Perspectives of justice

© feld72

 

IUSTITIA REGNORUM FUNDAMENTUM
JUSTICE IS THE FOUNDATION OF EMPIRES (STATES)

The boy, standing in the old stone archway of the Imperial Palace on whose front justice had been extolled for many centuries, looked up at the Latin inscription. Although it had never meant much to him, he felt greatly comforted. Only a few years before, it had been nothing to him but a row of inanimate letters. Today, when it concerned himself, it had become pure and living truth. The Reich of the Fuehrer, whom God had sent, was founded upon justice. Clinging to this thought, he walked through the gate and into Heldenplatz.

Ernst Lothar, The Prisoner, 1945

© Maria Welzig

 

The lilac bushes which had grown there and sent forth an unforgettable fragrance every May had been removed in the spring of 1938. The square was needed for mass demonstrations, and the lilac bushes were so many obstructions.
Up there on the balcony of the New Palace the Fuehrer had stood. Toni had seen and heard him. He had said: "The present day witnesses the cessation of wrong in Austria for a thousand years to come. Austria at long last has become a lawful state." (…) I am not going to act like one of these Viennese idiots who doubt the Fuehrer's word, Toni thought to himself. (…) In a lawful state that ought to be easy.

Ernst Lothar, The Prisoner, 1945

© Maria Welzig


The novel “Heldenplatz” (“The Prisoner”) revolves around Toni Fritsch, a member of the Hitler Youth, who absorbs National Socialist ideology at Heldenplatz, where he listens to Adolf Hitler’s speech on the occasion of the Anschluss. When his and an old Jewish man’s paths cross at Heldenplatz, they engage in a conversation which makes him doubt his political attitude and will influence his future decisions. The reader learns that right depends on one’s perspective and is determined by the ones in power as well as that justice is a rare commodity.

Ernst Lothar (1890-1974) was a writer and producer. He headed the Theater in der Josefstadt from 1935 to 1938, yet had to emigrate in 1938, for he was of Jewish descent. After crossing into Switzerland, he escaped to the United States where he published the novel “Heldenplatz” (“The Prisoner”) in 1945. In 1946, Lothar, who had acquired U.S. citizenship by then, travelled to Vienna on behalf of the U.S. in order to assist in reviving cultural life in Austria. He finally returned to Vienna and regained Austrian citizenship in 1948.

 

Follow this link for more Text of Ernst Lothar’s “The Prisoner”