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.