Adventures with Friends

© Herbert Kuhner


I've always associated the name Gabriel with the guy with wings and a horn.

Blow, Gabriel! Blow! is one of the great hits in Cole Porter's Anything Goes.

"Blow, Gabriel! blow!
Come on and blow, Gabriel, blow!
I wanna join your happy band."

Now the name has a new connotation. There's a Gabriel who plays in a band that I wouldn't want to join, a band that's not "happy," but a band that calls the cultural shots in Austria. It's a band that's a "family," and the music they play is pretty damn lousy.

An eminent Austrian barrister of prevailed on editor of a collection of "sad songs" by Austrian Jewish authors that I should not have sung my song in it, after the fact.

Gabriel has the same background as I, and although we never met, I am sure that we have nothing else in common.

When I related this to a writer I know, who is not enamored of Jews, she said: "See what I mean! Maybe if you weren't what you are, you might be an anti-Semite."

"Oh, I replied that didn't stop so-and-so and so-and-so-and so." Actually I named some Austrian fellow writers and a very, very prominent politician.

And I then quoted Henry Morgan, the humorist – not the pirate: "Everybody is an anti-Semite, except a few Jews, and they're not sure."

How the Cookie Crumbles

Why should I complain about coming back? I've had so much God-given material in this country. Material it is, but it isn't exactly upbeat or inspiring. But material is material, and a writer has to be grateful for material. Yes, life writes many of my stories. All I have to do is rush the computer and get it down. And that's what I'm doing now.

Yesterday, there was a festival to commemorate the Austrian composers and lyrists fled or stayed and were murdered after Austria had become "Ostmark."

There is no doubt that there has never been a piece of geography on this earth from which more talent has sprouted. Nor has there been a piece on which more talent has been suppressed. Ask any remigr´ , who isn't a turncoat, what being back is like, and he'll tell you. Austria is the place for paradoxes.

It wouldn't take a book, it would take volumes to list Austria's contributions to the world. And who is the man who played the greatest role in disseminating Austrian culture worldwide? That's right, the answer is Austria's son, Adolf.

Of course, As Time Goes By and September Song were on the program. The composers were exiles from Austria and Germany, but could anything be more American than these classics?

The master of ceremonies is a man who was driven out and who came back to have a successful career in Austrian Show Biz. He also commemorated the artists, who could not get out like Fritz Grünbaum, who put on his show in a Nazi death camp, before being sent to Kingdom Come. And he commemorated the geniuses who were nipped in the bud by the Nazi death machine. A million and a half children were put to death in the most cruel and brutal manner, and regret was expressed concerning the destruction of so much talent.

Those children were of my generation. I belong to the minority that got away. I came back to Austria to make my contribution as a writer and translator, and since I have been here, I have been blocked at every turn. Don't ask me for details! It's a story I have told, and I don't want to go into it on this occasion. The story I relate here is not my story, but yet it is my story by proxy.

I will, however, insert a personal experience. I moved into a small apartment on East 54the St. in 1960. Across from my apartment was a nightclub called the Monkey Bar. I say was, but it is still there, and so is the house I lived in. Shortly before I moved in, an Austrian émigré had been performing at the Club as the house piano player and singer. Our paths did not cross, but yet I feel that, in a way, they did cross.

I'd like to get back to the program I was describing. The master of ceremonies, who made those moving statements, is a colleague of mine as well as the former Monkey Bar entertainer. I couldn't help wondering how this all applies to me and also my almost neighbor. He incidentally can't play and sing at any prestigious venue in Austria, which means that this particular emigré couldn't turn remigré. The man who can't come back authored a book that was due to be published in an Austrian house. However, calamity struck. The editors told him that there had been a flood in the basement and that all the books had been destroyed. Not even one copy had survived the water. And that was it.

Do you see what I mean about life doing my writing in Austria? I could not "invent" such a story. Reality does most of the work for me. And that is how the cookie crumbles in Austria.

