Tintenterror: Joseph Roth’s Analysis of Documenting and Policing Individuals 1919-1939
Bangor, Kaleigh J.
After the end of the First World War, the Russian, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and German empires rapidly collapsed along with the legitimacy of their governmental and social structures. The same institutions that served to stabilize society became the subject of open contention. Among the dissenting voices was the novelist, Joseph Roth. While Roth is well known for his novels Hiob (1930) and Radetzkymarsch (1932), he also wrote for various newspapers ranging from the left-liberal Berliner Börsen-Courier and the weekly satirical Der Drache to the central SPD organ, Vorwärts, and the democratic Frankfurter Zeitung. In these prestigious newspapers, Roth consistently published essays, short and long, which provide a deep understanding of state limitations to individual freedoms in real time. While continuously traversing Europe after the war, Roth experienced the attempts to document and police individuals in various countries. Born in a Shtetl outside of Lemberg, Roth focused on how these bureaucratic and policing measures impacted marginalized communities, especially refugees, Jews, and ethnic minorities. This study traces Roth’s criticism of the increases in bureaucracy and policing he witnessed in Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Russia, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Italy from 1919 to his death in 1939. It adds to the literary analysis of Roth’s oeuvre by investigating his entire journalistic work to give a comprehensive view of Roth’s critical foresight regarding bureaucratic and police officials as potential totalitarian elements of state government.