Barbara Brecht-Schall (ed.), Bertolt Brecht

Kriegsfibel / War Primer

€ 24,90
inkl. MwSt., zzgl. Versand


A remarkable volume compiled from Bertolt Brecht's collection of wartime newspaper clippings, gathered during his exile in Denmark. Each accompanied by a four-line poem that he called 'photo-epigrams'.
"In December 1944 Brecht and his collaborator, Ruth Berlau, assembled the photoepigrams.[and] mounted [them] on hand-cut sheets of black construction paper. It is quite likely that Berlau herself reproduced the photographs from images that Brecht found in various publications, including Life magazine and Swedish and American newspapers.; In 1944 Brecht presented this miniature copy of Kriegsfibel to Lion Feuchtwanger, his longtime friend, mentor, and collaborator and a fellow German exile living in Southern California. Brecht sent another copy to his friend Karl Korsch in February 1945; whether additional copies were created or still exist is unknown. In 1949, after Brecht returned to Germany, he and Berlau assembled the Kriegsfibel for publication; it did not appear, however, until the fall of 1955."

"Bertolt Brecht’s peculiar 1955 book Kriegsfibel (War Primer) repurposed press photographs from World War II, most of them from LIFE magazine. Monumental images of machinery and atrocity acquired new captions, socialist realist epigrams which Brecht composed to denote the ur-meaning of each scene: ‘“What’s that you’re making, brothers?” “Iron waggons.” “And what about those great steel plates you’re lifting?” “They’re for the guns that blast the iron to pieces.” “And what’s it all for, brothers?” “It’s our living.”’
The epigrams are especially interesting when they interact with the extant text of an original editorial caption: ‘A Japanese soldier’s skull is propped up on a burned-out Jap tank by U.S. troops. Fire destroyed the rest of the corpse.’ This photograph depicts a sunken, leathery mask of flesh that barely seems human; the casualism ‘Jap’ is a jingoist human error polluting the news-magazine’s officialese. Addressing this fellow of infinite jest, Brecht assumes the voice of Hamlet: ‘Alas, poor Yorrick of the burnt-out tank! / Upon an axle-shaft your head is set. / Your death by fire was for the Domei Bank / To whom your parents are still in debt.’
Kriegsfibel converts images into dioramas in, as it were, an epic theatre of war; War Primer 2 (2011), which riffs on Brecht’s original as Brecht riffed on LIFE’s, splinters them. Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have made a work of art for the age of digital reproduction. Describing the ‘new’ press photograph, they recently asked: ‘Why is it that images we trust are now most often the lowest resolution or blurred images, so-called poor images? Perhaps it’s because there seems to be a trade-off inherent in these images: a compromise on quality (resolution, composition, focus) for speed and authenticity.’ (B&C)

Included in: PARR/BADGER, The Photobook: A History, Vol. III

"Brechts 'Kriegsfibel' (engl.: War Primer) ist DAS große Anti-Kriegs-Buch.
Es erschien 1955, ein Jahr vor seinem Tod, zum ersten Mal und seither (kaum verändert, z.B. 1968, 1978, 1994)) in vielen Ländern (aktuell sind auch weitere, ältere Ausgaben bei Café Lehmitz Photobooks erhältlich).

Diese neue, sechste Auflage wurde herausgegeben von Barbara Brecht-Schall. Sie erinnert an die Entstehung des Buches und daran, wie ihr Vater im dänischen Exil begann, Ausschnitte aus Zeitungen zu sammeln und diese Bilddokumente mit Versen kommentierte." (Verlagstext, © Eulenspiegel, 2008)

2011 bildete das Buch die Vorlage für BROOMBERG/CHANARIN's 'War Primer 2'; mehr Infos dazu:

Über den Autor (1898-1956) und die Herausgeberin:
Ein Leitsatz für die Entstehung und den Umgang mit diesem einzigartigen Buch, das auch schon Eingang in PARR/BADGER's 'History of Photobook', Band 1 gefunden hat, könnte der folgende, von Bertolt Brecht bereits 1934 formulierte Satz sein: 'In Zeiten, wo die Täuschung gefordert und die Irrtümer gefördert werden, bemüht sich der Denkende, alles, was er liest und hört, richtig zu stellen". (in: 'Über die Wiederherstellung der Wahrheit' )
Barbara Brecht-Schall (1930 - 2015) war Theaterschauspielerin und Kostümbildnerin. Die Tochter von Bertolt Brecht und Helene Weigel war seit 1961 mit dem Schauspieler Ekkehard Schall verheiratet. Bis 1972 gehörte sie dem Schauspielerensemble des Berliner Ensembles an. Sie war Inhaberin aller Rechte an den Brecht-Stücken.