Schickele, Rene

(1883-1940)
   writer and pacifist; he was the mainstay of an exile group in Switzerland during World War I. He was born in the Alsatian town of Oberehnheim (now Obernai); his German father owned a vine-yard, and his mother was French. Referring to himself as a Grenzvogel or "fron-tier bird," he promoted cultural rapprochement between France and Germany. His prose, set in Alsace, linked French rationalism and German romanticism. By the time he was fifteen his poems were appearing in the Strassburger Zeitung and Berlin's* Heimat. As a student at Strassburg, he helped found the literary periodical FuÜr kuÜnstlerische Renaissance im Elsass (Toward an artistic Renais-sance in Alsace) in 1903 with Otto Flake. Never a serious student, he edited the literary review Das neue Magazin fur Literatur during 1904-1909 and published his first novel, Der Fremde (The stranger), in 1909. During 1909-1913, as Paris correspondent for the periodical Nord und SuÜd and the newspaper* Neue Strass-burger Zeitung, he embraced pacifism. Back in Strassburg in 1913, he became coeditor of Leipzig's pacifist monthly, Die weissen Blatter, and was preparing a run for the Reichstag* when World War I erupted.
   The war posed a bitter dilemma for Schickele, captured in his quickly cen-sored 1915 drama Hans im Schnakenloch: should he claim allegiance to France or Germany? Engaged in illegal pacifist activities as a conscientious objector, he was forced to emigrate to Zürich in 1916. Reestablishing Die weissen Blatter, he avoided polemics and preserved the journal for literary journalism. A voice of Expressionism,* it featured work by Heinrich Mann,* Leonard Frank, and Gustav Landauer.* Schickele was less concerned with specific political programs than with opposing war's brutality. Sometimes called a "new Expressionist," he cultivated a pacifist idealism similar to that of Landauer. Anticipating revo-lution, he rejected force and condemned Bolshevism as Lenin's permanent dec-laration of war against the bourgeoisie: "I am a socialist; but if one were to convince me that socialism is to be realized only by the Bolshevik method, then I...would give up all claim to its realization." He distinguished between a transfer of power, requiring force, and genuine change, which only comes through spiritual renewal. But by 1920 his utopian dreams had brought only disillusionment.
   Schickele lived until 1932 in the Black Forest village of Badenweiler and freelanced during the Weimar years for Die WeltbuÜhne* and other journals. His Das Erbe am Rhein (The heritage on the Rhine, 1927-1931), published by Kurt Wolff,* was a trilogy portraying the disastrous impact of Franco-German re-vanchism in Alsace. He emigrated to Provence in 1932 and died shortly before Hitler* invaded France.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon;Deak, Weimar Germany's Left-Wing Intellectuals; Wurgaft, Activists.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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