Alfred Doblin, author of Berlin Alexanderplatz

Doblin had fled Germany during the war. Now, at 68, he was asked by the French to start a literary magazine to revive “a democratic intellectual life.” The name he chose for the magazine was The Golden Gate. On its front was “a stylised version of the eponymous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.” This magazine, to Doblin’s dismay, was received with little enthusiasm by Doblin’s former writing colleagues. They regarded themselves as victims and Doblin as an outsider, even though he had become a literary star after the publication of Berlin Alexanderplatz.

In 1947, Doblin was invited to deliver a lecture at Berlin’s Charlottenburg Palace. When he arrived, wearing “a smart French uniform,” he was greeted with a freezing silence “and he soon left.”

Hardly a single audience member knew that Doblin’s 25-year-old son, Wolfgang, whom Doblin and his wife had had to leave in France when they fled to America, had killed himself in just such a French uniform. Cut off from his French military unit, Wolfgang Doblin, a prodigiously gifted mathematician, had shot himself in a barn near the village of Housseras in the Vosges, shortly before German troops could take him prisoner.

Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945 – 1955, p. 255

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