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last updated: 10 December 2008

bertolt brecht

War Primer

Eight thousand strong we lie in the Skagerrak.
Packed into cattleboats we crossed the sea.
Fisherman, when fish have filled your net
Remember us, and let just one swim free.

While in exile in the Second World War, in Sweden, Finland and the USA, Brecht cut out war photographs from newspapers and magazines, kept them in a portfolio, and wrote quatrains to accompany them. The result is a unique literary memorial to that war, which is also a powerful manifesto against war itself. It is also one of the most spontaneous, revealing and moving of all Brecht’s works.

Deserves a place on the shelves of every public and school library’ – The Times Literary Supplement

An album of pity and anger which fixes the evil of war for all time’ – Observer

A modern equivalent of Goya’ – Guardian

Tender, angry, and incisive’ – Independent

Bertolt Brecht (1898–56), the German poet and playwright, was forced into exile in 1933, returning from the USA to Switzerland in 1947, and to East Berlin in 1949. One of his country’s greatest 20th century poets, among his most famous plays are The Threepenny Opera, Mother Courage, Life of Galileo and The Caucasian Chalk-Circle.

John Willett (1917–2002) was the chief editor/translator of the English-language edition of the work of Bertolt Brecht. He was for many years deputy editor of The Times Literary Supplement, and the author of many books about Brecht and about Weimar Germany.

book cover

Related books published by Libris:

  • The Young Brecht