Trug und Schein: A Correspondence

24. May 1938

T&S Ava­tar


L. on May 24, 1938

Dear Fräu­lein [Lau­be]!

At various points in my last let­ter I wro­te —I had to wri­te — the word God, and I did so not without some appre­hen­si­on. I would not like you to misun­derstand. It is that much more con­so­ling and reas­su­ring to me that you have a con­nec­tion to God.

God is the last solace that can pre­ser­ve human bein­gs from despair.

You should not hold me for a zea­lot. The word God does not fall easi­ly from my lips and I often con­si­der whe­ther I have a right to wri­te it here and the­re. My natu­re is such that I can­not accept some­thing sight unse­en, I must exami­ne, inves­ti­ga­te, come to my own jud­ge­ment —and that is how it has been with God, and in this case, the pro­cess is also not yet complete.

I don’t belie­ve that God keeps track of every person’s least misstep. Man moves with cer­tain limits accord­ing to his own will. Unques­tion­ab­ly, how man moves and all of the important, decisi­ve things in life, that is not in our hands. I belie­ve that this world runs accord­ing to a divi­ne law and plan and that we human bein­gs are inclu­ded in this plan.

I do not belie­ve that God has an ear for the more or less thousands upon thousands of foo­lish requests of men. If we call to him in our need, then pray­er can bring us strength and cer­tain­ty, like this:

The plans of God and Men face each other, run next to one ano­t­her, and often enough also run con­tra­ry to each other. God’s will is stron­ger and his plan will be exe­cu­t­ed. (They do well who can bring their will into har­mo­ny with God’s.) When we turn to God in need and dis­tress, then we are in fact con­fes­sing our power­less­ness and per­ple­xi­ty, we must come down from our pri­de, as humi­lia­ting as it is, and in the pro­cess our defi­an­ce breaks, our own tough free will —and then we are once again recep­ti­ve for the will of God, we once again sen­se the fine, invi­si­ble signs of his gui­d­ance. Every cor­rect pray­er ends with the request: may your will be done!

Franz Peter Schu­bert , 1825 

Music has always faith­ful­ly stood at my side as a gre­at solace. From my per­spec­ti­ve, it is a song by Franz Schu­bert that best expres­ses appre­cia­ti­on to the fai­rest of arts. I unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly do not have it at hand at the moment. I will wri­te down the text for you ano­t­her time, and sing the song for you at some appro­pria­te time. You have a good talent for music, I have obser­ved that. Sus­tai­ning a clo­se rela­ti­ons­hip with this art by play­ing music yourself, if I may be so modest, hel­ps pass the empty and gloo­my hours.

What led you to me? I ask mys­elf and I asked you, hol­ding in abey­an­ce all of the doubts that one can har­bor in mat­ters of love. How could you hold to me even though I pre­sen­ted you with nary an encou­ra­ging glance, spo­ke scar­ce­ly an encou­ra­ging word? The truth cer­tain­ly lies in your tran­scri­bed, impre­cise ans­wer. And so I ask myself:

How could you be suc­cess­ful in loo­se­ning my tongue, how can I trust you? If I give you an ans­wer and you prai­se me for it, then will you not catch sight of a schoolmaster’s natu­re that must dis­pen­se gra­des ever­y­whe­re rather than my free and honest reco­gni­ti­on? With this reco­gni­ti­on, I do not wish to hold back in order to take from you the fee­ling of being pitied, and to make you proud of what you should be proud:

I could talk to you 

Becau­se you were so kind

Becau­se you were so courageous

And becau­se you unders­tood what many peop­le do not under­stand: com­ing tog­e­ther freely. 

This much I had alrea­dy under­ta­ken beforehand:

In mat­ters of love, I will act free­ly, I will also not let mys­elf be cajo­led pri­ma­ri­ly by my par­ents — and I will only nego­tia­te with a per­son who simi­lar­ly stands free­ly befo­re me, who does not seek to ens­na­re me with her wiles, who does not bring other peop­le into play, even if it is her par­ents, no—she has to want to get clo­ser to me to exami­ne the mat­ter tog­e­ther with me in all serious­ness, alt­hough that also means cou­ra­ge­ous­ly con­fron­ting the pos­si­bi­li­ty the exami­na­ti­on its­elf thwarts the desi­res from which it sprang.

What you say in at the end of your last let­ter comes from a gre­at, noble heart. And so I offer you my hand in friendship, say­ing what I have fol­lo­wed for all of my other relationships:

I do wish to get to know you. We can no lon­ger com­ple­te­ly disap­pe­ar from each other’s lives. We have shared things that one does with only with a few peop­le and—I say it to you with appreciation—I have shared the­se things to my benefit.

Best wis­hes,

[Roland Nord­hoff].

Plea­se tell me if the dates for your vaca­ti­on have alrea­dy been set so I can con­si­der the­se details in my suggestions.

Plea­se fol­low and like us:
24. May 1938

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