SCHENK: It rang, mother. That’s her — she doesn’t know that the hall door is open. — Stay there, I’ll get it. (He goes out through the door. Frau Schenk quickly smooths out her dress, walks around absentmindedly. Voices can be heard outside. Schenk and Flora enter.)
SCHENK: Yes, in here — please. — Come, mother. — Yes, this is my mother, Flora!
FRAU SCHENK: Good day, Fräulein, — — Ah, now I’ve forgotten the name again.
SCHENK: Flora, mother. — And you don’t need to say Fräulein either.
FLORA: Not that, please. — I am a comrade.
FLORA: Do you have a vase? I brought a couple of roses. (She gives them to him.)
SCHENK: Oh, yes. (Tugs clumsily on the arm of Flora’s jacket.)
FLORA: I already had breakfast. — Please don’t trouble yourself.
SCHENK: Come on in, mother. — Did you see something?
FRAU SCHENK: Me? — No. — What?
SCHENK: It doesn’t matter, mom. To you either, right, Flora? — I don’t have any secrets from mother.
FRAU SCHENK: As long as he’s happy, — you have a beautiful job there, my child. (Pours her a cup.) Bread and jam, too?
SCHENK: Yes, of course. You don’t have any other?
FLORA: It’s prescribed especially for you, right? — No, my dear, you drink it, but I won’t.
SCHENK: I just drink a glass at noon, and if today there’s missing as much as you need to lighten your coffee then it will be three times as enjoyable.
SCHENK: Don’t worry, mother. Go on.
FRAU SCHENK: Could be that I’ll be away a bit longer. I’m going to stop by Frau Päpke’s, as well, to look in on her and the baby. She delivered last week.
FRAU SCHENK: No — she lives a good ways off. But she is a godchild of mine. — But I must run now. Good morning, children. (Exits.)
SCHENK: Isn’t she? — She normally never goes shopping before 9:30. And her going to the woman in childbed is also just to pass the time and not disturb us too soon. — And now a kiss, Flora!
FLORA: One more. (Kisses him.) That’s enough now. We’ll have time for smooching later. Today we have more serious work to do. — Do you know anything new?
SCHENK: The morning paper didn’t appear. — Have any telegrams come in?
FLORA: Only notices from the general command and the unions: warnings, reassurances, threats — you know the tone.
FLORA: I met Fiebig. At Wachsmann everyone has stayed home. At Bartels & Moser a percentage have supposedly reported for work.
FLORA: I don’t know about that yet. — And how is it at your printing press?
SCHENK: I’m certain of it. I worked it over thoroughly. You see for yourself — no newspaper. The good bourgeois will notice that first.
FLORA: So listen up. I’ve already been all over town this morning.
FLORA: And you should take it easy. I have already been to Trotz’s and Fischer’s. The matter will proceed as follows: At 2 o’clock the strikers will gather at their workplaces and from there go in columns — but without flags — to the Wachsmann factory. There the march will form up. The flags and placards will be brought there at about 1 o’clock — to you. They will only be distributed on the spot.
FLORA: But it won’t. The bull only goes wild when it sees the red cape.
FLORA: The march will form according to workplaces and trades in the large forecourt of the factory. And at the entrance, where the fence stop, there’s the tall square stone, — you know the place?
FLORA: Yes. From this stone Seebald will speak.
FLORA: How so? Did you come to an agreement with him? — I was counting on it.
SCHENK: Neither yes nor no. He wanted to think it over until noon today.
SCHENK: I’m of the same opinion. At 1 o’clock I am supposed to go see him to hear his answer. — But didn’t you say the comrades were coming here at one?
SCHENK: No, Flora. Let’s leave him be. — He means well, — but he is not the person we took him for.
SCHENK: He’s coming. — He felt we were talking at cross purposes — Seebald and I.
SCHENK: There is only one alternative. — You!
FLORA: I don’t believe I would be able to. — Wouldn’t you like to — ?
SCHENK: He starts to stutter. He can’t speak before many people.
SCHENK: He is a good fellow. But grand slogans aren’t going to help us now.
SCHENK: But you can. You can do everything. You must do it! (He takes her hands.) Flora — yes?
KLAGENFURTER: Yes — it’s me. I’ve left the house.
KLAGENFURTER: At 7 o’clock a soldier was there and delivered the draft notice. At 8 this morning I’m supposed to enter the infantry barracks.
KLAGENFURTER: They lay in wait for me yesterday evening at the “Lodge”. The whole way home I had spies behind me.
SCHENK: That was Strauss’s doing. — He knows you.
KLAGENFURTER: Yes — to render me harmless today. Think about it: examined only just the day before yesterday.
SCHENK: How the society works! At 7 o’clock your papers and at 8 o’clock report for duty.
SCHENK: At any rate they’re not going to go looking for you so soon. Just stay here for the moment.
FLORA: I’m not so sure. But I do think that they’ve already sent their bloodhounds out after you.
FLORA: Maybe that’s precisely what they’ll suspect. Do you believe there are no lists kept on friendships among the revolutionary workers?
KLAGENFURTER: Yes — it would be tough to single me out then. — But until then?
FLORA: I’ve got it. Go to the divorced woman who’s always grating on our nerves in the Federation of New Men.
SCHENK: To the old hysteric! — There’s a thought. Wait, I have her address. (Looks around in his notebook.) Here: Frau Werra Adler — I’ll write it down for you. (Writes a note, gives it to Klagenfurter.)
DIETRICH: Aha! — I thought I’d find the runaway here. — You have to move on right away!
DIETRICH: I’ve just come from your wife, Stefan. Two soldiers were just there to pick you up. Then I wanted to go back home to my place. They were just then coming down my stairway, the curs.
DIETRICH: They didn’t even know me. I turned right around and came here. The police are probably already on the look out, too.
DIETRICH: Because I saw the boys in the street talking with a civilian who looked a hell of a lot like a detective. A guy in fur. He opened his book and then apparently gave them another address. Then they went off down Gertrude Street together, probably to Braun’s or Färber’s.
SCHENK: Yes, my good man, in that case it would likely be best if you kept straight on going so you don’t fall into their hands right here downstairs.
KLAGENFURTER: Dietrich can lead the way. He knows them already.
SCHENK: Don’t think about your wife now. Nothing will happen to her. Think about yourself and don’t let yourself get nabbed.
KLAGENFURTER: You can count on it. They can put me up against the wall, then at least I’ll know what I’m dying for. I won’t be a soldier!
DIETRICH: Then you can rest at ease, Stefan. She’s in good hands with her.
KLAGENFURTER: I know. Thank you very much, Flora. — Well, this afternoon, hopefully. (Exits with Dietrich.)
FLORA: It shows that they still feel safe. It’s almost incomprehensible, this blindness. But it’s good this way. — It can’t be concealed on the front how things are going back home. In any case defeat will be hastened.
FLORA: I don’t think so. But you know how the men on leave talk; they all set their hopes on the home front. Should something begin to stir here first, then they wouldn’t let themselves be so easily convinced anymore that only attacks and triumphs can free them from the misery of the trenches. If our countrymen out there were to read that there was a strike back home and that the workers were being shot at —
SCHENK: And the names of those arrested! Just think if it read: Seebald thrown into prison!
FLORA: Yes, that would make an impression. — But if he withdraws —
FLORA: Certainly not. He thinks of himself last of all. — Do you know what would be good?
FLORA: Probably not. But Strauss hates him — and I believe he and the other so-called labor leaders have the whole game under control.
FLORA: And that’s what he is in principle. Without his activity we wouldn’t have gotten the workers out of the factories.
SCHENK: Nevertheless — they won’t dare try it. — When I picture him possibly being lead past the workers. — Going from his apartment to the prison they would have to cross in front of the Wachsmann factory. — — Might the attempt be made to liberate him?
FLORA: Raffael, you’re dreaming. That’s all nonsense.
SCHENK: Yeah, — yeah, — naturally. — — Have you finished with breakfast, dearest? Can I clean up?
FLORA: No, — but will I be getting in the way of anything you have to discuss with Schenk?
FRAU LASSMANN: No, certainly not. I just didn’t know who to turn to.
SCHENK: What has happened? — You are excited, Frau Lassmann. — Sit down. (Pushes a chair towards her.)
SCHENK: Tell us. What’s it about then?
FRAU LASSMANN: You know how things are for us now, — a couple of marks from the invalid pension, and then the blind husband and the six children. —
FRAU LASSMANN: Yes, you see — it’s the rent money, — our Leni was so sick last fall. And now we’re three months behind with the rent. I begged and begged the landlord to have a little more patience, — and today — this morning — we got the eviction notice.
FRAU LASSMANN: Oh, it very well can. They always know their way around the new regulations, the rich ones do. And now we’re supposed to pay 78 marks by this evening or else leave the apartment tomorrow morning.
FLORA: 78 marks! I’ll have to see about scraping it together today. — Wouldn’t the landlord agree to a partial payment?
FRAU LASSMANN: I already made him an offer — 20 marks. He said the day after tomorrow is February 1st, that wouldn’t even be enough for the new month. He just wants us out — with all the children. Nobody wants to have more children in the building.
FRAU LASSMANN: And then when I do have a couple of marks in hand, — well, then my first thought is hardly for the landlord. The children get far too little milk, — the big ones none at all; and what’s to be had at the markets, a person could just starve on that.
FLORA: It’s true. Out exemplary organization of the food supply is something to behold.
FRAU LASSMANN: One has to keep an eye out to snag something under the table and you end up getting fleeced in the process. But what comes first is making sure that the children get enough to eat. And then they need clothes and shoes — and the prices keep going up —
FRAU LASSMANN: 14 days ago my husband took off his glasses because he wanted to wipe his eye, — and I wasn’t around. And when he searched for them again on the table he knocked them onto the floor — and broke both lenses. Now the expensive, black lenses —
FRAU LASSMANN: No, they refused because it was the result of carelessness. As if he could help being blind.
FLORA: At any rate, for the moment we have to first think of what can be done to fight the eviction.
FRAU LASSMANN: Oh, there’s no talking to Ernst anymore. He says I shouldn’t worry myself anymore. Today’s the Revolution — and then the landlord should just see who gets tossed out, us or himself. It’s like he’s gone mad.
FLORA: I think the best thing would be for me to go with you straightaway and set that fine landlord straight.
FRAU LASSMANN: Indeed. With us proletarians they think they can do anything. But if someone else talks with them, they don’t want to appear inhuman. — It’s always like that.
SCHENK: You are right. Forgive me!
FLORA: I’m going straight from here to Frau Klagenfurter’s. I’ll be back here around noon. — Until then, Raffael.
SCHENK (jumps up, to the door): Mother, is that you? You can come on in. Flora has just gone. (He opens and collides with Seebald.) You — well, that’s a surprise. — You’ve come to me!
SEEBALD (gives him his hand): Good morning, Raffael. Yes — I didn’t want to make you feel obliged to pay me a visit. You’ll be busy enough as it is.
SCHENK: I wouldn’t have come anyways.
SEEBALD: I thought so. — You’re really bull-headed.
