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'For He Was One Of Us':

Friedrich Schiller, Poet of America

by Gabriele Chaitkin
October, 1996

Friedrich Schiller Park statue to get recognition -- and lights (Columbus, Ohio, 2012)

100 years ago, German immigrants honored two writers from their homeland with statues in Schiller Park (Syracuse, New York, 2011)

Learn From Schiller: Think Only The Highest! System Change Now! by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, 2009

Happy 248th Birthday Friedrich Schiller! (Frankfurt, Germany, 2007)

A Centennial Across Two Continents by Dean Andromidas, 2007

Rochester, NY Statue Has A Famous Pedigree

Original Translations of Schiller's Works

 

About Friedrich Schiller

Biography of Friedrich Schiller

What is the Schiller Institute?

Schiller and Music

Videotape/DVD on Schiller and his Work

Schiller Monuments

 

Celebrate Schiller's Birthday ~ November 10

Friedrich Schiller was born November 10, 1759 and died May 9, 1805. Celebrate his birthday with poetry readings, music performances and dialogue. Get some friends together, and discuss Schiller's concept of achieving true freedom--"It is through Beauty that One Proceeds to Freedom." To participate in annual events and concerts, call 703-771-8390.

The following artilce was reprinted from the New Federalist American Almanac,
October, 1996. Join the Schiller Institute and receive FIDELIO Magazine.

 

Friedrich Schiller, Poet of America

"Freedom is the natural condition of the human race, in which the Almighty intended man to live. Those who fight the purpose of the Almighty will not succeed. They always have been, they always will be beaten.''

-- Abraham Lincoln, Feb. 23, 1861.

``When I consider that there are perhaps in the world more such circles, which love me and are happy to know me, that after 100 years and more--when my dust is long dispersed--people might still bless my memory and shed tears of admiration upon my grave, then, my most precious friend, I rejoice at my profession as a poet, and I am reconciled with God and my so frequently sorry fate....''

Schiller in a letter to Frau von Wolzogen in 1784.

November 10th marks the 237th birthday of Friedrich Schiller, known as the Poet of Freedom the world over. His name had been held in high esteem in this country until the beginning of this century, when he was seemingly forgotten. The idea of human rights and political freedom for all mankind is at the core of all of Schiller's works: his poems, dramas, historical and philosophical writings.

While there seems to be today an unbridgeable gap between so-called art, and politics and science, Schiller fought against the ``Zerissenheit seiner Zeit'' (the torn-apart condition of his time) and tried to reunite the inner man with himself. In his essay, ``Theater Considered as a Moral Institution,'' (whose original title was ``Was eine gute Schaubühne bewirken kann''--``What a Good Theater Can Accomplish''), he writes that he uses his dramas to ``make man known to man and to unveil the secret movements according to which he acts.''

In his letters about his drama Don Carlos, Schiller describes his political ideas: ``Recall dear friend, a certain discussion, about a favorite subject of our decade--about the spreading of a purer, gentler humanity, about the highest possible freedom of the individual within the state's highest bloom, in short, about the most perfect condition of man, as it lies given as achievable in his nature and his powers.''

In his ``Letters On the Aesthetical Education of Man,'' Schiller says, in the second letter, that the ``philosophical spirit of inquiry is invited so forcibly by the circumstances of the time, to engage itself with the most perfect of all works of art, with the construction of a true political freedom.'' Later in this letter, discussing the French Revolution, Schiller writes: ``As this great action, because of its content and its consequences, so closely concerns everyone who calls himself a man, so much must it, because of its mode of discussion, especially interest every self-thinker. A question which would otherwise only be answered through the blind right of the stronger, is now, as it seems, made to pend before the tribunal of pure reason, and only he, who is always able to place himself in the center of the whole and to raise his individuality to that of the species, may regard himself as a member of that tribunal of reason, at the same time as he, as man and world citizen, is party and sees himself more nearly or distantly involved in the outcome.''

