Miriam Davenport erinnert sich an Mehrings Flucht aus Frankreich

Die amerikanische Bildhauerin Miriam Davenport (1915 – 1999) erlebte die 1940 die Besetzung Frankreichs durch deutsche Truppen in Paris. SIe floh wie viele andere Künstler in den Süden. In Toulouse wurde ihr Walter Mehring vorgestellt, den sie schon mehrfach in ihrem Pariser Hotel gesehen hatte:

„One day, when Wolff and I were walking in the Place du Capitole, I recognized a sharp-faced little man coming towards Wolff with a broad smile and outstretched hand. I had known him on a „Bonjour, Monsieur“ basis in my hotel in Paris where he usually carried a bottle of wine in a paper bag under one arm. Wolff greeted him warmly and introduced him to me as Monsieur Mehring. The latter said, „Oh, but we have already met in Paris.“ When Monsieur Mehring had gone on his way, Wolff asked me if I really knew who he was. „No, not really.” I learned, then, that Walter Mehring was one of Germany’s most famous young poets, that he had written popular anti-Nazi songs, and that he was very high on the Nazi’s list of wanted men.“

Später machte sie sich mit dem Zug auf nach Marseille, das überfüllt war von deutschen Flüchtlingen, demobilisierten Soldaten und französischen Flüchtlingen. Dort traf sie wieder auf Walter Mehring:

„After a long night on a crowded train, I finally arrived in Marseilles to face the usual problems. The city was jammed with refugees from the north waiting to return, demobilized soldiers awaiting transport home, and crowds of foreigners who could not go home then or, perhaps, ever. There were few taxis and the trams were packed full. After a frantic, day-long search, I found a modest hotel room that I could ill afford; I was down to my last $125.00. After registering, I went back down into the street where I found Walter Mehring standing on the sidewalk looking like a little tramp. He greeted me with obvious pleasure and asked if I had found a room. When I said that I just now had, he asked if he might share it with me for the night; he had not slept in a bed for days. To this day I feel guilty for having refused him.“

Miriam Davenport engagierte sich in der Folge beim Emergency Rescue Committee und bei anderen Flüchtlings-Hilfsorganisationen. Er war es auch, der ihr Variab Fry vorstellte, der Visa und Geld hatte und besorgte, um im Auftrag des American Resue Committee jüdischen Intellektuellen die Flucht in die USA zu ermöglichen:

„We were again at the Café Pelikan one afternoon when Mehring, very excited and furtive-looking, came to our table to speak to me privately. I excused myself and followed him a few paces. He then told me that the man we had all been dreaming about was real and had arrived in Marseilles. This American savior was in the Hôtel Splendide, had money, access to visas, and a list of people he was supposed to rescue. His name was Varian Fry and Mehring had seen him that very day. However, on leaving Fry’s room he had been picked up by the police and held for three hours for questioning. He had only now been released. Tomorrow he was supposed to return for another appointment but he was afraid to go back. Would I go, now, and ask for a new appointment in some out-of-the-way café? I should explain his fear of a second arrest.“

Die Fortsetzung der Fluchtgeschichte aus Sicht der amerikanischen Bildhauerin findet sich auf www.varianfry.org

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