p. xii: It is a human document of importance, which will show coming generations till remote ages what German scientists will dare that they may follow their scientific vocation and do honour to their country.
p. 36, July 31, 1930, enroute to Greenland interior: But there is a lot to do, so I have no time to be bored.
p. 68-69: I meant to tell you a long time ago, by the way, how fine I think The Buddenbrooks and how much I love it. I have certainly read it three or four times, and learned a good deal from it. Thank you for sending it. And what a curious coincidence! In a scene which has nothing to do with the main theme Thomas Mann makes Johann Buddenbrook get hold of a book calledOn Death, and its relation to the indestructability of our nature in itself.I took up the second volume of Schopenhauer, and there was this essay, a quite wonderful human discussion of the end of life, which we must all look in the face one day—just the thing have always wished to read. What a happy coincidence!
p. 86: I add a description of our present arrangements: At the entrance is (1) the kitchen, then (2 and 3) two boxes piled one upon the other for instruments and writing materials, and as a writing table for both of us. At the farther end (4) the lower box holds tools, and on it stands a larger box containing our library; in between (5 and 6) are Sorge’s and my beds.
p. 91, October 3, 1930:.. I have read a book which has deeply moved me. It was given to us as a present by our Danish friend of last year, Herr Faester–Richard Aldington’s Death of a Hero, theEnglish war book…. It is a confession, a human soul in explosion. We are all to blame for the war and the whole disaster, it says, and each of us who has survived this monstrous devastation must do something to secure that this fearful self-flagellation of mankind shall not have been quite in vain.
p. 134-35: I finished Sieburg’s book God in France yesterday, and greatly enjoyed it. It is quite extraordinarily interesting; it often provokes one to contradiction, but always gives one something to think about. Sorge and Loewe have read it too with equal pleasure.
p. 138, December 9, 1930: Then I read a bit of The Buddenbrooks (for the nth time) and finally did a little delicate mechanical work. For supper an extra good cup of chocolate with black bread and butter, with some very cheery talk. In short, a very pleasant day after a few days in which the atmosphere had once or twice been rather gloomy.
p. 142, December14: Then we had some capital talk. Loewe in particular is very witty, and it is a curious contrast when he buries his head in his sleeping-bag and complains of pains in his teeth and feet, and then interjects one humorous and clever remarks after the other. Sorge read Schiller’s poems aloud, and Loewe extemporized a very instructive lecture on voyages of discovery to the Antarctic, which was suggested to him by the report of Byrd’s flight to the South Pole in the Berliner Illustrierte. I am always astonished at the knowledge he always has available. [At the time Loewe was recovering from a less than expert amputation of a number of his toes.]
p. 153, January 1, 1931: Yesterday was a perfect Sunday, … In the afternoon we sat opposite one another at the table and read Fritz Reuter. Sorge had received the Stromtid in the popular edition from his wife at Christmas. In reading it I lived through the happiest times of my youth, when on wintry evenings my father read through the Stromtid and other things of Reuter (Dorchlaeuchting, and poems). He used to read admirably; I do not know where he gained his practice.
p. 175: Loewe, on the other hand, sleeps much, and now even refuses to read Schopenhauer–he the most voracious reader of us all!
p. 182, Georgi’s premonitions of Wegener’s death: Oh, my premonition, when some time after Wegener’s departure Sorge read aloud an account of Scott’s last journey, and I had to ask him to stop. I felt it then without knowing it.
p. 212: I am reading a bit at meals now–Erskine’s Adam and Eve again. A very beautiful book; sad, but true and profound. Do you know it?
p. 216, March 11, 1931, Loewe’s birthday: Sunday, June 21, 1931, Midsummer Day! Now the year is going downhill once more, but our expectation of meeting again is rising! I have felt the lack of reading matter somewhat on the last quiet days when the weather has been bad. But I had a pleasant surprise! I was carrying rubbish and odd boxes upstairs in a box, and as I was coming down the steps again I found a tiny little book, just a lump of ice, Hamlet. It probably belonged to Loewe and got into the rubbish-box by mistake. But how it fell out onto the steps I cannot understand. At any rate I now had something new. And I have certainly never read Hamlet so carefully before! Of course it had to be thawed and dried first, leaf by leaf. Yesterday and to-day I have been reading Schweitzer’s Between Water and Virgin Forest. I have the greatest respect for that man….
p. 224-25, Friday, July 10, 1931: Schopenhauer is a marvel! Such learning in the most widely different fields, such power and lucidity. An abridged, more easily readable edition would find a wide welcome. I am glad to have made his acquaintance here. [Another page on reading the Bible.]