(I) The Letters of Nikolaj Berdjajew to Fritz Lieb

(I) The Letters of Nikolaj Berdjajew to Fritz Lieb
In Commemoration of Fritz Lieb (+ 1970)

                                                                                  by Klaus Bambauer

a. Introduction

Not very well-known is the correspondence of  N. Berdjajew with his close friend Fritz Lieb (1892-1970).1

This article involves the relationship of both N. Berdjajew and his friend Fritz Lieb, who died some 30 years ago. F  Lieb did considerably much to encourage the Eastern Christianity by his many essays, and he wrote the book entitled “Sophia and History” – articles on the Eastern and Western history of spirit and theology (published Zuerich Switzerland 1962). He was spiritually situated between the famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth and the Russian philosophy of religion, and as professor of theology he lectured often on this subject at the University of Basel/Switzerland.

In this introduction we shall first of all consider the connections between Berdjajew and Lieb. In his mentioned book Lieb wrote an article “Nikolaj A. Berdjaev and his Christian-socialistic philosophy”. 2

In his autobiography “Selbsterkenntnis”, published in Germany in 1953, Berdjajew himself remembered of Lieb with deep cordiality. 3 Also Lieb recalls: “The last time I saw Berdjajew, with whom I have preserved a long friendship, was when he returned from his last holiday in Switzerland to Clamart near Paris. He took part in Geneva at the “Rencontres internationales”, and there he gave a lecture on the “Man face to face with the present civilization”.

b) Biographical notes to Fritz Lieb. 4

F. Lieb was born in the family of a pastor in Rothenfluh/Switzerland. After the study of Oriental languages at the universities of Basel and Berlin, he began the study of theology and he became familiar with the protestant theologian Karl Barth, moreover as a friend also. Barth asked that the assistant Lieb come to Safenwil, where Barth at this time was working at the second edition of his famous “Roemerbrief”. In 1930 Barth supported the proposal, that Lieb should become extraordinary professor for Eastern Christianity at the University of Bonn/Germany. In 1923 Lieb completed his study by his doctoral thesis “Baader and Kant”. 5

Along with many other young intellectuals of the time after the Russian Revolution, Lieb learned the Russian language and he began to buy Russian books of religious, philosophical and historical content. And thus he collected large parts of a singular intellectual heritage. In 1937 he presented his uniquely famous Slavic library to the University of Basel. He enlarged this library, and after his death his widow Ruth Lieb-Staehelin (1900-1986) extended it. Today the  “Fritz Lieb” Library comprises more then 13000 books. To specialists this library has become known as one of the most famous Slavic libraries of the world. (Cf. his article: Die russisch-slawische Bibliothek in der Universitaetsbibliothek Basel, in: Sophia und Historie pp. 19-30.)

During his time as an university lecturer, F. Lieb came in contact with many of the exiled Russians and in 1924 he visited with N. Berdjajew in Paris through the Swiss YMCA-secretary Gustav Kullmann (1894-1961). Between them there developed a long friendship, which deepened still further in the period from 1934 to 1937. In Basel, F. Lieb organized lectures of Berdjajew and of other religious philosophers from Paris. We can assume, that Berdjajew became familiar with Karl Barth by means of  F. Lieb. But between Barth and Berdjajew a long-term association did not materialise. They had too different a way of approach, in spite of their “dialectical” claims of outlook. Lieb supported the publication of Berdajew’s book, “Freedom and the Spirit”,  in 1930 in the German language. 6   In a letter of 20th of July 1948 the translator J. Schor wrote to Lieb: “I think, that you by your nearness to Berdjajew you have become the trustee of his heritage for the Western world”. 7

During his time in Paris, F. Lieb founded also the anti-Fascist “Freie deutsche Akademie” (Free German Academy). And in 1937 F. Lieb got the appointment as extraordinary professor in dogmatics and church-history with special regard of the Eastern churches at the University of Basel.

c. The journal “Orient and Occident”

In his article “Berdjajew and Switzerland”, Erich Bryner summarizes the details of the growth of this Journal.8    He notes, that people in Switzerland had paid more and more attention to the thought and books of Berdjajew since 1930. The theologian Fritz Lieb gained support for Berdjajew in the journal “Orient and Occident”, published by the theologians Paul Schuetz (1891-1985) and F. Lieb, edited in Leipzig 1929-1934 by the Hinrich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung.

F. Lieb went into exile from Germany in 1933, and during the period of his exile in Paris (1934-37), Lieb met his friend daily and he felt honoured, that Berdjajew offered to him the “Du”, very exceptional for Russian aristocrats. But in 1934 the publishing house stopped the co-operation, after 17 issues (1929-1934). Lieb had to find an new publisher and after long efforts he engaged the Swiss publishing house, Gotthelf-Verlag Bern, to print “Orient and Occident”. But here were published only three issues [new series No.1-3, 1936], since in Switzerland there had been only 35 subscribers, while in Germany the journal was not allowed to appear for political reasons. Thus, a total of 20 issues in all of “Orient and Occident” appeared: P Schuetz left work with the journal in 1934 with issue No. 15, and with the new series No. 1-3 F Lieb was the only editor. The Swiss publisher Gotthelf-Verlag also was publisher of Berdjajew’s anthropological work “Die Bestimmung des Menschen” (“The Destiny of Man”) in 1935.

In the leading article of the first number of “Orient and Occident” in 1929,  Lieb presented programmatically his view of the connection between Orthodoy and Protestantism. For him the Church has to exist as “una sancta”. But he pointed out likewise: A true meeting of the churches presupposes a stocktaking and repentance. After the death of Berdjajew, F. Lieb wrote to Eugenie Rapp: “With time he really became a father”. And he continued: “He gave me the greatest possible enlightenment among all my friends”. 9
(II) The Letters of Nikolaj Berdjajew to Fritz Lieb

by Klaus Bambauer

Preliminary remarks

The letters of N. Berdjajew to F. Lieb are all written in German language. The few mistakes in German style of these letters have been corrected by this translation. Some indistinct or unreadable words are put in brackets […]. The letters are accompanied by foot-notes, to put them in the necessary historical circumstances of Berdjajew’s life and his philosophical work. The question of the formulation of the letters is sometimes vague. In this case the time of formulating is put in brackets, the additions too. The messages of the Russian religious thinker were written in normal letters and – if very short – on simple post-cards.

The place of discovery of these letters is the Department of Autographic Letters, within the Library of the University of Basel/Switzerland (Bequest Fritz Lieb, call number Aa 101, 1-42.  Cf. also: Michael Stricker, Nachlaß Fritz Lieb (Publikationen der Universitaetsbibliothek Basel No. 9, Basel 1990).  Cf. also:  the article by Hans-Peter Friedrich: “Dear Feodor Iwanowitsch…”- From the letters of Nikolaj Berdjajew and Georges Florowsky to Fritz Lieb (In: Stimme der Orthodoxie (The Voice of Orthodoxy) no. 3/1997 pp. 166-171).

The Letters:

Letter 1

Clamart (Seine) 2 rue Martial Grandchamps 10
2nd of January 1928

Dear Doctor [Lieb]!

Thank you very much for the books, that you sent to me so kindly and especially for Franz Baader.11 Your present is for me very special. The books concerning Boehme I’ll send back to you soon. And still the book of Bornkamm.12  Like formerly I think that Boehme not at all is typical for Protestantism. The world-view of Luther was anti-cosmic. I am very interested in your book on Baader. Thank you very much once more and wish you all the best for the new year.

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter 2

Clamart (Seine) 14, rue de St. Cloud
17th of February [without date, 1928 or 1929] 13

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I am not able to write the article for pastor Cremer. I am too [much] philosopher and such a real subject is not suitable for me. That will do very appropriate G. P. Fedotoff. 14  Heidegger I have got.15   Thank you. Thank you very much also for […]. The book of Bachofen, edit. by Baeumler, I got it from Schuetz.16
In Russia the things are very, very bad.
I am very glad to see you in April. Certainly you can take my review of the book of Massis for “Orient und Occident”.17
Schestoff asks me to say you that he will […] on his paper in “Put”. Probably you didn’t get his letter. Do you think that you will find a publishing-house for the collected edition of “Russian scientific Institut”, where my article on Fedoroff is? That is very interesting for me. This winter my finances are very bad, things are going from bad to worse as in the past. I undergo now a course of a very complicated treatment and I regard me still rather bad. The article of mine on Fedoroff is large and I hope to get money for it.18
I wish you all the best.

