bjørneboe in a new german edition (also: on sigmund rascher)

There’s a new edition of one of Norwegian author and anthroposophist Jens Bjørneboe’s books, Ehe der Hahn kräht. As it happens, I’m reading it right now (though a Swedish edition published in 1954). It is very powerful. I found this article and this particularly interesting passage:

Der Autor verarbeitete seine eigenen, intensiven Recherchen über die Nürnberger Ärzteprozesse und schilderte mit Rückblenden das Leben eines Unauffälligen, Behüteten. Freund, Ehemann und Vater, gebildet, sensibel und musikalisch, so wird Heinrich Reynhardt (nach dem Lagerarzt in Dachau, Sigmund Rascher) vorgestellt.

And there’s a particular reason why this is interesting: Sigmund Rascher was a former waldorf student and the son of a prominent anthroposophist, Hanns Rascher, who had been a student of Steiner’s and who was also a committed nazi.

With the rise of the Nazis to state power, Rascher senior became a crucial intermediary between the party and anthroposophist organizations.

Sigmund Rascher, unlike his father, was not an anthroposophist, but still had close ties to the anthroposophic movement. His experiments at Dachau, some of which involved Weleda products, were horrific, writes Peter Staudenmaier:

In the 1940s Sigmund Rascher initiated and oversaw a series of notoriously brutal ‘experiments’ at Dachau, with Himmler’s support, using prisoners as unwilling subjects. Many of the prisoners died under conditions that are best described as wanton torture.

More here.

Rascher aside, it’s a fantastic book. I wish I’d finished it before I found this article today, but I’m quite fascinated that he modelled the character of Reynhardt on Rascher. I’m as ever impressed by Bjørneboe.

Jens Bjørneboe focht einen lebenslangen Kampf gegen Ungerechtigkeit, Verblendung – und seine ganz eigenen Dämonen. Er verstand sich als Anthroposoph und Anarchist und setzte 1976 seinem Leben selbst ein Ende.

Read more:
Das ist meine Wüste – ein hervorragender Roman über eine furchtbare Nachkriegsrecherche in neuer Ausgabe