As I already stated in Dealing with Enquiries sometimes we make the most interesting discoveries prompted by fairly boring or mundane enquiries. This is the first in a series of shorter posts in which I will share these discoveries.
A couple of months ago, whilst checking a shelf in the basement, I found the following book:
Engländertum. (Halle : Gebauer-Schwetschke Verlag Nachf., c1938.) Ac.877.
This little booklet of only 44 pages, contains the three following texts:
- 'Eigenart englischer Kultur' [Peculiarities of English culture] (Lore Liebenam)
- 'A Holiday in the Country' (Reginald William Ford)
- "Engländertum und Gottesgedanke" [Englishness and the notion of god] (Lore Liebenam)
From this information and especially with regard to the date, I was expecting some pretty dire and horrible texts. Okay, maybe not yet fully-fledged Nazi propaganda, but I had my special reading glasses at hand which deflect some of the repulsiveness of texts I come across frequently. However, I think - apart from a naive belief in positivism and a generous helping of national stereotyping - these texts are supposed to be 'semi-scientifically proven' facts on "all things English"; you know, in the way how you adore (and sometimes adoringly mock) a sibling.
A couple of further thoughts:
First, this is number one of a series by the 'Deutsch-Englischen Kulturaustausch' (DEKA) ['German-English cultural exchange']; maybe I will devote a separate Blog post to the use of "England" and "English" as opposed to "Britain" and "British" in German(y), but this is not the place. According to the crest of this organisation (see below), the DEKA was founded in 1930 to 'explore, understand and value the peculiarities of the nations' (a brief aside: the oak leaf equals Germany, as the oak is the German national tree, the middle is an arty arrangement of 'deka' and the rose, well, is the English rose; at first, I was a bit puzzled by the globe, but realised that of course they used the shape of the 1930s "Deutsches Reich" - a form of my country of birth which looks wrong to me nowadays.).
This idea of education, as articulated in the crest, is already in the preface of this booklet, where it states the reason for this publication is: wir müssen 'auch die Engländer zu Worte kommen lassen und hören, was sie über sich und ihre besondere Art zu sagen haben.' [we must also let the English have their say here and hear what they have to say about themselves and their own ways.] The preface goes on to say that luckily they have obliged to the request and that they have shown a ' - for an English person surprisingly - spontaneous readiness to be talkative'. Wow! That's a big one. I don't feel I have to comment on this here (I mean: I don't really need to, do I?).
However, that's where you could come in! Most curators at the British Library do not have enough time during their normal working hours to follow-up such interesting "leads", but maybe one day I will - unless you "beat me to it." If you manage to "get there first" and do research on either the DEKA or specifically this booklet, please email me your findings or the reference to your publication please.