Unruh, Fritz Wilhelm Ernst von (pseudonym Fritz Ernst) 1885-1970. Archive of Correspondence of German Expressionist Dramatist Fritz von Unruh with his close family friend, Dr. Heinrich Simon 1880-1941, editor and co-owner of the Frankfurter Zeitung.
Born the son of a general, Unruh attended military school with two of the German Kaiser’s sons, Oskar and August Wilhelm. He began writing while still in military school and was introduced to Max Reinhardt by one of his royal classmates. Reinhardt directed Unruh’s second play, Offiziere, which was performed at the Deutsches Theater with great success. Reinhardt also directed the play discussed in this correspondence, Platz. Unruh was a wounded World War I German army officer, turned pacifist by the horrors of World War I and, soon thereafter, an out-spoken public political opponent of Hitler and Nazism. He left Germany in 1932 for Italy, the south of France, then the United States, returning to Germany, after several attempts, in 1962. Included are copies of letters and telegrams Heinrich Simon wrote to Unruh during the time Unruh was writing Platz , one part of a three-play triptych, Ein Geschlecht. The notice in Vorwärts, June 6, 1920, described the Frankfurt opening of Unruh’s play: Unruh’s drama “Platz”, the second part of the trilogy “Ein Geschlecht,” received the opening performance in the Frankfurter Schauspielhaus. The work triggered untidy jubilation against isolated objections. The critic Bernhold Diebold from the Frankfurter Zeitung calls it the rounding of a will to change the world: out of the “You should” of dehumanization to the “I want” in the name of love. The “square” is the symbol of a state and social order that lives according to the law “You must do it.” In the midst of this the problem of the relationship between man and woman works. The third part of the trilogy is called “Taumel.”
Unruh’s friendships with Simon, Thomas Mann and Alma Mahler-Werfel and Franz Werfel sustained him as a writer in the Expressionist Movement. Long-gone were his military and royal connections. His own family became distant.
The archive consists of 10 letters and 2 postcards of very important content from Fritz Unruh to Heinrich Simon, 8 of them autograph letters; and, 6 telegrams. Also included are copies of letters written to Unruh by Simon, the Editor-in-Chief of the Frankfurter Zeitung. There are 4 carbon copies of autograph letters written by Unruh to Simon. There is a copy of a friendly letter of friendship and encouragement from an army colleague, expressing regret he will be unable to attend the opening of Unruh’s play, to Unruh, dated June 11, 1918, by an illegible signatory. Condition overall of the archive is very good.
TLS, January 10, 1920, An important biographical letter with important literary content, written from Schloss Schwarzenau to “Lieber Heinz,” Dr. Heinrich Simon, 3 ½ pages typed double-spaced, 34 cm sheets, boldly signed “Fritz” in red crayon. Translated:
It is an old misfortune between us that when we are distant, like summer clouds before a thunderstorm, doubts rise on the horizon of our understanding. The fact that I have heard nothing from my mother, my whispers and other relatives since October, I count as part of the habit and don’t take it seriously. Even though I sent and wrote, I don’t know how often, and didn’t get an answer either on Christmas or on New Year’s Eve, as I said, I let it go. But so that you, dear Heinz, could forget those hours of spiritual kinship in Darnstadt Palace, let me write this letter. Your dear mother writes me an extremely strange, ironic, cool letter; As a result, I will no longer answer, although I wrote her a particularly warm, heartfelt, credible letter at Christmas to remember and express my gratitude for the past year. I have no idea what was whispered or happened in my absence! I don’t care at all either.
Dr Rapoport will write you a letter about my illness, which, I can tell you today, was by no means harmless and bothered me more than I let on. A letter meant not to upset you and my family. Now neither you nor my family have been alarmed. I had been able to bless my time here without having heard a sympathetic word. I have to say that my heart, which is open to all people, doesn’t understand it! Does immortal egoism always have to be mentioned before one can expect to receive friendship or love? I know very well that if I had been in Frankfurt or Oranien, I would have been carried on hand, on weak hand, I admit it, so weak that this little hand cannot even hold a pencil, and I have a word of sympathy [to] send.
I would have come if illness and railroad closures hadn’t prevented me. Walking from Vienna to Frankfurt is tedious and arduous in today’s uncertain travel conditions! Impossible in my state of health! A car was not available to me, nor are flying machines. As a result, Heinz Simon and Oranien said to each other: “Well, if he’s not coming, he’s not there, isn’t he close, and is he not close, why should we speak to him?”