Schiller develops this thought further in the fourth letter, where he states that ``every individual man, one can say, carries by predisposition and destiny, a purely ideal man within himself, to agree with whose immutable unity in all his alterations is the great task of his existence.'' Later in this letter he states:

``With an entirely different respect, than is that which the artist of beauty shows his material, must the artist of the state approach that of his, and he must not merely subjectively and for an illusory effect on the senses, but rather objectively, and for the inner essence, spare its peculiarity and personality.

``But for just this reason, because the state should be an organization which forms itself through itself and for itself, so can it also only in so far become real, as the parts have raised themselves to the idea of the whole. Because the state serves as representative of pure and objective humanity in the breast of its citizens, so will it have to observe the same relationship towards its citizens, in which they stand to themselves, and also only be able to respect their subjective humanity to that degree, that it is ennobled to the objective. When the inner man is one with himself, so will he even in the highest universalization of his conduct save his individuality, and the state will be merely the interpreter of his beautiful instincts, the more distinct formula of his inner legislation.''

Schiller and the American Ideal

This beautiful idea is obviously already echoed in Schiller's first published poem, ``The Evening,'' which was published in October of 1776:

Die Sonne zeigt, vollendet gleich dem Helden,
Dem tiefen Tal ihr Abendangesicht,
(Fuer andre, ach! glückselgre Welten,
Ist das ein Morgenangesicht),

In the first four lines of this poem, Schiller's sighing of ``ach!'', that ``the sun sinking down in the West is for far more happy worlds a morning face,'' shows how keenly he was following the progress of mankind and the high hopes he placed in the American Declaration of Independence. Throughout his lifetime, Schiller fought for the ideals of the American Revolution, which were most clearly celebrated in his drama Wilhelm Tell, in which the Swiss, a people of herdsmen, liberate themselves from the tyrannical yoke of the emperor. The beautiful formulation of the American Declaration of Independence, a document based on natural law, is clearly echoed in the words of Werner Stauffacher, when he rallies his countrymen to act (Wilhelm Tell, Act II, Scene 2):

No, there's a limit to the tyrant's power,
When the oppressed can find no justice, when
The burden grows unbearable--he reaches
With hopeful courage up unto the heavens
And seizes hither his eternal rights,
Which hang above, inalienable
And indestructible as stars themselves--
The primal state of nature reappears
Where man stands opposite his fellow man--
As last resort, when not another means
Is of avail, the sword is given him--
The highest of all Goods we may defend
From violence.--Thus stand we for our country,
Thus stand we 'fore our wives, and 'fore our children!''

This passage alone shows why this play is probably the best-known play by Schiller in the United States.

These ideas inspired not only republican fighters in the United States, but were the spirit of the Liberation Wars against Napoleon in Europe. Whenever Wilhelm Tell was performed in Germany during the time of the Napoleonic usurpation, there was thunderous applause after Stauffacher's speech at Rütli, which finally led to the banning of that play by the French. But it was too late. From the stage, the republican spirit was carried into the population and led in 1807 to the freeing of the serfs. A republican army was created to defeat Napoleon and to create a sovereign German nation. General Gneisenau not only taught his soldiers military skills, but performed with them Schiller's dramas. Soldiers carried Schiller's poems close to their hearts when they went into battle, and, before the battle of Leipzig, in which Napoleon was dramatically defeated, the soldiers recited ``the Rütli oath'' from Wilhelm Tell:

We will become a single land of brothers,
Nor shall we part in danger and distress.
We will be free, just as our fathers were,
And sooner die, than live in slavery.
We will rely upon the highest God
And we shall never fear the might of men.

The commemoration of this battle one year later was celebrated with a performance of Wilhelm Tell on the very same battlefield. This traditon was kept over the years and the fifty-year celebration saw another Wilhelm Tell performance. The time of the Befreiungskriege (Liberation Wars) was undoubtedly the period in German history which found the most ennobled and educated population fighting for the inalienable rights of all man.


