Lives Journal 13

Herbert Kuhner




Misplaced Hatred


I cannot purge my soul

of the hatred

that years

of living in the killing grounds

have instilled in it.


I came back  to Austria

more than

a third of a century ago,

finding that

I was an unwelcome guest,

ostracized as a writer,

blocked at every turn

and barred from all benefits.


Spearheading these actions

were the intermediaries

who act as a bridge for emigrés.


The red carpet is reserved

for those who can be put to good use

but God help the ones

who don't tow the line!


The conflict that takes place

is waged between

the tabloid revisionists and racists

and the self-proclaimed

anti-fascists and philo-Semites

who exploit the Holocaust.


The former

try to mitigate and motivate

the crimes of the Third Reich,

and the latter

cash in on the situation

and use it as a springboard

for their careers.


The set-up is a dictatorship

with a democratic structure

where the charlatans the art world

hold sway and run the show.


Their bit

is the glorification

and the practice violence

while shedding crocodile tears

for the victims of the past.


I've referred to them

as assassins of the spirit,

worthy heirs

to their predecessors.


Whereas in the Reich

abattoirs for the body abounded,

today's assassins use

more subtle means,

but whether physical or spiritual,

murder is the business

of the assassin.


And the false friend

is as much of an anathema to me

as the declared enemy,

if not more so.


It's hard to purge

my soul of hatred,

which in this case

is certainly justified.


On the other hand,

the object of this passion

is simply not worth

the energy invested.



A New Breed


There's a new breed

of secret police.

They no longer wear

fedoras and double-breasted

topcoats of tweed or leather.

They have long hair

and wear jeans, Windbreakers

and sneakers


They lock like your fellow

next-door protester,

and they may buddy up to you,

but they are there

to keep an eye on you

and snitch

if you get out-of line.


If you happen to

find out what's what

and corner one,

he might serve you up

a karate chop

and a high kick.



Passing For White


I wanted to be white

and I knew that being white

meant thinking white

yet somehow I couldn't stop

thinking black

and even though my face

didn't look black

I know it was black

and what's more

they knew it was black

and that its pallor

was a lack of white

for no matter how pale

my exterior

my soul was black

as black as night

as black as the ace of spades

as black as the devil's soul

for being white

meant rejecting black

and that was a step

I couldn't bring myself

to take

so I realized

that I could look chalk-white

but no matter how white

I seemed to be

white was one thing

I could never be

and not being white

meant being black.



A Multiple Murder


The blood of murdered Christians

shed by Jewish hands

also cries to the skies!

- Robert Prantner, Zur Zeit, 7/1997,

Andreas Mölzer, publisher


A boy by the name of Anderl

was found murdered

more than four centuries ago

in the Tyrolian village of Rinn.

The villagers were convinced

that the child could only

have been the victim

of a ritualistic slaying by Jews,

and Anderl was revered as a martyr

in the village church.


The slain child was indeed

a victim like any slain child,

but was slain again and again,

since his slaying served as a pretext

for realizing the most evil aims.


The legend of the ritual sacrifice

was nurtured by the murderers

of one and a half million children,

and thanks to their heirs,

it has survived till this day.



Cardboard Architect


Every house

that I constructed


Is it any wonder? 

Instead of building

with bricks

I used cards.






(from: Felled by Friendly Fire – Autobiographical Short Pieces, Chapter 14, on 13. December 2017)


»It was unwise of you to review Kuhner’s book.«
– Bodo Hell, author to Lev Detela,  who had reviewed Broadsides & Pratfalls for Ex Libris, ORF (Austrian Radio)

»Why did you tell him?«
– Bodo H.

(Hell came to my apartment unannounced with manuscripts. I published him in every issue of Integration, a literary journal that I edited in the early Seventies.)

At that time Tomazh Shalamun in Slovenia wrote Detela  that he should avoid contact with me  since I am »a barbarian and a CIA-agent.«  That rumor made the rounds for years.

(Years later, when I asked Shalamun, he said that the »information« came from Austria and the name of the source  was on the tip of his tongue.)




HERBERT KUHNER, Austrian-American poet, writer, translator, writing in English and in German: poetry, novels, drama, essays on art and film, and translations. Born in Vienna in 1935, emigrated with his parents to the US in 1939, grew up in the US and graduated from Columbia University, New York. He returned to Vienna in 1963. He is also a jazz-musician (plays the drums). He invented the concept of remigration, in his own words: »This word is a neologism, which means coming back to where you have been driven out. Returning to my birthplace has given me a unique opportunity of writing on Third Reich revisionism and violence under the guise of art. These topics interlink like pieces of a puzzle to reveal how the past manifests itself in the present.« – Member of the Poetry Society of America. Winner of Austrian The Theodor Kramer Prize for writing in resistance and in exile (2014). Among many other publications, he also edited the anthology Carinthian Slovenian Poetry (1984). For the first time, he was presented as a poet in Lives Journal, 2010 / No. 1.

(note by ed. I. A.)



Selection and translation into Slovenian by Ivo Antich



Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)