The scales of the Baleks

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The scales of the Baleks is a story by Heinrich Böll (1917–1985) that became a classic textbook. It was first published on June 13, 1953 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung .


The scales of the powerful entrepreneurial family Balek von Bilgan, with which the purchase of mushrooms and medicinal herbs is accounted for in a small village near Prague, is deliberately incorrectly calibrated in order to deliberately cheat the farmers and farmers' children who deliver. Since the Baleks have decreed that no one is allowed to have scales, the deception is not noticed for generations, only the twelve-year-old Franz Brücher, grandfather of the first-person narrator, comes across him. The revolting peasants and workers are unable to assert themselves against the power of the Baleks, however, and their uprising is suppressed by force.


The story outlines the dependence and powerlessness of people in relation to the machinations of the rulers in a capitalist-monarchist society. As is typical for him, Böll links communism and Christianity: the subject of the revolt of the exploited against the exploiters is for him identical with the work of Christ; this is what the hymn used as a leitmotif stands for: "Justice of the earth, O Lord, has killed you". In addition, Böll has probably hidden a deeper meaning in the name "Balek von Bilgan": " Baal " is hidden in "Balek" , the god of materialism, and "Bilgam" is a giant who protects a god and is invulnerable because of his mother .


  • Brigitte Frank: The scales of the Baleks . In: Interpretation of Heinrich Böll - Short Stories II . Edited by Rupert Hirschenauer and Albrecht Weber. R. Oldenbourg, Munich 1965. pp. 57-65.
  • Cesare Cases: Read three times: Heinrich Böll, “The scales of the Baleks”. In: ders .: Keywords on German literature. Vienna 1969. pp. 297-304. Reprinted in: In the matter of Böll. Views and Insights. Edited by Marcel Reich-Ranicki. dtv, Munich 8th ed. 1985. pp. 172-178.
  • Franz-Joseph Thiemermann: Justice of the earth. Heinrich Böll: "The scales of the Baleks" . In: ders .: Short stories in German lessons. Texts - interpretations - methodological notes . F. Kamp, Bochum 8th edition 1971 (Kamps pedagogical pocket books. 32nd) pp. 89-106.
  • Jochen Vogt: The wrong weight. Or: From poor HB, who fell among the literary educators . In: ders .: corrections. Attempts to study literature. Munich 1974. pp. 99-124.
  • Jörn Stückrath: Heinrich Böll: "The scales of the Baleks" . In: Jakob Lehmann (Ed.): German novels from Goethe to Walser. Interpretations for German lessons . Vol. 2: From Fontane to Walser . Librarian, Königstein / Ts. 1980. pp. 237-259.
  • Beate Schnepp: The scales of the Baleks . In: Heinrich Böll. Novels and short stories. Interpretations. Edited by Werner Bellmann . Reclam, Stuttgart 2000. pp. 109-118.