An anonymous reader has sent New Mandala a fascinating manuscript:
This manuscript was found in records concerning US foreign correspondents in Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The manuscript may be a memoir, as there was a case alluded to within the same set of records, the news of which the Imperial German government was quick to suppress. This leads some credence to the view that this article presents a true account of a single trial or perhaps a composite of a number of cases from the same period. The manuscript, apparently for a German audience, can be dated to about1900, given its reference to Herzberg Hospital. The authorship is clearly attributable to Edward Breck, a liberal German-American who wrote for The New York Tribune in the 1890s [see Gillmeister, Heiner, Edward Breck: “Anglo-Saxon Scholar, Golf Champion, and Master Spy”, in, Sawada, Mayumi, L. Walker, and Shizuya T., Language and Beyond: Festschrift for Hiroshi Yonekura on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (Tokyo: Eichosha, 2007), pp. 33-56], and also used “F.F. van de Water” as a pseudonym (the name of the narrator in this case). Breck was an accomplished writer, both in English and German, both of fiction and nonfiction. This long manuscript was apparently originally in German and sequestered in the archives of the conservative Tribune. It was translated into English by an unknown translator, identified only with the initials “A. H. R” and who appears to have preferred leaving certain parts un-translated, perhaps to lend a feel of authenticity. This translation came with a number of footnotes; the translator seems to have added a few notes where clarification seemed appropriate. The original title has been retained. This manuscript was received from an unnamed source who found it in the Tribune archives, and thought it should be published as it had obvious relevance to the Thai situation.
The manuscript is available here. And here are the first three paragraphs:
Otto von Schelling, the Senior State Attorney, cut an impressive figure. His civil service uniform was immaculate. Before when I had seen him, he looked to be of average build. But seeing him before us, wearing his red imperial sash, his chest now seemed immense, seemingly swollen with pride for the recognition conferred him by the Kaiser. His whiskers were immense, and had they been on a less dignified mien, might have appeared startling, but for von Schelling they made him appear almost majestic. Removing his pince-nez, he looked out at those present and smiled.
“Gentlemen, I want to thank you for coming to the Reichsjustizamt this afternoon. We realize there has been some concern among you, our honoured foreign correspondents, about the use of the lese majeste law, and I want to clearly explain the government’s position on this matter.”
“As you may know, German law recognises the importance of honour and reputation. Everyone–from the Kaiser to the most humble citizen–is protected from libel and slander. Of course one whose reputation is besmirched may resort to seeking civil damages, but here the integrity of each person’s reputation is what ensures peace and order in society, and so the German state makes such violations criminal.”
“There has been concern in the local and foreign press that there is a perceived lack of discretion in the use of the lese majeste law. I say ‘perceived’ because I believe that there is a misunderstanding about the lese majeste law, particularly amongst our foreign guests. You may prize freedom of expression above all else. And we might say that we cherish protections of our good names. You should realise that the lese majeste provision is a deep expression of Teutonic, of German culture. I might even hazard saying that it is part of what makes us German, just as our love of monarchy is a central impulse of all true Germans. I might even go so far as to say that it is impossible to have a true German who entertains republic thoughts.”