All the world’s a barrel organ

From Wikipedia’s entry for Reinhard Heydrich, president of the forerunner of Interpol and architect of the Holocaust:

On 2 June, during a visit with Himmler, Heydrich reconciled himself with his fate by reciting a part of one of his father’s operas:

“The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself. We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum.”[16]

Predestination within the context of a cyclical philosophy of history suggests he had strayed far from the conventional Catholicism of his parents, and moreover that he failed to appreciate the remarkable advances in barrel organ manufacture, many German in origin. Beware metaphors based on dead technology.

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  1. Funny it’s only on the English version. I find it everywhere as ‘Die Welt ist nur ein Leierkasten’ etc.

  2. That would make more sense. He was an excellent violinist and will have been aware of the association of the hurdy-gurdy with Death, eg Müller Der Leiermann:

    Drüben hinterm Dorfe
    Steht ein Leiermann
    Und mit starren Fingern
    Dreht er, was er kann.

    Barfuß auf dem Eise
    [Schwankt]1 er hin und her
    Und sein kleiner Teller
    Bleibt ihm immer leer.

    Keiner mag ihn hören,
    Keiner sieht ihn an,
    Und die Hunde [brummen]2
    Um den alten Mann.

    Und er läßt es gehen
    Alles, wie es will,
    Dreht und seine Leier
    Steht ihm nimmer still.

    Wunderlicher Alter,
    Soll ich mit dir geh’n?
    Willst zu meinen Liedern
    Deine Leier dreh’n?

    I wonder if behind this quote lies a bizarre, macabre analogy of mechanisation and optimisation: his violin is to the hurdy-gurdy as his homicidal instinct is to the Nazi death factories.

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