SCHENK: We had to make all plans by noon, regardless of you. — And if you had made up your mind in our favor, then you would have found your way to Wachsmann’s just as well by yourself.
SEEBALD: You are bitter, dear friend. — But you have it nice and warm in here. May I take off my coat?
SCHENK: Oh, I’m sorry! (Wants to help him.)
SEEBALD: Thanks, don’t bother! (He takes his coat off and hangs it up along with his hat.)
SCHENK: Please have a seat. (They sit down at the table.)
SEEBALD: What brings me here is — Raffael! We have to talk things out. Yesterday evening must cast a shadow between us.
SCHENK: Unfortunately, I cannot offer you anything. — Wait! Would you like a glass of milk?
SEEBALD: Milk? — As long as I’m not drinking the last of it.
SCHENK: No, no — just a moment. (Exits into the kitchen.)
SEEBALD (alone, looks around the room. Sniffs the roses. Schenk comes with a glass of milk): Thank you very much! — Roses in January!
SCHENK: They are from Flora Severin. — Would you like to take one?
SEEBALD: No, I won’t take them from you. They are for your health! (Drinks.) Ah — that is a rare pleasure now, good milk.
SCHENK: So you have made up your mind after all. — That makes me really happy.
SEEBALD: Listen to me, Raffael. — I have come here to warn you.
SCHENK: Warn me — about what?
SEEBALD: I didn’t sleep much last night. Our short conversation last night troubled me deeply.
SCHENK: Me too.
SEEBALD: That’s why we must be clear with one another. — You were disappointed in me. (Schenk is silent.) — I understand you well. You say to yourself, this man has made the fight against war his life’s work. Through this struggle he has won the love and trust of the people. —
SCHENK: Not through that, really, but because you don’t demand a negotiated peace between the rulers like the other pacifists, — because you address yourself to the proletariat.
SEEBALD: Good! I have always taught: Whoever suffers under a state of affairs, it is his duty to change it. And I have told the soldiers: If you want peace, don’t make war — and the workers: If you want freedom, don’t work for slavery! — Now you are faced with a riddle. In the very moment where the workers act according to my words, I appear to pull back. That embitters you towards me. Is it so, Raffael?
SCHENK: Yes, so it is.
SEEBALD: Now tell me: Do you consider me a coward?
SCHENK: Oh, no, — I know that you have no fear for yourself.
SEEBALD: I am glad that I don’t have to defend myself against that. Continuing then: You know that throughout all the persecutions and harassment the authorities have always left me in peace. How do you explain that?
SCHENK: You are too famous. Your works are read around the world. When everywhere everything German is reviled, it’s still said: There are exceptions, foremost Mathias Seebald. — You have admirers in all circles, even among the officers.
SEEBALD: They are moving far from me now.
SCHENK: Yes, but always with respect. A couple of days ago I was reading in the newspaper, which turns cartwheels of patriotism, about the regrettable aberrations of our great fellow citizen, whose name however one must nevertheless speak with reverence. If one were to lay a hand on you, the scandal would be tremendous. I won’t mention the hostile countries, the generals likely wouldn’t much care about that, — but in all of Germany too and especially in the neutral countries. — It would be the same as if in Belgium they were to imprison Cardinal Mercier.
SEEBALD: Not entirely the same, — with Mercier there would be conflicts with the Vatican.
SCHENK: But with you would be lost the last shred of respect for the Germans. And our politicians would be eager to salvage that. — Perhaps they just need extenuating circumstances.
SEEBALD: Raffael, you are an uncommonly smart and educated person. — You are a printer, right?
SCHENK: A typesetter.
SEEBALD: With you I can speak differently than with other workers. I want to tell you my opinion. For the government, all that would still be no reason to let me be. You know the lovely phrase: reasons of state! — That’s far more dear to the gentlemen than their pittance of moral standing. They are much less anxious about their good reputation in the world than you think. — Now I don’t exactly wish to assume that you take my agitatorial activities for some innocent scholarly quirk. —
SCHENK: But then I wouldn’t know —
SEEBALD: The reason lies much deeper. I need to get maybe a little metaphysical with you here. You understand what that means?
SCHENK: Yes, certainly: Transcendental.
SEEBALD: More or less. — Have you read anything of mine?
SCHENK: I am familiar with your “Philosophy of Altruism”. (Takes this work from the bookshelf.) Here it is.
SEEBALD: So you know then what my whole world view is based on: rejection of violence, in any form and under all circumstances. When Tolstoy says with Christ: Don’t resist violence, so I teach: Never participate in violence and never let violence come near you. — That means: Commit no act which provokes violence! — Now if thus far the authorities have not grabbed me, then I conclude that I have remained true to my own teaching and have not turned the demand for nonviolence into an occasion for the unleashing of violence.
SCHENK: But assuming today or tomorrow the authorities think the better of it and arrest you, — then wouldn’t your whole theory be disproved?
SEEBALD: No, it would be a proof that I had acted wrongly. I believe that the will for good, when it completely fills a person’s soul, creates its own means of defense to ward off evil.
SCHENK: Then everyone would be guilty who suffered misfortune?
SEEBALD: And that’s true, if you properly understand the word guilty. In drama, for example, one speaks of a tragic guilt; that’s the flawed act, committed with the best of intentions, which brings about the person’s downfall. — That you, Raffael, with your great love for humanity and peace, did not have to enter the barracks with the others, I trace back to the means of defense which your will to good has unconsciously created for itself.
SCHENK (laughing): Then I suppose I should even be thankful for my game leg and my sick lung?
SEEBALD: I confidently believe that your lung will yet heal when, with your help, decent living conditions will have been established among men. — And your leg? (Smiles.) Think about it: Does it prevent your enjoyment of the greatest imaginable earthly joy? (He nods towards the roses.)
SCHENK: No, — that is true, I suppose.
SEEBALD: So you see, — now you understand too the dilemma I’m faced with by your request that I should take part in the demonstration today. This demonstration is — of this I am very much afraid — in and of itself a provocation to violence.
SCHENK: You can speak to the workers however you wish.
SEEBALD: That wouldn’t change anything. It’s still playing with fire.
SCHENK: But you know, too, what will happen if you stay away? — Then the union and party leaders will be ready at the scene, Messrs. Weber or Tamm or Strauss, — and they will soothe the masses like they do and send them back into their factory, and the war will continue like it has up to now, and those guilty of war with all their ‘tragic guilt’ will go on profiting off the people’s misfortune.
SEEBALD: I have already told myself just the same things, too. And that’s why I am here, to ask you — to beseech you: Prevent the whole procession. The workers should strike, but not provoke violence. Raffael, my friend, my dearest student, — do as I say!
SCHENK: I can’t do that. — That’s absolutely impossible. (Coughs.)
SEEBALD: That’s absolutely not impossible. — The Good always works.
SCHENK: The whole thing has been planned down to the tiniest detail. At two o’clock the workers gather in front of their factories.
SEEBALD: Then there are still over four hours left. Go right away to your closest comrades. Place notices on the factory gates that the demonstration isn’t taking place, in order to avoid bloodshed. Call on the workers to continue the strike. —
SCHENK (leaps up): No! — I will not do that! — I am myself a proletarian, — you’re forgetting that. I know what the workers think and want and feel. — What do you think would happen, then? Tomorrow morning it would simply be declared that all exemptions are suspended. Whoever doesn’t work will be immediately inducted. — There are already enough strikebreakers as it is.
SEEBALD: And you want to prevent that with the demonstration?
SCHENK: Maybe I can. — The government shall see that the proletariat is a force.
SEEBALD: So — do you want violence then?
SCHENK: If it must be — yes!
SEEBALD: Raffael! Raffael! You are headed down a dangerous path! You know which side has all the weapons.
SCHENK: And I also know where weapons can be found.
SEEBALD: Come to your senses, man! Do you want to bear the blood of hundreds of peaceful workers, of women and children on your conscience?
SCHENK: I can bear that too. (Seebald has stood up and is standing with his arms crossed with his back to the window.) If through our uprising the war is shortened even by one day, then it will save the lives of ten times as many people as will be sacrificed in the worst case.
SEEBALD: What a misguided calculation! — Do you want to play with fate? Is that the fruit of my labors?!
SCHENK: Indeed. Pretty words are of no help to us workers. Whoever tells us: Refuse to work for injustice, — he must know that with that he is calling to battle. — That is a provocation to violence. — But once I have already provoked violence, then I also counter with violence.
SEEBALD: Then I would be the originator of acts of violence? — Raffael Schenk, that cannot be your true opinion.
SCHENK: But I don’t blame you for it. We workers have much to thank you for. You showed us the path we have to take. Now, where it has been entered upon, we have to go it all the way, even if you don’t accompany us.
SEEBALD: But that is terrible, what you’re saying. — Have I been living in a delusion then?
SCHENK: Possibly. — Do you still believe that you are protected from state violence by your intellectual armor?
SEEBALD: Don’t scoff. The armor covered me as long as I absolved my conscience of violence. Now I feel it falling from me.
SCHENK: Oh, and nothing will happen to you either, if you stay put at home. Don’t worry yourself, Professor Seebald. The guilt for what happens won’t be yours but the workers’ who fall or end up in prison. And the guilt for the war lies not with the capitalists but with the proletarians who are rotting away in filthy holes; the Lassmanns who have had their eyes shot out. But the truly virtuous, those are the consumptives like me, or the idiots in the madhouses, they have their protective jackets, — or so your theory went!
SEEBALD: You’re being abusive, Schenk. — You know perfectly well that you’re distorting things; as long as you are in this condition I can’t speak with you.
SCHENK: It would be superfluous anyway. The demonstration will take place. With you or without you. And I won’t send the workers home, but instead call them to battle. You may do what you please.
SEEBALD: Raffael! I am not mad at you for the speech you’re delivering against me. You are excited. But later when you are alone consider whether your own bad conscience is making you unjust towards others.
SCHENK: My conscience is clear.
SEEBALD: You think so now — I only ask of you one other thing. Take counsel with yourself one more time and don’t do anything which you could later regret. (He wants to go to the door. Meanwhile Frau Schenk enters.)
FRAU SCHENK: So, Ralf, I’m back now. — Oh, Herr Professor! Good day, Herr Professor! (Gives him her hand.) Have you come to look in on my boy yourself?
SEEBALD: Greetings, my dear Frau Schenk. — Yes, — we had a little discussion.
FRAU SCHENK: Must you be leaving again, Herr Professor?
SEEBALD: Yes. — I won’t be able to achieve my purpose here after all.
SCHENK (has listened wordlessly in the background of the room, takes the empty milk glass from the table and carries it into the kitchen, the door to which he closes behind himself.)
FRAU SCHENK: What’s up with Ralf? — He just walked right out of the room.
SEEBALD: Keep an eye on him, Frau Schenk! It’s not good what he has planned.
FRAU SCHENK: The strike and the procession today? — No, I can’t get through to him there. He must know that himself.
SEEBALD: Don’t you have any influence on him at all?
FRAU SCHENK: Yes — I don’t know. He tells me everything. We are like good friends.
SEEBALD: Precisely. I’ve noticed that. — Can’t you keep him then from obvious indiscretions?
