After she fell asleep I rolled away from her and looked out of the window. The curtains were drawn back, and in the moonlight I could see the terrace and the pool and the dark shrubbery beyond.

Here I am doing exactly what Boyle thinks I'm doing every night. She isn't bad, really: high-strung, too thin, with buttocks like a boy, and you can feel her feel it all the way through, but she smokes too much and drinks too much and talks too much and the skin at her throat is beginning to wrinkle. A nice girl, but too crazy: Graham, the hell with all the others, let's run away together! Where for God's sake would we run away to, and what would we do all day? Calls me at the office. David's away all weekend, racing at Mantaloking, come out and I'll cook for you and we won't have to go to that cruddy motel. The trouble is you never know when some friend will pop over for a drink or if the husband might come rolling up the driveway after all. There was a time when potential danger provided an extra kick, but I'm too old now. I like everything nice and safe. I've learned that bedroom farces are only funny on the stage. But I came over anyway.

I raised myself on my elbow and looked at the luminous dial on her bedside table. It was only eleven. She began to snore. I got out of bed and put on my clothes, found the bottle, my glass and my cigarettes, slid back the screen, and stepped out into the cricket-pulsing night.

Headshrinkers? Maybe Boyle is right. I have this problem, Doctor. I don't want to be on the vestry or the hospital board or the Committee of Seventy Or the United Fund Allocations Committee. Is it really funny? Look at Ordway Smith. For that matter, look at Tommy Sharp. Ten years from now he'll be helping to decide what my percentage will be. Sending for me when he has clients in his office. Some people raise money for the Harvard Divinity School and some people bang the wives of their friends. Chacun a son gout. Well, he's not really my friend, that's one thing

What dothey ask you? Don't ask you anything. You're just supposed to talk. About anything. Betty Hope tried it. Two years. The guy just sits there and lets you talk.

The water in the swimming pool was absolutely still. I sat down on the diving board and took a long, long drink.

My father's name was Gustaf Anders. You may have heard of him, but you probably haven't. In this country he's a footnote in some literary histories. He was born in 1899 at Mainz, a very old town on the Rhine, the son of a winegrower; drafted into the German army, served in France and Belgium with the 117th Fusilier Regiment "Grossherzogin von Hessen-Darmstadt," wounded, patched up, sent back into action, eventually commissioned. He lived through the collapse and the revolution and was swept to Berlin, where he began to write poetry, then plays. He recited his poems in cabarets and worked in the unheated attic of a worker's tenement. In 1923 somebody produced his play Trompeten, a story about war veterans in the Freikorps. It captured the spirit of the time, became a smash hit and made him famous overnight. One of its songs, "Das Fusilierlied" became a classic. He was able to travel around Europe, and at a party in Antibes he met and married an American girl called Peggy Graham. For a while after that he rode the crest of the wave: everything he did was published or produced, they lived in Berlin and Vienna and the South of France and in 1928, when I was born, they happened to be living in London.

My mother was six years younger, the only child of a successful Philadelphia lawyer, self-confident, pretty and spoiled. In the middle of her freshman year at Bryn Mawr she simply quit, alleging boredom, and persuaded her father to stake her to a year in London, during which she was to become an actress. She had no acting experience, but two weeks after her arrival in London she had a walk-on part in a Somerset Maugham comedy. That was typical of her. At the end of the season the play closed, but her success convinced her father to let her stay another year.

I suppose my father thought he had married an heiress, but he apparently had not the slightest interest in coming to the United States or even meeting his in-laws. I know very little about my father, because whenever I saw him he was either on his way to a party (my mother a glittering vision in evening clothes, spreading a cloud of intoxicating perfume in the room where I would be eating my supper with Miss Cunningham or Fräulein Schmitz) or he was clattering away at his portable typewriter, a glass and an open champagne bottle on the silver tray, a dark pungent French cigarette in his mouth. We usually had a piano, even in the hotels. Sometimes, after my supper and my bath, they let me go into my father's room, and then he would stop typing and let me sit on the piano bench with him while he played and we sang songs together.

