ask why it is and, according to our principle of causality, what its cause is. If we do not know exactly whether something is - like the doubters of the presence of evil, then perhaps the thoughts of Aristotle might help. In general, according to Aristotle, four reasons or criteria confirm that something exists: essence (what is it?), prerequisites (what are the causes that make this unknown being necessary?), primary cause (what did it originally cause?) and purpose (what is it for?). The nature of evil is clear, it is destruction directed against all living and existing. The premise of evil is existence, being, and its imbalance. The primary cause of evil is the non-being from which being originally evolved. The purpose of evil is to restore not-being and, at best, leads to a balance between being and not-being, a perpetual cycle.

Over time, what we consider as good or evil can change. Thus, aristocrats were good in the past and were called noble, as noblemen, from which the word nobility derives. Later, during the French and Russian revolutions, those were persecuted and brutally murdered by the "ordinary" people and incited mobs, because ordinary people had to live under their primacy for too long. Dictatorships of the proletariat emerged, which infiltrated by evil, ultimately devoured their own children and lasted only very briefly after the French Revolution, after the Russian one around 70 years to fall back into an autocratic system. It is sobering how the best principles of necessary social upheavals in times of fragility and lack of balance can be repeatedly reversed by evil elements within society. What has become of the principles of freedom, equality and fraternity after the French Revolution? Colonialism has developed with the cruel subjugation of entire peoples of Africa. People are still not equal to each other with equal opportunities. One only has to stay in the dreary suburbs of Paris to immediately see how divided French society is to this day. What has become of the communist ideals of Karl Marx in the former Soviet Union and its successor states? Marx’s central humanist idea was to liberate the realm of freedom, the spiritual world, from the realm of necessity, the material world, as far as possible. The spiritual world of each individual should be free in its development and the material necessities should be limited to the essential. It is utopia. In reality, there is no sign of intellectual freedom in Russia. The vast majority of people vegetate at the subsistence level, while the ruling cliques (oligarchs and political elites) divide Russia’s wealth among themselves and enjoy all the material freedoms of the world, as long as they submit to the inhuman system. And how it stands in our praised, so-called democratic systems in the “West". Does one really believe that the mighty flagship country of the United States is governed by an elected, senile and mentally slow president? Admittedly - in democratic systems it is allowed to vote - but only those who are already prespecified. In the US, these are only two, one worse than the other. In Germany, we have a negative selection of politicians to choose from whose predicate it is to intrigue through evil actions to eliminate opponents in the back room by means of selfish agreements, who are not concerned with finding the best possible solutions to problems, to ensure the common good, but driven by almost delusional egoism as the source of all evil. Public opinion is largely manipulative under the control of the system. Those who have a dissenting opinion may express it in contrast to Russia or China, but must expect to be socially isolated, as was horribly practiced during the corona crisis. A real discourse about the future development of our society no longer takes place. This would call into question the primacy of the political parties in favor of a direct representation of all specific areas of society. The evil comes to light again today crying for a World War III that would destroy everything that lives on earth. Then, evil would have fulfilled its will. - Only with reason and love, we can stop it.

The incarnation of absolute evil: Lucifer, painting by Franz v. Stuck, 1890. Oil on canvas (161 x 153 cm), National Gallery of Foreign Art, Sofia

Attempt of a Definition

Evil is a principle directed against life itself and all being.

It is often hidden, masked behind a pretended, even sometimes charming facade, and comes to light unscrupulously, when something gets out of balance, when unstable conditions occur. This applies in general as well as for an individual. Everyone knows how upset one is when the body gets out of balance due to strong hunger. It is like chaos, the presence of which is part of nature - like the crackling, chaotic rain without any regularity between the initial, rhythmic dripping and the final, uniform downpour. It is insidious, full of cunning; it flatters our vanity; it is the obsession for fame, jealousy, greed, envy, hatred, lust for power, and voluptuousness. It uses the apathy of the unaffected, fear, any weakness of decision, and the uncritical main stream. It is hidden behind excessive kindness, in the lie, in gossip, and manifests itself in the desire to dominate others, to see others suffer, to overplay others, to insult, to defame, to denounce, and unfolds its full power when it becomes a system. It does not shy away from any cruelty, not from torture, murder or suicide. It knows no mercy and turns ruthlessly against its protagonists.

Evil is always there, with no beginning or end. It is like a black hole in the universe into which everything is sucked that comes too close to it, and surrenders to its influence. Yet, one can control it, at least for one’s own life - with reason and knowledge that it exists, so one is able to stay away from it. The opponent of all evil is Eros, love that is equally timeless and gives life wherever it is. It is an equal force, which points to evil, destruction, the barriers. The one who loves can drive away evil. It can be the love for an abstract God, or for fellow human beings, for nature.

At the end of all days, however, everything will sink into a gigantic black hole, from which a huge inferno will again create something completely new. Construction and destruction are connected in a gigantic cosmic cycle and are in balance. Nothing can grow unchecked “into the sky", it would crush everything else. Evil, therefore, as cruel as it is, as cruel as death is for life and the individual, has a regulatory function in nature, even if we do not want to accept it because of our religious value system.

Suggested Literature:

Altes Testament. Das Buch Hiob. In: Die Bibel. Dt. Bibelgesellsch., Stuttgart, 1984.

Arendt, Hannah. Elemente totaler Herrschaft. Europ. Verlagsanstalt, Frankfurt/M, 1958.

Arendt, Hannah. Über das Böse. Eine Vorlesung zu Fragen der Ethik. Piper V., München, 2003.

Aristoteles. Lehre vom Beweis oder zweite Analytik. In: Philosophische Schriften, Vol.1. Felix Meiner V., Hamburg, 1995.

Brilla, Christian. Die 12 Prinzipien des Lebens. Amazon eBooks, 2021.

Einstein, Albert und Freud, Sigmund. Warum Krieg? Diogenes V., Zürich, 1972.

Freud, Sigmund. Abriss der Psychoanalyse. Das Unbehagen in der Kultur. Fischer V., Frankfurt/M, 1976.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Faust. Der Tragödie 1. Teil. In: Goethe Werke, Vol.3. C.H. Beck V.; München, 1981.

Hesiod. Werke und Tage. Übers. & Hrsg. Otto Schönherger. Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart, 2007.

Jung, Carl Gustav. Aion. In: Gesammelte Werke, Vol. 9/II. Walter-V., Olten, 1980.

Kant, Immanuel. Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft. In: Kant Werke IV.Wiss.Buchges. Darmstadt,1983.

Machiavelli. Der Fürst, Alfred Kröner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1972.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Jenseits von Gut und Böse. Nietzsche Werke, Vol. 7. Alfred Kröner V., Leipzig, 1923.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Genealogie der Moral. Nietzsche Werke, Vol. 7. Alfred Kröner V., Leipzig, 1923.

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Penguin Books, London, 1954.

Platon. Menon. In: Sämtliche Werke, Vol. 2. Artemis V., Zürich, 1974.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Abhandlung von dem Ursprung der Ungleichheit unter den Menschen. J.B Metzler, Stuttgart, 2000.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Entwürfe für eine Moralphilosophie. Rowolth V., Reinbek, 2005.

Schopenhauer, Arthur. Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. In Zürcher Ausgabe, Werke, Vol. 1. Diogenes V., Zürich, 1977.

Schopenhauer, Arthur. Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II. In Zürcher Ausgabe, Werke, Vol. 3. Diogenes V., Zürich, 1977.

Spinoza, Baruch de. Ethica. In: Opera, Vol. 2. Wiss. Buchgesellsch., Darmstadt, 1989.

Voltaire. Das Erdbeben von Lissabon. In: Voltaires Werke in zeitgemäßer Auswahl, 1.Teil. Otto Wigand V., Leipzig, 1854.

The Star of Bethlehem

March 18, 2024

A wonderful, but also questionable story is this - the Christmas story. There, three kings from the Middle East followed a brightly shining star, which showed them the way to the newborn king of the Jews. If one reads the most important source of this story, the Gospel according to Matthew, one learns that it was three magicians and not kings (Matthew 2:1-2). Later, kings were made to embellish the story, because magicians are always attached by something deceptive. They are illusionists who can fool us with something that is not. On their way they came to Jerusalem, the seat of the then ruling king Herod the Great, who evidently lived until 4 BC. When he heard from the magicians about the birth of a new Jewish king, he subsequently had all the newborns in Bethlehem assassinated, after he had learned where the magicians were going - what a cruel act in connection with the birth of the God-chosen Savior of mankind.

“Adoration of the Magi” by Giotto, 1305, fresco 2 x 1.85m, Capella degli Scrovegni; presumably the most beautiful representation of the birth of Jesus.

Thus, the star led the magicians to Bethlehem, where they went to the house of Jesus' birth and found the newborn child with his mother Mary, to whom they paid homage and offered their gifts (Mt 2:9-11). Neither Joseph nor a present ox or donkey are mentioned by Matthew. The latter were simply added to decorate the Christmas story during early Christianity. They referred to the prophet Isaiah of the Old Testament (“The ox knows its owner and the donkey knows the crib of his Lord”, Isaiah 1:3).  That the house of Jesus' birth might have been a stable is also not mentioned by Matthew. A weak indication of that can be found in the Gospel according to Luke, according to which Mary placed the newborn in a manger because she could not find a place in a hostel (Luke 2:7). However, there is no mention of the presence of an ox or donkey in this Gospel either. Instead, it is reported in detail that shepherds who tended their herds on the neighboring pastures were summoned by angels (Lk 2:8-16). This is evidence that Jesus was not born on December 24 or 25. In winter, the animals in this area no longer find grass on the pastures and are kept in stables. In fact, the date of birth of Jesus was arbitrarily fixed on December 25 by the Roman Emperor Constantine I. in the 4th century, where this highest Christian feast obviously had been combined with the then traditional feast of the sun god Sol Invictus, what the Christians already intended in 275 under Emperor Aurelian, in order to better convince the non-believers.

Why Jesus birthplace has been allocated by the evangelists to Bethlehem becomes clear when one knows that this is the city of the glorious Jewish king David, from which Jesus had to obligatorily descend according to the prophecies repeated over centuries for the desired Messiah of the Jewish people. The reason for the trip to Bethlehem is given by Luke mentioning the imperial census ordered by the Roman Emperor Augustus: "… that the entire world be recorded..." (Lk 2,1-7), according to which all citizens of Rome in the entire Roman Empire had to be counted. According to findings in the Temple of Augustus and Rome in Ancyra (Ankara), this actually took place in 8 BC, but only affected citizens of Rome, which Joseph was not. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be allowed to crucify his son later – on demand of Jewish priests. Moreover, Luke confuses the imperial census with the provincial census, the registration of all male inhabitants of a particular province who did not have Roman citizenship. Those had to be recorded in their hometown. However, this census only took place in Roman provinces, which Judea (Bethlehem) and Galilee (Nazareth) were not at the time of the birth of Christ. They were part of the Jewish kingdom of Herod the Great, who ruled as a vassal of Rome until his death in 4 BC. Augustus did not send Quirinius to Syria until 6 AD, i.e., 10 years later as governor to Syria, into which the kingdom of Judea had been incorporated shortly before, after quarrels among the heirs of Herod. Indeed, in 6 AD, a provincial census was carried out in the entire reorganized province of Syria, leading to documented uprisings in Judea.

Joseph’s birthplace was Bethlehem. However, he lived in Nazareth, where Jesus was presumably born, because the whole further course of his life people have spoken only of Jesus, the Nazarene. Furthermore, why should a kind-hearted man like Joseph expect his only 12-year-old, pregnant and first-born fiancée to undertake an extremely strenuous journey over 156 km from Nazareth over rough paths and mountain crossings to Bethlehem, on foot or on the back of a donkey. Anyone who has ridden once knows that this is not reasonable in the highly pregnant state. Especially since women, who did not count at that time, were not included in the census. According to the extrabiblical tradition of the “Historia Josephi”, Joseph himself was said to have been an old man of 80 years at the birth of Jesus.  The primary concern of the Gospels was simply the conviction of the Jews that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Therefore, Matthew used 16 psalms at the beginning of his Gospel to draw the direct descendants of Jesus via Joseph, Solomon, David back to Abraham over 52 generations (Mt 1:1-16). Yet, he was born through the immaculate conception of Mary; thus, he was not conceived by Joseph (Matthew 1:18-23), who at the time of his birth was only engaged to Mary and whose inner greatness it was due, that he accepted Jesus as his son. If one should believe some vague reports that Jesus was born together with a twin brother, namely Thomas, one of his immediate companions and the author of the Thomas Gospel, oppressed by the Church, the Christmas story would be totally blown up.

Comet 1P/Halley, so called Halley‘s comet, on 3-8-1986 (W. Liller, NASA).

Yet, what exactly was that extraordinary star having indicated the birth of Jesus? Was it a supernova, was it a glowing comet or a conjunction of several planets? A supernova, i.e., the final, bright burn-up of a massive star at the end of its lifetime was last visible to the naked eye in the firmament of 1604 and radiated visibly for over a year, which is actually too long for displaying a singular event. As a comet, the periodic Halley’s comet could be considered, which flies on its elongated elliptical path through our solar system every 74 - 79 years close enough to our Earth, so that it can be seen with the naked eye. According to calculations, that also happened 12 BC. Jesus' birth is today dated to the year 7 - 4 BC. Every four years we have to add an additional day to our artificial calendar, because the astronomical year (orbit around the sun) on Earth does not exactly last 365 days, but 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds longer. A strikingly small discrepancy of only five days over a past period of about 2030 years appears quite justifiable with changing calendar counts (“ab urbe condita”, i.e., since the foundation of Rome in 753 BC, Julian calendar, Gregorian calendar). Since comets are mythologically more associated with negative events, the hypothesis arose in the Dark Ages that the star of Bethlehem could also have been caused by a conjunction (superposition) of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces, which then radiate together. This made sense insofar as Jupiter has been regarded as the king planet, Saturn stood for the “planet of the people of Israel”, and the constellation of Pisces as a symbol for the land of Judea, where Bethlehem is located. None other than Johannes Kepler represented this view when he observed and recalculated the conjunction of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn in the firmament from his window in Prague on Christmas morning 1603, that Jupiter and Saturn must have come very close to each other in the constellation of Pisces in 7 BC. The magicians from the Middle East were probably astronomers from Babylonia. However, findings of Babylonian cuneiform clay tablets do not give any indication that the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was given any particular importance. This was just interpreted in that way in the Dark Ages. Perhaps the star of Bethlehem is just a legend like all the other circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew’s primary concern was to convince the Jewish people that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, and that his arrival in Old Testament prophecies should be heralded with the light of a special star.

“Adoration of the Shepherds” by Rembrandt, 1646, oil on canvas 97 x 72 cm, Old Pinakothek Munich; Christ as the source of light is impressive, the rest disappears in Rembrandt’s "semi-darkness".

It is certain that Jesus was born sometime in the period of 7 - 4 BC, in Nazareth, and not in Bethlehem, not on December 24-25, and that at that time the Halley’s comet, the possible “star of Bethlehem”, passed the earth. It is striking that the great thinkers of early Christianity, the Gnostics, all of whom did not deal with the birth of Jesus Christ. The idea that God sends his own son to earth, who at the Last Judgment decides which people may attend God in eternity because of their good way of life, goes back to the Persian philosopher Zoroaster (Zarathustra, 630 -553 BC) who developed the first monotheistic religion, and from whom educated Jews and Greeks had enough knowledge. The birth of God’s son as a human being is therefore not an unique point of the Christian religion. The Gospel according to Luke was written about 70 AD. Luke never met Jesus. He was an educated Syrian physician and a close collaborator of Apostle Paul, who also did not know Jesus personally. Matthew, whose gospel is called the first gospel, has been first mentioned by name in 130 AD. Until his calling, Matthew himself was a tax collector in Capernaum at the Sea Genezareth, and did not know Jesus personally either. Both evangelists have arranged ancient traditions and written them down with the intention of moving non-Christians to Christianity. Thereby, either content errors or fictitious representations can be explained.

However, the Christmas story is just too beautiful, awakens so many childhood memories of secureness and love, well-scented, freshly baked cookies and fir green, the many lights and gifts that one just wants to believe that story, so romantically transfigured - and that’s what matters.

Shakespeare – „Not in Love“

November 6, 2023

William Shakespeare (originally “Shakspere” according to the usual spelling in England at his time; see his own signature below) is generally considered one of, if not the greatest poets in history. I do not agree, despite his partly page-long poems (including the "Sonnets" consisting of 154 poems), 14 comedies (including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”), 10 histories (including “King Henry VIII”) as well as 12 tragedies, including “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” and "Romeo and Juliet", which I will discuss in detail below. I am “not in love” with him, in contrast to a previous Oscar-awarded movie “Shakespeare in Love” from 1998, and want to explain the reasons.

William Shakespeare, etching by Martin Droeshut, cover of the 1st complete edition of his dramas (1623), 7 yrs after his death

Shakespeare lived in England at a time when the United Kingdom, under Queen Elizabeth I, freed itself from its island-induced isolation and set out to establish a world-spanning empire through uncontrolled colonialism. That was accompanied by the rapid development of a bourgeoisie which desired more and more entertainment. What is "Hollywood" today was the theatre scene in London at the time, where young Shakespeare was driven. Who was he?

He was probably born on April 23, 1564 in Stratford upon Avon, a small town in the English province south of Birmingham, as the son of a tenant farmer (his birth date, 4-26-1564, dated in lexica, is his baptismal date). His father had brought it through diligence and marriage into a wealthy peasant family to some prosperity. He was able to provide William with at least a basic education in the local Latin school, which was accessible to common people. There, the classic themes such as "Julius Caesar" and "Antony and Cleopatra" must have aroused his attention early on. Both were to cause him later to bring these as other themes from ancient times as dramas to play at theatres. Why he dropped out of school remains unclear. At least he had not distinguished himself as an excellent student who could be considered for further academic education (e.g., at the universities of Oxford or Cambridge, which had gained great renown since 1096 and 1209 respectively). This also explains his raw language, which comes to light in his original works which I own as English-language original and in its classic, rather poetic-flowery, but inaccurate translation (1789-1810) by August Wilhelm von Schlegel (1767-1845). The latest translation by Frank Günther (1947-2020), which adapts more to the rawness of Skakespeare’s words, seems rather repulsive and is probably less appreciated because it contradicts the illusion of the outstanding poet Skakespeare.

Shakespeare must have been interested in the opposite sex early on. At the age of 18, he married an eight years older woman from a wealthy peasant family, with whom he was to have three children close to his marriage in 1582. The first child was already born six months after the wedding. Soon after birth of his younger twins in 1585, Shakespeare had to flee his hometown, presumably because of poaching. All wild animals belonged to the feudal lord, an aristocrat, and hunting for one’s own consumption was forbidden to the tenant farmers with high punishment. Ultimately, however, there was never a documented court case. Perhaps the petty-bourgeois family life had simply become too oppressive for the young Shakespeare, so that he moved to the metropolis in London, where he was drawn to acting according to his propensity. For the first time, he was named as a member of an acting troupe when he had been insulted in a pamphlet as a poetic upstart in 1592. Shakespeare was an actor - but not just any actor, indeed playing directly in front of Queen Elizabeth I and finally titled by her successor James I as "King’s Men". He and his acting company did not have to move around like ordinary actors. Actually, he was partner of two fixed theatres in London, where he presented his performances with great success.

Like every actor, he wanted to please his audience, he liked to play the serious roles, e.g., kings. He had distinguished himself in particular by the writing of the libretti, concerning a movie one would say the scripts. As a rule, he used already available books or traditional legends and redesigned them in a theatre-appropriate and audience-effective manner. His own imagination or creativity has produced the fewest works. With today’s copyright rules, this would no longer be possible. Thus, in most works, one cannot speak of poetry in the true sense, i.e., what originally has been created by him, especially concerning the later most famous works. He did not actually write for posterity, did not even sign his works, or arranged their publication in his name. His authorship was not so important to him, it was the implementation of his plays and ideas in the theater. He didn’t want to share wisdom that he couldn’t develop anyway, he wanted to entertain in its best way.

With this, Shakespeare made a real career in London and brought it to some wealth, which he invested in real estate in his hometown. He always remained connected to his family, which he visited every year. There he retired in 1610 at the age of 46 because at some point he had enough of acting. He had become the second richest man in his hometown and could afford the second largest house there. Since return to his family, he also wrote nothing essential - proof that he had done this only for the spectacle. Shortly after the visit of a fellow actor he suddenly died at the age of 52 after drinking plenty of alcohol on 4-26-1616. He had become a frail man at an early age, as evidenced by his shaky signature on his last will written shortly before. His older wife survived him.

Shakespeare’s signature as "William Shakspere" below his last will

Thus, William Shakespeare was a great, if not the best actor of his time in England, perhaps today comparable to the British actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who won as only actor for his outstanding achievements 3-times the Oscar as a leading actor and recently retired from the acting business, fed up with his audience successes. In addition, Shakespeare was a highly successful writer of plays in which quite often a lot of blood flowed. However, is Shakespeare also the all-time best poet? To answer this question, I took a closer look at his most famous work.

Romeo and Juliet

This tragedy, which was later to be idealized and included in the collective memory of mankind, did not actually originate from Shakespeare. There have been several versions in Italy, France and England, the oldest probably by Masuccio di Salerno (about 1474-1476). By using new names and additional plot elements such as the balcony scene or the double suicide at the end, it got its familiar shape by Luigi da Porto around 1535. The English version “Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet” by Arthur Brookes from 1562, from which he took many verses literally, served as a direct template for Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s merit was only to work out an audience-effective version adapted for the theater, which he presumably undertook 1594-1596. For dramaturgical reasons, he condensed the love story of Brookes over a period of 9 months into 5 days, which makes many processes seem unrealistic. But that didn’t matter to Shakespeare. For what many consider to be a real love story, if not the prototype of such a really happened love relationship, is pure fiction. Obviously, the general public does not care about the truth content. The illusion of such a great but tragic love is crucial and has led to many musical inspirations and artistic arrangements throughout history. The ballet "Romeo and Juliet" by Sergei Prokofiev from 1938 is particularly emphasized here. To this day, Shakespeare’s theatre production enjoys great popularity. One just wants to believe this great love story, even if many details in the story are simply abstruse.

Statue of Juliet (by Nereo Constantini, 1969) under the balcony of the house of the Capulet family in Verona. The balcony is a dummy created for tourists (photographed by me in 2009).

So, it’s a fictional story playing in Verona and Mantua in the 16th century. Any “Juliet” never existed in the family tree of the Capulet family in Verona, although both, the Capulets and Romeos family, the Montagues, are not completely picked out of the air. These hostile families were already mentioned by Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321), also from Verona, whose birthplace I visited like the supposed house of Julia in 2009. Yet, what hype should develop around this fictional love tragedy later is actually unbelievable. Shakespeare definitely had a feeling for what the audience longs for. Even the famous balcony from the balcony scene, where Romeo and Juliet confess their love for each other in that story, is pure dummy, for tourists as a facade attached to the former house of the Capulets. The statue of Julia, placed under the balcony in the small courtyard of the house in 1972, became a fetish of tourists who hoped for love happiness by touching the right breast of the statue, but only caused a hole in the statue. Thus, the original statue had to be moved to another place. It is incomprehensible to me how one can indulge in such an immature love story of two pubescent people. In that story, Romeo is just 16 and Juliet 13 years old. How is the story going?

