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Albrecht Haushofer's Birthday

I could swear I've posted about Haushofer before, but I can't find it in the archives. So, in honor of Prof. Haushofer's birthday, I've translated a poem of his, "Heimat".

Haushofer was born in Munich in 1903 and became a professor of geopgraphy and geopolitics at the University of Berlin. In an odd twist of history, one of his students was Rudolph Hess, whom he urged to go to Britain.

The poem seems even more appropriate this year than last, though it has always appealed to me. My family is a family of immigrants and wanderers, which probably makes me a touch sentimental about some of the topics he discusses. Maybe Haushofer reminds me a little of my grandfather, who was never loved by the authorities either.

In any case, "Heimat" is unsentimental; it is a resistance poem written while Haushofer was in prison. When Hess parachuted into Scotland in May 1941, Haushofer was put under surveillance by the Gestapo. After the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20th, 1944, Haushofer was arrested in December of that same year. He was shot by the SS in April 1945.

German original is followed by my translation.

Man hat mich über meine Flucht befragt,
warum ich nicht den Weg zum Rhein genommen,
zur nahen Schweiz, den jungen Strom durchschwommen,
bevor man gründlich erst nach mir gejagt.

Ich wollte nicht aus meiner Heimat gehn.
Sie schien mir lange guten Schutz zu gönnen.
Dann hat auch sie mich nicht mehr bergen können,
ich werde lebend kaum sie wiedersehn.

Doch bleibt es tröstlich, ihrer Berge Mauern
im Hintergrund von Alm und Hof zu wissen,
muß ich auch selbst den Gipfelhauch vermissen.

Die silbergrauen Wände werden dauern,
ob sie der Mensch durchklettert oder flieht,
bis neues Eis die Felsen rings umzieht.

I was asked about my exodus,
Why I didn’t take the road to the Rhine,
To Switzerland, swimming the headwaters
Before anyone really began searching for me.

I didn’t want to leave my native land,
Which had sheltered me for so long.
But then even she could no longer hold me,
I will not see her again.

But it comforts me, knowing her mountain walls
Frame the alpine pasture and the courtyard,
Though I miss the breath of the peaks.

The silver-grey walls will endure,
Whether mankind climbs through them or flees,
Until new ice encircles the rocks.

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