While Stefan Zweig was ledding such an ordinary life, on the other hand, his life was full of many complications. Maybe that situation of the dilemma was the reason for putting an end to his life. Who knows, maybe he was the absolutely right one. Because that the color of his world was black, it wasn’t possible to change it white.
In our lives, everything is connected to and associated with each other. I can understand this even when I start to writing biographies. I have just talked about life with my new friend. To summarize the conversation, how none of the fingers of one hand look like each other, it is not possible to feel the same for us. There are many various living styles as much as the amount of the population.
Fortunately, it is not possible for us to living life in the same way if you can find out why. Dear Stefan, you had chosen the best for yourself so we have chosen reading to you. I know that you are resting with a clear conscience now after all wars, escaping and returning. Nevertheless, it is still hard not to wish that you hadn’t gone on your own.
Stefan was born in Vienna, 28 November 1881, as the second son of a wealthy and cultured family. His mother Ida Brettauer was an Italian Jewish and his father Moritz Zweig was a textile manufacturer.
For the reason that his parents wanted their son to be a well-educated gentleman, Stefan’s education life has started in his early ages. He was trained especially on literature and he was taught new languages. He would learn how to speak in English, Greek, Italian, Latin, and French. His tendency on descending into a mood of pessimism became more clear in his high school years, he also started to write poems during that time. He was very impressed by Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet who put his poems in the center of Stefan’s life. There was also Hugo von Hormannsthal who affected him. He entered into the world of poetry in his bloom of youth, it wasn’t different from first love.
After he studied philosophy at the University of Vienna and the University of Berlin, he set out on many long distance journies. There was a huge world war that was waiting for him. He would come across with battle in his youth.
Stefan was recording any developments and events that happened during his lifetime. That was the only thing never changed about him. He did translations with the languages that he had learned. He translated Paul Verlaine’s poems and Baudelarie’s poems French to German.
Later he took many journies. Between 1907-1909 he traveled to Ceylon, Gwalior, Calcutta, Varanasi, Yangon and North India, in 1911 he visited New York, Canada, Panama, Cuba, and Porto Rico. He went up to Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren in 1914. He would find himself in the middle of the war when he turns back.
First world war erupted in 1914 so Stefan went back to Viana from Belgium to join the army. He was assigned as an officer by war headquarter between 1914-1917 in Vienna.
At the beginning of the war, he was supporting the battle as a journalist and writer. However, he realized the truth after witnessing with the sufferings and cruelty in Galicia. His first manner was having a passive attitude. He kept writing. Babil 1916 and Forcing 1918 were his works which expressed Stefan’s manner against the war.
Stefan wrote his play Yaremya that he explained clearly the whole tragedy in 1917. He exhibited his most important attitude by censuring the war with his open letter which has salutation of “To the Foreigner Allies”
Immediately after the war he moved to Austria and located in Salzburg. He met with Frederike von Winternit there.
Frederike was a woman who had two kids. Stefan and Frederike got married soon. However, their marriage would fall apart in 1937.
He would live in Salzburg where he had his most productive years on literature for 20 years. He bought the 5th villa that located in Kapuziner Hill. He would produce most of his compositions there.
Living in Salzburg provided to obtain off the friendship with famous names. Even Hugo von Hofmannstahl whom he adored dearly was going to be accommodated in Zweig’s house. Many celebrities such as Romain Rolland, Thomas Mann, H. G. Wells, James Joyce, Paul Vallery, Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Werfel, Richar Strauss visited his home.
While Stefan was getting to know the environment better, he was also busy with producing works. In the 1920’s he started by writing memoirs of many writers like Honore de Balzac, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevski. He kept writing with Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich von Kleist and Friedrich Nietzsche in 1925. His other analysis which has been written for Giacomo Casanova, Stendhal and Lev Tolstoy was published in 1928.
He also added up the analysis writings which have been written by Emile Varhaeren, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore and his close friend Romain Rolland, to his biographies. He would continue to analyzing about scientists, novelists, and famous historical figures.
Besides his biography works, he was a mentor and patience master of the diplomatic coterie. He used to stand against overreactions in the essays and conferences that he has given. He published books which were named as Decisive Moment in History, Confusion of Feelings, historical Miniatures in Münih, 1927.
On February 1927, he gave an address titled with “Firewell to Rilke” and moved to the Soviet Union to join the 100th birthday celebration of Lev Tolstoy in 1928.