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter 3

Clamart, 2 rue de Martial Grandchamps
1st of March 1928

Dear and venerable Doctor [Lieb]! Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I planned to write to you an extensive letter, but G. G. Kullmann told me, that you will come to Paris.19  But I hope to see you and then we’ll talk about all questions you wrote to me about. To Switzerland I will go at the end of April.20  Thank you very much for your invitation and I am cheerful to stay with you for one or two days.

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter 4

Clamart, 27th of April 1928

Dear Doctor [Lieb]!

My train (Tuesday the 1st of May) arrives at Basel at 16,21 o’clock. To Basel I will probably come the 3rd of May and certainly will give lecture at the 4th of May.

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter 5

Clamart (Seine) rue de St. Cloud
3rd of May 1928

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

Would you come to us at Tuesday, the 7th of May, 7 o’clock? You will have a meal with us. I am glad to see you. It would be also advantageous, if you will come to us at Sunday at 5 o’clock.
There will be some Russians. But at Tuesday you will come too. Then it will be better to talk together. Write if you can come at Tuesday.

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter  6

Clamart (Seine), rue de St. Cloud
10th of June [1928]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

Again I have an urgent request to you. I would like to have some books from your library.  Are you able to send me the following books:

1)  Prince S. N. Trubetzkoj (A volume of the works […])21
2)  Speth [Russian book]22
3)  W. Rosanow [Russian book] 4)  W. Iwanow [Russian book] 5)  Snamenskij (Guide through the History of the Russian […])
6)  Th. Ziegler, History of the Christian ethics,
or      Luthardt, History of the Christian Ethics. 2nd volume
or     O. Zöckler, The Ethics of Christianity
E. Howaldt, Ethics of  Antiquity (A Philosophical Guide)
A. Dermot, Ethics of the Middle Ages
[Theodor] Litt, Ethics of Modern Times
7)  [Ernst] Troeltsch, The Social Systems of the Christian Churches
8)  [Georg] Simmel, Sociology23
G. Simmel, Introduction to the Science of Morality

I will not take these books very long. What about “Orient und Occident”?  When will the first number be published? Do you think that it could be possible to accept for our journal what Father Al. M., who became Orthodox, wrote on Russian theology?
It is interesting, but seems too large.
From the 20th to 24th of June I shall be near Dresden, where I shall take part in a conference, organized by G. G. Kullmann,24 and give a lecture on “The Russian People and the Revolution”. Would it be possible to get two numbers of “Orient und Occident” yearly?

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  7

Clamart (Seine) 14, rue de St. Cloud
3rd of November 1928

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

All in all I would like to write to you to express my thanks for the works of Oetinger,25 and the sending of the book of K. Barth, through your efforts. The books, which I have gotten from you, I have already sent back to you to Basel, except for Tarschew (?), which F. T Pjanoff is reading.26
But here is another request: Would it not be possible for you to sent me the following books:

1)  R. Kroner, Von Kant bis Hegel ( 2 volumes)27
2)  Portage, Ueber Sophia (On sophia) (in German language)28
3)  Kierkegaard, “Einübung im Christentum”, “Entweder-Oder”, whatever is the      most interesting of him.

To get these books is very difficult for me. Therefore, I would be extremely grateful to you for sending them. And I shall take great care to sent them back to you soon.
F. Pianoff could take them with him. Do you possibly know if Kierkegaard has been published in pocket-book edition by the Kröner publishing house? If so, I shall send for it. Always, I remember the days of conversations with you in the midst of your books. I hope to see you again in Paris. In “Put” was published the review of your book on Baader by S. Frank and on [Peter] Brunner by G. Florowskij.29 What about the subject of “Orient”?
With many kind regards to your wife

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter  8

Clamart (Seine) 14, rue de St. Cloud
14th of November [1928]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

Your handwriting is very difficult to read, but with some effort I can decipher it. I can indeed only but approve of the new project of the journal “Orient und Occident”. Before the departure of G. G. Kullmann for India we talked together for a long time about that matter and we are entirely in agreement on it. On principle I have consented to contribute to the journal and I am ready to lend my name for it. But I would like to have more precisely defined my connection to the journal. Shall I take the whole responsibility for the Russian-Orthodox department? In this case my duties need precisely to be defined. Shall I collect the Russian-Orthodox articles and put them together for the editorial staff? From the manner in which the first numbers are planned,  I draw the conclusion that you intend an extensive use of the articles from “Put”. That is very desirable and welcome to us. But it would be inappropriate to publish some parts of my “Philosophie des freien Geistes” [“Philosophy of free spirit”, published in English under title, “Freedom and the Spirit”] in the journal, for my book will be edited in the publishing-house Mohr-Siebeck soon, which I owe to you. With P. S. Bulgakoff I have already spoken and on principle he agrees to co-operate at the journal.
I also spoke to B. Wyscheslawzeff who will be very glad, if his “Tragic Theodicy” will appear in German language.30  G. Florowskij also agrees. There had to be drawn to staff: G. Fedotoff, L. Karsawin,31  W. Iljin, B. Zenkowskij. F. Stepun would seem a very strong possibility for us.32  Swiatopolk-Mirsky in my opinion is completely out of place. He is rarely interested in religious questions and never writes about it. Besides this, one cannot be sure of what manner his articles will be. Also it is doubtful if he would agree. He is a gifted, talented and interesting man, nevertheless he is not suited for a religious journal. Concerning my old friend L. Schestoff, his articles may be interesting but he is not Christian, he sets his mind rather to Judaism and therefore he cannot be interpreted without qualification. I deeply wish that Hans Ehrenberg33  and Fr[iedrich] Heiler could be brought to the staff. Ehrenberg gained merit at the Russian Orthodoxy by publishing of his “Eastern Christianity”.34  And it would be insulting to take no notice of him completely in such a project. He has intensive contact with Orthodoxy. Heiler also has this contact at a strong degree and supports the ecumenical Christian unity. It is highest desirable to convince Schmidhauser of being on the staff. It is very important to find out the position to Catholicism. I set a high value on benevolent attitude to Catholic world what naturally doesn’t exclude the possibility of a criticism of the official Catholic politics and theology. It would be very desirable that Catholics are co-operating at the journal, but I fear, that it will be difficult to attain. I am very pleased by the rise of your journal. It corresponds to a deep requirement of the times. If you succeed in realizing it, that will be your great merit. We have to come together and discuss all subjects, the best would be at Strassburg, for it is more difficult for me to go abroad than for you all. Please write to me, if I for my part should attempt to do something on behalf of the journal. Now I have a very kind translator for German letters and that is why I can more easily correspond with you. I am greatly obliged to you, Fjodor Iwanowitsch, for the sending of the books of Pordredsch [Pordage], Croner [Kroner] and Kierkegaard. As title for the journal I am pleased with “Orient und Occident” – Journal for Ecumenical Unity of the Christian World”.

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter 9

Clamart, 12 th of January [1929]35

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

Your article I have already sent back to you and I hasten to reply to both of your letters.36 I completely agree to the advertising literature and to the programming of the journal “East and West” [Orient and Occident] that you sent to me. There is only one passage that seems doubtful to me, and that is the following: “Protestant Christianity and Orthodoxy have to say one another something decisive, above all because [according to the interpretation of the editors]37  the pure preaching of the gospel and the confessions (of faith) of the old Christian church belong together. This ecumenical discussion might however be comprising to the cooperation of Catholics on principle”. The complicated relationship between Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Catholicism is not accurately enough and not quite correctly expressed.

