The agitator with the rascal mask: Ludwig Thoma |

Munich (dpa) – What did Ludwig Thoma think when his colleagues at the imperial satirical magazine “Simplicissimus” mocked what they call anti-Semitic leaders and exposed their ideology?

Did he secretly clench his fist because he thought like the enemies of the Jews?

With the “naughty stories” filmed in the 1960s, the author created a memorial to the Bavarian rascal who pisses off the authorities and was himself jailed for “public insulting an institution of the Christian church”. At the same time, he was sort of a hate preacher in his later years. 100 years ago, on August 26, 1921, the former lawyer died at Lake Tegernsee.

At the end of his life, Thoma was a bitter man, and at 54, not that old at all. He left, as sad as it is true, when he threw overboard his criticism of the state and society during World War I and became a staunch defender of war – then a hater of slobbering Jews.

You can hardly imagine a more traditional Bavarian origin than Thoma: Born in the time of King Ludwig II in the woodcarver and passion town of Oberammergau, Father Förster, the innkeeper mother. He studied law and became a lawyer in Dachau, was also active as a journalist, became editor-in-chief of “Simplicissimus” in 1898 and left it in 1917. He also wrote many comedies such as “Lausbubengeschichten” on the basis of his own experiences.

The rascal Thoma is also quite libertarian: in 1907 he married a Filipino dancer, but in 1910 his happiness collapsed. Thoma goes to war as a doctor. He moved further away from his critical satires of the government, in which he insulted the Bavarian parliament as “blacker than coal”, “more godly than the dove” and ultimately “the dumbest thing”. In 1918, he began an affair with a married woman. She comes from an important Jewish family in the Rhine-Main region.

At the end of his life, Thoma anonymously loses all his inhibitions in the infamous “Miesbacher Anzeiger”: wanted to disarm the Bavarians.

When it all became known in the 1980s, the horror was great. And today? No flowers on the day of death? The city of Dachau is planning: nothing. The Ludwig-Thoma-Gemeinde Dachau, which offers cultural events, must also adapt. Well, Corona.

“We try to pursue a differentiated approach and do justice both to the important writer on the one hand and to the anti-Semitic agitator Ludwig Thoma on the other hand in the last years of his life”, says Tobias Schneider, head of the Cultural Office of Dachau. “Of course, Ludwig Thoma is closely associated with the city of Dachau. But for many years now, we have looked with great sobriety at the very different facets of his personality and his work. ”

And there is also silence in the Ludwig-Thoma-Haus in Tegernsee, the author’s former home. “Due to the current situation” and renovations are currently closed there. But it is suspected that the house, which is administered by the state capital, Munich, could be completely finished. This becomes clear on request: “Due to the corona pandemic, no events are currently planned. The opinion process is not yet complete on the future of the house. The influx of visitors was not great: there were 150 guests in 2018, around 200 in 2019.

Should we rather forget Thoma? Not that, thinks Waldemar Fromm, head of the literature department in Bavaria. You have to relate the commentator and the person to each other. “The result is a contradictory picture of the whole personality, in which contradictions cannot be resolved.” If you are interested, you should read the entire Thoma, but it is important not to protect the author in person. “The political commentator Thoma calls, among other things, to kill people of other political beliefs or convictions. Thomas’ words in the “Miesbacher Anzeiger” “were unacceptable, inhuman and undemocratic at the time of their creation, they are still today and will remain so in the future”.

And so there is little to commemorate the Day of the Dead, but rather a debate on whether Munich should still have Ludwig-Thoma-Strasse or rename it. It seems decided for Thoma. Fromm believes street names should keep an eye on life as a whole. Then Thoma could not be appreciated.

André Postert, associate researcher at the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism at the Technical University of Dresden, poses a fundamental problem with street names: value on the Way to give? Does the positive outweigh the stranger? These questions must and cannot be answered by a catalog of criteria. It needs to be discussed socially and politically. With Thoma at least, it seems clear: anyone who laughs at the “rascal” can no longer ignore the agitator.

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