FRAU SCHENK: Indiscretions? — No, that’s not my Ralf, — I don’t believe that. And I don’t get involved in his politics. I just listen to him. That would be like if he were to concern himself with my kitchen.
SEEBALD: Don’t you think it’s possible that at this very moment he is perhaps under a dangerous spiritual impression?
FRAU SCHENK: I don’t know what you mean, Professor.
SEEBALD: Well — to be direct: He now has a close friendship with Fräulein Severin! Don’t you think that detrimental effects could arise from that?
FRAU SCHENK: Professor, I am his mother — and I want his happiness. And this morning I saw him happy for the first time. I wouldn’t know what I should find so detrimental in that.
SEEBALD: I mean whether she might push him in directions that he would not go of his own accord.
FRAU SCHENK: Only he can know that. — I can’t say that.
SEEBALD: But you do trust me? You are convinced that I am truly Raffael’s friend?
FRAU SCHENK: He would have walked through fire for you, as well. — But what’s good for him, Professor, you can’t see that any better than I can. For that he is old enough himself.
SEEBALD: Well, I see now that I don’t have an ally in you.
FRAU SCHENK: No, Professor. — Don’t take it the wrong way.
SEEBALD: Take care. Your love for Raffael is supremely beautiful, and I certainly want to leave it the way it is. Until next time, dear Frau Schenk.
FRAU SCHENK: Good bye, Herr Professor! (Handshake. She lets him out, shakes her head in wonder, opens the kitchen door.) Ralf, so — were you hiding then?
SCHENK (enters): Is he gone?
FRAU SCHENK: You didn’t even say goodbye to him.
SCHENK: I didn’t want to. — I suppose he told you you should make me see reason?
FRAU SCHENK: How’s that? — Were you eavesdropping?
SCHENK: That wasn’t necessary. I can just imagine it.
FRAU SCHENK: Yeah, Ralf, I couldn’t really make out what he wanted. And I also told him that I don’t mix myself up in your affairs.
SCHENK: Well done, mom.
FRAU SCHENK: He was so odd today, Ralf. — Not at all as open as usual.
SCHENK (walks about excitedly, coughs slightly): Yes, mother — sometimes one deceives oneself.
FRAU SCHENK: You’re coughing again, child. I suppose your conversation got you worked up?
SCHENK: Rather. — But I would like to hear from you. What else did he say?
FRAU SCHENK: Nothing at all specific. — But at the end he wondered whether Flora didn’t have a detrimental influence on you.
SCHENK (stands still, pounds on the table): I thought so! (Walks about again, coughs more strongly.) I thought so!
FRAU SCHENK (goes after him): For God’s sake, don’t get yourself so worked up, child! How you’re coughing again! (Slaps him on the back.)
SCHENK: Well now — — to bring in Flora. (Strong coughing fit.) To want — — to separate — me — — from — — Flora. (He collapses onto a chair gasping and short of breath.)
FRAU SCHENK: For God’s sake! — Wait, Ralf — I’m coming — I’ll bring you your milk. It will help you right away. (Into the kitchen.)
SCHENK (waives her off. The coughing gradually subsides. He still breathes with difficulty.)
FRAU SCHENK (returns from the kitchen): The milk is gone! — Did Flora drink it all?
SCHENK (still labored): No — no, only a small drop. I gave the rest to Seebald.
FRAU SCHENK: But Ralf! You know what the doctor said. That every day you should drink your quarter of a liter of milk.
SCHENK: Alright, mother. — Alright. (A knock. Frau Schenk goes to the door, opens carefully.)
TESSENDORFF (enters: fur coat, round hat): Am I at the right address for Herr Raffael Schenk?
SCHENK (approaches him, wants to speak. A coughing fit, which he struggles to contain, prevents him).
FRAU SCHENK: Yes. — That’s my son.
SCHENK (with difficulty): That’s me. — What can I do for you.
TESSENDORFF: My name is Tessendorff, — police superintendent.
FRAU SCHENK: Couldn’t you come at another time — ? My son is having a terrible time with his lung right now.
TESSENDORFF: So I hear, to my regret. But it is hardly a matter of importance, — my assignment, I mean. —
SCHENK (has overcome the fit): Mother, please go out for a moment.
FRAU SCHENK (anxious): Yes, if you say so — certainly. (Backwards into the kitchen.)
SCHENK: What brings you to me, if you please?
TESSENDORFF: May I have a seat? (Takes a chair.)
SCHENK (remains standing): Please. You don’t seem to be in a hurry.
TESSENDORFF: I admit — I’ve tired myself a bit in walking and came up here only to do my duty, but without great hope of finding the man I’m seeking.
SCHENK: So you are looking for somebody in my home?
TESSENDORFF: Indeed. I have been assigned to arrest and bring in an iron-turner who is subject to enlistment — , Stefan Klagenfurter, who was supposed to have presented himself at the infantry barracks today, but apparently has become a fugitive.
SCHENK: I don’t know what this assignment can have to do with your visit to me.
TESSENDORFF: According to certain information obtained by the police, you are supposed to be a friend of the deserter in question.
SCHENK: I don’t need to give any accounting of my friendships whatsoever. In any case, I’m not hiding anyone.
TESSENDORFF: Well, then — that’s what I figured.
SCHENK: If you wish to convince yourself. This is the only large room in the apartment. Adjoining is the kitchen and the room where my mother sleeps. That’s everything. My mother can take you down to the cellar as well, if you wish.
TESSENDORFF: Oh, please, Herr Schenk. Your assurance that Herr Klagenfurter is not staying with you is thoroughly satisfactory for me. If I had the intention of searching the apartment then I wouldn’t have come up here myself. I would have sent the two soldiers who are to carry out the arrest.
SCHENK: Then it seems our business is done here?
TESSENDORFF: I must naturally still pose the question to you: Do you know where the fugitive turner Stefan Klagenfurter is staying?
SCHENK: If I knew I certainly wouldn’t tell you.
TESSENDORFF: Absolutely right — of course. — I only had to fulfill my formal obligation by asking the question. (Remains seated, focused on Schenk.)
SCHENK (taps nervously on the arm rest on which he is leaning. Coughs slightly).
TESSENDORFF: You have it in the chest, Herr Schenk?
SCHENK (gruffly): Is my health of interest to you?
TESSENDORF: But, please. — One is still a person, after all.
SCHENK: Very gracious. The doctor has ordered me to avoid undesirable discussions where possible.
TESSENDORFF: Allow me nonetheless a couple minutes yet. You see, I have come here to you personally even though such arrests as a rule are naturally the business of subordinate functionaries.
SCHENK: If you want to arrest me, please come right out with it.
TESSENDORFF: What are you thinking of? — There’s no talk of that.
SCHENK: Then I really can’t see what more you want from me. (Coughs heavily.)
TESSENDORFF: Herr Schenk, you really should take a couple weeks rest and have your lungs treated in a sanatorium.
SCHENK: I would like to ask you now in all seriousness to tell me what you still want from me and not to waste any more sympathy on me.
TESSENDORFF: You treat me like an enemy, Herr Schenk. I am not that at all. I would like to have an informal chat with you.
SCHENK: But what in the world about?
TESSENDORFF: About a matter which is of equal interest to us both at the moment.
SCHENK: That would be?
TESSENDORFF: Well, I think it’s not so remote. — Perhaps it will put you on track if I mention that at police headquarters I oversee the department of public safety. Naturally, that also includes all manner of strike movements and commotions.
SCHENK: So you are here because of the workers’ protest strike?
TESSENDORFF: Above all because of the demonstration this afternoon.
SCHENK: Yes, — but what could the two of us have — (rising up suddenly) Sir! Do you suppose to gather information from me?! —
TESSENDORFF: Information? — Oh no, we don’t need that any more. — I would just like to ask you for your advice.
SCHENK: The police want my advice?
TESSENDORFF: I will explain it to you immediately. You see, Herr Schenk, we at the police naturally concern ourselves not merely with facts, but rather above all with individuals, as well. That just comes with the territory. Thus, we are — and this won’t surprise you at all — most precisely informed about the actual leaders of the current movement.
SCHENK: That you employ spies is nothing new to me.
TESSENDORFF: Anyway, it would be totally pointless to put on an act for you. So I know a lot about your person, too, which characterizes your views and attitudes. I believe I know pretty well what your wishes are for this afternoon. I believe you wouldn’t be too displeased, Herr Schenk, if the government — or let us say, the military, undertook something rather decisive against the workers. I can also very well imagine your line of thinking about it. You think a bloody clash between the military and civilians at this moment could arouse such war weariness at home and at the front that the Reich would have no other choice but — one way or another — to make peace. Perhaps you hope too for the troops to refuse the order to intervene at the decisive moment, which might then immediately bring open revolution after it.
SCHENK: Your informants have told you all that about me?
TESSENDORFF: Naturally, to a large extent it is also my own inference. One does need to be something of a psychologist in my line of work — and I’ve had you under observation for quite some time now and know many statements of yours.
SCHENK: That is very flattering. — But what sort of advice am I supposed to be able to give you?
TESSENDORFF: Herr Schenk! Our wishes for the course of the operation are not so very divergent, naturally out of totally opposing interests. You want a kind of test of strength. — And we, both the police as well as the military, are equally ready to let it come to a test of strength.
SCHENK: I must admit, Herr Police Superintendent, that I find this whole conversation extraordinarily embarrassing. Maybe you would like to finally get to the point.
TESSENDORFF: I am right in the middle of it. If it indeed should come to a bloodletting, then I say it shouldn’t turn out all too bloody — and at least for your party, that is, the workers, end up ridiculous on top of it all.
SCHENK: And now the general, so to speak, of the one army comes to the opposing general staff and would like to devise a battle plan together.
TESSENDORFF: Why not a different comparison instead? — Before a chivalric tournament the opposing knights in all camaraderie agree on the conditions and examine the odds.
SCHENK: Just do what you think is good! — I don’t have the slightest interest in your frivolous jokes.
TESSENDORFF (stands up): As you wish. — I only want to say to you what will happen if we don’t come to some kind of an agreement. The workers’ marches which arrive from the different factories take up their positions. Red flags are handed out, and someone will perhaps give a speech, presumably Professor Seebald. Then a company of soldiers moves in. The lieutenant very courteously approaches the speaker and says: If you please, Herr Professor, would you please let me through? And before the march is formed, he commands the people to disperse. Behind him stand the soldiers with rifles aimed. Do you believe your workers remain standing? — I don’t. — But assuming they don’t all leave immediately. What comes then? A warning shot — and the revolution is over. Completely over, Herr Schenk, — dead by its own ridiculousness. Then afterwards come the trials. — Do you want that outcome? — Me neither.
SCHENK (has been pacing about excitedly, stops): Professor Seebald will not speak.
TESSENDORFF: It is completely irrelevant who is standing there.
SCHENK: No — it is not irrelevant. (After an internal struggle — with sudden inspiration), Herr Police Superintendent, I want to give you some advice!
TESSENDORFF: Indeed? Let us take a seat then. (They sit.)
SCHENK: You must arrest Professor Seebald!
TESSENDORFF: Please, Herr Schenk — I don’t like to be taken for a fool.
