Noth= und Hülfsbüchlein – Widmung


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My “new” original copy of “Noth= und Hülfsbüchlein für Bauersleute“, with which I am extremely pleased, also has a delightful dedication inside. Undated unfortunately but obviously old, note not just the handwriting but also the spelling of words such as “Theilen” and “zugestellet”. I presume the second part mentioned is “Arzneybüchlein für Menschen und Vieh“, which I’ve yet to find a decent copy of.
I wonder who Georg Scheidemann was, there’s a bookplate of his on the inside cover too.

Georg Scheidemann

Dieses Noth und Hülfsbüchlein
welches aus 2 Theilen besteht,
ist gar schön zu lesen, und
es stehen viel nützliches
Sachen darin, ich habe es
dem bzl. Vorsteher
Speckl mit dem Bitte zu =
gestellet, es einen jeden
in Orte zu leihen, welcher
es zu lesen wünscht, und
Zeit, und Lust dazu hat;
Die Bücher müßten nun
nicht beschmutzt, und zer=
rißen werden.

This Essentials and Aid Booklet, which consists of two parts, is delightful to read and contains many useful things. I’ve provided it to the relevant Superintendent (Mayor?) Speckl with the request to lend it to each of those in the town, who wish to read it, and have the time and inclination to do so. The books must not be dirtied or torn.

Noth- und Hülfs-Büchlein für Bauersleute


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I’m having great fun reading “Noth- und Hülfs-Büchlein für Bauersleute” from 1788, only a 1980 Taschenbuch at the moment but I think I’ll have to get an original copy.

I became aware of it’s existence after reading Pfarrer Köhler’s account of meeting the author in 1813/14 (Tagebuchblätter eines Feldgeistlichen), apparently in the late 18th Century it was second only to The Bible in popularity in Germany. It’s easy to see why.
Little anecdotes such as the Hauptmann’s wife’s grisly fate and the vicar keeping the elders out of the pub after Church by reading the book aloud (to the disgust of the landlord and delight of their families) are quite wonderful to read a couple of hundred years later by a foreigner like me, they must have seemed amazing at the time.

I wonder if the fate of the Hauptmann’s poor wife, buried alive in the crypt, inspired von der Marwitz’s fear of being buried alive? The book would no doubt have been known to him, or perhaps it was just a common fear before modern medicine got better at detecting these things? Much better I hope.

On a slightly lighter note, I loved the little poem about Beer and Wine, together with it’s charming illustration, particularly appropriate to me after the pubs here opened again last weekend.

Triumph des jahres 1813


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Triumph des jahres 1813. Den Deutschen zum neuen Jahr

I was amused by Dr. Köhler’s description of caricatures of Napoleon in Tagebuchblätter eines Feldgeistlichen from 13th December 1813:

Unter allen Karikaturen, die ich gesehen habe, ist die gräßlich schönste in Berlin herausgekommen. Sie stellt Napoleons wohlgetroffenes Bild dar; allein wenn man es näher betrachtet, so ist das Gesicht aus Leichen zusammengebaut, die um seinetwillen das Leben verbluteten. Der Hut ist ein Adler, der sich in den Kopf des Eroberers eingekrallt hat; das Auge desselben bildet die dreifarbige Kokarde. Der rote Kragen ist ein Blutstrom, der diesen Kopf umfließt. Die grüne Uniform ist eine Landkarte, auf der seine verlorenen Schlachten stehen, und auf dem roten Ordensbande steht: Ehrfort. Das Epaulett ist eine Hand, die sich in den Arm einkrallt, und auf dem Herzen webt eine Spinne ihr Netz und bildet den Stern.
Die Unterschrift heißt: “Der Triumph von 1813, den Deutschen zum Neujahr 1814”.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, while they’re left to us, here is the Pferdedieb himself, exactly as described in 1813:

Unrelated, but today I received my copy of the latest Berliner Extrablatt from and enclosed was a miniature copy of an old key to the front door. A nice surprise. Possibly the closest I’m ever going to get to Berlin if this current Schwachsinn continues.

Wirtshaus in Prettin


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Firstly, today is the 281st anniversary of Frederick the Great’s accession to the throne of Prussia. We could definitely do with leaders of his calibre at the moment.

