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Published on Sur in February , it was reprinted in the collection El Aleph It is the fictional last testament of Otto Dietrich zur Linde, the one-legged commandant of a Nazi concentration camp.
After being tried and convicted of crimes against humanity , Zur Linde reflects on his own sins and those of Nazi Germany while he awaits the firing squad. Raised Lutheran , zur Linde loses his faith in Christianity after reading the writings of Schopenhauer , Nietzsche and Oswald Spengler. Soon after, he joins the Schutzstaffel.
Despite his deep contempt for his fellow SS men, zur Linde persuades himself that the Nazi Party needs men like himself to assure the world a glorious future. On March 1, , he is wounded in the leg while attacking a synagogue in Tilsit.
Days later, when the Wehrmacht invades Czechoslovakia , zur Linde is recuperating in a hospital following the amputation of his leg. Declaring how Raskolnikov 's switch to robbery and murder was more difficult than the conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte , zur Linde relates how, on February 7, , he was appointed subdirector of Tarnowitz concentration camp.
There, many Jewish intellectuals are tortured and murdered under his orders. He relates, "Carrying out the duties attendant on that position was not something I enjoyed, but I never sinned by omission. The coward proves himself among swords, the compassionate man, seeks to be tested by jails and other's pain. Soon after, an Allied bombing raid destroys zur Linde's house in Marienburg. Soon after the end of the Second World War , zur Linde is captured and placed on trial for crimes against humanity.
Refusing to offer a defense for his actions, zur Linde is convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad. As he awaits his end, zur Linde scribbles a last testament in his prison cell.
He offers no justification and rejoices in the fact that "violence and faith in the sword" shall govern the future rather than "servile Christian acts of timidity. As he ponders how he shall comport himself before the firing squad, zur Linde realizes that he feels no fear or pity, even for himself. Zur Linde's reflections articulate a typical trait of fascism , the notion of sacrificial violence and rejection of the sentiment of empathy for his victim,   his dehumanization and blaming.
This passage refers to Nietzsche 's Thus Spoke Zarathustra , in which the disposition of sharing in the suffering of the victim is seen as a vulnerability.
In an interview with Richard Burgin , Borges recalled how his interactions with Argentina's Nazi sympathisers led him to write the short story. And then I realized that those people that were on the side of Germany, that they never thought of German victories or the German glory.
What they really liked was the idea of the Blitzkrieg , of London being on fire, of the country being destroyed. As to the German fighters, they took no stock in them. Then I thought, well now Germany has lost, now America has saved us from this nightmare, but since nobody can doubt on which side I stood, I'll see what can be done from a literary point of view in favor of the Nazis. And then I created the ideal Nazi. Of course, no Nazi was ever like that, they were all full of self pity; when they were on trial no one thought of saying, "Yes, I'm guilty, I ought to be shot; why not, this is as it should be and I would shoot you if I could.
They were all apologising and crying In the first volume of Parerga und Paralipomena , I read once more that all things that can occur to a man, from the moment of his birth to the moment of his death, have been predetermined by him. Thus, all inadvertence is deliberate, every casual encounter is an engagement made beforehand, every humiliation is an act of penitence, every failure a mysterious victory, every death a suicide.
There is no more cunning consolation than the thought that we have chosen our own misfortunes; [ I do not write that word "compassion" lightly: compassion on the part of the superior man is Zarathustra's ultimate sin. I myself I confess almost committed it when the famous poet David Jerusalem was sent to us from Breslau.
I do not know whether Jerusalem understood that if I destroyed him, it was in order to destroy my own compassion. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Pages Jorge Luis Borges. Hidden categories: Books with missing cover Articles with Spanish-language sources es.
Deutsches Requiem by Jorge Luis Borges
My name is Otto Dietrich zur Linde. One of my forebears, Christoph zur Linde, died in the cavalry charge that decided the victory of Zorndorf. During the last days of , my maternal great-grandfather, Ulrich Forkel, was killed in the Marchenoir forest by French sharpshooters; Captain Dietrich zur Linde, my father, distinguished himself in at the siege of Namur, and again two years later in the crossing of the Danube. As for myself, I am to be shot as a torturer and a murderer.
Zur Linde, then, elaborates on the great thinkers that have influenced his thoughts, like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and passes on to explain his dedication to Nazism, which could only be compared to religious faith. He also mentions how he almost felt pity for a Jewish poet, but successfully refrained from doing so. The style of the narration plays with genres such as testimony, confession and autobiography; but the text is also about self-representation, writing and editing, the production of and intervention on an archive, and memory and legacy; all of this in conversation with its historical context. Therefore, the story offers, first, a reflection on the nature of evil, its banality and the moral implications of the acts of those dedicated to obeying and, second, a commentary on how those kinds of narratives are framed. It also allows a discussion on political fanaticism, the nature of faith, and the role and perception of religion in a secular world.
Perpetrator Studies Network
Short Story by Jorge Luis Borges , Although well known for his erudite short stories in which he blended fantasy and realism to address complex philosophical problems, Jorge Luis Borges has played a significant role in bringing his readership closer to topics that relate both directly and indirectly to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. In his story "Deutsches Requiem" published in El Aleph, he shows the perversity of Adolf Hitler 's Germany from the perspective of an unrepentant torturer and murderer who rejoices in his horrendous deeds and does not show any remorse. After being found guilty and having been sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, Otto Dietrich zur Linde writes his confession in order to show that man can transcend all compassion and "ancient acts of tenderness. An avid reader of Arthur Schopenhauer , Friedrich Nietzsche, and Oswald Spengler , zur Linde believes himself to be innocent in spite of his crimes which he does not attempt to cover up because he believes he has been part of a larger scheme, and his fulfillment of his duties as a high-ranking German officer and concentration camp director were both necessary and desirable: "The world was dying of Judaism, and of that disease of Judaism that is belief in Christ; we proffered it violence and faith in the sword … There are many things that must be destroyed in order to build a new order; now we know that Germany was one of them … What does it matter that England is the hammer and we the anvil? What matters is that violence, not servile Christian acts of timidity, now rules … My flesh may feel fear; I myself do not. The last lines written by the protagonist of the story radiate a certain kind of nostalgia for the past rather than remorse.