Kurt Tucholsky

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Kurt Tucholsky in Paris 1928

Kurt Tucholsky (9 January 189021 December 1935) was a German journalist, satirist and lyricist.


  • Der Mensch gönnt seiner Gattung nichts, daher hat er die Gesetze erfunden. Er darf nicht, also sollen die andern auch nicht.
    • Translated: Mankind doesn't grant itself anything—that is why it has invented the law. It isn't allowed for him so it shouldn't be allowed for others.
    • From Der Mensch, published 1931.
  • Der Mensch hat neben dem Trieb der Fortpflanzung und dem, zu essen und zu trinken, zwei Leidenschaften: Krach zu machen und nicht zuzuhören.
    • Translated: Man has—next to the drives of reproduction and dining—two passions: making noise and not listening.
    • From Der Mensch, published 1931.
  • Da gab es vier Jahre lang ganze Quadratmeilen Landes, auf denen war der Mord obligatorisch, während er eine halbe Stunde davon entfernt ebenso streng verboten war. Sagte ich: Mord? Natürlich Mord. Soldaten sind Mörder.
    • Translated: For four years, there were whole square miles of land where murder was obligatory, while it was strictly forbidden half an hour away. Did I say: murder? Of course murder. Soldiers are murderers.
    • From Der bewachte Kriegsschauplatz, published 1931 under the pseudonym Ignaz Wrobel; compare [1].
  • Die menschliche Dummheit ist international.
    • Translated: Human stupidity is international.
    • "Hégésippe Simon" (1931); also in Schnipsel, published 1973, p. 102.
  • Darauf sagt ein Diplomat vom Quai d’Orsay: «Der Krieg? Ich kann das nicht so schrecklich finden! Der Tod eines Menschen: das ist eine Katastrophe. Hunderttausend Tote: das ist eine Statistik!»
    • At which a diplomat from France replies: «The war? I can't find it too terrible! The death of one man: that is a catastrophe. One hundred thousand deaths: that is a statistic!»
    • "Französischer Witz" (1932).
  • Im übrigen gilt ja hier derjenige, der auf den Schmutz hinweist, für viel gefährlicher als der, der den Schmutz macht.
    • Translated: Furthermore, here the one pointing out the filthiness is perceived as much more dangerous than the one producing the filth.
    • Letter to Herbert Ihering, August 10. 1922

Quotes about Kurt Tucholsky

  • It is not true, however, that the solutions proposed by the Zionists, of whatever shade, represented historical realism as against the inconsistent utopianism of the Bund. Certainly the prophets were not numerous, but they have to be given their due: Kurt Tucholsky, for example, who already in the mid-1920s sounded the alarm, in a Weimar Republic prey to the demons of order, nationalism, xenophobia and dreams of revanchism; Leon Trotsky, who in the late 1920s warned that the fate of Europe was being played out in Germany, and understood that the bankruptcy of German communism in the face of Hitler bore within it the inexorable unfurling of horror. At this time they were preaching in the desert, including the desert of Judaea. The rabbis who called for obedience to the temporal power in all circumstances, and the inspirers of Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon who at the time paraded in black shirts, are not best placed to cast the first stone at these Jewish visionaries and militants who were struggling at this time for a better world.
    • Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg, Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism (2016)
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