Im Kaffehaus

The old “k.u.k.cousine (Eng., Ger.) was famous for Mehlspeisen and sweets. One product of the Austrian art de vivre is the Sachertorte (Eng., Ger.), which originates in the house Sacher (note the English version), that today consists of hotels and cafes. The Sacher-Cafes stand in the 19th century tradition of the Kaffehaus (Eng.), a cultural institution of Middle Europe. But if you mention Sacher, Demel (Eng., Ger.) is not far away, the “k.u.k. Hofzuckerbäcker” who had an argument with Sacher about the already mentioned torte. The cake itself contains jam, chocolate and a pretty thick chocolate-icing, it goes with whipped cream and a good coffee – the recommended melange is not everybody’s taste, maybe a Kapuziner (Ger.) will better do.
I do not know whether Eduard Sacher, the founder of the mentioned Hotel Sacher, was related to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (Eng.), after whom Krafft-Ebing (Eng., Ger.) coined the term “Masochismus“, but I doubt it. Sacher-Masoch, a productive writer, was living his phantasies and wrote about it, “Venus im Pelz / Venus in Fur” is still his most known oevre today. He was not too pleased that Krafft-Ebing used his name to describe a special form of sexual behaviour in the “Psychopathia sexualis“, still today a good read. Sacher-Masoch, Krafft-Ebing, later Magnus Hirschfeld (Eng., Ger.) stand at the beginning of a scientific, empirical and open-minded acknowledgement of human sexuality, modern sexology.
What we can observe in the cv of Hirschfeld is something typical for the cultural history of Germany, even Europe. In the end of the 19th century, when modernity finally arrives in central Europe, a new view on man, on society, art, politics – the whole life – starts to develop, in-concise called or described with the word “Lebensreform” or “Reformbewegung” (see here). That is no uniform movement, but a bunch of very different “movements” reaching from new clothing to free sexuality. One part of this “movement” is deeply anti-modern and wants to turn back into mythical times – here are located roots of Hitlerism and fascism – wants to go back in a medieval or even germanistic age. Another part hugs modernity and the new possibilities and wants to discover new forms of anything, new forms of living together, of music and other arts, of things – that leads to the Bauhaus and similar ideas.
The first worldwar ends this development. The years until 1933 are a time of unrest and political and economical difficulties, uncertainity, until the new godsend Fuehrer emerges. It is sinful hybris, but exactly how the man understood himself. In a way the antimodern part of the “Reformbewegung” won, many of the people around H. are coming out of the “Wandervogel”-youth-movement and other societies of this kin.
People like Hirschfeld – the list of emmigrants is long! – had have to leave. Historians, philosophers, artist and intellectuals in general had to emigrate, Hirschfeld dies 1935 in Nizza. But they take their heads with them. And when they were lucky enough to survive and found the possibility to work again in their profession, they published in English now – and only in the 1960s a new generation of students discovered that there is something else but the nonsense that was preached ex cathedra by all the good Germans who stayed in the fatherland and teached in Treue fest – and lost contact to the international community, who never heared about Les Annales for example etc.etc. The course of Norbert Elias’ life (Ger., Eng.) illustrates what I mean exemplarily.
But I digress. I only wanted a piece of cake.

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9 thoughts on “Im Kaffehaus

  1. Hoocoodanode? Ginormous? Alles im grünen Bereich?“Impfbecken” is a very nice and fitting expression! Wild-eyed black-haired unshaven men in strange ethnological interesting clothes chase good Germans Oberförster with bloody syringes …

  2. Enjoyed the way you meandered all over.Even if the branch that wanted return to roots had prevailed, I think it would only be for some time.The forces of change are unstoppable.After the poets, philosophers and thinkers have left, the soldiers take over, is that the way it always is? And I am thinking of my native state which has great roads but pogroms.

  3. LilyCorn soup … I’ll have a look what it means, but it sounds very healthy, frugal … nothing hedonistic like chocolate cake with whipped cream :))AustereWhen the soldiers take over – that means more blood, violence and suffering. Sometimes it is necessary, but most soldiers have no break – there is a need to stop them before the spiral of revenge is spinning out of control. There must be clearly defined aims and not just ideas of what to reach. And there must be a plan for the time after – the Americans had no idea what should happen after the fall of Baghdad, hence the ongoing murder. In the end its about ideas how things should be, how lives should be led, about values. One can not shoot ideas. The soldiers must understand this, but I doubt that they can.

  4. sounds like some seriously rich cake! i like the sound of the kaffehaus much more than the sacher-cafes. you sure know how to get around the world from a piece of cake!

  5. That was a fine read. The last line wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without the rest.I guess we shouldn’t ask who you’ve been putting chocolate syrup on. You might make the cakes blush. 🙂Prx

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