Brecht, and Stalin as a "demon"

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at
Tue Jun 4 00:57:21 MDT 1996

Chris writes to Gary:

>I was moved by that poem by Brecht.
>Yes I guess we can all be perpetrators, as well as victims.
>How to have some insight into that, and yet not give up the
>yeah, Peace and Love

Chris (and others who are misusing this Brecht poem to shake their heads at
man's (ie Stalinist butchers') inhumanity to man), you should recall that
Brecht went in fear of his life when he was passing through Moscow on his
way from exile in Denmark, via Finland and the Soviet Union, to the States.
He was particularly afraid of Lukacs, who he characterizes as a cold,
ruthless bureaucrat (Otto Ville Kuusinen was a very similar creature from

Brecht is paying for the lack of clarity in his poem in relation to
Stalinist crimes when he gets such interpretations put on his work.

'I guess we can all be perpetrators' is just what pro-Nazi propagandists
are always saying: 'Yeah, everyone was doing it, shit, we're only human,
man, and those Jews, Trotskyists, Palestinians -- they're such provocative
treacherous whining bastards, aren't they?'

Brecht didn't trust the Stalinists an inch. He may have lived and worked in
East Berlin after the war, but he made damn sure he was not a citizen of
the GDR, choosing the neutral Austria instead. His money he kept in
Switzerland (surprise, surprise!) and his business interests were located
in West Germany.

He wrote a sarcastic little poem following the uprising of the workers of
East Berlin on 17 June 1953 (never published in the GDR, of course) that
makes his attitude a bit clearer:

               After the rising of 17 June,
               The Secretary of the Writers' Association
               Had leaflets handed out in the Stalinallee
               In which it was written that the People
               Had forfeited the confidence of the Government
               And would only be able to regain it
               By redoubling their labours. In that case,
               Would it not be easier for the Government
               Simply to dissolve the People
               And elect another?

Forget all this junk about Stalin and Stalinism being necessary for the
survival of the Soviet Union! Look at their actual policies and the way
they were reached and the way they affected the Soviet and world working
classes instead.



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