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The End and the Beginning

Hermynia Zur Mühlen

4. Lionel Gossman. "Remembering Hermynia Zur Mühlen: A Tribute"

Texte intégral

  • 1 Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1983; first published 1934, p. 37.

”Auch sie war unglücklich gewesen, kränklich und zart, aber welche Kraft sprach dennoch aus ihren Werken.” [She too had been unhappy, sickly, and frail, but what strength came through in her writings.]
Hermynia Zur Mühlen on the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff in Unsere Töchter die Nazinen1

  • 2 Beate Frakele, ”Reise durch ein Leben. Zum 40. Todestag Hermynia Zur Mühlens,” in Siglinde Bolbech (...)
  • 3 ”She was born to fabulous wealth, and died in bitter poverty. Her novels, short stories, novellas, (...)
  • 4 In addition, three novels in English translation were posted at the end of 2008 on a remarkable we (...)

1Hermynia Zur Mühlen was a contemporary, give or take a few years, of many well-known writers and artists from the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire: Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Oskar Kokoschka, Karl Kraus, Robert Musil, Joseph Roth, Egon Schiele, Stefan Zweig. While not in their league, she once enjoyed a modest but distinctive reputation both in Germany and in her native Austria as a translator from English, French, and Russian into German, as an author in her own right (an autobiographical memoir and six of her novels were published in English translation in the 1930s and 40s), and as a tireless fighter against National Socialism, anti-Semitism, and all forms of social injustice. ”She was,” it has been said, ”one of the best known women writers of the Weimar Republic.”2 On her sixtieth birthday in 1943, the BBC aired a tribute to her and the occasion was also celebrated at a party given in her honor by the Austrian and Czech PEN clubs in London. Since her death in 1951, however, she has been almost completely forgotten. Twelve years of exile in England and political views unpalatable to much of the Austrian public in the immediate aftermath of Germany’s defeat in World War II did nothing to rescue her from the oblivion to which she had been deliberately consigned by the Nazis in her native land and in Germany, while in the country in which she had found refuge in 1939, she remained a marginal figure. Her books were allowed to go out of print, fell from public view, and were soon no longer read.3 Thanks to her strong left-wing credentials, a few were republished in the 1970s and 1980s by the Aufbau Verlag in the former German Democratic Republic. Some small presses in Austria also took her up again and a handful of dedicated scholars in the field of Exil-Literatur have done their best to revive interest in her. But these efforts have so far failed to produce sustained critical attention and have not resulted in the kind of revival currently being enjoyed, for example, by the Russo-French writer Irene Nemirovsky. With the publication of Ailsa Wallace’s Hermynia Zur Muhlen: The Guises of Socialist Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2009), adapted from the author’s insightful and comprehensive Oxford D.Phil. dissertation, the time has come for at least one of Zur Mühlen’s translated works to be made available again to English-speaking readers.4


  • 5 Quoted by Oscar Criste in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie (1904), vol. 48, p. 617 (art. Ludwig Foll (...)

2Hermine Isabella Maria Victoria, Gräfin Folliot de Crenneville-Poutet, sometimes referred to as the ”Red Countess,” was born into a prominent Viennese aristocratic family on December 12, 1883. Her great-grandfather on her father’s side had been a French émigré aristocrat who achieved distinction as a cavalry general in the service of the Austrian Emperor. At the Restoration, Louis XVIII several times pressed him to return to France, promising that he would be well compensated for properties confiscated during the Revolution, but Ludwig, Count Folliot de Crenneville (1765-1840), refused. ”I will be poor,” he declared, ”but I will remain loyal to my ruler, from whom I have received many honors and marks of favor, and to his house. After the death of my king [i.e. Louis XVI], I became an Austrian and I shall remain one, as will my sons.”5 Her grandfather on her father’s side, Franz, Count Folliot de Crenneville (1815-1888), had had a brilliant career as a high-ranking army officer and later as a prominent official at the court of Emperor Franz Joseph, who held him in high regard. Both ancestors appear to have had the conservative political views of most members of their caste. The Countess’s grandfather on her mother’s side, Ferdinand, Count von Wydenbruck (18161878), had had a diplomatic career and had seen service in London, where he met and married Zur Mühlen’s grandmother, and in Washington, where he had been Franz Joseph’s Envoy Extraordinary (1865-1867) at the time of the American Civil War.

  • 6 The Countess’s deep love and respect for her grandmother shines through the many pages devoted to (...)
  • 7 See Burke’s Genealogical Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, 4t (...)
  • 8 See above, The End and The Beginning, p. 6.XX In the novel Das Riesenrad (The Wheel of Life [Londo (...)
  • 9 See above, The End and the Beginning, p. 19.
  • 10 Ferdinand von Wydenbruck’s period of service as head of the legation in Washington coincided with (...)

3As a child, the Countess herself relates, she received little care or affection from her socially prominent parents and was largely brought up by her widowed maternal grandmother, Isabella Luisa, Countess von Wydenbruck (1829-1900), whom she evokes lovingly not only in her lively autobiographical memoir of 1929 but in various guises in nearly all her fictional writings.6 Countess von Wydenbruck was one of two daughters of St. John Blacker, a member of the Anglo-Irish gentry. Her mother was Welsh and her grandmother half Scottish. She and Ferdinand von Wydenbruck were married in London in 1854 and between 1856 and 1862 she bore him three children – two sons and a daughter.7 As Austrian envoy, Wydenbruck had been charged with maintaining friendly relations between the democratic republic of the United States and the Habsburg Empire. For her part, Countess von Wydenbruck ”had the liberal views of English women at that time,” according to her grand-daughter. She did not share the contempt for the bourgeois work ethic or for the classic political values of the bourgeoisie that was common among members of the Austrian aristocracy, even among those who, like not a few younger members of Countess Hermine’s own immediate family, had apparently lost confidence in their caste and taken to mocking its pretensions.8 She subscribed to the liberal Viennese newspaper, the Neue Freie Presse, whose publisher and editor was Moritz Benedikt, a converted Jew, and whose Paris correspondent and regular feuilleton-writer in the 1890s was Theodor Herzl, and she was a Dreyfusarde at the time of the affaire – a consequence, perhaps, of her reading of Herzl’s reports. She also supported voting rights for women, her grand-daughter relates – albeit with the caveat that it might be wise not to move too fast in Austria, since most women there were likely to use their votes to support rightwing, anti-liberal parties.9 When, at the age of thirteen, inspired by a budding concern with issues of social justice and equality, the little Countess founded a ”Society for the Improvement of the World” (into which, as she herself recounts with characteristic irony, she dragooned a couple of her female cousins and a few local middle class girls eager to please the Komtessrl), her grandmother did not scold her, as her mother did, or make fun of her, as her father did. Instead, she accepted nomination as the first honorary member of the so-called Anchor Society and regularly allowed the Anker-Zeitung, the Society’s monthly ”publication” to be read aloud to her. Above all, she appears to have taken her moral obligations as a Christian seriously and instilled in her grandchild an unshakable conviction that all human beings are of equal worth in the eyes of God, together with a keen sense of personal responsibility for the welfare of others. The Imperial government’s treatment of her husband can hardly have strengthened Countess von Wydenbruck’s respect for the social and political establishment. Blamed for not having prevented the execution of Emperor Franz Joseph’s brother Maximilian, the so-called ”Emperor of Mexico,” Wydenbruck was removed from his post in Washington and, according to another of his grandchildren, ”retired from the diplomatic service in high dudgeon and spent the remainder of his life in his country home, a prey to deep despondency.”10

  • 11 Nora Wydenbruck, My Two Worlds: An Autobiography, p. 3. On Zur Mühlen’s close and warm relation to (...)

4The Countess’s eldest son, Christoph Anton – the lively, cynical, much loved ”Onkel Anton” of Zur Mühlen’s memoir – was a more subversive influence on his young niece. Adiplomat like his father and like Zur Mühlen’s own father, Christoph Anton ”first went to school in America,” which resulted – in the view of his somewhat estranged daughter, the writer and translator Nora Wydenbruck – in ”democratic predilections” and ”violent disapproval of Austrian society and its Byzantine class distinctions.” Those predilections and that disapproval were communicated to and shared with his niece.11

  • 12 . Countess von Wydenbruck seems to have exercised her influence on several members of her family. I (...)
  • 13 Zur Mühlen appears to have viewed Christianity as an anticipation of socialism, socialism as the a (...)

5Questioning and rebellious from an early age, receptive to her grandmother’s Christian ideals of social justice as well as to Romantic notions – no doubt partly derived from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which she read in English with her grandmother – of the knights of old as brave and noble benefactors of humanity, the young Countess Folliot de Crenneville soon began to challenge the social conditions and conventions taken for granted in the world of her parents and strongly supported by her mother. (Her father was distinctly more ambivalent.) ”At the age of eight or nine,” she recounts later, with a nice sense of the irony in her words, ”I considered the editorials of Herr Benedikt a New Testament, and an unshakable conviction crystallized within me: the government was always wrong.”12 As she grew up, the positive, constructive influence of her grandmother and the negative, corrosive influence of Onkel Anton and, to a lesser degree, of her own father, were supplemented, but never displaced, by the socialist ideas she began to pick up in books and through encounters with exiles from czarist Russia.13 Drawn in early adolescence to idealistic, humanitarian movements and causes, she was soon moving further and further in the direction of the radical political Left. A short and unhappy marriage to Viktor von zur Mühlen, a conservative German landowner from one of the Baltic provinces of the Czar – in itself an act of revolt, inasmuch as, in comparison with the urbane, aristocratic, and Catholic de Crennevilles, many of whom held positions at the court of Emperor Franz Joseph, von zur Mühlen occupied a distinctly lower rung on the social ladder and was a Protestant to boot – ended in separation and divorce. But not before outrage at the exploitation of their native Estonian workers by the ruling German landowners, which the headstrong, high-strung, and sharply critical young woman observed in the course of the five years (1908-1913) she spent on her husband’s remote estate of Eigstfer in southern Estonia, had made a convinced socialist of her. Not coincidentally, these were years of rising tension, in the aftermath of Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 Revolution, between the czarist authorities together with the German landowners, on the one hand, and local Estonian nationalist and revolutionary movements, on the other.

