Karl Stern: The Pillar of Fire
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Change is the nursery of music, joy, life, and eternity. Great dividing line in Europe, in fact in the entire world, is not the line between right and left. All of us who grew up in the intellectual atmosphere of the twenties were sincerely convinced that people who were politically to the left of the middle acted under a moral incentive. Indeed, as I have said, in most radicals there had been during the early post-war period, underneath it all, a love of justice and a compassion for the multitude. Conversely, it was held that people were conservative out of material motives for conservatism. No matter how much some of them were able to deceive themselves in this respect, the Nazi years taught us a lesson. It happened, not infrequently, that you met a friend whom you had known for years as a “staunch liberal” and he turned out to be eagerly ready for any compromise that would save his skin. On the other hand, we saw people whom we had disdained as reactionaries go to the concentration camps and to the gallows. In the beginning it seemed confusing. But gradually it became clearer, and it was obvious that the only thing that counts in this world is the strength of moral conviction.