American Views Abroad

Saturday, January 28, 2006
I am a Murderer

I am a Murderer (1929)

By Kurt Tucholsky (German original at
Translation by Indie

"I, Ignaz Wrobel, love cheating the conductor on the bus, then I can ride for nothing. I have a violent temper: twice I ripped my bath robe to shreds, just to punish it; slashed ties; slammed a glass to the floor. I can't stand the sight of blood. Actually: I can stand the sight of blood, of animals. A strange feeling - not pleasant; well, yes, pleasant, I hesitate to say it, pleasant. I've often loved two women, they knew nothing of one another, but I knew. Once at one in the morning I had a strange impulse: I lay near Conrad on the sofa, we were talking about women, when I began to tremble, I wanted to touch him. I didn't do it - I was afraid of being ridiculous, nothing more. Now and again I have bloody dreams. I eat irregularly - sometimes nothing for days, then excessively. I'm unsound - I'm afraid of diseases, otherwise I'd go out every few days and talk to a girl on the street corner. I'm a coward and malicious: I spilled ink into my cousin's new hat, ripped my mother's lace handkerchief - later, with the most harmless expression: "No idea. My goodness. . . completely torn! Oh, it's ruined." - I like to listen when a couple makes love. Also when they hit each other. I lie for the sake of lying, with heart beating fast, whether it will come out. Most of the time it doesn't come out. I'm very good at lying. I hate my father. As a boy I had to do with my brother and afterwards wanted to beat him terribly, but he was stronger. I live irregular . . . I said that already. What is it all?"

"Nothing special. Look around you - : every single person carries some package small or large around with them . . . everyone has it. They have a spiritual hump of which they're ashamed. No matter how naked someone undresses before you - : they won't show you that. Sometimes not even themselves. It's nothing special."

"It's nothing special - ? I have nothing to fear - ?"

"It's nothing special. You have nothing to fear. Unless -"

"- ?"

"Unless you stand before a court of law. Unless some heavy suspicion falls upon you because of some deed that you deny. Then . . ."

"- ?"

"Then . . . all these facts you told me become something different. Then they are no longer the anomalies that every judge, every prosecuting attorney, every juror, every foreman could feel as a seed in themselves, if they would only be honest. Then, my friend, it's an entirely different matter."

"What . . . what is it then -? If they all have it?"

"Things like that don't exist in a courtroom. They all play a life that they don't have; a morality they don't possess; a purity of which no man is capable. Children in their Sunday best suddenly can't comprehend that specks of dirt exist in the world. Then all of a sudden these little characteristics become something new -"

"And what - ?"

"Evidence, Mr. Wrobel."

"- and that is why their verdict can only be: The accused is sentenced to death."


Special thanks to Tony Murphy for kind permission to use his photo. You may view his entire gallery here. Thankful acknowledgement goes also to Alice of Wonderland or Not, for helping to locate the accompanying photo.

Another special thanks to Indie of for allowing us to post his translation of Kurt Tucholsky's "Ich bin ein Moerder" which originally appeared in "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles" (1929). You can learn more about Kurt Tucholsky by reading this Wikipedia entry. The original text may be read at the German language Kurt Tucholsky blog:

Friday, January 27, 2006
On the Hamas victory in this week's election:

Hamas' Election Victory -- a Call for Good Governance and Respect of Palestinian Rights at This is the Bethlehem alternative info center's take on the Hamas landslide and according to a long term US resident of the Middle East, one of the few balanced voices in the region.

Hamas Election Victory: A Vote for Clarity by Ali Abunimah at 'Although a Hamas success was heavily trailed, the scale of the victory has been widely termed a 'shock'. Several factors explain the dramatic rise of Hamas, including disillusionment and disgust with the corruption, cynicism and lack of strategy of the Fatah faction which has dominated the Palestinian movement for decades and had arrogantly come to view itself as the natural and indisputable leader.'

