Sunday, April 30, 2006

April, the cruelest month

Six or eight months ago I threatened in one of my posts to translate parts of several books I had then recently acquired from an antiquarian bookseller in Germany. The books concern the life and poetic works of Colonel Konrad Krez, the man who commanded the regiment in which my German immigrant great great grandfather fought and died during the American Civil War.

I am pleased to report that I have not only translated a portion of one of those books; I now have it published online. I've translated the Foreword to 'An Mein Vaterland', a slim volume that contains the collected poems of Konrad Krez. The Foreword was written by Ludwig Finckh in 1938, a point in time in which he was one of the better known living writers in the German language. He also at least appears to have been a fairly well-heeled member of the National Socialist Party.

Konrad Krez died on March 9, 1897, the same year that my great grandfather died at the age of 41 in an industrial accident. Ludwig Finckh wrote an historical novel in 1936 about Krez, the 'Forty-Eighter', who escaped from Germany to America in 1850 after the failed 1848 Revolution and rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The 'fictional' account created enough of a stir in Nazi Germany to justify publication of the Krez poems two years later and to effect a reconciliation between the ghost of Konrad Krez and Landau in the Pfalz, the city and province from which he had unceremoniously departed eighty-eight years earlier.

My unauthorized translation of Ludwig Finckh's 'Foreword' and of the title poem, 'An Mein Vaterland', can be viewed at the Wiki-En German Genealogy website, not formally affiliated with the Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia.