Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 4 March 30, 1938
Get Together, Germany and England—says Von Luckner Comic Opera Count Talks
Get Together, Germany and England—says Von Luckner Comic Opera Count Talks
"I am not here to talk propaganda, "said Count Von Lucker recently in newspaper interview.
In accordance with its debunking policy, "Salient" arranged an interview with the redoubtable Count in order to get him to talk propaganda. And we were not disappointed.
Without any leading questions or encouragement the Count, in guttural and emphatic semi-English, recounted with elaborate gesture the story of his life. Traversing all subjects from the Salvation Army to the Battle of Jutland. But it was not until we descended the stairs together that we heard in one gushing outburst Von Luckner's dream, Germany's foreign policy, and the real object of the Count's "mission of goodwill."
The interview was rather like a nightmare.
I was shown into the Count's rooms by the Countess herself, a tall, pleasant looking lady whom I met outside fare welling an acquaintance with the words "Auf Weidershen."
"Oh, yes." she said. "You are ze—ze gentleman to see ze Count. Oh, we are in such a great hurry. Do come in-and be seated."
I became seated.
"Ze Count will be a few minutes. You do not mind? We are going away, you see. And, oh, so many people-you will excuse me please."
She disappeared. A glance round the room showed me several interesting objects. First, a pair of enormous black shoes sprawling beneath a chair. And second, the famous Von Luckner pipe lying in state upon a table beside a huge tin of rank tobacco.
[unclear: In] colloquy with the Count on the other side of the door, the Countess emerged, looked anxiously round the room, and then pounced on the shoes.
"Ach! He's so untidy-and in such a hurry!" she beamed, carrying the shoes to the inner room once more.
At last the Count himself appeared. A tall, burly, bronzed man, very effusive and hearty, typically German, burst through the door, wrung my hand, sat down opposite me and began to tell me the story of his life.
It is difficult to reproduce the Count's speech. Wandering from subject to subject with bewildering rapidity, gesticulating wildly, using terrific emphasis and spitting frightfully the Count must be seen to be believed.
"I lectured in every University in the United States when I was there." he boomed. "I was seven years in America. I went there In 1927 on my mission of goodwill. By Jove. It is a wonderful place. But I had nothing to do with Universities, I run away when I was little. Do you know why I run away? Because I had difficulties in passing my examinations. So I run away—you see?"
The Call of the Wild.
"I read when a boy of the great Buffalo Bill-of wild and self-made men. They did not go to school and did not have to pass examinations. So by Jove. I run away and go to Australia. But I had promised my father I would be a lieutenant-and be lieutenant I must! You see you cannot break a promise. So I joined the Salvation Army. I did not know what it was-but I knew it had lieutenants so I joined. You see-I thought that would satisfy my father. Then I traveled with a Hindu magician for a while-you know, juggling and suchlike. But I always thought or Buffalo Bill, and when I was in France years later. I went a long way specially to meet him-he was there with his wild west show. But then I learned that he had left France and was in Germany-and he had stayed in my own native village for three days as a guest of my father. By Jove, it was the greatest disappointment I have ever had in all my life."
The Countess burst in upon us.
"Remember Felix." she said, "at ten to we must go."
The Count waved her a cheery hand and counted.
"And when I went home again from Australia, I found that I had run away in vain-I had to go to school again. I passed my examinations as a navigator."
The Count amid numerous interruptions from the Countess, the telephone, and people walking in and out and being welcomed and dismissed, continued, in a fascinating disjointed planner the story of his remarkable
He told of his wartime experiences, his capture and imprisonment in New Zealand. He became melancholy as he told of the prison official who had suffered because of the Count's amazing escape from prison. "It was not he who was to blame, oh no! You see (the Count confidingly tapped me on the chest) always they have to look for a goat." He became lyrical as he talked of comradeship during the war.
"I have come to see the war." he said, "not from a narrow-minded standpoint; I have seen how It brings out qualities of comradeship among.
The Battle of Justland.
"I fought in the battle of Jutland." the Count continued, and punctuated the following words with violent gestures and explosive emphasis, relieving the scene again in all its grandeur and horror. "You have never seen anything like it. By Jove, it was not to be believed! You people at home do not know-you cannot imagine it. There were six hundred ships fighting—six hundred! And we pumped thousands of pounds of steel into the English ships-pumped, oh so many thousands of pounds of steel. And each side was fighting for a new tradition. But though the ships were destroyed, you could not destroy the energies of the two nations fighting—oh no! There was no question of a victory-no hate between those fighting. There was no victory because there was nothing to defeat. Let us shake hands in admiration of each other, we said. And the flame bursting from the guns-by Jove, it was terrible."
Let's Get Together.
"We've got to get together, Germany and Great Britain." urged the Count. "You're already letting us in thought the back door—the back door you see? That's where you let your friends in You wait a few years and—by Jove:—you will see."
The Countess burst in again. "Come, Felix, you must get ready. We must go!" she said. The telephone was ringing insistently but no one seemed to take my notice. The Count, still talking and waving his arms turned to go. "Here, look at this." he said. Handing me a telegram. "See what they say about me!"
[unclear: The as follows]:—
Count Von Luckner.Opera House. Wellington
Unable to attend, accept assurance that French veterans consider you the whitest, most gentleman-like and human ex-enemy ever God bless you.
Alexander Epstein,French Reserve.
"Ach." said the Countess, rushing into the room, "you have to carry this man to get him anywhere.
"Come." said the Count, coming into the room with a coat under his arm and officer's cap on his head. "we will walk downstairs."
So we walked downstairs and the Count talked propaganda.
"Do you realise that there are six million Germans under foreigner domination? You English—you have never been under u foreign power—you do not know what it is like. By Jove, it is terrible! But Germany and England will get together—you wait! —and everything will be fixed. If Germany and England combine, there will be no League of Nations and no war—and the world will be ruled by the two whitest nations And by the Jove, Chamberlain knows it—he knows how to do it!"
And as I walked away. I had a strange vision—of Hitler and Neville Chamberlain sitting on a double throne like twin kings of Baratarla, ruling the world. And the throne was set on top of the world, and round it were millions of people with their arms upraised and shouting "Hell!"
And as the vision faded. I thanked whatever gods may be that this was only a vision, and that the man who had dreamed it was a hearty happy go lucky German sailor, who had read Lowell Thomas's book about himself so much that he had begun to believe in it.