Monday, January 23, 2006

It is extraordinarily cold here in Europe today. Russia has been experiencing one of its coldest winters in a long time and the freezing temperatures are moving westward. Interestingly, a TV magazine devoted to looking at the world outside of Germany, Weltspiegel on ARD TV, brought an item on Freezing Americans last evening. In Kampf Gegen die Kaelte, it showed Joe Kennedy (a nephew of the Kennedy clan) delivering cheap oil donated by Venezuela to needy New England citizens. It explained how the price of heating oil is now around 80 cents a litre there, which is more expensive than in Germany, and how many families can no longer afford to fill up their home tanks. Venezuela allows 200 gallons or about 750 litres to be delivered for a much cheaper price. US government assistance has run out and thus many citizens have no other recourse than to take advantage of this foreign assistance. Another important aspect of this problem, as documented in the film, is how homes are typically constructed in the US. They are very often built with wood and very badly insulated. There is little to protect these houses against the brutally cold weather coming down from Canada and to help conserve the amount of oil used in winter. A summary of this (in German) can be found at along with a link to a streaming video of this report.

Joe Kennedy is quoted saying how his uncle was able to motivate the US to get a man on the moon in ten years. What is now needed is to motivate the country to re-think its energy habits in the next ten years.

Friday, January 13, 2006
'Peace Mom' Cindy Sheehan is in Assisi, Italy participating in the 'There is no peace without a peace policy' seminar of the Tavola della pace (Peace Roundtable) taking place this weekend at the Sacro Convento di San Francesco. Sheehan, whose son Casey, a US soldier killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, set up camp outside of Bush's ranch in Texas last summer and is a founder of 'Gold Star Families for Peace', an organization made up of families who have lost a loved one in war and whose primary objective is withdrawal of the troops so that no other family will have to experience the same pain.

'Cindy's participation in the seminar in Assisi'; declared Flavio Lotti and Grazia Bellini, national coordinators of the Tavola della pace, 'marks another stage in the collaboration between the Tavola della pace and the US peace movement. Italy and the United States share great responsibility in Iraq as well as the rest of the world. And for this reason, we are constantly seeking opportunities to meet and collaborate with all those organizations in the United States working to put a face on Western Countries and to promote a new policy of peace and cooperation among peoples.'

This year is the 10th anniversary of the Tavola della pace National Seminar in Assisi.

Thursday, January 12, 2006
Very interesting reading on German activity in Iraq at Berlin's Spies Reportedly Helped US at,1518,394874,00.html

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Women Say No To War is reaching out to women (and men) from around the world who want to stand up and let their leaders know that women (and men) have had enough of the senseless war in Iraq and demand that foreign troops and foreign fighters leave Iraq now.

Over 14,000 women have signed the Women's Call for Peace statement and the aim is to get 100,000 signatures by March 8th.

Saturday, January 07, 2006
According to various reports on radio and at Deutsche Welle, German Chancellor Merkel has called 'for the Guantanamo Bay detention center to be closed' in an interview published today. 'An institution like Guantanamo can and should not exist in the long term. Different ways and means must be found for dealing with these prisioners.' Merkel Critical of US Terror Tactics Ahead of Washington Visit at,2144,1849687,00.html

Thursday, January 05, 2006
Wie dumm die waren

Kurt Tucholsky (1890-1935), "Wie dumm die waren -!" aus "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles" (1929)
(Translation by Indeterminacy)

How dumb they were -!

In golden coaches like these they rode around; just like in fairy tales. Everyone could see right away who was king of the land - everyone was supposed to see. Today it's completely different.

The most powerful man sits in the rear seat of his large automobile, and no one sees him. The automobile is especially elegant, a good make; on its dark door are a few small letters, that is all. The man who sits inside might control the petroleum demand of half the world, but he doesn't have a golden coach. The man who sits inside can start a war and, if business necessitates, peace - but he hasn't decorated his car with peacock feathers. He owns half your country, and you don't see it; you don't even know it. True power is anonymous. When they're out there throwing stones and ready to string up some small evildoer on the lantern post, the man in the car smiles. He knows better. Only a few know him. If he's very clever, the newspapers won't even know his name.

That's why it was easier back then with revolutions: the symbols were so wonderfully convenient. An emperor's palace; the Bastille; golden coaches - please, help yourself. Today...?

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