SCHENK: I don’t take you for a fool.
TESSENDORFF: Then permit me to settle up the business end of things with you. (Takes an envelope from his pocket.) First, I have here 500 marks for you. And there is the receipt — please!
SCHENK (has jumped up): What! You want to give me money! — Put that away immediately! (He shakes his fists.)
TESSENDORFF: I must know that I’m not being duped. I can’t just expect that you render me such services because of my good looks. The police must be cautious in all matters.
SCHENK (laughs aloud): Well, then — that is quite true. (Sits down again.)
TESSENDORFF (gives him the receipt): Would you sign here? — Certainly you trust in our absolute discretion.
SCHENK (ironic): Thoroughly. (Signs. Puts the money with an expression of disgust into his wallet. Slight cough.)
TESSENDORFF: Perhaps it will enable you to take the cure in a lung sanatorium.
SCHENK: Don’t bother yourself about how it is used. — So now I can explain my plan to you.
TESSENDORFF: Please do.
SCHENK: I need not tell you what regard Seebald enjoys among the workers. The moment a hand is laid on him will be the signal to break loose. As he will likely not be there on the spot, it is probable that some moderate party leader will conciliate and then the whole action will be sunk. So have him arrested at his apartment as the intellectual author of the whole thing and lead past when the crowd is gathered in the forecourt of the Wachsmann factory. Then you’ll have what you want. The way to the prison leads past there anyhow.
TESSENDORFF: You think for certain there will be an attempt to free him?
SCHENK: Just leave that up to me. If they don’t do it on their own, I will provoke them to it.
TESSENDORFF (has stood up): I believe you are right. — I must then instruct the military not to attempt anything beforehand. — But if Seebald should be there after all?
SCHENK: Then you’ll just have to take him into custody from there.
TESSENDORFF: In any case, I will be there on time. We can always come to an understanding then and there.
SCHENK: It will hardly do for me to be speaking with you there.
TESSENDORFF: Oh, rest assured, I won’t be wearing the fur coat.
SCHENK: One more thing: Can you promise me that aside from Seebald none of the leading individuals will be arrested?
TESSENDORFF: Of course. — Seebald is quiet enough for us.
SCHENK: Otherwise I’ll be there as well, if you should need another ringleader.
TESSENDORFF: We will see, Herr Schenk. So, should he not show up, Professor Seebald will be lead past the Wachsmann factory at 3:15 sharp. — That should be everything then. A right good morning to you, Herr Schenk. (Extends him his hand, which Schenk ostentatiously disregards.)
SCHENK: Good morning (exit Tessendorf).
SCHENK (remains standing a while indecisively, then opens the door to the kitchen): Mother, my jacket, please.
FRAU SCHENK (comes with the overcoat): That sure was a long visit. — You want to go out, Ralf?
SCHENK: Yes, I have not been outside yet at all today. — My chest is feeling a bit tight.
FRAU SCHENK: The air in the room here is a little thick, too.
SCHENK: You don’t need to wait for me with lunch. I’ll eat something on the way at the community kitchen.
FRAU SCHENK: Yes, go ahead. — You’re not to my liking today at all.
SCHENK: I’ll be back around one o’clock. — Well, good morning, mother. (Kisses her.) I must have air, — fresh air! (Exits.)
FRAU SCHENK (opens the window): How did it get so stuffy in here?
The same room. Midday about 1 o’clock. The roses are in front of the window. Frau Schenk sits at the table sewing. Next to her is Flora, her cap on her head, sewing a rosette onto her jacket.
FRAU SCHENK: I wouldn’t have thought that you could also handle a needle and thread so well.
FLORA: I suppose you took me for a real bluestocking?
FRAU SCHENK: Not exactly that, — but seeing as how you work with your head so much.
FLORA: That’s why I make my own clothes myself.
FRAU SCHENK: Impossible! — You made that blouse yourself?
FLORA: Indeed, designed it myself, cut it out myself and tailored it myself. (Bites off the thread.) — There, the revolutionary order is on tight.
FRAU SCHENK: Oh, can I take a look at your dress? (They stand up and go to the window.)
FLORA: The fabric is pretty, isn’t it? An aunt gave it to me for Christmas.
FRAU SCHENK: It’s made so simply and so tastefully. (She takes Flora’s face between her hands.) You’re good to my Ralf, dear child, right?
FLORA: Yes, I am very fond of him.
FRAU SCHENK: He is my one and all. You can’t believe how good he is.
FLORA: Oh, but I know.
FRAU SCHENK: Only, with his illness, — he inherited it from his father. But I always keep thinking he can still get better.
FLORA: Naturally. Why not? He is still young.
FRAU SCHENK: You won’t leave him because of his affliction, right?
FLORA: Perish the thought! How could you think that?
FRAU SCHENK: Well, you see — it’s happened to him once before. It was over a year ago now. He had a sweetheart, — she was a nice enough girl, Annie. He wanted to marry her, and all of a sudden she threw him over and went off with someone else. She had no use for a sick husband, she said.
FLORA: But that’s outrageous.
FRAU SCHENK: Oh, he was so bad after that. He got so worked up that he was coughing for weeks.
FLORA: At the moment it’s not so bad with his chest, I think.
FRAU SCHENK: This morning he wasn’t well at all — Professor Seebald was here. —
FLORA: Was here?
FRAU SCHENK: Yes, — and he must have gotten terribly agitated. He didn’t even say goodbye to him. I had just come home, and afterwards the professor spoke with me. I was to put Ralf on guard against you.
FLORA: That could mean anything.
FRAU SCHENK: And when I told that to him he had a horrible attack. And then afterwards there was someone from the police here, — and that must have rather upset him, too.
FLORA: From the police? — Ah, probably because of Klagenfurter.
FRAU SCHENK: I don’t know. The man was here a long time, — and then Ralf left right away. He always does that when his chest is feeling tight. Then he walks for a couple of hours in the park, — and that helps him. — But he must be coming back soon now.
FLORA: The comrades wanted to be here by one. Oh, I bet that’s them now. (Doorbell.)
FRAU SCHENK: But Trotz and Dietrich don’t ring our bell. Well, I’ll have a look. (Ges out and returns with Lecharov.)
LECHAROV: Is comrade Schenk not at home? — Ah, good day, Comrade Severin! I ran over, as much as I could, to find Comrade Schenk.
FLORA: We expect him any moment. — Is there something special?
FRAU SCHENK: Please have a seat, Herr — Herr — —
LECHAROV: Thank you. I won’t be staying if Herr Schenk isn’t here.
FLORA: But you can tell me.
LECHAROV: Whether there’s something special? — Indeed, very something special. The revolution isn’t going according to plan — it seems.
FLORA: What’s that supposed to mean?
LECHAROV: At the motor company the workers are beating up on each other instead of beating up capitalist society.
FLORA: Who is beating — who?
LECHAROV: From what I’ve been told, it started when someone wanted to stop the strike captains from performing their duty.
FLORA: Did the police stop them?
LECHAROV: Certainly not. The police are nowhere to be seen, and the military even less so. — And what for? When the good proletarians are doing their jobs for them?
FLORA: Can’t you tell us in context what has happened?
LECHAROV: I can that. — I’ll sit down first, may I?
FRAU SCHENK: Wouldn’t you like to take off your coat, Herr — — ?
LECHAROV: Lecharov, please. — We have already met earlier.
FRAU SCHENK: I know — certainly. The name was just so hard to remember.
LECHAROV (takes off his coat, sits down on the recliner, wants to take out a cigarette.)
FLORA: We don’t want to smoke. Schenk will be coming home any minute. — You know — his lungs —
LECHAROW: It’s true. We’ll leave it. — So I’ll tell. I went through the city at 11 o’clock to see: What is up with the strike? What will the German workers do? — At first it was like I was in the bathtub. As if there was no war in the world.
FRAU SCHENK: How’s that?
LECHAROV: Well — normally when one goes out everything is field gray. Soldiers of all ranks and types of weaponry. Today, no uniform in the streets. As if the military had been abolished.
FLORA: And no guards?
LECHAROV: Not a guard, not a soldier. As if extinct.
FRAU SCHENK: But that’s funny.
LECHAROV: I went on further to Bartels and Moser. What a difference. Also strike captains, also no police, — but I could clearly discern that work was going on. In front of the entrance, proletarians, men and women — and they were arguing with the strike captains. I made inquiries: Half were working, half on strike.
FLORA: I knew it. There are a lot of Christians and yellows there.
LECHAROV: Good. The people thought after the midday break more will stay away. — I went on to the motor company. The midday whistle had just blown. And people came out just like any other day. In work smocks, with blackened faces. Groups formed and talked excitedly back and forth. Finally, I saw a throng of men standing around a couple of people and they hit a proletarian with a red emblem.
FRAU SCHENK: Hit? — But that’s disgraceful.
LECHAROV: As I approached he was lying on the ground and bleeding. I know him. It was comrade Braun. He comes to the “Federation of New Men”, too.
FLORA: Naturally. Braun is an exceptional comrade.
FRAUN SCHENK: He comes to see Ralf often.
LECHAROV: Then I saw how one spoke to the crowd. It was the editor of the “The People’s Herald”.
LECHAROV: Strauss. He warned against acts of violence, and said the agitators and inciters are certain to find their punishment, they should just not let themselves be mislead and should go peacefully about their work. Then the crowd disbursed, and I read one of the yellow bills which were posted on the factory: “Whoever stays home from work without authorization is dismissed.”
FLORA: That will be difficult for them if the whole factory goes on strike.
LECHAROV: What more should I say? I went to the “Swan” to get lunch. On the way I saw: Of twenty proletarians one wore the red ribbon. I thought to myself while eating: What is to happen? — and came here.
FLORA: What is to happen? — That’s been settled, I should think.
LECHAROV: Yes — on paper. But how do you want to produce a play when the actors don’t take the stage?
FLORA: But you don’t mean to say that the demonstration wouldn’t take place. If at Wachsmann everyone has taken the day off, at Bartels and Moser the half of them, — then you count the smaller and extremely small businesses, as well.
LECHAROV: Certainly the demonstration will take place. But it will be ridiculous, minuscule. The city has four hundred thousand inhabitants, that makes with clerks and lower officials a good hundred thousand proletarians. Let’s say at most three thousand individuals participate.
FLORA: Wachsmann alone has over four thousand workers.
LECHAROV: Teach me to know the proletariat! I took part in Russia already in the beginnings of the movement in 1903. They stop working — as far as I’m concerned, they do that and say afterwards they were terrorized. Not even a fifth of those on strike will go into the street. — Believe me.
FRAU SCHENK: But that would be a big disappointment for Ralf.
LECHAROV: The bourgeoisie is again more clever than the proletariat. It waits calmly until it has the few storm troopers of the revolutionary working class all together. And then it opens fire into the crowd and arrests what it can grab. — Well, the proletariat will learn with time.
FRAU SCHENK: Oh God, but that would be horrifying.
FLORA: Do you really think that that is intended?
LECHAROV: That they have absolutely no police and absolutely no military in the street is not a good sign. But what do I know.
FLORA: And you wanted to advise Schenk to call off the whole demonstration?