Day 1 (Sunday, love at first sight):

Romeo is still thinking about his last love, Rosaline, when he, just out of fun, attends a social party with friends of the hostile Capulets, that has been organized by Juliet’s father to introduce a nobleman, the Count Paris, to Juliet. At that time, young girls were married at an early age. Today one would speak of pedophilia, or misusing minors, if one supplies girls at this age to adult men. In the Italian Renaissance period, often such social evenings were celebrated with costumes and masks, including this one. There, Romeo sees Juliet and falls in love at first sight, just having thought of another girl as happens often to pubescent boys. He approaches her, but is discovered by her cousin Tybalt, who wants to immediately expel him from the house, because he was not invited and is also the son of the head of the family of the most strongly hostile Montagues. Why Juliet’s father, who has organized the party only to provide the opportunity that Juliet and Count Paris are getting known to each other, prevents Tybalt from throwing Romeo out and even letting him approach Juliet, is probably just due to Shakespeare’s logic. Moreover, It is completely unbelievable that Juliet lets Romeo take her by storm and allowing him to spontaneously kiss her twice under the eyes of her father and Count Paris courting her.

The original wording is the following, when Romeo speaks to Juliet for the first time:

„Rom.  If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this,

My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

Jul.  Good pilgrim, you do wrong, your hand too much,

Which mannerly devotion shows in this;

For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,

And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

Rom.  Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

Jul.  Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

Rom.  O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;

They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

Jul.  Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.

Rom.  Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.

Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purg’d.

Kissing her.”

What a brisk approach by Romeo, straight to the goal! Of course, both confess their mutual love in the famous balcony scene in the evening after the party.

Day 2 (Monday, secret marriage):

On the following day, the two freshly in love are hastily married by Romeo’s mentor, Father Lorenzo - because of the families’ hostility in secret, without having informed their parents of their decision. Father Lorenzo doubts the seriousness of Romeo’s intentions, because he is well aware of his recent affair with Rosaline. For the father, however, it is a special concern to pacify the enemy families so that he complies with the stormy requests. Why he does not use the infatuation of the two young people and advises them to an open marriage involving their families, as it was obligatory custom, is probably again left to the logic of Shakespeare. The wedding night is accomplished, although Romeo had previously killed her beloved cousin Tybalt in a headless argument, provoked by Tybalt, and must leave for Mantua, banned for this manslaughter.

Day 3 (Tuesday, Lorenzo’s plan):

The following day, Julia’s father unequivocally demands Julia’s marriage to Count Paris. Shakepeare’s unrealistic dramaturgy is probably the reason why he is suddenly in such a hurry, after he has just so thoughtfully arranged their first acquaintance, apart from the needed grief for his nephew. On her knees, Julia begs her father not to marry her, who insults her when she has to refuse. Julia, however, does not show the honesty to her father to explain that she has already married secretly. The consequence is that her father wants to initiate her marriage with Count Paris immediately. In her distress, Julia contacts Father Lorenzo, who sees as the only way out a fake death of Julia to prevent the sin of a second marriage. He gives Julia a plant extract, which puts her into a death-like state for 42 hours after drinking, yet makes her wake up again after being buried in the family crypt. There are certainly many drugs that are capable to provoke unconsciousness. However, there is no drug that causes a pseudo-death with pulselessness for so long without the appearance of irreparable damages. In the absence of a pulse, irreparable brain damage already occurs within 3 (warm ambient temperature) to 30 min (very cold ambient temperature). What a nonsense! Romeo shall be informed of this plan by a message and take her in his arms after her awakening and get her to Mantua. At home, Julia learns from her father that the marriage with Count Paris will already take place the following day. Thus, before going to bed she takes the drug drink which she brought from Father Lorenzo.

Day 4 (Wednesday, double suicide):

The next morning, the day of her planned marriage to Count Paris, Julia is found "lifeless" in her bed. Father Lorenzo arrives to pick up the bride for the wedding altar. The "festive community" has no choice but to take Julia to the family crypt to lay out her body there. The intended bridal wreath now serves as a macabre decoration for the coffin. Fatefully, Romeo did not receive the message regarding the cunning of the "fake death", but the message of a friend who was present at the funeral of Juliet’s supposed dead body. Still at the same night, Romeo rushes to the tomb of Juliet to see her one last time and carries with him a poison drink, which he had previously obtained from a pharmacist, to commit suicide on Juliet’s side. As he descends into the tomb, he meets Count Paris, who wanted to guard the crypt overnight. A fencing match evolves where Romeo kills the groom chosen by Juliet’s father. Only now he can go to his beloved Julia saying farewell, not knowing that she is not really dead. He commits suicide by the poison drink he brought with him to be united with her forever. When Juliet wakes up from her fake death, she does not immediately recognize Romeo, who lies next to her, but Father Lorenzo, who had also rushed to the tomb to be present at her awakening (note: although this was only to be expected for the following day). He wants to take Julia with him and hide her in a monastery. Then, she sees the dead Romeo lying next to her and commits suicide with his dagger, too. Amazingly, the drug worked only 24 hours instead of the 42 hours indicated by Father Lorenzo. Originally, the wedding with Count Paris was actually planned for the following day, which has been advanced by Count Capulet, Julia’s father, in a no-explainable haste, probably due to a dramaturgical point of view by Shakespeare, disregarding the effect of the drug. A technical mistake by Shakespeare in terms of timing!

Day 5 (Thursday, reconciliation):

Meanwhile, the page of Count Paris has summoned guardians who find the three dead bodies by torchlight and hold Father Lorenzo, as well as sending messengers to the reigning prince and affected families, the Capulets and Montagues. (Note: Shakespeare again gets lost in time, describing Julia as buried two days ago, although she was buried just the day before.) At dawn they hurry up and recognize the terrible event. Father Lorenzo is confronted by the prince in order to learn from him the tragic love between Romeo and Juliet and his cunning to circumvent the forced second marriage, which ultimately led to the death of these young lovers.  Understanding the tragedy in all its depth, the hostile heads of the families of the Capuets and Montagues, reconcile themselves over the dead bodies of the loving couple, whose love was so short-lived. Count Montague promises to erect a statue of Juliet made of gold so that everyone can remember this tragic event for all time. And the prince concludes with the words:

„For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Title page of the first edition (1597) of Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet" without explicitly naming the author

What a constructed love tragedy of two kids, still too immature for love, ending in chaos. It appears to me as if Shakespeare had originally conceived the love story for 6 days and then shortened it by one day, which is why the temporal mistakes crept in. While the presentation of the version by Brooke focuses on morality, and the early death of the two lovers is portrayed as a punishment for their uncontrolled passion and disobedience to their parents, Shakespeare puts the romantically transfigured love in the foreground, which fatefully leads to the death of both. As with many of Shakespeare’s dramas, the story is drowned in blood - probably what the mean audience wants to see for entertainment then and now. Romeo’s best friend Mercutio dies by Tybald’s hand, who in turn is stabbed by Romeo with the rapier. Count Paris, the fooled groom by Juliet, is struck down by Romeo, who then kills himself on the alleged dead body of Juliet, who then stabs herself with his dagger after awakening from the faked death. What a theatre it is!

The fact that this story came to world fame at all was primarily due to its supporter Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who had been passionately promoting Shakespeare’s works since his young age, after they had actually already been forgotten (“On Schäkespears Day", speech by 22-year-old Goethe on 14 October 1771 in his parents' house in Frankfurt/Main; in his novel ”Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship", his main character deals in detail with Shakespeare’s “Hamlet"). Of course, he knew, himself unfamiliar with English language (in above-mentioned speech manuscript not even Shakespeare’s name correctly reproduced), only the flowery-lyrical translation of von Schlegel, who also could not speak perfect English, never lived in an English-speaking country, so his translation has many mistakes. Goethe was also not a good analyst, proved by his scientifically wrong theory of colors. Indeed, he completely overlooked and arrogantly disregarded the truly lyrical genius of his time, Friedrich Hölderlin. In any case, Friedrich Schiller, like me, was not impressed by Shakespeare’s works.

The need for scripts and stories like "Romeo and Juliet" is everlasting. It is the great emotions, love ("Romeo and Juliet"), revenge ("Hamlet") and lust for power ("Macbeth") that Shakespeare has staged in an audience-effective manner. They are emotions that make us human, but certainly not immature love that ends in double suicide, revenge carried out in a stupid manner by an irresolute person ("Hamlet"), and lust for power that ends in bloodlust ("Macbeth"). What used to be dramaturgically constructed theatre productions for the general people are now endless “soup operas” on television. I prefer real relationships, less dramatic, more really fulfilling.

"Siddhartha" - Way of Changes

October 8, 2023

This novel, written by Hermann Hesse in 1922, is full of wisdom, condensed in a grandiose text that is only 120 pages long. I read it for the first time as a young medical student and now as a mature man again. Indeed, I have absorbed Hesse’s books, his complete works, in my young years.

“Hermann Hesse" by Andy Warhol, 1984, acrylic & silkscreen on canvas, 102x102 cm

I remember my first trip to the United States, when I was 22, along with my best friend, our common girlfriend, and her somewhat younger brother. We rented one of these road cruisers in New York and took a tour across the U.S. Any triangle of relationships is never good, especially since my thoughts belonged to someone else who I had met a short time before, and who was to become my wife just one year later. In San Diego, in the very southwest of this fascinating country, I left the group and travelled alone through Mexico - by bus, which is not really without risks. I left most of my luggage in the storage room of a YMCA hostel and only kept a small leather bag with the essentials with me, of course including a book of Hesse, "Siddhartha". It was supposed to save me from dangerous people shortly thereafter. I was lying on one of those remote, beautiful Mexican beaches. It was brutally hot, but I love the sun - until today, and I read Hesse.

Three bold-looking likewise young men approached me. It turned out to be an Argentine, a Mexican and an American. They were members of a gang that smuggled futureless South Americans into the US for money and probably had already seen and done every cruelty. For these people, who have gone through pure violence, a human life does not count. They had probably chosen me as a victim to replenish their cash. However, they stopped just before reaching me. They recognized my book. The author of which glowed with large letters "Hermann Hesse" on the cover. The gringo spoke to me: “Ah, you’re reading Hesse. Where you’re from?” "A bridge" opened between us. The other two gang members also became curious. Their weapons hidden under their shirts came to my attention. A cautious conversation developed, in which it turned out that the Argentine was in charge, because he was educated, what he wanted to show me. He painted the outlines of Europe in the sand and knew the major capitals, although he had never been there. This was far more than average Americans with a high school degree knew. He enjoyed my appreciation. The ice was then completely broken, when I noticed: “It isn’t important where you’re from or what you’re doing. It is only important what you really are." We drank a bottle of tequila together, and went our ways. What an encounter between people who could not be more different - and Hermann Hesse as a connecting element.

“Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse, movie by Conrad Rooks,awarded the "Silver Lion", 33rd Venice Internat. Film Festival, 1972

Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962) was an extraordinary man. He grew up in an intellectual environment with eight brothers and sisters in an evangelical missionary family in Calw, southern Germany. Like his father, who originated in Estonia, he always found the petty-bourgeois world of this small town in the northern Black Forest to be somewhat restrictive. Already early, his self-will was revealed, to which he was later to devote a whole book. His mother wrote about him to his father in 1881: “The boy has a life, a huge strength, a powerful will and ... an amazing mind for his four years, where is it going?" At that time, the family had moved to Basel, Switzerland, for five years before returning to Calw again. From young age on, Hesse was never a follower, never “mainstream", one would say today. The nationalism emerging in Germany was suspicious to him from the beginning, his books in later Nazi Germany suppressed. After passing the Württemberg state examination as a prerequisite for a pastor’s office, he attended the protestant theological seminar in the monastery of Maulbronn in 1891, from which he already fled a year later, because he wanted to become “either a poet or nothing at all”, as he later wrote. Autobiographical aspects from this period can be found in his novel “Under The Wheel” (1906). Later, after numerous troubles, he made his way to find an apprenticeship as a bookseller in the university town of Tübingen (1895 - 1898), where so many great personalities taught, starting from Melanchthon in the 16th century to the modern age, where Ernst Bloch, Hans Küng and Walter Jens worked, who all I was able to experience as a young student and helped shape me like Hesse. My critical spirit emerged as a young intern shortly before moving to the University of Chicago, when I heard a lecture by the highly respected rhetorician Walter Jens about Hermann Hesse, to which I responded by a letter to the editor printed in the Tübingen daily “Südwest Presse" under the heading "Over-cultural effect":

„I was unpleasantly surprised by Jens plea for humanity, which resulted in a strange comparison between Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann. The comparison was strange, because Jens chose political engagement as the measure of his evaluation. Not only that Jens thereby reduced humanity to a political element, but also ignored Hesse’s fundamental thoughts.

Indeed, for Hesse, forced persuasion (political engagement) is only conceivable from a "deeply unspiritual attitude". He gives the other the freedom to come to the conviction of himself. Hesse, with his clear power of speech, aims at the inner formation of man, at the seeker to becoming a real human being, the “conditio sine qua non” of humanity. Hesse’s self-will should be a role model, especially for those (pre-)thinkers who stress the political element inappropriately and sell themselves for political actions (Mutlangen). (Note: Walter Jens took part in a political demonstration against the NATO double decision on armament in Mutlangen.)

Calling Hesse, in his self-will permeated by determination and humanistic power, an "indecisive guru from Swabia", borders on incomprehension of his over-cultural influence. In that so pointed sounding attribute, willingly received by the press, there is not even true the description "from Swabia". Hesse saw himself as an Alemanni."

Hermann Hesse in Ticino, above Lake Maggiore, 1930 (Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung)

In fact, in 1899, Hesse relocated to Basel, Switzerland, and later became a Swiss citizen. He married three-times. Out of his first marriage, three sons emerged who grew up separately from him after his divorce. His second wife has been mirrored by him in the person of Kamala in the novel "Siddhartha". Hesse spent his entire second half of his life with his third wife, an art historian, in the beautiful village Montagnola in Ticino until his death. There, he wrote most of his great works, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. The laudatory speech of the Swedish Academy stated: "for his inspiring works, which embody the classical ideals of humanism and high style of art with increasing courage and depth". Characteristic for him and his over-cultural influence was that he accepted the Nobel Prize due to his respect for all those who achieved this highest honor, although he has not collected the award in person in Stockholm. He was feigning sickness to avoid this honor. External fame was not decisive for him. His works have been translated into over 40 languages and 12 Indian dialects, including the poem "Steps" (1941), the novels "Demian" (1919), "Steppenwolf" (1927), "Narcissus and Goldmund" (1930), "The Glass Bead Game" (1943), and of course also “Siddhartha”.

Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha, 560-480 BC), statue in Bodhgaya, India, where Buddha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree around 534 BC

The title "Siddhartha" and thus the name of the main character of this Indian novel playing in the 6th and 5th centuries BC derives from the historical first name of Buddha. But it is not about the history of Buddha. Hesse merely sets the frame of this novel with his name. The novel is about the necessary changes to reach the perfect state of a human being. These changes are presented in steps as a tribute to Hesse’s beautiful poem “Steps".

Step 1: Siddhartha grew up as the son of a brahman in the caste system of India.

Note: The caste system, which is still present in India today, even if not so rigidly, knows four castes (varnas) in addition to the mass of the “untouchables” (Dalits), the underclass of society. The lowest are the servants and service providers (shudras), the peasants and merchants (vaishyas), the warriors, higher executives and princes (kshatriyas), and finally the scholars and priests, the brahmans, as the highest caste. Indian society is established in an extremely horizontal manner, i.e., a rise between castes is basically not possible, at least not in this life. That is only possible after reincarnation in a new life, if one has accomplished good things in the present life.

He has therefore already been born into the highest caste. However, that means nothing on the way to a perfect human being. Of course, he is allowed to acquire a lot of knowledge (of the Vedas and Upanishads). “He practiced ...in speech battles, ...in the art of contemplation, in the exercise of immersion ... the forehead surrounded by the brightness of the clear-thinking spirit." Yet, where were the brahmans, the sages, not only to know their knowledge, but also to live accordingly? And where was Atman to be found, where did He live, where did His eternal heart beats, where other than in one’s own ego, in the innermost, in the indestructible, which everyone carried within oneself?“

Note: The Upanishads, written from 750 BC on, are the core of Indian philosophy. In them the relationship of the individual soul, Atman, to the world soul Brahman was considered. The latter is the creative potency manifesting in the totality of the world, ultimately the all-encompassing from which all being develops. Brahman is to be distinguished from the caste of the brahmans, whose priests worship it and what they can feel only after reaching perfection. The Rig-Veda (Sanskrit veda, "knowledge, holy teaching"), which were orally handed down as Brahmanic secret knowledge in early times, goes back to the 12th century BC.

In order to find Atman, Siddhartha had to part from his parents' house despite his father’s resistance, had to go his own way. Not looking back, he never saw his father again.

Step 2: He joined the Samanas together with his childhood friend Govinda, wandering ascetics who went into the woods to renounce the world, characterized by selfless thinking, to face the miracle of life openly. The means used for that is meditation, the empty thinking of all ideas, the renunciation of all senses. “Siddharta learned many things from the Samanas; he learned to go many ways away from the ego. He walked the path of self-empowerment... thousand times he left his ego … however, whenever the ways led away from his ego, their end always returned to him.” Siddhartha learned all the strengths of a samana in perfection, surpassing even its elders, which are: thinking, contentment, and patience.

Note: Patience is an important virtue, which I also had to practice for a long time. The many "high potentials" I encountered in my life all admitted that they did not have one thing - patience. They coquetted even with that statement. They wanted to know more and more, to take over more responsibility and to own more and more. Basically, they were only concerned with power and reputation, money and prestige, which often turns into pure greed - wanting to become ever richer in external goods, even at the expense of others. One won’t keep anything after death.

Step 3: Siddhartha became increasingly aware that the escape of the samanas from their ego was not the right way. “We find comfort, we find numbing, we learn skills with which we fool ourselves. However, the essential, the way of ways, we do not find," he said to Govinda. When Siddhartha became clear about that, he had to separate from the group of samanas with whom he lived for so many years. This time, too, Govinda followed him in search of Gotama, the sublimed Buddha who was supposed to have found the way of ways. Among the many samanas who went on pilgrimage to Buddha, Siddhartha immediately recognized him within the crowd. “Buddha walked his way modestly and lost in thoughts, his quiet face was neither happy nor sad, it seemed to smile softly inwards ... his face and his way of walking ... each finger on his hand quietly hanging down spoke peace, spoke perfection." They heard his teaching from his mouth. Siddhartha was deeply impressed by Buddha’s charisma resting within himself, yet not by his doctrine of suffering, the cause of suffering and its redemption.

Many Samanas followed Buddha, including his childhood friend Govinda, who has remained faithful to him for so many years and admired him, confessed to Buddha and had to weep to see that Siddhartha did not choose this path and separated from him. He did not understand the impending next transformation of Siddhartha. The next morning Siddharta wandered in his mind through the grove where Buddha taught and suddenly met him. He took courage and spoke: "Together with my friend, I came from far away to hear your teaching. And now my friend will stay with you..., however, I will continue my pilgrimage." “As it pleases you”, Buddha replied. Siddhartha justified his decision: “...the unity of the world, the context of all events shines brightly from your sublime teaching ... but now something strange ... which was not there before ... flows into this world of unity... that is your doctrine about overcoming this world, about redemption. Yet, with this ... breakthrough, the whole eternal and unified world law is again broken and abolished." Buddha replied: “... the aim (of my teaching) is not to explain the world to inquisitive persons ... its purpose is the salvation from suffering. This is what Gotama teaches, nothing else."

Note: Buddha assumed that life itself is suffering, from birth through labor, separation, illness, and old age to death. This is understandable if one has seen the present, disgusting living conditions of most people in India by one’s own eyes, as it has been presented to me on my business trips through India. Buddha saw the origin of suffering in sticking to material and non-material things, because nothing is permanent, even the ego is transient. His goal is the overcoming of self, keeping in the tradition of the samanas, and in perfection the redemption by entering into nirvana, the nothingness, which is indeed everything. He points to an eightfold path to nirvana: right recognition and attitude (panna), right speaking and doing (sila), right effort and mindfulness (sati), and ultimately right concentration and right life (samadhi). According to the oldest Buddhist texts, Hesse used the Pali spelling "Gotama" instead of “Gautama” (Sanskrit).

However, for Siddhartha, the coherence of all events, the unity of the world is shining from Buddha’s teachings. Why should one be redeemed from it? Salvation is not achieved by any good teaching, but only by going one’s own path of life. He wants to find out what ultimately led to the sublime personality, to the enlightenment of Buddha. He parted from Buddha with the words: "I had no doubt, not for a moment, that you are Buddha, that you have reached the goal, the highest, after which so many thousands of Brahmans and Brahmin sons are on the way. You have found salvation from death. It has become to you from your own seeking, on your own way, through thoughts, through immersion, through knowledge, through enlightenment. It has not become to you by any teaching! " It is clear to him, one has to find oneself before one can immerse in the world soul Brahman. Herein, Hesse adopts one of the key propositions of pre-Socratic philosophy: "gnothi seauton - recognize yourself”. The awakening is characterized by the recognition of diversity, the essential being of things, the beauty of all manifestations, and not the Brahmans' primary search for unity, not by the samanas’ escape from themselves, and not by Buddha’s teaching to mentally leave the world before one actually have to.

Step 4: Thus, Siddhartha continued his pilgrimage. He now saw the world with other eyes.  “The world was beautiful ... the moon and the stars, the small river and its bank, forest and rock ... flowers and butterflies. It was beautiful and lovely to walk through the world in this way, so childlike, so awakened, so open to the next ... What he had said to Gotama, that his, the Buddha’s, treasure and secret is not the teaching, but the inexpressible and not teachable, that he once experienced at the hour of his enlightenment - and this was just what he was going to experience now..." So far he has been completely focused on his world of thoughts, on his mind and knowledge. Now he wanted to explore the realm of senses. It had become clear to him that both, mind and senses, make up the essence of a human being, that behind both the meaning of life is hidden.

He met Kamala, a beautiful and wealthy courtesan who attracted him erotically. Her mouth was “like a freshly broken fig”, whose sweetness and tenderness he was allowed to taste after he had recited some verses written for her.  He, too, attracted her attention by his "otherness", his clear eyes and his self-confidence. However, in order to possess her, he had to completely change his appearance, wearing fine clothes and having money in his bag, becoming a "child-human", for whom money means the world. Promoted by Kamala, he did an apprenticeship under Kamaswami, the richest merchant of the nearby town. Since being a son of a Brahmin he could certainly read and write, which the vast majority, including Kamala, could not master. Kamala advised him not to be too modest, otherwise Kamaswami would quickly abuse him as a servant. In contrast, he should develop into his kind, otherwise he would not be worthy of her. Siddhartha learned quickly and developed into a superior merchant. He was even more successful in trading goods than his commercial teacher. Yet, only "Kamala was the value and meaning of his present life". He did not just trade goods, but also became a feared gambler and increasingly fell into the materialism of the "world of “child-humans". In return, Kamala introduced him to the realm of senses and lust and tought him in all varieties of eroticism. However, that has nothing to do with real love. For Kamala it was the practice of the art of body love, and for him learning. Yet, he also got along very well with her, better than with his former friend Govinda. Once he said to her: “You are like me, you are different from most people. You are Kamala, nothing else, and within you is a silence and refuge in which you can enter at any hour and be at home with yourself. Most people are like a falling leaf that blows and spins through the air, swaying and staggering to the ground. But others, few, are like stars, they walk on a fixed course, ...in themselves they have their law and their course."  Ultimately, the world had captured him, the lust, the desire, the laziness, and finally also ... greed.