The question of the unification of Orthodoxy with Protestantism is anticipated here predominantly,38  and Catholicism is mentioned only occasionally and unwillingly. To Orthodox people like us, the (co)operation with Protestants is easier than with Catholics because we think highly of Christian freedom and are not bound by principle of authority. But dogmatically and sacramentally we are nearer to Catholics. I would like to accentuate these passages in the programme as being of the Protestant point of view and I would not like to identify it with the Orthodox point of view. I am very glad of taking part in a purely Protestant project that aims at the unification of Eastern and the Western Christianity; but I have to be responsible as to the complicated Orthodox relations with the two other confessions. I urgently ask you to bear in mind this always and therefore to accentuate the peculiarity of the Russian-Orthodox views. If Catholics were to cooperate, the task would be easier. I do not have any objections against the specification of the collaborators. It is doubtful, that Karl Barth will agree. I do not know the Orientalists and I am not able to gain support therein. I do agree to share the responsibility of the Russian-Orthodox part of the journal with you. All the fundamental articles I will indeed read, but it is unnecessary to send me everything that there is concerning the chronicle of events in Russia. Here it is however important to state, that the joumal does not sympathize with sectarianism nor with the “Living Church”39  and that it will support the Patriarchical Church. Naturally this is the precondition for the staff of the Russians. Your article is very suitable for the first issue of the journal. It is full of kind sympathy towards the Orthodoxy and towards the Russian Church. And you have taken a very good view, detached from the liberal Protestantism that is guilty of a deficient comprehension of the Russians as regards the religious pathos of Protestantism. I was surprised only by the remark, that the Russian Church had not been a church for the people. That isn’t correct. In your place I wouldn’t speak twice of the Pope, it is not in the style of the article. I would be glad to publish your article in “Put”, but “Put” on principle does not publish translations, only those foreign-language articles, that are written especially for it. In this way your article would be well suited for “Put”, but how could it be because it will be published in another joumal? Which of my latest articles in “Put” would you like to use for “East and West” [“Orient and Occident”]? My last one has been “Illusionen und Realitäten in der Psychologie der Emigrantenjugend”.40  Do you think it suitable for the first n[umber]? It would be possible to add one of the older articles.

Last time, I read the books written by [Emil] Brunner),41  K. Barth and Kierkegaard, which have deeply impressed me, even now. This is a serious and deep movement. I even would like to write something like an open letter in German to Brunner. His book is of great strictness and energy, his Christianity is not a professor’s religion. But in some respect I have strong objections against this direction, it degrades the human being and denies him, there is little love in it. I strongly feel in it the Old Testament’s pre-Christian religion of fear, of anxiety. I miss any understanding of the mysteries of God-Man and Godmanhood.42  A review on K. Barth’s book will be published in “Put”. According to L. Schestow43  his relationship to this direction is only half so and only negative. Long discussions with Schestow have convinced me, that the belief in Christ is completely strange to him, he defends himself against it and does not acknowledge the incarnation of God. But I am astonished on your remark of the end of “Put”. Meanwhile there is nothing of that kind. In any case its [of “Put”] existence in 1929 is very sure. As far as I am concerned my financial situation stays unchanged meanwhile. Last time I had a lot of pecuniary difficulties connected with moves and a journey to Vichy,44  because of the money for my book, translated into French, has not yet been paid.45 Your care for me and the payment for my efforts for the journal has moved me very deeply. I shall remain doubtful the exchange of “Put” with “Zwischen den Zeiten” [“Between times”], for the publishing house is sparing of the copies and releases only a few of them, because there are sold too few paid copies.

I would be glad to visit you once more at Basel, although it is hard to do financially, and I shall be glad to wellcome you in Paris – Clamart! Your books I shall give back soon and thank you very much for them.

yours N. Berdjajew.

Letter  10

Clamart (Seine) 14, rue de St. Cloud
27 th of February [1929]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I have suffered great difficulties in understanding your letter. I make a request to you: Please write your letters on a type-writer. My friend, who was translating all my letters, left for Germany. Now writing to you will become more difficult. Your article on “Orthodoxy and Protestantism” I accept with pleasure for “Put” in April.46

Don’t send to me the Russian translation later than to the 1st of April. From my articles of “Put” you could take for “Orient and Occident” one of these three ones:
1) “Die kirchliche Unruhe und die Freiheit des Gewissens” (no. 5),47
2) “Religionswissenschaft und christliche Apologetik”(no. 6),48  or
3) “Aus Gedanken zur Theodizee” (no. 7).49   If you wish, I can write for the first issue a specific article on Orthodoxy and Protestantism of K. Barth, Brunner and so on.50  What are your thoughts on this?? I am in complete agreement on your new judgement [Berdjajew writes unclear: Einsetzung instead of Einschätzung] on the connections between Orthodoxy and Protestantism. I received your letter, wherein you write on the Russian payment and thank you very much. The 80 marks in favour of S. Frank I remitted to him immediately. G. G. Kullmann is now already staying at Dresden, but his adress still isn’t known to me. Nor do I know the address of Roumanian “Logos”. The book of Artemew [Russian title] is not very interesting. I would be happy to see you in Paris soon. At the end of April I shall go to Hungary for a week to give lectures.

Yours sincerely
N. Berdjajew
Your books I send back full of gratitude.

Letter  11

Clamart, 14, rue de St. Cloud
2nd of March [1929]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!  I think it would be the best to take from my articles of “Put” “Über geistige Bourgeoisie” [On intellectual bourgeoisie].51  I can also write on Brunner.

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter  12

Clamart, 14 rue de St. Cloud
12 th of March [1929]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch! I shall write for you an article “Crisis of Protestantism and the Russian Orthodoxy”.52  But how long do I have to write the article? I am not able to write the article too quickly, not earlier than April 5-10. It will be approximate 12-15 pages.

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter  13

Clamart, 14 rue de St. Cloud
1st of April 1929

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch! I have sent my article to you. If you don’t have a competent translator, then it can be done very adequately by R. von Walter53 (address – Cöln a. Rh[ine], Gleuerlerstr. 67), who translated my two books. I implore you to send me your article “Protestantism and Orthodoxy” very quickly. “Put” 16 is already too late. I go for Czechoslovakia and Hungary at 17 th of April and will be back 1st of May. When will you be in Paris? Did you get your books 1 sent to you?
Do swidanja
yours N. Berdjajew

Letter  14

Clamart (Seine) 14 rue de St. Cloud
5th of July [1929]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I have already received “East and West” [“Orient and Occident”], and find it very well, it looks very pleasant. I did not read all of it. But in my article there is a terrible mistake: Page 22 you find “pantheism corresponds more to our thought of God”, but it must be different word “panentheism corresponds more . .” If I were to have said, that the Russian Orthodox thought is Pantheism, then this would mean that it is not truly a Christian thinking. This is something very bad and there must be done something to correct this very quickly.54  I already have received books from you and thank you very much. At 30th of July I go to Geneva to give a lecture during a meeting for ecumenical studies. I shall stay there about five days.

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  15

Clamart (Seine), 14 rue de St. Cloud
8th of January [1930]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I have much to tell you. It would be very well, if you could come to Paris in March or April. I shall be at home. We shall speak about Barthianism and Orthodoxy. The article of Otto Fricke is very clear and interesting.55  V. Zenkowsky will answer him in the next journal “East and West” [“Orient and Occident”]. That is very important and it is necessary to provide him a small place for this answer. I agree to the article of Besobrasoff. Vischeslawzeff is going to write a review about Otto and I probably shall write a review about Schumann. Father Moor [?] is not here and I don’t know where he is now. I shall write to him through Father [Lev] Gillet. Heidegger I never have got, that is bad. Could you perhaps send me Father Boulgakoff’s book “Svet nevetschernij”56  I need this book for my seminary, not for a long time. Perhaps you could send to me also for a short time “Der Mythos Orient und Occident” of Bachofen with an introduction of Baeumler?57  My book published by Siebeck/Mohr will probably appear in February or March.58  Your article on “Christianity and Marxism” I have read. In many respects I entirely agree to you, but I think that you are still too much a Marxist.59  In Russia things go very, very bad. Best wishes for a happy new year for you and your family

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  16

Clamart (Seine), 14, rue de St. Cloud
21th of March [1930]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!
Through Pianoff I have got from you 200 Swiss Francs. Thank you very much. Last time I had a lot of pecuniary difficulties. But what does it mean? What is money? The third number of “East and West” [“Orient and Occident”] already I have got and I am reading your article “Das Problem des Menschen bei Dostojewskij”.60  That’s very fine and interesting. I have been told, that you will be in Paris at 7th of April. I shall be very glad to see you. We have a lot of things to discuss.

yours N. Berdjajew

Letter  17

15 th of November [1930]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!
How are you? How are you feeling in Bonn?61  For a very long time I haven’t received any information from you. I did receive the 4th issue of “East and West”.  G. G. Kullmann has written very accurately on Russian Orthodoxy.62  B. Vischeslawzeff will write in “Put” on the article from that issue. V. Iljin intends to write on “Sobornost’”.63 When do you plan to come to Paris? If you come in the near future, I shall give you a copy of “Die Philosophie des freien Geistes” [“Freedom and the Spirit”].64  If not, then I shall send the book to you. I do feel better, but I am terribly busy.
Your house-number – is it 28 or 26?65

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  18

14th of January [1931]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!
I am glad that you are feeling well in Bonn and that the Theological Faculty of Basel has appointed you Doctor Honoris Causa. I will answer all your questions.

