Brecht 1898 - 1956 (58)

First comes a full stomach, then comes ethics.



Study from bottom up, for you who will take the leadership, it is not too late! Study the ABC; it is not enough. but study it! Do not become discouraged, begin! You must know everything! You must prepare to take command,now!

Study, man in exile! Study. man in the prison! Study, wife in your kitchen! Study, old-age pensioner! You must prepare to take command now! Locate yourself a school, homeless folk! Go search some knowledge, you who freeze! You who starve, reach for a book: it will be a weapon. You must prepare to take command now.

Don’t be afraid to question, comrades! Never believe on faith. see for yourself! What you yourself don’t learn you don’t know. Question the reckoning you yourself must pay it Set down your finger on each small item. asking: where do you get this? You must prepare to take command now!

Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright and theatre director. He was born in Augsburg in Bavaria and died in East Berlin. His mother was Protestant and his father Catholic, director of a paper company. Bertolt studied medicine at the University of Munich (1917 - 1921) and served in the First World War as a nurse. From an early age he began to write poems and plays. In 1922 he married the opera singer Marian Zof, they has a daughter. In 1923 he was hired as an assistant director at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, began to attend the Marxist Workers School and studied dialectical materialism. In 1928, his adaptation of “The Beggar’s Opera” by John Gay, renamed as the Threepenny Opera, with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill caused quite a sensation in Berlin, its impact had a great affect on the world stage musical. In this opera Brecht criticizes the Berliner bourgeoisie. In 1930 he married Helen Vaingel with whom he had already a son. Later they had a daughter as well and they lived together until his death. In 1933 with the rise of Nazism in Germany, Brecht fled the country. He went to Denmark, Finland and Moscow where he published with other German writers "the Word" magazine. Then he went to U.S.A were he stayed throughout the war. In 1944 he wrote the play "The private life of the dominant race" a rigorous review of life in Germany under the regime of National Socialism. In 1947, with McCarthyism escalating in USA, Brecht was invited to answer the House Un-American Activities Committee and convince them that he was not a communist. He testified to the committee but did not except himself from the list of suspects for being a communist.

Next year he returned to the Democratic Republic of Germany where he was devoted to poetry and the direction of his works. With Ηelene Weigel they founded the Mperliner Ensemble, maybe the most famous German touring theatre of the postwar era. Hellen kept it until her death in 1971. Bertolt was elected as a member of the Academy of Arts in 1950, he was awarded the National Prize of the GDR in 1951 and the Lenin Prize for Peace in 1954. He wrote hundreds of poems, using his poetry to criticize European culture, including Nazis, and the German bourgeoisie. His plays were characterized initially by a spirit of condemnation of war and militarism, then were turned to the Marxist philosophy. Between the years 1937 and 1945 he wrote his greatest works: The Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and her children, The Good Man of Szechuan, The Lord Puntila and Servant Matti, The 'Rise of Arturo Ui, The visions of Simone Massari, the Good soldier Sveik, the Caucasian Chalk Circle. His works are timeless, they are played in theaters around the world with undiminished success and interest.