Siddhartha turned into the complete opposite of a self-renouncing, frugal and patient Samana into a restless human being driven by money and external pleasures, to whom he could only once look down. When he became aware of this, there was a feeling of disgust in him. „Only Kamala was dear to him, had been valuable to him. However, was that still the case? Did he still need her, or did she need him? Didn’t they play a game without end? ...This game was called Sansara, a game for children...".

Note: In Hinduism and Buddhism, Sansara refers to the recurring cycle of birth, vegetating, death and rebirth, the painful world from which Buddhism tries to free. The name “Kamala” is derived from the Hindu god of love, Kama.

He knew that the game was over for him; he sat in his pleasure garden and simply left, leaving all behind him, and was no longer seen. Kawasami had him searched, worried that something had happened to him. But Kamala knew, Siddhartha was on the way to the next step of his development.  

Siddhartha felt such a great revulsion from himself, from what he became, that he believed in a necessary self-destruction, in suicide. Where had the Brahmin gone, where the Samana, where the rich? “Quickly changes the transitory”. He reached the river, over which he once came to Kamala, and wanted to plunge into its waters. “An eerie emptiness reflected from the water, to which the terrible emptiness in his soul gave an answer. There was nothing left for him but to extinguish himself...". He fell on the riverbank, on the roots of a coconut tree, into a deep sleep from which the "Om", this magical word of the brahmans and Buddhists, awakened and saved him. As happened to Buddha, enlightenment reached him under a tree. Once of a sudden, love awakened in him, the love for everything. This lack of love, despite his knowledge, all pleasures and lust, had made him sick and, in deep depression, almost led to suicide. But this decline was a prerequisite for his resurrection, his awakening to a purified man. No doctrine could have done this; he had to experience it. He had changed so much that even the monk Govinda, his childhood friend, who accidentally found him asleep and watched over him, did not recognize him.

The sign for “Om” (Sanskrit), the quintessential, indicating the presence of the "Absolute"

Step 5: Only after this last change, after seeing the abyss, he was able to listen to the constant change, the mystery of life, symbolized by the river in which he actually wanted to drown himself - the river that flowed all the time, and yet was always there, always the same, just the river, and yet always new. A simple ferryman, Vasudeva, became his last spiritual leader - not teaching him, but listening. It was the same ferryman who brought him across the river on his journey into worldly life 20 years ago and now helped him back into spiritual life. When Siddhartha asked whether it was not nice to work and live by the river, Vasudeva modestly answered: "Isn’t every life, every work beautiful? " - As a young medical student, me too made the experience that inner depth of a human being is not linked to an externally magnificent profession. A simple landscape gardener, whom I had met as a patient during my nursing internship, had such depth. He got my attention by the books on his bedside table - Plato. We found each other to exchange many philosophical thoughts. His first name was Immanuel, and I named the second name of my second son after him, not after Immanuel Kant, who also attracted me at that time.

Note: Hesse borrowed the name "Vasudeva" from Indian mythology. Vasudeva is in all things and all things are in him. He is regarded as the father of Krishna as well as the creator of the whole world.

Siddhartha now lived with the ferryman by the river and shared his thoughts and his daily work with him. They became widely known as sages, saints, while the "childish people" were often disappointed when they encountered their external simplicity. One day they were told that Gotama, the Buddha, was about to die, so many pilgrims came to the river to get to him. Among them was Kamala, who also changed after being together with Siddhartha and followed the teachings of the Buddha. Her child, an 11-year-old boy, accompanied her, and as she rested by the river, she was bitten by a poisonous snake. At their cries for help, Vasudeva came and carried her to the house, where Siddhartha immediately recognized his former lover, and that her son was also his. She recognized him, too: "You have grown old, my dear..., but you resemble the young Samana... much more than you were like him when you left me and Kamaswami... Your eyes have become very different... You have found peace?... I see it." She thought that she wanted to see Gotama, the face of a perfect human being. Instead, she found Siddhartha, and it was “as good as she would have seen that one. She wanted to tell him that. However, her tongue no longer obeyed her will. She looked at him in silence, and he saw in her eyes that her life extinguished. When the last pain filled her eyes and then broke, ...his finger closed her eyelids”, bent very close to her. She had found peace, as well. “The feeling of presence and simultaneity permeated him completely, the feeling of eternity. Deeply, deeper than ever, he felt the indestructibility of every life, the eternity of every moment in this very hour."

The education of his son was now up to Siddhartha, who was as lenient as he could be. Since the spoiled boy had grown up differently, he did not feel happy in solitude and frugality, did not understand himself at all with his father, yelling at him and humiliated him. Siddhartha was so happy to have a son, and let all this happen with kindness and tolerance. “Well, he felt that this ... blind love for his son being a passion, that it is Sansara, a muddy spring, dark water..." He had to let go, he had to realize that his son had to go his own way and who left him one night, without saying goodbye - just as he had once to leave his father. Siddhartha suffered greatly from this last trial, sought him in vain in the forest, went all the way back to the gates of the city, to the pleasure garden, where he once lived with Kamala and saw his entire development unfold in front of his eyes. Vasudeva finally brought him back. It was done - the hardest test of letting go his own child. They never talked about that again. In this difficult father-son relationship, Hesse reflects his own relationship with his sons, who grew up separated from him, to whom he could never develop a truly cordial relationship.

Step 6: Siddhartha learned his last lesson, listening, “listening with a quiet heart, an opened soul..., without wish..., without judgment...”; simply to participate in this beautiful world, without desiring and without judging, cataloguing - only very few are able to do that. By doing that, he heard within the thousands of voices of the river the holy word "Om", the connection of everything. It is the hidden voice of life, of all being, of the changing, and eternally becoming. He could now even love each of the passions of the “childish people”, be it either “a mother’s blind love for her child… the pride of a conceited father about his only son… the wild pursuit of jewelry... or of a young, vain woman”.  As Samana he could only look down on them. Finally, even himself a “child human”, he was disgusted by them up to self-loathing. After all, these passions were also parts of Brahman, the world soul. In himself, the knowledge matured, “... what wisdom actually might be, what the goal of his long search might be. It was nothing but readiness of the soul, ... thinking the thought of unity, feeling the unity... at every moment…". His ego was now united with Brahman. He didn’t have to fight with himself anymore, he didn’t have to search any further, he stopped suffering. “On his face blossomed the joy of knowledge, ... that knows the perfect state of being, that agrees with the flow of events, with the flow of life...". When the old man Vasudeva became aware of this, he was happily able to say goodbye to Siddhartha using the words: "I go into the woods, I go into unity".

No teaching has brought Siddhartha to that state, only his way, the life. Since each teaching can indeed transfer knowledge, what is important enough, but no wisdom. Everyone has to recognize the wisdom of life for himself, and that is subjective. The truth that each individual sees can be quite different for another, he realized: “The opposite of every truth is just as true!" When Buddha spoke about the world as a teacher, he had to differentiate, because the essence of teaching like of any science is differentiation. Thus, he had to divide the world into sansara and nirvana. However, the world is unity with which he now felt one. Even the time was relative for him, not really existing. In deep meditation one has the possibility to completely cancel out the time. The reason is, we ourselves are within the time. Our subconscious is timeless; we don’t really realize that we are getting older. The subconscious knows no death, only the body ages. Siddhartha also realized that even in every stone, future life is hidden. When a stone is eroded, its minerals can be absorbed by living organisms. Therefore, a simple stone was adorable for him. Jesus of Nazareth expressed that according to the Gospel of Thomas: “...split a piece of wood: I am there! Lift a stone: you will find me there!"

When Siddhartha met his childhood friend Govinda one last time, who heard of a wise ferryman and came to him, Govinda did not recognize him immediately, because his nature had changed so much. "Although I am old," said Govinda to Siddhartha, “yet I have not stopped searching". To his request Siddhartha replied: "the reason that you do not find is searching... searching means: having an aim. Yet, finding means: to be free…” In response to Govinda’s question about his teaching or thoughts, Siddhartha deepened the conversation: “Any truth can always only be expressed and wrapped in words if it is one-sided. Everything that can be thought and said with words is one-sided... everything half, everything lacks entireness, the round, the unity. When the exalted Gotama spoke of the world in his teaching, he had to dissect it, in sansara and nirvana, in deception and truth, in suffering and redemption. However, the world itself, the being around us and within us, is never one-sided... one is able to love things. Yet, words can’t be loved… There is no thing that would be nirvana; there is only the word nirvana... love, dear Govinda, appears to me the major issue. To see through the world, to explain it... may be the case for great thinkers. Yet, I am only interested in being able to love the world... to be able to see it and me and all beings with love and admiration, and respect."

Siddhartha’s perfection could be felt while Govinda could not explain it. But when he kissed Siddhartha on the forehead to say goodbye, he saw life in all its diversity, its constant change, he saw his own life before his eyes, behind the mask of the smiling face of Siddhartha. Govinda stood still for a while “bent over Siddhartha’s silent face, ... that was just the scene of all formations, all becoming, all being that had been... Govinda bowed deeply, tears ran... over his old face, the feeling of deepest love burned like a fire, having humble devotion in his heart... in front of the motionless sitting man whose smile reminded him of everything he had ever loved in his life, which had ever been worthy and holy in his life.“

Unfortunately, with what has been said, everything is always a little different, a little distorted. One takes away the magic, the harmony of unity. When one loves someone, the experience of love can’t be actually expressed by the simple words "I love you". It is so incomparably more. While Buddha taught not to bind oneself to earthly things through love, Siddhartha goes further, and thereby even rises above him. It is the love for all things, the admiration of creation, which ultimately matters. Whoever is able do it, has the eternal smile on his lips, is part of the unity of all, has entered the stage of perfection.

„Siddhartha” is a powerful book, the power of which I can absorb even more intensely today. As a young man, I could just feel the force. Today I know that this is based on the knowledge of one of the greatest books in human history, the “I Ching” - the Book of Changes, that has been developed long time before Buddha, within the Chinese culture in the 11th century BC. In fact, Hesse himself admitted that his "Siddhartha" was closer to Taoism than to Buddhism. Govinda’s impressive reflection of all being, that has become, and becoming on the face of Siddhartha at the end of the novel is a deeply Taoist thought. Hesse knew how to transfer this together with Indian philosophy into the European culture, that marks his cross-cultural influence. But to what extent one can love everything, because everything is part of Brahman, the world soul, I dare to doubt. There is too much evil in the world, carried by man, that Govinda also saw in the face of Siddhartha, and I have hinted at with an experience presented in the introduction of this essay. Love, however, is undoubtedly the key to a happy, accomplished life. If only everyone could orient themselves on it! Yet, before one can really love, one has to recognize oneself. Only then, one can really understand and love the world around us and the world of someone else.

"Elective Affinities"

May 19, 2023

This novel by Johann W. von Goethe (1749 - 1832) was recently described by one of my friends on Facebook, a well-known Germanist, as the most important work of world literature. This made me curious. I know of several works by Goethe, such as "Faust", "The Sorrows of the Young Werther", “Poetry and Truth”, his lyric work, letters to his muse Charlotte von Stein, as well as his theory of color, but not this novel. My private library contains about 3000 books, including the "Hamburg Edition" of the complete works of Goethe. Thus, I took volume 6, in which "Elective Affinities" is included.

Goethe’s live mask by Carl Weisser, 1807, about the time he wrote this novel

One has to be careful with superlatives in general, and that also applies to this novel, which I will describe and comment on below. In contrast to the "Werther", the novel was not particularly popular even during Goethe’s lifetime, although popularity is of course not decisive for the literary quality. A book needs to be written at the right time and for an adequate audience if it shall be popular. It turns out, however, that Goethe takes up a "universal" theme. It is a romanticizing romance novel, the story of which ends in a Greek-style tragedy. Accordingly, he had indeed aimed at popularity, albeit provocatively, as he then targeted prevailing moral ideas about marriage. Consequently, the novel had been sold very well.

Title

From today’s perspective, the unusual title "Elective Affinities" is an artificial word in the context of relatives (as expressed in the original German title), because kinship is determined through the bloodline or mediated by marriage. Only the latter can be chosen, at least on a temporary basis, but only the bloodline really makes people relatives. This quickly becomes clear when it comes to the divorce of married people.

Goethe borrowed this term from the development of chemistry in the 18th century, which was then still seen in harmony with alchemy. The chemical theory of elective affinities dates back to ancient times, when terms such as sympathy, affinity or kinship were used to denote the mutual influence of two or more substances on each other. In 1775, the Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman published the treatise "De attractionibus electivis" (About Elective Affinities), which Goethe used as the title of his novel. Bergman’s central law was: If A is a substance which can unite with substances B and C, A is united with C until saturation, and by the addition of B, which unites with A, C is displaced, so it applies that A attracts more B than C, i.e. B possesses a stronger, elective attraction to A than C. In Goethe’s novel, this law is transferred to human behavior and is intended to explain the attraction between the individual main characters in the course of the novel. The law of Bergman is explicitly discussed by the main characters within the novel (part 1, chapter 4).

In fact, Goethe himself carried out simple chemical experiments during his youth. However, explaining the complexity of human interactions by simplest chemical reactions or to see them in analogy is daring in my view. By bringing together different people, there are just created opportunities, which are subject to chance and do not follow fixed chemical rules.

Starting Situation

The wealthy Baron Eduard and his wife Charlotte enjoy a secluded, harmonious life on one of his estates. He takes care of the development of the extensive parks and she manages the finances, which one would expect the other way around. This is an expression of the different personality structures, that becomes increasingly clear throughout the course of the story. Eduard lets himself be driven more by the beautiful things of nature, while Charlotte takes care of all necessities of their common life in a very balanced way, including mastering all social conventions.

They could not find each other until recently, even though they have already been admired by everyone as a loving couple in their youth. Fate did not mean well with them, however, as they were forced to marry with others. After the early death of their spouses, they were finally able to find each other and since then had a carefree, harmonious married life, which Charlotte does not let even be disturbed by her own daughter who needs to live well protected in a girls' boarding house away. That was very wise of Charlotte because a later visit of her daughter in the course of the story (part 2, chapter 4) showed how restless and sometimes ruthless her daughter acts demanding a lot of tolerance from her mother Charlotte.

Charlotte appears to be very similar in her entire superior personality to Goethe’s adored and courted Charlotte von Stein, who, as a married aristocrat, could not be reached by him despite their affinity to each other. The identical first name is certainly no coincidence. Anyone who has read the letters between Goethe and Charlotte von Stein knows about the prudent and considerate personality structure of Charlotte, and the daring behavior of Goethe, as in the course of this novel presented in the person of Eduard.

Changes - Parable of Elective Affinities

Whether Eduard got bored of their togetherness remains unclear in the novel, at least it has not been clearly worked out by Goethe. In fact, the remote location of the estate where Eduard and Charlotte live, without the social distractions of a city, carries the risk of boredom and rapid habituation, especially for a passionate man like Eduard. Furthermore, it is certainly a false assumption that a loving relationship of the past will carry on at a later time, because people might develop in divergent directions. Therefore, he wants to invite his friend, a captain, to stay with them on the estate. Charlotte tells Eduard that she has a bad feeling about it. Her reasoning that fate had made them both live apart for so long, and therefore she does not want to change the current situation, should actually convince every loving husband. It is clear to her, "men think more about the individual, about the present, ...but women think more about what is connected in life... " (part 1, chapter 1). However, all that does not convince Eduard.  His continued insistence on the grounds that his good friend would have to live abroad without work despite his many talents, she finally gives in out of respect and love for Eduard, but not without asking to bring her orphaned niece Ottilie, suppressed in a girls' boarding house, into their house, too.

After the arrival of the friend, the men begin to work together. They want to measure the estate correctly and regulate the leases. Charlotte likes the clever and prudent manner of the captain, as this corresponds to her character. During a reading, Eduard accurately remarks what can be referred to him in the following (part 1, chapter 4): "Man is a true narcissist; he likes to mirror himself everywhere, he lies down as a foil of the whole world." An evening conversation between the three about chemical connections provides the scientific background for future changes. They are expressing: “Opposite properties make a more intimate union possible." Basically, the life principle of dualism is touched here, and it is discussed that mixing sulfuric acid and limestone produces gypsum. “Here, a new composition has been created, ... entitled to even use the word elective affinity, because it really looks as if one relationship ... has been elected in favor of another one". Charlotte rightly responds: “I would never see here a choice, rather a natural necessity, ... because in the end it’s just a matter of opportunity." Charlotte recognizes the principle of randomness in nature and points to parallels with human relationships. Unfortunately, she knows too many cases, “where an intimate, seemingly indissoluble connection between two human beings is being cancelled by the occasional addition of a third one." Chemistry, Eduard counters, has an answer ready here, too: one only has to add a fourth element, so that two new, contented pairs would emerge from the old ones. Chemists rightly call this phenomenon an "elective affinity". Thus, the couple decide to bring Charlotte’s niece Ottilie to her better development to them, so that Charlotte also receives a companion. She is to replace the previous housekeeper who moves away for the purpose of marriage. The misfortune takes its beginning.

Ottilie quickly becomes a housekeeper. Kindly turned towards all residents, she reads their wishes from their eyes, that flatters Eduard in particular. When making music together, she can even adapt much better to Eduard’s somewhat bumpy playing style than his wife. Eduard is increasingly attracted to Ottilie, who excites him in her shy virginity, so that he is hardly able to maintain the required distance (part 1, chapter 8). As Charlotte and the captain work together to beautify the village and the castle park, the captain begins "to feel an irresistible habit threatening to tie him to Charlotte," because both have related souls. However, they know how to control their mutual affection. At Ottilie’s suggestion, a summer house is supposed to be built on a hill, which offers a magnificent view of the three ponds in the park, that Eduard agrees on just to please her. On Charlotte’s birthday, the foundation stone of the new house is celebrated with the villagers and noble neighbors. A bricklayer gives a solemn speech, drinks a glass of wine and throws the glass into the air so that it would shatter to bring happiness to the building. However, a worker on the scaffolding catches it laughing, what signals the future misfortune. The intertwined letters E and O are engraved on the glass. It belongs to Eduard, who was originally named Otto, but also symbolizes the deepening relationship between Eduard and Ottilie.

Spiritual Adultery

In the evening, a so-called mediator comes to visit, who, according to his name, has made it his life’s task to mediate between disputing parties (part 1, chapter 9). Nothing is more sacred to him than marriage: "Marriage is the beginning and the peak of all culture". He disappears immediately when the count and the baroness, a prominent, illegitimate couple, arrive in the castle courtyard. Both have demanded divorce from their spouses, but the count’s wife does not agree. Charlotte is also not quite comfortable with the visit. In fact, the couple talks without any shyness about the compulsion of a marriage and thereby catalyzes the extramarital inclinations of the two other present couples. The count provocatively quotes a friend’s suggestion that "any marriage should be valid for only five years" - just enough time to conceive children (part 1, chapter 10). He does not think about the common education of the children, because this was done in aristocratic houses anyway by servants. There is no doubt that the count’s pronouncements were a breach of taboo at that time, that is why Goethe’s novel was so consistently disapproved of during his lifetime. A marital relationship had to be continued for life. This may still be understandable given the earlier significantly shorter life expectancy of humans due to epidemic and war reasons. Today, in view of a life expectancy of approx. 80 years and the resulting increased probability of developing in very different directions, phase-of-life relationships appear to be more appropriate.

In the evening, the count is led by Eduard to the women’s chambers, where the baroness awaits him (part 1, chapter 11). Eduard accompanies him, then remains undecided in the hallway. He thinks of Ottilie, who is probably sitting on his paperwork, which she agreed to do for him. Actually, he wants to see her, but because there is no direct way into her rooms, he suddenly knocks on Charlotte’s door because he hears Ottilie’s name. She in turn hopes and fears at the same time a nocturnal visit of the captain, to whom she is attracted, too. When she finally opens, both spouses are disappointed by the sight of the other. Eduard escapes in jokes and asks his wife whether he may stay with her, that she cannot deny him. "In the dim lamp light, ... the imagination immediately claimed its rights over the real: Eduard held only Ottilie in his arms, Charlotte felt the captain floating closer or more distant before her soul, and so interwoven ... absence and presence, stimulating and delightfully mixed." Adultery is done in the spirit. "For such is the nature of love that it alone believes to be right and all other rights disappear" (part 1, chapter 12).

The next day, Ottilie, "shining full of kindness" hands over the finished paperwork to Eduard. "The feeling of having done something for the friend had lifted her whole being above herself." She did this with such dedication that on the last pages she could even copy his own handwriting one to one. In it, reflected in her writing, Eduard sees the final proof of her love and takes her into his arms with the words "You do love me". "From that moment on the world was turned for Eduard, he no longer remained what he was, the world no longer what it was before." A moment later, the captain and Charlotte return from a common boat trip on the pond, where the captain was overlooking a shoal and hit the ground. He had no choice but to carry Charlotte ashore, and they came so close that he could not control himself. "She was still holding on his neck; he took her ... in his arms and put a lively kiss on her lips ... and cried: Charlotte can you forgive me? The kiss that the friend dared, what she almost returned, brought Charlotte back to herself." Reason has won over them. They agreed to forget the incident, because the captain wants to take up a new position, which was opened to him by the count to the regret of Charlotte. Yet, Charlotte also wants to keep the duties of her marriage.

Unnoticed Signs

Unlike his wife, Eduard devotes himself entirely to his passion. He prematurely tells Ottilie that Charlotte will marry the captain and consent to a divorce, so that he will be free for her. He pushes the landscape work so that everything is ready in time for Ottilie’s birthday. The celebration begins as a roaring feast, but ends in a disaster: the dikes of the three ponds, which are to be integrated into a single lake, break. Guests fall into the water, whereby a child can only be saved from drowning at the last moment by the captain. The party is dissolving. Despite this misfortune, Eduard insists on watching the planned birthday fireworks on the lake alone with Ottilie. He is completely fixated on the desire of his love and forgets all social concerns.

The next day, the captain leaves and Charlotte confronts her husband: if her marriage is still to have a chance, Ottilie must leave as well. However, Eduard does not want to hear about it. He decides that he himself leaves his house for an indefinite time. "By sacrificing myself I have the right to demand. I leave my house and return only with more favorable, calmer perspectives." Basically, however, he escapes from all problems as if that would be a solution. In his farewell letter to Charlotte, he demands that Ottilie stays until he will have found his balance again: "If I should not despair at the moment, I must find some reprieve for myself, for all of us" (part 1, chapter 16). Only on this condition, he would stay away from Ottilie. He moves to a remote estate where he indulges in wild fantasies.

