Ernst Neu, The End
The Jew is jobbing*, the Christian is jobbing,
The grocers and clerks are jobbing,
The innkeeper, the bookkeeper,
The lawyer and his secretary,
The women and the children are jobbing.
At home, outdoors, over beer and wine,
At the dinner table and in bed,
While playing skat and at the choral society –
Jobbing goes on, both coarse and fine,
People compete at haggling.
The price of stocks, the marl, the silt
These are our only thoughts today,
A drill hole seems like paradise,
Of stock certificates half a Ries** are
Stacked in the safe instead of cash.
The temple of fraud towers proudly above
And gleams through shining splendor:
Tempting tunes intoxicate the ear:
Through the splendid gilded gate
The people push forward in a whirling mass.
Yet the beams are already creaking,
As though a worm were gnawing on the temple:
But wouldn’t you know, the crash comes overnight,
And before anyone could think of it,
The whole thing comes thundering down –
It buries so many hopes under the rubble
And inflicts many a gashing wound,
Eradicating the jobber root and branch –
The only winner in this game is the founder:
And the dogs bite at whoever’s last.
* Derived from the noun “jobber,” meaning middleman, stockbroker, but also “racketeer.”
** Old measuring unit for paper; one Ries = 1000 sheets.
Source: Ernst Neu, “Das Ende,” first published in Kladderadatsch, c. 1873.
Original German text reprinted in Gerhard A. Ritter and Jürgen Kocka, eds., Deutsche Sozialgeschichte 1870-1914. Dokumente und Skizzen [German Social History, 1870-1914. Documents and Sketches], 3rd edition. Munich: Beck, 1982, pp. 21-22.
Translation: Erwin Fink