Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg, Germany, on 19th February, 1898. His father was a respected and well-to-do citizen, the managing director of a paper mill, his mother the daughter of a civil servant. "He was a sensitive and taciturn child, non-conformist and rebellious in a quiet, negative way." (1)

Brecht later wrote: "I grew up as the son of well-to-do people. My parents put a collar round my neck and taught me the habit of being waited on and the art of giving orders. But when I had grown up and looked around me I did not like the people of my class. And I left my own class and joined the common people." (2)

Always a rebel, Brecht maintained that he had learned more from opposition than emulation at school. "Elementary school bored me for four years. During my nine years at the Augsburg Realgymnasium (Grammar School) I did not succeed in imparting any worthwhile education to my teachers. My sense of leisure and independence was tirelessly fostered by them... By indulgence in all kinds of sport I acquired some heart trouble which introduced me to the mysteries of metaphysics." (3)

In 1916 he left school and studied philosophy and medicine at the University of Munich. However, after a few terms he had to interrupt his studies when he was called up into the German Army to take part in the First World War. As he was a medical orderly in a military hospital. He told Sergei Tretyakov: "I was mobilized in the war and placed in a hospital. I dressed wounds, applied iodine, gave enemas, performed blood-transfusions. If the doctor ordered me: 'Amputate a leg, Brecht!' I would answer: 'Yes, Your Excellency!' and cut off the leg. If I was told: 'Make a trepanning!' I opened the man's skull and tinkered with his brains. I saw how they patched people up in order to ship them back to the front as soon as possible." (4)

Brecht later wrote a poem about his experiences, entitled Legend of a Dead Soldier: "They poured some brandy down his throat/The rotten corpse to rouse/Two hefty nurses grabbed his arms/And his half-naked spouse/Because the rotten body stank/A parson limped ahead/And over him his incense swung/To cover the stench of the dead/The band in the van with rum-tum-tum/Played him a rousing march/The soldier as he had been drilled/Kicked his legs high from his arse." (5)

Bertolt Brecht & the German Revolution

The German government of Max von Baden asked President Woodrow Wilson for a cease-fire on 4th October, 1918. "It was made clear by both the Germans and Austrians that this was not a surrender, not even an offer of armistice terms, but an attempt to end the war without any preconditions that might be harmful to Germany or Austria." This was rejected and the fighting continued. On 6th October, it was announced that Karl Liebknecht, who was still in prison, demanded an end to the monarchy and the setting up of Soviets in Germany. (6)

By the 8th November, workers councils took power in virtually every major town and city in Germany. This included Bremen, Cologne, Munich, Rostock, Leipzig, Dresden, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Nuremberg. Theodor Wolff, writing in the Berliner Tageblatt: "News is coming in from all over the country of the progress of the revolution. All the people who made such a show of their loyalty to the Kaiser are lying low. Not one is moving a finger in defence of the monarchy. Everywhere soldiers are quitting the barracks." (7)

On 7th November, 1918, Kurt Eisner, a member of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) established a Socialist Republic in Bavaria. Several leading socialists arrived in the city to support the new regime. This included Erich Mühsam, Ernst Toller, Otto Neurath, Silvio Gesell and Ret Marut. Eisner also wrote to Gustav Landauer inviting him to Munich: "What I want from you is to advance the transformation of souls as a speaker." Landauer became a member of several councils established to both implement and protect the revolution. (8)

Brecht was whole-heartedly on the side of the revolutionaries and took part in the rebellion in Augsburg: "I was... twenty when I saw the reflection of the great fire (of the Russian Revolution) in my own home town. I was a medical orderly in an Augsburg military hospital. The barracks and even the military hospitals emptied, the ancient city suddenly filled up with new people, who came in large numbers from the outskirts." (9)

Brecht later explained: "I was a member of the Augsburg Revolutionary Committee. The hospital was the only military unit in the town. It elected me... We did not boast a single Red Guardsman. We didn't have time to issue a single decree or to nationalize a single bank or to close a single church. After two days General Epp's troops came to town on their way to Munich. One of the members of the revolutionary committee hid at my house until he managed to escape." (10)

First Plays

Brecht wrote a play and took it to show the left-wing writer and theatre critic, Lion Feuchtwanger. The play that eventually became known as Drums in the Night. "Shortly after the outbreak of the so-called German Revolution, a very young man came to my Munich apartment, thin, badly shaved, and unkempt in appearance. He slunk around the walls, spoke Swabian dialect, had written a play, and was called Bertolt Brecht. The play was called Spartakus. Unlike most young authors, who on handing over their manuscripts have a habit of pointing to their bleeding hearts from which their work has been torn, this young man stressed that he had written his play Spartakus exclusively to make money." (11)

The play was about a member of the Spartacus League who after becoming a member of the German Army during the First World War, had taken part in the failed German Revolution. (12) Feuchtwanger was impressed with the play but upset Brecht. "I telephoned the unkempt young man and asked him why he had lied to me; he could not possibly have written this play merely out of material necessity. At this the young author became very violent and dialectical almost to the point of incoherence and declared that he had indeed written this play for money's sake only; but that he had another play as well, which was really good and he would bring it to me. He brought it. It was called Baal... and turned out to be an even wilder, even more extravagant and very splendid piece of work." (13)

Brecht also wrote songs about his war experiences and his socialist beliefs. He sung them in taverns and coffee houses, accompanying himself on the guitar or banjo and bawling out the verse in his high-pitched voice. Sometimes, ex-soldiers in the audience, who still had patriotic sympathies, took exception at the sentiments expressed in these ballads and gave him a good beating at the end of the session. (14)

Although he was disliked by the men the women loved him: "Brecht... was always unshaven. But the way he made his hair grow over his forehead had a kind of naive coquettishness. He smelt like soldiers on the march. Nor did his angular, malicious sense of humour seem the right thing for the ladies. There was an unmistakable odour of revolution about him. Clearly it was his way of singing his crude ballads that did it. When he sang them with his shrill voice women swooned." (15)

Another friend, George Grosz, commented: "He (Brecht) dressed like nobody else in the circle, and looked like some kind of engineer or car mechanic, always wearing a thin leather tie - without oil stains, of course. Instead of the usual sort of waistcoat, he wore one with long sleeves; the cut of all his suits were baggy and somewhat American, with padded shoulders and wedge-shaped trousers. Without his monkish face and the hair combed down on his forehead he might have been mistaken for a cross between a German chauffeur and a Russian commissar." (16)

After the encouragement of Feuchtwanger, Brecht concentrated on the revision of Bael, a story that concerns a young man who becomes involved in several sexual affairs and at least one murder. He had a routine of writing from six in the morning till midday. He used to read his new version of the play to his friends. According to Hanns Otto Münsterer: "Large sections of the first part have been cut, especially the newspaper office scenes, in which Bael reaches out for an orderly life, so the overall effect is now more anarchic and anti-bourgeois." (17)

In October 1919, Brecht began to act as theatre critic for the newspaper owned by the left-wing Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD). His notices were distinguished mainly by their rudeness: "The man who has leased the Augsburg Municipal Theatre as his milch-cow knows today, after so many years, about as much about literature as an engine driver knows about geography."(18)

Brecht also became friends with Arnolt Bronnen, who worked as a clerk but wanted to become a novelist. He later described how he first met him at the apartment of the journalist, Otto Zarek."From one of the rooms I could hear guitar music... I went in. It was rather dark there; at first I could only hear a croaking voice... Then I saw the singer: an emaciated young man of twenty-four with steel-rimmed glasses and untidy dark hair that fell over his forehead. I stared at him. I was as if under a spell. I experienced a sensation which perhaps is only given to very lonely human beings: to be suddenly confronted with man in all the richness of his being. He sang, he spoke, he read aloud, there were four other young people in the room; I did not see them. I only stared at this one young man." (19)

Brecht's play Bael, had its first stage performance in Leipzig. It did not have very good reviews with the theatre critic of Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten, called the play a "mud bath" and added: "It would have been wiser and in better taste if the municipal theatre had left this boy's tour-de-force to people to read this kind of thing and had spared us, Brecht, and itself this wild evening." (20)

The first performance of Drums in the Night took place on 29th September, 1922. Brecht asked the influential Berlin critic Herbert Ihering to come to Munich for the first night: "I know exactly how much I am asking, but very much indeed depends on it for me. Since Berlin has ceased to make experiments, it has become extremely difficult to obtain decent criticism at a time when one needs it most." (21)

Ihering was impressed with the play: "The twenty-four-year-old poet Bert Brecht has changed the literary physiognomy of Germany overnight. With Bert Brecht a new tone, a new melody, a new vision has entered our time... Brecht is impregnated with the horror of this age in his nerves, in his blood. This horror creates a pallid atmosphere, a half-light round men and things... Brecht physically feels the chaos and putrid decay of the times. Hence the unparalleled force of his images. This language can be felt on the tongue, on the palate, in one's ears, in one's spine... It is brutally sensuous and melancholically tender. It contains malice and bottomless sadness, grim wit and plaintive lyricism." (22)

In 1922 Brecht was awarded the Kleist Prize, an annual award to the best young dramatic talent in Germany. Arnolt Bronnen claimed that Brecht had an unusual way of writing: "Comfortably puffing his cigar Brecht stalked through the room listening to arguments and counter-arguments from dozens of people, cracked jokes, but stuck unshakably to his main line of work. He rode his thought until, magnificently formulated, he could dictate it to the miniature audience of his ever-present aides." (23)

Brecht had several relationships with women. His first illegitimate child, Frank was born to one of his school sweethearts, Paula Banholzer when Brecht was twenty-one. Another child, by the singer Marianne Zoff was aborted; when Marianne became pregnant again Brecht married her in November, 1922. His daughter Hanne was born in March 1923. A year later, Brecht had a son - Stefan, born 6th March, 1924, by Helene Weigel whom he married after his divorce from Mariaanne, in April 1929. In spite of his lifelong amorous involvements, often with three or four women at the same time, Brecht was emotionally more attached to male friends. (24)

Erwin Piscator

Brecht moved to Berlin late in 1924. He became very interested in the work of Erwin Piscator who had recently directed a play, Fahnen, about the Haymarket Bombing by Alfons Paquet. In 1886 several members of the International Working Men's Association were arrested and eventually, were found guilty of an offence they did not commit. Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg and George Engel were given the death penalty. Whereas Oscar Neebe, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab were sentenced to life imprisonment. Before being sentenced Spies said: "The contemplated murder of eight men, whose only crime is that they have dared to speak the truth, may open the eyes of these suffering millions; may wake them up. Indeed, I have noticed that our conviction has worked miracles in this direction already." (25)

In the play, Piscator provided short sequences of action that were strung episodically together and reviewing the production in the Leipziger Tageblatt, the theatre critic, Alfred Döblin, called the play "a stepping-stone between narrative and drama", adding that this form provided refuge when "the coldness of a writer's feelings stops him from identifying with the characters' fates or the story's development". (26) Three year's earlier, Brecht had made a similar point in his journal when he talked of characters have a "warm heart beating in a cold man." (27) Piscator claimed that "in a certain sense Fahnen represented the first Marxist drama and the production the first attempt at laying bare the materialist motive forces of the action."(28)

Piscator was the founder of the left-wing Agitprop theatre, and regarded the stage above all as an instrument for mobilizing the masses. As Martin Esslin has pointed out: "Piscator sought a topical, highly political theatre. He relegated the author to a relatively minor position, and was often content to compile his productions out of newspaper reports or documentary material. Piscator put these spectacles on to a constructivist stage and used graphs of statistics, explanatory captions, lantern slides of photographs or documents, newsreels, and documentary film sequences to convey the political or sociological background of the play, while the propaganda lesson was drawn by choruses, spoken or sung, on stage or in the auditorium, so that the spectators were inevitably drawn into the action. His aim was a theatre that would be political, technological - and epic. By the latter term he meant a drama which would be utterly different from the conventional 'well-made' play: a kind of illustrated lecture or newspaper report on a political or social theme, loosely constructed in the shape of a serious revue: a sequence of musical numbers, sketches, film, declamation, sometimes linked by one or several narrators." (29)

George Grosz designed sets and costumes for Erwin Piscator. Grosz wrote in his journal that "Erwin has created a great new era for the graphic artist to work in, a veritable graphic arena, more tempting for graphic artists of today than all that stuffy aesthetic business or the hawking around of drawings in bibliophile editions for educated nobs... What a medium, though, for the artist who wants to speak to the masses, purely and simply. Naturally a new area requires new techniques, a new clear and concise language of graphic style - certainly a great opportunity for teaching discipline to the muddleheaded and confused!" (30)

Piscator argued that in Fahnen he had "crossed the threshold from the theatre of art to the theatre of the age" and that he had tried "to lay bare the roots of the case in the epic elaboration of the material". This was a play which documented its period: "it is not the inner arc of the dramatic event that is essential, but the epic course of the epoch from its roots until its last effects are represented as precisely and comprehensively as possible." Piscator wrote no scripts, but he created drama in the way that a film director created cinema. Brecht later claimed that "after me, Piscator is the greatest living German dramatist". It is no doubt that in the long term, Brecht had more influence on acting style than Piscator but he owed a great deal to his earlier work. (31)

Brecht, like Piscator, wanted a scientific, Marxist drama, loosely constructed so as to make it possible to explain the wider social and historical background of the play. He followed Piscator's example he used posters and placards, songs and choruses. "But while Piscator attached little importance to purely literary values, Brecht laid great stress on the poetic aspects of such a drama. And so, although Brecht became a close collaborator of Piscator's, although he worked on many adaptations of plays for his theatre and they discussed several joint projects, Piscator never tackled one of Brecht's own plays." (32)

