Presents a summary of:
CITIES AND YEARS
by Konstantin Fedin
CHAPTER ABOUT THE YEAR IN WHICH THE NOVEL WAS FINISHEDSPEECH
A young man named Andrei Startsov sticks his head out a window and begins a long-winded speech, addressing the 85 windows in his courtyard, where people are going about their everyday business of airing mattresses, eating, playing music, etc. Before he actually gets to the point of his speech, Andrei is interrupted by a friend named Kurt Wahn, calling up to him from the courtyard below. Andrei hurries down to meet Kurt. Andrei's landlady shakes her head and says she's known all along that Andrei was crazy.
Andrei composes a rambling letter to Mari. He writes that he hopes she isn't dead yet, because he is coming back to her, and Kurt will help him in this--although Kurt merely suggested helping Andrei find a change of climate and knows nothing of Andrei's plan to return to Mari.
FORMULATION OF THE CHANGE
Kurt testitifes to a Party commission concerning his former friend, who betrayed the revolution and saved the life of an enemy for purely personal reasons. Kurt was so disgusted that he shot and killed his former friend. The Party commission deliberates for a bit then declares that Kurt's actions were justified. The transcript and minutes of the commission meeting are destroyed.
FIRST CHAPTER ABOUT 1919PETERSBURG
October 1919. Petersburg is dark like a tunnel; the city is enclosed in a steel shell. Houses are unfinished, falling apart. In one such crumbling frame, a former member of the nobility named Sergei Lvovich Shchepov finds a large wooden beam, which he plans to use as fire wood. When he gets the beam home he sees a notice posted to one side of the beam. The notice offers French and German lessons at moderate prices as well as the knitting and darning of socks and rabbits for sale. Shchepov shakes his head, thinking, "Look what has become of our intelligentsia."
Guy de Mauspassant
Fighting off the mice, Shchepov cooks his modest dinner, then sits down to read some Maupassant.
There is a knock at the door. Shchepov is suspicious, but the caller identifies himself as Andrei Startsov, a soldier from Semidol, bringing a letter from Shchepov's son, Aleksei. While unlocking his many locks to admit Andrei, Shchepov complains of the times and of the prevelance of burglars.
The letter informs Shchepov that Aleksei has married an actress. Shchepov is glad to have the news, but complains of the informality of the times. He says he has another son, Lev, but then he immediately becomes angry and says he has disowned Lev, who has become a thief sought by the police.
Shshepov offers to let Andrei sleep on the leather sofa for the night. Then Shchepov retires to his bedroom with a monogrammed ashtray, a single square of chocolate, and his copy of Maupassant.
PROFESSOR OF THE TRENCHES
At three o'clock in the morning, there is another knock at the door. Shchepov worries that it might be a search--after all, Andrei is not registered in the apartment. Andrei says not to worry--all his papers are in order. Then Shchepov thinks it might be bandits. Andrei assures him that he has a Mauser. Shchepov opens the door. He is being summoned to help dig trenches immediately. Andrei offers to go in his place; after all, Andrei is younger and stronger. Shchepov readily agrees.
The trench diggers march out into the dark iron shell of the city, bumping into one another, illuminating their way with matches and lighters. They pass a clock, the face of which is illuminated, but whose hands long ago stopped moving.
The shining but motionless clock leads an old Professor in the group to recall a friend of his who used to maintain a library and museum of miniatures from the 18th century. He, of course, fell into poverty and was forced to sell off his things bit by bit. Finally he was faced with the decision, which to sell first: his library or his miniatures. He decided to sell the library and as soon as the book were gone, he began to forget everything that was written in them. Now he just looks at his minatures and smiles, not remembering their history or chronology. Like the shining but broken clock face, he smiles but offers no useful information.
They dig through the night, and the Professor comments that there is no culture, science, knowledge or idea which can be forever buried and lost beneath the ruins of an academy, city, or government.
At six in the morning, work is finished. Andrei walks off in the same direction as the Professor, who begins singing the Marseillaise. Andrei joins in the singing. The Professor giddily says he would like to be reborn in 100 years and see how everyone in the future reveres these Revolutionary days. He would proudly shout to the people of the future that he walked the streets of Petrograd in those days and that he dug trenches with his very own hands. The Professor impulsively kisses Andrei three times on the cheek then darts off to the left on his way home.
Everybody sing !
The kisses cause Andrei to suddenly remember his final day in Semidol. He was sitting in a carriage alone in the dark, when suddenly Rita jumped up on the running board. Saying she wanted to be sure that no one saw, she kissed him, then turned and ran off into the dark. Andrei felt the need to cry out to her, but instead, he just ordered the carriage driver on, "Faster." Remembering this incident, Andrei felt the urge to again experience total freedom such as he had felt in the fields of Sanshino.
That was in the past. But here now on the streets of Petrograd, Andrei hurries into the dark, muttering to himself, "Faster!"
In Moscow, someone calling himself Conrad Stein appears at the German Soviet of Soldiers Deputies. He announces that he is a former German prisoner of war who was captured in February of 1917 near Riga and interned in Tomsk. He was part of a convoy of German soldiers who were being transported back to Germany, but, on 25 October, he got separated from his group in Semidol when the train stopped and he went out to buy potatoes. Stein has a scar running from his right ear to the back of his neck. He says he got it while fighting in France.
Stein is sent to see a secretary who questions him about the details of his story. The secretary also asks if Stein is acquainted with a certain von zur Mühlen-Schönau. Stein says no. The secretary asks Stein to wait and steps out of the room. Telling the guard that he wants to go out for a smoke, Stein leaves the building and quickly becomes lost in the crowd.
That night, this supposed Stein hops on a freight train leaving Moscow.
ENEMY AT THE GATES!
Andrei receives orders to report to a building on the French Embankment. He enters the building and sees a guard, with rifle and bayonet, sleeping by a coffin.
Andrei reports to the commander--a swarthy man who speaks with an Eastern accent--and says he wants to be sent to the front. The commander says that the Revolution knows what do with each one of us and that Andrei will remain here as a clerk. Besides, he tells Andrei, Petrograd at any moment may become the front.
In the regions of Tosno and Gatchina, the White forces are pushing back the Reds, getting closer to Petrograd. In cellars and on dark staircases, White sympathizers are secretly making plans to celebrate their hoped for "liberation". On Liteiny Prospekt, people rush about with sacks, packages, baskets.
Amid all this confusion, Andrei notices a woman with an unbrella, walking like a wind-up doll. Strangely intrigued, Andrei follows her into a meeting of evangelical Christians. Among the worshippers is Shchepov, praying for his thieving son Lev. Coming to his senses, Andrei quickly exits back out onto the prospect. Here, it seems to him, the whole city is being moved by hunger, everyone hurrying home for their small crust of bread. Andrei remembers that there is bread in the bag which he brought from Semidol...but he left the bag at Shchepov's place and will have to go get it. Meanwhile, after the evangelical meeting, Shchepov stops off to see the building chairman and claim his ration of bread, due to all those who helped dig trenches.
Petrograd was ready to receive its important guest (the Whites). The city was bedecked with pretty ribbons of barbed wire; shells and buckshot were ready to rain down like party confetti in celebration. But the guest had not been expecting such an extravagant welcoming. No, he had been hoping for something simpler. So he declined the invitation, turned and went away forever.
Andrei's commander tells him that the Revolution needs writers and, since Andrei can write, he should write. Andrei angrily responds that he hates working with papers when all all around him people are fighting for their lives. The commander says that not everyone has to fight for the Revolution with a gun. And what's most important, is to stay cheerful.
Andrei lost the ability to laugh. Every day, like a small bird in a strong wind, he felt himself getting blown further and further away from his goal. He could not make sense out of the everyday life of the city. One snowy evening, not paying attention, he winds up in the middle of the street. Someone pulls him back onto the sidewalk. It is Rita! He kisses her but tells her she's a fool for coming to Petrograd. What if he had been sent to the front? Been killed? Or died of hunger? She says she had to come because she's pregnant. Andrei is stunned. Then he recovers, embraces Rita and leads her along the pavement, carefully avoiding holes and puddles.
Remember The Smolny !
Seat of the Soviet government
October 1917 - March 1918
Andrei and Rita are staying with Shchepov. One day, Andrei runs into the Professor on the staircase. The Professor prattles on happily about how he is certain in the victory of the Revolution. He has spent the whole week just walking around the Smolny and looking at it happily. The Professor then says he's heard about the arrival of Andrei's "wife". Andrei reacts with a little surprise to the word. The Professor says someone gave him some flour and he will make a present of it to Andrei. Andrei tries to decline the offer, but the Professor insists.
One evening, Shchepov angrily screams at Andrei, accusing him of stealing his butter. Andrei doesn't say anything in response, but just leaves the apartment. It's too cold to go outside without his hat and coat, so he goes upstairs to the Professor's apartment. He knocks, but there is no answer. A neighbor says this is strange because the Professor is always home at this time. They fetch the building chairman and force open the door. They find the Professor in bed, dead. Mice have already gotten into the Professor's sack of flour, which is nearby. The chairman immediately confiscates the flour.