W. Iljin is not in Paris and I shall speak to him, when he returns back. But I already have talked to him about the article “Sobornost'”. I have no time to write a new article. But I will be able to shorten my article [illegible] a little bit. I have spoken also with Fedotoff. He told me, that you can do what you want to do regarding his articles on [illegible]. He permits the translator Unruh the competence for any shortenings. It would be very nice to have an article on the Russian Revolution by Stepun. I think it would be better to get a new article by Lagovsky. It is however impossible for the next number.66

My health is now better. But my money situation is as bad as never before and probably is going to get worse because the Americans have an economical crisis.67  I have to write articles for newspapers and monthly magazines.68  Perhaps that can help. What do you think about it? What about my article on Fedoroff?

Perhaps I shall go for Zurich and give a lecture to students of Zurich.

It will be very suitable, if you come to Paris in March. Many thanks for Kierkegaard. My family wishes all the best to your family for the new year.

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  19

14th of February [1931

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

Many thanks for the money you sent to me. It was a great help for me now. If you want I can write an article on the religious meaning of Bolshevism for “East and West”.69 But I need a little bit of time for that. When will be the final date for the article? W. Iljin is already back and I have spoken to him on the article “Sobornost'”. He says that he is going to write very soon.

I hope to see you in Paris in April. But probably I shall go for the Netherlands for a week to give lectures.

Sincerely und gratefully
yours N. Berdjajew

Letter  20

Clamart, 25th of November [1931]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I am writing in respectable German because this letter has been translated. In the next no. of “Put” my article, “On two interpretations of Christianity (On the disputes about old and new in Christianity)”, will be published.70 There also I discuss the Barthianism. This article would be suitable for “Orient and Occident”. Perhaps also might be of interest the article of N. Lossky, “Magic and Christian Sacraments”. I would like to recommend in no. 35 the article, “On theHoly Spirit in Nature and Culture”, by G. Fedotoff, as well as in no. 34 “The Myth of the Fall of Man” by B. Wyscheslawzeff and in no. 28 an article from Russia entitled, “Spiritual Life and Economy”, by a Russian monk.

I got a visit of the publisher Ernst Lutz,71 who impressed me very well. What about the transition over of  “Orient and Occident” and the issue of a Russian series as well as the publishing of my book “Destiny of Man”? It is possible to put into this series – besides my book – in any case also the Bulgakov’s “Christology”, the book on the Russian history of theology by G. Florovsky and the books of L. Schestoff und B. Wyscheslawzeff.72  I recommend Remisoff, too.73

How are you? For a long time I didn’t hear anything from you. My German payment will be sent to you probably. In this case I hope to receive it by way of Switzerland without any delay, which is of great importance for me.

I have already bought a volume of Jaspers at a reduced price. I seem to remember that you have some duplicate volumes of Tarejeff. Would you not like to exchange those books for any of my books? And then too: You promised me to make inquiries about a picture of Nietzsche and about the price for it?

All the best for you and your family. All . . .74

Letter  21

Clamart, 30th of November [1931]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I have been very glad to get a letter from you. But I have had terrible difficulties to understand your letter. Please write to me with a type-writer. I’ll answer all of your questions.

I am certainly agreeable that the German edition of my book, “Leontjeff”, should be published by the Gotthelf-publishing house. But the translator mustn’t be in any case Walter.75  The best would be Dr. Hans Ruoff (Munich-Nymphenburg, Südliche Auffahrtsallee 8/1).76  But what first of all is interesting for me is the German translation of my last book “Destiny of Man”. It is the best and most important of all that I have written in my life. Reichl writes to me, that he would like to publish this book, but he doesn’t know whether it will be possible for him to do so.77

In January or February [1932] he will be able to give a definite answer. This question is more interesting for me than the translation of the “Leontjeff”.78  My last book isn’t still yet translated. I am in agreement that Mr. Reisner will also be appointed editor of “Orient and Occident”.79 The German translation of my article I have sent to Mr. Schütz.80 Certainly one could write an article on the “Eurasia” of Savitzky or N. Trubetzkoj in “Orient and Occident”.81 With Florowskij I will speak on a new article.82 Its going to be very well if you will translate my review about Trotzky in “Orient and Occident”. But there is a horrible mistake. I will speak with “Novy Put” on the exchange.

Concerning my health the things are not very well. I suffer from very strong pains in hands and feet. I am very glad to meet you again in Paris. The “Tat” I didn’t get. Don’t you have the book of M. Scheler on the sociology of knowledge?83  If you have it,
perhaps you can send it to me.

your N. Berdjajew

Letter  22

Clamart, 2nd of February [1932]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I have gotten an answer from Schor.84  He writes that Lutz has misrepresented the situation. He never subjected in the publishing of my book the fact that the rights of translation of all Russian issues will be due to him. According to his statements, he only insisted upon a few small amendments, – first of all upon this, that there is no duty to produce the translation of the book one week after signing of the contract, and upon this that I will get an advance. I don’ t know whom I can trust more. Nevertheless it will be absolutely necessary to bring the subject to an end. Perhaps you will write to Lutz.

I received a letter from S. Frank. He asks to help him to publish in Gotthelf publishing house his recent religious-philosophical book.85 He thinks it to be the fruit of his long philosophical activity. It would be well to help him. It depends from the project that we discussed. Please write Lutz about this, too. When do you intend to come to Paris?

With best wishes to you and your family
your N. Berdiaeff

Letter  23

Clamart, 22 th of February [1932]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

The 20th of March and certainly until the beginning of April I shall be at home and I am very delighted to see you. I am writing already about “The Religious Meaning of Bolshevism”.86 The article shall not be so long and I hope to send the article to you at 18th of March.

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  24

Clamart, 9th of May 1932

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

[…] The 11th of May I put out for Bad Boll (at Stuttgart). The last day of the conference will be Monday 15th of May. Therefore I can depart from there to Bonn at 16th of May. The 17th of May Tuesday I certainly can be in Bonn, perhaps the 16th of May. In Paris I have to be not later than the 20th of May. If you wish that I shall speak in Bonn, it can only be at the 17th or the 18th of May. My subject is: “The Intellectual Situation of the Contemporary World”.87  I thank you very much for the money (615 Fr.), but I don’t know exactly what kind of money it is. My adress will be: Europäische Führerkonferenz, Bad Boll, Göppingen, Wttbg, Deutschland. Do swidanja.
Sincerely yours
N. Berdiaeff

Letter  25

Clamart, 27th of May [1932]88

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

How are you? Is all in good order? Recently I have been rather ill. Some days in succession I had strong nose-bleeding which wouldn’t stop for hours. After that I had high temperature and I was very weak for some weeks. The doctor insists that I should move for medical therapy and take a cure in June. Therefore I have to raise the necessary amount for this until middle of June. It’s painful for me to trouble you but I would be very obliged to you for the information whether I can expect the draw of the sum of money you spoke about to me until middle of June. My financial condition has deteriorated in sequel of the dollar-crash; since May I get 20% less, and less than in former times. It is still doubtful what reaction the dollar-crash will have on our activity in future.

Have you decided on the contents of the next issue of “Orient and Occident”? And what about those books that you intended to send to me (II. vol. of Jaspers, Nicolaus Cusanus, Gogarten and […]? For now I am quite definitively occupied with my recent philosophical book that I wish to complete during summer and autumn.89

Greetings from my wife and her sister to you and your wife.

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  26

Clamart, 21th of April [1933]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I have a request to you. It is nearly completely impossible to make transfer of German money and I cannot get my payments. Publishing house Hinrichs writes to me that it will be impossible to send me the payment for “Orient and Occident”. That is only 18 marks 75 pennies. But I have to get much more from “Hochland”,90 from Reichl publishing house91 and from others. What can I do? If you get the money from Switzerland then we could proceed so: I shall request to transfer my German payment to you and they will transfer in Swiss money to me the same. If it is impossible, you will have to give me another suggestion.

I have gotten a letter from Reichl. He writes that it is now impossible to publish my book. He wants to wait. But I intend to have negotiations with another publishing houses. Landsberg has told me that it will be possible to publish my book in the publishing house where his anthropology will be edited.92 That will be an anthropological series. Thank you for Dilthey. I shall send you back your books soon. Do you have the book of Martin Thust “Sören Kierkegaard” and what do you think about this book?93

The 10th of May I go to Germany. It may be that I travel back through Bonn.94

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  27

Clamart, 18th of May [1939]

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

It would be very pleasant to me to spend some days with you in Basel, but I cannot accept the suggestion of the “Decision” to give a lecture in Switzerland by several reasons. Please inform the group “Decision” that I sympathize with it, that I thank for the suggestion to give a lecture and would like to do this, but I am not able. First of all – we will leave to Vichy to take a cure the 20th of June and to undergo a medical treatment until the end of July. Besides this I feel not very well, my head is heavy, often I am suffering by swimming of the head. The doctor decidely dissuades from giving lectures. I am in medical treatment. I would have had to give the lecture in German, i. e. I would have to write it and I would have to have it translated, this would be a large effort and would take much time.

My new book “Slavery and Freedom” will be published at the end of May.95 Recently I have been occupied exclusively by the corrections. The next issue of “Put” will publish my sharp article on the matter of Fedotoff.96 I am always pleased to see you in Paris. The international situation has improved.

The whole Family wishes you and your family the best.

yours N. Berdiaeff

Letter  28

Clamart, 29th of October 1945

Dear Fjodor Iwanowitsch!

I communicate you our heavy sorrow. Lydia Judofivna died at the end of September. She was very ill for one and a half years, but her death was very transfigured.97  I shall tell you more at our reunion.

I read your book and I think it is the best and most useful book on Russia.98  I am very overtired, particularly with the nerves. I feel depresssed in our house. Eugenie Judifovna is also indisposed. Friends intend to organize for us a recreation trip to Switzerland in the mountains for the second half of December. We have to get the visa and to organize some other things. Then we will meet again.

The book “The Russian Idea” I have only in Russian.99  “Slavery and Freedom” is available in English now [London 1943]. But I didn’t see it. The European Literary Bureau in London is concerned with German edition of my works. I referenced the bureau to Nova Vita [correct: Vita Nova] publishing house.100  I hope to see you. Eugenie Judifovna sends her regards to you.

yours N. Berdiaeff


Notes: Introduction

1  The letters are in the literary bequest of Lieb (in the library of the University of Basel/Switzerland). Cf. Bequest Lieb, edited by Michael Stricker, Basel 1990. Here you can find some letters, written by Berdjajew, among them those to F. Lieb, that will be published in my following historical research. There can also be found letters of Lydia Berdjajew and Eugenie Rapp, who lived since 1914 with the Berdjajews in Moscow, to F. Lieb.

2  Cf. p. 202-211.

3  Cf. p. 306. See also D. Lowrie, A life of Nikolai Berdyaev p 210, 247. “Among other associates was Fritz Lieb, Swiss professor and connoisseur of things Russian. Leaving his post at the University of Bonn because he could not endure Hitlerism, Lieb lived for several years in Clamart, partly because he sought personal contact with Berdyaev. The two men had met before, and durings Lieb’s stay in Clamart they saw a good deal of each other – to the great pleasure of both”.

4 Cf. St. Reichelt, Nikolaj A. Berdjaev in Deutschland 1920-1950 (An historical study on his reception); Leipzig 1999, pp.119.

5 This work was published as:  “Franz Baaders Jugendgeschichte. Die Fruehentwicklung eines Romantikers”, Munich 1926. F. Baader influenced Berdjajew also – especially in view of the ideas of J. Boehme.

6 In a letter of 2th of January 1928 to Lieb N. Berdjajew returns his thanks to his friend for this promotion of the book.

7 Bequest Lieb.

8 Cf.  E. Bryner, Berdjajew and Switzerland, in the journal: Stimme der Orthodoxie [Voice of Orthodoxy] (published in Germany), No. 3/1996 p. 47-49.

9 Cf. St. Reichelt, p. 127, foot-note 64.

Notes: Letter 1

10  The Berdjajew-family lived in Paris – after a short stay in a simple hotel in Paris – by the efforts of Prince Trubetzkoj in the house No. 2 of the rue Martial Grandchamps for four years. There they lived in three little furnished rooms in the ground-floor. “Then the house was sold and the family had to face the difficult housing problem again” (Lowrie, N. Berdjajew p. 170). But some weeks later they were able to buy the house 14 rue St. Cloud. There the family should stay from 1928 to 1936. At the end of 1936 the rent was raised, which the Berdjajews were not able to pay. Berdjajew “as usual in an catastrophic situation, was calm” (Lowrie p. 171). Florence West, an Englishwoman, said: “I wish you might have your own house; life in exile is so difficult” (Lowrie p. 171). Thus the Berdjajews were installed at 83 rue du Moulin de Pierre in Clamart – “and the home was established which has been, since ever, a place of pilgrimage for seekers of the truth from many lands and races” (Lowrie p. 171).

11  This book contains the doctoral thesis of F. Lieb:
Franz Baaders Fruehentwicklung. Erster Abschnitt. Jugendgeschichte bis 1792. Munich 1926.
As far as we know Berdjajew knew the works of E. Susini on Franz v. Baader (who gave his famous lectures on J. Boehme at the University of Munich in the 19th century). Susini published: “Franz von Baader and the mystical romanticism”, Paris 1942. Berdjajew wrote on the work of Susini: “This is the most perfect work written until now about the German thinker” (Existentielle Dialektik des Goettlichen und Menschlichen, Munich 1951, p. 28). In this work you can find still more references to Baader.

12 We can suppose, that the book probably is: Heinrich Bornkamm, Luther and Boehme, 1925. Berdjajew reviewed it together with other books on Boehme in: “Put” No. 5/1926, pp. 631-633. At this time – from 1925 to 1927- Berdjajew wrote his: Philosophie des freien Geistes (Freedom and the Spirit). It was published in Russia in 1927 and in Germany in 1930.

Notes: Letter 2

13 At 3rd of February 1928 Lieb wrote a letter to Berdjajew with references to Berdjajew’s book “Das Neue Mittelalter” (published in Russian 1924 and in German 1927; in English in 1933 as “The End of Our Time). Cf. to the reception of this book by Lieb: St. Reichelt, Nikolaj Berdjaev in Deutschland pp 120-122.

14  G. P. Fedotoff (1886-1951) gave lectures at St. Serge/Paris. In 1931-1940 he edited the journal “Novyi Grad”. Since 1943 he lived in USA, where he died. He was burried on the Russian cemetery of Saint-Geneviève-des-Bois.

15 We can assume, that Berdjajew received “Sein und Zeit” of Heidegger, published in 1927.

16  Berdjajew refers to the introduction by A. Baeumler to the book of J. J. Bachofen (1815-1857): “Der Mythos von Orient und Okzident. Eine Metaphysik der alten Welt”, 1926.  Paul Schuetz (1891-1985) established together with F. Lieb the journal “Orient und Occident” and was a member of their editorial staff until 1935 (no. 15 of “Orient und Occident”).

17 Berdjajew here refers to his article “Des Westens Anklage”, Zu Henri Massis, Défense de l’Occident, later published in: “Orient und Occident”, no. 4 (1930),  pp 6-12.

18  Cf. N. Berdjajew, N. F. Fjodoroff, in: Neue Schweizer Rundschau 21 (1928), pp 839-846.

Notes: Letter 3

19  G. G. Kullmann (1894-1961) was the Swiss YMCA-secretary. In 1936, Paul Tillich invited N. Berdjajew to a meeting of philosophers and theologians, that was to take place in the house of Kullmann. In a letter of 6th of August 1936, Tillich wrote to N. Berdjajew: “Sorry, but I didn’t meet you in Paris. Now I have a new proposal for you on instruction of Kullmanns: We’ll meet from 20th to 23th of August in the house of Kullmanns in Ciligny with you, Stepuns, Kullmanns, Wolfers, Schmidthauser, Schainer, Wischeslafzeff”. Cf to Kullmann: St. Reichelt, Berdjaev in Deutschland p. 120.

20  It was not possible to research the reasons or time period of this journey to Switzerland. According to D. Lowrie, Berdjajew visited a conference in Hungary and in 1927 he had been in Warsaw/Poland. From there Lydia received a letter, by which Berdjajew expressed his love to Russia and France with its great, aristocratic culture. The English he esteemed because of their aristocratic traditions and their love of freedom. Most of his contacts with England took place through the World’s Student Christian Federation.

Notes: Letter  6

21  Prince S. N. Trubetzkoj (1862-1905) since 1900 professor at the University of Moscow.  We can assume, that Berdjajew studied these books also as preparation for his later book “Von der Bestimmung des Menschen – Versuch einer paradoxen Ethik” (published in Russia 1931 and in Germany 1935, and in 1937 in English under the title,
“The Destiny of Man”).