Brecht also became influenced by the work of George Bernard Shaw, especially Major Barbara, a play that had been first produced in 1905. Shaw had taken the orthodox radical view of the Salvation Army as a tool used by capitalists to protect the survival of their system. Brecht developed this idea and argued that salvationism "fights capitalism in its religious way and so breeds an element of the primitive Christian class struggle, which can one day be quite fatal for the prosperous people who are today financing it." (33)

Brecht developed the theory that all evil-doing had its source in oppression and poverty. He wrote a note suggesting that all his work should deal with basic issues such as having enough food to eat. "Our re-working of what is, classically speaking, tragic, must always refer back to the bread shop. Depriving a mother of her children - near the bread shop, a terrible blow. Idem, away from it - liberation. Freedom: a permanent necessity when one has bread in one's pocket, but no use when one is hungry." (34)

Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill

In November 1924 Brecht began an affair with Elizabeth Hauptmann, a student of English literature. According to Ronald Hayman, the author Brecht: A Biography (1983): "Blonde, brown-eyed, chubby-cheeked and Saxon, Hauptmann was to become mistress, assistant, and collaborator". Brecht became so dependent on Hauptmann that he persuaded his publisher, Verlag Kiepenheuer, to pay her a salary for helping him with his books and plays. (35)

Hauptmann received a copy of a play written by John Gay, entitled The Beggar's Opera. It had been written in 1728, but Nigel Playfair had revived it successfully in London. Hauptmann translated the play into German and showed it to Brecht. He now decided to transpose the action to make it a play into a bitter satire on the bourgeois society of post-war Germany and offered a socialist critique of the capitalist world. His friend, Kurt Weill, wrote a brilliant musical score, that was based on his love of jazz. Brecht also added four songs by the French poet François Villon. (36)

Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (1930)
Bertolt Brecht and Elizabeth Hauptmann (c. 1924)

Songs from the production have been widely covered and become standards, most notably The Ballad of Mack the Knife and Pirate Jenny. Weill later recalled the socialist intentions of the venture: "With the Dreigroschenoper we reach a public which either did not know us at all or thought us incapable of captivating listeners... Opera was founded as an aristocratic form of art... If the framework of opera is unable to withstand the impact of the age, then this framework must be destroyed... In the Dreigroschenoper, reconstruction was possible insofar as here we had a chance of starting from scratch." (37)

The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper, featuring Lotte Lenya, as Jenny, and Carola Neher, as Polly Peachum, opened on 31st August 1928 at Berlin's Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. It was an immediate success and became one of the longest runs in the history of the Berlin theatre, a rare case of a play intended as a work of serious avant-garde art achieving genuine popular success. "His sudden success certainly made Brecht cocky. He began to suspect the motives of critics who failed to join in the general chorus of praise, particularly if they belonged to the left, whom he regarded as natural allies." (38)

A film company, Nero-Film, paid Brecht and Weill 40,000 marks for the film rights of The Threepenny Opera. It was decided that Georg Wilhelm Pabst would direct the movie. Both the author and the composer insisted that they must retain control of the adaptation of book and music. Brecht also wanted to make changes that made it more openly anti-capitalist. Pabst refused and Brecht and Weill sued the company for breach of contract. They were disappointed by the film even though it was highly successful at the box-office. Brecht's friend, the critic, Herbert Ihering, claimed that the film "has such a fairy-tale-like effect and is told with such charm and humour that in the end one completely disregards the intended meaning and just enjoys the story." (39)

Brecht and Weill had also been working on a political satire together. It was based on nine poems by Brecht, about the founding of a city by pleasure-driven, aimless refugees. The Mahagonny Songspiel, first performed in Baden-Baden in 1927, was a statement of radical theatrical and musical tendencies. The work was staged in a boxing ring. In accordance with the theories of the “proletarian people’s stage” that Erwin Piscator was evolving in Berlin, placards were held up declaring the political programme. This eventually became the opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The opera had its premiere in Leipzig on 9th March 1930 and played in Berlin in December of the following year. Weill's score uses a number of styles, including rag-time, jazz and formal counterpoint, notably in the Alabama Song. (40)

Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (1930)
Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (1930)

His friend, Erwin Piscator read The Good Soldier Schweik, a novel by Jaroslav Hašek. The unfinished novel (Hašek died in 1923) was a collection of farcical incidents about a soldier in the First World War that was a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures. With the help of Brecht and Felix Gasbarra, Piscator decided to turn the work into a play that was first produced in 1928. It has been argued by Frederic Ewen that this play "proved to be the most lasting and certainly the most important of all Piscator's efforts." (41)

It has been argued that Brecht created a character that he was to use several times in his career. "Schweik is more than a mere character: he represents a basic human attitude. Schweik defeats the powers that be, the whole universe in all its absurdity, not by opposing but by complying with them. He is so servile, so eager to please and to carry out the letter of any regulation or command that in the end the stupidity of the authorities, the idiocy of the law is ruthlessly exposed... Many of the characters in his later plays show features of this ironic servility." (42)

In 1928 Brecht began attending lectures at the Marxist Workers' College. Although he remained a member of the German Communist Party (KPD) he disliked the rule of Joseph Stalin and complained about how "the Moscow-dominated Communist International in the KPD meant that open discussion and original thought were less and less welcome in the Party" and "Brecht could never feel comfortable as a card-carrying party member." (43)

Brecht believed that all art was political. As Brecht put it, "For art to be unpolitical means only to ally itself with the ruling group." Brecht was fond of quoting the famous passage from the writings of Karl Marx: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it." His object, he said, was to apply this to the theatre. (44) Peter Brooker has argued: "Brecht sought to use the resources of art, in ways consistent with the tenets of dialectical materialism, to historicise and negate the commonplace and taken for granted, to prise open social and ideological contradictions, and so both demonstrate and provoke an awareness of the individual's place in a concrete social narrative." (45)

Bertolt Brecht attempted to develop a new approach to the the theatre. He tried to persuade his audiences to see the stage as a stage, actors as actors and not the traditional make-believe of the theatre. Brecht required detachment, not passion, from the observing audience. The purpose of the play was to awaken the spectators' minds so that he could communicate his version of the truth. His play, The Measures Taken, was scored by Hanns Eisler. It is about the Communist Party attempt to organize the workers of China. It has been claimed that the play was an attempt to deal with the "problem of the subordination of the individual to the collective will." (46)

Nazi Germany

In the General Election that took place in September 1930, the Nazi Party increased its number of representatives in parliament from 14 to 107. Adolf Hitler was now the leader of the second largest party in Germany. Harold Harmsworth, 1st Lord Rothermere, wrote in The Daily Mail after the general election result: "What are the sources of strength of a party which at the general election two years ago could win only 12 seats, but now, with 107, has become the second strongest in the Reichstag, and whose national poll has increased in the same time from 809,000 to 6,400,000? Striking as these figures are, they stand for something far greater than political success. They represent the rebirth of Germany as a nation." (47)

