To my Friends in the East and in the West
In this pseudo-mystic poem originally written in German, the Dutch writer and famous internationalist Frederik van Eeden expressed his belief in the rise of a new internationalist world from the ashes of war. As a true internationalist, he addressed this poem to his 'like-minded brothers and sisters' in 'the East and in the West'. Van Eeden dedicated the poem to his good friend Romain Rolland, the French anti-war critic and Europhile writer who was a Swiss exile. Rolland translated the poem into French and published it in the Swiss journal Demain. Pages et Documents on 15 May 1916. To read the poem in German, please click on the sources above.
The poem of van Eeden echoes a desire to mobilise and unite like-minded internationalist and pacifist intellectuals through correspondence, poetry, conferences, and peace missions. The poet's dedication to friends in the East and West illustrates his deep wish to restore the dialogue between German and West European intellectuals. This longing was motivated by the personal loss of his own internationalist society, the Forte Kreis. This society was shattered when most German members chose their patriotic duty over a 'cosmopolitan ideal'. Throughout the war, van Eeden wished to convince German intellectuals to reject their nation's war ambitions and rediscover the 'true' internationalist society.