Mediator locates him there and wants to mediate between him and Charlotte on his own initiative. But Eduard thinks only of Ottilie and replies: “I am always covered by her, always near her. I have the invaluable advantage of being able to imagine where Ottilie is, where she goes, where she stands, where she rests... When I was close to her, I never dreamed of her; but now in the distance we are together in my dream...". He instructs the mediator to obtain his divorce from Charlotte, who, however, does not have the heart even to indicate that when learning about Charlotte’s hope for Eduard’s imminent return, because in the meantime she recognized her pregnancy from her spiritual adultery (part 1, chapter 18). According to mediator’s experience, no argument to save a marriage is as strong as the news of the forthcoming birth of a common child. A messenger delivers Eduard an emotional letter from Charlotte. “Remember those nocturnal hours in which you visited your wife adventurous as a lover, irresistibly attracted her to you...". However, even this memory of the night of love and the appeal to any father’s feelings does not move Eduard back to his wife. In contrast, he is even more repelled from his wife, because in that very night he spiritually made love to Ottilie. Thus, in this apparent hopelessness he decides to go to war in order to possibly find death on the battlefield. It was the time of the Napoleonic Wars (1798 - 1815), without this being further mentioned by Goethe. His only desire is Ottilie. What an irresponsible act, like an addiction, that pushes all rational aspects into the background! In fact, many compare love with a woman with an addiction, yet this only refers to the stage of falling in love. One cannot think of anything else than the subject of desire, which is purely driven by instinct as an expression of the self-preservation drive of any species. However, this has nothing to do with real love, which has yet to mature. This requires that one understands one’s inner world, then opens oneself to the world of the partner and can unite both. Ottilie could have been Eduard’s daughter and, in addition to her innocent charm, only excites him by her extreme adaptation to him, so he can narcissistically mirror himself in her. It is quite an asymmetrical relationship, which is falsely portrayed by Goethe as "love", what, however, often occurs and is confused with real love.

Manor Without Master

The first chapters of the second part are boring, because basically the reader is interested in how things continue with Eduard and the interwoven love relationships. Meanwhile, life on the "masterless" estate basically continues undisturbed (part 2, chapter 1). Charlotte had already taken care of all business before, while Ottilie is just as perfect managing the household. Eduard is basically expendable, and a young architect has replaced the captain and continues the work on the parks. He discovers an unused side chapel of the village church and embellishes it with paintings of angels and saints with the help of Ottilie. The faces of the figures, which the architect paints, begin to resemble Ottilie more and more expressing how much he has falling in love with her, too (part 2, chapter 3). Obviously, Ottilie is the perfect medium to twist the heads of various men - besides Eduard and the architect also the pedagogical assistant of the girls' boarding house from which she has been once brought by Charlotte. However, filled with the pain of having lost Eduard, Ottilie does not return the architect’s love. The pedagogical assistant visits the estate to woo Ottilie, as he is supposed to take over the head position of the pension soon, for which he needs a suitable wife. Faced with Eduard’s requirements, however, Charlotte cannot let her niece leaving the house and comforted the assistant (part 2, chapter 7). Conversations with Charlotte are almost always intelligent. Thus, when the assistant returns later, Charlotte notices: "by drawing us away by the course life, we believe ourselves to be acting... If we look closely at it, it is only the plans, the inclinations of time, which we are obliged to carry out" (part 2, chapter 8). How Eduard could leave a woman with that wisdom of life seems more and more inexplicable.

As before with the captain, Charlotte also gets along very well with the architect while maintaining the distance. In an in-depth conversation, she says: "We meet intellectual people without talking to them, the scholar without learning from him, the traveller without getting taught by him, the loving, without pleasing him. And unfortunately,... cities behave like this... against their most worthy citizens, ...nations against their most excellent people" (part 2, chapter 2). What oppressive truth Goethe puts here in Charlotte’s mouth! How far our societies could have developed if we would value the best of us more? Instead, over the centuries social development seems to be standing still ... A few weeks later, Charlotte gives birth to a son (part 2, chapter 8). The child does not look like Charlotte and Eduard, instead like the spiritual adulterers, the captain and Ottilie. His name shall be Otto, just like his father (and the captain). The baptism ends with an evil omen: the old village priest leans back into his chair and dies during the ceremony. So immediately birth and death... seeing side by side... To unite these enormous contrasts not only by imagination, instead through the own eyes, was a difficult task for all bystanders... Ottilie alone looked at the one who fell into death with some kind of envy... The life of her soul was killed: why should her body still be preserved?" - Goethe’s anticipation of coming events, as an indication that individual fate cannot be averted.

Infant Death

Ottilie cares with all her heart for "everything that was particularly dear to Eduard" and she cares for the newborn. She only wants to love unselfishly anymore, like loving the child, and completely renounces Eduard. Yet, "she only wished the welfare of her friend..." (part 2, chapter 9). Likewise, she does not want to connect - deeply disappointed by life - with someone else. The summer house is now almost finished, so that the two women move there together with the child during the warm summer days.

In the meantime, Eduard has returned from the war to the small estate far from his castle, where he calls his old friend the captain, now major, to himself. He had his castle been closely observed all the time and knew that Charlotte had followed his instructions and kept Ottilie on site. The whole time he was and still is completely seized by the desire for Ottilie as in an incurable addiction. With every attack on a position during the war, he was carried only by the thought of having to conquer Ottilie. He even makes himself clear: "A certain comforting intuition, some cheerful signs had... enhanced my madness that Ottilie could become mine." He persuades the major, despite the major’s numerous reservations about prevailing conventions and Charlotte’s blameless, honorable behavior, to ask for her hand for himself to grant Eduard a divorce. The major’s appeal to his father’s duties, as in Charlotte’s letter before his flight to war, could not convince him. "It is only an arrogance of parents... to imagine that their existence is so necessary for children." What a nonsense. Nothing is more important for the prosperity of a child than the loving attention of its parents. "I know you love Charlotte, and she deserves it; I know you are not indifferent to her... Take her from me, and bring Ottilie to me! And we are the happiest people on Earth," basically picking up the original, primitive, chemical numbers game of elective affinities.

While the major visits Charlotte, but does not find her, Eduard gets impatiently driven into the park, where he sees Ottilie sitting with the child at the lake: ... "she sat focusing on her book, sunk in herself, so graciously looking, that the trees, the bushes around her should have been animated by getting eyes to admire her... He flies towards her and lies at her feet." Overwhelmed by his love, he explains everything to her and asks for her hand. She hesitates and points to the child sleeping next to her. He replies: ... "Since we are come so far, because my relationship with Charlotte must be separated, you will be mine, why shouldn't I tell you the following?... This child is created from a double adultery! It separates me from my wife and my wife from me..." (part 2, chapter 13), alluding to that spiritual adultery. Ottilie declares him her hand on the condition that Charlotte agrees to a divorce: "For so long we didn't see each other... Consider what we both owe to Charlotte... I am yours if she allows it." She lovingly sends him back to the place where the major is expecting him. "I obey your orders," says Eduard, "by passionately looking at her first and then closing her firmly in his arms. She embraced him with her arms and pressed him tenderly to her breast... For the first time, they exchanged decisive, free kisses and separated violently and painfully." Meanwhile it has become very late, and Ottilie decides to shorten the way back home with a boat trip across the lake. As she rises impressed by what just happened in the swaying boat - a book in one hand and the child in the other - the child slips away from her and falls into the water. She pulls it out holding his clothes, tears her dress in despair and puts the cold bundle on her chest. However, it’s too late: little Otto is dead, fate has struck without mercy.

Tragic Fate

The good-hearted Charlotte takes that fate upon herself and assigns no blame to Ottilie with any word or thought. In contrast, in her view, her virtuous adherence to her marriage with Eduard, is to blame for the fate of her son (part 2, chapter 14). In the presence of the major, she comes to the end: "I feel quite well that the fate of several is in my hands... I agree having a divorce." To the major’s question about her common future, she replies, "We have not been in debt to become unhappy, but also do not deserve to be happy together.“

Eduard has no sympathy for the child that he has only seen once and never got to known. On the contrary, he feels that an obstacle on the way to Ottilie has been cleared away, without noticing Ottilie’s sense of responsibility, because she now swears to herself and confesses to Charlotte with clear words never to become Eduard’s wife as a result of the death of the innocent child. "The moment I learn that you have consented to divorce, I will atone for my offense, my crime in that same lake." She asks to inform the major that no steps should be taken to divorce Eduard from Charlotte. She decides to atone for as an educator in the girls' pension where she grew up. Eduard learns of this plan and catches her in the inn where she wants to stay during her journey. Ottilie could not read the letter he had written in preparation for their reunion before she unexpectedly collides with him. She backs away from him "and looked at the urgently demanding one with such a look that he was forced to withhold everything ... This movement tore his heart apart" (part 2, chapter 16). From then on Ottilie says no word anymore. She returns to the castle only as a shadow of herself together with Eduard, spending some additional time there, even making music as in earlier days with Eduard. Her body is always close to his, magically attracted. However, her mind is already displaced. "Life was a mystery for them. The resolution of which could be found only together” (part 2, chapter 17).  Unnoticed by everyone, except her nanny, who will seek for death because of that later, she no longer eats and drinks anything. At the moment when the mediator during his visit on the eve of before Eduard’s birthday thoughtlessly gives the instruction "You shall not adulterate", she disappears, "having changed her appearance", and collapses in her room. Everyone rushes to her, including Eduard, who has just arrived from a ride. "He throws himself down to her side, grabs her hand and floods it with silent tears... Will you not return to life with a word for me? Well, well! I follow you across; then we will speak with other languages! She strongly hugs his hand, she looks at him vividly and lovingly... Promise me to live! she calls with lovely, tender effort; yet, soon she sinks back, I promise! ... he only could cry after she has already died" (part 2, chapter 18).

Since that moment Eduard is no longer of this world; he simply does not accept her death. Ottilie is laid out in a glass coffin next to little Otto in the chapel. Eduard no longer finds any joy, "he seemed to have no more tears, not to be capable to feel any pain," he hardly eats or drinks anything. He can’t keep his last promise to Ottilie and dies. Charlotte has him buried next to his lover. "Thus, the lovers rest side by side... and what a friendly moment it will be when they again awake together one day."

Volume 6 of Goethe's complete works in 14 volumes, Hamburg edition, C.H. Beck publisher, Munich, 1981

Comments

In this novel "Elective Affinities", Goethe, who was almost 60 years old at the time of writing, processed his love affair with 19-year-old Minna Herzlieb at his mature age. Ottilie, who is the center figur of this novel, is 17 and like Minna an orphaned foster daughter. He knew Minna, who had grown up to become an extraordinary beauty, since her childhood. To his wife Christiane Vulpius, with whom Goethe had lived together unmarried for several years contrary to prevailing social conventions at that time, he openly admitted that he was more than fond of the virgin Minna. He told his friend Johann Peter Eckermann in 1820: "There is no line at all in the elective affinities, which I would not have experienced myself, and there is more in it than anyone could have recorded with a single reading." The latter, of course, corresponded to his hubris, because the love story is not so difficult to understand.

It is about the conflict between human passion and social norms, about the importance of the institution of marriage. Goethe questions marriage in a provocative way, as he himself practiced it for several years and which prevented the fulfilment from his love for the married Charlotte von Stein, which shaped him over many years. However, he rejects an open rebellion against it, but presents renunciation, a complete abandonment as a way out, that however ends in a human catastrophe. This cannot be a solution.  The novel is almost meticulously constructed: two parts, each with 18 chapters on about 250 pages, originally planned by Goethe only as a novella insert for "Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years" and then published independently in 1809. To symbolize the "kinship" of all the main characters involved in the novel, the word root "ott" is part of all names: Ottilie, Charlotte, Otto, the name of the captain and the child, as well as Eduard, who is actually named Otto. Goethe plays with gender roles: the captain and Ottilie are the stereotypes of their gender, while the rational Charlotte and the romantic Eduard symbolize their opposite. The basic conflict between nature and culture is chosen as a superordinate structure. The architectural transformation of the garden is intended to create harmony between nature and human intervention. The illusion of a harmonious coexistence of man and nature, however, falls abruptly apart when Charlotte’s child drowns in the artificial lake. Only Goethe knows why he symbolically connects water with death. Thus, at the beginning of the novel, measures against drowning are mentioned, at Ottilie’s birthday, a boy almost drowns, and Eduard’s child with Charlotte finally drowns like a cat in the lake. If water is symbolic of anything at all, it is life that comes out of water and without which life is impossible. Dust, to which every corpse decays, is actually the symbol of death.

The first part is about Eduard’s attraction to the shy, lovely virgin Ottilie, to whom he gives himself without any resistance, without thinking about the consequences. The naive, inexperienced Ottilie lets this happen without guessing where fate will lead her. Of symbolic nature is the fireworks, which Eduard has planned for Ottilie for her birthday and which he has even carried out, although all guests strive apart because of the almost fatal accident of a boy. Ottilie also lets it happen, completely inadequate regarding the situation. Like the fireballs of fireworks display, filled with exploding substances, once fired unstoppably into the air, the life of Eduard and Ottilie develops driven by their fate ... until a soon burn up. Goethe loves to incorporate such analogies into his novel. Charlotte’s affection for the captain is of a contrary nature, respectful and grown up to resist passion, even if chance drives them both into the arms of each other and triggers a shy kiss, for which the captain immediately apologizes. The first part ends with Eduard’s unfulfilled desire for the virgin Ottilie and his flight into a war at the height of the involvements, leaving his own, always devoted wife pregnant. In the second part, Goethe introduces new people, locations and styles into the events of the novel that anticipate the catastrophe in various ways. After the death of the innocent child of Eduard and Charlotte, the catastrophe culminates in the suicide of Eduard’s lover, "his" Ottilie, who feels guilty and overwhelmed by her fate, following a moving farewell scene. Eduard then only vegetates and ultimately dies. He cannot even keep his last promise to Ottilie, "to live on", which underlines his uncontrolled and dishonest character. Ultimately, he is responsible for the death of his innocent child and his virgin lover. Goethe’s hint at the end, making use of a miracle, and the implied prospect of a later common awakening of the lovers, makes the work slip somewhat kitschy, although he probably just wanted to incorporate the legend about the holy Ottilie (Odilia), which had impressed him earlier.

With the help of excerpts from Ottilie’s diary, Goethe lets the reader look deeper into her still unfinished, but rich inner life, as it would not be possible from her, rather naive figure in the narrative. The following sentences are characteristic of her diary entries: "There is no greater comfort for mediocrity than that genius is not immortal" (part 2, chapter 5). "The individual remains free to deal with what attracts him, what makes him happy ... however, the actual study of humanity is the human being" (part 2, chapter 7). "Everything perfect in its kind must go beyond its kind. It needs to become something different, incomparable" (part 2, chapter 9). As Nietzsche later described it impressively in his "Thus spoke Zarathustra" - the human being who only in his perfection becomes really human, the so called “superior human being”. How constructed these diary entries by Goethe are is shown by the fact that the love relationship with Eduard is not quoted with any word, that should actually take up a lot of space in the case of such a young girl.

Unlike Leo Tolstoy in his epic masterwork "War and Peace", whose interwoven love relationships are much more complex, Goethe renounces any reference to the profound political and social changes during the time of events. Napoleon had overrun large parts of Europe and plundered Goethe’s adopted hometown of Weimar. In 1806, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation ceased to exist. However, little changed at the aristocratic courts. French was spoken before and under Napoleon’s rule. In 1807, social reforms began in Prussia, which markedly limited the formerly absolute power of aristocracy. In 1809, Wilhelm von Humboldt initiated educational reforms, which are the foundation of the German education system until today. None of this is even hinted at in this novel. The death of Friedrich Schiller (1805) also fell into this period of upheaval - a turning point for Goethe. Together with his poet friend, he had shaped the Weimar Classicism: the pursuit of truth and beauty. As an interested, but with his color theory misguided scientist and minister of the Weimar aristocracy, he actively participated in political reforms at the beginning of industrialization. However, he could not join the rationalism that emerged from the Enlightenment. For Goethe it was much more important to point out the driving role of the unpredictable fate, manifested by coincidences of all kinds. Here I am with Goethe, it is the coincidences that determine life. Since chance is the means of life, as it itself has arisen just by chance. It is an expression of the maturity of each individual to accept one’s fate or, as Nietzsche put it, to love it: "amor fati".

The story is mainly told in the past tense, but Goethe always switches to the present when he wants to create tension and closeness. The romance is a little unsettling because of its less emotional language. There are never romantic situations really haunting, never facial features described. The spelling is antiquated by today’s standards, rather sober, almost sterile, like that of a 60-year-old who was probably never fulfilled with real love. Goethe works with a wealth of symbols and motifs, philosophical, pedagogical and religious excursions. He himself saw his novel as a puzzle that could not possibly be deciphered after a single reading, that is exaggerated. Today, such a story could simply be called "soap opera" - though at a high level. Goethe’s "Elective Affinities" stands up in no way to a comparison with Tolstoi’s masterwork quoted above, as well as with his novel "Anna Karenina". It appears to be rather what he originally conceived, a love story for an insertion for something bigger. I cannot follow the assessment of Thomas Mann, who described the book as "the greatest novel of the Germans". I rather agree with the criticism by Wilhelm Grimm, an important contemporary of Goethe, who regarded parts of the novel as boring. Actually, the work can be considered as a precursor of numerous famous marriage and adultery novels of the 19th century. These include Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre”, Gustave Flaubert’s "Madame Bovary", Leo Tolstoi’s "Anna Karenina", and Theodor Fontane’s "Effi Briest". However, Goethe’s “Elective Affinities” provides an important contribution to think about the social role of marriage and the diversity of love relationships. The wisdom hidden in the novel about the meaning of coincidences in life and the deterministic influence of fate are, in my view, of paramount importance and far too little appreciated.

"The Process" - A Meditation

March 31, 2023

It was the weekend of the beginning of spring, strictly speaking on Sunday March 20, 2023 – day and night equinox. From then on, days became longer than nights. The long lasting darkness always has something threatening to life which needs light to live. Just that day I fell asleep about Kafka’s "The Trial" after devouring the novel over the weekend - a superficially weird, surreal narrative that goes deep. For me, Kafka is the surrealist among writers, just as Dali is the surrealist among artists. Most of the well-known interpretations of “The Trial” (in my view, better translated as “The Process”) are already lost in the "kafkaesque" surface of his work. It is a dream-like story with spoken images that lead into the depth, into the subconscious. The leading character of the novel was simply called "K." by Kafka, like the abbreviation of his name. As first name he added "Joseph", probably to disguise his own identity, which is presumably behind this figure.

Franz Kafka,1923 (1883 Prag–1924 Kierling)

Strange Arrest

K. wakes up one morning. It is - as Kafka’s age at the beginning of the writing in 1914 - his 30th birthday. He is waiting for his breakfast, which is usually brought to him on time by the cook of his landlady. It is an unusual morning. Instead of having breakfast, he faces a strange arrest from his bed, without being aware of any offense and without being given any reason. “Who are you, asked K., sitting half-upright in bed. However, the man went over that question, as if one had to accept his appearance... You’re under arrest... And why?... We’re not supposed to tell you... Our administration is attracted to guilt and must send out us guardians.”  The two men wearing no uniforms, who are described by Kafka as "guardians" and pronounce the arrest, do not even formally introduce themselves as if they had to be known to K., or that the nature of the crime committed by K. does not require any further introduction. One of the two guardians is called Franz, like Kafka’s first name. They pretend only to fulfill their mission and this with the greatest goodwill towards K., for which the whole thing is incomprehensible. After all, “he lived in a constitutional state (the K.u.K. monarchy), there was peace everywhere, all laws were upheld, who dared to attack him in his apartment? " In the following, a “supervisor" joins in, but also gives no reason for his arrest. However, he allows K to continue to fulfil his professional obligations as authorized officer of a bank. The supervisor even allows K to call a friend of him, a prosecutor, for clarification that K claims first, then does not proceed, realizing that this might not have any effect on the following procedure, as certain as the supervisor appears.

After departure of the guardians, supervisor and K., and his return after his usual activity in the bank, K. meets his landlady, who tells him with all her simplicity: “You are arrested, but not as a thief is used to be arrested... This arrest seems to me like something scholarly what I don’t understand that, however, one doesn’t have to understand..." It seems as if something superordinate is involved - something that is not readily accessible to modest people.

Missed Interrogation

The following day, K. is informed that an interrogation of his case will take place the coming Sunday. This would be held regularly on a Sunday so that he can pursue his profession. The investigations would be thorough and should come to an end quickly. In principle, however, the verdict was fixed from the outset, as determined by a force majeure, otherwise there would have been no arrest at all. The court does not take place in a formal courthouse; it could have been held anywhere. It takes place in a hidden back room in the attic of a poor residential building. K. does not know the exact location or time. However, it turns out to be true what one of the guardians said when he was arrested "that the court would be drawn to the guilt,", so that K. finds the location. He does not understand in the least what purpose the interrogation serves, as the examining judge calls it. The examining judge is completely indifferent whether K. might be a wall painter or a bank authorized officer. Inadequately, K. tries to win the approval of the crowd in the auditorium, as he probably did many times in his life wanting to impress people. He makes an effort to even ridicule the court, but fails to use the opportunity to find out what actually led to his arrest, what offense he is supposed to have committed. Thus, the examining judge concludes: “I just wanted to draw your attention to the fact that you... deprived yourself of the advantage that an interrogation means for an arrested person in any case."

Unused Legal Counsel

K. must admit that its original assumption, the “process" will quickly vanish into thin air, because it lacks every reason, does not correspond to reality, so that he agrees with the suggestion of his uncle visiting him to see a friend of him, a lawyer. Like any of the characters appearing in this story (not even the ones mentioned here) seem to know about his process, as if everyone had a part in his thoughts. The lawyer initially reluctantly accepts K.’s legal representation due to his frailty, because of the friendship with his uncle. Coincidentally, his friend, the director of the law office, who should know everything about K.’s trial, is present at the sick lawyer as well. Nevertheless, K. misses the opportunity to find out everything on the spot and prefers to approach the nurse (Leni) of the lawyer in the adjacent room and leaves the monotonous conversation between the older gentlemen, his uncle, the lawyer and the law office director. With his eloquence, it should have been easy for him to direct the conversation to his problem with a little empathy. "Leni, you really didn’t look like one could win you by a jump," excuses K. his delayed coming. Obviously, K. finds himself drawn to modest, easy-to-have women, and it doesn’t take long for them to get closer. "Do you always have to think about your process," Leni asks. "I probably think too little about it," K. replies, who is actually right, at least not in the right way.

Thereafter, Leni advises him: “Against that court one cannot defend oneself, one must make the confession."After exchanging many kisses, she leads him outside. Obviously, K. has completely forgotten the important contact with the director of the law office. His uncle, who had been waiting for him in the car for quite some time, accused him of that with bitter words. “You have done terrible damage to your cause, which was on the right track. Hiding with a little dirty thing, who is also the mistress of the lawyer, and staying away for hours... And meanwhile we are sitting together... predominantly the director of the law office, that noble gentleman, who is virtually governing your case in the present state."  Obviously, that less empathetic way of life is K.’s road to perdition.

Spiritual Condemnation

K. is led into the cathedral under an excuse. "Church servants are professional sneakers, you don’t notice them."  He almost left the cathedral, but the powerful voice of the priest sounds: “Josef K.! " He is called to get closer by waving fingers. "You are accused," says the priest, and further: “I have called you here to speak with you."  It turns out that the priest is the prison chaplain. “Do you know that your trial is going bad?" ... "It seems so to me, too," replies K. The priest continues: "I fear it will end badly, and you are considered guilty."... "But I am not guilty" , K. answers, to whom the priest replies: “You misunderstand the facts. The verdict does not come at once; the procedure gradually passes into judgment; what will you do next in your case? " ... "I still want to seek help", K. is pointing out. The priest notices, "You seek too much help from others", because the answer lies only in yourself.