I got angry

The encounter took place in Vienna's leading spelunke, a meeting place for artists and journalists where the food is good and the air bad. The overweight painter was its best patron, He had come there that day fresh from the hospital after open-heart surgery. I had come there fresh from a dispute with a publisher who had cheated me, called me "uncouth and revolting" and sent all copies of my non-fiction remigration novel to my apartment.

The painter sat in back of me while I gasped for air and all that I got was a smoky substance that scratched the lungs and burnt the eyes. I had been dragged there by a couple who liked to gadabout and table hop. Although in that venue you needed stilts for the latter activity, Before I could order, the painter dug his index fingers into my ribs, I turned and told him to desist and when I looked at the menu again there was a repetition of the digging. Prior to that encounter, I had suggested him for the cover of an anthology in progress. A third party conveyed his terms. He would assent on condition that the texts be selected by a literary expert of his choosing and that the editors, who ware dilettantes in his eyes be relegated to impotence. The proposition brought an immediate reaction from me. No need to go into detail. That was the prologue to the digging. After a repetition of digging and admonitions, I informed him that after the next dig, he'd be hit in the face. My eyes were watering and I was boiling. I needed just one more provocation to let loose, and yet I knew that just one physical or verbal gaffe would signify my end. Since I was enmeshed in a web of conflicts and was the party with less or no power in each case, I'd be done if I struck out, I knew that there would be a feeling of divine relief which would be followed by a plummeting letdown. With one blow, I'd have thrown everything away. No doubt, I would have struck one of the prime bastards in town, a master of intrigue and one of the foremost anti-fascist fascists. His shirt buttons would pop off, his scar would unzip and the newly-operated heart would plop out. Had he been so imprudent to harass me again, he might have provoked me into being guilty of manslaughter. But whether I caused his end or not, the blow would have been my undoing. But as it is, this story doesn't end with a bang. The blow was not delivered since instead of using his index fingers again he asked me to move my chair to provide him with more breathing space.

Remember Max!

I've read and reread Henry Miller. He was a natural storyteller. For me, Miller's fly in the ointment, or his flies in the ointment, are the erotic passages. And speaking of flies, there are puns better left unsaid. The flies in Miller consist of athletic feats in which the female partner is the adversary. And he goes into detail with a magnifying glass, if not a microscope. Miller is great when it comes to describing losers and the nitty-gritty of city life, but when I read him, I gloss over the purple passages.

In my callow days, I thought that I would like to go about ringing gongs. But I soon found out that ringing was not for me, and frankly I simply didn't have the knack for one-night stands and fleeting encounters.

Max is a marvelous story by Henry Miller. It's about a down-and-out Jew in Paris in the Thirties, who was keeping himself afloat with odd jobs. It has been termed by some as an anti-Semitic story. Miller cannot warm up to Max, and he describes his suffering with incomprehension and even disdain. It is perhaps, the authors distance to his character, that makes Max more moving and touching to the reader. As the story progresses, Max becomes more tangible. Miller did not invent Max. Max has a hat which he wears with the brim up. Miller takes the hat and tries to make it look like a snappy fedora by pushing in the crown and turning the brim down. But the next time he sees him, of course the crown has its old shape and the brim is turned up again. And so forth and so on.

Miller takes Max to his friend Boris, who's also a Jew, and Boris does nothing for him. The story closes with an "illiterate" letter from Max to Miller, in which he describes his aching loneliness and despair. In my opinion, the letter is one the most heart-rending and eloquent codas in literature.

"…the rain is talking to me but morning wont come-it seems that night will never end I am afraid the french will do me away in case of sickness because being a forinner is that so? Miller tell me is it true - I was told that if a forinner is sick and has nobody they do him in quickly instead of curing him even when there is a chance. I am afraid the french shouldn't take me away, then I shall never see daylight. Oh no, I shall be brave and control myself but I don't want to go out in the street now, the Police might take a false statement, else I should go out now of my Room out in the street, for I cant stay in my Room, but I'm much afraid every night, I'm afraid. Dear Miller, is it possible to see you? I want to talk to you a little. I don't want no money, I'm going crazy. Sincerely yours, Max."

The letter was must have been genuinely written by Max, and Miller used it as he had received it. Quoting it with all the flaws was a brilliant decision. (In history, didn't Sacco and Vanzetti say and write it well in broken English?)