Two days after the Professor's death, a student shows up at the cemetery to see about speeding up the burial. He's told he'll have to wait his turn; it'll take about a week or week and a half. The student appeals to the gravediggers, who name an exorbitant price. (They don't make as much money from a civil funeral as from a religious one because the church pays them a little something to make sure that the crosses on the graves aren't pilfered for firewood.) After some haggling, the gravediggers agree to dig the grave, but the mourners will have to lower in the coffin and cover it up themselves.
Andrei attends the funeral and feels that with the Professor's passing, Andrei has lost his last chance to utter something important, even though Andrei doesn't know what that important thing is.
Returning home from the funeral, Andrei finds an unwelcome guest waiting for him--the German soldier who, not long ago, was in Moscow calling himself Conrad Stein. Andrei is upset to see him and quickly asks why he hasn't left the country yet? The guest says he tried out his new name for the first time in Moscow, but it became clear that the authorities know something. This sets Andrei off into a panic. The guest says that for a while he suspected that it was Andrei who compromised the name, but then he remembered that betrayal isn't in the Russian character. And besides, since Andrei is walking around free, obviously the authorities know nothing about his part in the affair.
The guest says that while traveling from Moscow to Petrograd, he met up with another German, a Berliner, who eventually died of typhus. The guest took the Berliner's identification papers for himself and slipped Conrad Stein's papers into the dead man's pocket. The guest says he also left on the dead man's body the letter which Andrei wrote to his bride back in Bishoffsberg, Germany, fraulein Mari Urbach. Once again, Andrei flies into a panic, saying that when the letter is found it will be sent back to Semidol, to Kurt, who will immediately understand everything. The guest says he was joking and really ripped up the letter. But, the guest continues tauntingly, when he gets back to Germany he will look up Mari and tell her all about Andrei, just as Andrei requested. Andrei says he's changed his mind; the guest shouldn't go looking for Mari and above all mustn't tell her anything about Andrei. The guest finally comes to the point of his visit: he's leaving on a convoy tomorrow and needs a place to stay for the night.
The guest settles in on the sofa. Andrei is in despair because he suspects that the guest knows Mari. Rita asks what it's all about. Andrei says he wishes he could untangle the mess of his life, go back in time to that accursed hour and do things differently. But as it is, he can never tell anyone about it.
CHAPTER ABOUT 1914
THE CENTRIFUGE OF LOVE
Andrei and Kurt are in sunny Erlangen for a summer holiday. Kurt takes Andrei to an anatomical museum. There they see various body parts and organs preserved in jars. There are also fetuses in all states of development. And, most prominently, is the severed head of Karl Ebersoks, a murderer, the last person to undergo a public execution in Nuremburg. Andrei becomes somewhat vexed, saying they should be out on carousels and in the sun, not in a museum visiting the dead.
All is festive in Erlangen, with rides, game booths, attractions, and hawkers selling: suspenders that can lift weights without loosing their stretch; dainty parasols; ice-cold lemonade; etc., etc. Parrots squawk and intelligent donkeys bray; organ grinders, orchestras, pianos, and violins play. But above all this rises the sound of human voices because of the human compulsion to drown out everything else, not only with sales pitches, but also with laughter and declarations of love.
And for love, what better contraption than the carousel? Lovers sitting close to one another in their chariots, spinning in and out of darkness on this enchanted centrifuge of love.
WHEN THE WORLD WAR REALLY STARTED
While wandering around the fair, Andrei and Kurt observe a very popular game booth. People throw balls at representations of the heads of famous executed criminals. Particularly popular with the players is the head of that well-known murderer, bandit, and torturer of women, Karl Ebersoks. Andrei is aghast. A passing student, overhearing Andrei's negative reaction, counters that it's a marvelous sport, combining physical exercise with a moral and patriotic lesson.
They have some beers in a restaurant, and the student expounds on various topics. He says that, despite appearances, there is such a profound feeling of impatience among the German people that a volcanolike explosion is inevitable.
The student begins to flirt with a young woman on the other side of the restaurant by tossing paper streamers at her. He pauses in his flirtation to note that this holiday is known as a gynecological holiday because, every year, a few months after the holiday, many women show up at the clinic for abortions. Andrei and Kurt don't believe him. But the student insists that he is right and that tonight even he will achieve his goal with the young woman on the other end of the streamers.
Andrei and Kurt decide that the student is a little nuts and leave him. But, sure enough, later that night, they see the student locked in an ardent embrace with the young woman.
DICHTUNG UND WARHEIT ("Poetry and Truth")
Kurt is visited in his art studio by a Lieutenant von zur Mühlen-Schönau (a Markgraf). He is a fan of Kurt's art and offers Kurt a sizeable pension on the condition that all Kurt's painting go directly from this studio to Mühlen-Schönau's private collection. Kurt is upset; an artist wants his work known to a wide audience. Mühlen-Schönau promises Kurt fame. Nonetheless, Kurt angrily sends the Markgraf away.
The town of Rozenau has a cool, refreshing pond. And when the cities become stuffy with heat, people flock to Rozenau. This summer, the days were hot and sultry, but in the evenings thunderstorms were rolling over Bavaria. But clever man has made his corrections to the insanity of nature, creating lightning rods, drainage systems, and umbrellas. Life is harmony, and the motherland of harmony is the motherland of Bach, Mendelsohn, and Liszt. And when the thunderstorms rolled over Bavaria, men, women and children gathered in cool Rozenau, where they strolled and listened to concerts of Strauss and Shuman.
That night, before the thunderstorms struck, harmony was shattered. People--opening and closing umbrellas, buttoning and unbuttoning collars--gathered on street corners, hearing and discussing the news about the assassination of the Archduke.
Living means not disturbing the harmony. At every age and every hour, in every calling or rank, in every social sphere, one must sound the characteristic, predetermined, pleasing tone.
Andrei comes to call on Kurt. The landlady says that Kurt stormed out shortly after having an officer visit him. On his way out, Kurt had slammed the door so hard it rattled the landlady's dishes.
Andrei returns home and has a dream. In the dream, a human head was hanging in a snowy expanse. The head winks at the student from Erlangen, who suddenly appears. The student throws balls at the head, which turns to look at Andrei. The head is about to say something when a ball suddenly lands in its mouth, gagging it. Then the head--still staring at Andrei is rolling down a stone staircase, making a loud "boom-bomm" noise as it hits each step. Andrei wakes up. The "boom-bomm" of his dream was really the sound of cavalry marching along the street outside his window.
Out of a sense of duty a large crowd marches on the Serbian trade counsul and pounds on the door, until the police intervene. Then the same crowd marches on the Italian trade consul, shouting, "Vivat Italia!". Harmony has ended. Long-awaited changes have come. Both Kurt and Andrei were in the crowd at the Serbian trade counsulate. But they did not see each other. Kurt was in that part of the crowd right by the counsulate's door; Andrei was at the far other side of the crowd, where stood the people who were not swept up by this sense of duty or who, by nature, were alien to it. As the crowd sets off for the Italian counsulate, Andrei breaks off and goes again to Kurt's studio. Kurt is still not at home, so Andrei leaves him a note.
Kings, in fact, have skulls which relate to bullets in the same way as do the skulls of their subjects.
The next day, at the Farber factory, the workers are planning an anti-war demonstration. They invited 60-year-old Meyer, the worker in charge of keeping the furnaces going, to join them. Meyer, who also happens to be Kurt's landord, says he supports the demonstrators, but he has to stay at his post and keep the furnaces going.
At 10 AM, the workers march out of the Faber factory gates, carrying a banner that reads: We Social-Democrats are Against War!" They are stopped by the police, who arrest the worker carrying the banner. Faced with the armed opposition of the police and army, the workers disperse and return to the factory.
Andrei returns to Kurt's for a third time. Before entering, he sees that the note he left earlier for Kurt is lying on the ground, torn and crumpled.
Meyer visits Kurt in his room and asks when Kurt will allow Mrs. Meyer to clean up the dusty, messy, room. Kurt is still wrapped up in the sense of duty, still boiling with rage and indignation. He asks Meyer what's new. Meyer says the factory bosses personally shook Meyer's hand and thanked him for not abandoning his post during the workers' demonstation. Meyer says it made him feel that he had done something dirty if he's being thanked while all the other workers are being fined and punished. Kurt narrows his eyes and asks Meyer if he's a socialist. Meyer just says that Kurt used to make better jokes.
Throughout the town, bedecked with flowers, arose the cry of, "War!". The newspapers reports on a clash with some French scouts. The Frenchmen were put to flight.