"Regarding the court you are mistaken", the priest explains and tells the parable "Before the Law" there is a doorkeeper, to whom a man comes from the countryside and asks for admission, that is however denied to him. The doorkeeper says it is possible, but not at this time. Since the gate to the law is open, as always, and the doorkeeper steps aside, the man tries to look inside. When the doorkeeper notices this, he laughs and says: “If you’re so tempted trying to get in despite my ban, please, remember: I am powerful, and I am only the lowest doorkeeper."  From hall to hall there are other doorkeepers, each more powerful than the previous one. "Even I can’t stand the sight of the third one", he continues. The man is confused, because the law should be open to everyone. He decides better to wait until he would get the permission to enter, and receives from the doorkeeper a stool on which he can sit down at the side of the gate. “There, he is sitting for days and years."Again and again he asks for admission, to which the doorkeeper repeatedly replies that it is possible, but not at this time. The man keeps waiting, trying to bribe the doorkeeper, offering him everything he owns. The doorkeeper accepts those things, yet is saying that he only does it, so that the man does not think he has missed something. The man from the countryside is afraid of responsibility, he hides behind commandments and prohibitions. He is looking for approval for each step, which relieves him of responsibility. The convenience of safety and the shyness of responsibility paralyze him in his development, like so many people. When the man discovers fleas in the fur collar of the doorkeeper, he asks even them for help - in vain. Years are passing by, and the man becomes more and more frail. Before his death, all the experiences of the whole time gather in his head to a question that he has not yet asked to the doorkeeper: “Everyone strives after the law... How come in that many years, no one but me has asked for admission."  The doorkeeper replies: “No one else could get in here, because this entrance was meant for you. I’m going to close it now." The law of life is represented here as space whose access is only possible via one entrance for a certain person. The priest and K., who is confused, finally separate, not without the priest coming out as part of the court.

Relentless Punishment

„On the eve of his 31st birthday... two men are coming to K.'s apartment… Without having been informed of the visit, K., also dressed in black, sits in a position as one would await guests..."  He asks, "So you are meant for me?"  K. had expected them."The gentlemen nod” and grasp K. with an irresistible grip.“It would be nothing heroic” , if he would have resisted now, "if he now would have tried to enjoy the last IMAGINATION OF LIFE in the defense."... “I always wanted to enter the world with twenty hands and, moreover, for an unacceptable purpose. That was wrong. Should I now show that not even the one-year trial could teach me", K. says to himself and is glad that he had been left to say "what is needed". Then, they are leaving the city to a remote quarry. One of the gentlemen takes off his clothes, which he himself is carefully folding.“Where was the judge he had never seen? Where was the high court he could never reach? He raises his hands spreading his fingers. Yet on K.’s throat, the hands of one gentleman lay down, while the other pushes a knife deep into his heart turning it there twice... Like a dog!, he says, as if shame should survive him."

Franz Kafka. The Prozess. In: Collected Works. Ed. Max Brod. Fischer Publisher, Frankfurt/M, 1983

The interpretations of this impressive, unfinished work known to me miss the hidden content. In my view, Kafka plays with the double meaning of the word "process" in German. It means not only "trial" as superficially translated into English, but also the “development”, the becoming par excellence, with reference to “K.", i.e., himself. It is the incarnation to become a real human being that is at stake, what K. missed. The entire novel is emotionless, yet written in great detail, as if done by a lawyer, what Kafka actually was. He worked, not really fulfilling him, as a lawyer in the management of a semi-governmental insurance institute. The writing form is ingeniously chosen to illustrate the missing human characteristic of the main figure. The interpretation of the book is indeed difficult, firstly because it is about a surreal story, like the story of a dream, and secondly because it is a fragment that Kafka had not yet finished. Thus, a final refinement of the novel to work out the hidden sense couldn’t be done by Kafka. In the last year before his death, the time the above photo of Kafka is from, he stayed with his last life partner in Berlin, having lived in a house at Grunewald street, just 8 km away where I am now meditating on his ambitious book. He never was married or could develop a lasting relationship to a life partner besides his friendship to Max Brod, who always encouraged him to write and took care of writings after his death. Without him, we never would have heard about this ingenious novel by Kafka. Franz Kafka died of tuberculosis much too early as a 40-year-old in a small spa town in Austria.

For me, the essence of his hidden thoughts of this novel appears clearly before my eyes. A clue for a proper interpretation is given in the novel by the priest explaining to K.: “You’re looking for too much help by others”, because the answers are laying in oneself. It’s about justifying what one has done with one’s own life, how one has handled given talents. The court for evaluating that is not located in an official courthouse, but as in this surreal story somewhere and everywhere, randomly in an attic of an apartment building. Actually, it is in all of us. The judges are hidden and not easy to locate, deep inside our subconscious or in the superego. Therefore, they couldn’t be approached in the novel. K. has failed to establish a real human relationship. He is attracted to simply structured women, driven by animalistic emotions - be it his “Elsa" (not mentioned above because of her insignificance), a waitress, be it his neighbor Miss Bürstner (also not mentioned above because of insignificance), an easy-to-have woman and typewriting clerk, or the nurse of his lawyer, "Leni". K. is externally successful in his sober profession as an authorized officer of a bank, however, without inner fulfillment or dedication. The priest makes it clear to him that he has not even taken the first stage of THE PROCESS to become a real human being, to be able to reach the first space of the law of life, of human incarnation, despite his talents. He was not able to become a person who really cares about something, who has feelings capable of love, without being explicitly stated in the story, yet clearly shown in pictures - just as dreams do. The necessary punishment is clear from the beginning. The superficial process (trial) is only serving to secure the punishment. That can only be maximum, which he basically gives himself, dying “like a dog” and not like a human being.

The essence of this impressive novel, designed on two levels, an external (trial) and internal process, concerns us all: What have we done with our talents, our lives? It is up to us not to ask this question too late, otherwise we will simply die without even being acknowledged. We will not even take away that we have lived at all. However, if we manage to continue to live in others, so that they think of us, love us, we never really die.

“Our heart is wide ..."

March 11, 2024

„… however, our capabilities are limited" (Joachim Gauck). There is currently a broad discussion in our media why the game leader of our national football team is not allowed to wear an armband, which should support the public acceptance of the minorities of homosexuals & diverse. There are countries with other social rules which need to be tolerated. It’s simple like that. Period.

On the other hand, what is currently completely concealed in public broadcasting & mass media as a taboo subject by its editorial offices, which are more than 90% sympathetic to the “Greens”, is the gigantic wave of refugees that is currently challenging us. By October of this year, there have already come 1.2 million Ukrainian refugees and 0.15 million asylum seekers of other nations (especially from Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey & Tunisia) to our country. This is already 50% more than in 2015 (then 0.9 million), which led to social upheavals in our country. After the Turkish President Recep Erdogan have denied the mayor of the 16-million metropolis Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, a competitor in the next presidential election, any further support to host about 2 million refugees from the Middle East, another excessive wave of refugees is to be expected via the Balkan route. Most people want to come to Germany because of its less restrictive legislation and good welfare system. According to the UN, 103 million refugees are currently on the move ...

Refugees worldwide according to the UN. Most of the refugees are internally displaced persons (eg Uighurs in China)

At the same time, our reception capacity of further foreigners, as benevolent as we are, is exhausted. The local community leaders are desperate and don't see themselves able anymore to host more refugees. In Germany, we already have a relative number of foreigners in the height of 15.7%, similar to the much larger U.S.A. (15.4%), more than in other European countries such as France (12.8%) or Italy (8,7 %) and far more than in other rich industrial nations such as S-Korea (2.3%), Japan (2.0%) or even China (0.06%). The latter wants to be a world power and does not fulfil its humanistic responsibility in any way. Every 4th inhabitant of our country has a migration background. About 50% of all primary school students in Germany have a migration background, in some municipalities, such as Offenbach, even more than 90%! Millions are already well integrated. Last year alone, we raised €21.6 billion for asylum-related costs. I think this is more important than those € 100 billion to spend for weapons and hopefully functioning fighter jets from the US (remember the Starfighter disaster of the 1960/70’s). However, our resources and social acceptance are limited. In the current energy/inflation crisis and the upcoming recession, the situation is extremely challenging, if not even socially explosive. Even the acceptance of already well-integrated people having a migration background is endangered. Attacks on refugee dormitories are on the rise, as is the crime done by foreigners. About 38% of all violent crimes are currently committed by foreigners among themselves or to us well-meaning "hosts".

Due to its painful and cruel history, Germany undoubtedly has a special responsibility towards refugees, yet also towards the minority of our fellow citizens with Jewish religion. The uncontrolled immigration of anti-Semitic groups must be stopped. If Germany as a state form should have only one foreign and domestic political principle, then it is the protection of people with Jewish religion. The unspeakable suffering of the Holocaust committed by Nazi Germans with over 6 million victims demands this. We also have a responsibility towards Russian people. By this I mean the Russian families who are currently fleeing from the henchmen of the Putin regime, only with what they can carry, penniless, due to unreflective sanctions without the possibility of using their credit cards. We should remember the more than 24 million Russian victims of the German war of aggression during the Nazi dictatorship. The grown German-Russian friendship, to which we owe our reunification, existed before Putin. There will still be a Russia after Putin, ready to resume this friendship. Now we have the responsibility to help these Russian and not only Ukrainian refugees.

A refugee family from Stalingrad, 1942

A country that cannot protect its borders and population has lost its legitimacy (John Locke). At the same time, we must markedly increase our efforts to combat the causes of the gigantic refugee movements. Obviously, we have to do this alone. For 8 years, the EU has not found a way to stop the transportation of mainly economically fleeing people organized by inhumane, commercial gangs. Thus, what to do?

1) The Schengen Treaty must be repealed because of continued abuse, i.e., obligatory border controls must again be carried out at airports, train stations, ports and cross-bordering highways for all entering persons.

2) Those who want to apply for asylum and cannot prove their identity and reason for their flight by proper documents/evidence at the border will not be admitted to the country. Asylum applications should preferably be submitted in our embassies of the countries of origin or neighboring countries of asylum seekers. This needs to be communicated worldwide.

3) Single refugees, mainly young men, who obviously only think of themselves and leave their families (children & women) alone to the disaster in their countries of origin (due to unbearable conditions in their home country they actually come), should be generally rejected.

4) All asylum seekers already in our country, whose asylum application has been legally rejected, should be returned to their home countries within 2 weeks. Countries of origin opposed to accept them are subject to economic sanctions and an immediate stop of development funds.

5) For humanitarian reasons, refugees from war-torn countries who do not find refuge elsewhere, such as currently Russian families, should be given priority.

6) In order to avoid ghetto formation and criminalization, refugees should be accommodated decentralized with a sponsorship system that needs to be established. Within the first 3 months of their stay with us, an intensive German language course must be mandatory for all refugees.

7) In the well-known countries of origin of predominant economic fugitives (no reason for asylum!) recruitment campaigns should finally be launched in order to ensure safe entry to us for those people we really need as employees. The Goethe Institutes, located in many of these countries, should not focus on teaching Goethe’s poetry, but on conducting German courses for suitable immigrants.

8) All foreigners, regardless of a right to asylum, preferably families who want to leave their homeland because of intolerable conditions, are welcome in our country if they can take care of themselves.

9) Refugee camps near the refugee areas must be generously supported and made safe from human traffickers.

10) Development aid must reach the people really affected and not flow into the pockets of the ruling social classes of these mostly autocratic countries.

Our country’s political system is failing once again, as it did before, with overcharging by greedy companies during the corona crisis, such as the partly self-inflicted energy crisis or self-inflicted inflation. The German government is simply ducking away and has learned nothing, but nothing at all, from the refugee crisis of 2015. Since then, 7 years have passed without really effective measures being taken to eliminate or alleviate the causes of flight. Our Secretary of Interior Affairs, Ms. Nancy Faeser, who considers it more important to identify with sexual minorities of our affluent society than to take care of people really in need, should be immediately released from her duties because of complete inability.

"We Are The People"

March 11, 2024

Yesterday was “German Unity Day”, a holiday that was transferred from June 17 to October 3. Actually, it should be called "German Reunification Day". On this day, the Unification Treaty came into legal force in 1990, with which the former GDR joined the Federal Republic of Germany.

No more than 90,000 people gathered for this festival of German history in Erfurt, the capital of Thuringia, which was the location of this year’s celebrations, as the state of Thuringia is currently chairing the Federal Council. In comparison to the recent "Rave the Planet" in Berlin on July 9, more than 200,000 people came together to express their joy in club dancing. Unfortunately, officials have talked more about problems with internal unity than about their happiness. At least, it has been recalled that it was the “Monday Demonstrations” in autumn in Leipzig 33 years ago, that was the origin of reunification.

One of the many “Monday Demonstrations”, Leipzig in autumn 1989 (Stiftung Haus der Geschichte; EB-Nr. LEMO F 4/024; Gerhard Gäbler).

It was a peaceful revolution of the Germans of the former GDR. In the former Federal Republic of Germany, such a course of history had not been thought of until it actually happened. The fronts of the "Cold War" had frozen into a Western and an Eastern bloc, separated by an “Iron Curtain” across central Europe with the Berlin Wall as a memorial. Those who wanted to cross it from east to west ran the risk of being shot. None of the West German politicians, be it the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt or his successor Helmut Kohl, had foreseen or even imagined that turn in their bravest dreams. It just happened because a people wanted it. This was also the call of hundreds of thousands which could not be ignored by the former GDR’s state authorities: "We are the people".

It was not mentioned at the present celebration in Erfurt, that this happy turn in German history was ultimately made possible by a man, the then leader of the former USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, who recently died in Moscow at the age of 91 on August 30, without a representative of the German Federal Government attending his funeral in his honor. Gorbachev’s "Glasnost & Perestroika" policy (Transparency & Transformation) paved the way for reunification. Representing the Russian people, he forgave the endless suffering that the Nazi Wehrmacht and SS brought over the Soviet Union in 1941-45 with over 24 million deaths. In my view, Mikhail Gorbachev is among Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi one of the greatest political figures of the 20th century. It was then Helmut Kohl who recognized the favour of the hour and implemented the reunification,though under a far-reaching deindustrialization of the former state territory of the GDR. This happened against great resistance in the friendly West, which feared a resurgence of Germany.

Now there are regular Monday demonstrations in many federal states in Germany again, even yesterday on the “German Unity Day", with thousands of people from the center of our society on the streets, fearing a second deindustrialization, suffering from galloping inflation, triggered by a halt to the low-cost energy supply from Russia, which threatens our entire industry and drives up prices for all goods. It is the desolate policy of the current government under Scholz, Habeck, Lindner & Co that has allowed the risk of shutting down our so far prospering economy. I was ashamed, when Chancellor Scholz listened in silence during his inaugural visit to Washington, DC, earlier this year, when the US President exposed our no longer existing sovereignty by announcing the end of North Stream II, our guarantee for cost-effective energy supply from Russia as a result of relaxation and reconciliation with the East, which developed over decades and was initiated by the wise politics with the East by Willy Brandt.

Our previous chancellor Dr. Merkel was able to resist the long-standing, profit-oriented intention of the USA to terminate the North Stream II gas pipeline. The weakest chancellor Germany ever had, unable to lead, Olaf Scholz could not - a "chicken" for the powerful backers of the US government. Even now, Chancellor Scholz is silenced like his entire government mostly formed out of unskilled, incompetent ministers, after both North Stream pipelines were allegedly destroyed by the US Navy by a confirmed sabotage act probably forever, just as the call for an opening of North Stream II in our desolate energy situation became louder and louder. The evidence with US warships on site with just the special unit on board, which are capable for such underwater operations at a depth of 70 m, and the switching off of the AIS (automatic detection system) of the responsible ship is hardly to be refuted, so that the German side prefers to remain silent in a submissive attitude. The "conformist" journalism of public broadcasting does not even ask. When Russia brought this act of sabotage before the UN Security Council, this was not even mentioned in the news the following day in Germany. The decision of the UN Security Council on the referendums in the parts of Ukraine annexed by Russia on the same day was of course reported, although we are not directly affected by it.

Leaking natural gas from one of four sabotage-induced leaks of North Stream pipelines I & II

However, the current federal government and its carrying political parties should not forget that we are not so easily deprived of our freedom, our sovereignty. According to a recent ARD survey, only 29% of the population are satisfied with the performance of the current government, meaning that an overwhelming majority no longer supports this government. I have already described the inability of this Federal Chancellor to cope with crises in detail in a blog before the federal election last year. I can only hope that he will be removed from his office as soon as possible. If this does not happen, the resentment on the streets will increase and ad extremum bring down the entire political establishment. Thirty-three years ago, the Monday demonstrations have already proved that: "We are the people".

Disaster of Leadership

March 11, 2024

On September 26, last year, there has been the 20th federal election for the parliament of our country. The voter turnout has been a remarkable 76.6%, although the leading candidates of all three parties stood for election for the politically most powerful office in Germany had already proven that they were not suitable for the responsible office of the Federal Chancellor. I had thought about not even going to the election at that time, but then I fulfilled my duty as responsible citizen (see my blog from 11.9.21).

Let us remember, Armin Laschet, former party chairman of the CDU, could not control himself during the speech of the Federal President about the mourning of more than 180 deaths and thousands of citizens having lost all their belonging in the devastating flood disaster in Rhineland-Pfalz and North Rhine-Westphalia in July 2021. He couldn’t resist from making jokes and laughed in the background. For that reason, he crashed through the federal election and had to vacate all offices. Nobody knows why his party, which carries the "C" for Christians in its name, had not withdrawn him before the election. In any case, this had nothing to do with decency and morality.

Mrs. Annalena Baerbock from Bündis 90/The Greens, who “embellished” her CV with false information to appear more shining, was certainly responsible for the fact that the Greens had produced a disappointing election result, despite the debates on the environment and climate. Her excessive ambition has at least brought her into position of the Foreign Minister, although she has been denied the position of Vice-Chancellor. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Baerbock has managed to become a joke in no time within the internet due to her many slips and inability to read ready-made texts from paper without errors. As Foreign Minister, she acts, as was to be expected, with exaggerated self-confidence and presumption, so that she repeatedly brings her Federal Chancellor into trouble, who is not able to bring her to reason just because of his own leadership weakness. Together with her party colleague, Robert Habeck, who was elevated to vice-chancellor as Minister for Economy and Climate Protection, they constantly betray the pacifist basic roots of their party. Their commitment, blinded by the outstanding political campaign of the Ukrainian president, for arms deliveries, even of offensive weapons, to Ukraine, is unbearable for prudent and peace-loving people. Since that will neither deter the Russian president nor end the war. In contrast, that will only prolong the war with continued suffering of the Ukrainian people. Or do the “Greens” really think Ukraine can defeat Russia? Despite the greatest possible use of weapons, the US and its allies failed to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan in a 20-year war. They are getting fooled for delaying the war as long as possible in order to compensate for the immense loss of income of the weapons industry, which is extremely powerful in the US and UK, after the end of the Afghan war. Indeed, the US seems to want to wage a long-term proxy war with Russia. Its deputy is Ukraine, whose president has been assigned the "best spin doctors" to organize a hitherto unseen, worldwide advertising campaign for Ukraine. Emotional images of the theatre of war, Ukraine are conveyed by Anglo-Saxon news agencies to all Western countries, which uncritically adopt even obviously posed shots. How can it be that on those pictures of civilians obviously killed in Burtscha, blossoming white shackles of the hands tied to their backs could be seen for the critical eye? How can it be that at no point during the occupation by the Russians on the streets dead civilians were discovered and reported by satellites, but were detected immediately after the takeover of the formerly occupied territories by the Ukrainian army. By the way, white is the color of the nationalists in Ukraine. Were these possibly collaborators who cooperated with the Russian aggressors? Why is there no independent forensic investigation before talking about "genocide" (US President Joe Biden). I would like to leave no doubt that the attack by Russia on Putin’s orders, which violates international law, must be stopped. We remember that the "Chamberlain" policy before World War II only stimulated Hitler to continue his monstrous deeds. Only a strong-headed "Churchill" policy can put Putin in place. Those who do not follow that in the EU, such as Hungary at present, should be released from the EU.

Petra Kelly, co-founder of the "Greens" and representative of the Krefeld Initiative, here at the gathering of “Artists for Peace”, Bochum, 1982. The Krefeld appeal was a call by the German peace movement to the German government to withdraw the consent to the stationing of nuclear medium-range missiles in Europe (NATO double decision) and to press for an end to the nuclear arms race (www.bundesarchiv.de, Bild 183-1982-0912-015 / Rainer Mittelstädt / CC-BY-SA 3.0).

Our Federal Chancellor, Mr. Olaf Scholz, cannot be beaten by a lack of charisma, a lack of empathy or a lack of crisis competence. It is thanks to the excellent election campaign of Lars Klingbeil, the current party chairman of the SPD, that he emerged from the last federal election as a relative winner, albeit with a disastrous absolute election result. Just 25.7% voted with the second vote for the SPD, i.e., Mr. Scholz - in terms of voter turnout, he was not elected by even one out of five eligible voters who trusted him with that high office. In his time as the 1. mayor of Hamburg (2011 - 2018), Mr. Scholz has proved that he is not able to manage a crisis. The street battles and looting in the Schanzenviertel during the G20 summit 2017 with burning barricades and occupied houses are certainly still in front of many eyes. His involvement with the presumably criminal, in any case amoral, cum-ex-deals of the Warburg Bank have not been completely clarified today. As Finance Minister of the Federal Government (2018 - 2021), Germany’s biggest financial scandal, the Wirecard billion-euro fraud, took place under his eyes and his supervisory obligation. But the greatest embarrassment was yet to come. During his inaugural visit to the United States, he stood next to US President Joe Biden like a school boy during the press conference, when the US President announced the end of the North Stream II gas pipeline despite his apparent senility. The German economy had struggled to preserve it for so long, and its fate was solely the responsibility of the Federal Chancellor and not the US President. I was ashamed of this submissive behavior of our Chancellor.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz on his inaugural visit to the USA on February 8, 2022. To the right, US President Joe Biden, who announced the end of North Stream II, if Russia would invade Ukraine (screenshot of the press conference), that obviously had no effect.

And our Federal President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has been elected with such an overwhelming majority of the Federal Assembly to administer his office for another 5 years? He actually has a duty of supervision over the executive and legislative branches imposed by the Constitution. He is obliged to examine new laws for their constitutional fidelity and confirm the executive members in office. This, the highest representative of our country, allowed to be insulted by the Ukrainian ambassador, and then to be humiliated in public at the unloading of the alleged state visit of Ukraine, despite the immense humanitarian and economic aid, which our country grants to Ukraine.

It is in these hands that the fortunes of our country currently lie. Corona crisis, Ukraine crisis, energy crisis, galloping inflation, dismantling our car industry, uncontrolled mass immigration and the imminent collapse of the pension insurance system are to be mastered by these "political forces"? Poor Germany! It’s time to get those incompetent politicians out of office. Alternatives are quite obvious: Mr. Lars Klingbeil at the SPD, Mr. Norbert Röttgen at the CDU, Mr. Cem Özdemir at the Greens, and Mr. Volker Wissing at the FDP, which political orientation one would prefer. I don’t see anyone within the AFD, and the “Left” party should focus on its greatest political personality, Sahra Wagenknecht.

