Stefan Zweig's suicide note posted online

By Jennifer Lipman, February 23, 2012

The suicide note of an influential Jewish writer has been published online in Israel 70 years after his death.

Stefan Zweig, author of dozens of books, plays and short stories including The Post Office Girl and Beware of Pity, was a well-known literary figure in his day.

Born in Vienna in 1881, he escaped from the shadow of the Nazis in the 1934 and went on to live in Britain, the US and Brazil. But in 1942, while in South America, he and his second wife committed suicide.

To mark seven decades since he killed himself, his last letter has been posted on the website of the National Library of Israel, along with other artefacts. Before his death Mr Zweig donated many personal documents to the library.

The author's disaffection with the world is visible in the letter, in which he wrote of how his spiritual homeland, Europe, had "destroyed itself".

"The world of my own language sank and was lost to me," he wrote in German.

"To start everything anew after a man's 60th year requires special powers, and my own power has been expended after years of wandering homeless.

"I thus prefer to end my life at the right time, upright, as a man for whom cultural work has always been his purest happiness and personal freedom – the most precious of possessions on this earth."

Last updated: 2:05pm, February 23 2012