Fear and Misery of the Third Reich


Fear and Misery of the Third Reich (German: Furcht und Elend des Dritten Reiches), also known as The Private Life of the Master Race, is one of Bertolt Brecht's most famous plays and the first of his openly anti-Nazi works. It premiered on May 21, 1938 in Paris. This production was directed by Slatan Dudow and starred Helene Weigel. The production employed Brecht's epic theatre techniques to defamiliarize the behaviour of the characters and to make explicit the play's underlying message. The play consists of a series of playlets, portraying National Socialist Germany of the 1930s as a land of poverty, violence, fear and pretence. Nazi antisemitism is depicted in several of the sketches, including "the Physicist", "Judicial Process", and "the Jewish Wife". It was followed by many more plays that were openly anti-Nazi (Arturo Ui, etc.) and attempted a Marxist analysis. They were written while Brecht was in exile in Denmark and were inspired by a visit to Moscow, where he experienced the growing significance of the anti-Nazi movement there. In 1974, the postmodern East German dramatist Heiner Müller wrote an 'answer' to Brecht's play, titled The Battle: Scenes from Germany (revised from a text first written in the early 1950s; first theatrical production opened on 10 October 1975 at the Volksbühne). Tony Kushner's 1985 play A Bright Room Called Day was also based on this play.
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original title: Furcht und Elend des Dritten Reiches
language: German
date of publication: 1938
narrative location: Nazi Germany


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