The Lincoln Election

This very same influence of the ideas of friends and admirers of Friedrich Schiller, here in the United States, helped elect Abraham Lincoln and, to a large degree, helped to win the Civil War for the anti-slavery forces. Very early on, the networks of Friedrich Schiller overlapped the anti-slavery networks. One example is Karl (or Charles) Follen, who fought in the Liberation Wars and emigrated to the United States in 1824, after the restoration of the oligarchy following the Congress of Vienna had been implemented. Follen became a professor of German at Harvard University in 1825, and lectured extensively on Friedrich Schiller. He created much interest in Schiller, especially through his lecture series ``On Schiller's life and drama'' during the winter of 1832-33. Follen was kicked out of Harvard in 1835, after he drafted an anti-slavery address to the people of the United States. His wife, Eliza, was a well-known anti-slavery fighter in her own right.

The famous former slave and leading spokesman for the rights of African Americans, Frederick Douglass, in his paper North Star, called Friedrich Schiller ``The Poet of Freedom'' and ``one of us.'' He published in North Star Schiller's poem ``Wallenstein,'' which includes the following passage:

For only can a great and noble cause,
Arouse humanity's profoundest nature.
In smaller spheres, the mind of man contracts,
But with a nobler purpose he grows greater.
And as this century is gravely ending,
And even what is real to fable turns,

When we behold huge forces locked in battle
And our portentous goal is hovering near,
And war is waged for man's most noble causes,
For domination and for liberty,
So now let art attempt to soar yet higher
Upon the shadow stage, indeed she must,
Lest she be put to shame by life's own drama.

The efforts in the United States to celebrate Schiller's 100th birthday, in 1859, were the largest the world had ever seen; they might have been bigger than the celebrations in Germany. These celebrations were a rallying point to defend the United States against her enemies, by helping to elect Abraham Lincoln President. The 1859 festivities were used to arouse the spirit of the American public, to defend their own Constitution against the British subversion which had culminated in the secession movement of the Southern States. More than 250,000 German-Americans fought successfully on the side of Lincoln during the Civil War. Many of Lincoln's General Staff were of German origin.

Many of the celebrations in 1859 were four-day events, as in the cities of Chicago and New York, or as small as the dedication of a schoolhouse, in Kansas.

A quote from the Chicago Tribune of Nov. 9, 1859 captures the spirit of all these celebrations (and reminds us how much our language has shrunk since then):

``Let us, the American admirers of Schiller, join in the ceremonies which pay a nation's respect to the memory of one of nature's kings.

``In another age, this Schiller will stand forth in the foremost rank of the master spirits of this century, and be admitted to a place among the chosen of all centuries. His works, the memory of what he did and was, will rise afar off, like a towering landmark in the solitude of the past, when distance shall have dwarfed into invisibility, the lesser people that encompassed him, and hid him from the nearer beholder.... That when the noise of all conquerers and demagogues and political reformers has quite died away, some tone of heavenly wisdom that had dwelt even in him, might still linger among men, and, acknowledged as heavenly and priceless, whether as his or not, whereby though dead, he would yet speak, and his spirit would live throughout all generations....''

The citizens of New Ulm celebrated a Goethe-Schiller fest only one year after Minnesota was admitted to the Union as a state, in the year 1858. The main speaker commented that, not even three years earlier, the area had been a ``heulende Wildnis'' (literally, ``howling wilderness''), but now, one can see the landscape dotted with thousands of farms, the homesteads of the diligent and the free, sprung forth like magic from the wilderness. ``We are celebrating now the victory feast, the triumph of civilization over wilderness!'' He continued by elaborating that the Greek settlers may have felt the same way when they settled in Italy or Africa, and saw the first signs of their culture take hold on the new ground. And, as the Greeks honored their deities, which they brought from the old country, the settlers in America then, gathered to celebrate the works and ideas of Friedrich Schiller.

Schiller's Dramatic Method

The small township of Yorktown, Texas celebrated by performing Schiller's drama The Bride of Messina. Schiller's dramatic method was not a didactic, moralizing dictum to be reasonable, but achieved its purpose by showing man ``the great causes of humanity'' alive on the stage.

In his essay, ``Theater Considered as a Moral Institution,'' Schiller wrote: ``The stage is the common channel through which the light of wisdom streams down from the thinking, better part of society, spreading thence in mild beams throughout the entire state. Truer ideas, more refined precepts, purified emotions, then flow into the veins of the population, the clouds of barbarism and dark superstition disperse, night yields to victorious light.''

