"(Brazil:) I've never beheld such a paradise. The people are enchanting and--a mercy on this earth of ours--this is the only place where there isn't any race question. Negroes and whites and Indians, three-quarters, oneeighth, the wonderful Mulatto and Creole women, Jews and Christians, all dwell together in a peace that passes describing. The Jewish immigrants are in seventh heaven; all of them have jobs and feel at home."
"As one who knows many things, the humanist loves the world precisely because of its manifold nature and the opposing forces in it do not frighten him. Nothing is further from him than the desire to resolve such conflicts ... and this is precisely the mark of the humanist spirit: not to evaluate contrasts as hostility but to seek human unity, that superior unity, for all that appears irreconcilable."
"Only ambition is fired by the coincidences of success and easy accomplishment but nothing is quite as splendidly uplifting to the heart as the defeat of a human being who battles against the invincible superiority of fate. This is always the most grandiose of all tragedies, one sometimes created by a dramatist but created thousands of times by life."
"Each of us, even the lowliest and most insignificant among us, was uprooted from his innermost existence by the almost constant volcanic upheavals visited upon our European soil and, as one of countless human beings, I can't claim any special place for myself except that, as an Austrian, a Jew, writer, humanist and pacifist, I have always been precisely in those places where the effects of the thrusts were most violent."
"Against my will, I became a witness to the most terrible defeat of reason and to the most savage triumph of brutality ever chronicled ... never before did a generation suffer such a moral setback after it had attained such intellectual heights."
"But in the intellectual world, there is room for all opposing forces: even that which never appears victorious in the real world continues to be effective as a dynamic force (in the intellectual world) and precisely the unfulfilled ideals prove to be the most invincible."
"Erasmus was the light of his century; others were its strength: he lighted the way; others knew how to walk on it while he himself remained in the shadow as the source of light always does. But he who points the way into a new era is no less worthy of veneration than he who is the first to enter it; those who work invisibly have also accomplished a feat."
"Every epoch which seeks renewal first projects its ideal into a human form. In order to comprehend its own essence tangibly, the spirit of the time chooses a human being as its prototype and raising this single individual, often one upon whom it has chanced to come, far beyond his measure, the spirit enthuses itself for its own enthusiasm."
"Of course, in the reality of history, the Machiavellian view which glorifies the principle of violence has been able to dominate. Not the compromising conciliatory politics of humaneness, not the Erasmian, but rather the politics of vested power which firmly exploits every opportunity, politics in the sense of the "Principe," has determined the development of European history ever since."
"Never is a historic deed already completed when it is done but always only when it is handed down to posterity. What we call "history" by no means represents the sum total of all significant deeds.... World history ... only comprises that tiny lighted sector which chanced to be placed in the spotlight by poetic or scholarly depictions."
"The Battle of Waterloo is a work of art with tension and drama with its unceasing change from hope to fear and back again, change which suddenly dissolves into a moment of extreme catastrophe, a model tragedy because the fate of Europe was determined within this individual fate."
"But nothing is better than a truth which appears not to have the semblance of truth. There is always something incomprehensible about the great heroic deeds performed by humanity because they rise so far beyond the mediocre measure of mere mortals; but it is always only because of the incredible feats that human beings have accomplished that humanity recovers its faith in itself."
"But don't despise error. When touched by genius, when led by chance, the most superior truth can come into being from even the most foolish error. The important inventions which have been brought about in every realm of science from false hypotheses number in the hundreds, indeed in the thousands."
"Art knows no happier moment than the opportunity to show the symmetry of an extreme, during that moment of spheric harmony when the dissonance dissolves for the blink of an eye, dissolves into a blissful harmony, when the most extreme opposites, coming together from the greatest alienation, fleetingly touch with lips of the word and of love."