When your mother has grown old,
And you have grown older
When what used to be easy and effortless
Has now become a burden to her,
When her dear, faithful eyes
no longer see life as they once did,
When her tired feet
don’t want to carry her any more while walking. –
Then give her your arm to support,
Accompany her with pleasure –
The hour is coming. When you, weeping,
Must accompany her on her last walk!
And if she asks you a question, then give her an answer.
And if she asks again, then answer!
And if she asks yet again, answer again,
Not impatiently, but with gentle calm.
And if she cannot understand you properly
Explain her everything happily.
The hour will come, the bitter hour,
When her mouth asks no more.
Wenn deine Mutter alt geworden / Und älter du geworden bist
Wenn ihr, was früher leicht und mühelos / Nunmehr zur Last geworden ist,
Wenn ihre lieben, treuen Augen / Nicht mehr, wie einst, ins Leben seh’n
Wenn ihre müd’ gewordnen Füße / Sie nicht mehr tragen woll’n beim Gehen. –
Dann reiche ihr den Arm zur Stütze, / Geleite sie mit froher Lust –
Die Stunde kommt. Da du sie weinend / Zum letzten Gang begleiten musst!
Und fragt sie dich, so gib ihr Antwort. / Und fragt sie wieder, sprich auch du!
Und fragt sie noch mehr, steh ihr Rede, / Nicht ungestüm, in sanfter Ruh!
Und kann sie dich nicht recht verstehen, / Erklär’ ihr alles froh bewegt.
Die Stunde kommt, die bitt’re Stunde, / Da dich ihr Mund nach nichts mehr fragt!
This poem is actually from Georg Runsky (pen name of Karl Wilhelm August Georg Runschke). It appeared in 1906 under the title “Habe Geduld!” in his book “Blüthen des Herzens”.
Rightwing groups have claimed that it is a 1923 poem by Hitler about his mother Klara Hitler who had died in 1907. He seems to have loved her very deeply… but he was a painter, not a poet. His mother had been cared for by the Jewish Doctor Eduard Bloch, and Hitler painted the picture above of the doctor’s house in 1913. So what? So Hitler was a Malignant Narcissist like an unfortunate number of powerful modern politicians and businesspeople. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t capable of love or artistic impulses; you can have them and still be a narcissist. People who insist that there is pure evil in the world (whether Nazism or Judaism) are themselves a lot of the problem. Personally, I have a lot of difficulty with both Nazism and Judaism (and Communism and Christianity, and anyone who insists they are Right and they Know because their Leader or their Book says so), but I also have family and friends of all those persuasions. I don’t respect them for their authoritarian tendencies, but I also don’t think they are pure evil. The demonising of people who you disagree with or fear or are jealous of, that’s the start of the problem. We’re all people, and people are apes after all. Some people are stupid, some are intelligent but uneducated, some are sick, some have genetic defects, some were badly raised, some are sociopaths… then study them, try to make them better human beings, and in the meantime make sure they don’t have access to guns. Thank you. Rant over.
Photo: Watercolour by Adolph Hitler, 1913, House of Dr. Bloch. https://www.wikiart.org/en/adolf-hitler/maison-du-dr-bloch-1913