  • 14 Leonid Andreyev, The Seven Who Were Hanged, translated by Hermann Bernstein (Garden City, N.Y.: Ha (...)
  • 15 See her own account of these early literary efforts in The End and the Beginning, p. 20 and passim(...)
  • 16 No. 4370, 1927, reprinted in Die Literatur. Monatschrift für Literaturfreunde (Stuttgart), Jg. 29, (...)
  • 17 Sales of Petroleum had reached 100,000 by 1929, whereas sales of Oil! in the same period were 75,0 (...)
  • 18 On the fairy tale in German-speaking countries and the political use to which it was put and on Zu (...)

6Severe respiratory problems, aggravated by the harsh Baltic climate, resulted in the young Countess’s release from what she later portrayed in her autobiographical memoir as the oppressive environment of the German colony in Estonia. In 1913 she was sent for medical treatment to a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland. Here, with a translation into German of an antiwar novel by the then well known and widely read Russian writer Leonid Andreyev – ”the most popular, and next to Tolstoy, the most gifted writer in Russia today,” according to his American translator14 – she took the first significant step on the literary career she had until then been able to pursue only half-seriously.15 The Andreyev translation was immediately followed by a translation – with an Introduction by the respected Danish critic Georg Brandes – of Upton Sinclair’s King Coal (Zurich, 1918). Zur Mühlen went on to translate over seventy full-length books and innumerable shorter texts from English, French, and Russian. These included works by John Galsworthy (a best-selling author in Germany as in the English-speaking world), Harold Nicolson, Max Eastman, Edna Ferber, and the translator’s ”much adored” Jerome K. Jerome, for whom she also wrote the obituary in the Frankfurter Zeitung.16 Zur Mühlen was particularly active in promoting the ”muckraking” novels of Upton Sinclair, with whose leftwing views she strongly sympathized. She served effectively as Sinclair’s literary agent in Germany and thanks largely to her translations of more than twenty of his novels and plays, succeeded in turning him into a bestseller in Germany in the 1920s. Her translation of Oil!, for instance, sold more copies in Germany in the first two years after its publication in 1927 than the original sold in the U.S. in the same period.17 In addition, both her translations of Sinclair, several of which were illustrated by Georg Grosz, and the internationally popular children’s fairy tales which she began to produce in the early 1920s, with the aim of spreading socialist ideas among the young and ill-educated, contributed to the success of the radical avant-garde Malik Press of Wieland Herzfelde and his better known brother, the Dada photomontage artist John Heartfield, with which she had become closely associated.18

  • 19 The well known Hungarian writer Sándor Márai, who shared his living quarters with Zur Mühlen and K (...)
  • 20 Patrik von zur Mühlen, ”Hermynia Zur Mühlens baltische Jahre” (unpublished essay), p. 6.
  • 21 The couple of ”Aunt Kitty” (the fourteen-year old narrator-heroine’s much older cousin, described (...)

7At Davos Zur Mühlen also met her future life’s partner, Stefan Isidore Klein, a Viennese Jew of modest background several years her junior, who had made a small reputation as a translator of literary works from Hungarian into German. In 1919 the couple moved to Frankfurt, then caught up in the revolutionary turmoil that had seized Germany after the defeat of 1918. On their arrival at the main railway station, Zur Mühlen recalled later, they found it bedecked with red flags. Soon the two of them with their dogs were a familiar sight on the streets of the old free Imperial city.19 Zur Mühlen’s career now took off. Despite the health problems that continued to plague her throughout her life, she was astonishingly productive – as she had to be. Having broken with both her husband and her family – though her divorce from Viktor von zur Mühlen was not finalized until March 1923,20 she had already declared her independence by anticipating the post-War Austrian Republic’s constitutional prohibition of titles of nobility and provocatively dropping the ”von” in her husband’s name – she could count on no income from either source, and, despite considerable activity as a translator, Klein appears not to have had much literary or financial success. Of the two, she, in all likelihood, was the breadwinner.21

Drawing by George Grosz in Upton Sinclair, 100% Roman eines
Patrioten. Authorized translation by Hermynia Zur Mühlen.
Malik-Verlag, Berlin, 1921.

  • 22 Likewise, the loose construction of her novels made it possible for her to publish brief sections (...)

8In addition to innumerable translations in the 1920s and 30s and into the 1940s, Zur Mühlen turned out half a dozen detective novels with a socially critical slant under the American-sounding pseudonym of Lawrence H. Desberry, identifying herself as their ”translator” – a plausible enough disguise in view of her reputation as the translator of Sinclair and other American writers. She also produced the children’s fairy tales referred to earlier, in which the exploitation of the working class was exposed and interpreted for young readers from a socialist perspective. In the 1920s the fairy tale was viewed by the German Communist Party, which Zur Mühlen had joined some time between 1919 and 1921, as an effective means of promoting the political education of the masses. Illustrated by artists such as George Grosz, John Heartfield, and Heinrich Vogeler, Zur Mühlen’s collections enjoyed considerable success not only in Germany but in Chinese, Czech, English, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish translations. There was even a translation into Esperanto. The fairy tales were thus both a source of much needed income and a contribution to a cause to which their author was committed. Hundreds of anecdotes and sketches written for magazines and for the feuilleton pages of newspapers – chiefly leftwing – were another important source of income. Some of these generally well crafted pieces were satirical, some were humorous, most were marked by sharp and honest observation and all were critical of both social injustice and individual human cruelty. Zur Mühlen continued to publish short works of this kind, even during the years (1939-1951) she spent in exile in England, when they appeared in the German language newspapers that catered to the refugee community. Two book-length collections of short pieces – Der rote Heiland [The Red Redeemer] in 1924 and Fahrt ins Licht. 66 Stationen. Erzählungen [Journey into the Light. 66 Stations. Short Stories] in 1936 – also attest to a special talent for the short form, as does the largely paratactic structure of many of her longer narratives. On the whole these do not have a strong or intricate plot structure; the organizing pattern tends to be chronological, with interest focused on individual scenes in which the characters are portrayed in their shifting, sometimes perplexingly contradictory relations to each other and to an evolving socio-political environment. The serialized form in which several of Zur Mühlen’s novels first appeared – a common strategy for maximizing royalties at the time – may well have reinforced this tendency.22

  • 23 On Karl Kraus’s view of ”the courageous Hermynia Zur Mühlen, who has lost her noble rank but not h (...)

9In 1929 a charming, sharply observed, and often humorous autobiographical memoir of the years from childhood to the effective end of her marriage to von zur Mühlen was serialized in the respected, liberal Frankfurter Zeitung. By the end of the year it had been taken up and published in book form by S. Fischer Verlag (the publisher of Thomas Mann) under the title Ende und Anfang, ein Lebensbuch. Karl Kraus was one of this book’s early admirers. An English translation, for which a foreword was solicited from Arthur Schnitzler, appeared in New York (Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith) under the title The Runaway Countess a year later, a Polish and a Spanish translation a year after that.23 The author used her own life experiences, presented in the form of more or less free-standing anecdotes chronologically arranged, to depict the inner moral and cultural decay (but also, to some extent, in the case of the pre-1914 Austrian aristocracy, the charm, wit, and refinement) of a world that she believed had come to a well-deserved end with the Russian Revolution of 1917 – the welcomed Anfang or New Beginning of the German title. The aristocratic Zur Mühlen clearly found no reason to regret the collapse of the bourgeois-capitalist society that had replaced the decadent ancien régime and that was characterized, in her eyes, having lost whatever emancipatory impulses might once have motivated it, by middle-class mediocrity, vulgar ostentation, moral hypocrisy, and the selfish pursuit of gain at the expense of others. At the same time, the author’s literary talent is amply demonstrated by the skill with which she constructs her own persona and transforms the memories of a minor diplomat’s daughter into lively images of a certain turn-of-the-century world.

10Several works defined by the author herself as ”novels” followed soon after. Two were highly fictionalized narratives of different phases of her own life: Das Riesenrad (Stuttgart: I. Engelhorns Nachfolger, 1932; English translation, The Wheel of Life, London: Barker, and New York: Frederick Stokes, 1933), told in the first person by its fourteen-year old heroine narrator and concentrating on a short period of about six months, and the more expansive Reise durch ein Leben (Bern and Leipzig: Gotthelf,1933; English translation, A Life’s Journey, London: Jonathan Cape, 1935), told in the third person and extending over a far longer period of time from childhood through adolescence and an unhappy marriage to the threshold of disillusioned middle age. Both novels skillfully exploit the author’s own experiences in order to portray, through their heroines, the evolution of a young girl as she emerges from the sheltered, secure, and privileged space of her childhood, symbolized by the magical garden of her grandmother’s (A Life’s Journey) or her aunts’ (The Wheel of Life) villa in the Alpine resort town of Gmunden, about 130 miles from Vienna, and discovers and engages with the larger social and political world beyond.

  • 24 ”Junge-Mädchen-Literatur,” in Die Erde, 1919, no. 14/15, pp. 473-74. See also Altner, p. 94. This (...)

