Ernst Toller

Biografie şi Bibliografie

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Ernst Toller (December 1, 1893 – May 22, 1939) was a German communist playwright, best known for his expressionist plays.

Biography

Ernst Toller was born in Samotschin, Posen, Prussia (now Poland) in 1893 in a Jewish family. At the outbreak of the Great War, he volunteered for military duty, spent thirteen months on the Western Front, and suffered a complete physical and psychological collapse. His first drama, Transformation (Die Wandlung), was to be inspired by his wartime experiences.

Toller was involved in the 1919 Bavarian Soviet Republic along with other leading anarchists—such as B. Traven and Gustav Landauer—and communists. This republic was short-lived and was defeated by right-wing forces. He was imprisoned for his part in the revolution.

While imprisoned, he completed work on Transformation, which premiered in Berlin under the direction of Karlheinz Martin in September 1919. At the time of Transformation's hundredth performance, the Bavarian government offered Toller a pardon, which the writer refused out of solidarity with other political prisoners. Toller would go on to write some of his most celebrated works in prison, including the dramas Masses Man (Masse Mensch), The Machine Breakers (Die Maschinenstürmer), Hinkemann, the German (Der deutsche Hinkemann), and many poems. It would not be until after his release from prison in July 1925 that he would finally see a performance of one of his plays. In 1925, the most famous of his later dramas, Hoppla, We're Alive (Hoppla, wir Leben!) directed by Erwin Piscator, premiered in Berlin. It tells the story of a revolutionary who is discharged from a mental hospital after eight years to discover that his once-revolutionary comrades have grown complacent and hopelessly compromised within the system they once opposed. In despair, he kills himself.
Ernst Toller (back) and Max Weber (front) in May 1917 at the Lauensteiner Tagung.

In 1933, while in Germany, he was detained by the Nazis. Whilst in the concentration camp he was tortured by the guards who made him eat a complete volume of one his novels and force fed him castor oil.[1] After this incident, he was exiled from Germany. His citizenship was nullified by the National Socialist government later that year. He traveled to London and participated as co-director in the Manchester production of his play Rake Out the Fires (Feuer aus den Kesseln) in 1935. He went on a lecture tour of the United States and Canada in 1936 and 1937, before settling in California, where he worked on screenplays which remained unproduced. Toller moved to New York City in 1936, where he lived with a group of artists and writers in exile, including Klaus Mann, Erika Mann and Therese Giehse. Suffering from deep depression (his sister and brother had been arrested and sent to concentration camps) and financial woes (he had given all his money to Spanish civil war refugees), he committed suicide by hanging in his hotel room at the Mayflower Hotel on May 22, 1939.[2]

W. H. Auden's poem "In Memory of Ernst Toller" was published in Another Time (1940) together with poems memorializing Yeats and Freud, and mourning the spread of Fascism and war (Spain 1937 and September 1, 1939).

Works

    * Die Wandlung (Transformation) (1919)
    * Masse Mensch (Masses Man) (1921)
    * Die Maschinenstürmer (The Machine Wreckers) (1922)
    * Hinkemann (org. Der deutsche Hinkemann), Uraufführung (19 September 1923)
    * Hoppla, We're Alive! (Hoppla, wir leben!) (1927)
    * Feuer aus den Kesseln (1930)
    * Eine Jugend in Deutschland (1933), autobiography, Amsterdam
    * Briefe aus dem Gefängnis (1935), Amsterdam
    * I was a German (1934), autobiography, New York
    * Mary Baker Eddy (1930) Play in Five Acts, with Hermann Kesten, translated by Edward Crankshaw

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