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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: August 2018

14 - To Find a Lost Life: From Nuremberg to Munich (1909–1910)


IN THE FINAL WEEKS OF HER PREGNANCY Else Belli moved into a neat, two-storey house acquired by her father in a quiet southwestern suburb of Munich. The residence at Lindenallee 8 was situated at the edge of the vast Forest Cemetery in Großhadern, twenty minutes by tram from the city's hub. As much as Eisner would have liked to be with her, he was beset by press deadlines, speaking engagements, professional affronts, political squabbles, and personal anxieties in the North. On 1 October 1909 he wrote from Nuremberg, concerned for his estranged wife's state of mind. “If I had the money, I would send Lisbeth to Pastor Blumhardt in Bad Boll for a few months. In such surroundings her devastated soul could recover perhaps, and she might finally come to grips with the inevitable.” He worried too that the strike at the Ferdinand Wolff confections factory, for which the local party was responsible, might turn ugly. His level of involvement was such that he could “think of little else,” but other woes soon arose. In midmonth the Spanish educator Francisco Ferrer, founder of the secular, egalitarian Escuela Moderna, was executed by firing squad at Barcelona's Montjuich Fortress in the aftermath of the “Tragic Week” riots. Protests erupted across Europe. The Fränkische Tagespost announced on Saturday, the sixteenth, three days after Ferrer's martyrdom, that Eisner and Georges Weill would address the German Center Party's shameful endorsement of “this eruption of medieval benightedness and barbarism” at separate demonstrations the following day.

Sunday morning Eisner spoke to a packed house of solemn mourners at the Saxon Manor Inn on Neutorstraße. Afterward he had walked out to the Forest Café and emptied his purse for a cup of tea. He planned to spend the evening “utterly alone and destitute” at his office poring over Ibsen's just-published literary remains. Worse than poverty and solitude was the current rumor that his personal circumstances were causing him to neglect his work. “When Haller insinuated the like yesterday,” he wrote to Belli, “I declared that for one year I have enjoyed the happiest and most productive period of my life. When I was completely shattered two years ago and on the brink of suicide, my editorship was extolled….

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