11Both novels are about passing from a closed paradisiac world, cut off from the ”real world” and seemingly innocent not only of class distinctions and social injustice but even of hard and fast boundaries between humans, animals, and plants – the prelapsarian world of the original ”we” in the author’s own terms – into a fallen, historical world of social divisions and injustice, egoism, competition, vanity, hypocrisy, and loneliness – the world of the ” ”ugly ‘I’” – and about the heroines’longing to return to the lost paradise or create a new one. In both novels leaving the garden and discovering the world beyond it are presented as at once painful and essential to the fulfillment of the heroines’ humanity. The basic structure of both novels, in short, is that of the Judeo-Christian story of the Fall and the pursuit of redemption. At the same time, their realism allows both novels to be viewed as belonging to the traditional German genre of the Bildungsroman – except that the leading figure is a woman instead of a man and the focus is on the social world, which the heroine discovers and unmasks, as much as on the heroine herself. Above all, both novels offered a critical response to the conventional literature of the time for girls and young women, the socalled Backfischroman, which presented its readers with an idealized view of the social world and in particular of sex and marriage, and which Zur Mühlen had already subjected to stinging criticism in an article of 1919.24 In her two girls’ ”growing-up” novels, Zur Mühlen did not shy away from topics sedulously avoided in the conventional literature: menstruation, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, and above all, the stresses and strains of living with another person, whether in a legally and religiously sanctioned marriage relationship or in a ”free” relationship outside of marriage. All Zur Mühlen’s heroines are naturally independent and seek to make their own way in the world; all reject the Backfischroman ideal of submission to convention and the established order; but the independent life is never presented as painless or trouble free.

  • 25 The endpapers of Reise durch ein Leben, also published in 1933, contain clips from favorable revie (...)

121933 also saw the serial publication in the Vienna Arbeiter-Zeitung of Vierzehn Nothelfer, a clever detective novel with striking expressionist touches that was also a trenchant and witty social satire, and the appearance of a comic novel, Nora hat eine famose Idee (Bern and Leipzig: Gotthelf; English translation, Guests in the House [London: Frederick Muller, 1947]), which contained many references to the current political situation and which received favorable reviews in newspapers in Berlin, Vienna, Prague, and Basel.25

  • 26 See the extract from Sándor Márai’s Bekenntnisse eines Bürgers: Erinnerungen, reproduced in the on (...)
  • 27 See Manfred Altner, Hermynia Zur Mühlen. p. 153.
  • 28 See p. 160, above. Another residence was apparently found later, for Klaus and Erika Mann report i (...)

13During the Frankfurt years, Zur Mühlen and Klein had come under intermittent police surveillance because of their Communist affiliations. After the publication of one novella – Schupomann Karl Müller (1924), in which the policeman hero breaks ranks and sides with the revolutionaries his job requires him to oppose – Zur Mühlen was even taken to court on a charge (later dropped for lack of convincing evidence) of high treason. In fact, though Zur Mühlen did give readings to workers in factories around Frankfurt, the gatherings at the couple’s apartment, which the authorities considered highly suspicious, may well have been more leftwing-Bohemian than conspiratorial.26 In any case, around 1931 or 1932, Zur Mühlen left the Communist Party. She appears to have been discouraged by the oppressiveness of the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union (one of the writers whose work she had translated and who was also a personal friend and admirer – the French socialist poet, art critic, and journalist Henri Guilbeaux – was a fervent supporter of Trotsky) and by the authoritarian dogmatism of the German Party itself, which found it more important to combat the Social Democrats than to join with the latter in combatting National Socialism. In her novels of the late 1930s and the 1940s her characters begin to express doubts about the wisdom and goodness of ”the masses” and even about the point of political action. However contradictory and imperfect, the individual emerges more and more clearly from these later works as the highest value, and the the emphasis falls increasingly on basic conditions of human existence – the fleetingness of happiness, the difficulty of relationships with others, even those we love, the persistence of malice, the sadness of aging, and the finality of death. Still, though she later described herself to Hubertus Prince zu Loewenstein as having joined the ranks of the ”Left Catholics,”27 Zur Mühlen did not trumpet her withdrawal from the Communist Party. Even the change she made to her 1929 memoir when it was republished in the socialist women’s magazine Die Frau in 1949-1950 – she dropped the original final chapter hailing the Russian Revolution of 1917 and substituted a brief narrative of her life from 1917 to 1949 – stops well short of a repudiation of her lifelong commitment to socialism. Overcoming the pessimism, despair, and sense of isolation that she projected convincingly on to several of her women characters, identifying with the oppressed, and taking an active stand against injustice remained the primary imperative of the lapsed Catholic as well as the former Communist. Not surprisingly, individual Communists remain, along with truly devout Christians, among the most decent and admirable characters in her fiction. In fact, the two – sincere Christians and Communists – make common cause, along with sincere Social Democrats, in Unsere Töchter die Nazinen (1934, 1936) and Als der Fremde kam (1946), against the worst of enemies, the cruelty and inhumanity represented for Zur Mühlen, in her own time, above all by National Socialism. In light of their political orientation and reputation, therefore, as well as Klein’s situation as a Jew, the couple made the decision to leave Germany in 1933, immediately after Hitler’s Machtergreifung, for their native Austria. Short of money, as always, they settled in an extremely modest pension – ”a flea-ridden boarding-house,” according to Zur Mühlen28 – in the Alserstrasse in Vienna’s Ninth District.

  • 29 This work has not been translated. For a full account of it in English, with many quotations from (...)

14Outraged by what she saw as the blindness or indifference of her countrymen and women to developments in Germany, Zur Mühlen was especially provoked when a well-meaning local newspaper editor advised her to stay away from politics and provide him instead with entertaining stories and sketches. She responded by turning out one of her most politically engaged novels, Unsere Töchter die Nazinen, in the record time of three weeks. The contemporary situation is illuminated in this polemical and vigorously satirical work by the interlocking first-person narratives of three women from different social classes in a small town in Southern Germany, three mothers whose daughters join the Nazi Party – a working class Social Democrat, a lonely aristocrat who, buffetted by life, has withdrawn into a world of her own, and the resentful, frustrated, and ambitious middle-class wife of a scheming doctor whose practice has lagged far behind that of the popular and respected local Jewish doctor. The appeal of National Socialism – to young women in particular – is explained in psychological, as well as economic and social terms, and the ultimate message of the novel is that all decent people, be they Christians or Communists, working people or aristocrats, conservatives or Social Democrats, must unite in organized resistance, a truly popular front, to a fundamentally evil and inhuman regime.29

  • 30 On the failure of the campaign to persuade the Saarlanders to vote in favor of the status quo (in (...)

15Serialized in a leftwing Saarbrücken newspaper in the summer of 1934, a year before the Saar voted to rejoin the new German Reich,30 this novel could not find a publisher in Austria willing to take it on, Zur Mühlen’s outspoken denunciations of National Socialism having made her persona non grata in the Third Reich. One episode in particular had branded her as an enemy of the Reich. In 1933 the highly respected S. Fischer Verlag, under extreme pressure because of its Jewish ownership, asked three of its most prominent authors, Alfred Döblin, René Schickele, and Thomas Mann – all of whom were generally known to be opposed to National Socialism and all of whom had been approached by Thomas Mann’s son Klaus about contributing to his newly-founded, Amsterdam-based, anti-fascist review Die Sammlung – to make an unequivocal statement of their intention to refrain from publishing in émigré magazines. For various reasons, including concern for Samuel Fischer, who was ailing, and for the future of his firm, which at the time was still pursuing an accommodation with the Nazis, all three complied with their publisher’s request and sent telegrams explaining that they had mistakenly understood Klaus Mann’s review to be purely literary and non-political. Stefan Zweig responded in the same way to an identical request from the Insel-Verlag. The Engelhorn Verlag, the Stuttgart publisher of Das Riesenrad, wrote to Zur Mühlen in similar vein, assuring her that, if she complied with the firm’s request, she would find herself ”in the best of company.” Zur Mühlen’s cutting reply of 25 October 1933, a scathing rejoinder to the statements of Döblin, Schickele, Mann, and Zweig, was immediately made public both in Wieland Herzfelde’s Prague-based Neue Deutsche Blätter (no. 3, 1933), and in the leftwing Vienna Arbeiter-Zeitung (26 October 1933). ”As I do not share your view that the Third Reich is identical with Germany and that the ‘leaders’ [Führer] of the Third Reich are identical with the German people,” Zur Mühlen declared,

  • 31 Quoted in Manfred Altner, Hermynia Zur Mühlen, pp. 139-40. For a summary account of this extremely (...)

it would be incompatible both with my convictions and with my sense of personal integrity for me to follow the unworthy example of the four gentlemen you refer to. Apparently it is more important to them that their work be printed in the newspapers and their books sold in the bookshops of the Third Reich than that they remain true to their past and to their convictions. To this ”best of company” I prefer solidarity with those who, in the Third Reich, are persecuted because of their convictions, shut up in concentration camps, or ”shot while attempting to escape.” One cannot serve Germany and the German people better than by joining in the struggle against the horror tale become reality that is the Third Reich. That struggle cannot therefore logically be described as hostile to Germany by anyone truly connected with the German people and German culture. As for the accusation of betrayal of the homeland, I should point out, if that emotion-laden term must be used, that in view of the way the Third Reich has treated Austria, I, as an Austrian, would be guilty of betraying my homeland if I did not oppose the Third Reich with all the modest means at my disposal.31

  • 32 Letter dated Vienna, October 1, 1935. Louise Pettus Archives & Special Collections, Winthrop Unive (...)

