First Advisor

H. Frederick Peters

Term of Graduation

Spring 1968

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German


Foreign Languages




Albrecht Haushofer (1903-1945). Moabiter Sonette



Physical Description

1 online resource (113 pages)


Albrecht Haushofer wrote the Moabiter Sonette while confined in a Nazi prison in Berlin during the last months of World War II. His arrest resulted from his indirect involvement in the resistance movement which culminated with the July 20, 1944 attempt on Hitler’s life.

From 1933 to his arrest Haushofer was directly and indirectly involved in work aimed at overthrowing Hitler’s regime and forming a new government. Through his father’s friend, Rudolf Heß, Haushofer was ‘inofficially’ appointed in 1933 to the Foreign Office under Ribbentrop. His effect on German government policies was however nil. In 1937 he left the Foreign Office and devoted himself to his professorial duties at the University of Berlin. His activities with the resistance movement under the leadership of Johannes Popitz began during these years. The failure of the July, 1944 coup led to the immediate arrest of all those who were in the least suspected. Haushofer fled to Bavaria where he successfully avoided detection and arrest until early December, 1944. He was murdered on April 23, 1945, by the Nazis.

To a keen observer like Albrecht Haushofer the fact that Germany was doomed was a foregone conclusion and with his arrest he also realized that the chances of the own survival were slim. Alone in his prison cell he reflected on his life, his family and friends, his travels and his homeland. He brought these reflections to poetic expression in the Moabiter Sonette. They represent a poetic monologue, a poetic diary whose entries recall a variety of personal experience, memories and ideas.

For the purpose of this investigation, the sonnets are divided into categories. In one category the sonnets reflect memories of family, friends, of homeland and far-reaching travels. His deeply felt despair over the total destruction of Germany, her lands as well as her tradition, constitutes a second category. Sonnets referring to his fellow prisoners as well as to those countless innocent people who suffered under the tyrannical, destructive hands of the Nazi regime are also included in the second grouping. His passionate longing for freedom forms yet another group. But most important of all are those sonnets which demonstrate the poet’s fundamental personal evolution, in which he comes to a new and deeper understanding of himself, and an eventual surmounting of his fears of death. From a point of suicide he rises, despite recurring despair, to a newly discovered inner peace and contentment in the face of certain death. It is this 'becoming' which speaks most loudly and most clearly out of the lines of the Moabiter Sonette.

This thesis traces the historical events which lead up to Haushofer's arrest and develops through the sonnets as well as Haushofer's dramatic works, his 'Weltanschauung.' With this basic background the sonnets are interpreted from a 'biographical' standpoint. Apart from this historical, philosophical and biographical interpretation, the sonnets are investigated in regard to poetic form. A discussion is undertaken in order to ascertain why the poet chose the sonnet form as a means of expression. A comparison is made with earlier unpublished lyrical works in an attempt to underscore the sonnets from a standpoint of form and content and to trace Haushofer's development as a poet. The final chapters of the thesis discuss Haushofer as a political poet and summarize my own thoughts and the thoughts of numerous critics regarding the worth of the sonnets as poetry and as a document of the so oft forgotten spirit which moved men like Haushofer to risk their lives for the belief that justice and freedom could and should prevail.


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