The story ends with the letter, and we know how Max ended.

Now I'll bring an incident to the fore that occurred in 1988, the Golden Anniversary of Austria's annexation by Nazi Germany. That year, a book of interviews published with those who had the privilege of being in Austria half a century earlier. I was three years old when the coupling occurred. In my interview I described the ransacking of my grandmother's apartment by SA-men, which stays with me as clearly as today. And I by recounting my experiences as a remigré in present day-Austria, I tie the present in with the past.

I close my interview with the following phrases: "My encounter has been with assassins of the spirit. They have proven to be worthy successors to their predecessors."

In the summer of that "Memorial Year," I was at a symposium at the Riverside Campus of UCLA with the author of the book of interviews. I read excepts from my non-fiction novel, Memoirs of a 39er.

The Austrian consul was there to explain to the emigrés and remigrés present how things had transpired at the time. Only a small minority of the population favored the annexation of Austria. The majority stayed in their homes and gnashed their teeth. Right he was! As we know, there were only a few well-wishers on the streets to welcome Austria's favorite son back.

After I had read from the novel, the Austrian representative asked the organizer of the conference what I was doing there. The story I had to tell concerning my remigration had to be a fabrication!

After the conference, the author of the interview-book was been invited to the home of one of the interviewed who resided on the Palisades near Los Angeles. She insisted that I accompany her, but I had compunctions about appearing uninvited. However, she was stubborn and I gave in. An emigré and a remigré would meet and exchange views.

If I had had my way, I wouldn't have been able to write this piece.

When we arrived, she went in, and I waited in the car. She came back with the man's wife, who hopped into her car and led us to a hotel where I was deposited, and then they drove their cars back to the man's castle.

I wasn't looking for help or a handout like Max. But after the long drive, a glass of water and the use of the facilities might have been nice.

I guess I had been too candid in my interview and I'm Uncle Harry and not Uncle Tom. My fellow emigré wasn't going to have the culprit who had told the story had I told, stepping over his threshold.

I didn't even get to meet my Boris.

The Same Boat

The past sometimes zips right up in front of you as clear as day, yet with the patina of years that has attached itself to it. I was rummaging around in a second-hand bookshop in Gumpendorferstrasse in the 6th district of Vienna, and what did I find? A tattered issue of Esquire, dating back to 1936. There were two mustached men in it. One was the blonde, pop-eyed, pint-sized sugar daddy who served as mascot and went by the name of "Esky." The other was small, dark and not handsome but had gained notoriety in the twentieth century as a spellbinder and painter of watercolors, the eminent Austrian artist Adolf Hitler, née Schickelgruber. The article was devoted to the cultural side of the great orator's personality. The subject of one of the watercolors presented was the Church of Maria am Gestade. It was impossible to resist buying it. I put the magazine in my tote bag and toted it to my friend Stephan Eibel who lives in a baroque house on Schwertgasse, which translates as Sword Street. Stephan lives a stone's throw from the church and you couldn't fail to miss if you threw the stone out of his living room window. When I opened the magazine and showed-him the illustration, he thought it wasn't bad. Then I lifted my thumb from bottom left corner and exposed the small signature. It read "A. Hitler." We both looked at each other for a while before we decided to go down to the spot where the artist had sat behind his easel. After descending the four flights of hall stairs we walked down the scimitar of Schwertgasse to the church, which is at its tip. Then we went down the concrete steps that lead Concordia Square. We stopped on what must have been the spot where the artist had sat before his easel many decades ago. Everything seemed as it was in the watercolor. The building on the left had been replaced but the buildings on the right were original. The man who had sat there and painstakingly painted the church had gone on to become the greatest practitioner of genocide and one of the two greatest mass murderers of the Twentieth Century. Was murder in his mind when he had painted the church? He had been in his early twenties then. He didn't start out as a Nazi; he became a Nazi. He had come to Vienna as an aspiring young artist and architect. He hadn't been a rowdy or a hooligan. As he became older, the "commitment" formed itself within his character and he became one of the founders of Nazism and its leading exponent. He must have been helped along the way, He may now be long dead, but he enabled youths to take the short cut and to become Nazis right off the bat.

