Outbreak of the war
End of the war

Andrea Stangl


‘Guilt is always beyond doubt!’ Franz Kafka’s 'In der Strafkolonie' (In the Penal Colony)

Like other short stories Kafka’s In der Strafkolonie arose from a writing block, as the author found himself unable to continue with the end of Der Prozess (The Trial). Kafka wrote the story in October 1914, but it was not published until 1919, when it appeared in a one-off edition of 1,000 copies. The fantasies of guilt and punishment in Der Prozess are also to be found in In der Strafkolonie. In a key passage we read, ‘Guilt is always beyond doubt.’


‘ … with deadly weapons, the golden plains’: Grodek as the legacy of the poet Georg Trakl

In the evening the autumnal woods resound
With deadly weapons, the golden plains
And blue lakes, over them the sun
Rolls grimly away; the night envelops
Dying warriors, the savage lament
Of their smashed mouths.
But silently on the pastures
Red clouds gather, therein lives a raging god,
The spilled blood, the moonly cool;
All roads lead to black decay.
Under the golden branches of the night and stars
The shadow of the nurse sways through the silent grove,
To greet the spirits of the heroes, the bleeding heads;
And softly in the reeds sound the dark flutes of autumn.
O prouder grief! You iron altars,
Today the hot flame of the spirit is fed by an immense pain,
The unborn grandchildren.


The war after the war – reflection, homecoming and review

The topics writers dealt with were many and varied. They ranged from enthusiasm for the war and wartime propaganda to descriptions of battles with individual experiences and feelings. The types of text that were used were just as varied – including diary entries, essays, poems, dramas and novels.


‘Rabble of words’ – Writers in the War

The beginning of the First World War released a wave of enthusiasm throughout Europe, especially among intellectuals and the middle classes, the like of which it is utterly impossible for us to understand nowadays. It was the writers who led the way in propaganda, their verbal attacks making an essential contribution in preparing the ground for the general mood of unthinking nationalism.