Kurt Weill and Bertholt Brecht's Berlin

Wrath/Spartacus Manifesto

The Spartacus Manifesto was one of the first pieces published in Die Rote Fahne (“The Red Flag”), which was the official newspaper of the Communist party, and laced with references to wrath. On one hand, there is the wrath expressed by the Communists, “what is being prepared by the ruling classes as peace and justice is only a new work of brutal force from which the hydra of oppression, hatred, and fresh bloody wars raises its thousand heads” (Kaes et al. 1994, 37). Similarly, its repeated usage of violent language, such as “gruesome”, “murder”, “bloodletting”, and “plagues”, conveys a sentiment of harshness and anger.

On the other hand, though, there is the alleged wrath of the German government. Over the course of the Manifesto, the Communists designate the government responsibility for “The masses of the soldiers, who for four years were driven to the slaughterhouse for the sake of capitalistic profits, and the masses of workers, who for four years were exploited, crushed, and starved…” They accuse the government of “infamous international murder” and the mowing down of “the flower of youth and the best men of the nations” (Kaes et al. 1994, 38). As such, the Spartacus Manifesto is less a pep talk for Communists and more of a wrathful response to the perceived violence and anger of others. This is similar to how Goebbels drums up support for the Nazis in Why are we Enemies of the Jews, and the Nazi poster that are also part of this exhibition – they depict a clear enemy, blame this enemy as the cause of all suffering, and argue that by acting against them, Germany can begin a new era of justice and peace.

"Spartacus Manifesto" In Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg, 138. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994

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