Brecht was horrified by the growth of fascism in Germany and wrote to his friend, the political theorist, Karl Korsch, about the situation. Korsch argued that Hitler had managed to use racism to divert vital energy from the essential conflict between rich and poor and had fomenting anti-Semitism in order to deflect energy from the class struggle. He pointed out that in 1930, 28.1 per cent of Nazi Party members were manual workers, and a further 25.6 per cent were salaried employees. (48)

Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (1930)
Bertolt Brecht and in son Stefan (1931)

After acquiring German citizenship on 25th February, 1932, Hitler decided to test his party's strength by running for the Presidency. The aging incumbent, Paul von Hindenburg had the support of the Social Democratic Party, the Catholic Centre Party and the German trade union movement. There was one other main candidate, Ernst Thälmann, the leader of the The Communist Party (KPD). Hitler staged an energetic campaign for the elections held on 10th April. Hindenburg was now 84 years old and was showing signs of senility. However, a large percentage of the German population still feared Hitler and in the election Hindenburg won 53% of the vote (19,359,650). Hitler came second with 13,418,011 and Thälmann was a poor third (3,706,655). Hitler had managed to persuade people that he was the "candidate of the workers and the masses in opposition to Hindenburg". (49)

In May 1932 General Hans von Seeckt joined up with Alfred Hugenberg, Hjalmar Schacht, and several industrialists, to call for the uniting of the parties of the right. They demanding the resignation of Heinrich Brüning. Germany's president, Paul von Hindenburg, agreed and forced him to leave office and on 1st June he was replaced as chancellor by Franz von Papen. The new chancellor was also a member of the Catholic Centre Party and, being more sympathetic to the Nazis, he removed the ban on the SA. The next few weeks saw open warfare on the streets between the Nazis and the Communists during which 86 people were killed. (50)

Just a week after taking office, Papen arranged a meeting with Hitler. He later recalled: "I found him curiously unimpressive. I could detect no inner quality which might explain his extraordinary hold on the masses... He had an unhealthy complexion, and with his little moustache and curious hair style had an indefinable bohemian quality. His demeanour was modest and polite... As he talked about his party's aims I was struck by the fanatical insistence with which he presented his arguments. I realized that the fate of my Government would depend to a large extent on the willingness of this man and his followers to back me up, and that this would be the most difficult problem with which I should have to deal." (51)

In an attempt to gain support for his new government, in July, 1932. Papen called another election. Hitler made speeches in 53 towns and cities. His main theme was his party was the only one that could rescue the German people from its misery. The Nazi Party won 230 seats, making it the largest party in the Reichstag. However the German Social Democrat Party (133) and the German Communist Party (89) still had the support of the urban working class and Hitler was deprived of an overall majority in parliament. (52)

On 4th January, 1933, Adolf Hitler had a meeting with Franz von Papen and decided to work together for a government. It was decided that Hitler would be Chancellor and Von Papen's associates would hold important ministries. "They also agreed to eliminate Social Democrats, Communists, and Jews from political life. Hitler promised to renounce the socialist part of the program, while Von Papen pledged that he would obtain further subsidies from the industrialists for Hitler's use... On 30th January, 1933, with great reluctance, Von Hindenburg named Hitler as Chancellor." (53)

On 27th February, 1933, the Reichstag parliamentary building caught fire. It was reported at ten o'clock when a Berlin resident telephoned the police and said: "The dome of the Reichstag building is burning in brilliant flames." The Berlin Fire Department arrived minutes later and although the main structure was fireproof, the wood-paneled halls and rooms were already burning. (54)

Hermann Göring, who had been at work in the nearby Prussian Ministry of the Interior, was quickly on the scene. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels arrived soon after. So also did Rudolf Diels: "Shortly after my arrival in the burning Reichstag, the National Socialist elite had arrived. On a balcony jutting out of the chamber, Hitler and his trusty followers were assembled." Göring told him: "This is the beginning of the Communist Revolt, they will start their attack now! Not a moment must be lost. There will be no mercy now. Anyone who stands in our way will be cut down. The German people will not tolerate leniency. Every communist official will be shot where he is found. Everybody in league with the Communists must be arrested. There will also no longer be leniency for social democrats." (55)

Hitler gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD) should "be hanged that very night." Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers". Orders were given for all KPD members of the Reichstag to be arrested. This included Ernst Torgler, the chairman of the KPD. Göring commented that "the record of Communist crimes was already so long and their offence so atrocious that I was in any case resolved to use all the powers at my disposal in order ruthlessly to wipe out this plague". (56)

During the night of 27th February, 4,000 communist officials and party members were rounded up, together with writers and intellectuals who had resisted Nazism. Brecht was one of those on the list to be arrested but was not at home as he was staying with a non-communist friend. (Brecht had been on the Nazis' liquidation lists as early as 1923.) When he heard the news of the arrests he went to the flat of Peter Suhrkamp, the publisher who managed to help him and his wife, Helene Weigel, and his son, Stefan, to escape to Prague, a journey they could make without visas. (57)

Brecht then moved to Vienna, where he was joined by his daughter Barbara, who had been left behind in Germany, in the care of Brecht's father. In the spring of 1933, a group of German anti-Nazi writers, held a kind of council of war at Sanary-sur-Mer in France to discuss their plight. This included Brecht, Arnold Zweig, Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann, Ernst Toller and Lion Feuchtwanger. "It was the first of innumerable similar gatherings that followed, all devoted to the earnest and searching examination of the problem of what writers could do to help to bring about the downfall of Hitler." (58)

Denmark, Sweden and the Soviet Union

Over the next few years Brecht lived in Denmark. While living in exile he wrote anti-Nazi plays such as The Roundheads and the Peakheads and Fear and Misery of the Third Reich. Another left-wing friend, Walter Benjamin, joined him in exile and they had many discussions concerning how they could best use their artistic talent to undermine fascism. Ronald Hayman, the author Brecht: A Biography (1983) has commented that: "Nothing mattered more to Brecht than the sense of participating in the fight against Hitler." (59)

At the beginning of 1935 Erwin Piscator invited Bertolt Brecht to Moscow. Others invited included Hans Eisler, Maxim Vallentin, Julius Hay, Ernst Busch (he stayed for two years) and Edward Gordon Craig. Brecht did not stay long. Another close associate, Bernard Reich, arrived and worked under Piscator at the Soviet backed International Association of Revolutionary Theatre (MORT): "The idea in appointing Piscator president was to have an attractive figurehead. Piscator however took the cause, and himself, seriously." (60)