Andrei sees Kurt on a bus, and jumps on, too. He asks Kurt why he's running from him. Kurt says, "I hate you, Andrei. I must hate you. Leave. Good-bye." Andrei refuses to leave. Kurt threatens to shout out publically that Andrei is a Russian. Saying that Kurt will eventually return to his senses, Andrei leaves.
On the street, people throw cigars, cigarettes and flowers, flowers, and more flowers at the feet of passing soldiers. Soldiers would pick up a single flower and put it in the barrel of their gun or tuck it in their belt.
When Andrei returns home, armed guards are their to search his quarters.
CHAPTER OF DIGRESSIONS
LEGENDS - GOSSIP - TRUE FACTS
There are no legends about the villa Urbach, located in the hills near Bohemia. It used to be called the villa von Freileben, until the last daughter of that family married Urbach, a man of no particular occupation and certainly not a member of the gentry. Nearby are the ruins of a monastary which originally was the ancestral home of the zur Mühlen-Schönau family of knights. After donating the dank and empty castle to the monks, the Mühlen-Schönau family moved to a smaller house where a curly-haired young boy, Maximillian Johann von zur Mühlen-Schönau, is growing up.
Madam Urbach might not have married her husband but for the fact that, well, she was a fraulein when she gave birth to their first child, Heinrich-Adolf. They also have a daughter, Mari, who is a jinx, always bringing bad luck. If she visits a farm, a horse gets sick or all the milk goes bad. One look from her can cause a sneezing fit. Once she looked in on an official who prided himself on how well-organized he was. After Mari's visit, however, things fell into such a state that the official had to be replaced.
When she was three months old, Mari fell gravely ill. The doctors could do nothing, and everyone expected her to die. But on the 18th day of her illness, she let out a cry like the cry she made when being born. It was as if she was being reborn, and at that precise moment, her recovery began.
Mari took her first steps when she was nine months old. She thought she was alone at the time, and when she saw that her father had witnessed the event, she burst into tears and refused to walk in public again until she was one year old.
Mari was always playing outdoors, summer and winter. One autumn day she went missing. Urbach organized the peasants and they were about to set out on a search when a farm laborer on a cart hurries into town, scared out of his wits. While in a mountain pass, he heard sme hellish noises, which he assumed was the work of the devil. Urbach, figuring that where there was devilment, Mari was probably involved, set out to the mountain pass. And sure enough, there was Mari, hiding up on a cliff with some metal she used to make the scary noises.
Mari once undertook to find and dig up the remains of an ancient margravine (lady Markgraf), supposedly buried with treasure. After pouring over ancient documents and maps, Mari recruited three other kids and set out to the monastary ruins. They identified the entrance to the catacombs and began digging. Just as Mari descended into the pit, there was an cave-in, covering her over. When she was rescued ten hours later, her first sad words were, "The margravine isn't there." Her father said she should have asked him first; the margravine was moved to a different burial at the new Schönau castle long ago. Thus Mari passed through death a second time and was reborn for the third time.
This happend on her 13th birthday. After that, she became silent and distant. And this is when people came to fear her and suspect her of being close to the devil. Once, a coachman was getting ready to kill a goose. Mari said she wanted to do it. The coachman tried to dissuade her, but she snatched the hatchet from him and hacked at the goose's neck. She didn't manage to completely chop off the head, and the goose, streaming blood, flapped its wings and flew about the shed. The coachman saw the dead and cold expression in Mari's eyes and ran out. Never again could he bring himself to kill a goose.
Once Adolf's cat went missing. He searched for it and found it in Mari's room, with a noose around its neck, dangling from a light bracket, near death. Mari told her father that she just wanted to see how the cat would die.
Frau Urbach insisted that Mari, the little degenerate, be sent away somewhere. Although he thinks his wife is being too cruel, Urbach agrees and announces that in the autumn Mari will be sent to boarding school. Mari tells her father that she's not mad at him, that she knows sending her away was not his idea.
STEPS BECOME FIRMER
After the incident with the cat, Herr Urbach took Mari to the seaside. While playing on the nearly deserted beach, she notices a boy sitting with his back to the water. She sneaks up on him and sees that he is buidling towers, bastions, and other structures out of sea shells. Mari creeps away and tries building things by herself from sea shells. However, she has no success; all her structures fall apart. In a fit of pique, she runs back to the boy and jumps in front of him, smashing all his buildings. The boy, startled, jumps back. Mari now sees that he's not really a boy, but a 17-year-old youth, Maximillian Johann von zur Mühlen-Schönau. Mühlen-Schönau stares at Mari from head to foot, and only then does she remember that she is naked. Mühlen-Schönau says nothing, and Mari runs back to the water.
On the train ride home, Mühlen-Schönau, in the uniform of a Junker, comes up to Mari and her father and introduces himself as their neighbor. Mari immediately asks about the petrified margravine, and Mühlen-Schönau invites them to come to the castle to see for themselves.
At the Schönau castle, the young Mühlen-Schönau leads Mari down into the crypts. He opens the lid of one of the sarcophagi, revealing the petrified remains of a beautiful margravine, who was 17-years old when she died. Mari asks about the treasure, and Mühlen-Schönau tells her there was no treasure in the grave.
Mühlen-Schönau looks at Mari with wide, seemingly frightened eyes. He embraces her and leans down to kiss her. Mari shoves him away and runs off. She then realizes that she has the lantern and that Mühlen-Schönau has been left in the darkness. She returns with the light and leads him out of crypts, then laughs.
MISS RONI'S BOARDING SCHOOL
When Mari entered Miss Roni's Boarding School for Well-Bred Girls, she realized that her childhood was over. She submitted herself completely to the strict regimen of the school and became serious and somber; so serious that Miss Roni had to advise Mari to be somewhat more outgoing and to socialize more with the other girls. Mari followed these directions and her report card reflected "model behavior and wonderful success." Frau Urbach was very happy with these results. Herr Urbach was somewhat suspicious.
Two years passed quietly this way. Then one day in Weimer, while Miss Roni and her girls were out for a walk, a young officer walks right up to Mari. It is Mühlen-Schönau. He approaches Miss Roni and says that he is Mari's cousin, who is passing through town. He asks her permission to meet with Mari for just an hour. Miss Roni is torn between her respect for the military uniform and her requirement for order; but she gives permission. Mühlen-Schönau takes Mari and they disappear for three days and two nights.
Mari and Mühlen-Schönau reappear at the Urbach villa. Mühlen-Schönau meets alone with Herr Urbach. He then goes to the castle Mühlen-Schönau and returns with his guardian to reaffirm the proposal. Mühlen-Schönau and Mari's betrothal is scheduled for two years hence, when Mari will be eighteen years old.
This all transpired in the spring of 1916.
CHAPTER ABOUT 1916LANDSTRUM (Home Guard)
If you take a bottle, cut off the neck and paint it silver, it looks just like an artillery shell. And if you stick the portrait of some general on this bottle, it makes a wonderful home decoration. And that's just what patriotic Germans everywhere did. In fact, the entire consumer industry was retooled to produce patriotic products: hairpins in the shape of 42-centimeter shells; dishes with pictures of the royal family on them; laxatives in patriotic packaging.
After his last meeting with Kurt on the tram, Andrei was sent as a civilian hostage to the pleasant little town of Bischoffsberg, which was not unfriendly to Social-Democrats. Andrei lodged with Paul Hennig, who was a barber, a member of the Social-Democratic Party, and the treasurer of the Society of Friends of Choral Singing. Every morning Andrei had to report to the police station.
Another hostage in the town was a Belgium musical clown by the name of Monsieur Percy. Outside of the accordion music coming from his room, Monsieur Percy was a quiet man who kept mostly to himself. Once, authorities found in Percy's room a scrapbook filled with clippings from various newspapers, including: an article saying that if Jesus Christ were alive today, he would join the German army and fight the hated enemy; a call to save every crumb of bread in order to help the war effort; a factory pay slip; an article saying that peace would be a catastrophe and that war is the only way; and a quotation from a psychiatrist saying that we should teach respect for and even love of hatred.
The teaching of hatred! Respect for hatred! Love for hatred! Organization of hatred! Down with the childish disease, this false shame in front of brutality and fanaticism! More slaps and fewer kisses! We dare not waver when we blasphemously pronounce: our possessions are faith, hope, and hatred! And the greatest among these is hatred!
While these clippings all came from public sources, authorities decided that the collection demonstrated Percy's hostile attitute toward Germany. Furthermore, if the scrapbook ever fell into enemy hands, it could be used against Germany. It was therefore decided to hand Percy over to military authorities.
After work, Hennig likes to drop in on Andrei and discuss politics. He says that the Russians lack discipline, but other than that they are fine fellows. He recalls the words of Bismark who said that Russia is Germany's natural ally.
The war is good, Hennig tells Andrei, because the war is paving the way to socialism. You see, the war has brought about a system of distribution which bypasses the capitalists. Germany will perfect this system then teach it to the other countries of the world--after conquering them first, of course.