National Socialism was beginning to dominate the country. As an outcome of that movement which was under the leadership of Hitler, Zweig was placed in blacklist because of his Jewish origin. Nazis were burning the books that incompatible with their ideology, in public. Zweig’s books were among the burned books also in 1933. He suddenly became a finger pointed Jewish.
In the year 1934, Gestapo busted Zweig’s villa. Therewith Stefan was forced into leaving the country and moved in London. He was officially relegated. Instead of lowering his guard he has chosen the way of writing with stronger wording. During that time he named his published work as Erasmus of Rotterdam.
In 1937 Zweig got divorced with his wife. One year later he went to Portuguese with his Jewish secretary Lotte Altmann. Germany had already annexed Austria for the Third Reich, at that time Zweig applied for British citizenship.
Somehow, Zweig couldn’t take things easy in London and by his desire, he moved to Bath, another city in England, in 1939. On September 6, 1939, He got married to Lotte who became an apple of his eye. Later being affected by Lotte, he named one of his books as Beware of Pity.
He could never stand sitting back and watch the whole humiliations of humanity, the annihilation of merits, the hatred of alienation and the meaningless anger. His close friend Joseph Roth, wrote those words about the situation ” I know that you are aware of us being dragged to a huge disaster. Our literature life will be ended up.”
Zweig’s application has resulted. In 1940, Stefan Zweig became naturalized in the United Kingdom. In the meantime, Hitler was gaining around Western Europe. Stefan left from Europe with his wife then moved to different places such as New York, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. They turned back to New York where he wrote his book, named Amerigo, on December, soon it has been published.
It used to seem like everything was ok but actually wasn’t. Even though they were very pleased with living in the USA, Lotte’s asthma was getting worse there. The living conditions that stimulate his voyager spirit was swaying him from side to side. During his stay in Brazil, Zweig wrote “Brazil, Land of the Future”, as soon as it has been published Zweig decided to move in Brazil in the year 1941.
Zweig located in Petropolis, Brazil where he wrote his famous book “Chess Story”. That story was expressing the feelings of a human that was exposed to mental pressures in the 2nd World War. Beyond any doubt, he was one of the people who knew it best. He has witnessed any cruelties in the war for 3 years. Final of the book was indicated that what kind of psychological state was Zweig at the beginning of 1942.
In 1941, as soon as he started writing Montaigne’s memoir one of his most famous works, “World of Yesterday – European Memories” also has been published. The novelist of this book that has already gone through his youth, understood nothing would ever be the same as it was and this became the main reason of filling his sentences with exalted words for the old beautiful days.
As he was writing Montaigne, actually he didn’t know that he was writing about his last days. He found a harassed body at the same point he came by escaping. Zweig and his wife ignored news, facts and chose not to hear about anything were going on. His life has been occupied. Nobody was even aware of the pain that occurred by occupation. The news that they used to hear didn’t have value anymore. That is why he said “ their mouths are bleeding” for journalists. He decided to never follow the news again.
Despite everything, events kept happening as always it was. He found solace in Goethe, Homeros, and Shakespeare in those days of despair and as a result, he came across with Montaigne’s essays. Stefan wanted to be able to free in the face of death. In this situation, it wasn’t hard to understand what he wanted to refer. It was clear that he considered death as the only solution against of Nazi’s cruelties.
On 14 February 1942 Mr. and Mrs. Zweig went to watch Rio Carnival. They were looking so cheerful until they saw the news published by journalists whose mouths were bleeding. It was written that the Nazis were going towards the Suez Canal and Libya was the destination. They went back hastily to their home.
On 22 February Stefan’s bedroom door has never opened until afternoon. Because they have never done it before the servants called the polices without a moment’s delay. When the room was entered the view was literally terrifying, Stefan was lying on his back and while his wife was next to him putting her hand on Stefan’s chest. After they had left stamped farewell letters on the table they swallow medicines named “Veronal”.
That is to say, sometimes life lets us taking our soulmate to leave the world and find peace with him/her just in this way.
Apparently, Stefan was supposing that Hitler’s despotism would last forever. If the situation was just like he thought, his inner world could never be alive as it was.
The Path to Eternity
” I felt obliged to perform my last task before leaving the world with my own decision. I want to kindly thank Brazil for receiving me and my works with open arms in the most hospitable way. I learned to love this country more and more in the process of time. There wasn’t any another place better than here where I could make a better life, considering my ruined world where my native language is spoken and seeing Europe destructing itself. But to be able to restart life again I was needed to superpowers.”