Page 200 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
eyesight. Besides, the average veteran settler saw in the German
language the speech o f Nazi persecutors. With press and lecture
platform closed to Zweig, he felt isolated and neglected in the
midst o f his own Zionists who were busy with rescue operations
and for whom he was but one o f many impoverished intellec­
tuals.
Gradually, under the influence o f harsh reality, the idealized
Zionist image became ever more tarnished. He wondered
whether he had erred in leaving his exiled compatriots to carry
on the struggle to arouse public opinion against the Nazis from
Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam and Paris, while he lived in distant
Haifa. He began contemplating a return to lands closer to Ger­
many to await the collapse o f the Nazi regime and the replace­
ment o f Fascism by Socialism. The ideas o f Karl Marx now at­
tracted him far more than those o f Herzl and Buber, while
Pan- humanism loomed as the most desirable ultimate goal. He
undertook several trips to European metropolises and even
wrote to Freud about Vienna as a possible domicile. But when
the Nazi cohorts occupied Vienna, exiling Freud, and when
World War II engulfed Europe, he had no choice but to remain
in Palestine.
AN T I -N A Z I ACT IV IT IES
During the war, Zweig edited and wrote for anti-Nazi publica­
tions. When an organization for Russian relief was founded,
he headed it and threw himself wholeheartedly into its
acttivities. This brought him into closer contact with admirers
o f Russia and Communism. His insistence in 1942 to address
a Te l Aviv audience in German, while other speakers spoke
Hebrew or Yiddish, caused a riot. When he branded the youth
that broke up the meeting for Russian support as Fascists, he
aroused general resentment. This increased his embitterment.
He gave vent to it in his novel
Das Beil von Wandsbeck
(The
Axe o f Wandsbeck), 1947, which appeared in Hebrew the fo l­
lowing year. The novel’s Jewish characters love Germany, de­
spite their mistreatment by the Nazis, and do not want to ex­
change it for Palestine.
In January 1945, he wrote to me that a lot o f the ideas which
I had attributed to him in the last chapter o f my
Germany’s Step­
children
1944, he now saw as wishful thinking. “ I don’t feel as