PARK OF THE SEVEN PONDS
War is ceaseless activity. Displayed in Frau Urbach's reception room is a whole slew of books explaining why war is occassionally necessary from the positivist, Christian, and Darwinian points of view. A committee counted the flags on display in Bischoffsberg and determined that every house was displaying 9 1/37 flags. A furor ensued when it was discovered that this was an undercount and that the true figure was 9 1/29 flags.
A conference of Berlin hotel owners discussed calling their establishments "town houses" and not "hotels". Thanks to the absence of any linguists, it was decided that "hotel" is a word of German origin, so no change was necessary. German confectioners asked themselves the question, "Are pastries patriotic?" The question was answered in the affirative, since pastries did not require wheat flour, which was being requitioned by the state.
Train loads of soldiers passed through Bischoffsberg every two or three days. Frau Urbach ran the nutrition point at the train station, feeding and taking care of the soldiers on their stopover. Mari helped her mother in this work and often heard the shout, "What wonderful girls in Saxony." But after a year and half, in Mari's mind, the solders grew colorless and there was no more laughter among them. She also saw the now weary expressions in the faces of women waiting for ration coupons. So Mari, bored with the job, stopped going to the train station.
One day, Mari went for a hike up a snowy hill. There she met Andrei, who was also out for a stroll. She immediately recognized him as a foreigner, since any young Gemans like him would have long ago been sent to the front. Andrei confesses to being Russian. Andrei says it's too bad that people have to classify one another--for example, according to nationality--and can't simply get along. Andrei and Mari have an exhilarating sled ride together down the hill, with Mari at the controls. Afterwards they laugh and share some grog and interesting conversation. Mari, however, doesn't remember what they talked about. All she remembers is the name Andrei Startsov.
Perhaps out of boredom, Mari writes to Andrei, asking him to meet her in the Park of Seven Ponds. At the appointed time, Andrei is in the park. He sees Mari approaching, smiling. From another direction, suddenly comes a column of marching soldiers, which separates Andrei and Mari. Led by German guards, it is a group of Italian prisoners, who were all made blind by Yellow Cross Mustard Gas. Andrei gapes in amazement, then, to his horror, it seems to him that all the faces of the soldiers are the same--the face of Karl Ebersoks, crying. After the blind prisoners pass, Andrei sees Mari, her eyes closed, leaning against a tree, downcast. She says that now she just can't stay, and leaves.
In the summer, the German and English fleets fought a battle hear Skagerrak. Both sides claimed victory. The only one defeated, it seems, was logic. On the very day this great naval victory was celebrated, the King of Saxony was also scheduled to arrive in Bischoffsberg. Frau Urbach, aghast, sees that no flags are flying on her house. She hurries into Mari's room and demands to know what happened to the flags, which Mari usually put out everyday. Mari says she doesn't know and doesn't care and that Frau Urbach should have someone else take care of the flags from now on. Frau Urbach is stunned and insulted.
The king is greeted with much pomp and circumstance. The people, who were expecting the King to arrive in full regalia, are somewhat disappointed by the fact that he's wearing a jacket and Tyrolean hat. Nevertheless, speeches are given, including one from Paul Hennig on behalf of the Union of Hairdressers and the Society of Friends of Choral Singing.
Frau Urbach, among the crowd, is presented to the King, who says he's heard of her charitable work and that a medal awaits her. Frau Urbach turns to introduce Mari but, to her horror, sees that Mari is gone. The King is gracious and makes a joke about it at his own expense. But Frau Urbach is furious.
When the war just began, the roads and railways over which the soldiers passed were strewn with roses. Likewise, the soldiers wore roses on their backpacks, in the ammunition belts, and in the barrels of their guns. Today, soldiers waiting at the train station to be shipped out are bedecked mainly with withered carnations, because most of the roses are now gone and the remaining ones cost too much
Monsieur Percy's old room is now occupied by an unter-officer named Dietrich. On the day of the great naval victory over England, he invites a few people over for tea and cakes, including Hennig and Andrei. Hennig talks proudly of his speech to the King. After the speech, when asked if he belonged to other organizations, Hennig told the King straight out that he was a Social-Democrat. This did not seem to disturb the King in the least. The other Social-Democrats praised Hennig for his bluntness. Andrei, however, felt that a socialist had no business presenting himself to a king in the first place. Hennig responds that, first of all, honesty is a part of the German character, and, secondly, Andrei understands nothing about tactics. Hennig also says that Andrei will never find love because he does not understand that love arises from hatred. When people hate the same thing, then love is born.
Sighing wearily, Andrei excuses himself and goes to his room. He is surprised to find Mari waiting there for him. She says that Andrei has brought her bad luck. Ever since she's met him she's always seeing things which disturb her deeply--like the blind soldiers. She feels that she sees through someone's eyes now--Andrei's. Now it seems that every soldier stepping on a train for the front is really a condemned man stepping up onto the gallows for his execution.
Mari and Andrei sit and discuss the horrors of and their hatred for the war. But from all this talking, all they understand is that they love one another. Andrei locks the door. Perhaps Hennig was right--when people hate the same thing, only then does love arise.
Ober-Lieutenant von zur Mühlen-Schönau suffered a skull wound, resulting in a scar rising from the back of his neck to his right ear. After treatment, he returned to Bischoffsberg for recuperation. He became one of the most celebrated men in town, and many women looked at him with inviting gazes.
While walking through the town, Mühlen-Schönau startles a home-guard soldier, who salutes awakardly. Mühlen-Schönau forces the soldier to salute again and again until he gets it right. A crowd gathers to watch. Someone shouts out, "Shame!" For an instant, Mühlen-Schönau thinks it's directed at him, but he then rejects that idea.
Mühlen-Schönau goes to see Mari, who, unbeknownst to Mühlen-Schönau--has just returned from Andrei's. He tells her about the incident with the soldier. Mari asks if the "Shame" was meant for him. Mühlen-Schönau says that if it were meant for him, as an officer he would have had to beat the man who said it. Mari replies somewhat dryly that, of course, for an officer there would have been no other choice.
Mühlen-Schönau tells Mari that he's been declared fit and will soon be sent to the Eastern Front. He says they should get married right away. Mari says that two hours ago she would have agreed, but now she just doesn't want to. When pressed for an explanation, Mari is evasive and just says that she's in a bad mood.
Before the war, the Bischoffsberg citadel housed the town's scales and grain reserves. Now, it has been turned into an impregnable fortress and prison.
A crowd, including Andrei gathers as screaming is heard from the citadel. The hand of a prisoner, wearing a German soldier's uniform, smashes through a window near the roof and reaches desperately for the sunlight. Guards beat the prisoner and try to drag him away as he clutches to the bars.
Unexpectedly, Andrei sees Monsieur Percy and Meyer approach, being lead by armed guards. The guards are distracted by the commotion in front of the citadel, giving Andrei the opportunity to speak with his friends. Monsieur Percy says he is being transferred from another prison to the citadel. Meyer has been arrested because of his political opposition to the war. Meyer also tells Andrei that Kurt has been a prisoner in Russian for a year now.
Mari pours over maps of the area, planning an escape route for Andrei so that he can flee the country. Andrei feels he should flee, because he can accomplish nothing in Germany. However, he is reluctant to go, fearing that Mari will think he is abandoning her. She tells him that he must go and that they will meet again later. But when she is alone, she asks herself why, when love has just arrived, must it leave again.
Andrei begins his escape attempt. Trekking through the countryside, approaches the border. He comes upon two German guards who are sitting and listening to the music of a blind organ-grinder. The organ is facing Germany, but its wooden leg is resting on Austrian soil, thereby getting around the law forbidding begging in Saxony. Andrei listens to the music for a bit, tips the organ-grinder, bids the guards good day, and continues on through the forest. Less than an hour later, he crosses over into Austria.
Andrei gets on a train bound for Reichenberg. On board, an official discovers that Andrei is traveling without papers. When the train arrives in Reichenberg, Andrei is taken into custody. The commendant is unavailable and it is late, so they decide to put off questioning Andrei until the morning. The jail is full, so they lock Andrei in a customs warehouse. Unfortunately, they forget to lock the window, so Andrei escapes. Now frightened, Andrei follows the only road that he knows in this country--the road back to Germany.
Trying to sneak back into Bishoffsberg, Andrei is startled by Mühlen-Schönau, who is out for a walk. Andrei tries to run, but Mühlen-Schönau nabs him and locks him up in the family burial-vaults for the night. In the morning, Andrei is brought to Mühlen-Schönau's study. Andrei is surly and refuses to answer his host's questions. Then he notices one of Kurt's paintings on the wall. Mühlen-Schönau is greatly surprised to learn that Andrei was Kurt's friend.