LECHAROV: I didn’t want to advise anything. How could I think to? I just wanted to say what I observed. Can I know if they don’t perhaps want the undertaking to have this effect? Now I have told you. The rest you must know for yourselves.
FLORA: I don’t suppose you know how Professor Seebald has decided?
LECHAROV: I have not seen him yet today. (There is a knock.)
FRAU SCHENK: Come in! (Enter Trotz, Dietrich, Braun, — the latter with bandaged head — , Färber, Fischer, Rosa Fiebig, all with large packages and long pickets. Chaos of greetings.)
DIETRICH: Here we have the emblems of the revolution! — Where should they go?
TROTZ: The best is probably to set everything on the bed.
FRAU SCHENK: Feel free.
FÄRBER: Where is Schenk, then? Is he not home?
FRAU SCHENK: He should be coming any moment.
ROSA: Hasn’t Rund been here yet?
FRAU SCHENK: No, not yet.
ROSA: He was going to pick me up here.
FLORA: It looks like you’ve been poorly mistreated, Comrade Braun.
BRAUN: It’s not so bad. I was standing strike duty at the motor company —
FRAU SCHENK: Yes, Herr — Herr — —
LECHAROV: Lecharov, Comrade.
FRAU SCHENK: Herr (chokes on the name) has already told us.
BRAUN: The guy lunged at me with a knife. It could have gotten ugly.
DIETRICH: These gangs of strikebreakers! — Shame I wasn’t there!
TROTZ: You probably couldn’t have been much help either.
DIETRICH: That’s an open question.
FLORA: What’s all that you’ve brought with you?
TROTZ: Forty red flags and twenty placards.
DIETRICH: We can show you a couple. (He opens up a package with four-sided signs.) Here! Down with the war! — There — we’ll put that one up top on the picket. (Does it.) They’ll read it there, those men of violence!
ROSA (opens the fastening of a heap of pickets, the sheets are bound on top in paper): The sheets for the flags are big enough, right? (Spreads a flag out.)
LECHAROV: Very pretty red.
DIETRICH: It will make quite a picture — ha! — Here, look here (reads off signboards): Long live free Russia! Peace, Freedom, Bread! Up with the international brotherhood of peoples! (Färber, Fischer and Braun on the bed and Trotz, Dietrich and Rosa at the table are busy with the things.)
FLORA: You’ve done splendid work.
FRAU SCHENK: Ralf will be happy when he sees it. — Where can he be for so long?
FLORA: Did you get Klagenfurter accommodated this morning, Comrade Dietrich?
DIETRICH: Oh, I still need to tell you. — She didn’t take him, the damned hag!
FLORA: Didn’t take him? — But he is somewhere safe right?
DIETRICH: Hopefully! — We separated after that. He thought it was safer if he went alone.
TROTZ: Dietrich probably cursed the broad so loudly that the passersby started to take note.
DIETRICH: Just let me finish! We came there together. The little toad of a niece who she had with her last night opened the door. Then she came into the hallway herself, the gracious lady.
ROSA: Didn’t she even let you inside?
DIETRICH: Not a step! Well, Stefan came out with it, what he wanted, — merely accommodation at her place until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Well, the two looked at each other as if Satan wanted to take quarter with them. And then the little one started in first: Oh, but that won’t do! — Oh! but that would be dangerous for us!
FRAU SCHENK: Impossible!
DIETRICH: And then the old one! — What could we possibly be thinking! — The police might come into her house. — I really wanted to let her have it, the goat, — but Stefan already had me by the sleeve and then we were glad when we were back outside.
FLORA: A fine lot, these esthetic ladies!
FRAU SCHENK: But where might he be staying then?
DIETRICH: He wanted to go to Professor Seebald!
FRAU SCHENK: Oh God, he won’t have met him, he was here with Ralf.
LECHAROV: Seebald was here? — Did he agree?
FLORA: It seems not. Schenk hasn’t been here since. (The door opens. Enter Schenk.)
SCHENK (slight nervous cough): Well, well. — So many people. — Oh yes, the flags. — Ah, good day, Flora. Nice that you’re here! And Comrade Lecharov, you too.
LECHAROV: You’ve spoken with Mathias Seebald? — Well?
SCHENK (coughs harder): But one can hardly turn around here. — Do the work in the kitchen! (He opens the kitchen door. Rosa, Dietrich, Trotz exit into the kitchen with the placards. The door stays open.) Are you wounded, Braun?
BRAUN: Small skirmish at the outpost.
SCHENK: Were you at Lassmann’s, Flora?
FLORA: Yes, unfortunately the landlord wouldn’t agree to anything. I still have no idea what we’ll be able to do.
SCHENK: That’s alright. — I’ve already found a solution.
SCHENK: As a matter of fact. — I can help. (Coughing fit.)
FRAU SCHENK: What is the matter, my boy? You look terribly uneasy.
SCHENK: It’s nothing. (Pulls himself together.) How do you judge the situation, Comrade Lecharov?
LECHAROV: What should I say? — One will have to see.
SCHENK: Seebald will likely stay home. — Eh?
LECHAROV: That’s what I wanted to hear from you. — I believe he was here.
SCHENK: Yes, — yes, certainly. — No, he didn’t say whether he’s coming. — I hardly think so.
FLORA: You are so remarkably nervous, Raffael. Are you in a bad mood?
SCHENK: Oh, not at all. (Coughs slightly.) Not in the least. — It’s just all the people —
FISCHER: Let’s go on ahead!
FLORA: Yes? — Would you prefer that?
SCHENK: You? — Not you! — Please stay!
FÄRBER (calls into the kitchen): Finish up! We’re going.
DIETRICH (in the doorway): Did you see the placards, Schenk? — Magnificent — no? It will be festive!
SCHENK: Yes, it is all very good. (A knock.) Come in! (Rund enters.)
FRAU SCHENK: Good day, dear Herr Rund. — Rosa is in the kitchen.
ROSA (in the kitchen door): Be right there, Fritz, we’re just packing up.
RUND: I have very bad news.
FLORA: What has happened?
RUND: Klagenfurter has been arrested.
SCHENK: Damn it!
RUND: I shouldn’t even have gone out on the streets in uniform. It is strictly forbidden. But I had to let you know.
FÄRBER: How did you find out?
RUND: Well, I was in the barracks when he was brought in. Two hours ago already. He refused to put on the uniform. They wanted to get him dressed right away.
BRAUN: And what did they do with him?
RUND: Locked up in a dark cell. — I’m afraid it will be terrible for him.
LECHAROV: You’ve got a rallying cry there for the workers today.
FLORA: That’s true. — Comrades! (Everyone, including those from the kitchen, form a half-circle around Flora, who stands with Schenk, Frau Schenk and Lecharov in the foreground to the right.) Comrade Klagenfurter has been arrested and refuses to do military service.
DIETRICH: Bravo, Klagenfurter!
FLORA: He is well known among the workers, right?
TROTZ: Everyone knows him. He is the opposition leader for the metal workers.
FLORA: His case must become known to all. It is incredibly important that a demand of local and immediate significance can be posed thereby.
TROTZ: The workers must declare: Work won’t resume until Klagenfurter is free.
LECHAROV: Now the whole action is starting to find its footing!
SCHENK: We have to get him out!
LECHAROV: Get him out is easy to say. One has to know how the soldiers will react.
RUND: That is entirely uncertain. — Many are bad-mouthing the strike and Seebald especially.
SCHENK: But I think that ultimately most of them will come over to our side.
FLORA: Who can predict that? — But there’s no time to lose. Take the flags down to the spot, explain things to the people who are already there, send comrades to meet up with the groups already marching in, so that every worker knows what has happened.
BRAUN: Maybe this way we can still win over a few more for the strike.
DIETRICH: March! March! — To the guns! (Dietrich, Färber, Fischer, Braun, Trotz, Rosa take the packages and pickets.)
TROTZ: Come, get ready, Schenk!
SCHENK: Leave me a while! — I’ll be there on time.
FÄRBER: Then what did we drag the whole mess over here for?
FRAU SCHENK: Leave him be! He’s not in top form. — Stay with him for a bit, Flora!
SCHENK: We’re going to go together, right?
FLORA: Actually —
TROTZ: Just stay, Flora. — It’s enough if you’re there on time.
FLORA: Alright then.
RUND: Let me go first. Come on, Rosa. — Together with all of you I would be even more conspicuous in my uniform.
ROSA: Good bye! (Exits with Rund.)
DIETRICH: So. — Does everyone have their bundle? — Off to battle!
TROTZ (slaps Schenk on the shoulder): — You have to hang in there this one more day, my boy! We need you. But once we’ve done it, it’ll be time for you to properly recuperate.
SCHENK (smiling with difficulty): I will hang in there today.
BRAUN: Well, let’s go, comrades!
FISCHER: Be on time! (Exit Braun, Färber, Trotz, Dietrich, Fischer.)
FRAU SCHENK: Won’t you lay down in bed for a little while, Ralf? You walked too fast outside, I’m sure.
SCHENK: No, mother, it’s nothing, really. It’s just — the anticipation.
LECHAROV: One has nothing to worry about. It’s just stage fright, the excitement before a test.
SCHENK: Yeah, it’s probably something like that.
FRAU SCHENK: But now I have to go into the kitchen. I’ll look in on you again. (Exits.)
FLORA: Tell me, Comrade Lecharov: — Wouldn’t you like to speak instead of Seebald?
LECHAROV: That would be good, with my broken German.
SCHENK: No — Flora must speak.
FLORA: He’s got that into his head somehow.
SCHENK: You know what it depends on. The crowd must move against the military.
LECHAROV: If the military will be there. If it doesn’t lay in wait for the march along the way.
SCHENK: No, it will come to the Wachsmann factory.
FLORA: Do you know that for sure?
SCHENK: Yes. (After a pause.) — The police superintendent told me.
FLORA: The police superintendent was here?
SCHENK: He wanted to search for Klagenfurter.
LECHAROV: The man showed you his cards? Not bad!
SCHENK (coughs slightly): He hinted at it.
FLORA: Well tell us then, what did he say?
SCHENK: He wanted to know whether — Seebald would be there.
FLORA: But you didn’t let yourself in for a discussion?
LECHAROV: You wouldn’t have given him any information?
SCHENK (embarrassed): No — of course not. But... (There’s a knock at the door.) Enter!
SEEBALD (enters): You are still here, Raffael. — That is good.
LECHAROV (approaches him): Greetings, Mathias. What’s it going to be?
SEEBALD: The gods only know. I don’t foresee anything good.
FLORA: Are you going?
SEEBALD: Yes. I’ve made up my mind.
FLORA (squeezes his hand): That’s right, Professor. I’m happy. Raffael, did you hear? Professor Seebald is coming.
SCHENK (stands with arms crossed near the stove): For all I care.
SEEBALD: Raffael Schenk! Let us be friends again. This morning — that was hideous. Let us forget about it. You have convinced me.
SCHENK: Convinced, — of what?
SEEBALD: That that which is now taking place is in the end my doing. Therefore I cannot remain aloof. Come of it what may.
SCHENK: And what do you want to say to the workers?