16With such public attacks on National Socialism Zur Mühlen had burned her boats as far as publishing or even selling any of her work in Germany was concerned. In addition, as most publishers in the smaller German-speaking lands were dependent on the German market, they were loth to alienate the German authorities by bringing out overtly anti-Nazi books. This was especially the case in Austria, where National Socialism already cast a long shadow. The most prominent publishing houses in Vienna, even when owned by Jews, Zur Mühlen told the Jewish-American novelist Nathan Asch, four of whose books she had translated into German, were unwilling to publish Jewish writers or, for that matter ”gojim,” as she put it, who, like herself, were on the Nazis’ black list, for fear of being excluded from the German market.32

  • 33 Ernst Karl Winter, editor of the Wiener Politische Blätter – the first number of which (April 16, (...)
  • 34 For facsimile reproductions of the text of the German Embassy protest (dated 15 December 1935, tra (...)

17Unsere Töchter die Nazinen was finally brought out in 1936 by the Gsur Verlag, the director of which was the strongly anti-Nazi Catholic Vice-Mayor of Vienna, and which had an explicit policy of publishing anti-Nazi works,33 only to be immediately banned by the authorities under pressure from the German Ambassador to Austria, Franz von Papen, on the grounds that it was offensive to a neighboring power, insulting to its leaders, and filled with ”Communist propaganda.”34 It was not published again until the Aufbau Verlag brought it out in 1983 in the former German Democratic Republic.

18Even in a less overtly polemical work from this period, the novel Ein Jahr im Schatten, which appeared in 1935 in Zurich with the émigré Büchergilde Gutenberg (a book club founded in 1924 with the aim of publishing culturally edifying books at prices the proletariat could afford) and in English translation soon after (A Year under a Cloud [London: Selwyn and Blount, 1937]), the personal dramas of the heroine and other members of her aristocratic but in the post-War Austrian Republic no longer wealthy or influential family are increasingly overshadowed by events ”up there,” i.e. in Germany. Still, with the couple’s finances as fragile as ever and the German market closed to her, Zur Mühlen had to find alternate sources of income. Resourceful and hardworking as always, she appears to have won a contract to supply Belgian radio with documentaries on prominent historical figures. No fewer than eleven such documentaries by her were broadcast in Flemish in 1937 and 1938 – on Queen Isabella of Spain, Christopher Columbus, Louis XIV, Cardinal Richelieu, Frederick the Great, Joseph Fouché, Metternich, Florence Nightingale, Woodrow Wilson, Bethmann-Hollweg, and Lord Edward Grey.

  • 35 On Zur Mühlen’s work for the BBC and on her interest in radio in general, see Deborah Vietor-Englä (...)

19The Anschluß in 1938 obliged Zur Mühlen and Klein to uproot once more. This time they headed for nearby Bratislava, in Slovakia, where they decided to get married. Just before they left Vienna, Hermynia came into some money from her mother’s estate. To collect it in post-Anschluß Austria, however, she was required to sign an affidavit affirming that she was of pure Aryan descent. Though the couple needed the money badly, Zur Mühlen refused. With the German occupation of Bohemia and the establishment of an independent Slovak puppet state under Father Tiso in 1939, she and Klein fled to England, where they lived a penurious existence until their deaths a few years after the end of the Second World War. The small income Hermynia derived from the short pieces she wrote for the exile press, from some radio broadcasts for the BBC,35 and from a couple of longer works published in wartime England had to be supplemented by intermittent financial assistance from refugee agencies in Britain and the U.S.A. In addition, she suffered greatly from poor health and a lack of regular medical attention. The English climate aggravated her respiratory problems; and in the last months of her life, she rarely left the modest dwelling she occupied with Klein in the small suburban town of Radlett, Hertfordshire, some twenty miles north of London. Zur Mühlen died there, seemingly of a heart attack, in 1951, without ever having returned to Austria. Klein died nine years later in nearby St. Albans. In the local church records the woman who had once been the spoiled ”Komtesserl” of a high ranking Austrian aristocratic family and who had achieved some celebrity as the writer Hermynia Zur Mühlen is identified, no doubt in accordance with her Slovak marriage certificate, simply as ”Hermyna Kleinova.”

  • 36 Times Literary Supplement, March 11, 1944, p. 125.
  • 37 The real Korompa (in Hungarian), Krompachy (in Slovak) is actually quite far from Vienna. It lies (...)
  • 38 ”Patchwork” [Flickwerk] – perhaps a reminiscence of a famous phrase in Montaigne’s Essays (II, 1): (...)

20The two longer works that date from this last and most difficult stage in Zur Mühlen’s career are in some ways her most ambitious. They appear to have been intended as parts of a planned trilogy in which the social, political, and cultural history of Europe, and in particular of Austria and Central Europe, would be analyzed and represented by following the fortunes of the Herdegens, an old Austrian aristocratic family, through many generations and many individual fates, from the Congress of Vienna and the final defeat of Napoleon to the rise of Hitler and the end of Austrian independence. Zur Mühlen may have been inspired by the success of ”family novels” such as Mann’s Buddenbrooks (1901) or Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga (1906-1921), but these last works, while they may be ”cast in what is perhaps an unoriginal mould” (in the words of an otherwise very favorable contemporary review in the TLS36), are more richly informed historically than Galsworthy’s, and Zur Mühlen’s canvas is wider and more complex. Though the central scenes of the action are the ancestral Herdegen estate not far from Vienna (”Wohan” in Moravia in the first novel, ”Korompa” in Slovakia in the second)37 and the family palaces in Vienna, some of the principal characters are foreigners (French, Polish, Prussian, Spanish, Swiss) who either married into the family or found refuge and employment in it. On their side, some Herdegens marry foreigners and go off to live in the land of their spouse; others marry out of their social class. The ”exile” who has attachments to two or more countries – or social classes – but no longer feels completely at home in any one thus plays a pivotal role in the family saga, as well as among the secondary characters, reflecting no doubt the experience of the author herself, but at the same time multiplying the historical perspectives of the novels and presenting a paradigm of humanity as inescapably hybrid. It is ”Because we are patchwork” – seemingly the title of a presumed missing component of the planned trilogy38 – that we are all both disconnected from an imagined ”home” and potentially connected with each other, sharing the same destiny as parts of a single patchwork humanity. A cosmopolitanism rooted in the condition of the aristocracy of the Habsburg Empire opens here on to a global humanism that is no less relevant today than in the dark decade of the mid-30s to mid-40s when Zur Mühlen conceived, wrote, and published her family saga.

21The first work in the trilogy – Ewiges Schattenspiel – which covers the period from the Congress of Vienna to the 1848 Revolutions, was probably written shortly before Zur Mühlen and Klein left Vienna for Bratislava, for, though it was not published in German as a book until 1996, it appeared in serialized form in the Bern newspaper Der Bund between November 1938 and March 1939. An English version, entitled We Poor Shadows, was published by Free Austrian Books in London in 1943 and again that same year by the London publisher Frederick Muller, with a second printing the following year. As the title page of this English version gives the name of the author as ”Countess Hermynia Zur Mühlen” and as there is no indication anywhere that it is a translation, it has sometimes been assumed that Zur Mühlen wrote the novel in English. This is manifestly not the case. It is very likely, however, that she took an active part in translating it into English and in adapting it to the taste and interests of the English reading public. (The English version is shorter than the German one and some of the detail that gives the rich and wide-ranging original, with its vast cast of characters, its historical vividness and density has been cut.)

  • 39 The work was republished in the German Democratic Republic in 1979 (Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau Verl (...)
  • 40 It would be imprudent, in the absence of documentary evidence, to rule out the possibility that Zu (...)

22The second major part of the presumed trilogy to be published after the departure from Vienna – Als der Fremde kam – is an insightful portrait of the period from 1937 (i.e. just before the Anschluß) to the end of Austrian independence, the secession of Slovakia from the Republic of Czechoslovakia and its establishment as a fascist puppet state, and the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by German troops in March 1939. Even if earlier parts of it were written in Bratislava, therefore, it seems virtually certain that most of it was written after Zur Mühlen and Klein arrived in England. Notwithstanding that in this case the English version – Came the Stranger (London: Frederick Muller, 1946) – preceded the German version (Vienna: Globus Verlag, 194739) and again bore no indication that it was a translation (the author is identified here too simply as ”Countess Hermynia Zur Mühlen”), it is most likely that it too was originally written in German and translated – perhaps by Zur Mühlen herself – from German into English, rather than the other way round, as was at one time believed. At least one further novel, it is assumed, was intended to fill in the story of the Herdegens between 1848 and 1937. In her correspondence Zur Mühlen mentions a work to which she refers by an English title, ”Because we are Patchwork” – but that, once again, in no way implies that the text itself was written in English. How far along she got with this novel is not known, and no trace of it has been found.40


23It is my hope that the present republication by Open Book Publishers of Zur Mühlen’s autobiographical memoir will encourage readers to explore this courageous and talented author’s other writings. Equally, it is hoped that other publishers will be encouraged to follow the lead of by reissuing the now virtually inaccessible English translations of her novels of the 1930s and 1940s. Though fairly traditional in technique – she was no Virginia Woolf or Gertrude Stein or even Marieluise Fleisser – Zur Mühlen was an accomplished writer who succeeded in combining passionate political commitment with a strikingly broad and rich historical sweep, sharp Marxist-influenced insight into the dynamics of social and political change, a keen eye and ear for individual and class characteristics and speech, humor, ironical self-awareness, and an undogmatic (perhaps especially feminine) sensitivity to the complexity of individual character and human relations and to the irremediable sadness of loss and death. Among many women writers of novels and short stories of her time in German – Anna Seghers, Princess Mechthilde Lichnowsky, Gina Kaus, to say nothing of the stupendously successful Vicki Baum – hers is a distinctive voice. Above all, she stands out as an insightful witness and portraitist of a crucially important period in modern history, as the creator of convincing and emancipating narratives of girls growing up, and as a fearlessly outspoken champion of human rights at a time when there were not a great many of these. I close this brief tribute to her by citing an earlier tribute that appeared shortly after the publication of Ende und Anfang in Die Weltbühne, a leftist weekly featuring work by many well-known figures in German letters in the Weimar period – among them Erich Kästner, Else Lasker-Schüler, Arnold Zweig, and Erich Mühsam – until it was shut down by the Nazis in March, 1933. Though the author of the tribute, the French communist Henri Guilbeaux, a friend of Lenin and Trotsky, was less consistent in his politics than Zur Mühlen (he defected from the Party and subsequently became an admirer of Mussolini), his words convey something of the appeal of Zur Mühlen’s writing and personality:

  • 41 Die Weltbühne, 8 July 1930, p. 68: ”Intelligence, liveliness of mind, sensibility, taste, and char (...)