Hitler became one of the two great mass murderers of the Twentieth Century and the most thorough and efficient mass murderers in history.

Young Hitler hadn't been the only one artistically inclined. Hadn't his sidekick and former seminary student Josef Goebbels written a novel in his youth? And wasn't another sidekick, Julius Streicher, a fellow painter? Then there was his ally and crony who later became his foe, Joseph Stalin. The man who had been his main competitor in mass murder had been a seminary student and poet in his youth. Yes, it seems that dabbling in the arts in young years doesn't necessarily mean a commitment to the forces of light. Stephan and I seemed to be riveted to the spat where a man had produced a watercolor and then gone on to murder millions. That beautiful and stately church had stood there as a model inadvertently. It certainly does not deserve the name Stephan and use to refer to it. For us, it has become has become the Hitler Church. Hitler the party leader and dictator stopped painting but he continued to be a lover of the arts. He promoted what he liked and those who produced what he didn't like were out of luck. Another connoisseur was the photographer Heinrich Hoffmann who titled his post-war memoirs, Hitler Was My Friend. Hoffmann was a jovial bon vivant who was exposed to Hitler's human side. He snapped and shot his friend and his friend's entourage from their beginnings in the Nineteen-Twenties till the end in April of 1945. Hitler may have had millions killed, but he was swell to Hoffmann. When both of them got together, the conversations were about art, not politics. Hoffmann stayed in Hitler's good graces and used his friendship to save many from the gallows or the chopping block.

One of the anecdotes in the book shows how adherence to dogma went against Hoffmann's independent grain. There's a photo that shows Hitler walking hand-in-hand with a blonde child Hoffmann calls "Hitler's little sweetheart." Hoffmann relates how "an overzealous busybody" found out that the little girl was not of pure Aryan descent and promptly informed Martin Bormann who forbade further contact without informing the Führer. When Hitler became aware of what had happened, he and Hoffmann were united in indignation. Their anger was directed against Bormann and the informer who had spoiled Hitler's joy. The Führer sighed and "felt that he had to be logical and refuse to see the child anymore."

The "busybody" and Bormann who had reaped Hitler's scorn were just following the Nuremberg Laws to the letter, laws that Hitler had instigated and authored. What did not enter Hoffmann's mind was that had that Germanic-looking child been completely non-Aryan, rather than of mixed descent, she would have joined other children in cattle cars on their way to certain death. And it should be added that children of mixed descent also ended up in cattle cars if their parents' racial rating did not warrant exclusion from that fate.

Strangely enough, it did not occur to Hoffmann to direct his anger against the initiator of the racial laws that were the basis for the annihilation of children.

Hoffmann the photographer shot Hitler's story, but although he was a witness to most of what went on outside of the camps, he apparently remained truly naive And he proved it when he was arrested at the end of the war, After being interrogated by a United States Army officer, he requested that "looted" water colors by his "friend" Adolf Hitler be returned to him. At that, one of the Germans present brought a glass fruit bowl down on his head. The man who committed that violent act, it can be assumed, was not a Nazi.

Fortunately in today's Austria fascism doesn't stand a chance. Such colleagues in the arts as Peter Weibel, Hermann Nitsch and Otto Mühl are on the march against the brown scourge. Peter Weibel: "Take your penis out! Exhibitionists to the fore. We will beat citizens until they turn into human beings. Hermann Nitsch: "I would prefer to work with human beings, with dead human beings, with corpses, to be specific....The intoxication created by blood and the ripping apart of raw flesh should be satisfying since it relieves man of his suppressed desires. The experience of killing is intense as the subject goes into the surrounding world to destroy....Killing was and is beyond all moral judgments." Otto Mühl: "Everything is worthy of presentation. That includes rape and murder.... Coitus, torture, the annihilation of man and beast is the only theater worth viewing. Murder is an integral part of sex. House pets have to act as surrogates. I intend to commit the perfect murder with a goat that will serve as a substitute for a woman."