And, in the introduction to The Bride of Messina, which Yorktown so fittingly chose as a symbol for their township, he wrote: ``True art is not intended as a mere passing fancy; its earnest endeavour is not to transport man into a mere momentary dream of freedom, but rather to make him actually free, and to do so by awakening, exercising, and developing within him his power to achieve an objective distance from the sensible world, which otherwise weighs down upon us like a dead object, pressing us like a blind force. This distance gives us the power to transform the material world into the free product of our own intellect, and to exert dominion over it through ideas.''

The interest of classical Weimar in the American Revolution shines through when one reads Goethe's essay, Dichtung und Wahrheit (Fiction and Truth):

``But the world was even more keenly interested, when a whole people made up its mind to liberate itself.... One wished the Americans all the luck, and the names of Franklin and Washington began to shine and to sparkle in the political and military heaven.''

Schiller's plays found their way into the young United States immediately after their publication in Germany. The Robbers was the first drama printed in Philadelphia. Many of his plays were performed in the United States, when they had been already banned in Germany.

The first known American performance of a Schiller play was The Robbers, performed in 1796 in New York. Before the end of the eighteenth century, and in the beginning of the nineteenth century, many of Schiller's dramas were performed in the United States, among them Fiesco, Intrigue and Love and Don Carlos. Translations of The Piccolomini, Wallenstein, The Ghost Seer and The History of the Thirty Years' War were readily available.

One of the guest speakers at the Chicago Schiller celebrations in 1905 recounted that one could find as many as 24 translators who worked at different times in the United States to translate Schiller. Several of them were ministers, who used Schiller's works in their weekly sermons. One of the most famous translators of Schiller was John Quincy Adams, who served as the ambassador to the Prussian Court from 1797 to 1801, before he became President in 1824. His book, 44 Letters About Germany, created great interest in the German classics and literature, fifteen years before Madame de Stäel was sent to the United States to create a romantic countermovement.

The Marbach Statue

As a German travelling through the United States, I have been astonished to find so many statues honoring Friedrich Schiller, and not only on the East Coast, but spanning the continental United States, from San Francisco to New York and places in between, from Omaha to New Orleans. They are a silent reminder of the great history of this country and how much of it has been forgotten. They also show how much Schiller was beloved in America and how much he was treated as ``The American Poet.''

The first statue erected to honor Friedrich Schiller was neither in the United States nor in his native country Germany. That honor goes to the small country of Estonia, where a Russian nobleman, who had participated in the Liberation Wars against Napoleon in 1812-13, returned home to his estate on the island of Pucht off the West coast of Estonia, erecting a monument with the inscription: ``To the memory of the bard of Germany, Friedrich Schiller, beloved by the muses. 1813,'' thereby capturing the spirit of these wars.

Most of the statues of Friedrich Schiller in the United States were erected at the end of the last century or in the beginning of this century, which saw big celebrations of Friedrich Schiller in May of 1905, commemorating the 100th anniversary of his death.

In Europe, statues in public places were restricted, until the beginning of the nineteenth century, to nobility or leading military figures. Schiller's statue was among the first to honor a poet. The many statues which were erected in his honor became a symbol for a society fighting for his ideas of political freedom. The Poet of Freedom became thus the symbol, the guarantor, of a more human society.

Marbach, Schiller's birthplace, and Stuttgart, the capital of Swabia, entered a veritable war as to which of them would erect a statue first. The statue created by the Danish sculptor Thorwaldsen in Stuttgart was unveiled on May 8, 1839. Moerike, Uhland, and others wrote poems and a cantata for the Schiller Fest that was performed.

The Marbach statue, a likeness of Schiller more than twice as large as life, was created by the artist Ernst Rau. Thirty-two hundred pounds of bronze were used for the statue, which the king graciously donated from captured cannonballs. The town of Marbach celebrated the unveiling of the statue of its greatest son with a day-long festivity, on May 9, 1876.

