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Betty Scholem on the Chaos of Revolution (January 1919)

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Berlin, January 13, 1919

My dear child,

This past week has been incredible, bizarre beyond belief. It now seems that the Spartacans have been all but driven out. Their reign of terror was horrific. Our good old standard clock atop the Spittel Market took a bullet in the dial and heart. Two bullets flew through the shop of our local butcher, ripping a hole in his spleen—luckily the spleen sitting on his shop counter. On Saturday afternoon I went with Dr. Meyer (who wanted to watch the revolution; nothing I could say could keep him from it) down pitch-dark Wall Strasse until we arrived behind the colonnade on Leipzig Strasse. Everything was dark as coal; Leipzig Strasse was entirely hidden by the night; Beuth Strasse was blocked; Dönhoff Square echoed with the sound of shots; everywhere there were ghost-like groups of people. Well, we turned around at once and made our way back. In the evening Vorwärts was taken and the Spartacus people vacated the Mosse and Ullstein buildings. Yesterday afternoon we went to take a look at the Vowärts building. It looked awful. Shells had ripped through the building from the roof to the cellar. The neighboring buildings and those across the way also look terrible. [ . . . ]

Your father sends his greetings. He has no time to write. He and Reinhold work without interruption now—there is so much to do! Times are good for the printing business: handbills, proclamations, and placards follow each other in furious succession. [ . . . ]

Kisses, Mum

Source of English translation: Gershom Scholem, A Life in Letters, 1914-1982. Edited and translated by Anthony David Skinner. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002, pp. 97-98.

Source of original German text: Betty Scholem and Gershom Scholem, Mutter und Sohn im Briefwechsel: 1917-1946. Edited by Itta Shedletzky with Thomas Sparr. Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1989, pp. 30-33.

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