When I was in college there was a revival of interest in my father's work. His books and plays were published in translation, and in the introductions to these volumes I learned some of the things nobody had bothered to tell a little boy. Most helpful of all was Professor Doktor Malachowski, who sought me out in my room in Lowell House and questioned me in an almost uncomprehensible accent until he found that I could speak German too; then we talked for hours, but I learned more than he did. (Two years later I opened a package from Germany containing an autographed copy of Alfred Malachowski: Gustaf Anders: Sein Leben und sein Werk, Frankfurt a.M., 1950.)

I did contribute the frontispiece photograph: a stocky man in his middle thirties, with black hair and a heavy black moustache, standing with his hands in his pockets in front of an ivy-covered wall. His expression is extremely serious, but a bottle of champagne is protruding from the pocket of his jacket.

The picture was taken, I believe, in the summer of 1936 by my mother's friend Lord Cranmore, our host at Sevenoaks. Things had changed for us. My father had been transformed from a celebrity to a refugee. The Nazis had taken over Germany and my father's works were banned as anti-German, unpatriotic and decadent, Many of his friends were already in concentration camps. He could not go home, his royalties were cut off, and he was completely dependent upon my mother. Fräulein Schmitz returned to Germany, nobody was hired to replace her, and we moved from Brown's Hotel to a cottage on Lord Cranmore's place in Kent. It was a rotten time. I was sent to a day school where all the boys wore caps and blue blazers. The masters hit us with canes and we had to memorize Latin declensions. My father was trying to write a novel and my mother hated the country because there was nothing for her to do. They quarreled savagely and my mother went riding with Lord Cranmore.

In the fall of that year my father went to Spain to write about the Civil War for a Swiss newspaper.

Letter from Professor Doctor Malachowski:

No, your father was never a Communist. Not in the slightest. This is what made his work so original at that time, so very special and individual, because so many other writers absorbed themselves in political questions, Marxist or Fascist solutions to the problems of the world. He could not be a Communist for the same reason he could not be a Fascist. He was not interested. He loved pleasure too much. He loved expensive clothes and beautiful women and whiskey and champagne, and wine of course -he came from the Rhineland-and he liked very much to make money with his plays and spend the money. He had no proletarian sympathies whatever. Marriage to your mother opened a new world and I must say frankly not the right world. Germany was poor. Carl Zuckmayer, who also came from the Rhine and whose success was greater than your father's, only bought himself a little cottage on a lake in the Salzkammergut. Your father and your mother lived on an international scale, deluxe hotels in England and France, rich English and American friends, and he lost contact therefore with his people. You want to know these things, so I tell them to you. Why then did he go to Spain? Why did he leave his comfortable life, and his wife and his child, to see a war in which he could not have had much personal interest?

His letters indicate one reason: He was by this time frustrated in England; he was a German writer, after all; he wrote in German, he missed the stimulation of his audience, and quite simply he had very little to do in England. What use is there to write novels or plays or poems that only a handful of refugees will read? The plays will not be produced and the books will not be published, so he was writing in a silence, you see.

And for the other reason, I just refer you to Mr. Ernest Hemingway. For some men a war is a party they do not want to miss, even at the risk of getting killed. Your father and Hemingway had both seen enough of war to be warned, had both been wounded, but twenty years later -did they hear their own youth calling? Mr. Hemingway was more lucky than your father.


I don't suppose anybody will ever know for sure what happened. The story is not only complicated but it involves bitterly contested political doctrines, and most of the witnesses are dead. Professor Malachowski has studied the available documents and talked to people in Spain and France and Mexico and New York and I suppose his reconstruction is the best that we will ever have.

By the summer of 1937, the Spanish Republic was losing the Civil War. Franco's Fascists were being helped by Hitler and Mussolini; the Republic was dependent on Russia for arms, and Soviet "technicians" operated at all levels of the Spanish government, the army and the police. The Republic was supported by the local Communists and various other Marxist factions, all of whom fought among each other almost as much as they fought Franco. One of these was the POUM - Malachowski's book explains what the initials meant - a Trotskyite faction. Just as Stalin began his purge of "deviationists" in Russia, his men in Spain moved to crush the independent Spanish Left, beginning with the POUM. They forged some documents indicating a plot between Franco and Andres Nin, the popular leader of the POUM in Barcelona, a former Minister in the Catalonian government.

With this excuse, they arrested all the leaders of the POUM, charged them with treason, and brought them to Madrid. Within a few days, word leaked out that Nin, who was arrested with the others, was no longer with them. Nobody seemed to know where he was, but a famous man doesn't just disappear. All over the world questions were asked. Although Nin had been arrested for treason against the Spanish government, its leaders could not produce him and clearly didn't know where he was. It was an awkward impasse.