At five o'clock in the morning, the Schiller Glocke (bell) a present to the city of Marbach from the friends of Friedrich Schiller in Moscow on the occasion of Schiller's 100th birthday in 1859, was rung. At seven o'clock in the morning, the trumpets sounded Beethoven's ``The Heavens Praise the Honor of God,'' to introduce this great day accordingly. More than 600 choir members performed parts of Schiller's poem ``The Artists,'' set to music by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and a grandson of Schiller himself unveiled the statue. Ten years later, on May 9, 1886 a replica of this bronze was erected with great celebration in Lincoln Park in Chicago.

Another replica of this statue can be found today at Memorial Plaza near the city hall in St. Louis. It was unveiled on Nov. 13, 1898 in St. Louis Park, after a three-day-long celebration.

For days, the local papers had been filled with descriptions of Schiller's life, the statue to be erected, and the huge parade everybody was invited to participate in. The statue had been commissioned in Marbach and donated by Col. Charles Stifel, the owner of a local brewery. On the 10th of November, 1898, the St. Louis theater performed scenes from three of Schiller's dramas, The Robbers, Maria Stuart, and Intrigue and Love. The laudatio to Schiller ended with the following little poem:

Was ein Lessing dachte, was ein Goethe sang,
Ewig wirds behalten seinen guten Klang,
Und gedenk ich Schiller's wird das Herz mir warm,
Schiller zu ersetzen ist die Welt zu arm.

(What a Lessing thought, what a Goethe sang
eternally it will have its good ring,
And if I think of Schiller, my heart grows warm,
To replace Schiller the world is too poor.)

Special attention was devoted to German music, and especially German classical songs (lieder), using Schiller's poem ``The Power of Song.'' The festivities ended on the evening of Nov. 13, with several different concerts of songs and a performance of scenes from Wilhelm Tell. Earlier in the day, a huge parade in Schiller's honor had wound through St. Louis; it required several pages of the local newspaper just to list the participants.

The Mississippi Blätter of Sunday, Nov. 13, had a full-page sketch of the Schiller statue, to be unveiled that day, and several poems which the citizens of St. Louis composed for the occasion. Under the headline ``A Day of Joy for the City of St. Louis,'' one of the speeches quoted included the following:

``But among all of those who walk at the summit of humanity, none is higher, none is more worthy, to live on in the remembrance of posterity, than the poet, who plants the seed of the Good, the joy of the truth and the beautiful, in the heart of the youth, the maiden, who awakens the holy fire of excitment, kindles it and keeps it growing, and whose Godly words still gladden the aged. And among the poets there again is nobody, whose works exercised such a commanding, such a blessed, influence, on the life and growth of his people, especially its youth, than the one whose statue shall be unveiled here today--Friedrich Schiller.

``When we think of him, we remember the hours of pure pleasure which the reading of his works have given us and still gives, our hearts swell in holy thanks for the man for whom the world envies the Germans, and we can speak of him the words which he himself put in the mouth of his Wallenstein:

"Er stand neben mir wie seine Jugend,
'Er machte mir das wirkliche zum Traum,
'Um die gemeine Deutlichkeit der Dinge,
`Den goldnen Duft der Morgenroete wehend,
`Im Feuer seines stehenden Gefuehls,
`Gehoben sich mir selber zum erstaunen,
`Des Lebens flach alltaegliche Gestalten!'|''

(He stood beside me like a youth,
He made for me reality into a dream,
Around the ordinary plainness of things,
the golden fragrance of morning dawn wafting,
In the fire of his steadfast feelings,
rose, much to my own amazement,
life's flat/shallow commonplace figures!)

The speech ended by noting that Schiller's statue was now not only reflected in the Neckar River but also in the Mississippi, and that if one were to look at it here in St. Louis, it should be a friendly reminder of one's childhood, but ``at the same time an earnest reminder that even in the hard fight for our daily existence in the hunt for material goods, we should never forget the ideal spiritual good.''

"For He Was One of Us'

The Westliche Post described the Schiller festival extensively under their headline, ``For He Was One of Us.'' (Goethe wrote an epilogue to Schiller's ``The Song of the Bell,'' which was first performed Aug. 10, 1805, and which Goethe proposed be performed annually in commemoration of Schiller's death. It is a eulogy to Schiller which repeats in the opening stanzas, Denn er war unser!--For he was one of us!) These words were used in most Schiller celebrations throughout the world and show how universally Schiller was beloved.)