Somewhat of a bitter sweet entry today, as it’s been quite a few months since I’ve been “allowed” into a pub, but the below passage in “Tagebuchblätter eines Feldgeistlichen” made me chuckle. Good old days…

Ich sitze in der Stube eines Wirtshauses, die ängstlich niedrig ist, deren Wände mit allerlei Phantasievögeln bunter gamalt sind, als ich je etwas Ähnliches gesehen habe. Der Künstler mag in Italien, der Wiege der Kunst, seinen Geschmack nicht gebildet, mag aber auch kein großes Honorar für sein Werk empfangen haben.
Ein Tisch, zwei Stühle und eine am Ofen ausgebreitete Streu sind meine Möbel. In malerischer Unordnung liegen meine Sachen umher. Mich trennt ein winzig kleiner Flur von meinen Wirtsleuten, welche in einer noch kleineren und ängstlicheren Stube wohnen.

Mein Wirt ist 23 Jahre alt und hat in dieser harten Zeit den Mut gehabt, sich vor drei Monaten dies Wirtshaus zu kaufen. Er führt die Wirtschaft mit seiner jüngeren Schwester, einem hübschen, großbusigen Mädchen.

pg. 116/117

Sounds delightful, I miss the pub…
Is this particular Wirtshaus still there I wonder?

Fritz & the Hohenzollerns


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A nice quote from close to the end of Carlyle’s History of Frederick, I now have one volume left to read.

Prussia has been a meritorious Nation; and, however cut and ruined, is and was in a healthy state, capable of recovering soon. Prussia has defended itself against overwhelming odds,–brave Prussia; but the real soul of its merit was that of having merited such a King to command it.

Without this King, all its valors, disciplines, resources of war, would have availed Prussia little. No wonder Prussia has still a loyalty to its great Friedrich, to its Hohenzollern Sovereigns generally.

Without these Hohenzollerns, Prussia had been, what we long ago saw it, the unluckiest of German Provinces; and could never have had the pretension to exist as a Nation at all.

Without this particular Hohenzollern, it had been trampled out again, after apparently succeeding. To have achieved a Friedrich the Second for King over it, was Prussia’s grand merit.

Sad that within 60 years of writing this (1865 or so) Prussia as a nation would be no more and the Hohenzollerns in exile.

I wonder about the Windsors…

Wolfersdorf at Torgau


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A great little anecdote from Thomas Carlyle’s History of Frederick the Great, how Colonel von Wolfersdorf “beautifully defends himself in Torgau”, and beautifully leaves the same. This would make a great scene in a film, perhaps it already is?

Colonel von Wolfersdorf withdraws, also beautifully (August 15th).

Accordingly, Wednesday, August 15th, at eight in the morning, Wolfersdorf by the Elbe Gate moves out; across Elbe Bridge, and the Redoubt which is on the farther shore yonder. Near this Redoubt, Stolberg and many of his General Officers are waiting to see him go. He goes in state; flags flying, music playing. Battalion Hessen-Cassel, followed by all our Packages, Hospital convalescents, King’s Artillery, and whatever is the King’s or ours, marches first. Next comes, as rear-guard to all this, Battalion Grollmann;–along with which is Wolfersdorf himself, knowing Grollmann for a ticklish article (Saxons mainly); followed on the heel by Battalion Hofmann, and lastly by Battalion Salmuth, trusty Prussians both of these.

Battalion Hessen-Cassel and the Baggages are through the Redoubt, Prince of Stolberg handsomely saluting as saluted. But now, on Battalion Grollmann’s coming up, Stolberg’s Adjutant cries-out with a loud voice of proclamation, many Officers repeating and enforcing: “Whoever is a brave Saxon, whoever is true to his Kaiser, or was of the Reichs Army, let him step out: Durchlaucht will give him protection!” At sound of which Grollmann quivers as if struck by electricity; and instantly begins dissolving;–dissolves, in effect, nearly all, and is in the act of vanishing like a dream! Wolfersdorf is a prompt man; and needs to be so. Wolfersdorf, in Olympian rage, instantly stops short; draws pistol: “I will shoot dead every man that quits rank!” vociferates he; and does, with his pistol, make instant example of one; inviting every true Prussian to do the like: “Jägers, Hussars, a ducat for every traitor you shoot down!” continues Wolfersdorf (and punctually paid it afterwards): unable to prevent an almost total dissolution of Grollmann. For some minutes, there is a scene indescribable: storm of vociferation, menace, musket-shot, pistol-shot; Grollmann disappearing on every side,–”behind the Redoubt, under the Bridge, into Elbe Boats, under the cloaks of the Croats;”–in spite of Wolfersdorf’s Olympian rages and efforts.