Easter

April 19, 2022

The Easter celebration is much older than Christian Easter; it is a spring and fertility festival. It has been always celebrated at the first full moon in the 4th month of each year. Easter bunnies and Easter eggs are fertility symbols that are still given away today in the form of chocolate specialities. I remember my childhood when we, my younger brother and myself, always went to the forest with our mother at Easter. The first “green” made the forest look so beautiful. She hid the delicious Easter eggs during the walk so skillfully that we did not notice it. We had to look for them and, of course, we found them. That personally connects me with Easter.

"The First Green", iPhone (direct shot), 2013

Since ancient times, Easter fires have been used to drive away the cold winter that paralyzes nature. Christianity then embraced that custom and placed the resurrection of Christ in this time, the Sunday after the first full moon during the astronomical spring. This year, full moon appeared yesterday on 4-16-22, that could be seen particularly well at clear skies over Berlin. This is why Easter is a moveable holiday and has nothing to do with the historical date of Christ’s resurrection, in which Christians want to, yes, must believe because the resurrection is a central element of Christian religion. For me, it is much more important, what Jesus of Nazareth, one of the greatest figures in human history, taught us. In his “Sermon on the Mount”, probably the most important of his many speeches to the people, he made it unmistakably clear: “You have heard that it was said: you should love your neighbor (Lev 19,18) and hate your enemy. But I teach you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Mt 5,43-44). Jesus understood that violence only again generates violence in a deadly cycle.

If only one takes that statement to heart today. The Ukrainian President Zelenskyj sows hatred against all Russians, people who aren’t responsible that they are Russians by birth. In contrast, they should be proud to be Russians in view of the cultural achievements that Russian people have produced in the past, be it in the field of music (Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Musorgsky, Stravinsky etc), literature (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Pasternak, Chekhov, Gorky, Solzhenitsyn etc), or fine arts (Chagall, Kandinsky, Yavlensky, Kramskoy etc). Unfortunately, both Russian and Ukrainian societies have undergone enormous changes. The present Russian and Ukrainian societies are characterized by a negative selection over three generations during the Soviet era. Millions of creative people were killed: during the revolution and the following famine 1917-22 (14 million deaths), during the German invasion in World War II 1940-45 (24 million) and during the cruel purges in the Stalin era until 1953 (22 million). Many millions of intellectual and creative people have left Russia and Ukraine over the last century in three major waves of migration due to oppression, persecution and economic hardship. In Germany alone, there are currently 2.5 million people of Russian origin, nearly 30 million worldwide. As a result, both countries, Russia and Ukraine, are brutalized with prevalent corruption and organized crime. The middle class, which is so important for the prosperity of any society, is almost completely wiped out. Transparency International lists Ukraine at the 117th and Russia at 129th rank on its corruption list, at the end of all European countries. Besides wheat, Ukraine’s biggest export hit is the sale of women and girls as sex slaves to western countries through organized crime. Actually, that says it all. Selenskyj stresses via mass media that the Ukraine is defending freedom. How can there be freedom in the absence of independent courts in his country? As Transparency International pointed out: courts are mostly corrupt in Ukraine as it is the case in Russia. Thus, the great Russian culture is carried on by the emigrated elites abroad.

W. Selenskyj provokes his entire civilian population to take up arms, even be it Molotov cocktails against tanks. Like Joseph Goebbels, he proclaims total war - against the all-powerful aggressor Putin and his army, forgetting that this led to the destruction of Germany, in which about 80% of all buildings were destroyed and 7.7 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives.  In his war madness, Selenskyj made demands that would lead us directly into World War III. With an unprecedented campaign in mass and social media, he calls for the fight against Russia and presents himself as a hero in camouflage. Those who are overwhelmed forget that he is a trained actor, overlook the fact that in pictures of destroyed houses in Ukraine, brand new children’s toys such as dolls and teddy bears were draped to induce emotions. Dead people are shown with shackles bound on their backs, which are bright white, without dirt or dust of the detonated house ruins standing around. By the way, white is the color of the Ukrainian nationalists. That is noticeable to a critical eye, but not to our editorial offices of public broadcasters, which are mainly occupied by social romantics and which take over such recordings provided by Ukrainian authorities unchecked. In this regard, may I remind you that before the 2nd Gulf War, footage was presented to the US Senate showing that premature infants were taken from incubators in Kuwaiti clinics by Iraqi invaders and subsequently smashed on the ground, which turned out to be a fake. There are obviously no moral limits to the macabre ingenuity of paid spin doctors who also advising the Ukrainian government. The Ukrainian government accuses the Russian invaders of using banned chemical weapons without providing evidence. The US president even accuses Russia of genocide, also without providing evidence. When will an independent forensic team from the UN be sent to Ukraine to investigate these allegations? That will not happen because it is not in the interests of the driving forces to sell as many weapons as possible to the war zone. If any conflict is inscrutable, just ask yourself, who benefits? It is in the interests of the US and UK arms industry to maintain the conflict between two former Soviet republics for as long as possible so that as many weapons as possible are consumed. On the other hand, it is in Russia’s interest to achieve as much territorial gain as possible in order to distract attention from its disastrous domestic political problems and to preserve its face in view of the more than 13,000 soldiers who have already fallen.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), shown at the end of the 1930s

What to do in the current escalation? When so many emotions and suffering have been ignited, it is not easy. Ukraine should surrender to the more powerful enemy, each day claiming additional victims and destroying their country. The wiser head gives in. Only in this way can the current violence be broken. For all those who think that this is weakness and would remain unsuccessful, be taught differently and reminded of Mahatma Gandhi. The latter had defeated the greatest world power of all time, the British Empire, and led India to independence through non-violent resistance. For me, Mahatma Gandhi, like Jesus of Nazareth, is one of the greatest in human history. The Ukrainian renunciation of violence should be flanked by assuring a true state of neutrality with the promise of a ban on the use of offensive weapons against Russia. Russia is under surveillance of the world’s population, including China and India, to ensure a just ceasefire and peace. So far, the most populous nations in the world have not sided against Russia and with the Western Allies. This can change in the event of Russia’s misbehavior. Either nation should be involved in such a peace initiative by the UN. The strongest economic nation in Europe, Germany, should evade arms deliveries to the war zone. The demands of naïve politicians of the Alliance 90/Greens not only betray the pacifist foundations of their own party, but only prolong the misery of the Ukrainian population. Or do you want to fall for the fantasies of the US weapons lobby to defeat Russia, although in a 20-year lasting war the US ant its allies could not even defeat the Afghan Taliban? What a nonsense that can only be driven forward by constant defilement and manipulation of the common people via mass media, which is currently being observed. It is up to Chancellor Scholz to continue the balancing policy of his social and Christian-democratic predecessors Brandt, Kohl, Schröder, and Merkel. At least the guilt of Germany for 24 million deaths of the former Soviet Union in World War II is a reason to stop any action against Russia. Olaf Scholz must remain strong enough to withstand the pressure of the warmongers, who are concerned only with the sale of arms and not with the protection of the Ukrainian population and the young Russian soldiers sent to war.

Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth (screenshot), "The Passion of Christ" by Mel Gibson, 2004

Jesus of Nazareth was cruelly tortured and crucified by the military power of Rome through the efforts and manipulation of the masses by religious fanatics of Jerusalem. Did he die for us in vain? End the war by not participating. Instead of arms deliveries or arms purchases, the focus should be on humanitarian measures. Germany owes this to Russia and the Ukrainian population. Warmongers like the Ukrainian ambassador Melnyk in Germany, who glorifies radical Ukrainian nationalists and insults our highest representative, the Federal President, should be expelled from the country as an undesirable person. However, it appears to me that a Canadian girl is much wiser than all the high-paid politicians. She said based on a poem of Carl Sanburg (1936): “Can you imagine, that there is a war, and nobody joins". This should be the goal.

War

February 28, 2022

It’s war in Europe. This does not happen anywhere, far away, just 1352 km by car (Berlin - Kiev), that is closer than Rome (1502 km). Russia attacked Ukraine early in the morning on February 24, 2022. The reason for this large-scale attack is similar to that of Adolf Hitler on September 1, 1939 during the “German Wehrmacht” attack on Poland: "Since 5:45 o'clock we’re shooting back". It was the beginning of World War II, in which more than 60 million people died.

How did this happen?  On February 22, 2014, almost exactly eight years ago, the Russian-friendly President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, has been deposed after nationwide riots culminating in a large-scale demonstration on the Maidan, a central square in Kiev. The day before, Yanukovych had reached an agreement with the country’s opposition to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which had been reached through the mediation of the foreign ministers of Germany and Poland, who co-signed. This agreement established the formation of a transitional government and the holding of early presidential elections during the year. Why the militant activists on the Maidan did not accept this orderly resignation of the president is not clear. To what extent the CIA, the US foreign intelligence agency, took influence in the unrest and its final escalation, is equally unclear, but likely. Because Presidents Putin and Yanukovych had previously reached a friendship agreement for further approachment of the two countries, so the time was pressing, as the future expansion of EU and NATO was actually on the agenda. In an unconstitutional vote by the Ukrainian parliament, the president was deposed the following day, in effect overthrown. Article 108 of the Ukrainian Constitution states, that in addition to the death of the incumbent or his resignation, only the dismissal for health reasons or in the context of a proper impeachment procedure is permitted. The latter was only possible under Article 111 in the case of treason or other serious crimes. Nothing was applicable. Viktor Yanukovych had to flee to Russia, where he received asylum.

As a result, pro-Western presidents came to power through elections - after an appointed interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov (2-22-2014 til 6-7-2014), a billionaire, Petro Poroshenko (2014 - 2019), under whom the country was looted by oligarchs, then since May 20, 2019 a comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, who is still in office today, and under whom, as among his two predecessors, the approachment with the West with the desired EU and NATO membership was promoted. A comedian ascended to presidency –sounds like being a puppet. In fact, during his reign, Ukraine became one of the most corrupt countries in the world (which also applies to Russia), in which also Hunter Biden, the son of the US president, appeared to be involved as board member of the Ukrainian company Burisma. Ukrainian President Zelensky now turns out to be a real patriot and does not run away, as Viktor Yanukovych did at the time, although the US wanted to organize to escape.

As early as during the time of the interim president, Russia was forced to react militarily in order to forestall the expected imminent expansion of NATO. For the strategically important military base of Russia on the Black Sea, the only port of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula belonging to Ukraine that could be navigated all year round, had to be secured. Thus, the 1. Russia-Ukraine War (2-27-2014 til 2-12-2015) developed, in which the peninsula of Crimea with its predominantly Russian-speaking population was occupied by Russian militias and later regular troops. In retrospect, this was legitimized on March 16, 2014 by a referendum of the Crimean population with 96.6% and a voter turnout of 80%, that was never recognized by Ukraine or the West. In addition, in the course of the war there were conflicts between separatists in the largely Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in Eastern Ukraine and regular Ukrainian military units. The latter were supported by US military advisers, while Russian forces fought alongside the separatists. As a result, the separatists proclaimed the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, that was also legitimized by a positive referendum of the predominantly Russian population from the perspective of the separatists and Russia. The EU and the US imposed increasing economic sanctions on Russia, which affected Russia’s economic performance, but also increased the plight of the poor Russian population. The ceasefire agreement reached on February 12, 2015 in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on the initiative of Germany and France ended this 1. Russia-Ukraine war. Since then, there have been repeated violations of the negotiated ceasefire - from both sides. For example, Ukrainian forces shelled important infrastructures, such as an electricity plant and the oil pipeline in the area of the separatists, which is important for Russia’s trade. Moreover, Ukraine has never tackled the far-reaching autonomy of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk guaranteed by the Minsk Agreement.

Russia sees its security threatened by the expansion of NATO to its borders. Is Russia’s president right with this view? In fact, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, 14 new countries were admitted to NATO, including not only all non-Russian countries of the former Warsaw Pact, the former GDR, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania, but also except for Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina all countries of the fallen apart Yugoslavia, and even the former Soviet republics Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The inclusion of the latter has basically already crossed the "red line". Continuing talks on the annexation of Ukraine to NATO are a "no go" for every reasonable person if peace with Russia is to be maintained. Russia is also extremely concerned about the occurred unrest in Belarus and Kazakhstan. In the latter former Soviet Republic, Russia recently had to help suppress unrest by sending paratroopers (January 2-19, 2022). Of course, those unrest, triggered in Kazakhstan by extensive price increases for liquefied petroleum gas, have economic causes, as well as in Russia itself, where widespread poverty prevails. Of course, it is understandable that countries bordering on Russia are seeking their own military alliances for their own security. However, on a statesman level, one should keep honesty on such an elementary question for world peace that concerning NATO was not the case. For among the then ruling statesmen, Russia had been promised that NATO would not expand eastwards after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In fact, the existence of buffer states between the two power blocs of NATO and Russia makes sense. Why can’t Ukraine be guaranteed a neutrality status like that of Switzerland or Finland from both sides? This would stand. Hopefully, Russia’s political elite now recognizes that in its consistent, but illegitimate, attack on Ukraine. For an autocratic leader like Putin, “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means” (Carl von Clausewitz, About War, 1832). A war, however, is always an attack on humanity, which also applies to the many wars instigated by the US since World War II (e.g., Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan). One has to know Putin’s motives in order to be able to negotiate with him - to put a truly negotiable offer on the table. Everything else has been wasted time in the recent past. However, there is no excuse for the attack on Ukraine. It is a crime against the Ukrainians and Russia’s own soldiers under his command. Vladimir Putin will not go down in history as “Vladimir the Great”. Russia’s political elite would be wise to recognize that the repressive measures to keep its own people in bondage for the benefit of a few will not be sustainable. Putin has increasingly generated himself as a dictator who humiliated his own intelligence chief in front of running cameras and announcing his open, indirect threats to use nuclear weapons without military threat to his country, that it is increasingly unpredictable and extremely dangerous for the entire humankind.

Since the public opinion of the world population is directed against the aggressor Russia, its authorities had to cut off its population’s access to social media. At home, people demonstrate on the streets against the war, that has led to more than 6,000 arrests. President Putin expects his own soldiers to shoot at former brothers in arms, often speaking Russian like them. This will complicate the war for Putin, so he apparently dispatched to Ukraine 75,000 Chechens accustomed to killing who do not have the moral scruples of Russians. The economic sanctions unleashed by the West have enormous implications, particularly the decoupling of Russia’s central bank from the international financial system. This will further increase the economic hardship of Russia’s own people. The planned visa ban for Russian citizens is nonsense, because it preferably hits those Russians who are not satisfied with Putin’s regime. The damage to the reputation of all Russians is not yet foreseeable and will resemble that of the "ugly German" after the Second World War.

The illegitimate overthrow of pro-Russian President Yanukovych in 2014 and the US-led expansion of NATO far into eastern Europe to the borders of Russia are the causes of the current war. The profit greed of the powerful arms industry in the US and UK makes this conflict seem a welcome substitute for the loss of revenues after the end of the 20-year-long Afghanistan war. Of course, it is in Russia’s interest to move its sphere of influence over the countries of Belarus and Ukraine back to the centre of Europe. Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he views the loss of so many parts of the country in the course of glasnost and perestroika established by Mikhail Gorbachev as the biggest mistake of the 20th century. Like Hitler’s "Repatriation to the Empire" of territories lost after World War I (Saarland, Austria, Bohemia and Moravia, Poland’s eastern territories), Putin will try to reconnect the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine to Russia. Russia’s President Putin must refrain from this request, as Germany has also done, and has ceded one third of his former territory (eastern territories) to Poland and Russia, as agreed under international law, and seek a pragmatic solution. A neutrality status for Ukraine would, in my view, be an appropriate means. The now intended rearmament of Germany, where 100 billion euros are to be made available for the immediate purchase of arms, only drives up mutual fears and serves only the powerful, worldwide arms lobby, which is partly responsible for fueling armed conflicts worldwide. The escalation must now come to an end. The alert of Russia’s nuclear forces should be a "wake up call" for all of us. De-escalation is the magic word and would show real strength of our statesmen. Germany, as the dominant nation of Western Europe, bears a special responsibility. It owes Russia its freedom from Nazi oppression and the essential support in its reunification. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is a personal friend of President Putin and party comrade of the current Chancellor of Germany. Why isn’t he used as a mediator?

Embedded Journalism

February 11, 2022

What the hell is that? This term goes back to the 3rd Gulf War. Let us remember.

The 3rd Gulf War was initiated by the U.S.A. Allegations have been made that Iraq, under then President Saddam Hussein, possesses weapons of mass destruction (atomic bombs) with which it intends to attack the U.S. Either incorrectly interpreted or possibly modified satellite images were shown by the then Secretary of State of the U.S., Colin Powell, to no less than the UN Security Council to justify the subsequent attack (on March 20, 2003) and the occupation of Iraq (until 2011). Thus, the highest political body was deceived by "false facts" that had been reported as “fake news" to the world - even though thoroughly prepared counter-evidence from its own secret service was available. Now, in retrospect, that attack might be considered as violation of international law. To ensure that during the attack on Iraq and the following years of occupation no unpleasant press articles could arise, only journalists representing the official U.S. version were allowed to report about the war on the spot. The freedom of the press, so highly praised by our Western democracies, was actually eliminated. Journalists were simply integrated - „embedded“. Despite meticulous search, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq. Thus, the reason for the attack on Iraq turned out not to exist. The President of Iraq was executed for previous massacres of Kurds and Shiites, and the civilian population of Iraq suffered in an unspeakable way. Torture rooms run by American soldiers in Abu Ghuraib are still in the memory of many. Wikileaks exposed authentic video footage of helicopter-led hunting scenes of American soldiers targeting Iraqi civilians. Because of the illegal acquisition of those images, which dishonor the U.S. army, the then Wikileaks leading journalist Julian Assange is still being hunted by the U.S. prosecutor’s office. For the "model democracy" U.S.A., the violation of confidential and classified documents has obviously a higher priority than the freedom of the press, to show inhumane practices.

Instead of the Gulf War “Desert Storm”, I prefer to show my peaceful tour through the Sahara in 2018

Today, the U.S.A. are again eager to play a role as "defender of rights", this time in Ukraine. However, as with the Gulf War, this appears to be all about geopolitical interests and the business development of their weapons industry, which is extremely powerful and prospered so much during the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan. Due to the frustrating end of that war on August 30, 2021, it urgently lacks a new source of money. The Ukraine-Russia conflict is just right for that. First weapons deliveries are already on the way and the world’s journalism is watching favorably. What an U.S. hybris: one was not able to defeat chaotic Taliban fighters in the Hindukush during a 20-year intervention under use of massive gun power and now one should believe that weapons can solve the differences between Ukrainians and Russians because Ukraine intends to join the NATO? To leave no doubt, the concentration of Russian military at Ukraine’s border is an aggression distracting from the miserable economic situation within Russia due to the unsuccessful politics by its leader Wladimir Putin resulting in a continuous exodus of thousands of intelligent and creative people. Yet the response by the U.S.A. is just about money. It’s all about selling weapons. The suffering caused by their use is accepted as collateral damage. Can we really believe that Ukrainians with American help - NATO is only their offshoot - can push back the almost 3 million (including reservists) strong army of Russia? Only diplomatic means, which actually is at disposal of European political leaders, and the continuation of bilateral trade help here. And again, Western journalism is misused. All the mass media systematically conceal the fact that the former Soviet Union during its withdrawal from the former Warsaw Pact states under its then political leader Mikhail Gorbachev has been verbally promised by the U.S.A. not to extend their sphere of influence to the East, represented by its then Foreign Minister James Baker, on February 9, 1990 (documented in Baker’s own notes). Moreover, it has been even suggested not to expand NATO into the territory of the former GDR, promised by the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to his trusted counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev. However, there was no legal binding by contractually supported agreements, but the word of great statesmen. When the Baltic states were admitted to NATO, the red line had already been crossed. Is it not fair to consider also Russia’s security interests? Please, recall the drastic reaction of the U.S.A. in 1962, when Russia wanted to deploy rockets on Cuba, the U.S. intervened by a naval blockade and thus risked World War III because of its own security interests. One should be balanced and acknowledge this now to Russia. None of our public service television news broadcasts even mentioned this view.

Our German public service broadcasting and television have to report in a balanced and neutral way based on a state treaty regarding its constitutional mandate. Our public broadcasting does not fulfill that mandate, set by our constitution, anymore. Instead, it appears to be misguided by Anglo-Saxon controlled news agencies, i.e. AP (American Press) and Thomson-Reuter (Canadian-British). The German DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) is a simple branch of AP. It is therefore not by chance that tickers of the Western news agencies basically represent only Anglo-Saxon interests. It is not even the interests of the Anglo-Saxon population, but of their financial and economic elite. For example, Thomson-Reuter belongs to a Canadian billionaire, and AP is the property of U.S. newspapers and broadcasters whose editors are also among the elites. One of these newspapers is the Washington Post, which belongs to no one else than Jeff Bezos, one of the richest people on earth. If you control these few news agencies, you can control almost all the mainstream mass media, which get their news sources almost exclusively through those few news agencies.

What influence does the Anglo-Saxon financial and economic elite now have on the all-dominating crisis of our time, the Corona crisis. Aren’t not all mass media (within the western sphere of influence) brought into line via the news agencies? How else to explain the misconceptions with daily reports of absurd, so called “incidence numbers” that are not representatively collected, and just depending on the number of people tested and who are being tested. The current high incidence rates are mainly caused by systematic testing of young students and small children, who only very rarely develop COVID, i.e. getting sick. It is, by the way, a principle adopted from Nazi Germany. Yet, that happens today much more subtly than done by the Nazis or during the 3rd Gulf War. Just the news fitting into the mainstream concept are getting worldwide distributed via the tickers of the news agencies. Critical and influential media, such as “Der Spiegel”, are aligned through donations of millions of dollars by the real influencers. Individual influential critical journalists are silenced by destroying their reputations. The best "spin doctors" available for money are scheduled to launch approved press articles. In Germany, for example, you only have to occupy the most important political talk shows in such a way that the mainstream opinion is advocated and repeatedly instilled to the audience of millions of viewers- basically representing a "modern brain washing". The political talk shows are not even produced by public television, but by private companies of the talk masters or their patrons. Experts who are invited are predominantly funded by Big-Pharma through third-party funding for their research and honorary funding for their scientific lectures. Insiders are told quite openly who is on the payroll of which pharmaceutical companies, whereby particular attention is paid to opinion leaders.

Many bourgeois and not right-wing extremists sense those awful connections and speak of "lying press," borrowing this word carelessly and ignorantly from former Nazi propaganda. Anyone who comes out on the street today as a journalist of the no longer neutral public-law broadcasting must risk being harassed. This is not to suppress the freedom of the press, but because it no longer exists and has been taken away from the people. What should be done? 1) Constitutional suit against the public broadcasting due to non-compliance with the state treaty if there is evidence of unbalanced reporting. 2) Mandatory presentation of the balance sheets of all private companies producing political TV talk shows in order to exclude the influence of third parties. 3) Submission of tax returns of all so-called “experts” and third-party funding information of their research projects to either show or exclude any "conflict of interests". 4) Restraint of all broadcasting fees on a trust account needs to be considered - until the review by the Constitutional Court for lawful fulfilment of the state treaty, that is a prerequisite for the compulsory levies of broadcasting fees.