One night in July of 1937 a man came to see my father in his room at the Hotel Florida in Madrid. The man was a German Communist, a captain in one of the International Brigades. He had served with my father in 117th Fusiliers, had seen him again in Madrid, and of course knew that he had access to the international press. The captain was very drunk, and he wanted to tell Gustaf Anders a story:

Andres Nin was being held in a house in Alcala de Henares, an ancient cathedral town near Madrid. His captor was General Orlov, the chief of the Russian NKVD in Spain. Orlov and his men had been torturing Nin, trying to force him to confess to a plot between POUM and Franco. They had failed. Andres Nin wouldri't confess to anything. Now they had to get rid of him without further embarrassment to the Spanish government . Ten men from one of the German Brigades had been issued captured Fascist uniforms and weapons, and a truck. Their orders were to overwhelm the NKVD unit at Alcala, making it plain that they were "Gestapo troops," and then to disappear with Andres Nin in the direction of the Fascist lines.

Twelve years later, in Mexico, the captain told Professor Malachowski that he had no choice; he had to carry out his orders or be shot himself, but in his drunken self-disgust he thought that a public outcry might still save Nin.

The captain said he left my father's room after midnight and returned to his Brigade.

Two days later my mother received a telegram from an English reporter in Madrid. My father was dead. According to the police, his body was found in the middle of a suburban street. He had been run over.

Weeks later a friend in Switzerland received -no one knows how- the manuscript of a three-act play called Der Tod des Andres Nin, typed on the stationery of the Hotel Florida, Madrid. The whole story was there: the anarchist revolts in Barcelona, the arrest of the POUM leaders, Andres Nin being tortured, the attack by German-speaking soldiers on the house in Alcala - and the murder of Nin at the very moment the Spanish government is explaining that he had been freed by the Gestapo.

Of course the play was never produced. The manuscript was passed from hand to hand, but nobody knew what to make of it -until the body of Andres Nin was found, six weeks later, in a culvert underneath the highway between Madrid and Alcala de Henares. By that time, nobody cared.

I care now. I think about it all the time. I even dream about it, but I don't know why. They never told me anything, of course. They told me he had been hit by a car.

My mother decided to go back to Philadelphia. We crossed on the Queen Mary and moved into my grandfather's big old farmhouse in the Gladwyne hills. He had lived alone since my grandmother died, with only a couple to take care of him, and he was touchingly glad to see us. I was sent to Episcopal Academy, which was not very different from the school in England except that the masters were not so free with canes.

My mother had never liked Philadelphia and after her years abroad she liked it even less. The ladies who had been to school with her tried to include her in their social lives -but only reluctantly, I think: she was still too beautiful and too wild and the bankers and lawyers and businessmen at the dinner parties flocked about her too attentively. Various gentlemen came to take her out, but after Lord Cranmore was posted to Lord Lothian's staff at the British Embassy in Washington, I did not see her except on weekends, when they would arrive together for fox hunting in Chester County. Then one night she came in very late and sat on my bed and told me she was going to marry him and didn't I believe that my father would like her to do that and maybe I would have some brothers and sisters. I told her what she wanted to hear. Next month they had the wedding at my grandfather's church in Ardmore, a small wedding with just a few of my grandfather's friends and two British officers in mufti and then there was a reception in our garden. John Cranmore treated me just as he always had, like a kindly uncle or something, and he never tried to make a speech about how I should consider him as a father or anything like that, and I was grateful. Then there was the question of what to do with me: having just entered me at Episcopal, they didn't want to take me out again. In the meantime the war had started in Europe. Cranmore, who was in the Coldstream Guards, returned to England. My mother decided to follow him, and obviously the best thing was to leave me with my grandfather.

And what would my grandfather say if he could see me here? Babbling like a lunatic by the light of the moon, looking at the moon's reflection in the light of a stockbroker's swimming pool, drinking the stockbroker's bourbon, trying to work up enough interest to climb back into bed with the stockbroker's wife . . . He wouldn't have liked it. He had a theory that it didn't much matter what you did as long as you didn't hurt other people.

Well, God damn it, why am I doing it? If it isn't any fun any more, why not cut it out? Just cut it out.

