intellect, familiar with all the sciences bearing on his subject; and although his conclusions may not be universally accepted, there is no doubt that his contributions to geographical science are of the highest value. He made many friends in England. He had a singularly attractive and lovable personality, sympathetic nature, a warm but perhaps too tender heart, and a wide knowledge in literature, science and art.
Reminiscences of Peter Kropotkin
By Dr. Frank Oppenheimer, Author:
"The State"; Formerly Professor
of Berlin University
It was in the year 1910 when I met Peter Kropotkin, person to person. I had made a trip to Scotland, following the invitation of a group of Zionists who wanted to settle in Palestine; and indeed these people became the neighbors of my first settlement there. Merchawjah, "God's Wide Open Spaces," the first foothold of the movement in the Plain of Jezreel which is now completely occupied by Jews. I had written to Kropotkin that I would pay him a visit and thereupon had received his invitation to be his guest at Brighton, where he was staying for his health.
For a long time we had been corresponding about the problems of our branch of science. So far back date the beginnings of this pleasant relationship that I cannot even remember by what it had been started. The man who made us acquainted must have been either my great friend, Frederick van Eden, poet of "Little John," or another dear friend of mine, Gustav Landauer, the ardent humanitarian, who was murdered in a bestial fashion by the forerunners of the Nazis, the Korpsstudents, during their quelling of the Communistic Revolution in Munich. They literally trampled his heart out of his body. Both of them were close to Kropotkin in their economic-political conception, being Communistic Anarchists and opponents of the Marxian State Capitalism. Landauer had translated Kropotkin's immortal "Mutual Aid Among Men and Animals" into German, the most potent weapon ever wrought against the stupid "Social Darwinism," which is working itself not so gruesomely today.
Unfortunately I had to leave my files in Germany, when, almost 75 years old, I was forced to leave; and that happened almost four years ago. For that reason I am not in a position to aid my memory by looking up the old letters. But I remember very clearly that he wrote me in the German language which he must have mastered once upon a time but which, during his long exile in England, had grown somewhat "rusty." We both found very amusing a "Lapsus Calami" which occurred in one of his letters. He had read my "State" with great approval and gave me some material about parallel developments in Russia. The peasants, he wrote, "bekamen Shlaven," which, of course, was the exact opposite of what he wanted to say; naturally, I understood that he had meant to say "they became slaves," which, translated into German, was "sie wurden Sklaven." "Sie bekamen Sklaven," which he had written, means, in the German language, "they acquired slaves."
Our relationship was that of two seekers after truth who, by principle, were determined to put under the microscope any, no matter how famous, theory and to attack it regardless of hurt feelings, if the substituting proofs would not hold water. I was inspired by the deep respect which is due to the great scientist. I am a layman in the realm of Geophysics, but I know that at least one great authority in this science (was it Professor Richthoten?) had acknowledged Kropotkin as the genius who first had solved the riddle of the formation of the mountain ranges on the continent of Asia.
As to my own science, Political Economy and Sociology, I can say that Kropotkin has judged with approval my endeavors to solve the social problem.
We could not agree all the way. He was and remained an Anarchist, while I, for good reasons, had returned to the liberalism of Adam Smith, Payne, Jefferson, etc. which is entirely different from the so-called "liberalism" of the capitalistic apologizers and advocates. The difference lies in the conception of the State. The Anarchist is convinced that each order of society held up by legalized force is bad, objectionable, and therefore must be abolished and should be succeeded by the