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Bertolt Brecht

            Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg in 1898. His father, a Catholic, was a director of a paper company and his mother, a Protestant, was the daughter of a civil servant. Brecht began to write poetry as a boy, and had his first poems published in 1914 at the age of 16.
             In 1917 Brecht enrolled as a medical student at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. After military service as a medical orderly, he returned to his studies, but abandoned them in 1921. During the Bavarian revolutionary turmoil of 1918, Brecht wrote his first play, BAAL, which was produced in 1923. The play celebrated life and sexuality and was a great success.
             Around 1927 Brecht started to study Karl Marx's DAS KAPITAL and by 1929 he had become a Communist. At the Schiffbauerdam Theatre he trained many actors who were to become famous on stage and screen, among them Oscar Homolka, Peter Lorre and the singer Lotte Lenya.
             Brecht's politically committed play, DIE MASSNAHME (1930, The Measures Taken) reflects his anti-sentimentality and directness, in such a way that even the Communist Party was quite disturbed. In the play a young Communist is murdered by the Party - his sympathy for the poor and their suffering only postpones the day of the showdown. The lesson is that the freedom of the individual must be suppressed today so the in the future mankind will be able to achieve freedom.
             In the 1930's Brecht's books and plays were banned in Germany, performances were interrupted by the police or summarily forbidden. As a result of the trouble that was growing for him Brecht fled into exile. He travelled first to Denmark then to Finland, from Finland, through Russia and onto the United States.
             Between the years 1938 and 1945 Brecht wrote his four major plays, two of them being, THE LONG LIFE OF GALILEO and MOTHER COURAGE.
             In 1947 while living in America, Brecht was accused of un-American activities, but managed to confuse J. Parnell Thomas, the chairman of the Committee of un-American activities with half-truths.

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