Unfortunately Mühl has had to interrupt his anti-fascistic activities to serve a seven-year sentence at this writing for the rape and maltreatment of minors.

The monument "Against War and Fascism" at the Albertina Square in Vienna is another example of consistency. Indeed it could be construed as being the opposite of what it contends to be. The bronze Jew who eternally wipes the pavement does not kneel but lies on his belly. The marble columns that tower above him which contain parts of anatomy and "brown" memorabilia represent National Socialism. And in contrast to the Jew's broad, indefinable bottom, a pair of heroic buttocks protrudes from one of the columns.

If by any chance, your desk is dusty, you can buy a miniature replica of the wiper to keep it clean for all time.

The monument was unveiled in 1988, the so-called "Memorial Year" which commemorated the Golden Anniversary" of the Anschluss. The creator of the monument, according to an interview in the now defunct Austrian Communist daily of July 10th of that same year expresses his admiration for Hitler's main competitor in mass murder, Joseph Stalin. The creator had resigned from the party in 1956 after the invasion of Hungary, but in retrospect confirmed the necessity of that invasion as well of that of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

And speaking of the Nuremberg Laws, when one former East German of Jewish descent leveled an attack at two of his former fellow countrymen with the same background, our sculptor stated that he wished the attacker would catch the Nuremberg Laws in the neck. He went on to expound that there should be no rocking since all three were "sitting in the same racial boat."

The powers-that-be decided to try again and a Holocaust monument was called for. One of the designs submitted was by Valie Export who had gained prominence by pouring scalding wax over live birds. The motto on the model was: "Pain is the only reality." This is a quotation by Kafka, but the source went unmentioned.

And not to be forgotten Radovan Karadcic. Inspiration by the muse did not prevent this poet of note from ordering his minions to rape, massacre and engage in ethnic cleansing.

As far as boats are concerned, there's none for me with some of the artists mentioned and their ilk.

And as far as any "racial boat" is concerned, I can't resist ending on a personal note. There's the artist who agreed to do the cover of one of my anthologies on condition that he appoint a "literary expert" to select authors and contents, and there's the poetess who goes around telling editors not to publish, reviewers not to review, translators not to translate and organizers of readings to change the program. The former is a remigré like myself and the latter spent the war years stashed away with her mother.

Politically Uncommitted and Committed Action

by Stephan Eibel

An example of politically uncommitted action: Joe Berger let me know that Helmut Zilk and Ursula Pasterk liked my play, The Office for Responsibility, very much but decided to cancel the production of the play which had been designated by the director of the Volkstheater to be premiered on October 26th of 1984. You have to realize that the Kurier and the whole news media are conducting a campaign against Androsch in order to split the Socialist Party and he appears on page four of your play. Look, Berger said, you can't always play the role of the wild one, you're no longer that young, and you have to think in other dimensions. Zilk told me that if you keep your mouth shut, he'll return the favor. Pasterk is slated to be director of the Festival of Vienna and the play will get a large-scale production. With slight changes of course.
I called a TV-reporter who was planning to do a feature on: Who is Responsible for the Cancellation of the Production of the Office for Responsibility? The feature was never televised.
Bruno Kreisky's telephone conversation with me in 1985 would also fail to serve as an example of politically committed action. He asked me whether it was true that The Office for Responsibility had not been produced due to Androsch. I told him the story according to the information I had Kreisky I wouldn't put anything past Zilk, but Pasterk is a decent person That may be your view, I said, but I've had my fill of the word "decent." He added that he had heard that the play was a bad one. That could very well be, I said, but the quality of the play has not been a factor in these dealings. If the play is indeed bad, the director of the theater should be replaced since he puts bad plays on his program. Or. Helmut Zilk who had the production cancelled should be appointed as co-director and should share Blaha's that's right and I'll look into the salary. Kreisky matter. I'll speak to Pasterk and see what she has to say. I never heard from Kreisky again.
Note: In Austria, state theatre directors, museum directors, as well as the chief of national radio-TV, etc., are political appointees.

Anti-Fascism On the March

(Watch the goose-step!)

