Stefan Zweig: Café Europa

European Diary, 28.11.2020: 139 years ago on this day Stefan Zweig was born in Vienna. On February 23, 1942 he took his life in exile in Petropolis, Brazil.
On the way to this last refuge, during the months of his exile in the USA, he wrote his autobiography Die Welt von gestern. Memories of a European. In Hohenems 2014, when we took a look back at the first Europeans, at the Habsburg Jews until World War I in 1914, Stefan Zweig’s critical, melancholic and ironic retrospective view of the “World of Security”, the “dream castle” of the Habsburg monarchy and of Europe inspired by the belief in humanity and progress, which turned out to be a deadly illusion from 1914 to 1945, formed the epilogue, so to speak. We were able to borrow some pages from his manuscript in the original from the Library of Congress in Washington.

Stefan Zweig about the Hohenems Family of his mother Ida Brettauer

In the foreword to his autobiography, Stefan Zweig wrote about the upheavals in Europe and what it meant: “as an Austrian, as a Jew, as a writer, as a humanist and pacifist, to have stood precisely where these earth tremors had the most violent effect. (…) But I do not complain; it is just the homeless man who becomes free in a new sense, and only he who is no longer connected with anything needs to take no more consideration for anything. (…) I was born in 1881 in a large and powerful empire, in the Habsburg monarchy, but one does not look for it on the map: it has been washed away without a trace. I grew up in Vienna, a two-thousand-year-old supranational metropolis, and had to leave it like a criminal before it was degraded to a German provincial city. My literary work has been burnt to ashes in the language in which I wrote it, in the same place where my books have made friends of millions of readers. So I no longer belong anywhere, a stranger everywhere and at best a guest; even the true home that my heart chooses, Europe, is lost to me, since it has been suicidally torn apart for the most part in the war between brothers.
Stefan Zweig was the first and last European at the same time. In front of one of the houses where his Hohenems family lived in the 19th century, a sculpture today reminds one of Walter Benjamin and his “angel of history” – who, like Zweig’s “world of yesterday”, became his legacy before he took his own life on the border in 1940 while fleeing to Spain.
Stefan Zweig managed to escape, but the destruction of Europe also haunted him into exile, until that day in February 1942, when the strength to continue had apparently left him. Years later, his farewell letter was to end up with another emigrant in Petropolis, also a descendant from Hohenems.

The Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem invites you to an online event in memory of Stefan Zweig on Saturday, November 28, 2020, from 13.00 to 21.00 (Central European Time).

Access to the zoom video livestream:

The birthday party for Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) offers readings, reflections and music from Jerusalem and Ramallah, Hohenems and Vienna, Berlin and Addis Ababa, London, Paris, Tel Aviv and Zurich.

The Hohenems session begins at 4.30 pm (CET) and reminds us of Zweig’s Hohenems origins and his last journey to Brazil, of the first and last Europeans. Hanno Loewy, the actor Michael Schiemer and the “World of Yesterday”, and the Brazilian musician Sergio Wagner will be heard.
Thanks to Petra Klose for the wonderful idea and organization of this event.

Here is an overview of the entire program:
1pm (CET) Jerusalem Session – in English
We will welcome you with stunning views from the roofs of the Willy Brandt Center and the Austrian Hospice,
followed by a performance of Stefan Zweig’s text about Viennese coffeehouses by Guy Bracca who will read to us from the Café Triest.
After that enjoy with us a musical performance of Zweig’s favourite composers Beethoven and Mozart by pianist Dima Milenova
followed by an interview with the young writer Iman Hirbawi, participant of the Willy Brandt Center’s Young Writers Project.
2pm (CET) Addis Ababa Session – in English
Filmmaker Terhas Berhe presents to us the Ethiopian world of coffeehouses and ceremonies in Addis Ababa
2.30pm (CET) Berlin Session – in German
Actress Joanna Castelli reads from Stefan Zweig’s World of Yesterday and his discovery of freedom in Berlin.
3pm (CET) Talk with Avraham Burg – in English
Avraham Burg speaks about Stefan Zweig’s universal approach to Judaism, his concept for Europe and his legacy today.
3.30pm (CET) Tel Aviv Session – in German
Interview with journalist Peter Münch about what Stefan Zweig tells us today from a European perspective.
4pm (CET) Zurich Session – in German
Dramatic reading with actor Christian Manuel Oliveira about Stefan Zweig’s impressions of wartime Zurich
4.30pm (CET) Hohenems Session – in German
Sergio Wagner brings music from Brasil to the Café Europe.
Hanno Loewy, director of the Jewish Museum in Hohenems talks about the current exhibition “The last Europeans” and Stefan Zweig’s family connections to Hohenems,
followed by a reading of actor Michael Schiemer.
5.30pm (CET) Paris Session
Musical performance of Debussy’s Prélude “Danseuses de Delphes” by pianist Emmanuel Strosser
6pm (CET) Vienna Session – in German
Readings by the authors Anna Goldenberg, Doron Rabinovici and Timna Brauer
In cooperation with the Austrian Cultural Forum Tel Aviv
7pm (CET) London Session – in English
Introduction and a performance by Rita Manning and Chris Laurence
7.30pm (CET) Vienna Session – in English
Readings by the authors Julya Rabinowich and Nadine Sayegh with a musical performance of oud player Marwan Abado
In cooperation with the Austrian Cultural Forum Tel Aviv
8pm (CET) Ramallah Session
Performance of “La Vie en Rose” from the Palestinian artist Café Garage by accordion player Mohammad Qutati
8.30 pm (CET) Jerusalem Session – in English
Presentation of the Young Writer’s Project with photographer Iuna Viera and young author Hagar Mizrachi Dudinksi.
We will close the program with a dramatic reading of Stefan Zweig by actor Alex Ansky.