The Westliche Post also printed a letter, which the only surviving great-grandson of Friedrich Schiller had sent to the donor of the Schiller statue, Colonel Stifel. It read as follows:

``Salzburg, Oct. 15, 1898

``Dear Sir,

``As I was able to learn from the newspapers, there will be this month in St. Louis the unveiling of a statue of Friedrich Schiller, which has to owe its existence to your largesse and patronage. Allow me, the only surviving great-grandson of the poet, to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great endeavour. Unfortunately, the day of the unveiling is not known to me, otherwise I would send a telegram of greetings for the `German Day' in America to the compatriots. Some days ago, we celebrated here (in Weimar) the one-hundredth Jubilee of the first Wallenstein performance. On that day, it became very clear to me what place my wonderful great-grandfather occupies in the hearts of the German people.

``As you may know, several years ago, my father, in collaboration with me, presented the written records of Schiller to the Goethe-Schiller archive in Weimar. We ourselves only own a small museum of personal remembrances and keepsakes. I believe it not unmodest of me to ask you to send me a photograph of the Schiller statue in St. Louis, as well as a report about the festivities of the unveiling. This would be a worthy continuance of our memories of the Schiller festivities of 1859, which were sent to my grandparents from all over the world.

``The enclosed small photograph shows Schiller's writing desk. Above the same hangs a portrait of the poet, and beside it a portrait of his sister-in-law, Freifrau von Wolzogen. The chair in the foreground is from the Schiller house.

``May I be allowed to tell you in closing, that this past spring, a play of mine, The Comedy of the Conscience, was performed at the Hofbühne in Weimar and was generally well received.

``Closing with this personal remark, I wish you again the heartiest best luck in your great endeavour and sign as your devoted Karl Alexander, Freiherr von Gleichen-Russwurm Schloss Greifenstein, Post Bonnland, Unterfranken in Bayern.''

The Schiller-Goethe Statue

Copies of the Schiller Goethe statue, created by Ernst Rietschel, which was unveiled on Sept. 4, 1857 in front of the German National Theater in Weimar, where Schiller lived and worked the last five years of his life, were brought to the United States as well. The cities of Cleveland and San Francisco have a full-size copy in their parks (see pictures).

The Germans of California donated the statue and presented it on Aug. 11, 1901 to the city of San Francisco, where it can be found in Golden Gate Park. Superintendent of Public Instruction Fred M. Campbell presented the ``American View'' at the statue's inauguration, from which only a small quote can be given here:

``Truth is broader and greater than any and all states--it knows no nationality. Clothed in whatever language, great thoughts, noble conceptions, grand achievements--the best gifts of poets, scientists, thinkers, and patriots--are contributions, not merely to the intellectual life that throbs within the narrow boundaries which circumscribe their immediate place of birth, but to the intellectual life of every civilized nation.''

The catalogue of the statues of San Francisco shows how far Schiller has been assimilated as an American poet, by informing the curious inquirer that a copy of that very same statue which can be visited in Golden Gate Park, can also be found in Weimar, Germany!

Several copies of the famous Schiller bust by the German sculptor Johann Heinrich Dannecker, who also created a bust of George Washington, can be found in the United States. One can be found in New York City's Central Park (see picture). Another was presented to Johns Hopkins University, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Schiller's death, in 1905, by Adalbert Pfister, who had been invited to the United States to give the main lecture at several such memorial events. He brought, as a present from the King of Württemberg, a copy of Dannecker's Schiller bust, to be placed in Johns Hopkins' Homewood Park.