22  Gustav Speth (1878-1940), Russian philosopher

23  G. Simmel, German philosopher (1858-1918)

24  Berdjajew wrote on Kullmann: “At P. Anderson [secretary of YMCA] I had a meeting with the Swiss G. G. Kullmann, who was then also secretary of YMCA, later active at the league of the nations. G. G. Kullmann astounded me and S[emjon] Frank by the similar conception of the experienced revolution, by the nearness of our opinions in many questions. He was a very cultured man. Later on many things were shared with him. The YMCA supported the foundation of the Russian Student’s Movement (this name is not correct, because this movement is not connected with students)”.
(N. Berdjajew in his autobiography: Selbsterkenntnis p. 278).
Many letters of G. G. Kullmann can be foundnd in the bequest Fritz Lieb (Basel/Switzerland). They are important for the research into this early development of the aforementioned Student Movement. To Kullmann cf. also D. Lowrie, p.234.

Notes: Letter  7

25   Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (1702-1782), a German theologian, who wrote books on J. Boehme: a) “Aufmunternde Gründe zur Lesung der Schriften Jakob Boehmes” and
b) “Versuch einer Aufloesung der 177 Fragen aus Jakob Boehme” (1777).

26   After Berdjajew’s initial re-settlement in Berlin from Russia there came together a group of young intellectual people almost regularly at the Russian philosopher to discuss religious and philosophical questions. To this group also belonged Igor Smolitsch and F. Pianoff. D. Lowrie gives an account: “One of the members of Berdyaev’s youthful following in Berlin was F. T. Pianoff, long a leader in the Russian Student Christian Movement. Matured beyond his youth by the bitterest last-ditch fighting against the bolsheviks in Moscow, he had left Russia in 1918. Pianoff acting for the North American YMCA, called shortly after Nicolai Alexandrowitch’s arrival from Russia. He was impressed by Berdyaev’s noble figure despite the very disorderly rooms of the cheap Berlin lodging. Berdyaev had never heard of the YMCA. From their first conversation Pianoff had the impression of a handsome, friendly, rather naive grown-up boy. Out of this first meeting grew a friendship lasting throughout Berdyaev’s life. Pianoff found that Berdyaev could be easely imposed upon unscrupulous people wishing to use him. But when Pianoff attended Berdyaev’s first lecture on what Russia had to give the world and what the west could offer them, he was deeply impressed both by the man’s brilliant mind and his spiritual power” (pp164). And Lowrie adds: “With Fedor Pianoff there was never a break from the earliest Berlin days to the end of Berdyaev’s life, and Berdyaev leaned on Pianoff for counsel and aid in many circumstances” (p. 209). The journal of this movement was “Vestnik RSChD” with a number of copies of 75 in 1925 and later on (1939) it was published with a number of copies of 5000. It represented “the more ‘popular ‘ and ‘democratic’ version of the major religious philosophical journal “Put” (cf. St. Reichelt, N. A. Berdaev in Deutschland p. 34).

27  The books of the German philosopher Richard Kroner (1884-1974), “Von Kant zu Hegel”, had been published in 1921 (Vol. I) and in 1924 (Vol. II) in Tuebingen, with now a new edition in 1977. Berdjajew in his philosophical works frequently refers to Kroner. At Kroner he found helpful and competent interpretations of the German idealism. R. Kroner had been professor of philosophy (1929-1934) at the university of Kiel and (1934-1935) at the university of Francfort. Cf. also: Walter Asmus, Richard Kroner (1884-1974), Francfort 1990.

28    Berdjajew refers to: Johannes Pordage, Sophia, Amsterdam 1699. Berdjajew was interested in Pordage with view to J. Boehme, whom he loved especially (cf. Selbsterkenntnis p. 200).

29   In the Bequest F. Lieb (Basel) can be found 36 letters, written by G. Florowskij to F. Lieb (Bequest F. Lieb, call number Aa 329, 1-37).

Notes: Letter  8

30  Cf. Boris Wyscheslazew, Tragische Theodizee, in: “Orient und Occident”, nr 1 (1929), pp 40-56. For Wyscheslawzew cf. also Lowrie p. 205. Wyscheslawzew (1879-1955) was exiled from Russia and initially lived in Berlin, later in Paris, taking part in the Ecumenical Movement. He gave lectures on moral theology at the St. Serge in Paris. Later on he ended his days in extreme poverty in Geneva. There he died from  pulmonary disease.

31  L. P. Karsawin gave lectures in the “Russian scientific institut” (established 1923) on “Russia and the West”.

32  F. Stepun (1884-1965) published the famous book “Mystische Weltschau”, Munich 1964. There he wrote a chapter on Berdjajew pp 92-200.

33  Hans Ehrenberg (1883-1958), professor of philosophy (University of Heidelberg) and later on pastor in Bochum/Germany. H. Ehrenberg visited N. Berdjajew 1922 in Berlin and 1924 in Paris. Cf. also the letter Ehrenberg’s to Berdjajew of 12th of September 1924, in: St. Reichelt, Nikolaj Berdjaev in Deutschland, p.118. Cf. to Ehrenberg: Günther Brakelmann, Hans Ehrenberg – Ein judenchristliches Schicksal in Deutschland, Vol.1, Waltrop/Germany 1997.

34 “Östliches Christentum. Dokumente”, Vol. I (politics) Munich 1923, Vol. II (theology), Munich 1925. The later volume contains Berdjajew’s “Anthropodizee” (pp 246-306).

Notes: Letter  9

35  The letter is written without (year)-date. A strange handwriting – not by Berdjajew himself – has completed “(1929)”. We can assume that the year – date is correct. At the top of the letter we find the remark: “Weiter an Paul Schütz und zurück an Lieb” [Forward to Paul Schütz and back to Lieb”].

36  Berdjajew here relates to the article of F. Lieb “Protestantismus und Orthodoxie für “Ost und West” [Orient and Occident] no. 1, Leipzig 1929, pp 1 – 11. This note “Protestantismus u. Orthodoxie f. “Ost u. West” in the letter is probably interpolated by Lieb. It’s the same handwriting as in the first remark.

37 In brackets: interpolation of F. Lieb.

38 Remark of F. Lieb at the bottom of the letter: “That is unclear, that’s out of the question”.

39 Remark of F. Lieb on the bottom of the letter — “Vgl. ursprüngliches Programm” [Cf. original programm].

40 In “Put” 1928,  no.14,  pp. 3-30.

41 We can assume that Berdjajew here refers to the book of Emil Brunner “Der Mittler” [The Mediator] (1927).

42 Cf to this subject the German translation by K./G.Bambauer (Edit.), “Wahrheit und Offenbarung” [Truth and Revelation], Waltrop/Germany 1998, pp. 94-109.

43 Lev Schestow, Russian philosopher (1866-1938), had left Russia in 1920 and then lived in Geneva and Paris. In Germany, Schestow had been a member of the Kant and Nietzsche Society and he was familiar with Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), whom he met 1928 at Amsterdam and also with Martin Buber (1878-1965).

44 According to Lowrie, Rebellious Prophet, Berdjajew several times had been in Vichy to undergo a course of treatment: 1929, 1930 and 1933.
But we also learn of his many financial difficulties. Cf. his of 1926 remarks: “I am delighted to return home, but a series of definite questions clouds my pleasure: about our apartment, about our finances. I do not feel any stability in our life, no firm base … And this is very hard, especially for a philosopher, helpless in life” (Lowrie, p. 183).
In 1933 he wrote to Lydia [his wife]: “My joy at returning home is poisoned by the thought that unpleasant business will begin at once. The dollar continues to fall. We shall have to cut a lot of our activities. This constant worry and struggle is wearying. I do not think I will have to work any more, but only more efficiently” (Lowrie, p. 183).

45 Probably Berdjajew refers to his book “L’esprit de Dostoievski”; Paris 1929 [In English published under title, “Dostoevsky”, 1934]. Cf. to this subject too: Olivier Clement, Berdiaev – Un philosophe russe en France, Paris 1991.

Notes: Letter  10

46 Because this article had been published in the first issue of “Orient and Occident”, which was announced in 1929, we can assume, that Berdjajew had written this letter at 27th of February 1929.

47 “Put” no. 5 (1926), pp 42-54.

48  “Put” no. 6 (1927), pp 50-68.

49 “Put” no. 7 (1927), pp 50-62.

50 Cf. N. Berdjajew: The crisis of Protestantism and the Russian Orthodoxy – a discussion with the dialectical theology, in: “Orient and Occident” no. 1 (1929),
pp. 11 -25.