Klugheit, lebhafter Geist, Empfindsamkeit, Geschmack und Charme machen sie in der Tat zu einer guten Fee. Ohne Unterschied nimmt sie sich eines verlassenen Hundes, eines armen Teufels ohne Dach und Geld, eines Verirrten an. Sie hat nichts gemein mit kommunistischen Funktionären, die mechanisch und bureaukratisch ihr tägliche – achtstündige – Pflicht erfüllen. Obwohl sie noch ihre Illusionen, was die Parteiführer betrifft, hat, so ist sie doch von einer grossen geistigen Unabhängigkeit, und ihr Horizont ist nicht begrenzt.[...] Alle die wissen, dass revolutionäre Kunst nicht Phraseologie... ist, alle die auf der Suche nach einem fruchtbaren, frohen Talent sind, haben die herzlichsten Gefühle für die grossen schriftstellerischen Gaben und den frischen Geist der Hermynia zur Mühlen.41


1 Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1983; first published 1934, p. 37.

2 Beate Frakele, ”Reise durch ein Leben. Zum 40. Todestag Hermynia Zur Mühlens,” in Siglinde Bolbecher, ed., Literatur in der Peripherie (Vienna: Verlag für Gesellschaftskritik, 1992), p. 208. (All translations from German are by L.G. unless otherwise indicated). On German women writers in the Weimar republic, see Gisela Brinker-Gabler et al., Lexikon deutschsprachiger Schriftstellerinnen 1800-1945 (Munich: DTV, 1986); Renate Wall, Verbrannt, Verboten, Vergessen (Cologne: Pahl-Rugenstein, 1988); Brian Keith-Smith, ed., German Women Writers 1900-1933 (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993), especially the article by Edna Sagarra,”The German Woman Writer 1900-1933” (pp. 1-24); the opening section of Nicole Nottermann: Strategien des Erfolgs. Narratalogische Analysen exemplarischer Romane Vicki Baums (Würzburg: Königshauen und Neumann, 2002); Walter Fähnders and Helga Karrenbrock, eds., Autorinnen der Weimarer Republik (Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2003).

3 ”She was born to fabulous wealth, and died in bitter poverty. Her novels, short stories, novellas, and children’s books went through many editions, and she was forgotten in her own lifetime. A great number of admirers showed respect for her literary achievement and testified to her stylistic sensitivity and personal courage. Greater still, however, has been the ignorance that caused the work of this important woman writer to be disregarded and the author herself abandoned to the oblivion into which she was cast by the cultural devastation of fascism.” (Karl Markus Gauß, Introduction to a re-edition of Zur Muhlen’s short story collection Fahrt ins Licht [Klagenfurt: Sisyphus Verlag, 1999], p. 7.) In the late 1940s and in the 1950s, however, short sketches (”Humoresken”) – of varying quality – by Zur Mühlen did appear from time to time in the feuilleton pages of the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, the last of them on May 1, 1961, ten years after her death. For a list of Zur Mühlen’s writings in Austrian newspapers and magazines, see Deborah J. Vietor-Engländer, Eckart Früh and Ursula Seeber, eds., Nebenglück: Ausgewählte Erzählungen und Feuilletons aus dem Exil von Hermynia Zur Mühlen (Bern: Peter Lang, 2002), pp. 259-73. Until the recently published monograph of Ailsa Wallace, the only studies of her work in English were the short but useful essay by Lynda J. King,”From the Crown to the Hammer and Sickle: the Life and Works of Austrian Interwar Writer Hermynia zur Mühlen,” in Marianne Burkhard and Jeanette Clausen, eds., Women in German Yearbook, vol. 4 (Boston: University Press of America, 1988), pp. 125-54 and the even shorter essay by Deborah Vietor-Engländer,”Hermynia Zur Mühlen’s Fight against the ‘Enemy Within: Prejudice, Injustice, Cowardice and Intolerance,’” in Keine Klage über England? Deutsche und österreichische Exilerfahrungen in Großbritannien 1933-1945, ed. Charmian Brinson et al. (Munich: Iudicium, 1998), pp. 74-87.

4 In addition, three novels in English translation were posted at the end of 2008 on a remarkable website devoted to women’s literature:, along with an earlier version of the present essay, ’Liebe Genossin: Hermynia Zur Mühlen: a Writer of Courage and Conviction’,

5 Quoted by Oscar Criste in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie (1904), vol. 48, p. 617 (art. Ludwig Folliot de Crenneville).

6 The Countess’s deep love and respect for her grandmother shines through the many pages devoted to the heroine’s wise and humane grandmother in the novel Reise durch ein Leben (1933). Erika, the heroine of this novel, hardly ever sees her mother, who plays no role in her life and whose early death simply makes her absence irremediable – and causes the heroine confusion over her failure to react to it appropriately with tears. Even after her mother’s death, she receives only rare visits from her father. To all intents and purposes, she is her grandmother’s child. Countess von Wydenbruck is evoked again some years later in the powerful figure of Grandmaman Inez in Ewiges Schattenspiel (first published in book form in English translation as We Poor Shadows in 1943).

7 See Burke’s Genealogical Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th ed. (London: Harrison, 1862), vol. 1, p. 105.; Constant von Wurzbach, Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Österreich (Vienna: K. Hof-und Staatsdruckerei, 1890), vol. 59, pp. 37-38; Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch der Gräflichen Häuser (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1901), pp. 960, 1005; Latham C.M. Blacker, A History of the Family of Blacker of Carrickblacker (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1901), p. 21.

8 See above, The End and The Beginning, p. 6.XX In the novel Das Riesenrad (The Wheel of Life [London: Barker, 1933], p. 104) Zur Mühlen invents the following conversation, in a train going to the Riviera, between the father of the heroine – a character who, according to the Countess’s lifelong partner Stefan Isidor Klein, offers a faithful image of her historical father – and a fellow traveller, the dull and patriotic Prussian Count Luckner: ”You are a fortunate man, Count Luckner.” ”Why?” ”You still believe in yourself and your purpose in life.” ”Don’t you, my dear Count?” ”Good Lord, no. I know that we are done for as a caste and as human beings.” A few pages earlier, the Count had poured cold water on his daughter’s desire to be a writer: ”That profession does not suit our class, Marieleine.” ”Why not?” ”Because, as a rule, we are intellectual illiterates with a certain amount of culture. That is to say, we were formerly that type of person. Nowadays we have lost even our culture. […] You see, Marieleine, we aristocrats always took everything and gave nothing. The little sums of money we gave artists and writers to keep them from starving did not really count for anything. We filled ourselves with beauty until there was no room left for anything else. And then, like people who have overeaten and who push aside the food they no longer enjoy, we said: ‘Enough of that food.’ Then we were interested only in sport. Perhaps this interest was one of the causes of our being done for” (pp. 93-94). In the strongly autobiographical novel Reise durch ein Leben several portraits of the heroine’s male relatives offer a similar view of the Austrian aristocracy. One (based perhaps on what Zur Mühlen knew of her maternal grandfather, Ferdinand von Wydenbruck, as well as on his son, the writer’s ”Onkel Anton”) has become utterly disabused and cynical and has withdrawn from society altogether; another, a former governor of Tuscany who signed hundreds of death sentences (probably based on her paternal grandfather, Franz Folliot de Crenneville, at one time Governor of Livorno or Leghorn), has dedicated his retirement to writing a learned book against the death penalty; the heroine’s own father continues to ”play the game” of the aristocracy without believing in it. (Reise durch ein Leben [Bern and Leipzig: Gotthelf-Verlag, 1933], pp. 99-100, 110-11, 127-28) An unflattering picture of the younger members of the aristocracy is provided by the heroine’s cousin Nicki. Having twice failed his exams at the Gymnasium, the seventeen-year old has been sent by his parents to live with his great-aunt, the heroine’s beloved grandmother, instead of accompanying them to the French Riviera where they regularly spend the winter. Interested only in clothing, looks, and horses, sporting a monocle (or making strenuous efforts to), puffing elegantly on cigarettes, full of contempt for the ”provincial hole” he has been exiled to – the little lakeside town the heroine loves – and boasting of his ”colossal success with women” (57), the immaculately groomed Nicki explains to his younger cousin that study is of no importance to an aristocrat: ”What can that stuff matter to me? Am I a little Jew-boy that I have to get an education? Anyway, Papa wants me to take over Zahirsan [the family estate]. What do I need Greek and Latin for on the estate? Papa says I am dumb [...]. But Papa has such strange ideas. He keeps going on about a ‘humanistic education.’ Mama is more sensible. She says that if nothing works out, I can always become a diplomat.” (56-57) Nicki, the cynical aristocrat, turns out, however, to have many saving graces – notably honesty and genuine feeling – compared with the heavy seriousness and hypocrisy of the good-looking German bourgeois the heroine marries, as no doubt the aristocracy she constantly criticized also did for Zur Mühlen, and it is with him that, some years later, after she has left her husband, she experiences the love of her life. In general, Zur Mühlen’s portrait of her class resembles that presented by Joseph Roth in his celebrated novel Radetzky March and its short sequel The Emperor’s Tomb. (See the essay by Patrik von zur Mühlen in the online supplement.)

