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Bertolt Brecht

Playwright and theatre theoretician, founder of the Berliner Ensemble theatre in Berlin. Author of plays such as “The Threepenny Opera”, “Mother Courage And Her Children” and “Caucasian Chalk Circle”.

Bertolt Brecht

Playwright and theatre theoretician, founder of the Berliner Ensemble theatre in Berlin. Author of plays such as “The Threepenny Opera”, “Mother Courage And Her Children” and “Caucasian Chalk Circle”.

The Soviet Russian invasion of Poland proceeded in a curiously Napoleonic form. There was no advance war propaganda of any sort, no preparation of ‘public opinion’, no councils deciding or approving anything at all. The government decreed. Meetings across the country acclaimed the decree. Their commeniques are framed to accord with the national tone. In the shadow of great struggles two provinces which formerly belonged to the Russian Empire are occupied.

Diplomatic considerations? Before a great army is set in motion, a great Empire hears things which only Europe, capitalist Europe should hear. The text sounds as if Hitler had edited it. And yet is snatches his war aim away from him. The Red Army marches into Europe.


Here we have the fourth partition of Poland, the abandonment of the slogan ‘the USSR needs no foot of foreign soil’, the appropriation of the fascist hypocrisies about ‘blood-brotherhood\, the liberation of ‘brothers’ (of Slav descent), all the terminology of nationalism. This is addressed to the German fascists, but at the same time to the Soviet troops.


The Soviet invasion of Poland, preluded by the sensational Pravda article in which the military collapse of Poland was attributed to the suppression of minorities, awakens fears in the first instance that the USSR could be stumbling into a war on Germany’s side. This does not seem to be the case. Then, of course, Hitler stands to lose a lot. The Balkans can be kept neutral.

Hitler’s access to Romania is blocked. Hungary’s neutrality gets some support. Italy, too, is held in check. Hitler’s war goals in Poland can no longer be achieved. In addition to which, Hitler grows even more suspect for the German bourgeoisie. And the workers more and more become the only partners for the USSR who can sign and deliver, the class that really can seal an alliance. (A war with the USSR would have been terrible. In Stockholm, the slogan ‘the USSR must free the Germans from Hitler through a war against Germany’ is much easier to proclaim than in Berlin.) But it is still very difficult to get used to the naked reality, with every ideological veil torn to shreds.

H.G. Wells publishes the speech he intended to deliver at the PEN-club congress. Really, what a philistine! He views Hitler and Mussolini simply as writers. and he finds them stupid. As if lack of literary talent couldn’t prevent the cleverest person from appearing clever in a work of literature. Wells himself exemplifies the opposite. By means of modicum of smartness in literary matters he contrives without further ado to give the impression of common sense. See more

I dip into Goethe’s PANDORA, and again I am struck by the SHEPHERDS’ SONGS. The way the refined and the primitive come together there!

Who will a shepherd be

Long time has he

Let him count the stars that shine

Let him blow upon the leaf

Again and again the hand here plunges into the depths, bringing up something, part of which runs off, but something sticks, totally alienated in its new company. the stream’s smoothness reveals its depths.

The Germans have occupied Warsaw. The campaign lasted eight days and the Western powers, as Hitler foresaw, have not intervened. But Hitler is lost if the Western powers do not capitulate and conclude a peace (as they will). His war is contained, all he can do is break through or starve. Of course, Chamberlain’s leaflets are not going to bring about a revolution in Germany. A childish delusion, were it not plain eyewash. A Swedish paper reports that only after reports of victories were people heard in Berlin greeting one another in restaurants with ‘heil Hitler’. See more

A few people are beginning to realize what a remarkable war it is. The French military command claims to have made contact with the enemy in the vicinity of Saarbrucken. The Germans issue denials of such horror tales. The English drop leaflets, thereby infringing Holland’s neutrality but no shot is fired on them. Mussolini is silent. But how is one to believe in betrayal when there is no apparent bribe? The Germans’ statements that the Russians are reaching military agreements with them grow more and more definite. This nonsense is gladly disseminated. See more

Spooky, this war isn’t being fought the Swedish press, there still has not been a word about the fact that not a shot has been fired in the West. Four bombs from English bombers off Willhelmshaven, according to German reports. Esbjerg bombed ‘by an unknown plane’. And an English passenger steamer torpedoed west of the hebrides. The only thing dropped over Western Germany is leaflets. And from all points of the globe come declarations of neutrality, which appear to isolate Hitler, but in fact merely isolate his war of annihilation against Poland. The other gangster sits smiling on the axis and plays the neutral, ‘to keep the war from spreading’. The war which is quite small. For even the war in Poland consists merely of a German advance. Poland is not fighting at all. Everything is being made to ripen towards a conference; Hitler is conquering enough ground to be able to withdraw on his own terms.

I was pretty convinced the English would draw back at the last minute. But Churchill seems to have pulled it off. The question now is whether they will actually fight a war. The machinery will probably be very hard to set in motion. Hitler will soon have achieved a fait accompli in the East, at which point they may negotiate after all. The legal position is that there is peace in Poland and people are fighting, whereas in the West war has been declared and peace prevails.


Only in the evening did the terrible truth dawn on everybody. That was when the English wireless reports on the session in the commons came through. A dreadful spectacle, even if it was only the first act and the mildest one. The German government wants war, not the German people. The French and English governments don’t want war, the French and English peoples do, to stop Hitler.


In the evening the English wireless was already beginning to discuss the question of war guilt. The Germans are permitted to hear that Hitler’s ‘surprisingly generous proposals’ were never actually made. Then on German wireless there were more military marches, creating the mood for dying, on the English wireless - instructions to the population, evacuation of 3 million people from London.


At 8.45 in the morning Germany warns all neutrals against flying over Polish territory. Hitler addresses the Wehrmacht. In between, the melancholy marches with which German militarists like introducing their bloodbaths. Yesterday a British veteran, an officer of course, made an appeal to Germans who fought in the great war. conclusion: ‘...otherwise we shall teach the rulers of Germany a lesson on how to deal decently and honourably with their neighbours. Good night.’

Then jazz. On the German side, marches.