"There I chirp / quietly, / like crickets do."

Photo: Moritz Röber

We document here the text that Oskar Ansull read for globale° as part of the cooperation with the German-Czech festival “So macht man Frühling” on 10.04.2024 in the Theater am Leipnitzpatz.

Oskar Ansull, Bukovina - Speech on April 10 in Bremen

GUTEN ABEND – l e i s e chirps the Bukovinian-born poet Paul Antschel. The literature of Bukovina also chirps softly, once again drowned out and shaken by the noise of bombs. So it’s not easy and funny to talk about literature, but it doesn’t always have to be funny.

Twenty-year-old Paul, who would later call himself Celan, speaks twice – in the poem “Over there” – from the chirping, because: for the boy from Wassilko-Gasse, began only beyond the chestnuts … the world, his ‘Globale’, which was presented to him as a teenager in a neighboring district that was behind the chestnuts was culturally open. He was on the move from his home in Czernowitz at an early age, heading out into the world. Crickets, are house crickets, also called “Acheta” = singers, which are spread ‘cosmopolitan’ by their way of life. Chirping and singing. The literary landscape of Bukovina, the land of beeches, sings in poems and songs. Poetry in particular comes from Bukovina.

Butfirst to: BREMEN, even if I run the risk of carrying an owl to the Weser. Anyone who talks about the literature of Bukovina, even a little, cannot avoid Bremen.

The poem, – said Paul Celan on receiving the Bremen Literature Prize in 1958. A prize that was not entirely free of traces of the Nazi era. A former NSDAP party member, Erhart Kästner, of all people, gave the laudatory speech. A prize that the jury chairman Rudolf Alexander Schröder absolutely did not want to award to Celan. But Schröder was absent from the decisive meeting.

The poem, Celan said, can be a message in a bottle, sent in the – certainly not always hopeful – belief that it could be washed ashore somewhere and at some point, perhaps to Herzland .

This set the tone (!) for the evening.

Celan spoke of the language which, despite everything, had to pass through the terrible silence, through the thousand darknesses of deadly speech, a language which had no words for what had happened. But it passed through and was allowed to emerge again, “enriched” by all this. The word “enriched” is enclosed in quotation marks. Schröder and Kästner had to listen and had previously sung and spoken in the very language that Celan ruthlessly described as abused.

But Bukovina . . . a floating landscape that exists only in poems and stories, held by a net of threads into nothingness, writes the poet Rose Ausländer. It was the smallest, most multi-national crown land of the k. & k. Monarchy and Czernowitz the capital, until 1918 the intersection of major trade and transportation routes. The multi-ethnic people of Chernivtsi communicated in Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian, German and not forgetting Yiddish: Yiddish. Today, when we hear and know something about this province – which has fallen into oblivion – it is usually associated with the names Paul Celan and Rose Ausländer. Few people know, for example, that Ninon, the wife of Hermann Hesse, was a foreigner born in Czernowitz.

The current literature that is emerging there today outlines a space that is now larger than Bukovina once was. Authors from this contemporary region have already been invited and presented in Bremen as part of the “Globale”. This coming Sunday, an audiophile theater evening will feature a radio trip inspired by the Ukrainian author Yuri Andrukhovych. In a conversation (in Berlin), Andrukhovych once told me that when his father was reading a novel by Karl Emil Franzos (around 1975, on vacation at the Black Sea), he asked him who the author was, and his father simply replied: He loves us. – Franzos, a Jewish-French-Galician-German author who died in Berlin in 1904, loves the Ukrainians! Why am I mentioning this?

Anyone whoknew anything about Bukovina in Germany over 150 years ago owed it to the writings of the author Karl Emil Franzos. Anyone who can name Celan and Franzos already knows a lot about the region about which Franzos published his once widely read “Culturbilder aus Galizien, der Bukowina, Südrußland und Rumänien”. He called the countries – in a geographical sense – >half-Asia< and did not mean this in a derogatory way, as he was later accused of doing. In it, he speaks of the blessed land of Bukovina, a flourishing piece of Europe . In terms of the integration of so-called ‘minorities’, people there were already much further ahead than in other parts of Europe to this day. It was not only Paul Celan’s cosmopolitan home! Incidentally, there has been a literary center dedicated to Celan in Chernivtsi since 2013, a collection and research center on the literature of Bukovina, a first-class address.

