Bertold Brecht: This chap Marx…

This week marks the 50th death anniversary of Bertolt Brecht.

As Brecht himself put it, he found out that “this chap Marx was the first person to really understand my plays”:

One year before the East German Revolution in 1989 the government built a Brecht monument in front of the Berliner Ensemble. The memorial demonstrates how the East German dictatorship read Brecht. There is a quote from The Mother:

Who still lives, should not say never!
The secure is not secure
So, the way it is, it will not remain

But Brecht’s concluding two lines are missing:

After the rulers have spoken
The ruled will speak

In the end, Brecht’s conclusion outlasted the East German rulers – and it is this Brecht that we should read today.

For me personally, one of the most incisive plays that I ever read was Galileo, from wherein a popular quote is:

Unfortunate is the land that needs heroes.

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