Mühlen-Schönau's attitude immediately changes, and he offers Andrei some coffee. Mühlen-Schönau says he believes that Kurt had a great talent, although he must guard against the influence of the French. In politics and war, as well as in art, Mühlen-Schönau believes, the French excel in style, whereas Germans' strength lies in ideas and themes. For this reason, he believes that the French can only harm Kurt, who must discover his own style to match his themes. Mühlen-Schönau then shows Andrei his entire collection of Kurt Wahn paintings and practically gives a whole lecture on them.
Mühlen-Schönau is sad that Kurt misunderstood his intentions, thinking that he just wanted to keep all of Kurt's paintings for himself. His plan had been to amass a large number of paintings and them present them all at once to the public, to make a sensational impression.
Every appearance of an artist must be unexpected.
Mühlen-Schönau says he sometimes envies people like Kurt and Andrei who can live for themselves, for the moment. For Mühlen-Schönau, everything has been already decided by his ancestors and history. Mühlen-Schönau understands that Andrei and Kurt were friends separated by fate. He understands friendship and sadness. He decides to help Andrei. He writes a note to the authorities saying that he found Andrei, unconscious, near his property, and that he was recovering at his home for three days, which thus explains his unexcused absence from the town.
The day before Mühlen-Schönau is to leave for the front Mari unexpectedly shows up, thanking him profusely for something that he doesn't quite understand. She is happy and, to Mühlen-Schönau's delight, she is again talking about their future together.
The next day, he covers up the many paintings in his estate, and departs for the war.
CHAPTER ABOUT 1917
WHAT WAS GENERAL-FIELD MARSHALL VON HINDENBERG THINKING ABOUT?
Every Sunday the respectable burghers of Bischoffsberg gather in the Park of Seven Ponds for the evening concert. All is peaceful and orderly as it was a year ago, 5 years ago, even 40 years ago. Everyone follows the rules and keeps to the proper path: one for pedestrians ("Don't poke the path with umbrella tips and canes!"); one for bicycles ("No faster than 12 kilometers"); and one for horses ("Only at a walk or a trot!").
The burghers agree with von Hindenberg that the world war will be won by the side with the greatest nerve. Their wives, walking ahead, discuss a marvelous tree which has just bloomed in Annaberg. it was planted, roots upward, years ago by a man trying to prove that God existed. If the tree grew, that would prove the existence of God. Well, it did grow. The last time it bloomed was in 1871.
A woman, Marta Birman comes to the town hospital to see her husband, wounded in the war. She enters the room and finds that her husband, Albert, is blind, deaf, and has lost both arms and both legs. Crying, Marta takes his head in her hands and tries to make him know that she is there. Albert, unable to see or hear her, only shouts repeatedly that they should write to his wife, so that she might come visit him before he dies.
WHY MAN NEEDS THESE POOR DAYS AND HOURS
In Bischoffsberg, as in all of Germany, the clocks are advanced an hour. A doctor comments that they have stolen an hour from the war--no one died in this hour and they are an hour closer to peace. An editor calculates how much fuel the time change will save for the government.
A collection of metal for the war effort is taken up. Door handles, bolts, gate ornaments, pots, pans, etc., are all donated. The burghers even remove the large bell from the town's main church.
Frau Urbach is pleased with a concert program which includes a demonstration of prosthetic devices for the armless and legless, proving that they need not be helpless cripples.
Mari receives a letter from Mühlen-Schönau dated 27 April 1917. Mühlen-Schönau has been captured and is in a Siberian prison camp. He tells Mari that he has begun the study of the Russian language and has found that there is a basic goodness in the Russian people. He asks that Mari go to his estate and see how things are there--especially with the paintings--and then to write and tell him all about it.
Mari is tense and irritable all day, especially with her mother. She lives only for eight o'clock P.M., when she secretly hurries to Andrei's room.
History of the
In a battlefield trench somewhere, Russian soldier Fyodor Lependin is ordered to adjust the periscope. As he does so he notices a fine pair of leather boots on a dead soldier out on the field. Lependin creeps out to take the boots. On the way back to the trench, however, he is hit by an enemy shell. When Lependin wakes up, he finds himself in a German hospital. He asks where his new boots are, but is only told, "Why does Ivan need a hat if he doesn't have a head?" Lependin has lost both legs.
Lependin is then put on a train full of wounded prisoners. It stops in the Bischoffsberg station. A nurse enters and distributes cups of coffee to the Russians. The nurse exits, and Lependin hears an argument in the corridor. A moment later, the nurse reenters and confiscates all the coffee. Apparently, the doctor at the station had taken it on her own initiative to serve the coffee, saying that Russians are people, too. Frau Urbach, in charge food distribution at the station, was outraged, as were others, who accused the doctor of insufficient patriotism. This resulted in a lawsuit for slander, which was settled amicably when the doctor explained that she had merely meant to serve the guards and orderlies on the train.
Lependin is brought to the Bischoffsberg hospital where, to test a new anesthetic, they chop off the remainders of his legs. The operation is a success. Had Lependin been German, they no doubt would have given him some prosthetic devices. But Lependin, as a Russian, had to fashion his own. He straps a box like a hen's nest to his bottom and fashions some pads for his hands and this way is able to move about. Pleased with his contrivance, he tells a fellow prisoner, "Let's go to Kiev."
Among the Russian prisoners is a Doctor Sidorkin, who is making a collection of bugs. The deacon of the local medical school hears of this and requests permission to correspond with Sidorkin about the collection. However, an informant among the Russians tells the camp commendant that Sidorkin is agitating among the prisoners, saying that Russia must fight against Germany to the end. According to Sidorkin, the Russian people toppled the tsar because the tsar was for peace, and the Russian people want to continue the war. Although some of the prisoners support Sidorkin, most of the Russian soldiers, desiring peace, reject his arguments. Sidorkin is transferred to a different prison.
Lependin gets work in the garden. One day, while resting, a woman appears. It is Mari. Speaking broken Russian, she offers Lependin a cigarette. A policeman rides up on a bicycle and asks Mari to accompany him to the town council.
AN INDELICATE FEUILLETON
At the Town Councilman's office, a merry competition is underway between burghers from Bischoffsberg and from Niederbach. They are gathered around a beer barrel and doing their patriotic duty, seeing who can get the drunkest the fastest.
Mari is brought before the stern town councilman. He tells her that he is aware of her affair with Andrei. The only reason the town councilman hasn't had Mari arrested is out of respect for her mother and her brother, who is a war hero. In the town councilman's opinion, Maris is worse than a prostitute--prostitutes, at least, are patriotic. Mari says nothing. She holds her head high and, unfraid and unashmed, no longer trying to hide it, she marches directly over to Andrei's apartment.
After Mari's departure, the town councilman picks up a newspaper. There is an article about a nickelodean machine in Berlin. Drop in ten pfennings and you can see a short war film in which German soldiers capture a French fortress. A soldier returned from the front decides to view the film and drops in his money. However, the machine is broken. It shows only one frame in which the Germans and French seem to be looking at each other in a friendly way. "Never mind," says the German soldier who paid his money. "Maybe someday things really will be that way."
After reading this feuilleton, the town councilman tells his secretary to never bring him this newspaper again.
CHAPTER ABOUT 1918
The Brest-Litovsk peace has been signed, and Andrei is getting ready to return to Russia. He and Mari have a tearful farewell. Andrei promises to get himself settled and send for Mari within two months. Hennig advises Andrei to forget Mari, saying that there with be other towns, other girls. But, Hennig concedes, he and Andrei disagree about politics and probably disagree about women, too.
Hennig shows Andrei an announcement in the paper. It is from a German soldier who lost his leg in the war. Because of his injury, he has been abandoned by his bride and is now seeking as he new life's partner a woman who herself has a lost or wounded leg.
Before leaving, Andrei picks up from the floor a faded flower...a gift from Mari.
Andrei is put on a train with Lependin and many other Russian soldiers being sent back to Russia. Lependin and the soldiers begin boasting about their various regions. Also on the train is a civilian muzhik named Kisel. He is burly but sick. He comes from around Minsk and complains that his land was destroyed. A fellow with high cheekbones says they shouldn't feel sorry for Kisel, because Kisel's talking about private land. Besides, Kisel went to work for the Germans, hoping to make some money. Things have changed in Russia, the high-cheekboned fellow says. The only worthwhile land use, he points out, is one that benefits all the peasant. The soldiers nod in agreement.
The train stops at a station which is crowded with Russians heading back to Russia and Germans heading back to Germany. The fellow with high cheekbones comments approvingly on how all the soldiers are fraternizing with one another. He then goes on to move among the soldiers, talking with and reasoning with them all.
That night, confused and desperate, Kisel falls to his knees and begs advice, where should he go? No one answers expect for Lependin, who notes that Kisel is sick and will die soon and yet he is occupying a space on the train that might otherwise go to some soldier returning home. There is no good place to die these days, Lependin says, so Kisel might as well die here. Kisel sadly gathers his things and leaves. The high-cheekboned fellow says that there is no longer any place in society for an individualist such as Kisel.