Perhaps Privy Councilor Zeiss and Gustav Hartung showed you letters from which you can see the artistic transformation that has taken place in me! The sad thing is that in Frankfurt and in Oranien there is still the belief that I exist for my private pleasure, and if I wander from apartment to apartment as the hotels are overcrowded and finally received hospitality at Schwarzenau, I did so, because I just enjoy it! Nobody knows me! Maybe when my work will be out there, then only! Then you too will ask me a lot, because you, with your creative instinct, you alone of the very few, will feel in your deepest soul that more than a literary work has been achieved here. That I have taken on the heavy duty of sacred responsibility, to fulfill the longing of the young generation, to pass on to the new generation, with a pure heart, the worldly reason that emerged from the genocide, that I have written a work that shapes and fulfills the last ethical problems. And such a man, who feels this under his heart day and night, cannot constantly travel here-thither, there-thither, there-thither, just to fulfill sentimental, albeit very justified, demands! If I’m in Frankfurt or Oranien, I’ll stay longer.
That you didn’t respond to Dr Rapoport surprised him, me me! It would be good if you grew manly, once all your doubts died in you, you would look at me not only from the point of view of family friendship, not only with the eye of a friend, but you had the courage to believe that I was carrying out my sacred mission, erasing personal existence, carrying on a journey from month to month. In the whole atmosphere and journalism, which is focused on the moment, the creator always feels the same as me. If he doesn’t appear in all the weeklies and morning papers, if he doesn’t rush from editorial office to editorial office, if he doesn’t dilute his vision in understandable, thin, trivial phrases among the crowd, what he looked at fervently, then it means he’s locked up!
Until after 50 or 100 years, when those who are present today have long since died, the lost one will be dragged out of his grave and his apologies will be offered! Finally trust me, you can! When I come back you will find a solid man in me. A person who, like Giordano Bruno and Columbus, saw the land of their longing through the momentary hustle and bustle of doubts, polemics, decomposition, disappointment, who endured the mutiny of chaos at his feet and directed his gaze into infinity. And the scattered poems and verses, the aperçus, the books, the outcry, the despair, anticipating everything that is thrown on the market, you will find in me and my work, collected in the last moment, interpreted as the immortal flame of the Reason, the love of the world, with which I drove yesterday’s matter, which drove us into the elemen[ts] of these hours!
I am sending a copy of this letter to my brother Kurt! If you and Oranien expected me to come from day to day, I beg your pardon. But even then, a reply telegram from you or Oranien would not have been too much to ask!
I am very busy yesterday, e.g. I worked until 1/2 2 a.m. and was already sitting at my desk again at 4 a.m. Anyone who sees and observes me here can say the same thing! I have transformed my work.
Greet Irma, tell her that I am very fond of her relatives, especially her father and brother Withold.
So the bottom line is everything that was true and was not! I shake hands with you in friendship!
P.S. A letter has just arrived from Hans Muhlestein, which was sent on your behalf, to my regret, not even a greeting from you! Like I said, I don’t understand it at all! I’m sitting here surrounded by the most gigantic problems and from afar you can’t muster a word of understanding. As the situation is now, if no news comes in the meantime, I’ll give up my whole plan with Frankfurt, won’t come and look for another plan for work and life.
TLS, February 13, 1920, written from Schloss Schwarzenau to “Lieber Heinz,” Dr. Heinrich Simon, ½ page typed double-spaced, 34 cm sheet, boldly signed “Fritz” in black ink.
ALS, January 9, 1919 and January 14, 1919, two sheets in ink, written on the recto only. The first sheet is signed, Fritz Unruh; the second dated 01/14/1919 and initialed, F.U.
ALS, January 24, 1919, 1 page, 34 cm sheet, Signed, “F.U.” Place?
Autograph postcard, ink on both sides, dated March 22, 1919. Signed, “Fritz.”
ALS, April 10, 1919, 1 page, black crayon on lined stationery, signed Fritz.
ALS, no date, 1920?, to “Lieber Heinz,” 2 pages, 34 cm sheet, ink on both sides.
ALS, May 4, 1919, one page, signed Fritz.
ALS, May 7, 1919, bi-folium, ink, signed Fritz.
ALS, May 8, 1919, bi-folium, pencil, 2 ½ pages, signed Fritz.
ALS, July 10, 1919, a three-line note on lined letter-size stationery.
Autograph postcard, written from St. Moritz, Switzerland, to “Lieber Heinz” and signed Fritz, in pencil, postmarked August 19, 1918.