viewed in the year 1982 will be a strange sight to see. It depicts a fashion queen - a creature that most of us don't consider especially beautiful or pretty . . . it's an advertising thing of the fashion houses . . . so far, so good.
But the way we today view with a kind of angered sentiment faded photos from the years 1911 and 1913, the small time before the great war - : that is how our grandchildren will one day see this picture here and say, after they've calmed themselves over the "impossible fashions":
"Yes, that was before the gas wars . . . Look at those empty faces that knew nothing . . . Had you no other worries? . . . Couldn't you have maybe prevented our poisoning? . . . Had you no idea of the horrible danger hanging over Europe? . . . Was there something better to do than run together and take care that the gas grenades were not assembled? That the state insanity did not reach high waves, that it was made clear to the thugs of all nations that there were other powers present, stronger than they and the profit-hungry large-scale industrialists, who, in their houses full of fine culture, collected van Goghs? Didn't you know all that - ? Did you do nothing for us, nothing - ? Didn't you see it?"
Of course we saw it. We also worked against the gas, in our own way. But that can't be photographed. And don't forget, man from 1982: the world is not a purposeful organism, and not subject to reason. The world wants to play. Always the fate of the fashion queen is closer to it than the fate of the next generation that had to see by itself what became of it - and then did just the same. Do you think those fine gentlemen in dinner jackets knew of their true destiny? They are completely trapped in their every day lives, and even more so in the Sundays - they knew nothing. And the ones that know are gray and indistinct and not quite presentable for a photograph. Never forget, descendant, even during the French revolution the women fought over milk, and what to wear, and over their lovers - never does a single idea rule the entire world.
Be thankful to those who did look out for you. It wasn't many. You look out for yourselves. We had so much to do: we had to live.
"Dieses Bild" by Kurt Tucholsky, from "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles" (1929)
The original may be read at the German language Tucholsky Weblog run by Friedhelm Greis: www.sudelblog.de