New Orleans unveiled a Schiller bust during their 1859 celebrations. New Orleans celebrated with a three-day festival, starting with a performance of The Robbers on the evening of Nov. 9, 1859. After a parade on Nov. 10, the bust of Schiller was unveiled at the St. Charles Theater. That same evening, Schiller's ``Song of the Bell'' was performed, set to music by Romberg. Several other musical offerings were given, some composed especially for the occasion. To conclude the festivities, a grand ball at the main salon was held on the evening of Nov. 11. The Daily Picayune, which described the events for several days, boasted enthusiastically: ``The Schiller centenary can have had no more brilliant and in every way successful celebration in any part of the Union than it met with in our city!''

The city of Omaha, Nebraska erected a Schiller statue in 1898, given by the citizens of Omaha to the city. The statue was executed in Marbach and was sent to America, including the pedestal, making this an over four-meter-high statue (see picture). The citizens of Omaha were obviously better educated than the city government in 1979, which tried to remove the statue and throw it in the dump, because nobody in the city government knew who Schiller was! The German-American society rescued the statue, bidding one dollar more, a total of $101, than the University, then removed the statue to their own grounds, repaired and restored it to its original beauty, and had a beautiful festival, reminding Americans of their own tradition.

The picture of this statue is courtesy of Heinz Olk, president of the German-American Society in Omaha, Nebraska, which spearheaded the rescue of the statue and who told me about its fate.

The year 1905 saw the last great worldwide Schiller celebrations for nearly 80 years. The festivities in many cities lasted for several days. Albert Pfister, who had been invited to speak at several of these, wrote a book upon returning to Germany titled, To America in the Service of Friedrich Schiller. Participating in Schiller celebrations in Baltimore and Chicago, he also travelled to Akron, Ohio.

On May 21, 1905, after the voices of over 100 choir members of the Gesangsverein of Cleveland sang ``The Song of the Bell,'' set to music by Bruckner, the Dannecker bust of Schiller was unveiled, which the Deutsche Club presented to the Deutsche House, the cultural center of Akron, a young city of 100 years, and about 50,000 inhabitants, at the time of Pfister's visit.

Pfister emphasized in his speeches that, ``America is like a star of freedom and what the ideal men of the American Revolution fulfilled with their revolution, is exactly what Friedrich Schiller, the poor Swabian poet, meant with his enthusiastic poetry. As the word and the act are closely interrelated, so are the bard of freedom and the country of freedom--the close relation of two souls that can not be disturbed by anything in the world except annihilation.''

Pfister compared Schiller's enduring influence on America to a stone thrown into a still pond, which creates bigger and bigger circles around itself. ``Schiller was an educator, and a politician in the highest sense of the word, because politicians should be concerned about the cultural life of a nation. The influence on the popular soul by the educational works of Schiller cannot be underestimated for the future life of nations. Schiller transformed the theater into a national assembly at a time when none existed. The stage was the parliament and educated the people.''

During much of the twentieth century, the history of this tradition has been forgotten, as the following little note in the St. Louis Post Dispatch of Oct. 2, 1976 attests: Titled ``Thanks for the return,'' the letter states, ``May I thank whomever is responsible for the return of the Schiller statue to our fair city. It now stands in its former glory down on Market Street, as it stood in the days when Otto Stifel, owner of Stifel's brewery, gave it to St. Louis Park in honor of the culture of his beloved Germany. For many years it lay in a junk yard, forgotten by those who once played beneath its shadow. --Marguerite Jordan Burroghs, Spanish Lake.''

The Schiller Institute

In 1984, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute, called on members and supporters of the Schiller Institute to make the celebrations of the 225th birthday even bigger than previous ones, to defend human dignity, and the inalienable rights of all peoples in all nations. The disintegration of the Western Alliance and our values make this necessary, she emphasized. ``Our situation is more dangerous, and therefore we must make these celebrations even better than before.''

In 1984, 12 American states and 32 cities declared Nov. 10, 1984 Friedrich Schiller Day, thereby reconnecting themselves with their own history. Celebrations of Schiller's birthday were held in numerous cities.

The true secret of the power of Schiller's work lies in the fact that he prescribed for himself and others an exceedingly high standard, which he explains and describes in his ``On Bürger's Poems,'' in the year 1791:

``All that the poet can give us, is his own personality; it must therefore be worthy of being presented to the scrutiny of society and posterity. The task of ennobling that personality to the highest degree, of refining it into the purest, most splendid humanity, is the first and most important business he must address, before he may venture to stir the noble.''