In 1938 Brecht began work on the Life of Galileo. The main character is Galileo Galilei, an eminent professor and scientist in the 17th century Venetian Republic. He creates a telescope for careful observations of the Moon and the planets, and he discovers the moons orbiting Jupiter. His observations strongly support the Solar System theory of Nicolaus Copernicus. Galileo furthermore publishes in vernacular Italian, rather than traditional scientific Latin, thus making his work and conclusions more accessible to the common people. Galileo is brought to the Vatican in Rome for interrogation by the Inquisition. Upon being threatened with torture, he recants his teachings. His students are shocked by his surrender in the face of pressure from the church authorities. Galileo is placed under house arrest with a priest monitoring his activities, is visited by one of his former pupils, Andrea. Galileo gives him a book containing all his scientific discoveries, asking him to smuggle it out of Italy for dissemination abroad. Andrea now believes Galileo's actions were heroic and that he just recanted to fool the ecclesiastical authorities. However, Galileo insists his actions had nothing to do with heroism but were merely the result of self-interest. (61)

In the summer of 1939, when war had become inevitable and Denmark appeared more and more unsafe, Brecht moved to Sweden. He now began work on a new play, Mother Courage and Her Children. It was written in two months and was in response to Germany's invasion of Poland. The play is set in the 17th century in Europe during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Anna Fierling (Mother Courage) sells provisions to soldiers involved in the conflict. Over the course of the play, she loses all three of her children, Schweizerkas, Eilif, and Kattrin, to the very war from which she tried to profit. Brecht uses an epic structure to force the audience to focus on the issues rather than getting involved with the characters and their emotions." (62)

The United States

In May, 1941, Brecht was issued with a visa to enter the United States. Brecht and his family arrived at San Pedro, California, on 21st July, 1941. In the first few months he finished his play, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. It chronicles the rise of Arturo Ui, a fictional 1930s Chicago mobster, and his attempts to control the cauliflower racket by ruthlessly disposing of the opposition. The play is a satirical allegory of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany during the 1930s. All the characters had direct counterparts in real life, with Arturo Ui (Hitler), his henchman Ernesto Roma (Ernst Röhm), Dogsborough (General Paul von Hindenburg), Emanuele Giri (Hermann Göring), and Giuseppe Givola (Joseph Goebbels). Dramatically Arturo Ui is in keeping with Brecht's 'epic' style of theatre. It opens with a prologue in the form of a direct address, who outlines all the major characters and explains the basis of the upcoming plot. This allows the audience to focus on the message rather being concerned about what might happen next in the plot. It was inspired by the 1940 film, The Great Dictator. Like Charlie Chaplin he wanted to make Hitler ludicrous but he also wanted to expose the social and economic forces that brought him to power. (63)

In 1943, Brecht managed to sell a story based on the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the head of Sicherheitsdienst. and the Nazi Reich Protector of German-occupied Prague, and a chief mastermind of the Holocaust. Entitled The Hangman Must Die, the film was directed by an Austrian refugee, Fritz Lang. In Brecht story, Heydrich's killer is depicted as a member of the Czech resistance with ties to the Communist Party. In reality, it was Stewart Menzies, the head of MI6 who gave permission for Colin Gubbins, the director of operations of Special Operations Executive (SOE) to organize the assassination Heydrich. The Czech secret service in England provided British-trained assassination agents Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabčík. (64)

In 1943 Brecht wrote The Caucasian Chalk Circle. "In the story, which is set in Augsburg during the Thirty Years War, a maid, Anna, rescues a baby which has been abandoned. Years later, when its mother claims it, the case is heard by a judge... A chalk circle is drawn on the ground, the child put inside it, and the two women are ordered to pull it out. Anna, who cannot bear to hurt the child, lets the mother yank it out of the circle, but the judge decides in Anna's favour. The idea derives partly from a judgment of King Solomon, who is said to have decided a similar case by offering to cut the disputed child in half, and awarding it to the woman who withdrew her claim... In Brecht's play, the mother deserves to lose her child, which is awarded to a woman who will care for it better. As so often, he is demonstrating that justice has little to do with the law." (65)

In 1945 Erwin Piscator was given permission to direct a play for the off-Broadway group The Theatre of All Nations. He selected The Private Life of the Master Race by Brecht. However, when Brecht arrived from California, he attended the rehearsals and disliked what he saw and tried to have the performance cancelled. On 29th May, a fortnight before the opening at City College, Piscator walked out and refused to direct the play. Brecht called in Berthold Viertel to help him with the production. The critics found the result amateurish, though it is difficult to discover whose fault this was. Brecht told his friend, Leon Askin: "Our ideas on epic theatre are so different, that I preferred to leave him alone." (66)

Brecht had great difficulty having his plays produced. A gallant band of anti-Nazi actors based in Zurich had great success with three of the plays he had written in Denmark: Mother Courage and Her Children, Life of Galileo and The Good Person of Setzuan. He had little luck in the United States and it was not until 1945 that Fear and Misery of the Third Reich appeared on the New York stage. On 30th July 1947, Life of Galileo, with Charles Laughton, in the role of Galileo. directed by Joseph Losey, opened at the Coronet Theatre in Beverly Hills. (67)

House of Un-American Activities Committee

In the summer of 1947 the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), chaired by J. Parnell Thomas, began an investigation into the possibility that the American Communist Party was influencing the entertainment industry. Thomas wrote to President Harry S. Truman that: "The immunity which this foreign-directed conspiracy has been enjoying for the past fifteen years must cease." (68)

Thomas traveled to Hollywood to meet with film industry executives with a view to exposing what he believed was Communist infiltration of motion pictures content by members of the Screen Writers Guild. On his return to Washington, D.C., he shifted the focus of the committee to what he called the "subversives" working in the film business. According to David Caute: "The Hollywood investigation of 1947 was obviously aimed at both the New Deal and the wartime alliance with Russia." (69)

The HUAC began investigating Brecht and his contacts. Dorothy Thompson was questioned about having assisted in bringing Brecht to America. Fritz Kortner, an actor who had fled from the Nazis, was also interviewed about Brecht's communist connections. "Those of us who had financed Brecht's escape from Finland were investigated. With a clear conscience I could declare that Brecht was no political agent, but a revolutionary poet. In the files of the FBI, the political police, were to be found several of his poems. They were shown to me. Well, I hinted, a political agent does not write poems in which he expresses his political convictions. An agent conceals them." (70)

Brecht was preparing for the play, Life of Galileo, to be transferred to New York City, when he was ordered to appear before the HUAC. Frederic Ewen, the author of Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, His Times (1967) has pointed out the irony that the man whose play "with its indictment of the capitulation of the intellectual, and its declaration of the responsibilities of the scientist to the community" and who had been "exiled because of his anti-Nazi activities and works" was "being hauled in to answer for his political opinions." (71)

On 30th October, 1947, Brecht was ordered to appear in front of the HUAC. Three days previously, John Howard Lawson, had attacked Brecht's "discredited and thoroughly un-Marxist theories". (72) Robert E. Stripling, the Chief Investigator of the HUAC, read a passage from Die Massnahme, a play first produced in 1930, and asked: "Now, Mr Brecht, will you tell the Committee whether or not one of the characters in this play was murdered by his comrades because it was in the best interests of the party, of the Communist Party; is that true?" (73)