Notes: Letter  11

51 “Put” no. 3, 1926,  pp 3-13.  This is on a postcard adressed to:
Herrn Priv.-Doz. Fritz Lieb, Suisse – Basel, Grenzacherstrasse 120.
[This Put’ article was translated into English as “The Bourgeois Mind”, and used as the 1st chapter in the book of the same name, published in 1934].

Notes: Letter  12

52 The article was published in Journal  “Orient und Occident”( “East and West”) no. 1, 1929,  pp 11-25,  under title:  “Die Krisis des Protestantismus und die Russische Orthodoxie”.

Notes: Letter  13

53  Reinhold von Walter (1882-1965), born the son of the German Protestant pastor Wilhelm Walter and of a Danish mother, after his studies, worked at the universities of Erlangen, Dorpat and Munich in Berlin and Cologne. At the university of Köln/Germany he worked as a lecturer of Russian language. From 1926-1949 he translated many classical writers of Russian literature. In 1927 he translated from Russian into German the book of N. Berdjajew “Der Sinn des Schaffens. Versuch einer Rechtfertigung des Menschen” [“The Meaning of the Creative Act”, London/New York 1955]. In the beginning the cooperation between author, publishing house and translator was satisfactory. Therefore Berdjajew recommended Reinhold von Walter to F. Lieb for “East and West”. But during the translation of “Philosophie des freien Geistes” [“Freedom and the Spirit”, London/New York 1935], which was published in Tübingen/German in 1930, there had been many delays. This is why Berdjajew chose another translator for the further books. Later on, Evsej D. Schor became translator of the Berdjajew-books. After Berdjajew’s death in 1948, Reinhold von Walter translated from Russian into German “Von des Menschen Knechtschaft und Freiheit” still only in 1954 [originally published in Russian and English in 1939 under English title “Slavery and Freedom”]. Cf. to this subject: St. Reichelt, Nikolaj A. Berdjaev in Deutschland 1920-1950, Leipzig 1999, pp. 63-68 (theol. Diss.).

Notes: Letter  14

54  Cf. to this subject the article of E. Bryner: “Berdjajew und die Schweiz”, in the joumal: Voice of Orthodoxy no. 3, 1996,  pp 47-49. Here we will cite Bryner for once in his original text: “In seiner Analyse geht Berdjajew zur Hauptsache von Emil Brunners Werk “Der Mittler” (1927) und von Karl Barths Dogmatik aus, gemeint ist die 1927 erschienene “Christliche Dogmatik im Entwurf. Band 1: Die Lehre vom Wort Gottes”, der erste Band der “Kirchlichen Dogmatik” erschien erst 1932. Der Russe nennt ferner den Deutschen Friedrich Gogarten und den Schweizer Eduard Thurneysen, dessen Dostojewsky-Interpretation er, einer der tiefgründigsten Dostojewsky-Kenner, übrigens nicht teilen kann. Barth und Brunner attestiert Berdjajew ein bemerkenswertes religiöses Temperament. Er rechnet ihnen hoch an, dass sie leidenschaftlich gegen die liberale protestantische Theologie des 19. Jhdts., gegen Idealismus, Romantik, Kulturprotestantismus und humanistisch-aufklärerischen Optimismus kämpfen und in einer neuen Radikalität zurück zu den reinen Quellen der Offenbarung gehen” (p. 48). See also: St. Reichelt, Nikolaj A. Berdjaev in Deutschland 1920-1950,  Leipzig 1999,  pp. 111-132.

Notes: Letter  15

55 Cf. Otto Fricke, Das Schriftprinzip im Protestantismus, in “East and West” no. 1, 1929, pp 26-40.

56 This book of F. S. Bulgakow was published Moscow 1917.

57 Here Berdjajew refers to [German title]: J. J. Bachofen, “Der Mythos von Orient und Occident. Eine Metaphysik der alten Welt.” Aus den Werken von J. J. Bachofen mit einer Einleitung von Alfred Baeumler, hg. von Manfred Schröter, Munich 1926.

58 N. Berdjajew, “Philosophie des freien Geistes”, Tübingen 1930 [“Freedom and the Spirit”, London 1935].

59 Cf. F. Lieb, “Christentum und Marxismus”, in the joumal “Zwischen den Zeiten” [„Between times“] 1929, pp 367-387.

Notes: Letter  16

60 “East and West” [“Orient and Occident”] no. 3 (1930), pp 22-46.

Notes: Letter  17

61 Fritz Lieb had been an (unsalaried) university lecturer since 1930, and then until 1933 he was a professor of the university of Bonn/Germany. In his article “Geschichte und Lehre der Ostkirche” (1960) [“History and teaching of the Eastern Church”],  F. Lieb wrote: “I had begun my teaching as university lecturer in Basel [Switzerland] with lectures on general history of theology and dogmatics. Then (1930) I received a call to Bonn where I was engaged especially in theology of the Eastern Church and the intellectual history of Russia”. (F. Lieb, Sophia und Historie,  Zürich 1962,  p. 16).

62 G. G. Kullmann, “Wo steht Gott in Rußland?” [“Where is God in Russia?”],  in: “East and West”, no. 4 (1930).

63 Cf. V. Iljin, “Was ist Sobornost’?” [“What is Sobornost’?”],  in: “East and West”,  no. 13, 1933,  pp 1-9.  Cf. also: H. J. Ruppert, “Das Prinzip der Sobomost’ in der russischen Orthodoxie”,  in: Kirche im Osten,  Bd. 16 (1973), S. 22-56.  [“The Principle of Sobornost’ in Russian Orthodoxy”, in the German Journal: Church in the East, Vol. 16 (1973), S. 22-56, with a very important bit of ecumenical literature on this subject].

64 N. Berdjajew, Die Philosophie des freien Geistes, Tübingen 1930.

65 At the time, F. Lieb resided at Bonn, Buschstrasse 28.

Notes: Letter  18

66 Cf. 1. Lagovsky, Kollektivierung und Religion, in: “East and West”, no. 11, 1932,  pp 24-42.

67 See also the remarks of Lowrie, in the “Rebellious Prophet” biography:  “He [Berdjajew] practically never had any money in his pocket. He would come into the YMCA office, and at the close of a committee meeting remark quietly with his appealing smile: “Donald Ivanovich, I need money”. And one always found a reason to make an “advance” on some project or other” (p. 185).

68 Berdjajew published, for example,  in the German “Blätter für Deutsche Philosophie”,  no. 3, 1932, the article “Jakob Böhmes Lehre vom Ungrund und Freiheit” (pp 315-336).

Notes: Letter  19

69 Cf. N. Berdjajew, “Der religiöse Sinn des Bolschewismus”, in no. 9 of  “East and West”, 1932,  pp 2-8.

Notes: Letter  20

70 Cf. Put’ No. 38 (1932) pp. 17-43.

71 F. Lieb had arranged for the acquaintance of Berdjajew with Lutz from the Gotthelf-publishing house/Bern (Switzerland). This publishing house edited Berdjajew’s “Destiny of Man” in 1935.

72 Perhaps it refers to the publications of B. Wyscheslawzeff: “The Heart in Christian and Indian Mysticism”, Paris 1929 or “Ethics of the Transformed Eros”, Paris 1931 (part one).

73 Cf. D. A. Lowrie,  Life of Nicolai Berdyaev, London 1960, pp. 54.

74 Information of the Basel University Library from 5.3.1998: “The rest of the letter is missing” (in the bequest of F. Lieb).

Notes: Letter  21

75 Berdjajew refers to Reinhold von Walter (1882-1962), lyric poet and translator. v. Walter translated in 1927 “The meaning of the Creative Act” and in 1930 “Freedom and the Spirit”. During the cooperation between author, publisher and translator a strong delay arose at the translation of the second book, so that the publisher Oskar Siebeck (from the publishing house in Tübingen/Germany) asked Berdjajew to remind the dilatory R. v. Walter. Meanwhile Berdjajew reconsidered giving the untranslated parts of the book to an other translator. In the letter of 12th of March 1930, Siebeck related, that he asked the German philosopher Peter Wust/Cologne, who was familiar with Berdjajew, to move v. Walter to send on the not yet arrived parts of “Freedom and the Spirit”. After the death of Berdjajew, v. Walter again translated two books of Berdjajew (publishing house Holle/Darmstadt): “Dream and Reality, An Essay in Autobiography” (1953) and “Slavery and Freedom” (1954). Cf. Stefan G. Reichelt, Nikolaj A. Berdjaev in Deutschland 1920-1950, Leipzig 1999, pp. 63-68.