Still Grey in Grey at the Frontiers of Corona Challenge and Climate Change

January 14, 2022

Time has been flying since my last blog end of November. The sky above Berlin is still grey in grey with a few sunny days in between - you can actually count them on one hand. Yet, I have experienced that for decades in Germany at this time of the year.

In the case of climate change, the masses of my fellow citizens, brainwashed by the mass media, act just as hysterically as in the completely exaggerated "Sars-CoV-2 pandemic", which many of responsible people would like to downgrade to an endemic situation. It is astonishing that simple viruses are smarter than man, who in his desire to subjugate the whole earth with suppression of all other living beings has lost his mind. Corona viruses do not want to kill man; they need him as a host to survive and to multiply. The latter, they perform with a breathtaking speed under constant adjustment. The mutant, which first appeared in South Africa and is now called “Omicron”, is about three times more infectious, but far less dangerous for any individual. The course of the disease, if you notice the infection at all, is usually much milder than by the last delta mutant and leads to more than 90% fewer hospitalizations than under the previous delta wave. That was proven by carefully conducted South African studies months ago. Nevertheless, fear and terror was spread by mass media and incited politicians. Obviously, there is a system because one can’t be that stupid – or can one be? Probably both. This is because the omicron mutation is used to force the vaccination campaign, particularly involving even small children. They are now systematically screened with lolly tests, although it is known that children hardly get sick under Sars-CoV-2. Children are usually affected by other rampant viruses, which are not covered by Covid19 vaccination propagated for children. The vaccination against Omicron, which is already weakly effective in itself, is just about half less effective than before. And believe me, until the super-smart humankind has developed an adapted vaccine (according to Biontech supposedly at the end of March), Corona viruses are again throwing a new mutant into the environment. B.1640.2 has already appeared in France and probably immigrated from Cameroon. When responsible politicians finally wake up and no longer allow themselves to be led by lobbyists like bulls on a nose ring through the arena and use vaccinations purposefully - for the elderly and infirm, heart/lung patients, the immunocompromised and the anxious, as always with previous flu vaccinations. Corona viruses cannot be eradicated - they cannot be eradicated.

High incidence of Sars-CoV-2 positive tested persons in Germany in winter 2021, especially in screened, usually asymptomatic children (shown are age-dependent subgroups). All incidence figures distributed by mass media are not scientifically correctly evaluated in representative cohorts of the population (source: Wikipedia)

Back to climate change. According to a definition, we are still in an ice age that is defined as long as there is solid ice at the earth poles. Yet, one can define everything. However, it is clear that within our planet, all life depends on rhythmic changes. The last small ice age occurred on Earth in the 16/17th century, documented in the many paintings with depicted ice landscapes by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. The last major ice age lasting 100,000 years occurred until about 10,000 BC, before that about 150, 300 and 450 million years ago. We are therefore currently in a warming phase between two ice ages, which alone explains the melting of the ice cover at the North Pole to a third of its maximum extent determined so far and is not due to the sole action of man, although humankind certainly contributes by the enormous heat production as a side effect of the progressive, global industrial development. If there is not a continuous melting, but an abrupt breaking and melting of a huge ice cap, a devastating tidal wave can be triggered. A breaking of a gigantic section of the Antarctic ice sheet is now considered to be the cause of the “sin”-flood 6,300 BC, which is reported both in the Old Testament of the Bible and previously in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. Carbon dioxide, which the Sumerians knew nothing about and which you have never actually seen, because it is simply too small, is just a so-called surrogate parameter. It is not the cause of climate change, but only goes along with the enormous heat production by humans. It is needed by plants and trees. It is inhaled by them. In return, they release oxygen into the atmosphere. The more carbon dioxide is produced, the faster plants and trees grow. It is a life cycle. Heat production itself appears to be the much more likely direct cause of additional global warming, which cannot be denied.  The declining glaciers in the Alps can be seen by anyone. I myself had to search for larger glacier fields in Patagonia at my Cape Horn sailing tour.

Glacier, Patagonia 2015

And then the French President recalls that nuclear power plants are sustainable, climate-friendly, and has pushed the entire EU in this direction to support his powerful nuclear lobby. Have you ever seen the gigantic cooling towers of a nuclear power plant with tons of rising 100 degrees Celsius hot water vapor? Our entire “throw away” wellness society can be blamed for forced global warming. Millions of products, fed to us via targeted advertising campaigns, are transported worldwide under considerable energy waste and environmental pollution. The avalanches of stinking trucks on our motorways, which mostly transport useless stuff, are common to everyone. General overtaking bans and speed limits of 60 km/h for trucks must be introduced. Why is it not possible to shift more transport onto the rails, that has been demanded for decades? For this purpose, we do not need to build new lines, but to expand the existing ones into two-level railway lines, the lower level for freight transport and the upper level for passenger transport. Our transport politicians are just as incapable as health politicians, because they usually do not really understand these things. Do one have to show to friends the latest smartphone as a status symbol every year? I used the first iPhone for a long time. Brought back from the United States when there still was none to buy in Europe. Ultimately after many years, I had to renew it, as Apple profit-driven discontinued the software updates for these “vintage" models. Now people are being driven to exchange their well-functioning cars for e-models, what a waste of raw materials. Recently I was told why I don’t drive an electric car as an avant-gardist, and I answered with a simple calculation:

- Renewable energy resources (photovoltaics, wind, etc) delivered around 251 TWh electricity in 2019.

- If total electricity generation is provided by renewable energy resources, further 276 TWh would have to be delivered per year regardless of the seasons and weather-related daily fluctuations. This presupposes the development and construction of gigantic storage plants and not the increase of photovoltaic modules, which already generate too much electricity during the sunny time, which then has to be delivered cheaply abroad, so that the lines do not run hot here, while in winter expensive energy, usually nuclear energy, must be bought from abroad. Seasonal independent tidal power plants on the North Sea would be a means of choice. Robert Habeck’s (German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy) well-intentioned program appears to be not only too short, but unfortunately also off-target.

- Moreover, we are directed to drive electric cars, which generate heat with their aggregate just as much as conventional combustion engines. In Germany, we will then need an additional 130 TWh of electricity per year to ensure e-mobility for everyone. Additional demand for electricity from renewable energy resources in the amount of 406 TWh (276 + 130) to a total of 657 TWh, an increase of 2.6 times, is needed. This can only be done with nuclear power.

Overland power lines, Ebsdorfergrund 2014

Therefore, I do not want to drive a finally nuclear-powered car. It remains to be assumed whether the nuclear lobby is not behind the whole climate hysteria. A Bündnis90/Green Party that enforces this has forfeited for me any right to call itself "green" or environmentally friendly. Neither for the millions of toxic car batteries nor for the over 100,000 years (the half-life of plutonium is very long) radioactively radiating nuclear fuel rods - that destroy all life - safe disposal sites are available. For the fuel rods of nuclear power plants, German authorities have been searching for them in vain for half a century! The search for rare earths indispensable for batteries and their toxic mining leaves "lunar landscapes”, are destroying soil all over the world. All those who drive those oversized e-SUVs or torque-boosted e-passenger cars are modern petty bourgeois for me. I love public transportation and my retro 911, which I rarely drive - just for fun. As Ferry Porsche said, "the last car to be built will be a sports car". I definitely reject a car powered by nuclear born electricity for the sake of the environment and life.

Just Shades of Grey: November

January 13, 2022

November is the ugliest month of the year for me, everything is grey in grey - at least in Germany. Days are getting shorter and in the early evening you get the feeling that it is already midnight. In fact, the majority of the people of the European Union have voted to stop this unnatural interference with the course of time. That was in 2018 - three years ago. Around 84% of the EU’s population voted in favour - an overwhelming majority which none of the mostly useless political parties in Europe does not even nearly reach. Nothing has been done yet. The former President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, stated clearly: "People want that, we’ll do it." The European Parliament confirmed the results in 2019. However, the implementation is now dependent on the individual 27 EU countries, which obviously cannot agree on whether the summer or winter time (former normal time) should apply all year round. But it is simple. Because the time zones in the extreme west (Portugal and Ireland: CET-1) or east of the EU (Finland, Baltic countries, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus: CET+1) have been maintained throughout the period since the introduction of summer time in 1980. For countries that want to establish summer time all year round, one could simply establish new time zones. But this is probably too difficult for our politicians to arrange; they prefer to talk endlessly instead of acting despite clear votes.

Today, it is raining in Berlin - at a maximum temperature of 9°C. I guess, I will have to escape again to South Africa or Brazil as soon as my ongoing projects in Europe have been completed. And it is the time of colds caused by viruses. Quintillions (a number with 30 zeros) of viruses are on their way via the humid air to meet often not properly prepared people who do not dress adequately, i.e. warm enough, to keep their core temperature (37°C) at a continuous level, so that their immune defense system can work effectively. This is why we speak of colds. In addition, there are deficits of vitamin D, which is formed via UV-B rays of the sparsely shining sun in our skin in November, vitamin C (in citrus fruits, peppers) and zinc (food of animal origin, especially chicken eggs, nuts, cocoa). The two amino acids histidine and cysteine present in the meat have a positive effect on zinc absorption. The absorption of zinc from plant foods is usually inhibited by phytate contained therein, a substance important for plants for photosynthesis. That is why zinc supplements are particularly useful for vegetarians. During a long-distance run, the core temperature increases (marathon run: up to 39°C), that contributes to the enhanced immune defense of viruses or pathogenic bacteria (principle of fever, or sauna). Regular long-distance running and/or sauna, balanced diet, if necessary enriched with above stated supplements, and adequate warming clothes are the best prophylaxis against cold viruses, including coronaviruses, which have been known as such since the 1960s. That kind of prophylaxis appears to me to be more effective than Covid vaccinations, which “Big Pharma” would love to carry out half-yearly among the entire world population in order to earn as much money as possible. Pfizer, the distributor of "Comirnaty", the Biontech mRNA vaccine, is the world’s largest pharmaceutical company. It generated revenues of US$ 24 billion and a net profit of US$ 8 billion in the last quarter. Sales for the year as a whole are expected to reach US$ 81 billion, whereby their corona vaccine alone expected to reach US$ 36 billion that accounts for about 44% of total sales of the company. There has never been such a blockbuster in the history of the pharmaceutical industry. It would be justified if the vaccine were at least effective. It appears to be - yet only to a negligible extent. The own trial conducted by Pfizer showed an absolute risk reduction of just 0.8% of Corona virus induced disease (Covid). The reported high relative risk reduction is only a delusion, a mere gimmick of numbers to dazzle laymen such as journalists and politicians. Furthermore, the risk reduction mainly refers to slight disease states because the number of severe disease manifestations were so low among over 40,000 recruited participants that one can’t statistically make any valid statement. Lethal outcomes have not occurred in this single prospective, double-blind, randomized study. Thus, it is impossible to speak of any prognostic significance as a life-saving vaccination. My recent search for additional prospective, randomized, double-blind clinical trials on the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US yielded no results, meaning that no supporting hard-core clinical trials are available to further prove their efficacy. In contrast, a recent Swedish study by Nordström et al. (Effectiveness of Covid-19 Vaccination Against Risk of Symptomatic Infection, Hospitalization, and Death Up to 9 Months: A Swedish Total-Population Cohort Study) with more than 1.6 million examined people, published in one of the most prestigious medical journals (Lancet), showed that after 4 - 7 months (depending on the mRNA vaccine used), there was no effect at all, whereby the ineffectiveness in men and old people, who are high-risk persons, earlier developed. Thus, vaccinated people are fooled to think that they are safe. The 2G or 3G strategies implemented by politicians throughout Europe have thus become a disaster. People who have been vaccinated longer time ago and who become careless, e.g. do not use masks anymore and stay in small, not ventilated rooms with strangers, act as "super-spreaders". Accordingly, the proportion of vaccinated persons with so-called vaccine breakthroughs in intensive care units is high, as the YouTube video of a Belgian intensive care physician makes clear.

Would the physician and researcher Paul Ehrlich, 1854 - 1915, Nobel Prize winner for Medicine 1908, be satisfied with the performance of today’s Paul-Ehrlich Institute, Germany’s top vaccination authority?

In addition to Corona viruses, colds can be caused by a whole range of viruses: e.g. by rhinoviruses, RS viruses, Adeno-, Coxsackie- und ECHO-viruses, influenza and parainfluenza viruses. The most dangerous viruses are influenza viruses, which, depending on their mutation, can cause uncontrollable pneumonias. They actually are the causers of the flu, while all infections by the other viruses are subsumed as "flu-like infections". The "Spanish flu" triggered by the influenza subtype A/H1N1 has entered deep into our collective memory. Since this most severe flu caused at least 50 million, if not even 100 million deaths worldwide immediately after World War I. Specifically, those deaths have been referred to people who died of pneumonia or cytokine shock in the course of the infection. At that time, it was mainly young and middle-aged people who were affected, while Sars-CoV-2, the carrier of Covid-19, mainly affects people of old age. The mortality rate is 1.2% for people aged 90 or over, 0.4% for people in their eighties, 0.004% for middle-aged people aged 30-59, and only 0.0001% for people under 20 years of age (figures collected in 1/2021). The 2017/2018 severe influenza outbreak showed a mean mortality rate of 0.3% in relation to the total population, comparable to COVID-19 mortality in the 60-year-old age group. If the infection numbers had been collected at that time, they would not have been much different from the Corona numbers of today. At that time there was no hysterical reaction, although the intensive care units were also full and the Italian health care system was also overloaded with Italy’s notoriously poor infrastructure. These moderate figures contrast strongly with the figures transmitted by mass media concerning "by or with" Corona deceased people. It can be assumed that those who died “by or with” Corona died predominantly “with” Corona. The request of the Chair of Pathology of the renowned University of Heidelberg to check the actual cause of death of deceased people "by or with" Corona by means of a professional autopsy was not only not followed, but was also denied by the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the highest health authority in Germany. The RKI has thus disqualified itself. Even the "Handelsblatt", which, like all mass media, follows the mainstream and is inferior to the selected data of the few easily controllable news agencies, had reported in the course of the last corona wave on 4-22-2021:

«Medical criticism of the official corona policy is very rare. After all, hospitals depend on state funds and laws. All the more surprising is the statement of Thomas Hermann Voshaar, Physician-in-Chief of the Bethanien Lung Clinic, in the newspaper “Bild”. The alarmism of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) regarding an imminent super-emergency in the intensive care units is irresponsible, says Voshaar: “Not even a quarter of the 22,000 intensive care beds in Germany are diagnosed with Covid-19 patients.” Obviously, the situation in the country is much more differentiated than it is stated by DIVI representatives and federal policy. This is matched by informations according to which 10 -15 percent of intensive care patients have Covid, yet they are because of other serious problems on the ward, e.g. due to a heart attack. The DIVI rejects all allegations.«

The high reported death rates accepted uncritically by the mass media do not correspond in any way to the official death registers. For example, if one looks at the death tables of the Corona pandemic year 2020 for Germany and evaluate them statistically correctly, i.e. including the demographic development, an even lower general mortality occurred in 2020.

Despite the high vaccination rate in Germany, the current wave of Corona infections has led to an increase that even exceeded last spring’s record figures for the very low proportion of people vaccinated at that time. Thus, how effective can the current Covid-19 vaccination be? With a 80% vaccination coverage of adults in Germany one should notice a significant weakening of the 4th infection wave. The opposite is the case. The above-mentioned Swedish study proves that logical conclusion. Those tested positive on Sars-CoV-2 are at an all-time high. And no one in the mainstream media and politics wonders how effective vaccination is. It is only marginal, as the absolute figures of the registration studies actually anticipated, and of short duration. According to the statements of the former Chair of Medical Microbiology at the University of Mainz, Prof. Bhakdi, one may believe that a necessary appearing booster vaccination against Covid-19 might be even dangerous by potential development of autoimmune diseases. In fact, there are currently as many Hashimoto thyroid infections in Germany as has never been the case. The thyroid gland is a vital organ. In principle, other organs such as the kidney can also be attacked by the complement cascade triggered by the booster vaccination. I know Mr. Bhakdi personally and have appreciated him as a well-balanced, highly competent bacteriologist who was not prone to hysteria, as is the case with most incompetent journalists and politicians. Bhakdi is not the only one who is warning. One of the pioneers of mRNA vaccination technology, Dr. Robert M. Malone, an American virologist and immunologist, has been explicitly warning of the dangers of vaccination using a mRNA vaccine for quite some time. He even risked a possible Nobel Prize, so important is that warning to him. Because the mainstream mass media, be it print media, TV or radio stations, do not allow alternative opinions. Moreover, those who are too critical are quickly defamed as conspiracy theorists, lateral thinkers or right-wing extremists. In doing so, Nazi-like lobbyists agree on the principles of the probably greatest rhetorician of modern times, the national socialist Joseph Goebbels, who clearly formulated. Even if you tell a big lie, you only need to repeat it often enough until people believe it in the end.

What would Robert Koch, 1843 - 1910, together with Louis Pasteur co-founder of microbiology and Nobel Prize winner for Medicine in 1905, say about the current leadership of the highest health authority in Germany named after him?

Finally, it should be noted that I am a physician, specialist in internal medicine and, in my former profession, directing the intensive care unit of a university hospital. Infectious diseases like Covid-19 directly affect my area of expertise. The Minister of Health is a banking clerk by profession, the President of the Robert Koch Institute does not even hold the license to treat patients, he is a veterinary surgeon. The head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the highest vaccination institute in Germany, also has no medical license. He is a theoretical scientist, a biochemist. As responsible doctor for seriously ill patients, I would have brought virologists, currently present in so many talk shows of the TV media, from the basement - there they usually reside in their laboratories – to my clinical ward if I would need statements about the accuracy of a laboratory test. Those laboratory specialists have never been responsible for a single patient and are now courted in treating hundreds of millions of people. That approach cannot go well. In any case, I advise against a booster vaccination (following a complete vaccination) as long as the long-term side effects of the novel mRNA vaccines have not been clarified. Exceptions are high-risk patients including elderly people beyond 80 years of age. Vaccinations of children and healthy people younger than 20 years of age are not mandatory due to their extremely low risk of any severe manifestation of Covid. How foolish one actually must be that considering the obvious ineffectiveness of current Covid-19 vaccination, additional vaccinations using the same ineffective vaccines are called, while the loudest screaming, the least competent they are. Unfortunately, the journalists of the mass media are often not careful enough, otherwise they would not give room to such barkers. A shy advice: Simply ask beforehand how much research money the overly speaking virologists are getting from the pharmaceutical industry or which company paid their last conference trip. Or one might ask Prof. Drosten, the virologist at the Charité Berlin, how much royalties from the PCR development for Corona testing have flowed into his pockets and whether that does not motivate his opinion to test everything that goes, instead of carrying out scientifically solid representative cross-sectional tests, which allow to derive real incidence rates and not those house numbers of “so called incidence rates” reported from incompetent editorial offices of the public-legal television broadcasts to keep the population in fear and terror - one might think. We should behave more sober about the Corona problem. Militant attitudes on both sides, pro or contra vaccination, are not helpful. The ultimately unsuccessful vaccination campaigns should be limited to high-risk individuals before the respective cold months - as we have always done with flu vaccinations. We will not be able to wipe off Coronaviruses from the surface of the Earth; they are too numerous and too adaptable. In contrast, we should watch out not to harm our human population by immature, experimental drugs.

DIGITALIZATION

March 11, 2024

On Monday, October 4, 2021, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram services collapsed worldwide. Mobile telephone services were also affected, and even the fixed telephone network. My partner, who has been quarantined in Italy for two months because of COVID, could not reach me. I was lucky to be able to reach her at least briefly via my mobile service provider. Our voices were distorted, the connection then suddenly broke. How can this happen?

Facebook and digital networks in trouble

Was that a cyber attack? With considerable delay, Facebook management simply explained that a change in their digital network made by their software engineers was the cause of this long-term blackout. "We would like to clarify that we believe that the main cause of this failure was a faulty change of configuration." While Facebook initially did not comment on the causes of the disruption, independent IT experts speculated about a major configuration flaw of the network infrastructure that made all Facebook services inaccessible. For web experts it looked mainly like a problem with the domain name system (DNS) service. Among other things, this service ensures that website names are connected to their IP addresses so that they can be accessed at all. DNS interferences happened before. Last July, they caused that numerous websites were temporarily unavailable. The reason was a problem at the web service provider Akamai. The centralization of the network infrastructure at large providers bear the danger that any failure can tear all its services and websites off the net. In June of this year, numerous websites around the world had been unavailable for about an hour after a disruption to the Fastly cloud service. At that time, the British government’s website, the Reddit platform as well as the news portals of the newspapers "Guardian", "New York Times", "Financial Times" and "Le Monde" have been affected.

Yet, not only social networks were affected by the massive disruptions. According to "allestörungen.de" other internet providers appeared to have problems. In addition, there were disturbances among mobile phone operators and even within the fixed telephone network, which no longer works as before via separate telephone lines, but also via IT-based networks (computer telephony). Vodafone users, for example, reported problems with mobile internet, but also with fixed-line cable and fixed-line DSL. It didn’t look any better at Deutsche Telekom and O2. Users even recorded a total blackout. Two anonymous IT security experts from Facebook explained to the "New York Times", a cyber attack as a cause of the problems seems unlikely. The technology behind the company’s individual apps would be too different to be taken offline at the same time by a single cyber attack. These "believing IT nerds" did not comment on the obvious fragility of our digital systems.


Meanwhile it is clear: The black-out affected not only users in Germany, but throughout Europe, the USA, Australia and Asia and lasted more than 7 hours before it could be reasonably remedied. The long delay also resulted from a really ridiculous circumstance. Facebook IT specialists could not enter their workspaces to work on the problem using appropriate hardware, NBC journalist Kevin Collier reported on Twitter. Access to the rooms was linked to the Internet. Like other users, Facebook was disconnected from this, meaning that even internal communication no longer worked. Here, what was previously circulated on the internet as a joke, obviously became reality: Following extensive dental treatment, a young man could no longer enter his own house via his voice-controlled smartkey of his smartphone, because of his changed voice. A simple "analog" key would have solved the problem. The young man’s pride in owning a "smart house" suddenly collapsed. It’s unbelievable that these "smart guys" from Facebook didn’t think about such possibility, didn’t have a plan B available. They probably had to break into their work spaces.

One can only hope that this IT disaster is a wake-up call for responsible politicians and governments. Global communication systems cannot be left in the hands of profit-driven companies. Facebook and its pale CEO Mark Zuckerberg have only one thing in mind: money. This is done by plundering and passing on sensitive data - be it private taste, consumer behavior, political, religious or sexual orientation. We must put a stop to this. No one should be so naive as to communicate good business ideas via "social media" until everything is in “dry clothes”, i.e. is being realized before unauthorized copying, and is legally protected. Like a Hydra, Facebook has swallowed competitors like WhatsApp or Instagram to prevent competition. The US cartel authorities must finally divide that incompetent Hydra.