9 See above, The End and the Beginning, p. 19.

10 Ferdinand von Wydenbruck’s period of service as head of the legation in Washington coincided with the disastrous end of the brief and uncertain reign of Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico. Though he had consistently received instructions from Vienna to play down the Habsburgs’ Mexican connection, which Washington opposed, and to give priority to maintaining good relations with the U.S. (Egon Caesar Count Corti, Maximilian and Charlotte of Mexico [New York and London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1929], 2 vols., vol. 2, pp. 593-94, 756), Wydenbruck did in fact intervene vigorously with Secretary of State Seward in numerous letters and telegrams begging the U.S., which had never recognized Maximilian and had continued to support President Juarez of Mexico, to intercede with the latter and persuade him to spare Maximilian. (See the communications between Seward and Wydenbruck in Message of the President of the United States, and Accompanying Documents, to the Two Houses of Congress at the Commencement of the Second Session of the Fortieth Congress [Washington: Government Printing Office, 1868], ”Papers relating to Foreign Affairs,” Austria, pp. 558, 56472.) Nevertheless, as Austria’s envoy to Washington, Wydenbruck was judged responsible for failing to save the unfortunate Maximilian from the firing squad in June 1867 and was recalled soon afterwards. On his subsequent embitterment, see Nora Wydenbruck, My Two Worlds: An Autobiography (London: Longmans, Green, 1956), p. 3.

11 Nora Wydenbruck, My Two Worlds: An Autobiography, p. 3. On Zur Mühlen’s close and warm relation to Onkel Anton, whose contempt for the way of life of the Austrian aristocracy she shared and with whom, she relates, she would have liked to go and live after her grandmother died, see The End and the Beginning, p. 50. 12 The End and the Beginning, p.

12 . Countess von Wydenbruck seems to have exercised her influence on several members of her family. In addition to her granddaugher Hermynia and her son Christoph Anton, the latter’s daughter Nora, the Countess’s other granddaughter, was also something of a rebel (My Two Worlds, p. 53), had a literary career, like Hermynia, and married a commoner. Born in 1894 in London, while her father was in the Austrian embassy there, she later attended the same convent school in Dresden that Zur Mühlen had been sent to, disliked it as intensely, and ended up in London again in middle age. Like Zur Mühlen and Klein, she and her husband, a painter, lived for a time in cheap boarding houses (such as the one Zur Mühlen evokes in Miss Brington, reproduced in the online supplement to the present volume), barely scraping by. The two cousins both spent the war years in England. The absence of Zur Mühlen from her cousin Nora Wydenbruck’s autobiography (as of Nora from Zur Mühlen’s autobiographical texts) is all the more striking in the light of these similarities as well as of Zur Mühlen’s strong attachment to her ”Onkel Anton.” By leaving her husband, taking a young Jew as her lover, and joining the Communist Party, had Hermynia Zur Mühlen made herself literally unmentionable in all branches of her family? See below, note 21, on the character described as ”Aunt Kitty” in Zur Mühlen’s novel Das Riesenrad.

13 Zur Mühlen appears to have viewed Christianity as an anticipation of socialism, socialism as the appropriate present-day form of Christianity. The title-story of Der rote Heiland [The Red Redeemer] (1924), for instance, revives the Romantic conflation of Christianity and Revolution. This tendency became more pronounced in the author’s later years. The titles of the three parts of Came the Stranger (1946), which is set in the period from just before the Anschluß until the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, are ”Peace,” ”The Shadow of the Cross,” and ”The Passion” (the last being itself divided into ”Gesthemane,” ”Ere the Cock Crows,” and ”There was Darkness over all the World”); the Biblical flight into Egypt becomes an allegory of the plight of refugees from Nazi Germany in the short story ”Flüchtlinge” (Zeitspiegel [London], 23 December 1944); while in another short story about the setting up of a union of farm laborers in England in 1872, the working man who organizes the movement is presented as Moses leading his people out of slavery (”Die Vogelscheuche, ” in Arbeiter Zeitung, 11 June 1950). Zur Mühlen would have subscribed to the view expressed in 1937 by Rudolf Olden, a liberal journalist who emigrated from Germany in 1933: ”Wer Christ ist, muß Sozialist sein” [Every Christian has to be a Socialist]. (Quoted by Hubertus, Prinz zu Löwenstein, Abenteurer der Freiheit: Ein Lebensbericht [Frankfurt/Berlin/Vienna: Ullstein Verlag, 1983], p. 178). As for the significance for her of her noble birth, it is hinted at in the words she attributes to Countess Agnes, one of the three heroines of the 1934 novel Unsere Töchter die Nazinen:”I have always been too proud to imagine I was anything because of my noble birth. For me, noble birth always meant responsibility. We had privileges, but precisely for that reason we were doubly responsible. Privately, I often felt that our time was over – as a class, but not as human beings. ” (Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau-Verlag, 1983, p. 43)”Chivalrousness” – Ritterlichkeit – remains an important general human value for Zur Mühlen, whence the frequent expressions of moral outrage at uneven combat, at attacks by many against one, the strong against the weak, in both the feuilletons and the novels (e.g. the feuilleton ”Man muß es ihnen sagen,” the novels Reise durch ein Leben [Bern: Gotthelf, 1933, pp. 36–45], Unsere Töchter die Nazinen [Berlin and Weimar, 1983, pp. 49-50, 113-14], and Ein Jahr im Schatten [Zurich: Humanitas-Verlag and Büchergilde Gutenberg, 1935, p. 156]).

14 Leonid Andreyev, The Seven Who Were Hanged, translated by Hermann Bernstein (Garden City, N.Y.: Halcyon House, n.d. [c1941]), Foreword, p. 5. The work by Andreyev that Zur Mühlen translated was Igo Voiny [The Burden of War]. Her translation appeared in 1918 in Zurich, in a collection directed by the pacifist Alsatian writer René Schickele, as Unter dem Joch des Krieges.

15 See her own account of these early literary efforts in The End and the Beginning, p. 20 and passim.

16 No. 4370, 1927, reprinted in Die Literatur. Monatschrift für Literaturfreunde (Stuttgart), Jg. 29, Heft 11, August 1927, p. 649.

17 Sales of Petroleum had reached 100,000 by 1929, whereas sales of Oil! in the same period were 75,000; see Dieter Herms, ”Upton Sinclair: Forschungslage und deutsche Rezeption,” in Dieter Herms, ed., Vergessene Rebellen? Upton Sinclair Spanischer Bürgerkrieg (Berlin: Argument Verlag, 1989), pp. 5-15, at p. 8. Kornelia Vogt-Praclik, Bestseller in der Weimarer Republik 1925-1930 (Herzberg: Traugott Bautz, 1987) reports that Petroleum occupied one of the top places in the bestseller list of the Literarische Welt in both 1927 and 1928 (p. 116). Zur Mühlen’s close decade-long association with Sinclair, whose work she not only translated but tirelessly promoted in Germany, came to a sad and rather ugly end when Sinclair, who did not know German, responded to a couple of reports that her translations were deficient by asking Herzfelde, without Zur Mühlen’s knowledge, to find another translator. On Zur Mühlen’s role as Sinclair’s translator, see the essay ”Zur Mühlen as Translator of Upton Sinclair,” in the online supplement to this volume.

18 On the fairy tale in German-speaking countries and the political use to which it was put and on Zur Mühlen’s activity as a writer of fairy tales, see the essay ”Fairy Tales for Workers’ Children: Zur Mühlen and the socialist fairy tale” in the online supplement to this volume.

