Snobbishness, caste spirit and militarism – the dark side of Wilhelmine Society.
[Rhineland, around 1893/94] Although it was a private visit, Count Csabany’s presence attracted attention; after all, he was a well-known diplomat in the service of Germany’s ally Austria-Hungary.
A weird ball
The ball season was in full swing, and many a hostess wanted to adorn her residence with his presence. So he was invited to a distinguished ball in Bonn, to be accompanied by his wife. Andras sensed right away that Sophie was only invited because otherwise he would not come. Lena and Emil and had not been invited, let alone the Americans
Lorenz and Annelie
Andras was aware that there were many snobs around who secretly turned their noses up to his beloved wife, as if she was not an appropriate match for a count. These people could not bear that she, a simple person from a democratic family who had spent some time in exile, was now seeing the elegant world, showing her diplomatic passport. Her talents, her hard work and commitment seemed not to count.
The Count was outraged. He would gladly accept, he let the hosts know, but did not want to neglect his wife’s relatives. They hurried to assure him that Mr. and Mrs. Emil Bergmann and Mr. and Mrs. Lorenz Bergmann were also welcome.
More out of curiosity, they all went to the ball and discreetly looked around. “That’s the dark side of Wilhelmine Society,” Lena whispered, “so much snobbishness, caste spirit, so many people, in uniform or not, who look down on others.” Count Andras nodded. “Yes, an expensive dress and a pearl necklace don’t make a lady, and this gentleman with the top hat and a diamond tiepin is probably having an affair with the housemaid, who fears for her job and won’t turn him down.”
With impeccable manners and very subtly, they played the snobs around them against each other, smiling at each other as they saw their plan working out. Then very discreetly Sophie nodded to Annelie. “Let’s go, this is not our world.”
Lottie and Matthias
“I just worry about Lottie,” said Annelie on their way home to the Bergmann vineyard, “we love our children and want them to live the life of their dreams, and Lottie’s dream is here, growing wine with Matthias. Yet, all these snobs around would rather expect you to lock her up in a boarding school for well-brought-up young ladies until she gets married to some boring Mr. diamond tiepin.”
Count Andras thought about his daughter. Since her childhood days, Lottie was most happy when she could roam through the vineyards, she was best friends with Susan and Matthias, another cousin from the big Bergmann family. Their childhood friendship had become love, Lottie and Matthias wanted to spend their lives together, on the Bergmann vineyard.
“You need not worry,” he said with a big smile, “the love for the land, for cultivating and harvesting, these are my mother’s genes. The born hostess and manager, that Sophie’s mother’s genes. From both grandmothers, Lottie has inherited a strong-willed and optimistic nature. She is not the girl to let anyone interfere with her happiness.” “There is something we wanted to discuss with you”, Sophie added, “our son Joscha will go to university, but as a girl Lottie can’t. We want her to have the best education possible, and since her dream is be a winemaker, we would love to send her and Matthias for one year to America, to perfect their skills on the Mountain Men Vineyard.” Lorenz and Annelie were speechless. Smilingly, Lena continued. “You see, the two of them will gradually take over our vineyard, we would love to see the family business go on. And Sophie will bring them. Do you think your family in Virginia will agree?” “They’ll beyond themselves with joy”, Lorenz and Annelie said with one voice.
Meet you in New York!
They remained for Lottie’s and Matthias’ wedding, celebrated on the Bergmann vineyard. Soon, a dream would come true, they would go for a year to America, accompanied by Sophie.
Then it was time for Lorenz and Annelie to say good-bye. Their German family saw them off at Bonn main station. Lorenz’ heart grew heavy, he did not know if he would see his home on the Rhine again. Yet, he had something to look forward to. “Annelie and I will meet you in New York,” he yelled, as they were standing at the open train window, waving good-bye.