November 19, 2003

Death of a true original...

I just read that Fritz Kraemer has died, at the age of 95. I thought instantly of Peter Drucker's book Adventures of a Bystander. (In fact there are many happenings that make me think of that book. I give it my very highest recommendation.)

Drucker has a chapter on Kraemer, who he met when they were young men in Frankfurt in the 1930's. It's entitled The Man who Invented Kissinger. The chapter-title is perfectly accurate, and you will just have to read the book yourself to discover the details...

...It was on one of those miserable days in early April [1929] with freezing winds and blinding rain squalls that I espied a kayak amid the ice floes on the Main River in the middle of the city of Frankfurt. In the little boat a cadaverous man, naked except for the scantiest of black bathing trunks and a monocle on a wide black ribbon, was furiously paddling upstream. And the stern of the fragile craft flew the black, white and red battle pennant of the defunct German Imperial Navy...

..The ultra-nationalists and the Nazis were for Kraemer pure scum, proletarian rabble, motivated by resentment at their own inferiority and by envy of their betters, all the more contemptible for covering their Jacobin lawlessness with the rags of nationalist and pseudo-conservative rhetoric. For Kraemer considered himself a genuine Conservative, a Prussian monarchist of the old pre-Bismarck, Lutheran, and Spartan persuasion...

...Many years later, during World War II, I had to explain again and again why Kraemer was not a Nazi and could not be a Nazi because he was a genuine conservative....the investigators came to me repeatedly, and went away shaking their heads....However romantic Kraemer's notion and behavior were�and he was, of course, very young in those years�the fact remains that all effective resistance to the Nazis came from the likes of him, from men and women who were old-fashioned pre-Bismarckian "Conservatives" or pre-Bismarckian Lutherans. The men who made the desperate attempt to kill Hitler in July 1944�Count Helmuth Moltke, Count Stauffenberg, and the former Lord Mayor of Leipzig, Dr Goerdeler�were "old-fashioned Prussian Conservatives"; and the leader of the Protestant resistance, Pastor Niemoeller, was an old-fashioned Prussian Lutheran monarchist and former submarine commander....

Posted by John Weidner at November 19, 2003 3:00 PM
Weblog by John Weidner