17th February 1942, evening
The birthplaces of great men.
It’s my view that, simply for the sake of their beauty, the great noblemen’s estates should be preserved. But they must retain their size, otherwise only the State would be capable of maintaining them as private country-houses. And the ideal thing is that they should remain not only in private hands, but also in the family that has traditionally lived in them—else they lose their character. Thus these great monuments of the past, which have retained their character as living organisms, are also centres of culture. But when the country-house is occupied by a caretaker acting as a guide, a little State official with a Bavarian or Saxon accent, who ingenuously recites his unvarying piece of claptrap, things no longer have a soul—the soul is gone.
Wahnfried, as in Wagner’s lifetime, is a lived-in house. It still has all its brilliance, and continues to give the effect of a lover. Goethe’s house gives the impression of a dead thing.
And how one understands that in the room where he died he should have asked for light—always more light! Schiller’s house can still move one by the picture it gives of the penury in which the poet lived.