The world-wide mostly stupid journalism, which pushes the even more stupid politicians, must finally be brought back to the ground of reality. The continuous cries for global digitalization of people who have no idea what they are talking about must stop. If one can believe the statements of the experienced and very differentiated journalist Jan Fleischhauer - I do - about 80% of all editorial offices of German newspapers are interspersed by social romantics. If those social romantics would be only in the slightest way clear about what they are demanding with their incessant cries for more digitalization: the total surveillance state with video-assisted face recognition on public grounds, Amazon-driven private spying by Alexa, and, and, and - they would behave differently. Search engine services, social networks form a market power that is almost impossible to control, whereby any innovative progress is inhibited. The search engine Google is under profit orientation of such poor quality that it is basically no longer usable for professional users and is actually no longer acceptable as a neutral search engine. Social networks such as Facebook have a collection of data of billions of people that surpasses the nightmare as described by George Orwell in 1984.

„1984“ by George Orwell, 1949

The dominant ideas of a time were always only the ideas of the ruling society class. Today, these are the ideas of digitalization conveyed by the oligopolies of globally operating digital companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (including Google), Facebook (including Instagram, WhatsApp) and Amazon. It is they who influence the multipliers of communication, the mass media, solely through their advertising. It is in their interest to promote digitalization as one of humanity’s future tasks - without regard to the healthy development of children and the restriction of fundamental rights such as respect for privacy. Digitalization leads to dehumanization of an unknown extent. Naive journalism and the mass media are ruthlessly used for this cause. The new generation is almost "automated" through digitalization. Just as modern mass production demands the standardization of industrial production, the post-modern social process requires the standardization of people. "Mainstream" is the measure; people become interchangeable, to a mere number with the function of doing the tasks assigned to them, and which are specified by the system.

Of course, we increasingly need digital courses for students. If you pursue the undifferentiated propagation of digitalization in the mass media and in politics, however, you can only get horror. Because it does not do respect the intellectual development of children. What is adequate at the upper school of a secondary school can be harmful in primary school. The cultural evolution has by far surpassed the biological evolution, which unfortunately focuses on the technical revolution, which is shown today in its excesses in the field of digitalization in the so-called age of “industry 4.0". It is increasingly directed against humans, so that Manfred Spitzer even sees the danger of a widespread development of digital dementia, which he defines as memory and concentration disorders, emotional flattening and general dulling. If we use digital media in every way, we humans will become increasingly stupid. Because the brain must be constantly trained, like the muscles, to stay in shape.

Young people staring on their smartphones like "Zombies" not paying attention to their environment, to real  life

It can already be predicted that the currently developing, increasing digitalization in the production and service sectors will lead to a recession of hitherto unknown proportions, which, along with the increasingly politically unstable situation in the Western industrialized nations, will provide considerable fuel for a revolutionary social change. The power of the currently ruling “Big Five", the digital economy, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, determine the thoughts of digitalization that have been pushed forward in the media as if this is the religion of the future that would bring salvation. Digitalization is de facto directed against humans and serves only the profit maximization and expansion of power of the already too powerful digital economy, which manipulates the masses and once independent media, internet, TV, radio and newspapers, to be their lackey.

Digitalization is nothing more than a reduction of life to 1 and 0. It remains for every one of us to resist. In any case, I have decided for myself that I prefer analog, real love to a virtual, digital one.

Politics

September 11, 2021

One of the rules in my company is: no politics, no religion – i.e., neither politics nor religion should be discussed within the company because that can only cause problems. Everyone should feel comfortable in my company regardless of their political views or religious affiliation. In Germany, however, we are in a "super election year" with several important political elections, including those to the Bundestag, our federal parliament, this month. That is why I want to make an exception to the rule, but without taking sides for one side or the other.

Location of the German Bundestag: the Reichstag building (back) seen from a boat on the Spree River

Some politicians even call the upcoming Bundestag election a historic election that is particularly important for the development of our country. However, that happens in every federal election that I can remember - and that has been 14 since 1969. So, as it is so often the case with politicians, it’s just a shell of speech, or flatly spoken - empty talk. And as in every Bundestag election, all major roads are “paved" with posters showing the portrait of any person standing for election - often people you have never seen before, who have never in any way been distinguished by special merits, and whom you will probably never see again. Only top politicians, who are known through the mass media, are excluded from this. In the age of electronic media and ubiquitous smartphones, I wonder whether this kind of poster advertising from the last century is still up-to-date. How many trees had to give their lives for all this paper and wood? How much additional waste is generated? When I got to the party’s advertising booth, which is particularly committed to environmental issues, and where "masses" of flyers and promotional material were kept on its tables, I couldn’t resist to comment: “And you want to save the environment? You want to be modern? Can’t you design your marketing paper-free, in a digital way? We need every tree to improve the air in our atmosphere. It’s the trees and plants that absorb the CO2 we generate and excrete O2 for it that we need to live." The answer was empty talk...

The political parties get the money for all the promotional material from our taxes. Each political party receives from public funds (as of 2020):

• € 0.86 per year for each valid vote for their party (second vote). For the first 4 million votes, the value even increases to 1.05 €;

• an additional €0.45/year for each euro they have received as donation (membership or mandate holder contributions as well as legally obtained donations). However, only contributions up to € 3,300 per natural person are taken into account.

• However, in order to participate in the system of partial state financing, a party must have received at least 0.5% of the valid votes in the last Bundestag or European elections or 1.0% in one of the last state elections, respectively (does not apply to parties of national minorities).

In addition, there is an indirect party financing (for party foundations, etc.), which have reached excessive heights, so that a new party (ÖDP) went to court, but was defeated, since party financing is secured by the Basic Law, which can only be changed by a two-thirds majority of the parliament. However, that will never happen. The established parties do not want to be deprived of their privileges. The funding of political parties amounted to €193.6 million in 2019, which had to be capped due to the increasing burden on the federal budget. If the total amount calculated for all parties exceeds the upper limit, the amounts allocated to each party will be reduced proportionately. However, indirect party financing is not included here and a skillful hiding place for the parties to suck more money from the tax revenue of the people. If one adds the state provided indirect party financing to the above-mentioned direct financing, then costs for 4 years of an election period adds up to approx. €1 billion that could be much better spent for our future, e.g. the refurbishment of our schools with suitable air and virus filters.

German Chancellor’s office (background). In the foreground, the beautiful sculpture by Eduardo Chillida, which is 5.5 m high and weighs 90 t, symbolising the reunification of Germany: crossed hands creating a new space which I am trying to feel

Political parties behave in an excessive way. This is also shown by the fact that they are observing the increasing inflation of Parliament with indifference or even with joy. The Bundestag should have 598 members. Due to compensation and overhang mandates, this is now inflated to 709 deputies (8.53 per 1 million population). The Bundestag is the largest parliament of all Western democracies. Compared to the United States with 100 deputies in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives (together 1.63 deputies per million population), we afford more than 5x as many deputies per inhabitant. If you add our MEPs of the EU (96), it is almost 6x as much. According to the Federal Audit Office, the current Bundestag costs us about € 974 million per year. Every voter can do something about it, don’t split your votes! Give the first and second vote to only one party. Then, there will be no additional balancing mandates. Overhang mandates come into existence when a party gains more direct mandates in a federal state than it is entitled according to their result of the second vote. Overhang mandates are compensated by so-called balancing mandates for the other parties. If a party receives one or more overhang mandates, the total number of seats in the Bundestag is increased until the proportion of the parliamentary groups in the Bundestag accurately reflects the proportion of second votes in the election.

By not splitting consistently alone, we can save more than €152 million per year, which we urgently need for infrastructure measures and not for the far too many MEPs who live off the fat of the land like aristocrats and have failed so miserably during the Covid19 pandemic by acting too slow and not protecting our constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights. A fundamental right is a right that cannot be restricted - otherwise it is not a fundamental right!

Let me talk about the requirements that top politicians must meet in order to be able to successfully hold a high public office. Of course, that also applies to all other persons standing for election, who are paid by us through our taxes. They do not do that unselfishly. I do not know of any politician who wants to carry out his/her office without remuneration, for the benefit of the general public only. On the contrary, many even insist on the right to ancillary earnings, which naturally impair their focus for the general public or even push them into a certain direction influenced by third parties. What qualities should a leader have? To answer that, I think it makes sense to look back at the original democracies of our Western world. Maybe we can learn from that.

Cicero defined the state in one of his three main works, "De re publica", as a legal community of a people for common benefit. The state has only one reason for being, namely to pursue the happiness of all its inhabitants as the highest goal. Only happiness can be the goal of human life. Aristotle explained this in his Nicomachic Ethics: "The goal of statecraft must be happiness”, with which "live well and behave well" is accompanied. Jeremy Bentham had emphasized this much later in the utilitarianism he characterized: the more happiness is induced by a measure in a society, the more useful it is for the community. These include three conditions: knowledge that leads to insight and judgement, education that is supposed to guarantee moral integrity, and the joy of living that requires sufficient leisure time. Moral integrity, according to Plato, is characterized by four cardinal virtues: wisdom, prudence, bravery and justice, the latter being crucial to order the relations of the people in a community smoothly. Aristotle differentiated the properties of understanding (wisdom, comprehension, and knowledge) from ethical virtues, generosity, moderation, and tolerance. In addition to intellectual and ethical virtues, Aristotle required love of constitution and competence as prerequisites for highest offices of the state. Cicero, a man of practice in the highest offices of the Roman Empire, adopted a number of these virtues demanded by theorists. For him, courage and energy, the will to be fair based on sound knowledge of the law, austerity and unselfishness, education and rhetoric, as well as wise foresight (prudentia) were decisive prerequisites for the quality of a head of state.

Decide for yourself which of these virtues and qualities belong to our current politicians in the executive branch. Dr. Merkel certainly did a lot, but only in reaction to something, never in wise foresight. The current German secretary for foreign affairs, Mr. Maas, declared in June that he is seeing no danger coming from the Taliban. The current disaster in Afghanistan shows that this politician is completely clueless and must actually be removed from his responsible office immediately. A political system that allows such failures to act without consequences has actually lost its justification for governing us. In today’s society, in addition to justice, it appears to me that above all energy, wise foresight, tolerance and moderation are of particular importance. In addition, one misses today core competence in almost all areas of governance in most countries. Generalists in ministerial offices have so little expertise that they are not even able to call in appropriate consultants. And if a former mediocre actor (Ronald Reagan) or a showman and real estate developer (Donald Trump) can become the most powerful politicians in the Western world, then that says it all.

We are currently looking at the candidates for the next Chancellor position, at least those who are claiming to be. I consider the restriction to these three parties, the CDU, the SPD and the Green Party, to be manipulative to the detriment of the many other parties, especially since the chancellor will not directly be elected. If I reflect the above criteria for a high state office, none of the persons presented appears to be suitable. One has proven that he cannot deal with crises in his time as First Mayor of Hamburg (G20 Summit 2017). As Finance Minister in charge, he has been fooled by an alleged criminal association, Wirecard, and ultimately is held responsible for the biggest financial scandal in Germany’s history. The other candidate could not control himself, given the suffering of so many people, to joke or laugh, just as the Federal President expressed his sympathy for the loss of 189 lives and the property of so many thousands in the affected flood regions of our country in last July. A political party that carries the “C” for Christian in its name does not deserve this designation if it clings to such a man out of a pure interest in power. The third in the group, which wants to compensate for her lack of core competence by beautifying her life course and almost exaggerated ambition, is just as unsuitable as the other two, regardless of their political goals, but because of their personal deficits. If this is the best, Germany has to offer - then poor Germany.

My summary: The election of one of the parties, which were in executive responsibility at federal or state level during the Corona crisis, essentially CDU/CSU, SPD and the Green Party, appears to me doubtful. Unless you see yourself identified with Heinrich Mann’s "The Subservient" who agrees with everything that comes from above. Perhaps it is time to make a real change; if many think so, no voice is lost. Then, many alternative parties will pass the 5% mark to enter the Bundestag. There are enough alternatives to bring a real breath of fresh air into the Bundestag and tackle the challenges of the future. In any case, do not be tempted by profane promises of any party officials. Without concomitant indication of how the promised projects are to be implemented, how one wants to convince decisive opponents of their projects, this is just empty talk.

The great chancellors of the Federal Republic of Germany. Left: Konrad Adenauer (1949-63), who organized the reconstruction of Germany and its integration into the West, yet at the expense of the separation of West & East Germany after World War II. Middle: Helmut Schmidt & Willi Brand (1969-82), who promoted reconciliation with the East and friendship with France as a basis for building the EU. Right: Helmut Kohl (1982-98), who implemented the reunification with Central (East) Germany, the former GDR (paintings in the hallway of the Chacellor’s office).
Women

January 13, 2022

The former Prime Minister of the UK, Lady Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013), the later Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, once said: “If you want something to be said, ask a man; if you want to get something done, ask a woman”. I do not agree with her. The ability to get things done is a property of someone’s character irrespective of gender. There are many people around - males, females, and diverse - who are just talking, and may be even talking without saying anything. The prototype of such a person is a politician. And there are people among us who get things done. There are quite a few people who are saying “I wanna be this or that”. Yet, don’t do anything to get there. It’s one thing to set aims, to articulate wishes. However, it’s a completely different story to fulfill wishes, or to reach aims. If politicians promise something to accomplish during a campaign before elections, just simply ask them: “How will you achieve that? Which are the major problems to overcome? How will you successfully convince your opponents?” In the vast majority of cases, you will hear just empty phrases as answers.

Why is it that still many people think that male persons are more successful in terms of performance. Was it always like this? Definitely, not. Thousands of years ago, in primitive societies with only few tribes around, there was indeed a dominance of women. It’s a woman who bears a child, who gives birth to life. Therefore, women were in command of community life as it is still the case in few remote tribes in the rain forest of the Amazon region. Later, due to the increase in number of tribes and the development of battles between them the dominance of men developed due to their physical strength. Patriarchalism, therefore, originally proceeded from the stronger physical nature of man and was manifested by early religions like the Jewish and later by Christianity: “because he (the man) is God’s image and reflection, but the woman is the reflection of the man. Since the man has not been created out of the woman, but the woman has been made out of the man ... The man was not created because of the woman, yet the woman because of the man", so the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.

In 415 AD, fanatical followers of early Christianity could not accept to see a female universal philosopher and scientist, unmarried, self-confident, and smarter than most men in Alexandria at that time. That was Hypatia (355 – 415), the daughter of the last director of the library in Alexandria, the most important institute of wisdom in ancient times.

The (Philosophy) School of Athens, fresco by Raphael, 1510/11, Stanze della Segnatura, Vatican. That extraordinary renaissance painter placed Hypatia (center left) close to the group around Pythagoras, one of the greatest philosophers and scientists of ancient Greece.

She found evidence that the mainstream knowledge of the Ptolemaic geocentric world system was wrong. Instead, the hypothesis of Aristarch (310 – 230 BC), that the earth is circling around the sun, i.e. a heliocentric world system is right. Furthermore, there is reason to believe that she was the first describing elliptical orbits of planets around the sun instead of simple circles. She had been brutally murdered by a fanatical male mob cutting stripes of flesh from her body until her death.

Later, neither Copernicus nor Galilei referred to her when establishing the “new” view of the world.  Even the great philosopher Nietzsche (1844 – 1900), who unmasked the slave morality of Christianity, couldn’t get rid of that awful traditional view about women. Actually, his view was induced by frustrated relationships with women. He had acquired the venereal disease syphilis at an early age during sexual intercourse, that left him with a terrible image of a woman. He wrote: “If you go to women, don’t forget the whip". In addition, he never could overcome that Lou v. Salomé (the later Lou Andreas- Salomé, 1861 -1937), an extraordinary, highly educated, attractive woman, called the “Russian-German Beauty” neglected his approaches to marry him. Nietzsche remained along with the centuries-long, ongoing oppression of women by the Christian church and stated humiliating every woman: “The man shall be raised to become a warrior, and the woman to his relaxation; everything else is folly".

Legendary photograph by Jules Bonnet, 1882, showing Lou v. Salomé, a whip in her hand, directing the two famous philosopher friends Paul Rée and Friedrich Nietzsche, who both wanted to marry her and weren’t successful. Lou followed no conventions and wanted to stay free. Later, she lived together with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and was in a close professional relationship with Sigmund Freud developing with him the method of psychoanalysis. She, and not Freud, was the first practicing psychoanalyst.

To this day, women have not been able to free themselves entirely from that oppression, even in most advanced countries. In some backward-looking countries of the Islamic world, women are even still regarded as property of men.

Until today, it’s not allowed for women to lead services in the catholic church. It was not until recently (1990) that women have the same rights to vote in political elections in all regions of Switzerland, one of the wealthiest and most advanced countries on earth. The prejudice of the inferiority of women and the superiority of men has been passed on to the present day. This permanently disturbs the harmony between sexes and threatens love relationships and partners’ happiness. It is a major cause of the high divorce rate in modern societies. The solution to reconciliation between sexes can only be achieved by a true partnership and equal education of boys and girls. Comparing various countries in Europe, it becomes clear that there is still a long way to go. In none of the Mediterranean countries a woman was holding a leading political position - until today. The same is true for Eastern European and Alpine countries. In contrast, all leaders of the major political parties in Finland are women. Finland’s Prime Minister is the youngest woman ever holding such a responsible position. Similar developments are present in other Scandinavian and Baltic countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled in Germany for 16 years. When she started her career as chancellor in 2005, the former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder claimed “She is not capable to do that.” It has been proved by her that he was definitely wrong. She accomplished some important changes, the termination of nuclear plants which endangered the entire population, and the change into a multi-cultural society, even taking legal breaks into account. Dr. Merkel has been widely acknowledged as a dependable and wisely acting stateswoman.

The latter word does not even exist in modern dictionaries. One can find just the term statesman. Thus, our entire language has to be adapted because the oppression of women occurs in any part of the society, not just the political. Therefore, a law concerning leading professional positions is under way in Germany. That novel law demands that in all companies listed on the stock market having more than 2,000 employees and at least three board positions at least one board position needs to be covered by a woman. That’s a senseful beginning. Currently, only 2/3 of all major companies in Germany are fulfilling that minimal standard. Since half of the population of Germany is female (50,7 %) half of all leading positions in companies and the public sector should be covered by women. And if members of the cultural system, artists, declare that they form the avantgarde of a society they should be aware that female artists still don’t have equal opportunities in their artistic career (see my blog “Arts” of June 27).  Since just the broad discussion of a strict quota system of economic leadership positions markedly increased the number of major companies to open board positions to qualified women from 53 % in fall 2020 to 67 % in summer 2021, it is now clear that only a strict quota system will help to establish more justice in our society. Although the proportion of board positions of the 30 DAX companies in Germany increased from 12 to 16 % within the last half year, there is still a long way to go to reach 50 %. That becomes evident looking on those companies which won’t be affected by the new law. There, the proportion of women covering positions within the top management is still very low and increased by less than 1 % point within the last half year. Therefore, the new law has to be applied on all sectors of our modern societies if those societies want to really deserve that characterization to be modern.

In addition, a society needs to establish an infrastructure that women have at all the possibility to follow a professional career from early on. Thus, preschools and kindergartens taking care of children during an entire working day have to be established nationwide with easy and free access of all children. The ancient philosopher Platon (428 – 348 BC) had already suggested to raise kids in children homes (he defined them as women’s shelter in his book “The State”) right following their birth in order to free women from their duties to raise and feed their children and to be free to join even warrior services. Actually, he proposed the dissolution of permanent family associations. That was so revolutionary that he hesitated to express those ideas, when he explained that in detail in his dialogues between Socrates and his followers. Anyway, he clearly stated that women, except for the fact that they can give birth to children, differ only gradually (e.g. physically), but not in principle from men. That was an early statement for equal rights and opportunities for women, which has not yet been achieved in all areas until today. In detail, he suggested that mothers should breastfeed strange children only, whereby it had to been ensured that they did not get to see their own children, in order not to let family associations arise and to eliminate selfish family interests from the outset. The public interest should be in the foreground. Yet, he didn’t understand the importance of an intact family for the happiness of children and the function of a family as basic element for any society. In addition, as aristocrat he was reluctant to give women the right to vote in those early democracies.

At least the latter we have achieved so far. Let’s see how many leading positions in our future European governments will be held by women. Yet, we need to keep going to fight for equal opportunities for women in our societies. We all will profit by doing that because the pool of bright people for decisive positions to achieve progress in our societies will thereby be doubled. Please, be reminded that in the entire history of science there have been just two persons who received the Noble Prize in two fields, Linus Pauling and Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867 – 1934). She won the Noble Prize in physics in 1903 and for chemistry in 1911. She defined the term “Radioactivity”. Until 1985 the activity of any radioactive substance had been measured by the unit “Curie” and was then replaced by “Becquerel”, the name of her male scientific teacher. Why?

The native Polish woman, Marie Sklodowska Curie, seen at the age of 44. Official photograph, when she won her second Noble Prize in 1911.
Arts

January 13, 2022

I can’t hear the C-word anymore, whether it’s Corona or Covid. Responsible people have allowed culture and art to become almost completely destroyed during the last two years. Cashiers in supermarkets have been elected as system-relevant, while cultural workers were sidelined. And yet it is culture and art that distinguishes us as human beings. So, let me talk about art. I hope you will be able to get back into it despite all of those induced fears, because it is essential for our continued existence as human beings.

Mainstream, the average taste, appears to determine what significant art is, measured by its price, which is controlled by collectors, influential gallery owners and targeted marketing. Why the "Balloon Dog" of Jeff Koons raised € 43 million at the auction house Christies in 2013 cannot be deduced from the artwork alone, basically simply a gag, or plagiarism of previously seen dog representations made of balloons. Those who swim against the current, even the greatest artists, have a hard time - and women especially. If you are looking for female artists in art history, you will hardly find them. And once a female artist had achieved too much recognition, she was pushed back by her male colleagues. A famous example is that of the ingenious sculptress Camille Claudel and her congenial counterpart Auguste Rodin at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, this is not very much different in contemporary art. About 60% of Berlin’s artists are women. However, men are preferred for solo exhibitions - about 22% more often exhibited than women (Institute for Strategy Development, Berlin, 2018). Top revenues on the secondary market are almost exclusively achieved by male artists. Yet, art is completely independent from gender.

But what is art? Art is derived from “to have excellent skills”. That is certainly true concerning the perfectly made “Balloon Dog” as cited above. Yet, every good crafts(wo)man has excellent skills without being an artist. Art is much more than that. Even by a most differentiated approach, the search for truth is merely a continuous becoming than perception of standing facts. It is, more or less, an approximation dependent on perspectives. Art also is a system approaching truth, that is why important philosophers have dealt with art as well. Yet, art is nothing more, and nothing less, as a skillful reflection of the outer world (environment), of being, via the self of an artist. In confrontation with any material, an inspired artist (like a medium) creates a subject which contains a facet of life, that in turn induces a reflection in the observer. That can be sympathy for the idea of beauty - however, also for ugliness, for good and for evil, i.e., everything that life is creating. In simple terms, art is a system of skillful reflections:

X → Y → Z

where X = outer world, Y = medium (artist), Z = observer, and → = reflection, whereby artists and observers are functioning as mirrors. More differentiated:

Chance plays an important role as a means of life. I refer to coincidences in the selection of subjects that inspire an artist, or in the design process itself. It is no coincidence that Gerhard Richter, arguably the most important contemporary artist, developed his "Rakel” technique to deliberately leave room for chance in the creation of a painting - because the radical composition of an artwork always carries the danger of a too rigid construction, that is something what life definitely is not.

"Living" painting by Gerhard Richter seen at his great retrospective exhibition, Museum Barberini, Potsdam, Germany, 2018

Modified excerpt from "The 12 Principles of Life" by Christian Brilla (Amazon eBook)