19 The well known Hungarian writer Sándor Márai, who shared his living quarters with Zur Mühlen and Klein for a time in Frankfurt, writes that the couple ”had two passions: literature and dogs.” (See, in the online supplement to this volume, the extract from Márai’s Bekenntnisse eines Bürgers: Erinnerungen, trans. from Hungarian by Hans Skirecki, ed. Siegfried Heinrichs [Munich/Zurich: Piper Verlag, 2000; orig. Hung. 1934], pp. 250-56.) Klein himself gives an example of this love of dogs in a letter to a friend. The only time in his life that he ever abandoned Hermynia, he relates, was one evening in Frankfurt, when the skies suddenly opened up and Hermynia, seeing a canine couple [ein Hundeliebespaar] standing miserably in the pouring rain, went over to the two dogs and held her umbrella over them. Instead of joining her, Klein confesses, he took shelter in a doorway. (Quoted by Manfred Altner, Hermynia Zur Mühlen: Eine Biographie [Bern: Peter Lang, 1997], p. 69) In addition to the heroine of The End and the Beginning, many of Zur Mühlen’s fictional heroines, especially those closely resembling the author herself, are dog-lovers (e.g. Kitty in the novel Das Riesenrad (1932), Erika in Reise durch ein Leben (1933), Rita Ranke in the mystery story Vierzehn Nothelfer (1933). In the short story ”Monsieur Bontemps und sein Freund” (in Fahrt ins Licht [Klagenfurt: Sisyphus, 1999; orig, 1936], pp. 93-99), the hero’s dog Argus is a prominent character and in ”Äffchen” (ibid., pp. 182-86) the loving and loyal dog Äffchen, betrayed by her selfish masters, is the heroine of the story. In Reise durch ein Leben, the death of the heroine’s little dog Flocki marks the end of a paradisiac childhood in which there is no radical separation of humans, animals, and plants and all are experienced as parts of a single, unified, natural world. It is likely that for Zur Mühlen dogs always recalled this original fraternity of all living creatures. Interestingly, a similar view of the animal world was held by another German communist writer, Friedrich Wolf, best known for his socially engaged dramas Cyankali (1929; against the criminalization of abortion) and Professor Mamlock (1933; against the anti-Jewish laws being introduced by the Nazis), but also the author of ”Kiki,” a story about a heroic ”black-haired English pointer with wonderful, intelligent, light brown eyes,” of ”Bummi, der Ausreisser,” who is ”a grey and white, wire-haired schnauzer,” and of many other tales about animals for young and old. In every one of his animal stories, Wolf explained, the underlying idea is peace and brotherhood – ”not that of nature red in tooth and claw, but the gentle melody of friendship and mutual aid between one animal and another and of friendship between man and beast.” (”Antwort auf eine häufige Frage, ” serving as foreword to Wolf’s Märchen, Tiergeschichten und Fabeln, vol. 14 of his Gesammelte Werke, ed. Else Wolf and Walther Pollatschek [Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1961], p. 6) The attachment of Zur Mühlen to her dogs was confirmed for me by a recollection of Wolf Thormann, the retired head of the Modern Languages department at Goucher College, and an old personal friend from my years at Johns Hopkins. Thormann remembers Hermynia’s coming with her dogs to his parents’ apartment in Frankfurt around 1932 and his secretly feeding them chocolate. (Werner Thormann was a staunchly leftwing Catholic newspaper editor, journalist, and theater critic who – like Zur Mühlen – advocated a popular front of Catholics and Communists against National Socialism. Like Zur Mühlen and Klein, he left Germany with his family in 1933).

20 Patrik von zur Mühlen, ”Hermynia Zur Mühlens baltische Jahre” (unpublished essay), p. 6.

21 The couple of ”Aunt Kitty” (the fourteen-year old narrator-heroine’s much older cousin, described in the novel itself as an older version of the heroine) and her lover Robert in the autobiographically based novel Das Riesenrad (1932) may offer a clue to the relation of Zur Mühlen and Klein. Born into the aristocracy, Aunt Kitty has been excluded from good society because she abandoned her husband for her lover, Robert, who, to make matters worse, is a commoner, and worse still, a Jew. Robert is kind and loving, but somewhat passive, and he cannot make a living. Kitty, who has some talent as an artist, supports the couple financially by tirelessly painting the pleasant landscapes and portraits popular with the well-to-do winter residents of the Côte d’Azur. From time to time she rebels against the abuse of her talent, but to Robert such moments of revolt are a self-indulgent luxury that the couple cannot afford. Aunt Kitty’s relation to Robert is complex: a mixture of tenderness, appreciation, companionship, protectiveness, resentment, and occasional feelings of great loneliness when the difference in their backgrounds and life experiences looms large and she is overwhelmed by the sense that they do not really understand one another. A somewhat similar relation of deep attachment and emotional dependency combined with resentment, even at times a degree of contempt, and a taste for freedom and independence – albeit without the class difference – characterizes the marriage of Martina and her long unsuccessful writer husband Clemmy (who, as Clemens, ”Graf Follyot,” bears Zur Mühlen’s family name) in the later novel Ein Jahr im Schatten (1935), as well as that of Clarisse and Robert in the still later Als der Fremde kam (1946). In Ein Jahr im Schatten, as in Das Riesenrad, the woman is the more resourceful partner and with the arrival of hard times becomes the family breadwinner by sacrificing her talent and ambition as an artist. A sculptress, Martina spends her time producing kitschy clay dolls because they sell. Neither Stefan Klein’s devotion to his wife nor Zur Mühlen’s dedication of most of her novels to ”St.” or ”My Husband” is evidence that their loyal and enduring partnership was not also fraught with difficulty – as almost all the marriages in Zur Mühlen’s writings are. It would be hard in fact to find another writer who presents as nuanced and honest a portrait of the complexities of the marriage relation.

22 Likewise, the loose construction of her novels made it possible for her to publish brief sections from them in the feuilleton pages of popular newspapers and magazines – a valuable source of income for her. Parts of Reise durch ein Leben appeared in this way in Der Wiener Tag, Neues Wiener Tagblatt, Das kleine Blatt, Bunte Woche, and Das kleine Frauenblatt in 1933 and 1934.

23 On Karl Kraus’s view of ”the courageous Hermynia Zur Mühlen, who has lost her noble rank but not her nobility” and on the Polish and Spanish translations of Ende und Anfang, see the Preface by Manfred Altner to the 2001 Sisyphus Verlag (Klagenfurt) edition of Zur Mühlen’s memoir, pp. 6, 9. On the proposed Schnitzler Foreword, see Athur Schnitzler, Briefe 1913-1931, ed. P.M. Braunwarth, R. Miklin, S. Pertlike and H. Schnitzler (Frankfurt a.M.: S. Fischer Verlag, 1984), 2 vols., vol. 2. p. 663 (letter to Prof. Otto Schinnerer, 6 February 1930). Schnitzler notes that he was reading Ende und Anfang along with Gide’s Les Faux Monnayeurs on 7 July, 1929. (Arthur Schnitzlers Tagebuch, ed. P.M. Braunwarth et al. [Vienna: Verlag der Österreichsiche Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1997], vol. 9, p. 262). No foreword by Schnitzler was in fact printed.

24 ”Junge-Mädchen-Literatur,” in Die Erde, 1919, no. 14/15, pp. 473-74. See also Altner, p. 94. This literature is also severely criticized by Zur Mühlen’s contemporary and compatriot Stefan Zweig in the chapter entitled ”Eros Matutinus” of his autobiography, The World of Yesterday (New York: Viking Press, 1943).

25 The endpapers of Reise durch ein Leben, also published in 1933, contain clips from favorable reviews of Nora hat eine famose Idee in the liberal Berliner Tageblatt (3 September 1933), the Wiener Tag (6 June 1933), the Prager Presse (21 March i933, and the Basel Nationalzeitung (26 March, 1933). According to the reviewer in the Tageblatt, Zur Mühlen’s novel offers ”something truly valuable,” an ”accurate and unsentimentalized [unverkitschte]” account of society in a ”witty presentation […] Behind the farcical plot, the intelligent reader will find the spirit of a sharp observer and, even more than that, a language and tone of truly creative, poetic quality.”

26 See the extract from Sándor Márai’s Bekenntnisse eines Bürgers: Erinnerungen, reproduced in the online supplement to this volume. There may well be a recollection of them in an unflattering description of a gathering of artists and intellectuals at Aunt Kitty’s in Das Riesenrad (The Wheel of Life, pp. 201-09). Klein later claimed that the account of the life of Kitty and Robert in that novel offered a true picture of ”our life in Frankfurt a. M.” (”Zur Wahrheit über Hermynia Zur Mühlen, ” Österreichisches Tagebuch, 2 June 1956; quoted in Altner, Hermynia Zur Mühlen, p. 24)

27 See Manfred Altner, Hermynia Zur Mühlen. p. 153.

28 See p. 160, above. Another residence was apparently found later, for Klaus and Erika Mann report in 1939 that when they saw Zur Mühlen ”for the last time, she was living in an old house in the middle of a garden which looked haunted, in a suburb of Vienna. She is not likely to be found there now,” they add, alluding to the Anschluß of 1938. (Erika and Klaus Mann, Escape to Life [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1939], p. 60).

29 This work has not been translated. For a full account of it in English, with many quotations from the text, see the online supplement to the present volume or [accessed 23/3/2010].

30 On the failure of the campaign to persuade the Saarlanders to vote in favor of the status quo (in which the Saar was under the jurisdiction of the League of Nations), see the personal testimony of Gustav Regler, a native Saarlander, in The Owl of Minerva, trans. Norman Denny (London: Rupert Hart Davies, 1959), pp. 221-29. See also the third volume of the autobiography of Regler’s friend, the Austrian Manès Sperber, Until my Eyes are Closed with Shards, trans. Harry Zohn (New York and London: Holmes & Meier 1994), pp. 61-65. Both Sperber and Regler suggest that the Communist attempt to turn opposition to Fascism into support for a ”Red Saar” did enormous damage to the anti-Nazi campaign. By the time the Communists came around to supporting the broad-based popular front of Socialists, liberals, and Catholics that Zur Mühlen’s novel had advocated, it was too late. The disabling effect of competition and distrust between Communists and Social Democrats in the struggle against National Socialism is narrated with uncommon vividness by the Austrian Communist Ernst Fischer in his remarkable Erinnerungen und Reflexionen (Reinek bei Hamburg: Rohwolt, 1969).

