In May, 2019, the Bauers invited me to a formal dinner at the old Schauspielhaus, Erfurt's dramatic theatre. Since the construction of a new theatre, the Schauspielhaus has fallen into disuse and faces certain demolition. It has turned into a hangout for vandals, and even served police-SWAT teams as a training-ground, causing some damage to this wonderful old Art-nouveau building.
However neglected or gloomy it looks on the outside, the Bauers and their friends made the interior cheerful and bright, Jens acting as the master of ceremonies. They have created a Verein, in English, a private association, with plans for restoring the building, and putting it to good use.
While we ate, a vaudeville band performed. The lead-singer used a megaphone to distort his voice. It has a red-and-white striped lion on it, the coat-of-arms of the German state of Thüringen. Erfurt serves as its state-capital.
One of their friends took me around the place and showed me the actual theatre—seating, dressing rooms, and stage—and other facilities in this all-purpose building.
Over the course of the evening, I learned that das Alte Schauspielhaus started life not as a theatre, but as a private-club, a different kind of Verein. Antje gave me a few details of its earlier existence, and said she published an article about it for the Stadt und Geschichte magazine. I did not ask her which issue. I shuffled through old issues of the magazine, going back a decade--all the way back to March 1999--to find Antje's article. I am impressed how she had maintained her interest in the Ressource and the building over so many years.
In the article, Antje does not call the building das Alte Schauspielhaus but the Erfurter Ressource. She did not describe it as simply a private club, but as a social-centre for an entire class of Erfurters. After work, the men drank beer with the other men of the club and read newspapers and magazines, while their wives socialized with each other. The children had their play-spaces and also joined their parents for supper. The Ressource was central to their social lives, a component of their corporate identity. As one German expressed it: two Germans, a conversation; three Germans, a club.
Naturally, when the Nazis and Soviets gained contol of Erfurt, they put an end to private spaces for the entire country. They did not want any group to exist independently of government control. My readers have to understand that: in a freedom-loving society, a government protects private associations. In a dictatorial society, on the other hand, the government controls all associations. It has to prevent the ermergence of an independent point-of-view. More than that, the dictator has to weed freedom-loving concepts from the vocabulary, deny to the public the ability to think outside the realm of the accepted doctrines, and prevent them venturing into freedom-loving concepts again.
Ressource, the Sound
Franz (Ferenc) Liszt composed one of my favorite pieces of music for piano, "Au Bord d'une Source". In English, "Beside the Spring." I heard it for the first time in college on a recording of piano-music by Vladimir Horowitz. "Au Bord d'une Source" is programmatic, inasmuch as it imitates the sound of spring-water spilling over rocks. My father worked a lot with real estate and said that few sounds appeal to people more than water spilling over rocks. It inspired Liszt, and apparently Horowitz too, given his magical performance of it.
I looked up "Ressource" on Wikipedia, which says that the latin root-word resurgere means to "gush forth." Our human associations have that effect on us. We can do things in conjunction with others that we could not possibly do on our own. Associations are serendepitous and have a positive effect on the possibilities. We can never accomplish as much as isolated units, which a dictator imposes on us. A dictator limits movement, and instead of fresh, flowing water, we get stagnant water, a stagnant thought-life, and a stagnant economy as a result.
In a freedom-loving society, people with fresh commercial ideas, scientific formulae, or industrial processes associate with venture capitalists and create new companies. This type of association has special importance in the contemporary high-tech world. A nation like ours depends on associations. How left-wing Americans can turn a blind eye to their utility baffles me.