Felix Weltsch was born in Prague on October 6, 1884. He was a philosopher, writer, editor-in-chief of the weekly Jewish magazine “Selbstwehr” from 1919 to 1938 and finally a librarian, first at the Prague National and University Library, and after his emigration in 1939 at the National Library in Jerusalem. In addition to Max Brod and Oskar Baum, Felix Weltsch was one of Franz Kafka's closest friends. He died in Jerusalem on November 9, 1964.

A detailed representation of Felix Weltsch's life, his significant role in the inner circle of Prague and the intellectual elite of his time, his escape from the Nazis on the last train that left Prague, the initially not easy new beginning in Palestine, his conflict-marked marriage to me Irma Weltsch (nee Herz; sister of Alice Herz-Sommer), the role of father ... is offered by Carsten Schmidt in the first and only biography published by Königshausen & Neumann “Kafka's almost unknown friend. Life and work of Felix Weltsch. Philosopher, journalist and Zionist ".

Felix Weltsch "formed in strict chains of thought that which moved us who were drunk with images in our waking dreams", writes Max Brod in "Der Prager Kreis" and thereby emphasizes Felix Weltsch's philosophical gift, which inspired him from his more literary, not without recognition Friends Franz Kafka, Oskar Baum and Brod himself. And further: "He (Weltsch) achieved the best summary of problem number one, freedom, in his beautiful book 'Gnade und Freiheit', which Kafka read again and again and rightly called a 'book of edification'." (Max Brod : The Prager Kreis. Frankfurt / Main 1979. S. 154/156) 

© Eli and Michael Gornstein, transmitted by Carsten Schmidt

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“If you look at all the forms of the religion of freedom that have emerged in the course of history, you will find the point in each of them where it turns in some form into the religion of grace. We think we have found the inner reason for it. It is in faith. Faith demands meaning and unity. And unity can only be obtained if the absolute in the ultimate sense becomes that which creates unity and dissolves duality. Without faith, the doctrine of freedom may perhaps be able to dispense with this last element of 'grace'; but where it becomes the religion of freedom, the only maternal ability of the absolute cannot be switched off. Nevertheless, we believe that we have shown that in the religion of freedom, despite this role of the absolute, the ultimate meaning of becoming can be maintained if one avoids recognizing the absolute being as reality, that is, if one evades the error of the ontological argument. Then the absolute may well be the reason and goal - the metaphysical meaning of becoming, which cannot be replaced by an absolute, is preserved. That is the core of the religion of freedom. But their immeasurable and unique importance lies in ethics.

Man is a tiny member of the infinite creative becoming that is the world. But this small particle is given the view of the goal, the freedom of choice and the possibility of realization. The human mind sets the absolute as the direction of its action, and the approximation of this absolute is the value measure of every action. Thus religion not only gives freedom a foundation for ethics, it also shows the content of good. It not only gives the sanction, but also the criterion of the good. So it is a perfect and genuine justification of ethics. "

“How the development of the spirit, this breaking through of freedom, takes place, Weltsch has shown in a wonderful way; his distinction between deep and shallow will, his doctrine of the inviting will, his polemics against those who say: 'I can't' and his call to the weak, who cannot want deeply, 'to want flatly, but with firm faith of his will and with the depressing feeling of sinfulness, with the desperate awareness that one is damned and that shallow volition can never redeem '- this teaching by Felix Weltsch is so sublime comforting, so confident, so Jewish in the best, noblest sense of the word that every extract that I would try would have to reduce its effect. ”(Hugo Bergmann: Gnade und Freiheit. Comments on Felix Weltsch's book. In: Der Jude, Vol. 6 (1921) No. 1, pp. 69-71 )

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Franz Kafka, born in Prague in 1883, 1924, barely 41 years old, died in Kierling / Lower Austria, brother of three sisters, Jew, bachelor throughout his life despite being engaged several times, Dr. der Jura, employee of a workers accident insurance company - but above all this: a writer, and even more important: a deeply believing, life-affirming person, who has a "positive, constructive attitude" (Brod), a "belief in the indestructible in people" (Weltsch) was worn.

These are the statements of Max Brod and Felix Weltsch, two of Franz Kafka's closest friends, who after his death had to watch from Israel (where they fled shortly before the German troops marched into Prague and where they stayed after the end of the war), certainly not without dismay, how their friend grew more and more "Representative of a de-goded world" (Weltsch) became. 

One would only have had to give more credit to the voices of those who knew Kafka personally, because they paint a much brighter picture than those who dedicated themselves to “pure” text analysis. "All those", observed Max Brod, "who only build their Kafka picture from his writings, have a much darker tint in mind than those who have known him personally." 

We at onomato Verlag would like to get this affirmative person Kafka back into view. We hope that this will succeed in two ways: on the one hand with the support of Kafka's friends, whom we trust in their view of the friend and who try to reproduce their voice in the discussion about Kafka through our book editions. And on the other hand through a changed approach to Kafka's texts themselves. By not analyzing, dissecting and dissecting them, but hearing and hearing them, a new approach can emerge that could be called synthetic in its character. It is he who allows the affirmative to be experienced.

As the first book publications in addition to the meanwhile seven audio book editions with Kafka's stories and diary excerpts, the "Conversations with Kafka " by Gustav Janouch, a book whose content, according to Julius Schoeps, "(will) make clear to everyone Kafka's positive, constructive attitude, this belief that he upheld, despite the most severe challenges, against a gloomy background."

Reiner Stach also emphasizes this positive keynote in his commented cruise through Kafka's estate "Kafka's Games ” draws a colored picture of Kafka and reveals many cheerful, comical, grotesque facets that are actually considered incompatible with his gloomy nimbus.

Also published by onomato Verlag "Religion and Humor in Franz Kafka's Life" by Felix Weltsch, one of Kafka's closest confidants, who is indeed ready to describe him as unhappy in some ways, but also presents him as humorous and, above all, strictly refuses to ascribe a complete world and life negation to Kafka. 

Another re-publication is planned for “Franz Kafka's Faith and Teaching”, a text by Max Brod, who emphasizes Kafka's basic trust in good: “This 'but nevertheless' is so characteristic of Kafka, I can feel him completely in it, with his trust on the indestructible, the good, which in the end has to prevail. "

But all of this is still very early, and we are glad that there are certainly more exciting book and audio book projects on Franz Kafka waiting for us (and some are already in preparation).

Links and audio files about Franz Kafka:

 

The S. Fischer Verlag, under the direction of Reiner Stach, offers a very clear, well-structured page on Kafka with a total of 130 sub-sites:
http://www.franzkafka.de


The Kafka Project: very material-rich English-language site on Kafka, which was launched in 1998 and has been growing steadily ever since:
http://www.kafka.org

 

Free audio files (mp3)

Franz Kafka - Eleven Sons (Stories III)

Franz Kafka - Before the Law (Stories I)


The website of the photographer Jan Jindra is particularly unusual. Like onomato Verlag, the employees involved are concerned with showing Kafka as a person who was much more agile and more attentive to life than is unfortunately often assumed by Kafka research:
http://www.franzkafka.info

 

The page of the 2004 by the last German writer from Prague, Lenká Reinerová, the ambassador a. D. František Černý and Kurt Krolop founded the Prague literary house of German-speaking authors:
http://www.prager-literaturhaus.com

 

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