When I reach the letter S at my bookshelves I find a number of books by and on Albert Schweitzer. In days gone by Schweitzer was a famous man. He was a famous theologian and philosopher, he was an expert on the composer Johann Sebastian Bach and he played Bach, and he was a medical doctor in what is nowadays Gabon.

In this book one of his younger relatives (a daughter of an elder sister) has written down her memories of her favourite uncle Bery.

In the first part of this book Oswald writes about the familytree of the Schweitzers and the inlaws. His father was a pastor in the Günsbach (Elzas, nowadays France, but then Germany). And Albert always kept a good relation with Günsbach. On Good Friday 1913 Albert and his wife leave for Africa.

In the second part of the book Oswald refers to the Guestbook that was kept in the vicarage and that she inherited. So we find out what kind of people came to the vicarage. We learn about the visits the familymembers brought. The famous french philosopher Jean Paul Sartre was related to Schweitzer. Both Albert and his wife Helene Breslau were of the opinion that they did not go to Africa to do good deeds, but to do penance.

In the third part of the book we find letters from the correspondence between Albert and Suzanne. She received the first letter from her uncle Bery in december 1898 from Berlin. In 1917 Schweitzer is interned in France due to the Great War. The next year he is back in Günsbach. In 1919 daughter Rhena is born in Strassburg. In the letters we notice that Schweitzer is very careful about adjustements to his work and in the community at Lambarene. In 1953 he received the Nobel Prize for Peace.

In the fourth part Suzanne Oswald visits Lambarene. Schweitzer is of the opinion that what is reasonable can be achieved by the simplest means. And that is shown in the work.

In the last part of the book we encounter Schweitzer in the last periode of his life. He fights against the atombomb. In 1957 his wife dies in Zürich. His daughter has joined her father and she takes over the general leadership of the hospital after his death.

We encounter in this book a man who is held in high regard, not only by Suzanne, but by everyone he meets. The book is very short on his theological achievements, but maybe that is due to his unorthodox ideas about Jesus Christ.

Suzanne Oswald – Mein Onkel Bery. Erinnerungen an Albert Schweitzer – 1971

mein onkel bery

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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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