Itsounds romantically transfiguring, suffused with childhood, longing, suffering, expulsion, when the – yes – exile poetry of Bukovina mostly dreams in retrospect: memories of local food, streets, places, plants, people, myths and fairy tales. The following poem only hints at all of this. It comes from the poetry collection >Gnadenfrist< (1980) by an exiled author from Bukovina. In it, he takes a fleeting, lost image that he has shaped into an apple with his thumbnail. And, who would have thought it, it refers (here!) to Bremen and was written around 1956 after the author’s arrival in New York:

“Camp Lesum Blues”

For the last time I dread Europe

the morning. Soon the liberty bell wakes you up

the homeless to pray under the starry banner

followed by breakfast in the canteen.

Seven things bundled yesterday. The bottle

Farewell in the harbor. With the face that

is not allowed to come along, the face of a goddess,

perfect except for the scar on the left temple

under the streak of ashes and gold, this face:

an apple, fresh from the market, drawn

from the nail of a probing thumb.

In the ebb of the night I swore,

not to leave it, in the wormhole of the North Sea,

to bring it over, in the warning call of the fog,

to return to this face,

frozen in the photo I found in the Langenscheidt

smuggled across the ocean –

and that sank into Manhattan.

On the site of the former “Wilhelm-Kaisen-Kaserne”, there was the “Überseeheim Bremen-Lesum”, which housed over 200,000 emigrants. And the poem was written by Alfred Gong, a Romanian-American-German-speaking writer, born Alfred Liquornik in Czernowitz in 1920, a school friend of Celan. Gong fled from Stalin to Vienna in 1946 and emigrated to the USA in 1956, where he died in New York in 1981.

Itwas a single flight from Stalin and Hitler. The word >Bukovina< resonates with the Austrian >Vienna< and since the 1940s the name “Buchenwald” has also resonated in it.

ButVienna! This place was where Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan met in 1948. Both were connected by the metaphor of the heartland and heart time, both in Bachmann’s >Die gestundete Zeit< (1952/53) and in Celan’s poem >Herzzeit< (1956), their connection having an early linguistic-emotional metaphorical origin.

In her poem – “Große Landschaft bei Wien” – Bachmann talks about the spirits of the growing stream that are on their way in the river. The river is the Danube and the river of history, which “opens the steppes!” it says at the end of the first verse, before the ‘great landscape’ is unrolled, in which there is talk of a fragile love that is probably impossible to ever live. Until a line appears on its own, claiming: Asia’s breath is beyond. And this is where the breath of Austria’s history begins, which also contains the loss of Bukovina, the landscape that Paul Celan emphasized in his Büchner Prize speech (1960) as a Area where people and books livedand he speaks of the a former province of the Habsburg Monarchy that has now fallen victim to a lack of history. An often quoted sentence. In Bachmann’s poem, the ‘Breath of Asia’ is followed by a swan song of 2000 years of history, an end-time gesture of a future that promises little good. Incidentally, Ingeborg Bachmann was awarded the Bremen Literature Prize one year before Celan, together with Gerd Oelschlegel. A halved price.

The literary landscape of Bukovina can be opened with a sigh from Theodor Fontane, who wrote a good 130 years ago:

Oh, Professor Lasson was right when he once told me between Berlin and Steglitz: only the Karl Emil Franzos area has a real interest in German literature.

Karl Emil Franzos is an author who was born in Galicia in 1848 and grew up in Bukovina. He came from a Jewish family who had emigrated from France and pursued the German language, literature and philosophy of the Enlightenment. Karl Emil studied law in Graz and Vienna, became a writer, journalist and editor and was the real discoverer of Georg Büchner. So it fits perfectly in a theater.

But: Karl-Emil-Franzos-Gegend.

It’s not every day that a landscape is named after an author. A good sixty years after Fontane’s sigh, Celan takes up Fontane’s words in Bremen, speaking of his Region in which people and books lived. In 1960, in his Büchner Prize speech, he takes up the Bremen narrative thread again, speaking of his found compatriot Karl Emil Franzoswhich he follows in search of the place of his own origin and names him as the first editor of Büchner’s works. Franzos was certainly a relative unknown to those present at the time and remained so for a long time, and still is today. But it must be mentioned here.

