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Erica Pappritz: Prominent people are no example for good manners

Adenauer's Chief-of-Protocil thought highly of the Queen's demeanor

By Thomas Berg



The „First Lady of Etiquette" Erica Pappritz, with the diplomatic correspondent Joe F. Bodenstein in her residence in Bonn on the Rhine River. The conversation took place in a royal atmosphere with tea served from a silver English teapot. The finest pralines and a Gherkin Sandwich a la Queen were part of it.

© Pappritz-Archiv, Marco-VG


Berlin/Washington (bpb) „Neither politicians nor other prominent personalities can be automatically expected to act as examples for good manners." This was said by the etiquette espert Erica Pappritz during the time of the First Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. In this age of the media, the truth of this saying is very easily established. As striking examples can be named: the US President George W. Bush massages (from behind) the shoulders and back of the German Chancellor Angela, Hollywood stars show more and more bare skin in public, and star athletes and top musiciams change their lovers like shirts.


In the 20th century, there was much demand for guidebooks on etiquette and good manners. But no book on etiquette was quite as successful as the one published by the German First Lady of Protocol, Erica Pappritz. She set down the social rules for the state protocol under the German President Theodor Heuss and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. After she graceful lady left the Foreign Office due to high age, she wrote newspaper columns, which served well the democratic society.

Her office was led by the diplomatic correspondent Joe F. Bodenstein. He remembers: "The position and influence of Erica Pappritz was above all grounded in her own personal conduct. She was honest, sincere and incorruptible. Accepting any favors in office--meaning corruption--never came into question. Erica Pappritz, who served since the time of the German Kaiser till after 1945 in the Foreign Office, was an unimpeachable authority and even during the Cold War was in no way to be blackmailed.

When the Foreign Minister at the time, Heinrich von Brentano, jokingly complained to his "boss", the German Chancellor Adenauer with the words " Mrs. Pappritz acts here like a Court Marshal", he was quieted down by Adenauer: "just leave it be, the lady knows exactly what is right for us." The counsellor in the ministry was the Grandmaster of the Alexander Order pour le Merite for Art and Science, under the patronage of the King of Greece. She received more than 30 international Orders and decorations.

The book of etiquette by Mrs. Pappritz and her ghostwriter Graudenz was a bulky volume. It was her wish to put together a more comprehensive edition, which would appeal also to the young generation. Her motivation was: "Good conduct must be learned and practiced. The rules cannot be made up on the spur of the moment according to the spirit of the times; they must have a timeless validity."

Furthermore: as a timeless example Erica Pappritz considered the Queen of England. Nothing could be found to improve on the Queen's conduct: "In the public she is always reserved, polite and restrained. One does not notice worries, pain nor loneliness."



© PROMETHEUS 120/2007

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 120, June 2007