The losses, the suffering and death (of both wars) left their indelible mark on nearly every family nowadays, even though nearly nobody knew the soldiers killed in action and the murder victims personally. What do we remember at the events of the second Biennale of Literature? Do we remember the question how this war started? Were the end of the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles already the act of founding of the Second World War? About this there are existing multiple, but no final answers, like in the recently published work of the Australian historian Christopher Clark "The Sleepwalkers"; it treats the question of war guilt in a few lines only, because it's his understanding that everyone, who had built up arms and had threatened, was guilty. The book meticulously rates the documents of the pre-war period of all the involved nations, from Serbia, Austria/Hungary to France and the German Reich. The question, how this war could happen, contains confusing facets! Some may understand the work as an exoneration of the Germans, which were and still are regarded as not only the losers, but also generally as the culprits. For attentive readers of Clark's work, the question of an exclusive responsibility is obsolete.
This surprisingly also applies to numerous literary creations which were published since the twenties until now in France, England and Belgium. In these, this war and its consequences are – other than in our literature – still alive in a great number of books for young readers, novels and non-fiction books. In Germany, the survivors felt cheated out of the victory, the propaganda went a step further! The Treaty of Versailles put a thorn in the nation's heart. The to be ignominiously felt "defeat", paid with that much blood: Was it all in vain? And then there was Hitler who could build on it. We are going to compare the sudden flood of remembrance to literature, which has mostly been forgotten or missing ("Weltenbrand" on May 29th). In the event "Mitten im Leben sind wir vom Tod umfangen" ("We're embraced by death in the middle of our lives", May 27th at 10 a.m., ELS-school and at 5 p.m., CityKirche Elberfeld) the journalist Alexandra Rak is going to report on her project which consists in demanding stories, concerning the topic from today's authors. Two authors (Natalie Savina and Hermann Schulz) are going to read their stories and show documents. In this context there is always going to appear the question, by what diabolical logic this war, which the leading military in Germany already considered as lost in 1914, could have last for four bloody years.
These are already reasons enough for us to deal in a sharp way with old and new literary texts from the past and present with this topic.