The Sexes: Paul Tillich, Lover

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"He had left me often, flirting with other women, leaving each one of them in turn for another at the succeeding dinner party. I had to take care of the spurned one, who came to me shamelessly complaining about Paulus' faithlessness, which amused me ... [Paulus] had a studio away from our ground-floor apartment, on the third floor under the roof. One evening he called the maid, a very attractive brunette, to bring some wine. Later, I found them standing before my bedroom in the middle of the night, talking in dark tones, she in a kimono of mine that I had given her."

So writes Hannah Tillich, now 77, second wife of Paul Tillich, who died in 1965 properly honored as one of the century's great theologians. Hannah's reminiscences of Tillich are being published this week in a curious book called From Time to Time (Stein & Day; $7.95). The memoir barely mentions the theologian's pioneering work in existential theology. Instead, interspersed with third-rate poetry and erotic fantasy, it hovers between bitterness and love for a husband whose passion for life seemed to express itself often in the courtship of other women.

As Hannah writes it, life with Paulus (as he was known in German) was something like Cabaret played out in a seminary drawing room—or bedroom.

In a way, the Tillichs were the Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald of Germany's intellectual set, bouncing from Berlin to Marburg to Dresden on a wave of popularity amid the desperate decadence of the Weimar Republic. Both had been married before. Tillich's first wife was carrying another man's child when Paulus, a front-line chaplain, returned from the disasters of World War I. Hannah was still married to her first husband and was carrying his child when she packed up and left to be with Tillich.

Even after marrying Paulus in 1924, Hannah did not exactly become a paragon of virtue herself. She dallied with their male friends and an academic assistant, and even got Tillich's explicit permission for one liaison. Hannah also experimented with—and rejected—lesbianism and at times unsuccessfully tried to interest Paulus in a joint sexual arrangement with another couple.

A menage a quatre may have been too limiting for Paulus. From the beginning he had established his independence. On the evening of his wedding to Hannah he went off to revel with a bachelor friend, winding up the night —talking, he said—in a strange girl's room. Tillich acknowledged his "demons," but gave them rather free rein.

On a Canadian vacation, shortly after the Tillichs' 1933 move to the U.S., a friend who had accompanied them found his wife, nude, with Paulus on the roof of their lodgings. Some liaisons were more lasting; one of Tillich's more permanent paramours lived across the street from the couple in Manhattan.

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