Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Embryo Speaks (Die Leibesfrucht spricht)

By Kurt Tucholsky
(1927)

They all take care of me: Church, State, Doctors and Judges.

I should grow and thrive; I should slumber nine months long; I should not worry about a thing – they all wish me well. They protect me. They watch over me. God have mercy if my parents do something to me; then they will all be there. Whoever touches me will be punished; my mother lands in prison, my father right behind; the doctor who did it must cease to be a doctor, the midwife who helped is locked up - I'm a precious item.

They all take care of me: Church, State, Doctors and Judges.

Nine months long.

But when the nine months are over, I have to see for myself what becomes of me. Tuberculosis? No doctor will help me. Nothing to eat? No Milk? – no State will help me. Torment and misery? The Church will comfort me, but that doesn't fill my stomach. And if I have no bread to break or to bite and I steal: the Judge is right there to lock me up.

Fifty years of my life no one will care about me, no one. I have to help myself. Nine months long they kill themselves, if someone wants to kill me. You tell me: isn't that a strange way to look out for the welfare of another?

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Alice has reposted this translation along with some commentary putting the text in a modern perspective. There's also an interesting discussion about it going on at Wonderlandornot.

11 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

When did Tchukolsky write this? Sounds sorta like this week.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Indeterminacy said...

1927. Really.

7:15 AM  
Blogger viruswitch said...

How true. In some cases there is no justice. Or should I say in MANY cases!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Antonia said...

hi Indie...
cool you posted it....

12:50 PM  
Anonymous cooper said...

Wowsa.

6:20 PM  
Anonymous weirsdo said...

Gloria Steinem has a good essay that discusses how although the Christian Right compares abortion to a holocaust, Hitler's Germany actually was extremely in line with "right-to-life" views, whereas the Weimar Republic had more liberal abortion views.
Anyway, this is really neat.
Happy Easter to you too.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

Ich habe gern die deutsche Worte.

Who takes care of the baby after nine months? Its parents.

In the rare cases where the parents are not willing or able, adoptive parents normally do a wonderful job.

It's not that difficult a question. It seems strange to me that we try to so hard to justify killing people before they are born and try to delude ourselves that we are being merciful.

Hitler wanted a right to life only for his favored race. He wanted death for all he deemed undesireable, including the handicapped and so forth. Any argument that says differently is unbelievably asinine. Steinem is just uncomfortable with her bedfellows and is trying to create a distance between herself and the Fuhrer.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Indeterminacy said...

Everyone: Thanks for all the comments.

Maria: If you read the piece carefully, I think you'll find Tucholsky is neutral about whether abortion is right or wrong. He's merely pointing out the hypocrasy that exists among many who are against abortion but show a callousness on other issues affecting the quality of human life. This hypocrasy is not hard to find even today.

You're right about the historical perspective. I've been meaning to post a rough translation of the wikipedia timeline of abortion in Germany:
1908: women's rights group campaign unsuccessfully for an abolishment of the law against abortion.
1909: law prohibiting abortion is changed to reduce the punishments involved.
1920: attempt by the liberal party to remove punishments for abortion in the first trimester fails.
1926: abortion is reduced from a crime to an offense, and is only punished with prison terms
1927: court case: abortion is allowed when the life of the mother is in danger
1935: abortion used to weed out "inferior races"
1943: abortion punishable by death, unless performed on "inferior" races/persons
1945-1948: Nazi laws are removed, but abortion is still a punishable offense.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

Well now Inde that is one heck of a thing. I guess the question is are we worth more somehow inside the womb than we are outside the womb? I say all life is sacred and should be treated as such. I, sadly, am a minority.

Love and Light

12:20 PM  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

This says it all. The difficult thing about understanding irrationality is that one can't.

10:18 AM  
Blogger mark rainmanmark said...

cool you posted it....


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11:46 PM  

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