Why do rich people have servants?

A long night over submissive spiritsJust as you wish

Loyalty, discretion, honesty and discipline are qualities that are cultivated in butler schools. This Long Night tells of what it means to be always at your service. Butlers and those who want to become one have their say.

Servants have been part of the staff of world literature for centuries. Whether Robert Walser's "Jakob van Gunten", Jules Verne's Jean Passepartout, Thomas Mann's Felix Krull or Céleste Albaret, the "pearl" of the poet Marcel Proust - in texts by Paul Burrell, Eoin Colfer, Kazuo Ishiguro, Birgit Kienzle, Madeleine Lamouille or Kurt They tell Tucholsky what it means to be a "factotum" - a "do everything".

Read the complete manuscript for the broadcast in its unabridged pre-broadcast version here: Manuscript as PDF / Manuscript as TXT.

"Being a butler is not yesterday's job. Never in the whole history of mankind have there been so many rich people as there are now. They are all people who have really big houses and yachts and airplanes and what do I know. All of this has to be professional." managed. And who can do that better than a butler. "

About Robert Wennekes
The Dutchman Robert Wennekes worked as a butler himself for many years. Today he trains them. Most graduates come from the hospitality industry, so they know what good service means. At the International Butler Academy you get the finishing touches - your own personality.

"The job needs a certain personality, a certain attitude. That is much more important to me than the technical skills. A good butler is someone who works hard, does not complain, finds another person more important than himself , very difficult. Because we grow up, all here in the West, thinking that we are princes and princesses. And: We are important, others are not important. For a butler, it's the other way around. "

Ersin Erbay: "A small mosquito is then turned into an elephant. Extravagant people who are then quickly pissed off. But even there you have to be able to deal with the situation. In one ear, out of the other then thank you for it and smile politely and be able to stand over it. I get paid for that. If you have an ego problem, the job is not for you. "

About Ersin Erbay
Ersin Erbay was trained in a five-star hotel and has worked on cruise ships for years - nobody who lets himself be sucked into. He takes it from Robert Wennekes because he knows that this is also part of the training. Employers can be moody and butlers have to be able to take it.

A special highlight for a butler is a visit by the English queen. For Ricardo, the butler at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin, it has come true:

"Well, I don't really want to go into detail. But I took care of the issues and the preparation, including the service. And that everything works smoothly here. We know that punctuality is very much appreciated, and that's why it was I took care of the coordination of the food delivery - it mustn't be too early, it mustn't be too late, it has to be exactly to the point - that's what I took care of. For a butler, the visit of the English Queen is of course a pipe dream, and it is for met me twice. "

About Ricardo
Ricardo has been the butler of the Berlin Grand Hotel Adlon for 19 years. Ricardo prefers a quiet position and leaves the travel to his prominent guests, about whom he maintains absolute silence. Because discretion is the alpha and omega of a butler. So Ricardo does not reveal whether the Queen brings her tea water with her from England or what temperature her breakfast egg may have.

Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's butler (dpa / AP Photo)

Every beginning is difficult. This is what happened to Paul Burrell, who then worked as a butler for the Queen and Lady Diana for 21 years. He wrote about this time - a bestseller, as you can imagine. Here are his memories of the first days "In the service of my queen"

"Oberlakai Martin Bubb presented me with five different uniforms: the full livery for state occasions, which was to be worn both inside and outside the palace. The scarlet uniform, a tailcoat with top hat for semi-state occasions as well as for the Royal Ascot; the livery with the Epaulettes; a double-breasted tailcoat with a high collar, a uniform that was only used on the royal yacht Britannia; the tropical uniform with a white, safari-like jacket for hot climates and the livery for everyday life: a black tailcoat over white Shirt, black bow tie and scarlet cummerbund. I was also given a red fur driver's cape and boxes of shirts and hangers with additional trousers. All uniforms had been worn by previous owners. At Buckingham Palace, secondhand clothes were commonplace. Even young Prince Andrew's shirts, pants and suits were changed and sent to Prince Edward w been passed on. "

What's a great butler?

What's a great butler? Kazuo Ishiguro, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, describes in his novel "What from the day was left" a butler for whom his employer comes first, although he has dubious connections with the Nazis:

"To the best of my knowledge, there have been very few attempts within the profession to formulate an official response. The only case that comes to mind is the Hayes Society's attempt to elaborate membership criteria. They let it be known the crucial point The criterion is "that the applicant is inspired by a dignity that is consistent with his profession. No applicant, however high their level of performance, can meet the requirements if they do not meet this condition. "My colleague Mr. Graham always believed that" dignity "is something like a woman's beauty, and the attempt There is therefore no point in analyzing it. I, on the other hand, believed that "dignity" is something one should sensibly strive for throughout one's career. "

Nobel Prize for Literature 2017: Kazuo Ishiguro (imago)

How far can loyalty go today? Again, this is a question discussed at the Butler Academy by Robert Wennekes and Ersin Erbay:

"This morning we happened to have a discussion about what happens if a boss says to you, please organize some prostitutes for me. What do you do then? And a student said: That's not a problem. That's my boss, he wants it Then I said to him, and when they are 16? No, no, this is my boss. I work for him, I do it. Well, I have big problems with that. I also explained that to him. Because where is this one Limit, when they are 14, 12, or ten or eight? He then said right away, of course I won't do that. Then I explained to him, maybe your own integrity should be there where you would not do it yourself. And these same You can then also have a yardstick for your boss. Because please don't lose your own integrity. Never. And that's important to me. " (Robert Wennekes)

What a servant had to do and what not to do was formulated in Germany until 1918 by the servants' order. There is much talk of duties, but hardly any of rights:

"Common servants must submit to all domestic chores according to the will of the rulers. Besides their services, the servants owe the best to the rulers, but to avert harm and disadvantage as much as they can."