I never saw my mother again. Cranmore fought all through the French campaign, Dunkirk, then Egypt Long Range Desert Group. He was blown up in a minefield somewhere. In the meantime my mother had gone back on the stage in London, where she was in her element among the air raids and the drinking and crowds of enthusiastic British and French and American officers, and the frantic excitement. "Dearest Darling, so glad to hear from Grandpop that you're doing so well in school - Things here lively- Firebomb bit theatre last night! They put it out and we go on again tonight - Wish I could write more but too much to dol!" Then she joined a company that staged plays for Allied soldiers all over the world. Everything from Shakespeare to Maugham, in movie theatres and tents and airplane hangars. In the winter of 1943 she was in Naples. At three o'clock in the morning, a Polish colonel was driving her home from a party. The car crashed into a bridge abutment at seventy miles per hour.

My mother never regretted a thing she did.

Which is more than I can say. My Quaker bride.

No. I didn't want to think about that now. I was feeling the whiskey, startled to see how much I had consumed while in analysis. Have we learned anything this evening, Doctor?

I stood up very carefully and moved to the bedroom door. The moon was sliding behind the treetops now, but I could still see clearly; the suntanned body curled in a foetal position, dark against the gleaming sheets, pillow on the floor, sliding wooden doors behind which her dresses and his suits hung in orderly rows, mirrored wall above the dressing table reflecting the moonwashed garden and the figure in the door.... She had stopped snoring and only the rhythmic movement of her shoulders showed that she was breathing. Wake her up? Make her do something really fancy. Like what? I couldn't think of anything I wanted to do, so I stepped back onto the terrace, slid the door shut, and walked across the dew-soaked lawn to my car.

previous chapter, next chapter



1961 - A Point of View
[1] The annual meeting of the stockholders of the Boatwright Corporation
[2] What are you going to do about Boatwright and what are you going to do about yourself?
>[3] Have we learned anything this evening, Doctor?
[4] Producing results?
[5] Alexander's Feast
[6] How'd you like to go over to Salzburg for a month with me?

1947 - An Island
[7] You're not going to Berlin. You're staying here.
[8] All right, we're the Military Government.
[9] The Americans are teaching us to be democratic instead of fascistic.
[10] Well, this is Fasching.
[11] Letters after Ash Wednesday
[12] Say Boris is at Schloss Fyrmian.
[13] THE AMERICAN ACADEMY IN EUROPE - Prospectus for the First Session
[14] Learn to think of people as individuals.
[15] Parlez-moi d'amour, redites-moi des choses tendres.
[16] Not one thing left to show that you've ever been on earth? - "Sources of Soviet Conduct"
[17] A Countess, a Prussian Officer and a Ländler
[18] Now this part of your life is over and I'm sending you home.
[19] A father who's too busy to watch his son die. - The Spring of 1961
[20] I cannot sell Schloss Fyrmian to the Academy.

1961 - A Change of Air
[21] The first thing I saw was the Festung Hohensalzburg far in the distance, silhouetted against the shadowy curtain of the high mountains.
[22] Next day at the Academy we got to work - Graham, you know what Fleischer did?
[23] Im weißen Rößl am Wolfgangsee
[24] Brockaw writing a thesis on Austrian baroque architecture? - Boatwright Corporation and Boris Fleischer, plaintiffs
[25] You know there a Mr. Devereaux? Mr. Armistead Devereaux?
[26] I think always of Peter Devereaux.
[27] It sounds like an act of desperation, and it won't hold up in court.
[28] In those Oklahoma Hills WHERE AH WAS BOW-AHHHN!
[29] ... that we should meet again like this . . . I think perhaps there is a reason.
[30] "Is there here an American by name of Brockaw?"
[31] This is Boris Fleischer!
[32] "Does Hans work for Gehlen?" Paola shook her head. "More the other way around."
[33] Won't you please come home? Everybody needs you, I most of all.
[34] With this Waffenstillstand you have time now.
[35] You're going to regret this for the rest of your life!
[36] We Europeans would not do it. None of us. - People think you need medical attention.
[37] Will they trust you?
[38] Some things about the U.S.A. are perhaps rather important, and to us impressive.
[39] You're going to need a good lawyer.

version: March 2, 2004
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Arthur R.G. Solmssen, Joachim Gruber