I, too, while still comparatively young, had an opportunity to take part in the struggle of nationalities in old Austria. My mother, to be sure, felt obliged to continue my education in accordance with my father's wish; in other words, to have me study for the civil servant's career.
If now, after so many years, I examine the results of this period, I regard two outstanding facts as particularly significant: In this, to all appearances, he had not succeeded. But, though unwittingly, he had sown the seed for a future which at that time neither he nor I would have comprehended.
As it happened, my temporary aspiration for this profession was in any case soon to vanish, making place for hopes more stated to my temperament. Yet it was a dreadful blow, particularly for me. Woods and meadows were then the battlefields on which the 'conflicts' which exist everywhere in life were decided.
Consequently, my father s decision was simple, definite, and clear; in his own eyes I mean, of course. And who could retain his loyalty to a dynasty which in past and present betrayed the needs of the German people again and again for shameless private advantage.
Then suddenly an illness came to my help and in a few weeks decided my future and the eternal domestic quarrel. They carry on this struggle in hundreds of forms, in their own way and with their own weapons. This was more than I could understand. The unholy alliance of the young Reich and the Austrian sham state contained the germ of the subsequent World War and of the collapse as well.
The problem became more difficult when I developed a plan of my own in opposition to my father's. The question of my profession was to be decided more quickly than I had previously expected. But this would be in explicable if the historical education of the individual GermanAustrian had not given rise to so general a longing.
What they failed to appreciate was that, unless the German in Austria had really been of the best blood, he would never have had the power to set his stamp on a nation of fifty-two million souls to such a degree that, even in Germany, the erroneous opinion could arise that Austria was a German state.
A Realschol seemed to him more suitable. No, and again no: Today perhaps some can appreciate the greatness of the Germans in the Reich's old Ostmark, who, with no one but themselves to depend on, for centuries protected the Reich against incursions from the East, and finally carried on an exhausting guerrilla warfare to maintain the German language frontier, at a time when the Reich was highly interested in colonies, but not in its own flesh and blood at its very doorstep.
I had become a little ringleader; at school I learned easily and at that time very well, but was otherwise rather hard to handle.
This problem began to gnaw at my little brain for the first time. Ally father forbade me to nourish the slightest hope of ever being allowed to study art. As a result of such 'pronouncements,' of course, I drew the short end; the old man began the relentless enforcement of his authority.
It was only natural that the hardships of his youth should enhance his subsequent achievement in his eyes, particularly since it resulted exclusively from his own energy and iron diligence.
Indeed, when at length Germany began to divide into two spheres of power, this division itself became German history. And so this little city on the border seems to me the symbol of a great mission. Do we not all belong together.
Neither pleas nor threats could change it one bit. Even then I had drawn the consequences from this realization ardent love for my German-Austrian homeland state. Thus he seemed to have fulfilled a vow which he had made as a poor boy: On such occasions we sat there, often aflame with enthusiasm, and sometimes even moved to tears.
In this opinion he was especially strengthened by my obvious aptitude for drawing; a subject which in his opinion was neglected in the Austrian Gymnasiums. The fact that by this time my gift for drawing had been recognized at the Realschule made my determination all the firmer.
For the first time, though as yet in a confused form, the question was forced upon my consciousness: In this way the child received political training in a period when as a rule the subject of a so-called national state knew little more of his nationality than its language. At that time I regarded this as a natural complement to my gift as a painter, and only rejoiced inwardly at the extension of my artistic scope.
That Germanism could be safeguarded only by the destruction of Austria, and, furthermore, that national sentiment is in no sense Identical with dynastic patriotism; that above all the House of Habsburg was destined to be the misfortune of the German nation.
And this decision in me was immutable. On such occasions we sat there, often aflame with enthusiasm, and sometimes even moved to tears. Again and again I was drawn to his works, and it still seems to me especially fortunate that the modest provincial performance left me open to an intensified experience later on.
This on-line edition of Manfred von Richthofen's book Der Rote Kampfflieger is based on the English language version originally translated by J.
Ellis Barker and published in under the name The Red Battle Flyer. The book was published while World War One still raged and suffered somewhat from the propaganda and censorship of the time. Howard Megdal, Author of The Cardinals Way sponsor(s) this page. Thank you, Red, for all your insight as I wrote this book.
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This on-line edition of Manfred von Richthofen's book Der Rote Kampfflieger is based on the English language version originally translated by J. Ellis Barker and published in under the name The Red Battle Flyer. The book was published while World War One still raged and suffered somewhat from the propaganda and.
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