A Duo

He's in the media; she's in politics. He and she are in the forefront of every liberal cause and their names are on every manifesto. They take every opportunity to that affords itself to convey information concerning the barbarity of the Third Reich and its repercussions on the present. They are, as it would stand to reason, philo-Semites par excellence and act as intermediaries for emigrés and remigrés;s.

They are also intermediaries for contemporary art and literature. They sanction and interpret the practice of violence in the arts, which has a significance that is not immediately apparent. This includes the sexual abuse of women and children and the ritualistic slaughter of animals for a thrill. They do their best to bring enlightenment about these aspects and make them palatable to the public.

They are humanists in every respect, outside of the arts, and their humanism excludes those who are not in accord with the anti-humanistic trends they promote.

Opposition by the revisionist element is opportune and fits into the scheme of things. The syllogism used is that since condemnation comes from the revisionists, all opposition to must be associated with revisionism.

But of course, we know, and they know that revisionists are not opposed to violence. The business of the revisionist is to play down, minimize and belie the barbarity of the Third Reich. He merely condemns the violence that is committed by those who belong to "another political camp."

As far as our couple is concerned, there must not be one fly in the ointment. God help anyone who gets out of line and does not tow their line! Someone who labels these occurrences as "the practice of violence under the guise of art" deserves what he gets or what he doesn't get – like a minimal remigré pension.

A Director

There was a director who began his tenure as head of an Austrian States theatre with a play about the fate of remigrés in Austria and ignored a play by a genuine Austrian remigré for the twelve-year duration of his tenure.

A Philo-Semite

He writes extensively about the perpetrators in the days of yore. He's good on details concerning the barbarism of the past. If you're a poet who writes on the subject, he's the one to go to since he edits a poetry series. He had a co-editor, who belonged to an older generation. His former colleague, a refined and cultivated older poet, did not have a particularly sanguine life. As a young man, he was inducted and spent six years of his youth wearing a uniform he hated. He was one of those who had to go while Waldheim and others fulfilled their martial duty in the Wehrmacht, which by no means could have been considered the defence force of Austria.

When the older colleague supported the publication of volumes of poetry by two émigrés who had experienced the Third Reich and its repercussions first-hand, he was shouted down and forced to pack it in by his younger colleague. And that was that! This of course is an isolated incident and is atypical. Anti-fascists and philo-Semites in Austria are invariably ready to lend a helping hand to those who were victimized by the Reich.

Another Philo-Semite

She's a writer and functionary. She writes about the barbarities of the past and organizes and hosts symposiums on the subject. One of her anti-fascistic programs was undermining a program of bilingual poetry by women from books translated by a remigré. Of the five Austrian women represented, three are Jewish and one of them is a survivor of Auschwitz

The Second String

They're second string state-promoted and -supported authors. These scribblers can never make it big like the mountebanks in the forefront. They're penny ante all the way, small time literati the who were born to be vassals, and who make perfect agents. They're small fish who swim with the big fish and snap at the leftovers. It's their job to undermine anyone who gums up the works. They are incapable of attacking contrary views or defending their views openly. They can only take action surreptitiously. They contact editors, anthologists, organizers of readings and translators. The word is to excise the works of those who are out of line. And just to be sure that the spiritual hit is carried out well, they whisper pernicious rumors in unison.


You simply have to be in favor of Claus Peymann, the director, you simply have to be in favor of Thomas Bernhard's "Heldenplatz!"
- Christoph Braendle, German literary critic, Die Weltwoche, Nr. 45, Nov. 10, 1988

Herbert Kuhner: Thomas Bernhard

ORF "5 vor 12" April 28 1999

Being an author and a translator are not two separate activities for me, but rather one. Sometimes I consider translating to be an extension of my own literary output. Although I have translated rose and drama, I consider myself to essentially be a translator of poetry. There are occasions when I identify so closely with the translated poems that I feel that the authors speak for me. When I read Thomas Bernhard's volume of poetry, Auf der Erde und in der Hölle, I knew that I would have to translate a selection of poems. This book was published by Otto Müller Verlag in 1957, and I had the pleasure of reading it twenty-five years later. At the time I was working on Austrian Poetry Today / Österreichische Lyrik heute. I wanted to include Thomas Bernhard, but the author had the rights for his poems, and acquiring them was a long, difficult procedure.