A person who lives alone, by himself, is not long for this world. The people have begun to live in peace, in harmony, with equal rights. We don't need such loners.
The train passes into Russia, and the soldiers react with excited expectation. A train load of German soldiers heading back to Germany passes by. Andrei watches a German soldier leap out the window in order to remain on Russian soil.
Andrei sees a group of three blind soldiers and suddenly remembers the blind Italian soldiers in the Park of Seven Ponds and his meeting with Mari. And again, just like back that, Andrei is separated from Mari by the road.
DISHARMONIOUS MOSCOW"Moscow is striking with its wildness, which many travelers are inclined to consider beauty. All the contradictions of Russian life, all the chaos of the world view of the Russian people are revealed in the architecture of the gloomy and naive Kremlin. The Italian Middle Ages mingled with late Byzantium. It's not easy to decipher this mixture, owing to the Mongolian splendor of the decorations and superstructures. Currently, this monument of barbaric life is surrounded by an Asiatic bazaar and European houses, built according to the German style and by German engineers. Moscow is the native element of the Russian, but the civilized foreigner is pained by the city because of the disharmony of its parts and the irritating splendor of its buildings."
A German Teacher's View
WITHOUT BLACK AND WHITE
When Kurt was in school, his geography teacher described Moscow as a wild, painful confusion of style. And certainly it was strange and foreign, but it was so fascinating that Kurt couldn't help but wander around daily, discovering new lanes and back entrances.
Kurt is working with a group of artists in Moscow, painting a two-story poster of a blue-skinned man. They stand on ladders above the painting to view it. Kurt's comments, in German, are horribly distorted by the translator. In the same building, printing presses are churning out leaflets. As the artists eat, Kurt comments that even the soup tastes of duplicating ink. "What an amazing people," Kurt says about the Russians. "They write so much." But in all the hub-bub, Kurt sees a great, healthy purpose.
Andrei returns to Moscow. He passes the German embassy. On the roof, a man lowers the black-white-and-red German flag. He rips off the black and white stripes, then hoists back up the remaining red stripe so that a red banner is flying over the German embassy. As the German ambassador tries to leave the building he is confronted by a group of former German soldier-prisoners. They announce that they have decided to form a Soviet of Soldier Deputies of Germany and that the Soviet will take over the business of the German Embassy. The man who ripped up the flag throws the black and white remnants at the feet of the ambassador. Andrei sees that the flag-ripper is Kurt! They embrace each other happily.
Kurt says that if not for his experiences in the war, his view of the world might not have changed. But the horrible music of war, the view through barbed wire, the view from underneath has cleared his head. The old glue which used to hold things together is no good. Now, everything must be broken apart in order to start anew.
Kurt apologizes to Andrei for his ignorant behavior on the tram car back in Nuremberg. Andrei says that he himself has not changed, that he still hates war. Kurt says there are different kinds of war, and that evil and war can only be defeated with war.
Andrei and Kurt renew their vow of friendship until death. Somewhat distractedly, Andrei says he wishes he were back in Germany. Kurt thinks this melancholy is just the result of Andrei having nothing to do. Kurt says he's being send to Semidol to help evacuate former German prisons and form a Soviet out of them. He invites Andrei to come along, and Andrei agrees.
Andrei tells Kurt all about Mari. Now Kurt understands why Andrei wants to be back in Germany. Kurt sees that the most important thing in Andrei's life is now love. In his own life, Kurt says, the most important thing is now hate.
The Bischoffsberg newspaper publishes an article calling on all patriotic German women to organize groups of children to go in the forests and gather berries carefully and systematically, so that not one berry should be wasted.
On the 9th of November, in Bischoffsberg, soldiers are gathered on a street, getting their ration of soup. One soldier stares at his soup, and hurls the bowl down onto the ground in disgust. Everyone on the street looks at the soldier with shock. The soldier slowly picks up his bowl and walks off.
The next day, Marta Birman, is at the cemetery, visiting Albert's grave. As she exits the cemetery, a crowd of women dressed in mourning hurries by. They announce that they are going to resurrect the dead. Angry over the war and over the treatment they've received, they march on the hospital, intending to bring all the legless, armless cripples out onto the streets for all to see. Some women even hope that perhaps their husbands aren't really dead, but are crippled and being kept in the hospital so as not to upset the nerves of the public. Marta and many more women join the crowd, which sweeps into the hospital, ignoring all rules and regulations to the contrary. The cripples willingly, eagerly, allow themselves to be carried out into the town square.
Frau Urbach notices a commotion down on the street. She sends her maid down to see what's happening. The maid returns with a copy of the Social-Democratic newspaper which proclaims the most astounding news: Revolution in Germany! The emperor has renounced his crown and fled the country. A republic is declared. There is also equally shocking news...her husband, Herr Urbach, is to stand for election as a Social-Democratic candidate! This explains what he's been doing for the past twenty years, with his secret, locked cabinet and his mysterious absenses from home. And it also shows that Mari is completely his daughter, without a single drop of von Freileben blood in her. Frau Urbach decides that to save her honor and the honor of her son, Heinrich-Adolf, she must, like the emperor, renounce her home and leave it at once. But before she can leave a telegram arrives with the news that Heinrich-Adolf died heroically in battle.
of Wilhem II
The revolutionary-minded crowd surges along the streets. A conservative burgher posts a sign in his tobacco shop saying, "Here it is forbidden to make revolution." Perhaps if signs like this had been posted on the street the crowd would have dispersed. But instead, the people made their way to the citadel. A shout goes up saying that German soldiers who refused to go to the meat-grinder of the war are imprisoned in the citadel. Paul Henning raises his umbrella and charges at the citadel. Soldiers in the crowd rush after him and begin pounding on the front door of the citadel. Suddenly, the citadel gate opens and a stern officer emerges, ordering calm. The crowd ignores the officer, sweeping him aside and rushing into the citadel. In the crowd is Mari, who runs up to Hennig and says that they must free Monsiuer Percy.
The crowd surges through the citadel, freeing all the prisoners. Mari and Henning are distressed because they cannot find Monsieur Percy. The last prisoner released is Meyer. He says that Percy disappeared after two weeks of imprisonment. Mari assumes the authorities executed Percy.
When asked where he wants to go now that he's free, Meyer says, "To the beer hall!"
Soldiers and others gather in a restaurant, arguing all day about what has happened and what should come next. Mari gets up on a chair and shouts that the soldiers must sieze power. She says that whoever wants to form a Soldiers Soviet should follow her. Numerous soldiers follow her out and say something Mari used to hear in different circumstances: "What wonderful girls in Saxony!"
Mari leads the soldiers to the Urbach house. She hangs a hand-written placard on the front reading, "Provisional Soviet of Soldiers Deputies". Soon, the town councilman shows up, asking if this is the Soviet. It seems that some soldiers standing guard at the city hall building won't let anyone in without a pass from the Soviet. The town councilman says he's been looking for the Soviet for over an hour. When informed that the Soviet has just been formed, the town councilman notes that, apparently, when they soldier told him to get a pass from the Soviet, the Soviet did not yet exist. Nonetheless, the soldiers draw up a pass for the town councilman. They look for a stamp to make it official and decide to use Mari's personal stamp, which reads: EX LIBRIS MARI URBACH.
Mari steps into the foyer and sees Herr Urbach. He tells her that her mother has had a stroke and that her brother is dead. Mari says the maid already told her. Mari then goes back into the Soviet room and closes the door.
NATIONAL TRAITS OF A FINNISH TRIBE
Mühlen-Schönau languishes in a Russian prison camp for over a year. He has no mail from home, even though he's written to everyone he can think of. Only the thought of Mari gives him hope--hope of marriage and children, saving his family from oblivion.
In April, word comes that the priosners can move out of the camp and into villages. Mühlen-Schönau and his friend, Frei, relocate to Pichur. The local people, the Mordva, for some reason, treat Mühlen-Schönau with great respect. They invite him to a ceremony praying for rain and prosperity. They also give him a special shirt which supposedly protects against ill health. Mühlen-Schönau feels he is living in the seventh century.
Mühlen-Schönau thinks the vast spaces of Russia could be colonized, but to correctly organize and carry out this, for this feudal lords would be needed, not socialists.
When Mühlen-Schönau first hears reports of the Kaiser's abdication, he considers it nonsense and refuses to believe it. He is depressed when he hears that it is in fact true. He also hears that in Semidol, which is 40 kilometers distant, they are forming a Soviet of German Soldiers Deputies among the German prisoners.
Mühlen-Schönau comes to understand that the Modva, in all the revolutionary upheaval, are hoping for independence. In their view, Russians are the enemy. And that is why they are friendly to Mühlen-Schönau, a German.
