Home > Uncategorized > Bertolt Brecht: For its material and moral beneficiaries, war can look forward to a prosperous future

Bertolt Brecht: For its material and moral beneficiaries, war can look forward to a prosperous future


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

German writers on peace and war

Bertolt Brecht: Selections on war


Bertolt Brecht
From Mother Courage and Her Children (1939)
Translated by Eric Bentley


MOTHER COURAGE:…The Chief had his troubles lately, I hear. There was unrest in the Second Regiment because he didn’t pay ’em. He said it was a war of religion and they must fight it free of charge.

MOTHER COURAGE:…Then you don’t think the war might end?

CHAPLAIN: Because a commander’s dead? Don’t be childish, they grow on trees. There are always heroes.

MOTHER COURAGE: Well, I wasn’t asking for the sake of argument. I was wondering if I should buy up a lot of supplies. They happen to be cheap right now. But if the war ended, I might as well just throw them away.

CHAPLAIN: I realize you are serious, Mother Courage. Well, there’ve always been people going around saying some day the war will end. I say, you can’t be sure the war will ever end. Of course it may have to pause occasionally – for breath, as it were – it can even meet with an accident – nothing on this earth is perfect – a war of which we could say it left nothing to be desired will probably never exist. A war can come to a sudden halt – from unforeseen causes – you can’t think of everything – a little oversight, and the war’s in the hole, and someone’s got to pull it out again! The someone is the Emperor or the King or the Pope. They’re such friends in need, the war really has nothing to worry about, it can look forward to a prosperous future.

CHAPLAIN:…You have your leg shot off, and at first you raise quite an outcry as if it was something, but soon you calm down or take a swig of brandy, and you end up hopping about, and the war is none the worse for your little misadventure. And can’t you be fruitful and multiply in the thick of slaughter – behind a barn or somewhere? Nothing can keep you from it long in any event. And so the war has your offspring and can carry on. War is like love, it always finds a way. Why should it end?

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