Franzosattended the only German-language grammar school in Chernivtsi at the time and had a teacher who read “Danton’s Death” with his pupils. Nowhere else in a grammar school was Büchner probably read in the 19th century. Only in the diaspora, where the monarchy disposed of its rebellious, subversive students. In Bukovina, grammar school pupil Karl Emil became infected with the Hessian Büchner, future world literature, who died in Basel. This is a longer story in itself, to which I dedicated an entire book 20 years ago entitled “ZweiGeist” (2005).

The literary landscape of Bukovina . . . include Ukrainian, Romanian, Polish, Yiddish, Hungarian and Russian literature, but it only developed as a German-language literary landscape in the course of the 20th century. 19th century, was only developed from here in the second half of the 20th century. 20th century as an independent and multilingual literature. It developed mostly as a German-speaking language. Bukovinian literature continues in the diaspora, in Vienna, Paris, Bucharest, Berlin, New York, Düsseldorf and wherever else, but also in Czernowitz.

It would take more than three evenings to even briefly introduce all the names and works of literature from Bukovina: Rose Ausländer, Alfred Kittner, Alfred Gong, Josef Burg, Itzik Manger, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, Moses Rosenkranz, Immanuel Weissglas, Gregor von Rezzori, the author of the wonderful Maghrebian storiesMarianne Vincent, Klara Blum, Alfred Margul-Sperber . . . it can’t be done. Therefore, only a few of them are mentioned here, an unfair selection:

ROSE AUSLÄNDER, she is the best-known lyricist from Bukovina in the German-speaking world. Born in Czernowitz in 1901, she died in Düsseldorf in 1988 after a long life’s journey. With her extensive lyrical work, as an English and German-language author, a separate evening should be dedicated to her to do justice to her multi-layered biography. Here is her poem about her own biography:

Biographical note

I speak / of the burning night / that has extinguished / the Pruth / of weeping willows / blood beeches / silenced nightingale song / of the yellow star / on which we / died every hour / in the gallows / I don’t talk about roses /

Flying / on an air swing / Europe America Europe / I don’t live / I live

What is behind the last “air swing” lines, here in telegraphic brevity:

Born in Czernowitz on the Pruth River, still in Austria; fled from Russian troops to Vienna during the First World War; returned to Czernowitz, now in Romania, and emigrated to the USA in 1921; returned in 1931 and fled to the States again in 1939; She returned home in 1941 to care for her sick mother; lived in the ghetto of Nazi-occupied Czernowitz from 1941 to 1944; did forced labor; traveled to the USA again in 1946, returned to Europe in 1957, published her first volume of poetry in Vienna in 1963 and moved from there to Düsseldorf, the city of her birth. Austrian anti-Semitism. She was bedridden for ten years and wrote until her death in 1988. What a life!

he first German-language version of the book is titled “Wort in die Kälte gerufen”. Poetry anthology (1968) on the persecution of the Jews. It contains many first publications, including a “poem” by SELMA MEERBAUM-EISINGER, who was unknown at the time. She was born 100 years ago in Czernowitz, the daughter of a shoe merchant, and was already writing poetry at the age of fifteen, inspired by Heine, Rilke, Klabund and Verlaine. But her short life was soon spent in the ghetto and she and her family ended up in the Mikhailovka labor camp. Selma falls ill with typhus and dies in December 1942, two months before her 19th birthday. Selma’s poems only became known 25 years later. The almost lost verses came to light after an adventurous odyssey. Here is an excerpt from her >>POEM<<which was created in the ghetto in July 1941:

I want to live.
Look, life is so colorful.
There are so many beautiful balls in it.
And many lips wait, laugh, glow,
and make their joy known.
Just look at the road as it climbs:

so wide and bright, as if it were waiting for me.

I want to live.
I want to laugh and lift weights
and wants to fight and love and hate
and would like to grasp the sky with my hands
and want to be free and breathe and scream.
I don’t want to die. No!

I will now come back toFRANZOS once again, and for current reasons. In his story “Vom Bart des Abraham Weinkäfer” (The Beard of Abraham the Wine Beetle), he begins on a far-reaching note:

“In the southern Russian governorate of Podolia, on the railroad line that connects Kiev with the Black Sea, lies the small town of Vinnitsa. A Jewish man lived there, Abraham Weinkäfer by name, a master glazier by trade.”

