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1947 - '56: Return


Dresden, 1945

Brecht spent a year in Switzerland on his return to Europe.  He adapted Sophocles' Antigone (in Hölderlin's translation) and directed it in Chur, staring Helene Weigel. Another of his plays, Puntila, was produced in  Zurich. 


At the end of the year, he moved to East Berlin, where he had been invited by the GDR (East German) regime.  From late '48 on, his life is centered there on the theater troupe that he establishes, the Berliner Ensemble, with whom he stages and produces a series of plays that garners enormous successes for himself, his associates and the new nation, which is vying culturally with the FRG, (West Germany.) With his new prominance, he is in a very precarious position vis-a-vis the communist arts bureaucracy, who are always trying to nail him on points of policy, while he continues to fight for openness in the arts. 


He has few illusions about Germany, East or West, but does battle with every quarter until his end in mid-1956.



Click on title for German original


Except for this planet I thought, there is nothing and it
Is so devastated.
It alone is our refuge and this
Is the way it looks.



Click on title for German original


When I came back home
And saw the total disaster
I was overcome with fright
And wanted to walk faster.

But had I walked even faster
As fast as never before, I doubt  
That from districts ruined as these
I would ever have gotten out.

came back home

Click on title for German original


When our cities lay in rubble
Devastated by the butcher-man’s war
We began to build them up again
In the cold, hungry and weak as we were.

We pulled the ore carts filled with rubble
By ourselves, just as in olden times
With our bare hands, we dug out the bricks
So as not to sell our children into servitude.

Then we made for these our children
Places in the schools and cleaned the schools
And scoured the dirt from the knowledge
Of the centuries, to make it good for them.




Click on title for German original
A New House

Returned after an exile of fifteen years,
I have moved into a lovely house.
My No-masks and my scroll depicting the Doubter
Have been hung on the walls. Driving through the ruins
I am reminded daily of the privileged
Who have provided me with this house. I hope
That it does not make me feel tolerant of the holes
In which so many thousands are living.  On the armoire
Lies my suitcase with the manuscripts,
Still at the ready.   


(May 1949)


Click on title for German original


It is better to live,
Even if badly.
A cripple can ride
A one handed man can tend animals
The deaf man can fight and be useful
Being blind is better
Than burnt to death.
A corpse is of no use to anyone.



better to live

The Doubter

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