The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig was a staunch cosmopolitan who, after the catastrophe of World War I, campaigned for peaceful cooperation between the peoples of Europe. He considered the biography of Erasmus of Rotterdam, a definite enemy of every kind of fanaticism, to be exemplary. In his novel “Triumph und Tragik des Erasmus von Rotterdam” (1934) he portrayed him as an antithesis to Luther, whose religious radicalism combined with nationalistic tendencies he detested. Zweig contrasted the cosmopolitan humanism of Erasmus with the German Reformation of Luther. Under the impression of the political seizure of power by the National Socialists, which forced him to emigrate, Zweig's interest in the history of the Reformation in Europe grew. After “Maria Stuart” (1935) he saw in his novel “Castellio against Calvin” (1936) in Castellio an heir to Erasmus, who defended human freedom of conscience against the repressive theocratic Geneva regime. For Zweig, Calvin became a tyrant who in many ways resembled Hitler.
Keywords Cosmopolitism  Freedom of Conscience  Gewissensfreiheit  Humanism  Humanismus  Kosmopolitismus  National Socialism  Nationalsozialismus  Reformation
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DOI 10.1515/nzsth-2019-0015
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