76 Hans Ruoff translated L. Schestow, N. Berdjajew.  Gnosis und Existenzphilosophie, in: Spekulation und Offenbarung. Essays und kritische Betrachtungen (1963).

77  In the publishing house O. Reichl, Darmstadt/Germany, were announced: N. Berdjajew “The Meaning of History” (1925) and “The End of our Time” (1927). And in this same O. Reichl-publishing house appeared in 1927 the only book of S. Bulgakow in German “Die Tragödie der Philosophie” (“The Tragedy of Philosophy”).

78 Cf. N. Berdjajew, Konstantin Leontjew, 1926 (in russian). See also: F. Lieb, Konstantin Leontjew. “The Prophet of Rage without Hope”, in: Sophia and History, Zürich 1962,  pp. 114-144.

79 The Journal “Orient and Occident” appeared since no. 8 (1932) with inclusion of Erwin Reisner. Because of this notion we can assume, that this letter was written in 1931.

80 Paul Schütz (1891-1985), Protestant theologian and parson. Together with Schütz N. Berdjajew and F. Lieb he had founded and published in 1929 the Journal “Orient and Occident” until no. 15 (1934) when P. Schütz removed. In Germany the journal was prohibited in 1934 and since 1934 (no. 16) F. Lieb was the only editor. Then he published the journal (no. 1-3, 1936) in the Gotthelf-publishing house Bern (Switzerland). F. Lieb temporary translated Berdjajew’s articles for the journal.
Cf. also: Stefan G. Reichelt, Nikolaj A. Berdjaev in Deutschland 1920-1950, Leipzig 1999, p.121.

81 With the Eurasian question the no. 17 of “Orient and Occident” (1934) was preoccupied. There also we can find a paper of P. Savitzky “The Geographical and Geopolitical Foundations of the Eurasian Question” (pp. 13-19). In the list of contents of “Orient and Occident” no. 16 (1934) are announced further articles about the “Eurasian Question” from Alexejew, Savitzky, Jakobson and Berdjajew.

82 Cf. Georgij Florovskij, “The Crisis of German Idealism, in:  “Orient and Occident” no. 11 (1932) pp. 1-8, and no. 12 (1932), pp. 2-12.

83 Berdjajew here asks F. Lieb to get the book of M. Scheler: “Problems of the Sociology of Knowledge, of Cognition and of Labour” (1926).

Notes: Letter  22

84 Evsej D. Schor (1891-1974), philosopher, translator and musician. Schor was born in Moscow as son of the pianist David Schor (1867-1942). After philosophical studies in Freiburg/Germany with E. Husserl and G. Simmel he moved in 1935 to Israel where he lived in Jerusalem until his death in 1974. From the 1920’s he was in familiar and literary contact with N. Berdjajew. The first translated title by Schor was: “The Truth and Falsehood of Communism” [Original title: “Russian Religious Psychology and Communistic Atheism”] (from Put’ no. 30 (1931), pp. 3-34, later published in the book: “Wahrheit und Lüge des Kommunismus”, Luzern/Switzerland 1934. The article was published also in the first number of the French social-religious journal Esprit (Cf. Lowrie, A life of Nikolai Berdyaev, London 1960, p. 200). Then Schor translated N. Berdjajew, “Die geistige Situation in der modernen Welt” [“The Intellectual Situation of the Contemporary World”], published in: “Tatwelt” 8 (1932), pp. 173-188. In 1932 Berdjajew delegated to E. D. Schor the rights of translation of his works,so as to be not longer dependent upon R. v. Walter. Schor now got a major work to translate into German: “Destiny of Man” (Bern 1935). There would follow: “Von der Würde des Christentums und der Unwürde der Christen”, Luzern 1936 (“The Worth of Christianity and the Unworthiness of Christians”, in: “The Bourgeois Mind and Other Essays”, London 1934.). Cf. Stefan G. Reichelt, Nikolaj Berdjaev in Deutschland 1920-1950, Leipzig 1999, pp. 170-184.

85 In this letter Berdjajew refers to Frank’s book, “The Unfathomable“ (English title: “The Unknowable”, transl. by Boris Jakim, Athens 1983. German translation: “Das Unergründliche”, edit. A. Haardt, Munich 1995). From the letter of S. Frank to F. Lieb (27th of February 1934) we hear, that Frank wrote of Berdjajew in general being already involved in this: “I appealed immediately to Berdjajew and he wrote me that this matter is in your hands. I would ask you for friendly intercession at Gotthelf publishing house/Bern that publishes the “Series of Religious Russians”. (Source: Bequest F. Lieb, Basel University Library, Collection of letters of S. Frank to F. Lieb, no. Aa 333, 26).

Notes: Letter  23

86 Cf. “The religious meaning of Bolshevism”, in: “Orient and Occident” no. 9 (1932), pp. 2-8.

Notes: Letter  24

87 This lecture was published in “Tatwelt” 8 (1932), pp. 173-188 (cf. letter 22).

Notes: Letter  25

88 Because the dollar-crash took place in 1932 we can assume that this letter was written in this year.

89 This could refer either to “Solitude and Society” (Russian edition: Paris 1934, London 1938) or to “The Fate of Man in the Modern World” (Russian edition: Paris 1934, London 1935).

Notes: Letter  26

90 In the German Journal “Hochland” Berdjajew published “Die Psychologie der Russischen Gottlosigkeit” No. 29 (1932), pp.193-206. (“Russian religious psychology and communistic atheism” in: “The Russian Revolution, Two Essays on its Implications in Religion and psychology“, London 1931).

91 In the Reichl publishing house Berdjajew edited “The Meaning of History” (1925) and “The End of our Time” (1927).

92 Cf. Paul L. Landsberg, “Einführung in die philosophische Anthropologie”, Frankfurt, 1934 („Introduction in the Philosophical Anthropology“). Cf. also E. Zwierlein, “Die Idee einer philosophischen Anthropologie bei Paul Ludwig Landsberg”, Würzburg 1989: “From Spain Landsberg moved to France where he already was active in the „Groupe philosophique“ around N. Berdjajew, G. Marcel, J. Wahl and G. Gurvich by lectures and discussions since 1934, he supported competently the journal „Esprit“ and the personalistic movement” (p. 18).

93 Cf. Martin Thust, “Sören Kierkegaard, Poet of the Religious. Foundations of a System of Subjectivity”, Munich 1931.

94 That Berdjajew intended to visit F. Lieb in Bonn shows that Lieb at that time still lived in Bonn. Soon he should settle in Paris (1934-37).

Notes: Letter  27

95 This book was published in Paris in Russian in 1939 and in Germany in 1954. Therefore we can assume the year-date of this letter for 1939. Also the article in “Put” was published 1939.

96 Cf. „Is There Freedom of Thought and Conscience in Orthodoxy?” in: „Put“ 59 (1939), pp. 46-54. Cf. also: D. A. Lowrie, A life of Nikolai Berdyaev, London 1960, who states further: “Friends of both Berdyaev and “Put” begged him not to publish this article. They warned him it would cause withdrawal of most of the magazine’s regular contributors. Berdyaev was adamant. The journal never recovered from the loss of so many authors” (p. 296, note 7).

Notes: Letter  28

97 Cf. D. A. Lowrie, The Life of Nikolai Berdyaev, London 1960:  “When Lydia, on her deathbed, cried out with pain that could not be assuaged, Berdyaev would leave the house, hands over his ears. He could not passively endure the suffering of others” (pp.182).

98 Berdjajew here refers to the book of F. Lieb “Russland unterwegs. Der russische Mensch zwischen Christentum und Kommunismus”, Bern 1945 pp. 474. [“Russia on the Way. The Russian People between Christianity and Communism“]. F. Lieb gave his first inaugural lecture as professor at the University of Bonn/Germany on the theme: “The Position of the Russian-Orthodox church towards the Revolutionary Government” (published in: Theologische Blätter 1931, no. 4, pp. 90-98.

99 The book was published in Paris 1946 (in Russian) and in English London, 1947. The German issue was published 1983, St. Augustin, translated by Dietrich Kegler.

100 The Vita Nova publishing house edited following books of N. Berdjajew. 1. The Fate of Man in the Modern World, Luzern 1935; 2. Christianity and Class War, Luzern 1936; 3. The Worth of Christianity and the Unworthiness of Christians, Luzern 1936. 4. The Origin of Russian Communism, Luzern 1937.