Page 158 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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JEW I SH BOOK A N N U A L
the Zweig-chapter o f my
Germany’s Stepchildren.
I then added
a last parag raph in March 1942. It read as follows:
Young Vienna — or shall we rename it Old Vienna — is now
a legend. It is a legend even to the Viennese. As Napoleon put
an end to the Venice o f Gozzi and Goldoni, so a modern con­
queror ended the glory o f Vienna. The Mistress o f the Adriatic
knew a thousand years o f splendor and is today a museum o f
memories and faded dreams. The Queen o f the Danube seems
fated for a similar destiny. On the other hand, it may chance
that to the gaze o f a future historian pre-Hitler Vienna will ap­
pear as the last and mellowest synthesis on the European con­
tinent o f two cultural streams that long ago arose in Hellas and
Judea and that for many centuries gave to the Occident its pat­
tern o f beauty and its ideal o f goodness. This pattern o f beauty
was shaped by Homer and Euripides, Plato and the Renaissance.
This ideal o f goodness was proclaimed by Isaiah and Jesus, by
Judaism and Christianity. The armored men o f the North, who
in 1942 parade along the banks o f the Danube, seem immune
to these influences. They worship other gods and follow other
faiths. They are said to be more virile and they claim to die
better. They are not plagued by beauty nor weighed down by
morals. Their tanks scale Parnassus and their winged monsters
threaten Sinai. The swastika flies over Olympus and the cultural
splendor that was Danubian and European seeks refuge in for­
eign exile. Zweig did not survive 1942 and the ruin o f the world
he loved.
Increasing gloom descended upon him. In all the lands o f
the European continent, he, the “Good Eu ropean ,” felt harried
and hurt. For a time England offered him refuge, then the
United States and finally Brazil, but it was the kind and cold
reception that one accords a dignified stranger, and the appe l­
lation o f refugee clung to him in all his wanderings.
It was then, in the sixth decade o f his life, as loneliness
gathered about him amidst the noise o f cities and the bustle
o f busy, adm iring gapers, tha t Zweig sought to find his way
back to ancestral roots. In 1937, he published
The Buried Can­
delabra (Der begrabene Leuchter),
as sad an affirmation o f Jewish­
ness as was penned in o u r century.
Th e events o f this short novel take place in Rome and
Byzantium du r ing the fifth century. However, the sacking o f
the Roman Empire by the Vandals was presen ted by Zweig as
a catastrophe paralleling the destruction o f Europe by the Nazi