I have often cursed my activity as translator of Austrian lyric poetry since there has never been a reward for my work in Austria, but only punishment. And this has never changed. When I read Gefangen / Imprisoned by Bernhard, I felt as if knew the author, and I was no longer angry that acquiring the rights had been so difficult.

Thomas Bernhard


The raven shrieks.
He has captured me.
I must go through the land forever
in his cry.
The raven shrieks.
He has captured me.
Yesterday he perched in the fields and froze,
and my heart with him.
My heart blackens more and more
because it is enfolded
in his black wings.

Comment on Claus Peymann

Director of Thomas Bernhard's Heldenplatz and Otto Mühl's Muchl at the Burgtheater, Vienna

Since two letters to Claus Peymann containing information about my play, The Assembly-Line Prince, had remained unanswered, I could not resist writing a third an the eve of his production of Thomas Bernhard's Heldenplatz which deals with the fate of Austrian remigrés. Apparently as translator of poetry and prose by Burgtheater playwrights Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek and Andre Heller and drama by Peter Turrini, I am not worthy of a response. My personal experiences, which I have chronicled in Memoirs of a 39er: a novel of sorts, are a confirmation of those of Bernhard's characters. Since my letters went unanswered, I must assume that Claus Peymann is not interested in reviewing new drama by Austrian authors and that his concern for and that his concern for remigrés extend beyond the proscenium of the Burgtheater stage, nor does he wish to extend one of Thomas Bernhard's translators the courtesy of a reply. In view of these facts, Claus Peymann seems to fit beautifully into the Austrian scenery as described by Bernhard in Heldenplatz.

- Herbert Kuhner, David, a Jewish cultural quarterly, Vienna

A Career

There was an actor
who was a member of the Nazi Party,
who acted in propaganda films
and denounced colleagues to the Gestapo,
causing them to be deported and executed,
and who continued his career after the war
with not one word of regret.

Said actor was used onstage
by Austria's top dramatist
and Germany's top director of drama
to expose Nazi thought and spirit
as manifested in present-day society
and pillory personalities who carry on
in the tradition of the Third Reich.

This was by no means opportunism,
rather there was "method in this madness."
Wasn't it simply a stroke of genius
to use a Nazi bat to batter Nazi heads?

The Key

When I came to Austria, I had not been not able to fathom man's cruelty to man. Now I no longer ask myself questions.

In my view, which is of course tainted, the intellectual heirs to the National Socialists in Austrian society are the revisionists, who are experts at mitigation and the powers-that-be of cultural-political establishment, who invariably pose as anti-Fascists and philo-Semites. The worst of these are the intermediaries who act as spokesmen for emigrés and remigrés. They are exploiters of the Holocaust who think nothing of trodding over the dead to achieve their aims, which are the acquisition of power and the modern equivalent of thirty pieces of silver.

The spirit of the Third Reich has been successfully channeled into the arts, and the intermediaries promote those who commit barbaric, anti-humanistic acts under the guise of art. Their spiritual cruelty of promoters and promoted is unparalleled. Comparisons to the Mafia are invalid, since these assassins take more devious routes and are infinitely more skillful in achieving their ends. They represent pure, unadulterated evil to me.

As far as I am concerned, the key to understanding the past has not been provided by the revisionists, but rather by their alleged adversaries.

A Few and One

he's offended.
If you call him an Austrian,
he's offended.
American or Austrian,
he'll always be a Jew!
- J. E.

He thinks that he is not accepted as an author
because he is a Jew.
The truth is that he's an inferior author.
- A. V.

We'll let a few through
so we can get one.

And while we push a few forward,
we'll push that one backward.

We can always point to the few
for exoneration.

The Anti-Fascist Brigade

The Anti-Fascist Brigade
is always at hand
when a writer is maligned
or blacklisted
by the powers-that-be

If the writer in question
happens to find a loophole
to slip his work through
the Brigade acts with alacrity
to quickly plaster it up.