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Bertolt Brecht, Helene Weigel

»i’m learning: to wash glasses + cups« - Letters 1923–1956

Edited by Erdmut Wizisla
Bertolt Brecht
Foto: Bertolt Brecht
© Konrad Reßler/Stadtmuseum München

Bertolt Brecht was born on February 10th, 1898 in Augsburg. He died on August 14th, 1956 in Berlin.

Helene Weigel

Helene Weigel

Helene Weigel was born on May 12th, 1900 in Vienna. She died on May 6th, 1971 in Berlin.

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»Dear Helli,
i’m learning: to wash glasses + cups, sweep the floor, take out the rubbish, make scram-bled eggs and soups. i’m teaching myself. i feel very close to you when i’m washing glasses, which you have done for so long, among other things.«

The Brecht Archive was recently able to acquire the »Victor N. Cohen Brecht collection«, which includes a large number of unknown letters written by Brecht in the mid 1940s during his exile on the east coast of America and sent to Helene Weigel in California, his wife since 1929.

In an early end-of-year stocktaking in 1923, Brecht wrote to and about the young actress: »away from her he feels ›profound boredom/90 % nikotine/10 % gramophone‹«. Again and again he assails her: asking about a room or a flat, for books and articles or about car prices and the restitution of lost papers; he asks about her roles and performances and the reactions of the audience and critics; he tells her about his work on his own plays and how he »created few sonnets with much nicotine«.

Following his flight from Germany in early 1933 the subject repeatedly turns to places where Brecht can continue his work, the trials of a family in exile, two children who only ever hear their mother tongue at home, and the plight of an actress who has been without a stage for fifteen years. And whose letters we can now encounter for the first time.

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