SECOND CHAPTER ABOUT 1919,SATURDAY IN SEMIDOL
WHICH PRECEDES THE FIRST
In Semidol, the Chairman of the Executive Committee, Semyon Ivanovich Golosov, has eyes for the chief clerk of the Executive Committee, Rita Tveretskaya, the daughter of a priest. Unfortunately for him, however, she has become infatuated with Andrei and, as a result, is mixing up her papers.
Golosov and another comrade, Pokisen, ride in a cart out to the village of Stariye Ruchi. The road twists and turns and presents many obstacles such as ruts and boulders. But Golosov is not one to "go around" things. He goes in a straight line because the road is always a waste of time.
In the village, which is lush with fruit trees, they go to Pokisen's dacha, where his wife and two sons are waiting. Also present are Andrei, Rita, military aviator Aleksei Shchepov, and the popular local actress Klavdiya Vasilevna.
Shchepov and Golosov get into a spirited argument. Shchepov says Semidol is a backwaters, with no proletariat, so there is no revolution here...only a swamp full of croaking frogs. Golosov says that only flabby dawdlers like Shchepov and Andrei could say such a thing. Bolsheviks know what they want, Golosov continues. Give them the sleepiest frogs in the murkiest swamp, and they'll be able to mold them into what is needed. And if that doesn't work out, they'll destroy them. He mocks Shchepov and Andrei with their "imaginary principles" for trying to reconcile the ideal with the real. Bolsheviks know that it is not a matter of reconciliation, but subjugation. The Bolsheviks, Golosov concludes, will be able to get on just fine without the intelligentsia and its patent on pure thought.
They calm down. Golosov decides to go outside and practice with his Mauser. He invites Rita to come with him. She casts a glance at Andrei, and Golosov tells her to bring him along, too. Andrei tags along--to him it's all the same whether he stays or goes.
Obsessed with his own thoughts, Andrei, as if with no will of his own, allows Rita to pull him along through the forest. Golosov, as usual, goes charging straight ahead, pushing branches out of the way. Rita complains, saying the branches are snapping back and hitting her in the face. Golosov says Rita should stop holding on to Andrei and use her hands to defend herself. Vexed, Golosov then charges off by himself.
Rita trips and falls to the ground, pulling down Andrei, too. Andrei tries to rise, but Rita resists, and they remain sitting on the cold ground. They sit close together, and Andrei pushes away thoughts of Mari. At the same time, in another section of the forest, Golosov takes aim at the stars and fires at them with his Mauser.
A group of peasants, including Lependin, show up at Pokisen's dacha, wanting to see Golosov, who, of course, isn't there. The peasants say that the law about grain allotments and requisitions has been repealed, but that this fact is being kept secret. They want Golosov to make the repeal public. Pokisen says that the law has not been and will not be repealed. Shchepov tries to scare away the peasants with a movie camera Pokisen brought from town. Shchepov tells the peasants that it's a telegraph and he's summoning troops from town. Lependin and other ex-soldiers, however, aren't fooled. They saw movie cameras at the front. Things are in danger of turning ugly when, suddenly, some shots ring out. It's just Golosov in the forest shooting at the stars, but the peasants don't know this and disperse. Pokisen turns to Shchepov and says, "Maybe we don't have revolution yet, but we do have a little bit of counterrevolution."
THE END OF LEPENDIN
Returning to Semidol, Golosov receives a telegram informing that a band of former German and Czechoslovak prisoners, allied with kulak elements among the Mordva, are moving toward Semidol. They are led by a German officer and are agitating for the withdrawal of the Mordva from the Soviet federation. Golosov meets with Pokisen and the military commander to plan their response. Troops are mobilized. Golosov wants to undertake aerial reconnaissance, but he doesn't trust any specialists, including Shchepov. Therefore, they order that Klavdiya be arrested as a hostage to insure that Shchepov completes his mission.
As head of the German Soviet of Soldiers Deputies in Semidol, Kurt is summoned. He says he can organize a detachment of fromer German soldiers to defend the city if they give him weapons. He says, however, that Andrei is the one who should address the troops, not himself. Golosov is against it, but Kurt insists, saying that he will vouch for Andrei.
Garrison troops clash with the advancing Germans in Stariye Ruchi. Both sides then pull back to establish positions. During the lull, the peasants hold their own meeting in a clearing. Suddenly, they are surrounded by horsemen, who demand to know who the ringleader is. The peasants point at Lependin. The horsemen drag Lependin off to their leader, who is dressed like a Mordva. The leader gives a command, and Lependin suddenly realizes that he is German. Lependin yells to his fellow peasants and tries to run away, but the Germans grab him and hang him from a tree.
Andrei writes and memorizes a speech to give the former German prisoners in Semidol. But first he tells a story. Many packages arrive from Germany, but their receipients can't always be found, so they get distributed randomly. A German prisoner was eating a cookie from one such package. In one cookie, a note was hidden in a small medal medallion. The note was to a certain "Gustav" from "Elsa". It tells of the difficulties in their Austrian village and of the soldiers who have returned blind or without limbs. Elsa says she's glad that Gustav is a prisoner, because he's safer in a Siberian prison camp than at the front. The note has a touching effect on the Germans. Andrei then launches into his memorized speech, not looking at the faces of his audience. A short while later, the Germans decide to help the Bolsheviks.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE
On the third day of the disturbances, Shchepov and the observer sent with him stagger into Semidol, wet and in tatters. The observer reports that the enemy forces are concentrated around the village of Sanshino, that they number no more than three or four companies, have no artillery, and only a small baggage train.
Shchepov reports that while flying he had engine trouble and was forced to land his Nieuport airplane in the countryside. He removed a vital part from the engine, rendering it useless, then he and the observer set out on foot back to Semidol. In one village, they found a flyer. Signed by Mühlen-Schönau, the flyer claims that although it promised freedom, the Revolution is just a deception, keeping the Mordva in slavery. The flyer urges the Russian peasants to join the honest and hard-working Mordva in their struggle against the evil Bolsheviks.
The Nieuport in Russian Aviation
An orderly bursts in on the meeting and announces that Pokisen, who was with the garrison troops near Sanshino, has been killed in battle.
As they prepare to set out with the troops, Andrei tells Kurt about his enounter with Mühlen-Schönau and how the Markgraf, basically, saved Andrei's life. Kurt demands to know what Andrei would do if Mühlen-Schönau were to fall into his hands...would he kill him? Andrei says he couldn't kill anyone face-to-face. He's willing shoot in battle and maybe kill someone, just as long as personal responsibility can't be traced back to him. Irritated, Kurt says that Andrei fears fear.
Kurt hates Mühlen-Schönau, who treated Kurt like an object to control. Mühlen-Schönau spied on Kurt, capturing every one of his paintings. It was all to bring glory to Mühlen-Schönau himself...so that people would honor not the artist, but the mentor.
Andrei marches out with the German Soviet troops. The past slips away from him into a dark abyss, and his future extends only as far as his next step. And he thinks that his next step, his future, is Mari.
Near Sanshino, the troops spread out in a column and move carefully over the hills. They stop and gather, however, when they see Lependin's body hanging from a tree. They are about to cut Lependin's body down when the enemy opens fire. Andrei and the German Soviets hit the dirt. Andrei glances back at Lependin's body, which is swinging like a pendulum.
Andrei reacts with indifference. For the first time in his life he feels the exceptional lightness of having no thought. He feels totally disconnected from life. Instead of shooting at the enemy, Andrei stares at an ant crawling on the ground in front of him. When the order is given to advance, Andrei doesn't really hear it, but he runs along with the other troops. With each step, he feels lighter and lighter, as if he were running naked. And as they move up another hill, he feels as if he has shed his body entirely.
A strange peace flowed through his body. For the first time in his life he felt the exceptional lightness of having no thought. He felt that he was in no way connected with the world which unexpectedly and surprisingly opened up in front of him and took him in. He felt only himself; and time stopped, as if there were no future and no present.
Suddenly, Andrei receives a hit in the head like a shot. Only now does Andrei fire his gun repeatedly until it is empty. Then Andrei realizes that he is flat on his back and he was shooting up into the sky.
Back in Semidol, Andrei is on his way to the camp where the captured German and Austrian rebels are being held. On the other side of the street he sees a woman who looks just like Mari. She is wearing a dress like Mari's, has a satchel like Mari's and has the same mannerisms. She is apparently looking for an address. But when Andrei sees her face, it is unknown, hideous.
And just then, Andrei bumps into...Mühlen-Schönau! Andrei looks around as if getting ready to call out for help, but Mühlen-Schönau begs Andrei not to turn him in. The German says before the battle he changed into a poor soldiers clothes so the Russians couldn't identify him. And after capture, his fighters helped him escape from the camp. If Andrei turns in Mühlen-Schönau, those who helped him will no doubt be killed also, and Andrei will be responsbile for their deaths. Mühlen-Schönau also brings up how he saved Andrei in Bischoffsberg. Andrei hesitates, then tells Mühlen-Schönau to meet him at his house that night.
