Wallstein Verlag

Ernst Toller

A Youth in Germany

Original Version
Edited and annotated by Peter Langemeyer

ISBN: 978-3-8353-3723-7

available as of 2024/10/09

German Version

For the first time based on the hitherto unpublished typescript: A classic that tells of consistent attitude and fearless action in a world that has come apart at the seams.

In the summer of 1924, one hundred years ago, Ernst Toller began working on his autobiographical novel »A Youth in Germany«. However, it was not until the »collapse of 1933« that he completed the work. The book, which he considered his best, was published in Amsterdam in November 1933. In it, Toller describes his childhood and youth in the small West Prussian town of Samotschin, him becoming a pacifist and socialist after being a war volunteer, as well as his participation in the Munich Soviet Republic. After its suppression, he was put on trial and sentenced to five years in prison for high treason. But it is not just his own life story that Toller tells here. It is also the story of a generation that made the first attempt to put democratic socialism into effect in Germany. In its failure, he traces the causes of the problems that led to the rise of Hitler and the downfall of the Weimar Republic.
The newly edited text presents for the first time three different versions, some of which are unknown to scholars, thus enabling a comparative reading. The detailed commentary also sheds light on the historical background and work-historical contexts, as well as the author’s working methods. It shows how the exiled Toller increasingly positions his text against National Socialism.

Ernst Toller (1893–1939), son of a Jewish merchant family from Samotschin (Poznan), studied in Grenoble, returned to Germany as a war volunteer in 1914, became an opponent of the war in 1916 and, under the influence of Kurt Eisner and Gustav Landauer, became an advocate of

»ethical« socialism. Participation in the Munich Soviet Republic, five years in prison. In 1933 his works were banned in Germany, he then emigrated via England to the U.S., where he took his own life in 1939. Publications: »Transfiguration« (1919), »Masses Man« (1920), »Hoppla, We’re Alive!« (1927) and more.
Peter Langemeyer, is professor emeritus of German literature at Østfold University (Halden, Norway). He is co-editor of the critical edition of Toller’s »Collected Works« (2015), and of the edition of Toller’s Letters (2018), both published by Wallstein Verlag.
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