This item, relating to the 1934 film of Kraus reading is currently on the site's home page, but it will, inevitably, disappear from sight, so it seems worth repeating and archiving here.
Here is a remarkable piece of film from the early 1930's, in which Karl Kraus reads four pieces of his work. I have linked to this YouTube video before, but only in the shortened version, which has Kraus reading 'Die Raben', 'The Ravens'. This is the full film. Here Kraus reads 'Zum ewigen Frieden', 'For Eternal Peace', a meditation on words of Immanuel Kant that celebrate the selfless desire to work for peace in the face of all the evils mankind inflicts upon itself, in the full knowledge that the fruits of that work, if they ever come to pass, will do so long after the grave has taken those who have laboured in that seeminly ill-omened and fruitless vinyard. This is followed by 'Die Raben', a translation of which can be found further below. The third piece is 'Reklamenfahrten zur Hölle', which me might translate as 'Advertising Holidays in Hell'. Kraus reads advertising material for battlefield tours to the 'great scenes' of the Great War. It is 1921 and the wastelands of trenches and mud are still visible on a massive scale across Europe; farmers attempting to reclaim their devastated fields are, inevitably, ploughing up human remains on an almost daily basis. The dead in their millions are hardly cold in the ground. What Kraus reads invokes the great sacrifices made in passing, barely, cynically, tritely, before the details of itineraries, highllights, hotels, travel arrangements, the great advantages and pleasures of first class seats and tickets, etc., are expounded with an extraordinary gusto. This is some holiday! It is as grotesque and shameful as Kraus's reading makes it. I have not translated this yet, but will do so. You know what it's about; for now Kraus's voice is more than enough! The poem that starts the film, 'Zum ewigen Frieden', and the one that ends it, 'Weg Damit', 'Get Shot of It!', are translated below. 'Weg Damit' is about the way in which a new 'establishment' (still in part the old one of 'media', in modern terms, politics and money, now further corrupted by those who rose to power by 'virtue' of the war itself) has already corrupted the values of freedom, honesty and equity that the demise of the empire was meant to usher in. What has been created - is a republic of cardsharks.
This link will take you to the YouTube film. Or click on the picture of Kraus above.
FOR ETERNAL PEACE
‘In sombre contemplation, not so much of the evils that afflict mankind by force of nature, but much more of the ills human beings inflict upon each other, there is solace in the prospect that things really could be better in the future; and with selfless benevolence it might indeed be so, though we be long in the grave by then and can never reap the fruits we may, in part, have sown ourselves...’ Immanuel Kant
Don’t abandon these words, overcome by grief,
Hold fast to Immanuel Kant’s belief.
God knows, no heavenly balm has scope
To transcend this epitaph’s sacred hope;
The grave proclaims a proud goodnight:
‘Oh, where I am dark, let there be light’
For all creation, that suffers Mankind,
The Immortal dies, by faith defined.
Day’s dark valediction lights the door,
That the sun may shine for you once more.
At the gates of hell, now and forever,
‘For Eternal Peace’ is his one endeavour.
He speaks the words, and the world is made whole,
By a truth that opens out God’s soul.
It is written: trust what faith has willed
And salvation’s promise shall be fulfilled.
From disaster deliver us, O Spirit humane;
Show us the way back to ourselves again!
Here is humanity! A shepherd indeed!
Woe to him who meets hope but will not accede!
Woe to a world German-madness-seduced
That denies the last German wonder produced!
When a dwarf reached up to the stars in the skies,
His realm tiny Königsberg, revelation his prize.
A subject of the Universe only, his stride
Dwarfs every king’s ramparts, delusions, pride.
His words mock the sword, mock power, might;
They ransom us all from never-ending night.
The dawn of his heart’s holy morning still can
Purge our blood-shame; that man kills man.
GET SHOT OF IT
The good that was achieved you have defiled,
Near-conquered evil again has you beguiled,
You have made the joy of freedom all-reviled.
When hunger hit bellies disposed to gorge and scoff,
He rose with a greed that could not be shut off,
He made way for no others at the trough.
A prebendary of progress, he abandoned the heart;
Now a worldwind fills limp sails, things fall apart;
Civil strife's poison intoxicates the upstart
Whose ally is mere profit, life’s eternal enemy;
The foe of a freedom that once was truly free,
That once possessed untarnished purity.
The path I tread is no skulking zigzag way,
What pricks me is no tricktrack game I play:
But he is the political cardshark, it is his day!