Brecht’s War Primer: Oliver Chanarin, Tom Kuhn & Esther Leslie

Bertolt Brecht, poet, playwright, theatre director and refugee, was a passionate critic of fascism and war. During World War Two, already many years into his exile from Nazi Germany, Brecht started creating what he called ‘photo-epigrams’ to create a singular visual and lyrical attack on war under modern capitalism. As his family fled from the Nazis, ‘changing countries more often than our shoes,’ Brecht took photographs from newspapers and popular magazines and added short lapidary verses to each in a unique attempt to understand the truth of war using mass media

These photo-epigrams are collected in War Primer, a remarkable work first published in 1955 and now available in a new edition by Verso.

Chair Gareth Evans was joined by Deutsche Borse Prize-winning photographer Oliver Chanarin, Brecht scholar and translator Tom Kuhn and scholar and critic Esther Leslie in a panel discussion about this outstanding literary memorial to World War Two and one of the most spontaneous, revealing and moving of Brecht’s works that is strikingly relevant to the current confluence of war and neo-fascism today.