The butler as servant

Until the middle of the 20th century, staff was the norm for many middle-class households. Most of the time there was a lack of understanding of the needs of the staff or of the efforts that were placed on them. After all, many a "noble heart" remembered their staff in gratitude, such as Franz Werfel in his homage to "The Servants".

Alma Mahler-Werfel with her husband Franz Werfel (dpa / picture alliance)

"Let us not speak of pity and admiration here; for although their busy work around us demands strain and exhaustion, who could call their lot heroless and compare their idyllic work to the work of a mine worker, the danger of a machine-keeper, the toil of a soldier? Now why does this class of noble hearts fill us with such touching holiness, we who are not in a particularly good position ourselves and who are born to many a professional torment of our own? This is because their lives mean dissolution, humility into strange forms Namelessness. "

AUDIO: Butler Ersin Erbay on unusual requests, for example pink elephants.

The pious service of the servants - reality was all too often different. Even among the servants. There was hunched up, kicked down: Julie Blum, born in 1894, grew up as an orphan in a Protestant children's home, worked as a maid on farms for 60 years. Raised in the spirit of Protestant work discipline, it would never have occurred to her to defend herself against non-Christianity.

"The housekeeper at Farmer Bertsch's was a scratching brush that couldn't clean me. Defend myself? Yes, I should have done that. But if you haven't learned to defend yourself, but only to obey, you can do it not any more. They just branded me as a dumbbell. Yes, in the end you still believe it yourself if you are told often enough that you are stupid. "

Madeleine Lamouille, born in 1907, is one of the few women who wrote about her service during the 1920s. The title of her memories - "We'll call you Marie" - describes a stately habit: for the sake of simplicity, the maids were always called by the name of their predecessor. But in the 20s and 30s, young women have long had career alternatives, in offices and companies. The Maries are becoming more confident.

Compensation for the hard work

Ricardo, butler at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin (in the Brakemeier / dpa)

Butler Ricardo also has a real name, but it doesn't matter to his high-ranking guests at the Adlon. Ricardo is enough. He can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so even in the middle of the night if you need to.

"Now, however, we sometimes have requests that a shirt should be washed at three o'clock in the morning. Of course, the department isn't there. But that's not a problem. I have keys and I know my way around, and then we wash it Shirt at half past two and iron it, and at seven o'clock the guest has his ironed shirt. "

The strenuous work requires a break. Paul Burrell, longtime butler of the Queen, tells how it works at court.

"Our workplace - a palace, castle or country estate - was also our home. The royal court can restrict everyone who eats, sleeps and are constantly on duty in it and stifles them from breathing. It inevitably leads to a sworn in by the outside community, and the endless parties were born out of the need to have fun and break out. "

Famous servants

The subaltern, mostly they themselves remained without a family of their own and without a life of their own. The longer they were in the service of a rulership, the more pronounced were certain peculiarities that the servants inherited from their rulers. The valet Louis XIV is said to have complained of ailments of their own as soon as the king was ailing. Qualis dominus, talis et servus - like the gentleman so his dear.

AUDIO: Butler Ersin Erbay on the fact that you rarely get a thank you.

Something similar was observed in the house of Goethe. Philipp Seidel is already devoted to the Goethe family on the Frankfurt Frauenplan and then accompanies the young Goethe to Weimar. After years in his service, he has mastered his handwriting so deceptively that he now poses problems even for Goethe specialists. And when Seidel walks across the Frauenplan in later years, he is even mistaken for Goethe himself. The posture of the head, the gait, and even the way of speaking are so deceptively similar that in Weimar it is considered a copy of Goethe's.

Marcel Proust (dpa / The Print Collector / Heritage-Images / Heritage Images)

There are no heroes for the valet, as the saying goes, because the valet saw the gentleman in his underpants too. Céleste Albaret never got that close to her master, but for years she also looked after the underpants of the poet Marcel Proust. Celeste worked for him from 1914 until his death in 1922. It was not until the age of 81 that she wrote down her memories of the poet:

"There are not many things that I did not understand about him or that I did not learn from him or about which he left me in the dark. That too was part of the magic that emanated from him in everything. The fact that I watched him a lot and After listening, I evidently, without realizing it, gained a little of his intuition and his knowledge of human nature. A mutual understanding developed, thanks to which I always knew in advance what he wanted and what he was thinking. It came before that he was still astonished: “Dear Celeste, how did you know that I wanted to ask you to hand me a sweater?” I could guess every expression on his face; I noticed every movement of his hand in advance and felt it when he was impatient about this or that. With me he didn't need to ask; or when he asked for something, he knew that his wish would be happily granted. When I started to expect him at night, in Whom I was stalking at the elevator door, it was by no means out of a sense of duty and still less because he asked for it - it was only because I was looking forward to seeing him again and hearing his reports. He thanked me for it, but I don't think he was really surprised. He had seen through me too closely to doubt it would be any different. "

The merit and demeanor of a butler

"A butler, a junior butler, earns maybe 40,000 euros gross a year at the beginning. But that increases very quickly with years of work. As an employer, in principle you also pay for someone's flexibility, for dedication, I would say. It is not just an employee. There is someone who works for me, if need be, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That happens. On average, a butler earns 40,000 euros at the beginning. That quickly turns 60, 70, and on average between five and ten years of experience that goes towards 100,000. " (Robert Wennekes)

Money plays a big part. However, it is not always visible in the people. The butler should be careful not to look any better than the employer.

"Do not necessarily use flashy, bright colors or extremely expensive textiles, where at first glance you discover, oh, but that is extremely expensive. And then you may see the employer next to you, who may be wearing something sporty at the moment. Not that you are confused the butler and the employer. You also have to be careful there. Not necessarily very expensive jewelry. So if I wear a Rolex now and my employer maybe a Citizen, because it's his taste, which doesn't mean that I have more money than that he, but even there we really have to be careful how we present ourselves. " (Ersin Erbay)

Everything has to be perfect. And maybe it is precisely this perfection that causes some guests to feel uncomfortable. Kurt Tucholsky describes the "anxious moment among rich people":

"When I am invited to rich people, that is, to so rich that one is dreadful of sheer wealth, then there is always a moment when I get hot and when I think that my collar is about to burst. It's everything so fine and so wonderfully wonderful: the cats are even more haughty than anywhere else, the dogs are well-bred like well-bathed children, the housemaid works like the tea table on castors that she pushes in front of her on the stage, the madam speaks softly and almost semi-loud, discreet, fine - everything is self-evident and certainly not snobbish, it works like a charm: and I have the most lively need to go into the vestibule, stand in a corner and shout loudly: "Disk paste!" only so that the inner balance is restored. "

The German writer Wolfgang Borchert (dpa / Keystone)

You up there, we down there - worlds lie between those upstairs and downstairs. But there are moments when the difference in rank between master and servant suddenly no longer plays a role. To read in the short story by Wolfgang Borchert from the post-war year 1947 - "Schischifusch or My Uncle's Waiter":

"So we were sitting, the three of us, my uncle, my mother and I, on a sunny summer afternoon in a large, splendid, brightly colored garden restaurant. My uncle had a flaw in my tongue. Not significant, but at least clear enough. He couldn't speak an s. Not even one z or tz.So the waiter stood at our table and asked, breathlessly and nervously:

"Please don't? Want to?" My uncle, who did not appreciate low-alcohol drinks, habitually said: "Alscho: sweat Aschbach and for the young Schelter or Brausche. Or have Schie schiescht?"

The waiter was very pale. And suddenly I noticed that my uncle was also pale under his shiny brown skin. When the waiter repeated the order for security reasons:

"Shame. Sweat Aschbach. A shower. Please shame."

My uncle raised his eyebrows at my mother, as if he wanted something urgent from her. But he just wanted to make sure he was still in this world. Then he said in a voice reminiscent of the distant thunder of guns:

"Shit shit, shit shit crazy? Shie? Shie make fun of my fishes? Wash?"

The waiter stood there and everything started to shake him. His hands trembled, his eyelids, his knees, but above all his voice trembled. She trembled with pain and anger and bewilderment when he now tried to answer something similar to the thunder of guns.

"It is shameless from Schie, schisch about me, amused! Now everything about him was trembling. The tips of his jacket, his pomade-covered strands of hair, his nostrils.

Nothing about my uncle trembled. I looked at him very carefully - absolutely nothing. But when the waiter called him shamelessly, my uncle at least got up. That means he didn't actually get up at all. That would have been much too cumbersome and cumbersome for him with one leg. He stayed seated and got up, inwardly he got up. And that was completely enough. So they stood now and looked at each other. Both with too short tongues, both with the same flaw. But each with a completely different fate. The little waiter and my great uncle. As different as a cart horse from a zeppelin. But both in a nutshell. "

Production of this long night:
Author: Rüdiger Heimlich; Director: Claudia Mützelfeldt; Speaker: Nicole Engeln, Barbara Stoll, Thomas Anzenhofer, Jonas Baeck, Volker Risch; Editor: Dr. Monika Künzel, web production: Jörg Stroisch

About the author:
Rüdiger Heimlich born in 1959, studied literature in Heidelberg, Halifax and Kingston, Canada. He is employed in the political department of the Kölner Stadtanzeiger, but has also worked as a freelance journalist for various media, including Deutschlandfunk, since 1990. In 2012 he was awarded the Cologne Media Prize.