Herein lies the true power of Schiller's work. He, like no other, fullfilled this demand he himself had set for the poet, and was therefore able to find the ``unfailing key to the most secret entrances of the human heart and soul'' and to stir it to greatness. He wrote as ``a world citizen who does not bow to any duke,'' as he said in the announcement of his first newspaper, the Rheinische Thalia, and ended his article, ``that he will not appeal to any higher throne but to the human soul.''

In the often-suppressed introduction of his essay, ``Theater Considered as a Moral Institution,'' Schiller asks a question each of us today must answer in his own heart:

``...So the first thing is this, that we ourselves answer the question beforehand, whether the business to which we now devote the best part of our mental powers, is in accordance with the dignity of our mind. Not always the highest tension of the powers--only their noblest exertion can grant greatness. The more sublime the aim for which we strive, the higher soars our courage, the purer will be our self-confidence, the more independent of the opinion of the world.''

 

Rochester Statue Has A Famous Pedigree

by Stuart Low
Staff writer, Democrat and Chronicle

Rochester, New York

October, 2007

Schiller statue
JEN RYNDA staff photographer
An architectural sleuth has traced the origins of the Schiller monument at Franklin Square: the legendary architectural firm of Carrere & Hastings.
Schiller statue
JEN RYNDA staff photographer
Chris Huether, left, of Chili and Lisa Gossard (right) of Mendon sit at the Schiller monument.

Reprinted with permission of the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, Rochester, New York

(October 25, 2007) — A Rochester monument to a beloved German writer was designed by a legendary American architectural firm, new research shows.

The statue of 18th-century poet and playwright Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) dominates a small park at Andrews Street and Franklin Square. One of the city's more obscure landmarks, it's the site for occasional festivities by German Americans and other groups.

Manhattan architect Charles Warren has identified it as a 1908 project by Carrere & Hastings. Partners John Carrere and Thomas Hastings designed some of the most important public buildings of their time: the House and Senate Office Buildings, the New York Public Library and the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater housing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The firm hired German-born sculptor Carl Augustus Heber (one of its regular collaborators) to build the Schiller monument, a bronze bust atop an imposing limestone platform and pedestal. Given to the city by its large community of German immigrants, the statue was installed in Anderson Park at University Avenue and East Main Street. When the Inner Loop invaded this space, the monument was moved to its current location — diagonally across from Harro East in Schiller Park.

"It never entered anyone's mind that the Schiller monument might be a Carrere & Hastings project," says Warren, a Rochester native. "I find its style chaste and classical, not overly ornamented."

He tracked down its origins while co-writing a recent two-volume book, Carrere & Hastings Architects (Acanthus Press, $200). It chronicles the firm's commissions from 1885 to 1929, including skyscrapers, city halls and private mansions.

Since Carrere & Hastings kept no formal archive, Warren and his three co-writers did their sleuthing with project lists from the firm's associates. Warren found documents and drawings establishing the Schiller statue's identity at Rundel Memorial Library and the Olmsted Archives in Brookline, Mass.

"There was an earlier proposal for a Schiller monument by Rochester sculptor Anthony Halstrick," he says. "That would have celebrated the 100th anniversary of the poet's death. But nothing came of it."

Schiller (1759-1805) is one of the towering figures of German literature, together with his friend Johann Wolfgang Goethe. His poems were memorized by generations of German students and several plays were successfully adapted as operas, including Don Carlos (Verdi) and William Tell (Rossini).

Rochesterians who don't care for opera may still have felt his influence. He penned the Ode to Joy that Beethoven set to music in his popular Symphony No. 9. And Schiller wrote the first major essay on the creative benefits of play — a key concept behind programs at Strong National Museum of Play.

SLOW@DemocratandChronicle.com

Schiller park
JEN RYNDA staff photographer
Given to the city by its large community of German immigrants, the statue was installed in Anderson Park at University Avenue and East Main Street. When the Inner Loop invaded this space, the monument was moved to its current location — diagonally across from Harro East in Schiller Park.