Andrei then continues on to the camp, planning to tell everyone about this chance meeting and lay a trap for Mühlen-Schönau at his house that night. But when Andrei arrives at the camp, he says nothing. He helps Kurt, who is checking the hands of the captives trying to find Mühlen-Schönau who, as a Markgraf, would of course have soft, clean hands. Failing to find the rebel leader, they assume he has escaped.
Golosov tells Andrei that tomorrow he should make a speech to the German Soviet troops thanking them for their help and promising to send them home on the first available train. Golosov also thanks Andrei.
Andrei meets with Mühlen-Schönau at his home. Mühlen-Schönau says the rebellion was all Frei's idea. Mühlen-Schönau only went along with it because he wanted to get home and because all this infernal snow was driving him crazy. All he wants to do now is get home to Bischoffsberg. He begs Andrei to show a little humanity and help him. Andrei scoffs at Mühlen-Schönau's request for humanity, recalling Lependin's fate. Nevertheless, Andrei agrees to help him get a false identity on the condition that Mühlen-Schönau agree to take a letter to Andrei's fiancee in Bischoffsberg, Mari Urbach. Mühlen-Schönau stutters in shock when he hears Mari's name, but before he can say anything, they are interrupted by a knock on the door.
Mühlen-Schönau hides in the shadows, and Andrei answers the door. It is Rita, bringing word that, on Golosov's initiative, it has been decided that Andrei will be mobilized and sent to the front. Andrei promises to come see Rita in 15 minutes and sends her away. He then hustles Mühlen-Schönau out as well, arranging a meeting for tomorrow night.
The next evening Andrei comes to see Kurt. Andrei says it is correct to send him to the front. He excitedly announces that he was reborn after the events in Sanshino. Prior to that he felt that he himself bore no responsibility for the horrible things going on in the world. At Sanshino he came to realize that he was guilty for letting others march off to their deaths while not joining them. At Sanshino, for the first time in his life he lost his consciousness of self. Previously, it was always as if he were watching himself from the side. But at Sanshino, he did not see or even feel himself. Andrei says, "If this is death, then it is beautiful."
Kurt steps out to get some tea. On the desk is a stack of passes which Kurt has prepared for the good Germans who fought against Mühlen-Schönau and are scheduled to be shipped out on the next train. Andrei steals a pass made out in the name of Conrad Stein.
Kurt returns, and Andrei immediately says he has to leave. Kurt is somewhat worried about Andrei, saying he seems feverish. Andrei says, yes, but it's a good fever. Kurt embraces Andrei and says his only comfort is the fact that if Andrei dies, it will be in a good cause.
Andrei meets Mühlen-Schönau on the street and gives him the stolen pass and his letter for Mari. Andrei advises Mühlen-Schönau to make his way to Moscow alone, not trying to mingle with the good Germans on the evacuation train.
Andrei returns home and quickly falls asleep. He dreams of an azure abyss in which floats a single, straight-backed chair. No one is sitting in it, but the chair seems to be waiting for an occupant.
The next day, Andrei bids farewell to his comrades, but their farewells seem restrained and businesslike. Shchepov gives him a letter to deliver to his father in Petersburg. Andrei gets into a carriage and is consumed by the desire to again experience the feeling of total freedom and incorporeality which he experienced at Sanshino. Suddenly, in the dark, Rita jumps up onto the carriage. Saying that she didn't want anyone to see, she embraces and kisses him. She says, "Farwell", and runs off. Andrei feels the need to cry out to her, but instead he pokes the driver in the back, and tells him, "Faster!" Again longing to feel the freedom of Sanshino, Andrei pulls up his collar and closes his eyes.
Meanwhile, back in Semidol, Kurt dispatches a message to Moscow saying that a pass in the name of Conrad Stein is missing and that anyone caught with that pass should be arrested.
CHAPTER ABOUT 1920THE COVERS ARE REMOVED
Back in Bischoffsberg, Mühlen-Schönau removes all the canvas covers from the paintings hanging in his study as snow falls outside. Mari arrives, glistening snowflakes melting on her coat. Mühlen-Schönau comments that he never expected Mari to seem such a stranger in this room. Mari asks if he has deceived her. In response, Mühlen-Schönau gives her a letter. Her face becomes flushed as she reads the letter. Mühlen-Schönau notes that he never deceived her, but she deceived him. Mari responds that she does not love him. Then suddenly and loudly she denounces the letter as a lie. Mühlen-Schönau laughs uproariously at this, then suggests that Mari take a trip to Petrograd to see whether it's a lie or not.
After Mari leaves, Mühlen-Schönau turns to one of Kurt's paintings, "Caretaker of the German Museum in Nuremberg." He sinks a knife into the canvas and slices it from one corner to the next.
In the Shchepov apartment in Petrograd, Shchepov-senior curses his son, avaitor Shchepov, calling him a monster for even suggesting that he move to a smaller room. Aviator Shchepov consults with his wife, Klavdiya, and says they can't ask Andrei to move because his wife, Rita, is almost ready to give birth. Andrei, on the other side of the wall, hears this. He kisses Rita on the forehead and says he's going out to get some milk.
Andrei opens the door to leave, and standing there on the stairs right in front of the door is...Mari! Andrei pulls back in shock, covering his chest with his hands as if to defend himself. He recovers and starts to approach Mari, but he sees Mari looking past him. Andrei turns around and finds Rita standing next to him. Mari sees Rita's pregnant belly. Mari shrieks. Rita collapses. Mari turns and runs away, with Andrei calling after her. Aviator Shchepov shouts to Klavdiya to send for the midwife.
On the street, Mari is surrounded by a crowd of taunting boys, but she is extricated by an old woman speaking French. Some girls then take Mari by the hand and lead her off.
Back at the apartment, Rita's labor begins. Amid the pain and her tears she demands to know if Andrei still loves Mari.
WE'RE QUITS, COMRADE STARTSOV
Thus we end the tale of a man who, with anguish, waited for life to accept him. To his very last moment, he took not a single step, but waited for the wind to bring him to the shore he hoped to reach.
After the birth of his child, Andrei receives a sarcastic and nasty letter from Mühlen-Schönau. The German informs Andrei that he has fulfilled all his promises and that they are now even, quits. In Semidol, Mühlen-Schönau felt the urge to vent his vengeance upon Andrei, but remembering his indebtness to Andrei, he controlled himself and desided to make Mari his victim. Then again, when Mühlen-Schönau saw Andrei in Petrograd his first impulse was to smash his skull. But the discovery of Andrei's relationship with Rita gave Mühlen-Schönau comfort, knowing how this deception would hurt Mari.
In passing, Mühlen-Schönau notes that he has burned all of Kurt's paintings.
Back in Bischoffsberg, Mühlen-Schönau informed Mari of Andrei's perfidious behavior and delivered Andrei's letter as part of the proof. In order to find Andrei again, Mari married one of the Russian prisoners in the area so she could get Russian citizenship and the right to travel to Petrograd. Mühlen-Schönau is pleased that Mari had to debase herself in this way. He is even happier imagining the humiliation she must have felt when she saw Andrei and learned what an absolute zero he is. And when imaging how all this will effect Andrei, Mühlen-Schönau feels less vexation over the fact that he didn't put a bullet in Andrei's head when first learning of his affair with Mari.
After reading the letter, Andrei, in anguish, runs out of his apartment and keeps running until he reaches the deserted outskirts of the city. He then plods along, unfeeling, unaware, like a living doll. He doesn't even notice how he wanders into a massive, undulating river of rats pouring across the road. Only the squeals of the rats as he steps on them awakens Andrei. He freezes and looks around. It seems as if he hears the voice of Kurt saying, "Rats, Andrei, Rats! Step over them!" Like a blind man, Andrei streatches out his arms and calls out, "Kurt!" But only his echo answers.
Andrei starts to run, but stumbles and falls into a pit. Again he thinks he hears Kurt's voice saying, "You fear fear, Andrei. Step over it." Andrei shouts, "Help!" He climbs up out of the pit and, like a madman, runs wildly through the seemingly endless wasteland.
And so the wastelands surrounded Andrei until that year in which it was destined for us to end our novel. And when that year arrived, Kurt did for Andrei all that a comrade, friend, and artist must do...shoot him dead.
Biography of Konstantin Fedin
Fedin, Konstantin Aleksandrovich. Born 24 February (12 February, Old Style) 1892 in Saratov. His father was a merchant, running a stationary store. At a young age, in addition to attending school, Fedin began to learn the violin. In 1901, he entered the Commercial Academy. In 1905, together with his entire class, he participated in a student's strike. In 1907, he ran off to Moscow where he pawned his violin. His father, however, tracked him down and dragged him home. He made another attempt to escape--in a boat along the Volga--but this plot was foiled, too.
Rather then go to work in his father's store, Fedin continued his studies at the Commercial Academy in Kozlov. It was here that he developed a love of literature and started writing. . . . (...Continued...)
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