Brecht rejected this interpretation: "You will find when you read it carefully... This young man who died was convinced that he had done damage to the mission he believed in and he agreed to that, and he was about ready to die in order not to make greater such damage. So he asks his comrades to help him, and all of them together help him to die. He jumps into an abyss and they lead him tenderly to that abyss and that is the story." (74)

Stripling attempted to show that his writings had been deeply influenced on the ideas of Karl Marx. This was true as since 1930 he had openly based all his writing on a Marxist standpoint, but his reply attempted to confuse the HUAC. (75) "Of course I studied; I had to study as a playwright who wrote historical plays; I, of course, had to study Marx's ideas about history. I do not think intelligent plays today can be written without such study. Also history now, written now, is vitally influenced by the studies of Marx about history." (76)

The interrogation of Brecht by Stripling was very difficult: "Brecht understood little English and spoke less. The Committee members, of course, knew no German. An official translator had frequently to intervene. Brecht, who to the very end of his life savored a dialectical sparring with opponents, apparently enjoyed this confrontation, though it was difficult to determine whether one or two ambiguous statements he made were due to misunderstanding of the language or sheer perverseness." (77)

J. Parnell Thomas felt that Brecht was making fun of the committee and brought the processings to an end. One friend said that Brecht had clearly made the HUAC look very foolish. He said it was like a zoologist had been cross-examined by apes. However, Brecht was refused permission for Brecht to read his prepared statement. This would have included the following: "Being called before the Un-American Activities Committee, however, I feel free for the first time to say a few words about American matters: looking back at my experiences as a playwright and a poet in the Europe of the last two decades, I wish to say that the great American people would lose much and risk much if they allowed anybody to restrict free competition of ideas in cultural fields, or to interfere with art which must be free in order to be art. We are living in a dangerous world. Our state of civilization is such that mankind already is capable of becoming enormously wealthy but, as a whole, is still poverty-ridden. Great wars have been suffered, greater ones are imminent, we are told. One of them might well wipe out mankind, as a whole. We might be the last generation of the specimen man on this earth. The ideas about how to make use of the new capabilities of production have not been developed much since the days when the horse had to do what man could not do. Do you not think that, in such a predicament, every new idea should be examined carefully and freely? Art can present clear and even make nobler such ideas." (78)

Ring Lardner Jr, also gave evidence that morning before the HUAC. He later recalled: "He (Lardner) had already explained to us that he was so anxious to return to Germany he could not face the long delay of a contempt proceeding. For that reason he told the Committee that he had never joined any Communist Party and then proceeding to an assured, dignified defense of his work and his associations. It was a high-level performance, and we admired him for it, and the fact that the Committee abruptly suspended the hearings that afternoon indicated that they were not too happy with the reaction they were getting." (79)


Brecht had not told the complete truth about his political activities and so could have been arrested and charged with perjury and therefore decided to return to Europe. Brecht left the United States on 31st October, 1947. On arriving in France he had a meeting with Donald Ogden Stewart and his wife Ella Winter, two left-wing writers who were being persecuted in America as a result of McCarthyism. He also met with Anna Seghers, the anti-Nazi writer, who warned him against moving to East Germany, as she believed it would inhibit his ability to write political plays. (80)

Eventually, he decided to settle in Zurich, Switzerland. It had several advantages for Brecht. it was on the borders of West Germany with easy access to the Soviet zone in Berlin. It was not too far from Austria but there were also sufficient German-speaking theatres to give Brecht the chance of having his plays produced. The Zürich Schauspielhaus, revived Mother Courage and Her Children. (81)

The theatre also agreed to give a world premiere in 1948 to Mr Puntila and his Man Matti, a play written in 1940 when he was living in Finland. The play is about Puntila, a well-to-do landowner, who often gets drunk. When he is under the influence of alcohol, he is generous, high-minded, selfless, and humane. In that state of humanitarian intoxication he is a good friend of his chauffeur Matti, a proletarian gifted with good common sense and of radical leanings. When he is drunk he is "a harsh, overbearing, exploiting and calculating". (82)

Puntila gets himself engaged to four different girls of the lower classes. Sober, he disowns them and drives them away. Matti eventually leaves Puntila's service with the words: "You are not the worst of those I've met; you are almost a human being, when you are in your cups. This amicable union could not last; the drunken transport passes... Servants will only find a good master, when they themselves become their own masters." (83)

On 13th January, 1948, rehearsals began of Brecht's Antigone. It was based on a 19th century translation by Friedrich Hölderlin of the famous play by Sophocles. Brecht's wife, Helene Weigel played Antigone, whereas his school friend, Caspar Neher, designed the set. Brecht updated the play to be about the Second World War. The first scene in which two sisters discover that their brother, a soldier, has returned from the front. They help him but it turns out that he is a deserter and he is lynched by people in the town. (84)

Brecht opened up the rehearsals to the public on 5th February, "the audience surprised both us and itself with real applause". He was delighted with Neher's costumes, props, basic groupings and ideas towards solving the chorus problem. The point was "to find out what we could do for the old play and what it could do for us." (85) The premiere at Chur Municipal Theatre on the 15th February was so unsuccessful that only three more performances were given. (86)

The Swiss novelist and dramatist, Max Frisch, spent a great deal of time with Brecht in those months when he lived in Zürich. Frisch compared Brecht's passion for Marxism to that of the Jesuits. His political views made him reject any social order existing at present and wholly align himself to the future: "Christians are aligned to a beyond; Brecht is aligned to this world. That is one of the differences between him and those priests to whom he bears no little resemblance, however much he may mock them; the doctrine of the ends that sanctify the means produces similar features even when the ends are diametrically opposed." (87)

German Democratic Republic (GDR)

In October 1948, Brecht was invited to return to Germany to produce Mother Courage and Her Children at the Deutsches Theatre in East Berlin. The city was a depressing place to be and three years after the war there were still enormous stretches of rubble. Over fifty-seven per cent of Berlin's buildings had been destroyed and on both sides of the frontier that divided East from West, a space in which neither side wanted to invest. "A few workmen, and women clearing the rubble. The ruins make less of an impression on me than the thought of what the people went through when the city was devastated." (88)

In March 1946 members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) were balloted about the possibility of a merger with the Communist Party (KPD) and 80 per cent of those who voted were hostile to the idea. However, in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) there was no free vote, and on 21st April the merger was forcibly effected. Otto Grotewohl, a prominent member of the SPD, betrayed it by signing the agreement to dissolve it into the new Socialist Unity Party. (89)

Brecht had also been told about the way the Germans were treated by the Red Army during the early days of the occupation. Heinz Kuckhahn, an old acquaintance, had told him that "after the battle drunken hordes made their way through the houses, fetched the women, shot down the men and women who resisted them, raping, with children watching, standing in queues in front of the houses, etc." Kuckhahn also seen a woman of seventy shot after being raped. (90)