At sight of the shooting, Prince Stolberg, a hot man, had said indignantly, “Herr, that will be dangerous for you (das wird nicht gut gehn)!” Wolfersdorf not regarding him a whit; regarding only Grollmann, and his own hot business of coercing it at a ducat per head. Grollmann gone, and Battalion Hofmann in due sequence come up, Wolfersdorf,–who has sent an Adjutant, with order, “Hessen- Cassel, halt,”–gives Battalion Hofmann these three words of command: “Whole Battalion, halt!–Front!–Make ready!” (with due simultaneous click of every firelock, on utterance of that last);– and turning to Prince Stolberg, with a brow, with a tone of voice: “Durchlaucht, Article 9 of the Capitulation is express on this point; ‘All desertion strictly prohibited; no deserter to be received either on the Imperial or on the Prussian side’!” (Durchlaucht silently gives, we suppose, some faint sniff.) “Since your Durchlaucht does not keep the Capitulation, neither will I regard it farther. I will now take you and your Suite prisoners, return into the Town, and again begin defending myself. Be so good as ride directly into that Redoubt, or I will present, and give fire!”

A dangerous moment for the Durchlaucht of Stolberg; Battalion Salmuth actually taking possession of the wall again; Hofmann here with its poised firelock on the cock, “ready” for that fourth word, as above indicated. A General Lusinsky of Stolberg’s train, master of those Croats, and an Austrian of figure, remarks very seriously: “Every point of the Capitulation must be kept!” Upon which Durchlaucht has to renounce and repent; eagerly assists in recovering Grollmann, restores it (little the worse, little the fewer); will give Wolfersdorf “command of the Austrian Escort you are to have”, and every satisfaction and assurance;–wishful only to get rid of Wolfersdorf. Who thereupon marches to Wittenberg, with colors flying again, and a name mentionable ever since.

This Wolfersdorf was himself a Pirna Saxon; serving Polish Majesty, as Major, in that Pirna time; perhaps no admirer of “Feldmarschall Brühl” and Company?–at any rate, he took Prussian service, as then offered him; and this is his style of keeping it. A decidedly clever soldier, and comes out, henceforth, more and more as such,–unhappily not for long. Was taken at Maxen, he too, as will be seen. Rose, in after times, to be Lieutenant-General, and a man famous in the Prussian military circles; but given always, they say, to take the straight line (or shortest distance between self and object), in regard to military matters, to recruiting and the like, and thus getting himself into trouble with the Civil Officials.

Tagebuchblätter eines Feldgeistlichen


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Another acquisition, I found a reference to this in a very interesting modern book about the Finckensteins (thanks Maria!); 1813/14 Tagebuchblätter eines Feldgeistlichen.

It contains a collection of letters and diary entries of an army chaplain during the Freiheitskrieg/Befreiungskrieg of 1813/1814.

I’ve yet to read it but on the back of the title page is a nice dedication from 1917:

I hope that little Theo and his aunt Emma got through the war OK…

Posen 1848


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Sorry for the long delay, I’ve had, and still have, a lot of letters to write, amongst other stuff.

I wonder how long since copies of these two books have sat together?
Don’t tell anyone butt I had to cut the pages on the military account, no doubt the resale value was affected, but books are intended to be read, and there’s a guilty pleasure in knowing that in 172 years I’m the first person to see those pages.

Trying to get a grip on what happened during the Polnisch Aufstand in Posen in 1848 is not easy.

Willisen’s account, which I read first (although it’s an answer to the military account) because I acquired it first, sounds perfectly reasonable, especially I imagine to modern ears more used to calls to freedom and anti-imperialism. Basically the Poles are just looking to get some autonomy back after years of double dealing and germanisation by the Prussians, and all they need is a little more time to gain trust before they disband the various armed groups that had formed. Rumours of atrocities by the Poles are of course just exaggerations or downright fabrications by the Germans and the Jews. Even before reading the military account though I must admit to wondering if Willisen was not being a bit naïve.

The military account takes the more cynical view that the Poles just want total control over the country, not the promised reörganisation, and that all the negotiations are just buying them time to build up arms and train their fighters. Looked at from the Army’s point of view the accusations of attacks and atrocities by the Poles also sound a lot more credible.
Looking at events later in the year, and subsequent centuries, I think the military might have had a point, but it’s hard not to have some sympathy for Poland.

See also:
Offener Brief an den Herrn Major von Voigts Rhetz
Denkschrift über die Ereignisse im Großherzogthum Posen seit dem 20. März 1848

The conclusion? I think I’ll leave it to the reader to decide who was in the right, I don’t want to get involved. It reminds me too much of us English and the Irish, and nobody wants to go down that road…