SEEBALD: That they should stand firm in their refusal to work for war. I will show them what payment awaits them when they will have defeated violence with their nonviolent deed.
SCHENK: You mean now, when the masses are rising up, you want to give the same popular speech that they’ve heard from you a dozen times already.
SEEBALD: How am I supposed to respond to that?
FLORA: There has been a new development, Professor. Comrade Klagenfurter received the order this morning to report immediately for military service. He fled. They arrested him, however, and wanted to immediately put him in uniform. But he resisted and now he’s locked up in a dark cell. You must touch on this in your speech.
SEEBALD: He did that? — Oh, that is beautiful, that is glorious! Yes, I must present that to them as an example!
SCHENK: No, that won’t cut it. You must call on them to free Klagenfurter!
SEEBALD: That would be tantamount to preaching violence. I won’t do that. I can’t do that.
SCHENK: Then you will do it, Flora — or the blind Lassmann will do it.
SEEBALD: Raffael! Don’t demand anything impossible. Do you want to bear the responsibility for driving your class comrades, your fellow workers to their deaths? Is it not already enough with the misery and the blood out there in the field? Must there be slaughtering and killing also among those who are still back home?
FLORA: It will hardly be a peaceful stroll through the city then either, if you give the demonstration no specific goal. And do you want to simply leave Klagenfurter to his fate then?
SEEBALD: But you as a woman must recoil from the extreme!
LECHAROV: I understand well your point of view. I understand Flora and Schenk, also. It won’t depend on whether you want to avoid bloodshed at any price. It will also not depend on whether the others want to take the ultimate risk. Rather, it will depend on whether the demonstrators will want to fight for their future, or whether they will be cautious. And on that will also depend the behavior of the soldiers.
FLORA: You don’t believe that the soldiers will shoot no matter what?
LECHAROV: No person does something no matter what. Are the soldiers not proletarians? They are flesh of their flesh and blood of their blood. Just as the ones are, so are the others. When they see determination, total fearlessness, enthusiasm among the workers for peace and freedom, then among them too the feeling for peace and freedom will come alive, and they will have the courage for solidarity. But if they see hesitation and fear and cautiousness, then that will be a sign that the proletariat is still not free of subservience, and so they too won’t be free of subservience and will do what the officers command.
FLORA: That’s why it would be up to you, Professor Seebald, to speak to the masses in such a way that they forget their fear and risk it all at any price.
SEEBALD: And I am supposed to call on them to storm the military prison — the unarmed workers?
SCHENK: No, to storm the armory, — and then the armed workers to the barracks and the palace.
SEEBALD (walks about uneasily): No! — That — won’t do! — I won’t be a part of that.
SCHENK: Then you better stay home instead! At least there you’ll do no harm.
SEEBALD (remains standing before Schenk, excited): But now I must forbid you to speak to me in this tone. You have no right to make the accusation that I could harm the people’s peace movement. This morning you taught me a lesson about where my place is, since the whole venture was spurred on by me. I accepted this lesson from you and will stand where my duty places me. And there I will act as my duty requires me.
SCHENK: Perhaps then you will also warn the masses about unfavorable influences!
FLORA: Raffael! — I beg you!
SEEBALD: Oh, is that the reason for your anger, — what I discussed with your mother?
SCHENK: He warned of you, Flora! — You are to be my undoing — .
SEEBALD: I did not say that.
SCHENK (in a mighty outburst): There’s no sugar coating it, Herr Professor! But you’re deceiving yourself if you think the proletarian can be dragged along on a string wherever one wants. I don’t need your instruction, — understand me? I know myself where I belong, and I know better than you what the proletariat needs, — much better.
FLORA: Don’t get yourself so worked up, Raffael! — Please don’t! (Puts her hand on his shoulder.)
SCHENK (frees himself): Let go of me! There needs to be clarity between that man and me. — Yes, just take a look at me!
SEEBALD: Calm yourself. — I know you are a good person.
SCHENK: I am not a good person at all. But I know my way. — And it goes straight ahead, Herr Professor Seebald! Straight ahead — even if it leads over corpses! — And even if it leads over you! — Perhaps you’ll see for yourself. — I’ve got no need for your soft chirping about peace, not in the slightest. — If you want to know: I want blood to flow today! I wish they’d shoot into the crowd! — The proletariat should feel that revolution is no walk in the park, — but costs blood — — blood!!
SEEBALD (strongly): Stop this gruesome confession, man!
SCHENK: Aha! That’s not so sweet to your ears, right! — But you wouldn’t understand. You can’t understand me at all. — And why not? Pay attention! I’ll tell you: Because I am a proletarian — and you are — a bourgeois!
SEEBALD (takes his hat): Farewell, Schenk. I hope you will come to judge me differently — perhaps even today. (Wants to go.)
LECHAROV: I will accompany you, Mathias. — (To Schenk): A person must not let himself go too far. Perhaps you are right in the matter, but you are wrong to speak that way to Mathias Seebald. How are we to wage war against capitalism if we don’t maintain peace with one another? (Schenk is silent.) Now — think it over. Good bye, comrade Schenk. (Gives him his hand.) Comrade Severin is staying here, I suppose, — right?
FLORA: I think, Raffael, it is best for you if you are alone for half an hour.
SCHENK: You want to leave, too?
FLORA: Lay down for a bit. I’ll tell your mother she should call you at 2:30. — Alright?
SCHENK (gives her his hand): If you say so. — I’m a little tired. (Seebald and Lecharov go first out the door.)
FLORA (watches them out, then kisses Schenk): Be strong, my dearest! — We both need to be strong today!
SCHENK (gives her hand a long kiss): You’re right.
FLORA (opens the kitchen door): Mother Schenk!
FRAU SCHENK: Yes, dear child.
FLORA: We’ll leave Ralf alone for a bit. But remind him at 2:30 sharp to get going. (Exits.)
FRAU SCHENK: Do you want to lay down, my boy?
SCHENK: No, mother, sit with me! (He opens up the folding chair, so that he sits on it half-reclining. Frau Schenk pulls up a chair next to him.) I have to say something from the heart.
FRAU SCHENK: And so you send your Flora away and get your old mother?
SCHENK: She might not understand me yet the way you would.
FRAU SCHENK: Yes, my God, — it takes time for love to become trust.
SCHENK: No — no. There’s nothing I haven’t — I have the utmost trust in Flora. I would like to tell it to her, too. But you should know first.
FRAU SCHENK: Just say it. — It won’t be anything dishonorable.
SCHENK: That’s what I want to find out from you.
FRAU SCHENK: No, I know that already. You wouldn’t do anything dishonorable .
SCHENK: Mother, up to now haven’t you always understood everything that I’ve done?
FRAU SCHENK: As much as I could with my little understanding — always.
SCHENK: What would you say, though, if I committed what thoroughly appeared to be a terrible act?
FRAU SCHENK: Whatever appears so need not actually be terrible!
SCHENK: I think so too, mother! — But can you imagine a person having a guilty conscience over something that he did, regardless of whether or not he thinks it right that he did it?
FRAU SCHENK: Yes, — that depends I suppose on how it turned out. Then sometimes one finds that it was the wrong choice.
SCHENK: No, mother — before; when one doesn’t even know the consequences yet.
FRAU SCHENK: Where is this guilty conscience supposed to be coming from? No, I don’t think so.
SCHENK: But, mother, it’s true.
FRAU SCHENK: A person only gets a guilty conscience when he himself finds his act to be bad.
SCHENK: Listen to me, mom. — I have done something because I had to do it and because I believe that it was necessary. But for someone who doesn’t precisely know everything about how one has come to it and why it must be this way, it is maybe the worst thing that a person can ever do.
FRAU SCHENK: Well, my boy I still don’t know —
SCHENK: You don’t need to know. But you can tell what I’m feeling. — See, if I were to hear from some other person, from my closest friend, that he had done what I have done, — then I wouldn’t ask him anything more, I would say: The rogue! And never want to have anything to do with him again.
FRAU SCHENK: But, child, you’re making me very scared.
SCHENK: But no! I just want to know whether you understand me right. — It’s a guilty conscience that makes me ask myself: How would you feel if some one else did it. And I couldn’t explain it to anyone at all afterwards either, — I couldn’t excuse myself at all.
FRAU SCHENK: Even to Flora?
SCHENK: Flora? — She might have done the same thing in the same situation. — Naturally, she might not have. — But would she nonetheless understand it from me — ?
FRAU SCHENK: Would you understand then, if she had done it?
SCHENK (after long consideration): I don’t know, mother. I suppose I wouldn’t.
FRAU SCHENK: Maybe it would make you feel better if you were to tell her.
SCHENK: When it’s all over and has turned out well, then I will tell her, too.
FRAU SCHENK: I’m sure Flora will understand you. — I almost think heaven has sent her to you.
SCHENK: I believe that too. — But if I will ever be able to talk with her about everything like with you, — I don’t know about that.
FRAU SCHENK: But why ever not, my boy?
SCHENK: Oh, mother, you don’t know how good it is that you never ask about anything.
FRAU SCHENK: You have to decide for yourself how much you want to tell me.
SCHENK: Come, mother, I have to give you a kiss. (She bends down over him.) — There. Now I know everything I wanted to know, — you won’t ever doubt me, mother — right?
FRAU SCHENK: No, certainly not, Ralf.
SCHENK: Not even if everyone, — even the comrades, — and even Flora condemn me?
FRAU SCHENK: No, never. I know you. — But we don’t want to hope for that, right?
SCHENK: Who can see the evening at midday?
FRAU SCHENK: Are you feeling better now, my son? — You were so nervous earlier.
SCHENK (stands up): Now I feel better. — Now I’ve gotten off my chest what was weighing on me. My conscience is clear again.
FRAU SCHENK: He who has a clear conscience does the right thing, too.
SCHENK (takes a rose from the vase): There, mom, put that on (fastens it to her apron string): it is from the one I love.
FRAU SCHENK (kisses him on the forehead): May she make you really, really happy!
SCHENK: Now go into your kitchen and don’t worry yourself about me any more, understand? (Puts on his coat.)
FRAU SCHENK: I have something good for you tonight — I’ve got three eggs. (Nods toward him, exits into the kitchen.)
SCHENK (watching her): You good, dear mother! (Wants to go, remembers something at the door and returns.) The weapon! (With a side glance toward the kitchen door he quickly takes a Browning from the drawer and tucks it away. Exits quickly.)
Afternoon of the same day. Square in front of the Wachsmann factory, the facade of which is partially visible to the left of the stage. Large forecourt, encircled from the front to about half-way up by an iron lattice fence built on concrete. The enclosure ends where the gateway should be. The gateway is hinted at through two four-cornered stones, of which one stands free. In front of the background to the left, a street runs at an angle into the open forecourt; lanterns on both sides. Way in the back one can see houses and chimneys. In front to the left, a narrow street leads past the fence. In the background, trees with left-over snow. In the back right, the corner of a house past which a street flows into the square, into which the view is blocked by a streetcar with broken windows and a free-hanging trolley pole. The rails lead over the square. Tram wires are spread out. To the right, houses behind; in front, a tavern, signified by a bunch of grapes, a staircase marks the entrance. The street in front to the left continues to the right, past the tavern. In the forecourt of the factory, many people with red rosettes. One sees red flags and placards. A crowd of people stand about around the streetcar. In the foreground, somewhat to the left, a group of workers, among them Trotz, Dietrich, Färber, Fischer, Braun, Rosa, Rund and a streetcar driver.