Brecht was also concerned about the strict censorship laws in a communist country. He wrote: "I do not like the place I have come from. I do not like the place I am going to." (91) He was given a reception in his honour and there was a long speech by several Communist leaders including Wilhelm Pieck, who was later to become president of the country. After long rehearsals the play opened on 11th January 1949. It was a brilliant performance and one of Brecht's greatest triumphs as producer and author. (92)

Brecht wrote to Erwin Piscator that he would like to work with him again if he visited the city: "Whenever I have mentioned the possibility of a visit I have raised the question of your making one too, because without you I find it difficult to envisage a successful attack on provincialism, hollow emotionalism, etc. in favour of great, mature political theatre." (93) In another letter the following month Brecht said: "Just to get things straight, let me tell you that of all the people who have been active3 in the theatre over the past twenty years no one has been so close to me as you." (94)

In December 1949, Brecht suggested to Wolfgang Langhoff, the artistic director of the Deutsches Theatre, about the possibility of forming his own company. Brecht described it as "a theatre for the children of the scientific age". The first year would be devoted to attracting the best emigre actors as guest artists; the long-term objective would be to build up an ensemble. Three or four plays could be produced each season. Some would be by Brecht but he hoped to perform plays by other socialist writers such as Seán O'Casey or Federico Garcia Lorca. He also had plans to write a play about Rosa Luxemburg, an important figure in his political development. (95)

On 6th January, 1950, Brecht met with officials of the Socialist Unity Party. Eventually the government offered him the opportunity to establish the Berliner Ensemble. The rehearsal hall was a battered huge shed opposite the Deutsches Theatre. He was able to persuade the following to join the company: Hanns Eisler, Helene Weigel, Caspar Neher, Paul Dessau, Erich Engel, Elizabeth Hauptmann, Ruth Berlau, Ernst Busch, Friedrich Gnass, Gerhard Bienert, Therese Giehse and Leonard Steckel. He was also willing to share his ideas with theatre directors from other countries. Erwin Leiser, who had spent most of his early life in Sweden commented: "Brecht is seldom alone in the auditorium." Vladimir Pozner, a visitor from the United States, pointed out: "Never have I seen a director who guarded his secret less jealously than Brecht. Anyone who wanted could come in." (96)

He was unsuccessful in persuading famous exiles to his new company, among them Erwin Piscator, Peter Lorre, Fritz Kortner and Elisabeth Bergner. Over the next few years it expanded the group to include exciting young talents such as Benno Besson, Egon Monk, Peter Palitzsch, and Manfred Wekwerth. It has been argued that under Brecht's guidance a "substantial number of young theatre artists who worked under his guidance as directing, dramaturgy and design assistants, plus the many apprentice actors hired by him... were all later to exert a pervasive influence on the German theatre during the second-half of the century." (97)

Over the next few years it became the country's most famous theatre company, with an international reputation and included a production of Mother Courage and Her Children (1951). Brecht was not fully committed to the new society that Soviet communism was forming in East Germany and other countries under the control of Joseph Stalin. He decided to write a play about what Karl Marx had hailed as the start of a new age: the Paris Commune in 1871. Brecht argued that Lenin, was one of those who believed that the Commune had been a triumph of direct proletarian revolutionary action. He decided to write a play that would inspire a political revolution. (98)

The Days of the Commune is Brecht's attempt to write his first tragedy: "The drama of the Paris Commune tries to lay bare a historical process, the movement by which a social class, the working class, takes power for a time, established a new form of proletarian state, but fails to keep it alive. The tragedy follows from two sorts of conflicts: one between the workers and the bourgeoisie, that will soon be storming at the gates of Paris; the other from the internal struggles and mistakes of the new Commune. It is from the second primarily, rather than from the first, that the inevitable defeat must flow." (99)

The authorities refused permission for his new play, The Days of the Commune, to be produced, because they considered it to be "defeatist" They also saw it as an attack on the Soviet backed government in East Germany. Some historians had blamed the Paris Commune's failure on the lack of effective leadership, but Brecht admired what had been a spontaneously collective uprising. In Brecht's play the Central Committee called on the citizens to elect "men of the people", and it was as responsible representatives of the collective will that Brecht saw the communards. This was in direct contrast the situation in East Germany when in 1945 the revolution was imposed on the people by the Red Army. (100)

Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (1930)
Bertolt Brecht (c. 1952)

The GDR government also objected to his Primer of War, a collection of news photographs and stories accompanied by original poems. This was rejected by the authorities as being too pacifist. It was only when Brecht threatened to bring the whole matter before the World Peace Council was permission finally granted for the book to be published. The opera, about the problems the artist has with state censorship, The Trial of Lucullus, was also not allowed to be shown until it was revised. (101)

On 16th June, 1953, East Berlin construction workers went on strike. The following day workers from other industries held mass meetings all over the city and voted to support building workers. Trams and trains came to a halt as transport workers joined the strike. Over 50,000, people gathered at the Lustgarten. Speeches were made attacking the government and political figures such as Walter Ulbricht, the communist leader, had his portrait burnt. Red Army tanks drove into the crowd, killing sixteen people. The rebellion spread to over 700 towns and villages but the revolt was crushed in a couple of days. (102)

Brecht had to decide whether to side with the government or to express solidarity with East German workers, whose rising was no less spontaneous than the one depicted in his The Days of the Commune play. If he did, he knew that the government would make things very difficult for the Berliner Ensemble. He therefore decided to write a letter to the Neues Deutschland: "The dissatisfaction of an appreciable section of Berlin's workers with a series of economic measures that had miscarried. Organized fascist elements tried to abuse this dissatisfaction for their bloody purpose. For several hours Berlin was standing on the verge of a third world war. It is only thanks to the swift and accurate intervention of Soviet troops that these attempts were frustrated. It was obvious that the intervention of the Soviet troops was in no way directed against the workers' demonstrations. It was perfectly evident that it was directed exclusively against the attempt to start a new holocaust... I now hope that the agitators have been isolated and their network of contacts destroyed." (103)

In November, 1953, Brecht began rehearsals for The Caucasian Chalk Circle. He intended to open the play at the Theatre am Schiffbauerdamm, the new home the company was to occupy, in the spring of 1954. The musical score was composed by Paul Dessau who had invented a new instrument for the occasion, a gongspiel. Due to Brecht's insatiable drive for perfection and his never-tiring fertile imagination, rehearsals eventually extended over nearly eleven months, and the show did not open until October 1954. On 21st December 1954, Brecht was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize. (104)

During the summer of 1956, the Berliner Ensemble were rehearsing for a tour of England. This included preparations for a production of The Days of the Commune, that had just been cleared by the authorities. On 10th August, Bertolt Brecht attended a rehearsal at the theatre. He felt very tired afterwards, and his condition gradually deteriorated. He died of coronary thrombosis at a quarter to midnight on 14th August 1956. Brecht was buried, as he had requested, in the old Huguenot cemetery beneath the window of his last apartment. (105)

Primary Sources

(1) Bertolt Brecht, Hundert Gedichte (1951)

I grew up as the son of well-to-do people. My parents put a collar round my neck and taught me the habit of being waited on and the art of giving orders. But when I had grown up and looked around me I did not like the people of my class. And I left my own class and joined the common people.

