The fall of Austria brought with it a change in my personal life which at first I believed to be a quite unimportant formality: my Austrian passport became void and I had to request an emergency white paper from the English authorities, a passport for the stateless. Often in my cosmopolitan reveries I had imagined how beautiful it would be, how truly in accord with my inmost thoughts, to be stateless, obligated to no one country and for that reason undifferentiatedly attached to all. But once again I had to recognize the shortcomings of our mortal imagination and also that one can comprehend really significant sensations only after one has suffered them oneself. Ten years before, meeting Dmitri Merejkovsky in Paris, he lamented that his books were banned in Russia and I in my inexperience rather thoughtlessly tried to console him by saying that this really meant little when measured by world distribution. But, when my own works disappeared from the German language I could more clearly grasp his lament at being able to produce the created word only in translation, in a diluted, altered medium. Similarly, I only understood what this exchange of my passport for an alien's certificate meant in the moment when I was admitted to the English officials after a long wait on the petitioners' bench in an anteroom. An Austrian passport was a symbol of my rights. Every Austrian consul or officer or police officer was in duty bound to issue on to me on demand as a citizen in good standing. But I had to solicit the English certificate. It was a favour that I had to ask for, and what is more, a favour that could be withdrawn at any moment. Overnight I found myself one rung lower. Only yesterday, still a visitor from abroad and, so to speak, a gentleman who was spending his international income and paying his taxes, now I had become an immigrant, a "refugee." I had slipped down to a lesser, even if not dishonourable, category. Besides that, every foreign visa on this travel paper had thenceforth to be specially pleaded for, because all countries were suspicious of the sort of people of which I had suddenly become one, of the outlaws, of the men without a country, whom one could not at a pinch pack off and deport to their own State as they could others if they became undesirable or stayed too long. Always I had to think of what an exiled Russian had said to me years ago: "Formerly man had only a body and a soul. Now he needs a passport as well for without it he will not be treated like a human being."

Indeed, nothing makes us more sensible of the immense relapse into which the world fell after the first World War than the restrictions on man's freedom of movement and the diminution of his civil rights. Before 1914 the earth had belonged to all. People went where they wished and stayed as long as they pleased. There were no permits, no visas, and it always gives me pleasure to astonish the young by telling them that before 1914 I travelled from Europe to India and to America without passport and without ever having seen one. One embarked and alighted without questioning or being questioned, one did not have to fill out a single one of the many papers which are required today. The frontiers which, with their customs officers, police and militia, have become wire barriers thanks to the pathological suspicion of everybody against everybody else, were nothing by symbolic lines which one crossed with as little thought as one crosses the Meridian of Greenwich. Nationalism emerged to agitate the world only after the war, and the first visible phenomenon which this intellectual epidemic of our century bought about was xenophobia; morbid dislike of the foreigner, or at least fear of the foreigner. The world was on the defensive against strangers, everywhere they got short shrift. The humiliations which once had been devised with criminals alone in mind now were imposed upon the traveller, before and during every journey. There had to be photographs from right and left, in profile and full face, one's hair had to be cropped sufficiently to make the ears visible; fingerprints were taken, at first only the thumb but later all ten fingers; furthermore, certificates of health, of vaccination, police certificates of good standing, had to be shown; letters of recommendation were required, invitations to visit a country had to be produced; they asked for the addresses of relatives, for moral and financial guarantees, questionnaires, and forms in triplicate and quadruplicate needed to be filled out, and if only one of this sheaf of papers was missing one was lost.

Petty details, one thinks. And at the first glance it may seem petty in me even to mention them. But our generation has foolishly wasted irretrievable, valuable time on those senseless pettinesses. If I reckon up the many forms I have filled out during these years, declarations on every trip, tax declarations, foreign exchange certificates, border passes, entrance permits, departure permits, registrations on coming and on going; the many hours I have spent in anterooms of consulates and officials, the many inspectors, friendly and unfriendly, bored and overworked, before whom I have sat, the many examinations and interrogations at frontiers I have been through, then I feel keenly how much human dignity has been lost in this century which, in our youth, we credulously dreamed of as one of freedom, as of the federation of the world. The loss in creative work, in thought, as a result of those spirit-crushing procedures is incalculable. Have not many of us spent more time studying official rules and regulations than works of the intellect! The first excursion in a foreign country was no longer to a museum or to a world renowned view, but to a consulate, to a police office, to get a "permit". When those of us who had once conversed about Baudelaire's poetry and spiritedly discussed intellectual problems met together, we would catch ourselves talking about affidavits and permits and whether one should apply for an immigration visa or a tourist visa; acquaintance with a stenographer in a consulate, who could cut down one's waiting-time was more significant to one's existence than friendship with a Toscanini or a Rolland. Human beings were made to feel that they were objects and not subjects, that nothing was their right but everything merely a favour by official grace. They were codified, registered, numbered, stamped and even today I, as a case-hardened creature of an age of freedom and a citizen of the world-republic of my dreams, count every impression of a rubber-stamp in my passport a stigma, every on of those hearings and searches a humiliation. They are petty trifles, always merely trifles, I am well aware, trifles in a day when human values sink more rapidly than those of currencies. Bu only if one notes such insignificant symptoms will a later age be able to make a proper clinical record of the mental state and mental disturbances with which our world was seized between the two World Wars.

It may be that I had been to greatly pampered. Perhaps, too, my sensibility had gradually become unstrung through all the harsh reverses of the past years. Emigration in itself, whatever the reason, inevitably disturbs the equilibrium. On alien soil one's self-respect tends to diminish, likewise self-assurance and self-confidence; but this cannot be understood until it has been experienced. I have no compunction about admitting that since the day when I had to depend upon identity papers or passports that were indeed alien, I ceased to feel as if I quite belonged to myself. A part of the natural identity with my original and essential ego was destroyed forever. I have developed a reserve that is not consonant with my real disposition and --- cosmopolite that I once thought myself --- I am possessed by the feeling that I ought express particular gratitude for every breath of air of which I deprive a foreign people. On sober thought I am, of course, aware of the absurdity of such whims, but of what avail reason, against one's emotions? For all that I had been training my heart for almost half a century to beat as that of a citoyen du monde it was useless. On the day I lost my passport I discovered, at the age of fifty-eight, that losing one's native land implies more than parting with a circumscribed area of soil.

-- Stefan Zweig "Die Welt von Gestern", about ten pages from the end. I am not able to acknowledge the translator, because they are not listed in the translation.