BRAUN: Yes, dear friend, you can’t complain when you ride on a strike day. —
TROTZ: And then right into the middle of where the workers are gathering!
STREETCAR DRIVER: I couldn’t have known that my car would be straightaway smashed in two!
DIETRICH: Serves you right. — Who stoops to strikebreaking!
STREETCAR DRIVER: But all the cars are in service today!
FÄRBER: That’s sad enough!
STREETCAR DRIVER: A person needs to live.
STREETCAR CONDUCTREss (wearing a rosette, pushes forward): That’s nonsense. I know where I belong on such a day. You could have left your car where it stood, too.
DIETRICH: Bravo! — Yes, the women!
CONDUCTREss: My husband is three years out and already wounded twice and now he’s in Flanders again. I’ve had it with the children!
TROTZ: We are all proletarians! We belong together.
STREETCAR DRIVER: Yeah, well. — It’s all the same to me. (Exits into the background.)
CONDUCTREss: That’s how they all are. Just so long as the paycheck shows up. (Those standing around go away.)
(From the front right enter Seebald, Lecharov and Flora.)
DIETRICH: Ah! Here come our friends. —
LECHAROV (takes a look around): There are even fewer than I had thought.
TROTZ: It doesn’t matter. It’s a start.
LECHAROV: It’s more than that. If a man who seemed dead moves his little finger, one sees that he still can be revived.
FLORA: What’s with the streetcar?
FÄRBER: The people stopped it. The passengers had to get out, and since the driver didn’t want to come down, they pulled him out and smashed in the windows.
DIETRICH: That’s right! And we cut off his current. That’s what has to happen to all strikebreakers, those louts!
SEEBALD: No one should be forced to act against his will.
BRAUN: But when he drives right through the middle of the strikers!
SEEBALD: Violence is never the right method. — But what’s with your head? Are you wounded?
BRAUN (laughs): Yeah, that’s where the others used violence because I was standing strike duty.
FLORA: But Rund, in your uniform you should stick closer to the crowd.
RUND: Oh, there’s a crowd of soldiers on hand. — Just look.
ROSA: But mostly just the wounded.
RUND: It doesn’t matter. If all goes well, they won’t be able to do me much harm.
TROTZ (to Flora): What’s with Schenk, then? Isn’t he coming?
FLORA: Naturally. He should be here any minute now. We just wanted to let him rest a couple minutes.
BRAUN: He wasn’t in good shape today at all.
TROTZ: The poor fellow. Things just won’t get right with his lung. His work is also not right for him. Always at the typesetter’s box and breathing the lead dust.
FÄRBER: And then today’s excitement, as well.
SEEBALD: Unfortunately, I made it even worse. Hopefully, his grudge won’t hold.
FLORA (aside to Trotz): Do the people know about Klagenfurter?
TROTZ: Yes. They’re all saying he must be freed.
FLORA: That’s good. (Back to the others.)
(From the back, enter Lassmann on his wife’s arm.)
FRAU LASSMANN: They are all standing over there.
DIETRICH: Our leader! — Lassmann, where’s your flag!
LASSMANN: Yes! — Give me a red flag! (Feels about.)
TROTZ: You’ll get one, Ernst, we’re just about to go into the courtyard. One is already set out for you.
LASSMANN: Has Professor Seebald come?
SEEBALD: Yes, friend Lassmann, I am here. (Grabs his hand.)
LASSMANN: He is here, Thilde. Yes, let us both lead the way, you and I, — and I will carry the flag. — Today is an auspicious day. For me, it’s as if I were getting my eyesight back.
SEEBALD: One must never give up hope.
LASSMANN: Oh, I am happy! — Long live freedom! Long live peace! (People gather around the group.)
DIETRICH: Long live revolution!
LASSMANN: And Professor Seebald!
A WORKER: Seebald is here, comrades! — Mathias Seebald! —
MANY VOICES: Cheers for Seebald! Cheers! (Many come running, crowd around Seebald.) Cheers for our leader! Cheers!
SEEBALD: I thank you, friends, but it’s not a matter of my individual personality. We must work for peace.
VOICES: Long live peace! — Down with war!
FLORA: It’s past 3 o’clock. — The people have to take their places.
LASSMANN: My flag!
TROTZ: Yes, we’re going now. Come, Mathilde! (Everyone exits into the factory courtyard. The whole square empties in that direction. Great movement in the courtyard. From the left enter Strauss, who observes the proceedings from the corner. He notices Tiedtken alone in the square.)
STRAUSS (approaches him): Good day, Herr Tiedtken; — here, too?
TIEDTKEN: It surprises me to see you here.
STRAUSS: Duty! I must try to save the people from stupidities.
TIEDTKEN: You consider the whole thing a stupidity?
STRAUSS: Even worse: A crime.
TIEDTKEN: But I think if a man like professor Seebald puts himself in the lead, then it could only be serving the good.
STRAUSS: You are a harmless person, Herr Tiedtken. You live in your world of beauty and art. Seebald’s words flow into you like honey. I tell you! The man is a most dangerous schemer.
TIEDTKEN: You likely don’t know him. He really has a heart for the workers.
STRAUSS: Is that so? And we’re the ones betraying the proletariat!
TIEDTKEN: Honestly, I have to tell you, I didn’t at all like the call of the party and the unions on the same page as the threats of General Lychenheim.
STRAUSS: We must make it totally clear to the workers that they cannot in the slightest count on their organizations in this outrageous game.
TIEDTKEN: As far as I’ve heard from the workers, they were extremely indignant.
STRAUSS: How many workers then have you spoken to altogether? — And I’m familiar with the type you sympathize with. I know just what threads bind you to proletarians.
TIEDTKEN: Oh, what you you’re getting at is no longer true. I’ve torn these threads.
STRAUSS: That was wise. But you should also give up your association with Seebald. He is a downright charlatan.
TIEDTKEN: But I beg you, Herr Strauss. — An individual of such standing!
STRAUSS: What do you know? Who does he have behind him? A couple of gullible literary men, — don’t take my candor the wrong way; a couple of unsatisfied hysterical women and a couple of neurotic workers. And each admires him for something different: You esthetes, for his philosophastery; — the old bags, because he tickles their fancy with his mystical eye-rolling; and the muddle-headed workers, because of his anarchistic ringleader’s allure.
TIEDTKEN: But every person praises his idealism.
STRAUSS: You think so? — I only wish you could hear the soldiers talk about him.
TIEDTKEN: You mean the officers no doubt?
STRAUSS: No — the soldiers. They know precisely that everything depends now on gathering the remaining forces — and breaking through! You know, they have had it with the war, and if someone comes along now to interfere, right when it’s nearing its conclusion, and preaches to them passiveness, desertion, love of one’s enemies, in short, things that all lead to setbacks and thereby to the unlimited extension of the war, then their blood begins to boil. I can tell you that.
TIEDTKEN: Most of them, though, don’t believe in victory anymore.
STRAUSS: Some, who are befogged by these phrase-slingers. But the others — the vast majority! My dear fellow, they come to us, they have trust in us. Why, I’ve heard more than once: If we ever get that bloke, that Seebald, in our clutches, — he’ll never escape in one piece! (From the right, enter Schenk; notices the two, stands still.)
TIEDTKEN: No — , but I wouldn’t have imagined that.
STRAUSS: Sure, cursing the labor leaders is easy. But one of our sort, who from his youth on has done the detail work in the Party, who has taken part in helping to build the organization from its meager beginnings, — he knows the proletariat, he knows where the shoe pinches. You can believe that. We have the experience. We know now , too, how we get the people through this confusing time. — Realpolitik, my esteemed fellow, — that’s what it comes down to; not rhetorical turns of phrase and such absurdities like that there! — Are you coming? I’d like to listen around a bit.
TIEDTKEN: Shall we go straight into the factory?
STRAUSS: I’d be careful. No, the moment will come yet. (Takes Tiedtken’s arm. Both exit into the background.)
SCHENK (comes slowly forward, past the tavern. Tessendorff steps out of the tavern, inconspicuously dressed).
TESSENDORFF: Herr Schenk!
SCHENK (turns around): Oh, it’s you.
TESSENDORFF: Let’s step forward here, where no one will see us. (They stand in front of the stairway, which covers them.) Seebald is here!
SCHENK: I know.
TESSENDORFF: Well, what do you think?
SCHENK: What am I supposed to think?
TESSENDORFF: Let’s not play around. At 3 o’clock sharp the military will move in. The arrests will be made by soldiers.
SCHENK: What arrests?
TESSENDORFF: Well, Seebald — and what do I know!
SCHENK: You assured me that aside from him no one was to be taken into custody.
TESSENDORFF: You made yourself potentially available, as well. You must signal the appropriate moment to move against Seebald.
SCHENK: Me? What’s that have to do with me? — Kindly do your dirty work alone!
TESSENDORFF: Herr Schenk, I have a receipt from you with me.
SCHENK: And so you think you have me in you hand? You can have the money back, Herr Police Superintendent!
TESSENDORFF: The police does not undo completed business. Incidentally, you yourself were of the opinion just this morning that in the event of Seebald’s presence we must agree on a new plan. Now, do you want him to send the people home? Surely there’s no question in what vein he will speak. He will smooth things over.
SCHENK: That is not at all certain.
TESSENDORFF: You’ll just have to find that out in advance. If he himself calls to action, so much the better: Then we won’t even need to arrest him. Then we could only do harm with his arrest. You must, therefore, speak with him beforehand and give me a sign if he intends to put on the breaks.
SCHENK: What kind of a sign?
TESSENDORFF: Any kind. — You could, for example, put your hand on his shoulder.
SCHENK: I could also just straightaway give him a kiss.
TESSENDORFF: If you prefer.
SCHENK: No, no! — It just came to me, by comparison. Good then, I will put my hand on his shoulder.
TESSENDORFF: At that moment I’ll send forward soldiers to arrest him. And then you can call on your friends to help.
SCHENK: They won’t fail.
TESSENDORFF: So I can count on you.
SCHENK: But please don’t get it into your head that I am now one of yours.
TESSENDORFF: The police places no value on your sympathies. — But I would like to draw your attention to one more thing: Should you act contrary to the agreement, that is, should you yourself begin to doubt your courage, or however one calls it — get a guilty conscience —
SCHENK: Please, don’t trouble yourself about my soul.
TESSENDORFF: Not in the least. I only want to say to you, there’s enough military coming to surround the whole square. The intention is to use only small arms. If things should not go as desired, however, then there are in any case also machine guns and, worst comes to worst, flame throwers. Whatever escapes with its life will then be arrested. Now you know.
SCHENK: That’s fine. (Exit Tessendorff into the street behind, to the right. Schenk crosses over the square toward the factory. A number of workers meet him, among them Marie Klagenfurter.)
