Walter Flex

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Walter Flex
Walter Flex.jpg
Born (1887-07-06)6 July 1887
Eisenach, German Empire
Died 16 October 1917(1917-10-16) (aged 30)
Pöide Parish, Russian Empire
Nationality German
Occupation Author Lyricist

Walter Flex (6 July 1887 – 16 October 1917) was a German author responsible for Wanderer zwischen beiden Welten (The Wanderer between Two Worlds), a war novel dealing with themes of humanity, friendship, and suffering during World War I.

Biography[edit]

Born in Eisenach to a secondary school teacher, he went to the University of Erlangen where he studied German, thanks to the award of a bursary. In his brief life prior to the outbreak of war he worked as a teacher, publishing, amongst other works, Das Volk in Eisen and Sonne und Schild, a series of well received nationalist works. As a song, his poem Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht gained popularity with the Wandervogel youth and was well known and sung in Germany until the 1970s.

He enlisted as a volunteer at the outbreak of war in 1914. He was injured in action and died on October 16, 1917 at Oti Manor, Saaremaa, Estonia. He was originally buried at the village cemetery of Peude (now Pöide), Saaremaa island (formerly Ösel Island), Estonia. His epitaph was a quote from one of his works Preußischer Fahneneid ("Prussian Military Oath" written in 1915): "Wer je auf Preußens Fahne schwört, hat nichts mehr, was ihm selbst gehört." (Translation: "He who swears on Prussia's flag has nothing left that belongs to himself.")[1] His body was later, in 1940, moved to a new military cemetery in front of the Sackenheimer Tor at Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Walter Flex's grave, along with much of the city, was destroyed either in air raids or during the three-month siege prior to that city's April 9, 1945 surrender to the Russian Army.[2]

His Wanderer zwischen beiden Welten was published in 1916, by Beck's Verlag, and was well received. By 1917, over 700,000 copies had been printed in Germany—a testament to his extreme popularity with the wartime public[3] His reputation grew in the post-war years and his romantic idealism was exploited by the Nazi party, which found his evocative and romantic lyricism especially appealing and considered it an expression of Aryan ideals.

During the time of (and partly due to) the German student movement, his reputation faded almost entirely.

Memorial Markers[edit]

  • The house (built in 1723) where Flex lived during his student days (1906-1908) is at Friedrichstraße 16. Erlangen, Germany has a historical marker.
  • A cenotaph is in Flex's birthplace of Eisenach, Germany. The cross is a replica of the one at Peude which originally marked his grave. It was made by Eisenach-born Hermann Hosaeus. The inscription reads as follows: Für / Kaiser und / Reich fiel / der kgl. [königlich] preuß. [preußische] Leutnant / Walter Flex / bei Peudehof / am 16. Oktober / 1917 / geb. [geboren] in / Eisenach / am 6. Juli / 1887. / Wer / auf die / preußische / Fahne / schwört[,] / hat nichts / mehr[,] / was ihm / selber / gehört[.] [4] (Translation: For the Kaiser and the Royal Empire Prussian Lieutenant Walter Flex fell at Peudehof on 16 October 1917, born in Eisenach on 6 July 1887. "Whoever swears by the Prussian flag has nothing left that belongs to himself.")
  • The New Cemetery (Neuer Friedhof), Eisenach, Germany has a tombstone for Flex.

Works by Walter Flex in Chronolgical Order[edit]

  • Briefe. In Verbindung mit Konrad Flex. München, C.H. Beck [19--?]. 333 pp.
  • Demetrius: ein Trauerspiel. Berlin: [Fischer, 1909?]. 147 p.; 18 cm.
  • Klaus von Bismarck: eine Tragödie; [Bühnen u. Vereinen gegenüber Ms.] Berlin: Janke, 1913. 136 pp.
  • Zwölf Bismarcks: 7 novellen. Berlin: Janke, 1913.
  • Das Volk in Eisen: Kriegsgesänge eines Kriegs-Freiwilligen. Ein Ehrendenkmal für meinen für Kaiser und Reich gefallenen lieben Bruder, den Lt. Otto Flex, Inf.-Reg. 160. Kriegsgesänge e. Kriegs-Freiwilligen . Second edition. Lissa i .P.: Eulitz, [ca. 1914]. 20 pp.
  • Zwei eigenhändige Ansichtskarten mit Unterschrift. n.p.: n.p., [1914?].
  • Der kanzler Klaus von Bismarck; eine erzählung. Stuttgart, Evang. gesellschaft, [©1915]. 196 p.; 20 cm.
  • Der Wanderer zwischen beiden Welten (1916)
  • Der Wanderer zwischen beiden Welten: ein Kriegserlebnis. Third edition. München: Beck, 1917. 106 p.; 19 cm.
  • Der Wanderer zwischen beiden Welten: Ein Kriegserlebnis. 687. bis 712. Taus. München, [1917]. Print run of copies 687,000 to 712,000. OCLC 186818957
  • Kriegspatenbriefe. 1, Leutnantsdienst: neue Gedichte aus dem Felde. Lissa : Eulitz, [1917]. 28 pp.
  • Flex, Walter: Gesammelte Werke. München, Germany: C. H. Beck´sche Verlh. First edition. Vol. 1. (1925). xxxix pp., 450 pp.
  • Flex, Walter: Gesammelte Werke. München, Germany: C. H. Beck´sche Verlh. First edition. Vol. 2. (1925). 540 pp.
  • Flex, Walter: Gesammelte Werke. München, Germany: C. H. Beck´sche Verlh. Fourth edition. Vol. 1. (1936). 691 pp.; 20 cm.
  • Flex, Walter: Gesammelte Werke. München, Germany: C. H. Beck´sche Verlh. Fourth edition. Vol. 2. (1936). 811 pp.; 20 cm.
  • Flex, Walter: Gesammelte Werke. München, Germany: C. H. Beck´sche Verlh. Ninth edition. Vol. 1. (1944). 691 pp.
  • Flex, Walter: Gesammelte Werke. München, Germany: C. H. Beck´sche Verlh. Ninth edition. Vol. 2. (1955). 539 pp.

Memorial Volume[edit]

  • Walter Flex Gedenkheft [Hrsg. anläßl. d. 15. Todestages des Dichters] . (Title translation: Walter Flex Commemorative Booklet: Edited on the Occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the Poet's Death .] ) [Stendal, Breitestr. 55] [Karl August Richter] 1931, [1931] 16 pp.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walter Flex. Gesammelte Werke (Title Translation: Collected Works), Vol. 1, pp. 73–74, quote in p. 74.
    Lars Koch. Der Erste Weltkrieg als Medium der Gegenmoderne: Zu den Werken von Walter Flex und Ernst Jünger. (Title Translation: "The First World War as a Means of Counter-Modernity: To the Works of Walter Flex and Ernst Jünger.") Königshausen & Neumann, 2006, p. 117 and p. 117 n. 544. ISBN 3-8260-3168-7
  2. ^ Fritz Gause. Königsberg in Preußen. (Gräfe und Unzer, 1968), p. 226.
  3. ^ OCLC 186818957
  4. ^ Simon Meyer. Die Wartburg und Eusenach–Auf der Suche nach dem „Geheimen Deutschland“.

External links[edit]