1947 October 30

Famed Playwright Brecht Testifies Before HUAC; Immediately Leaves the U.S.

 

The famous German playwright Bertolt Brecht testified before HUAC on this day as one of the hostile witnesses in the HUAC investigation of alleged Communist influence in Hollywood. See October 27, 1974, for the beginning of the famous confrontation between the committee and the “Hollywood Ten,” a group of writers and directors who refused to cooperate with the committee.

The day after his testimony, Brecht left the U.S. for East Germany and never returned. Brecht is best known among Americans as the co-author of the musical, Threepenny Opera, with composer Kurt Weill, which features the now-famous song, Mack the Knife. One of the ironies of Threepenny Opera is the Brecht was a committed Marxist and yet earned considerable income from the original state production in Germany and then considerably more from the royalties from Mack the Knife.

Read: James K. Lyon, Bertolt Brecht in America (1980)

Read the FBI file on Brecht: http://vault.fbi.gov/Bertolt%20Brecht

Learn more: Michael Freedland, with Barbara Paskin, Witch-Hunt in Hollywood: McCarthyism’s War on Tinseltown (2009)

Learn more at the International Brecht Society: http://www.brechtsociety.org/

Learn more About HUAChttp://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/huac

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