Brecht, Bertolt

BORN 10 Feb 1898, Augsburg, Bayern - DIED 14 Aug 1956, Berlin
BIRTH NAME Brecht, Berthold Eugen Friedrich
CAUSE OF DEATH heart attack
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Dorotheenstädtischen Friedhof, Chausseestrasse (CAM-1-26/29 (Ehrengrab))

Bertold Brecht was born in Augsburg and escaped serving in the First World War by entering Munich University to study medicine. But he also studied drama with Arthur Kutscher and soon he wrote newspaper articles about the theatre. In 1917 he started a relationship with Paula Banholzer and in 1919 a son was born, Frank. In 1920 Paula died.

In 1918 he wrote his first play "Baal" and in 1920/1921 he cooperated with comedian Karl Valentin. In 1922 he won the Kleist Prize for his first three plays. He married actress Marianne Zoff and in 1923 their daughter Hanne was born. Soon he separated from Marianne, although it took until 1928 before they were divorced. Brecht had liaisons with both Elisabeth Hauptmann and Helene Weigel and Helene bore him a son, Stefan, in 1924.

In 1924 he went to Berlin where he became Max Reinhardt's assistant at the Deutsches Theater. In 1927 he joined Erwin Piscator's company and during this year he collaborated with Kurt Weill for the first time. He started a writing collective and "Die Dreigroschenoper" with his words and music by Weill was an enormous success in Berlin. Another collaboration with Weill, "Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny" led to protests by nazis when it was performed in Leipzig in 1930. In 1929 he had married Helene Weigel.

In 1933 he fled for the nazis to Denmark, where he met the actress Ruth Berlau, who became his mistress. In 1939 it was feared that Germany would enter Denmark and he moved on to Sweden. In 1941 he left from Finland for the USA, together with his wife and Ruth Berlau. He continued to write plays in exile. After the war he was suspected of communism and in 1947 he testified that he had never joined the Communist Party. That was probably true, but he had been a convinced Marxist since his late twenties. The next day he went back to Europe.

He lived for a while in Switzerland and in 1949 he moved to East Berlin. But his copyrights were held in Switzerland and he kept his bank accounts abroad. He wrote a few more plays and also worked as a director and teacher to young talents. In 1956 he died of a heart attack, aged only 58. He was buried at the Dorotheënstädtischen Friedhof in Berlin, next to the house where he had lived with Helene Weigel until his death.

• Daughter: Hiob, Hanne
• Wife: Weigel-Brecht, Helene (1929-1956)
• Wife: Zoff, Marianne (1922-1928) (divorce or separation)

Related persons
• was the lover of Berlau-Lund, Ruth
• cooperated with Bronnen, Arnolt
• cooperated with Dessau, Paul
• cooperated with Eisler, Hanns
• was discovered by Falckenberg, Otto
• cooperated with Geschonnek, Erwin
• was the lover of Hauptmann, Elisabeth
• cooperated with Hauptmann, Elisabeth
• was published by Kiepenheuer, Gustav

31/8/1928Premiere of the "Dreigroschenoper" by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in Berlin. The performance took place at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. Harold Paulsen was Macheath, Lotte Lenya was Jenny and Erich Ponto was Bettler Peachum. Erich Engel was the director. [Engel, Erich][Lenya, Lotte][Ponto, Erich]
28/2/1933Bertolt Brecht leaves Germany. He left Germany shortly after Hitler had come to ower. he travelled to Prague, Zurich and Paris before he accepted an invitation from Karin Michaëlis to come to Denmark. 


The grave of Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel at the Dorotheenstädtischen Friedhof, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (16 Aug 2010)


Wikipedia (EN):

Breitner, Hugo

Published: 04 Dec 2010
Last update: 11 Feb 2023