140 years later, on July 14, 2022, a Russian missile attack hits the city of Vinnytsia, killing over thirty women, men and children. Franzos told the story of a terrible mistake that Abraham fell victim to.

It was in 1871, and Abraham was in his mid-fifties at the time, when the Governor General of Podolia came to Vinnitsa one day .”

Vinnitsa, the small town on the “railway line to Kiev”, is associated with the massacre of Vinnytsia, in which ten thousand people lost their lives in 1937/38. Two or three years later, more than 20,000 Polish officers and civil servants were shot in the neck in Katyn, Kharkov and Tver. Mass shootings by the Soviet secret service NKVD, waves of arrests, show trials, purges and the resettlement of tens of thousands of people.

Vinnytsia, a city from the 14th century. The inhabitants have known about raids for a long time, ever since the uninvited visits of the Tartars. The Ukrainians were sometimes Polish, sometimes Russian, sometimes Soviet and yet they are still Ukrainian. Arbitrary rule is inscribed in their history. And Franzos writes of a still comparatively harmless act of arbitrariness when he goes on to report on the fate of Abraham:

The next morning, Abraham was led to the train station on a cart, heavily bound. Opposite him sat two soldiers with loaded rifles; his wife and children ran wailing alongside the vehicle, and many of the congregation followed behind, out of curiosity or out of pity.”

Well, a mistake, a terrible misunderstanding, drove Abraham’s life cart into the tragically absurd. In the meantime he was sitting

“in prison in Petersburg. He had been told that he would soon be brought in for interrogation, but day after day, month after month and a year passed without anyone taking any notice of him.”

This nothing and nobody of Abraham’s wasted away and when asked about him, who knows when, the jailer can only stammer: “… the man died two months ago.”

Since 1941, the name Vinnitsa has also been associated with the name “Werewolf”, the name of the Führer’s headquarters eight kilometers north of Vinnitsa in a pine forest, Hitler’s second “Wolf’s Lair” (East Prussia), only closer to the front line. Massacres here too, committed by the SS and no fewer deaths than before at the hands of the Soviets. And “Polar Wolf” is still the name of a notorious penal camp in the permafrost of Siberia, one of the harshest prisons in Russia.

The forced labor and extermination camp Michailowka, where the parents of Paul Celan and Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger were murdered, was dissolved by the German Wehrmacht on December 10, 1943. She murdered all the prisoners who were still alive.

Theblood-soaked letter “W” also currently stands for the ever-present threat of a relapse into the war of all against all. A dreadful folly that Plautus already gave a valid and brief name to more than 2000 years ago:

Man is a wolf to man, not a human being, as long as he does not know what kind the other is.

Except that the wolf has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Finally, a voice of the Yiddish tongue. ITZIG MANGER, a poet who always wrote about his “Yiddish country”, the Yiddish-speaking secular and bilingual Jews of Eastern Europe. Born in Czernowitz in 1901, he died in Israel in 1969, the “prince of the Yiddish ballad”, of Jewish Eastern Europe, a world that is irretrievably lost. He survived in exile: in England, the USA and Israel. Itzik Manger unites Yiddish with world poetry and it is a pleasure to discover a great Yiddish poet in him. If you are not yet familiar with his world novel “Das Buch vom Paradies” / “Dos Buch fun Gan Eden”, in the translation by Salcia Landmann, you will read 240 pages in a flash! Here is a tiny foretaste. The book begins:

The time I spent in paradise was the best time of my life. Even today, my heart still clenches and tears come to my eyes when I remember those happy times.

I often close my eyes and relive the happy years that will never return.

Unless the Messiah comes.

In such dreamy minutes, I even forget that my wings were cut off before I was sent down to this other world. I spread my arms out and try to rise up into the air. And only when I fall to the ground and feel pain all over my body do I remember that this is over, that only the creatures of paradise have wings.

And that is why I have decided to describe everything that happened to me before I was born and after I was born.

This introduction to the book of paradise naturally alludes to Manger’s emigration story. But please, read this paradise fairy tale for yourself from time to time.

Thanking and thinking have a common origin in German, in this sense Celan thanked in Bremen in 1958 and so today I also thank you for your attention and the Shakespeare Company and the organizers of the Globale for the invitation to this concentrated preface!

And now: be ready for the “H e r z e i t “.