You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

February 22: Stefan Zweig

February 22, 2016

coverIn despair over Nazism and the destruction it had wrought upon Europe, world-renowned writer Stefan Zweig used barbituates to commit suicide with his wife Charlotte Elisabeth Altmann on this date in 1942 in Petropolis, Brazil, where they had moved nearly two years earlier. “Every day I learned to love this country more,” he wrote in his German-language suicide note, “and I would not have asked to rebuild my life in any other place after the world of my own language sank and was lost to me and my spiritual homeland, Europe, destroyed itself. But to start everything anew after a man’s 60th year requires special powers, and my own power has been expended after years of wandering homeless. I thus prefer to end my life at the right time, upright, as a man for whom cultural work has always been his purest happiness and personal freedom — the most precious of possessions on this earth. I send greetings to all of my friends: May they live to see the dawn after this long night. I, who am most impatient, go before them.” A prolific writer, Zweig was known for novellas, plays, biographies, and novels; he completed a memoir, The World of Yesterday, the day before his suicide.

“In history as in human life, regret does not bring back a lost moment and a thousand years will not recover something lost in a single hour.” —Stefan Zweig