MARIE: I just heard about it an hour ago. My God, if they just don’t shoot him!
SCHENK: It’s you, Marie!
MARIE: Thank God, Schenk! — You know that they have arrested Stefan?
SCHENK: Yes, just calm yourself. We’ll get him out.
WORKER: That’s right. We’re marching to the military prison. — Klagenfurter must be free! (More gather around the group.)
MARIE: Don’t you think that something could thereby happen to him?
SCHENK: Nonsense. — Just rest! — Go home and don’t worry yourself unnecessarily.
FLORA (steps forward): Raffael, finally! — Why are you people standing around here? It’s high time! (Marie walks off with many others.)
SCHENK: Where is Seebald?
FLORA: I just saw him. — How are you feeling?
SCHENK: Thank you, I am fully rested.
FLORA: What do you make of it that there’s no police here?
SCHENK (looks at the clock): The military will be here shortly.
FLORA: How do you figure?
SCHENK: At 3:30 sharp they will march up. They could be here any moment.
FLORA: But how is it that you know that?
SCHENK: I just know.
FLORA (looks at him sharply): Raffael! — You’re scaring me. (One hears a clock strike twice. The workers walk from the trees out over the square.)
WORKER: The military is coming! — The military!! (Great commotion. Workers stream out from the factory courtyard. Seebald, Lecharov, Dietrich, Trotz become visible. Lassmann, lead by his wife, carries a red flag.)
LASSMANN: Follow me, comrades! (No one pays any attention to him.) Follow me! (Is pushed aside.)
DIETRICH: Forward, comrades! Overturn the streetcar!
MANY: The streetcar! — Barricades!
LECHAROV: They’re out of their minds! What do they want with barricades, if they don’t have any weapons!
SEEBALD: I will go to meet the soldiers, — talk to them.
SCHENK: No, professor! — Let them be! (A mass of workers attack the streetcar, attempt to lift it from the tracks. The steps of soldiers marching up can be heard from the street to the back right. A lieutenant steps forward by the streetcar. Behind him, Tessendorff appears.)
LIEUTENANT: Get back!! (The mass flees into the factory courtyard. A few stand in front of the fence, among them Seebald, Lecharov, Schenk, Flora, Trotz, Dietrich. The soldiers stand at the ready, positioned in front of the row of houses. To the right, behind the streetcar, countless helmets can be seen. The lieutenant stands with Tessendorff at his side in front of the car.)
TROTZ (goes toward the soldiers): You wouldn’t shoot your own fellow countrymen!
SEARGEANT: Back off! — There’s no negotiating here!
FLORA: Do you want to attack unarmed people!
SOLDIERS: Shut up, filthy pig!
SCHENK (pulls Seebald aside): Now’s the time to risk it!
SEEBALD: What! You want to drive the crowd against this hoard?
SCHENK: No — you must do it. That will make an impression!
SEEBALD: Never! (Schenk continues talking at him; they are screened by others.)
DIETRICH (jumps onto the stone at the entrance. To those gathered in the courtyard): Comrades! You have dared to unleash soldiers on the unarmed work force!
CRIES: Boo! — Put down you weapons!
DIETRICH: But they won’t dare shoot at us, if the red flags wave before us. Think of Comrade Klagenfurter! — Do you want to leave him to the claws of the military beast?
CRIES: No! No! — Klagenfurter must be freed!
FLORA (walks up next to Dietrich): To the armory, comrades! — We must have weapons!
CRIES: To the armory! — To the armory! (The disorganized crowd presses forward and now stands in part in the middle of the square, opposite the soldiers. In the middle toward the front are Schenk and Seebald.)
SCHENK (pulls the revolver out of his pocket): Look, you can’t hold the crowd any longer. — Take this! Take the lead!
SEEBALD: Keep your weapon! — I don’t carry weapons!
SCHENK: I beseech you, Mathias Seebald! (Puts his hand on his shoulder.)
SEEBALD: No! Not under any circumstances!
TESSENDORFF (toward Seebald with 6 — 8 soldiers): Here. That’s him! — He’s responsible for all of it. That is Professor Seebald. I pronounce you under arrest. (Shows his identification. Soldiers grab Seebald, shove him back with the butts of their guns toward the center.)
SEEBALD (to Schenk): Raffael! Raffael! — You shouldn’t have done that!
SCHENK: Come here! Come here!! — They’re dragging off Seebald!!
DIETRICH: Free him! — Free Seebald!! (One can hear orders being shouted. The soldiers aim their rifles. The crowd slowly yields.)
DIETRICH: Grab hold, whoever isn’t a coward! (Grabs Seebald, tries to tear him loose.)
LIEUTENANT: Fire! (Salvo. The crowd flies wildly apart, most into the factory yard, many between the trees and into the background. The soldiers continue to fire. Dietrich falls. One sees fleeing people collapse. Flora slumps down in front before the fence. From the background comes Strauss, waving a white cloth. The shooting stops.)
STRAUSS: It’s enough! No more shooting! (Seebald is shoved back out from the circle of soldiers. Dietrich’s corpse lies in front to the right. Trotz and Fischer step up to it, Schenk sways about alone utterly bewildered.)
TROTZ (takes off his hat, Fischer likewise): Dietrich! — He died for my cause. — Why couldn’t it have hit me, an old man? — He looks to heaven as if he doesn’t comprehend at all that we’ve lost.
FISCHER: I’ll close his eyes. (Does it.)
STRAUSS (has in the meantime negotiated with the lieutenant): Let me through! — I must speak!
TROTZ: Is he still here, too?
STRAUSS (climbs up on the stone): Comrades! You need have no more fear. I have seen to it that there will be no more shooting. The guilty will naturally be called to justice. The rest of you were incited. The Party will arrange so that no one who returns to work tomorrow will be disciplined. Go home now in peace. Now you have seen that this is not the proper means to end the war. Hold on for a short time yet — and trust in your leaders! Then there will soon be peace. (The workers slowly disperse. A couple of flags lean against the fence, others lie on the ground. In the foreground to the left a few, among them Rosa and Braun, busy themselves with the wounded Flora.)
TROTZ and FISCHER (walk up to them. Lecharov stands nearby against the fence with arms crossed. Seebald, in the middle of the square, is mocked and threatened by the soldiers, Schenk in the middle alone.)
STRAUSS (goes up to Seebald): That is your own doing, Herr Professor Seebald!
SEEBALD: Let us not argue about that.
TESSENDORFF (goes about with some soldiers, points to different individuals who are arrested and lead to the middle of the square. There is already a whole line of them standing together; one notices many wounded and soldiers, including Rund.)
SCHENK (looks about absentmindedly, suddenly startled, rushes up to Flora): Flora! — What’s the matter?
FLORA (weakly): I think it’s all over!
SCHENK (sinks down next to her): Flora! — My — —
STRAUSS (to the soldiers): There, — the red-haired one, he’s one of the main agitators, arrest him!
TESSENDORFF: Stop! Nothing happens to Herr Schenk. — He is in the service of the police.
SCHENK: That’s not true!
TESSENDORFF: Should I show the receipt?
TROTZ (recoils in horror): But that — can’t be possible?
SCHENK (bends sobbing over Flora): Flora — do you understand me?
FLORA: I might not understand you. Why didn’t you trust me? (She faints.)
ROSA: Is there no doctor coming? — We can’t just leave her lying like this.
TESSENDORFF: There, take the old one and the one with the bandaged head, and the female there. (Trotz, Braun and Rosa are lead away.)
SCHENK: Stop! You promised me no one would be arrested.
TESSENDORFF: The police does not feel obligated by such pacts. Only written agreements count.
TROTZ: We don’t need your advocacy. Be ashamed, if you still can.
FISCHER: Judas! (With signs of disgust and abhorrence all make way for Schenk, who staggers toward the right. From the background come medics with stretchers. One sees soldiers with bayonets still driving off individual groups.)
LASSMANN (comes on his wife’s arm from the background on the right toward the foreground): Tell me, Tilde — are many dead?
FRAU LASSMANN: I don’t know either. Just come, come! — Oh, it’s terrible. — And tomorrow the apartment as well.
SCHENK (draws her aside in front of the tavern, signals to her to be quiet): Here, take this, Frau Lassmann, for the landlord and for the coming days. (Takes out his wallet, gives her the money.)
FRAU LASSMANN: Well, but no — so much money! (Schenk puts his hand to his mouth. Exit Lassmann to the front right.)
SCHENK (laughs out loud): The thirty pieces of silver! (He comes to the group of soldiers, in whose midst Seebald is standing.)
SOLDIERS: Smash his skull right in, the traitor to the people.
SEEBALD: I am no traitor. (He is jabbed by gun butts and stumbles.)
SCHENK: Don’t hit him — take me in his place! — He is the noblest and best!
SOLDIERS: What does the bloke want? — Oh, that’s the one who betrayed his own comrades. (Laughter and howling.)
SCHENK: Mathias Seebald! — Forgive me!
SEEBALD: You wanted it to be different — I know, Raffael. (He is shoved to the right amid screams. He is seen to fall under a jab from a rifle butt. He is dragged away.)
SERGEANT (to the prisoners in the middle of the square): Hands up! (They exit, with hands raised, to the back right.)
SCHENK (he watches how Dietrich’s corpse is laid on a stretcher and carried away. He stands in front of the staircase of the tavern and sees how medics set down a stretcher by Flora, too. Only over there are people still standing. Further back one still sees dead bodies lying. Schenk takes his revolver out of his pocket, exits toward the front right. Immediately thereafter a shot is fired.)
FLORA (recovers consciousness): Raffael! — Isn’t Raffael there?
LECHAROV: He’ll come back maybe.
TIEDTKEN (from the right, out of breath. Flora is hidden from him by those standing around): It’s terrible! Terrible!
FÄRBER: What’s happened?
TIEDTKEN: Professor Seebald has been beaten to death by the soldiers, — and Schenk immediately killed himself right in front there.
FLORA: He’s dead? — Raffael! — I would have so liked to kiss him one more time!
TIEDTKEN: Flora! — You?! —
FLORA: Get out of here! — Go! — What do you have to do with my death!
LECHAROV: Go! — She doesn’t want to see you now! (Tiedtken steps back.)
Dr. KARFUNKELSTEIN (enters from front right, notebook in hand, to Lecharov): Please excuse me! Can I ask you for information?
LECHAROV: Be quiet, man!
FLORA (sits up): Don’t lose the faith. — Revolution is coming. Communism — — (dies.)
LECHAROV: She is gone.
Dr. KARFUNKELSTEIN: Well, can nobody give me information?
FÄRBER: Blast it all, what do you want from us then?
Dr. KARFUNKELSTEIN: My name is Dr. Karfunkelstein. I am a correspondent for the Berlin morning paper. I must submit my report before six. Otherwise it won’t get into the paper on time.
LECHAROV: You want to hear from us what happened?
Dr. KARFUNKELSTEIN: Yes, I would be very grateful for most precise details.
LECHAROV: Good. Write this! — The German proletariat has spilled the first blood for the triumph of peace and freedom. — It has entered down the via dolorosa of social revolution and has sealed with its blood the alliance with its fighting brothers in Russia.