(2) Bertolt Brecht, Legend of a Dead Soldier (1917)

They poured some brandy down his throat
The rotten corpse to rouse
Two hefty nurses grabbed his arms
And his half-naked spouse
Because the rotten body stank
A parson limped ahead
And over him his incense swung
To cover the stench of the dead
The band in the van with rum-tum-tum
Played him a rousing march
The soldier as he had been drilled
Kicked his legs high from his arse.

Student Activities

The Middle Ages

The Normans

The Tudors

The English Civil War

Industrial Revolution

First World War

Russian Revolution

Nazi Germany

United States: 1920-1945



(1) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 4

(2) Bertolt Brecht, Hundert Gedichte (1951) page 298

(3) Bertolt Brecht, letter to Herbert Ihering (1922)

(4) Bertolt Brecht, interviewed by Sergei Tretyakov, International Literature (May, 1937)

(5) Bertolt Brecht, Legend of a Dead Soldier (1927)

(6) Martin Gilbert, First World War (1994) page 474

(7) Theodor Wolff, Berliner Tageblatt (8th November, 1918)

(8) Kurt Eisner, letter to Gustav Landauer (14th November, 1918)

(9) Bertolt Brecht, speech in Moscow (25th May, 1955)

(10) Bertolt Brecht, interviewed by Sergei Tretyakov, International Literature (May, 1937)

(11) Lion Feuchtwanger, Die Weltbühne (4th September, 1928)

(12) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 10

(13) Lion Feuchtwanger, Die Weltbühne (4th September, 1928)

(14) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 10

(15) Lion Feuchtwanger, Von Erfolg zu Erfolg (1930) page 179

(16) George Grosz, A Small Yes and a Big No: The Autobiography of George Grosz (1983) page 148

(17) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 45

(18) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 10

(19) Arnolt Bronnen, Gib zu Protokoll (1954) pages 97-98

(20) Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten (10th December, 1923)

(21) Bertolt Brecht, letter to Herbert Ihering (22nd September, 1922)

(22) Herbert Ihering, Berliner Börsen-Courier (5th October, 1922)

(23) Arnolt Bronnen, Gib zu Protokoll (1954) page 98

(24) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 20

(25) Alfred Döblin, Leipziger Tageblatt (5th June, 1924)

(26) Bertolt Brecht, diary entry (20th May, 1921)

(27) August Spies, speech at his trial (September, 1887)

(28) Erwin Piscator, Das Politische Theater (1929) page 57

(29) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 23

(30) George Grosz, journal entry (1928)

(31) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 45

(32) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 24

(33) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 158

(34) Bertolt Brecht, quoted by John Willett, The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht (1959) page 62

(35) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 105

(36) Peter Thomson and Glendyr Sacks, The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (1994) pages 108-109

(37) Stephen Brook, Opera: A Penguin Anthology (1996) pages 471-472

(38) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 35

(39) Herbert Ihering, Berliner Börsen-Courier (14th February, 1931)

(40) Philip Hensher, The Guardian (25th November, 2017)

(41) Frederic Ewen, Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, His Times (1967) page 154

(42) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 33

(43) Eve Rosenhaft, Brecht's Germany: 1898-1933, included in The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (1994) page 12

(44) John Willett, The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht (1959) pages 196 and 248

(45) Peter Brooker, Key Words in Brecht's Theory and Practice, included in The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (1994) page 186

(46) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 46

(47) Harold Harmsworth, 1st Lord Rothermere, The Daily Mail (24th September, 1930)

(48) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 164

(49) Konrad Heiden, The Führer – Hitler's Rise to Power (1944) page 352

(50) Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1962) page 213

(51) Franz von Papen, Memoirs (1952) page 162

(52) Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936 (1998) page 370

(53) Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich (1998) page 154

(54) Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich (1998) page 286

(55) Rudolf Diels, Lucifer Ante Portas: From Severing to Heydrich (1950) page 221

(56) Richard Overy, Goering: The Iron Man (1984) page 25

(57) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 164

(58) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 46

(59) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 184

(60) Bernard Reich, Im Wettlauf mit der Zeit (1970) page 345

(61) John Willett, The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht (1959) pages 46-47

(62) John Willett, The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht (1959) page 121

(63) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 247

(64) Miroslav Ivanov, Target: Heydrich (1974) page 46

(65) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 232

(66) Bertolt Brecht, letter to Leon Askin (2nd July, 1945)

(67) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) pages 64-67

(68) J. Parnell Thomas, letter to President Harry S. Truman (23rd April, 1947)

(69) David Caute, The Great Fear (1978) page 91

(70) Fritz Kortner, Aller Tage Abend (1959) page 547

(71) Frederic Ewen, Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, His Times (1967) pages 415-416

(72) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 309

(73) Robert E. Stripling, Chief Investigator of the HUAC (30th October, 1947)

(74) Bertolt Brecht, statement before the HUAC (30th October, 1947)

(75) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 309

(76) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 72

(77) Frederic Ewen, Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, His Times (1967) page 417

(78) Bertolt Brecht, prepared statement that he was not allowed to present before the HUAC (30th October, 1947)

(79) Ring Lardner Jr, interviewed in Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Holywood Backlist (2012) page 410

(80) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) pages 313-314

(81) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 74

(82) Frederic Ewen, Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, His Times (1967) page 368

(83) Bertolt Brecht, Mr Puntila and his Man Matti (1948) page 164

(84) Anthony Squiers, An Introduction to the Social and Political Philosophy of Bertolt Brecht: Revolution and Aesthetics (2014) page 189

(85) Bertolt Brecht, letter to Ferdinand Reyher (7th February, 1948)

(86) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 318

(87) Max Frisch, Tagebuch 1946-1949 (1950) page 288

(88) Bertolt Brecht, journal (23rd October, 1948)

(89) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 327

(90) Bertolt Brecht, journal (23rd October, 1948)

(91) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 78

(92) Carl Weber, Brecht and the Berliner Ensemble, included in The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (1994) pages 168

(93) Bertolt Brecht, letter to Erwin Piscator (February, 1947)

(94) Bertolt Brecht, letter to Erwin Piscator (March, 1947)

(95) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 330

(96) Frederic Ewen, Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, His Times (1967) page 445

(97) Carl Weber, Brecht and the Berliner Ensemble, included in The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (1994) pages 169

(98) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 335

(99) Frederic Ewen, Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, His Times (1967) pages 439-440

(100) Ronald Hayman, Brecht: A Biography (1983) page 335

(101) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) page 87

(102) Alison Smale, The New York Times (17th June, 2013)

(103) Bertolt Brecht, Neues Deutschland (23rd June, 1953)

(104) Carl Weber, Brecht and the Berliner Ensemble, included in The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (1994) pages 177

(105) Martin Esslin, Brecht: A Choice of Evils (1959) pages 91-92