Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Flags of Freedom

A story about sheets and flags is told by Erich Kästner in his diaries “The flags of freedom" (4.5.1945). After the defeat of Germany which ends the occupation of Austria, the new administration orders the immediate display of the red and white Austrian flag on all houses. Kästner describes how on his evening walk through town, behind every window women can be seen unstitching the white swastika from the German flag which has become illegal overnight and sewing the red fabric together with cut up sheets to comply with the new rules … while their men shave off their Hitler moustaches. The next day, the town is decked in the new national flags – only fade marks betray their origin - like the marks left by the removal of the Führer’s picture on the living room wallpaper.

Erich Kästner, Die Fahnen der Freiheit, in Strich, Christian (ed) (1978), Das Erich Kästner Lesebuch, Diogenes, Zürich 1978, p.174 - 176


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