31 Quoted in Manfred Altner, Hermynia Zur Mühlen, pp. 139-40. For a summary account of this extremely interesting episode, see Jean-Michel Palmier, Weimar in Exile: The Antifascist Emigration in Europe and America, trans. David Fernbach (London and New York: Verso, 2006; orig. French 1987), pp. 369-71, 382-92. For a more detailed study and a judicious, nuanced view of the particular position of each of the writers involved, see Hans-Albert Walter, ”Der Streit um die ’Sammlung’: Porträt einer Literaturschrift im Exil,” Frankfurter Hefte, 1966, 21:850-860 and 1967, 22: 49-58. For the letters exchanged between Klaus Mann and Thomas Mann and between Klaus Mann and Stefan Zweig in this affair, see Klaus Mann, Briefe und Antworten, ed. Martin Gregor-Dellin (Munich: Verlag Heinrich Ellermann, Edition Spangenberg, 1975), 2 vols., vol. 1, pp. 121-22, 131-32 (K. Mann and Zweig) and 122-24, 132-35 (K. Mann and T. Mann). Zur Mühlen couched her reply in terms that would not have been in the least surprising to conservative Austrian opponents of National Socialism (such as Ernst Karl Winter), who regularly emphasised both Austria’s distinctiveness and independence in relation to the German Reich and the country’s mission, in the current situation, to stand up for ”the true values of German culture, which have been suppressed in today’s Germany,” as the author of an article entitled ”Wir brauchen einen österreichischen Verlag” in the weekly paper Sturm über Österreich (25 August, 1935) put it. (See Murray G. Hall, Österrechische Verlagsgeschichte 1918-1938 [Vienna/Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 1985], vol. 2, pp. 188-91.)

32 Letter dated Vienna, October 1, 1935. Louise Pettus Archives & Special Collections, Winthrop University. For a richly informative study of the process by which Paul Zsolnay, the owner-director (allegedly of Jewish extraction) of a major ”Judenverlag” [”Jewish Publishing House”] which had become the foremost Viennese publisher of modern Austrian and German literature and counted Franz Werfel, Heinrich Mann, and Emil Ludwig among its authors, was pressured into ditching all his Jewish and leftwing writers, in some cases even before they were officially banned in Germany, and promoting instead writers acceptable to the policymakers of the Third Reich (i.e. in sympathy with National Socialism and the doctrine of ”Blubo” [”Blut und Boden,” ”Blood and Soil”]), see Murray G. Hall, Österrechische Verlagsgeschichte 1918-1938, pp. 482-521. The Zsolnay case provoked a sustained and angry public controversy in the Viennese press in the years 1933-1935, of which Zur Mühlen was obviously fully apprised. In 1937, the Austrian Jewish writer Joseph Roth, well known in the English-speaking world as the author of Radetzky March and other novels, made a similar comment: ”Many bien-pensant, worthy and thoroughly Austrian ’Anti-semites’ will be painfully surprised to learn that the Jewish publishers in Austria are the very ones who are eagerly seeking to meet the demands of Goebbels and Rosenberg.” (Quoted in Hall, p. 509.)

33 Ernst Karl Winter, editor of the Wiener Politische Blätter – the first number of which (April 16, 1933) was immediately banned in Germany – was appointed vice-mayor of Vienna by Dolfuss after the February 1934 government attacks on and arrests of leading Social Democrats. His motto was ”rechts stehen, links denken” [”stand on the Right, think on the Left”] and his political vision seems to have been of a corporatist ”Volksmonarchie.” G.E.R. Gedye, ”the greatest British correspondent of the interwar years,” who was based in Vienna fom 1925 until 1939 and was fired by his paper, The Daily Telegraph, for his strongly interventionist anti-Nazi views, wrote of him: ”Winter was a curious character, a religious, non-Marxist Socialist, a Monarchist, a liberal and a man who really meant well by the workers. He did no good of course, and in October 1936 he was dismissed for advocating to Schuschnigg [Dolfuss’s successor as Chancellor] the obvious remedy for his dilemma – the formation of a Popular Front to fight the Nazis.” (Betrayal in Central Europe. Austria and Czechoslovakia: The Fallen Bastions [New York: Harper & Brothers, 1939], p. 196) Rightly or wrongly, the extreme left remnants of Austria’s socialists were suspicious of Winter’s efforts to make peace between the workers and the Dolfuss and Schuschnigg regimes and distrusted him. ”Links reden, rechts handeln” [”talk Left, act Right” ] was their parody of his motto. In their view, he was an ”Arbeiterbändiger und Oberdemagoge” [worker-tamer and super-demagogue], an ”Agent des Faschismus,” a ”mit Würden, Geld und Einfluß gekaufte Kreatur des Dolfuß” [creature of Dolfuss, bought with honors, money, and influence] – at best ”der Hofnarr des Faschismus” [the court clown of fascism]. On the other hand, the Communist writer Ernst Fischer describes him in his memoirs as ”an upright Christian socialist, a man who deeply respected Otto Bauer [the leader of the Austrian Social Democratic Party] and strove to reconcile socialism with the corporate state.” (Erinnerungen und Reflexionen, p. 303). Winter was undoubtedly a sincere Austrian patriot, consistently and courageously opposed to National Socialism. He was certainly a loyal supporter of Zur Mühlen: he personally reviewed her 1935 novel Ein Jahr im Schatten in the Wiener politische Blätter very favorably and expressed dismay that it had had to be published in Switzerland because Austrian publishers, caving in to pressure from Germany, had become unwilling to publish any author banned by the Nazis. In 1936, following his dismissal, the Politische Blätter were banned – on the same grounds that Zur Mühlen’s novel was banned, namely that the latest issues ”expressed socialist ideas and served the propaganda of the Marxist Popular Front.” In 1938, just before the Anschluß, Winter left Austria, by way of Switzerland, for the U.S. where he had a career as a professor of sociology and social philosophy at the New School in New York. He returned to Austria in 1955. (See Widerstand und Verfolgung in Wien 1934-1945. Eine Dokumentation, 4 vols. [Vienna: Österreichischer Bundesverlag für Unterricht, Wissenschaft und Kunst, 1975], vol. 1, pp. 55474; Murray G. Hall, Österrechische Verlagsgeschichte 1918-1938, vol. 2, pp. 178-92; and Karl Hans Heinz, Ernst Karl Winter: Ein Katholik zwischen Österreichs Fronten 1933-1938 [Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 1984]. See also the entry under ”Gsur Verlag” in the ”Notes on Persons and Events” above.)

34 For facsimile reproductions of the text of the German Embassy protest (dated 15 December 1935, transmitted orally) and of the report of section 13 of the Austrian Federal Chancellery recommending that the book be banned and all extant copies confiscated – not so much because of the alleged insults leveled in it at the leaders of a neighboring country, it was stated in an apparent effort to assert that the Austrian government was acting independently and not under pressure, as because of its ”almost undisguised Marxist-communist propaganda” see under ”hzm1” through ”hzm5” [accessed 23/3/2010] See also Murray G. Hall, Österrechische Verlagsgeschichte 1918-1938, vol. 2, pp. 186-87. For a rough translation of the German Embassy protest and of the Austrian government official’s recommendation regarding it, see the prefatory remarks to the synopsis of Unsere Töchter die Nazinen in the online supplement to the present volume, note 2.

35 On Zur Mühlen’s work for the BBC and on her interest in radio in general, see Deborah Vietor-Engländer, ”Hermynia zur Mühlen and the BBC,” in ‘Stimme der Wahrheit’ – German Language Broadcasting by the BBC, ed. Charmian Brinson and Richard Dove (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003), pp. 27-42. (Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, University of London, 5).

36 Times Literary Supplement, March 11, 1944, p. 125.

37 The real Korompa (in Hungarian), Krompachy (in Slovak) is actually quite far from Vienna. It lies in Eastern Slovakia,It lies in Eastern Slovakia, near Kosice. Teréz Brunszvik, Gräfin von Korompa (1775-1861), was a relative of Zur Mühlen’s Aunt Maria.

38 ”Patchwork” [Flickwerk] – perhaps a reminiscence of a famous phrase in Montaigne’s Essays (II, 1): ”nous sommes tous de lopins” – is already the title of one of the closing chapters of A Life’s Journey. It refers there to a patchwork quilt on which the last remaining servant at the dilapidated and, in the aftermath of the Great War, probably no longer affordable villa of the heroine’s beloved grandmother has been working all her life. To the heroine who has returned saddened, bereft, and bewildered to the scene of her innocent and protected childhood, it is both the symbol of her disintegrated world and fragmented personal life and, at the same time perhaps, the model of a new, looser kind of personal identity and social community – one made up of many individual parts, each of which retains its autonomy.

39 The work was republished in the German Democratic Republic in 1979 (Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau Verlag) and again in Austria in 1994 (Vienna: Promedia Verlag).

40 It would be imprudent, in the absence of documentary evidence, to rule out the possibility that Zur Mühlen wrote Came the Stranger and the presumed missing part of the trilogy, Because we are Patchwork, directly in English. Other Austrian writers, notably Robert Neumann, did make the switch from German to English with some success; see Richard Dove, ”Almost an English Author: Robert Neumann’s English novels. ” German Life and Letters, 51 (1998), 93-105; the same author’s Journey of No Return (London: Libris, 2000); and Sylvia Patsch, Österreichische Schriftsteller im Exil in Großbritannien (Vienna and Munich: Brandstätter, 1985), pp. 33-72.

41 Die Weltbühne, 8 July 1930, p. 68: ”Intelligence, liveliness of mind, sensibility, taste, and charm have made her truly a good fairy. A stray dog, abandoned by its master, a poor devil without a penny to his name or a roof over his head, a lost soul – she takes them all equally under her wing. She has nothing in common with communist officials mechanically and bureaucratically working their eight-hour-day shifts. Although she has not yet lost her illusions about the Party leadership, she retains great independence of mind and her horizons are in no way limited. [...] Everyone who understands that revolutionary art is not just phraseology, everyone who is on the look-out for a creative and joyful talent responds to the great literary gifts and the free spirit of Hermynia zur Mühlen.”

Table des illustrations

Légende Drawing by George Grosz in Upton Sinclair, 100% Roman einesPatrioten. Authorized translation by Hermynia Zur Mühlen.Malik-Verlag, Berlin, 1921.
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