Diary in Exile-1935

Diary in Exile-1935

February 7, 1935

The diary is not a literary form I am especially fond of; at the moment I would prefer the daily newspaper. But there is none available. … Cut off from political action, I am obliged to resort to such ersatz journalism as a private diary. At the beginning of the war, when I was confined in Switzerland, I kept a diary for a few weeks. Later, after being deported from France to Spain in 1916, I did so again. I think that is all. Now once again I have to resort to a political diary. Will it be for long? Perhaps months; in any case not years. Events must come to a head in •one way or another and put an end to the diary—if it is not cut short even sooner by a surreptitious shot directed by an agent of … Stalin, Hitler, or their French friend-enemies.

Lassalle wrote once that he would gladly leave unwritten what he knew if only he could accomplish at least a part of what he felt able to do. Any revolutionary would feel the same way. But one has to take the situation as it is. For the very reason that it fell to my lot to take part in great events, my past now cuts me off from chances for action. I am reduced to interpreting events and trying to foresee their future course. At least this occupation is more satisfying than mere passive reading.

Here my contacts with life are almost entirely limited to the newspapers and partly to letters. It will not be surprising if my diary tends to take the form of a review of newspapers and periodicals. But it is not the world of the newspapermen as such that interests me, but the workings of the deeper social forces as they appear reflected in the crooked mirror of the press. However, I naturally am not committing myself in advance to this form. The advantage of a diary—alas the only one—lies precisely in the fact that it leaves one free from any literary requirements or prescriptions.