- Yg. 1926, No. 14 -
Karl Hau is dead. God's mills grind slowly; but those of bourgeois justice surely grind. In the year 1907 he was denied his life: but those who are said live long; he was pardoned and endured for 17 years in the penitentiary. Then, one and a half years ago, he became part of another "mercy": he was released, let go into life. It had changed quite a bit while he was under the buried. Airship, plane, world war, republic, radio, jazz band, bob - he was a stranger; everything was different. He did not find the connection anymore.
Perhaps he would have found it if he had been able to put down roots, experience the new life, feel his way into the emotional, spiritual and physical immediacy of modern machinery. But it was not destined for him. With the legal fanaticism of a Kohlhaas, he set out to do his cleaning. Though he could have told himself that what he went through was more than the purification any subsequent acquittal could have given. That he still had a plus, a credit against the justice “debit” of this bourgeois society. The question of whether or not he was guilty had become completely irrelevant - to the world. But he, be it out of the painful consciousness of having been innocently tormented for half a generation, or out of the mania of the guilty party who fanatically defends the fixed idea of his innocence in order to convince himself first and foremost (because he cannot live without belief in his flawlessness) - immediately took up the stubborn struggle for his rehabilitation. He couldn't look forward because he couldn't feel the bottom under his feet. He looked back and looked for the ground, which had long since fallen into the abyss, on which he hoped to be able to gain a foothold again.
And this feverish effort to force the world to believe in itself and its innocence deprived it of the last foot of earth on which he could draw breath to renewed striding: his books drew his attention to the bureaucratic Faris-like lawfulness. The foolish profile was issued: the 17 had been buried for years, should be forced out of the light back into the gloom of the dungeon. Hau fled.
He was unsettled. Went to Italy, looking for a way to live his life, found nothing, collapsed, despaired, and eventually, as an unknown dead man, or rather as an unknown dying man - for he was still wheezing - was taken to the Tivoli hospital near Rome. Died. Cause: stroke or poison, with 99 v. H. Probability: poison.
But was that really the original thing, the primary reason that this life had to end so pointless that this man, who, when he left the penitentiary, was full of greed for life, has only returned to the world around them to leave voluntarily? The true cause must have been in him; but perhaps he would still have found his place, his space, his purpose, had not a shortsighted judiciary once again allowed the killing letter of codified law to prevail over the living spirit of grace.
1926, 14 Max Barth
Karl Hau was released from the Bruchsal penitentiary in August 1924, after he had promised to let his case rest. When he did not keep this promise and should therefore be arrested again, he committed suicide in March 1926 in Italy.