Gottfried Benn: A Biography
Chapter 7: Into the Night: Inner Emigration: 1935–1945
279 Chapter 7 Into the Night: Inner Emigration: 1935–1945 Renuncio Berlin. Renuncio mundi: Hanover, 1935–1937 Benn’s life in Berlin had become impossible. On 18 November 1934, he wrote to Oelze telling him that he had received from within the “Reichswehr” the offer of a commission in an “Ersatz” (auxiliary) medical army division stationed in Hanover. As he later explained: In order to affect a retreat [from Berlin], there was only one way open to me: back into the army. A number of comrades with whom I had been a student had found posts in the One Hundred Thousand Army, and now occupied positions of influence. I got in touch with them and enquired whether I could re- enlist.1 In particular, Benn had contacted the Chief of Staff of the Army Medical Inspection Corps in Berlin, Walther Kittel, whom he had known in his days in the Kaiser-Wilhelm Academy prior to the First World War (both had graduated in 1905). Kittel was at midpoint in his career; he would later become Chief Medic of the 1st, 12th and 6th Armies before being promoted to Senior Quarter Master Department of Staff HQ Don in Russia. But by 1934 he was already an influential figure within the War Ministry. It was a timely utilisation of an old-school network upon which Benn would have further cause to rely, when times would be even darker. As Benn made clear to Oelze, the offer came at a critical turning point in his life: Everything...
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