Stefan Zweig has been the subject of new interest in recent years. Two new biographies have appeared quite recently and in addition his friendship with Joseph Roth has been the subject of fierce debate after an article in The London Review of Books by Michael Hoffmann. “Ostende. 1936, Sommer Der Freundschaft” by Volker Weidermann is a magnificent read on this relationship and the plight of exiles from Nazi Germany was published just last year and has been translated into English as “Summer before the Dark, Ostend Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth;Ostend 1936“(Reviews may be read at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Before-Dark-Stefan-Joseph/dp/1782272038/ref=pd_bxgy_14_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=JA0N7E4NR05FFN2CAHF9 )It was also Radio4’s Book of the week. The Sunday Times, for instance, said of this book;
‘For such a slim book to convey with such poignancy the extinction of a generation of “Great Europeans” is a triumph’. However Zweig’s life experiences also formed the background and leitmotif for the zany film and also a book by Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel. One reader comments, “I also feel like I owe this movie a great deal, in that it turned me on to the works of Stefan Zweig, master Austrian storyteller, and my new favorite author”
The new film just screening in Germany is called “Vor der Morgenroete” and features Josef Hader as Stefan Zweig and is produced by the actress, Maria Schrader who recently played a prominent role in the Channel 4 series, Deutschland 83.
The film consists of episodesfromthelifeof theAustrianwriterStefanZweiginexile. Attheheight of hisworldwidefame, heisdriventoemigrateand grows desperate in the faceofknowledge ofthedownfall of Europe, which like Rothhe already attempts to forsworn his fellow European intellectuals.This then is thestory of arefugee,thestoryofthelossof theold world of the Hapsburg K und Kandthesearchforanewhome in America.
StefanZweigwasa renownedauthorGermantogetherwithThomasMannthemost translated in histime.Already in 1934, ZweiglefthisnativeAustriatogointoexilefromwhichhedid not return. Inher compellingandsensual opulentfilmMariaSchradershowstheworld-famousauthorinsixepisodes from hislife;hisfirststayinBrazilandtheparticipation in theP.E.N.-CongressinBuenosAires in 1936aboutvisitingNewYork CityandhisfirstwifeFriderikein1941untilhisdeath in 1942in Petrópolis. There, Zweigwrotehisfamouswork“The Chess Game“.JosefHadershinesinthetitle roleof thefamousAustrianwriterandpacifistStefanZweig.BarbaraSukowaashisfirstwifeFriderike, also gave a convincing performance. Another strong impression was given by Aenne Schwarz as Zweig’s delicate and alluring second wife.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wLiyFyfuB4
The film impressed me on several different levels. In 2015,I had visited in Munich, the following exhibition which showed much of the material, Zweig had collected and details of his first trips to America-http://www.literaturhaus-muenchen.de/ausstellung/items/141/vars/id-2015-stefanzweigausstellung.html It is clear that despite the recognition of his fame, Zweig found it difficult to settle in America;either in New York or in Yale or later in Brazil. (Verloren war die Welt von Gestern.) Yesterday’s world had disappeared, the Hotel Metropole in Vienna was now a Gestapo headquarters. Notably in Die Welt von Gestern, he noted how money came so readily to the Brownshirts and living in Salzberg he knew just how the racist menace grew. Sadly there are parallels with today and as Zweig remarked, Wer die Vergangenheit nicht versteht, versteht nichts wirklich.
Schatz came from a family of civil servants and attended the Vienna School of Applied Arts.With 22 years of commitment to the political left, the artist had already appeared as a book illustrator for Arthur Roessler and also for Josef Luitpold Stern. Schatz illustrated books in the interwar period, especially literature from theStrom-Verlag(including Stefan Zweig , Jack London , Upton Sinclair’s “Co-op” and Peter Roseggers “Jakob the Last”).
1925 was the Great Treasure State Award, 1928-38 he was a member of the Hagenbund . He lived during the Second World War treasure in Brno, Prague and later in a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Graditz admitted that he “jüdisch-versippt” -which apparently meant that by his marriage he was considered part of the Jewish “clan”. Schatz became, on his return, by the City Councillor for Culture. His first prize for the design of the Wiener Westbahnhofs remained unrealized.
“Die Hoffnung” has the erotic interest that figures in much of Schatz’s work and is vaguely reminiscent of the sardonic style of Edward Burra, who has recently been the subject of a programme by Andrew Graham-Dixon called “I never tell anyone, anything”. This intriguing programme is available on You-Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BoLh8xgOdI