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Brecht’s The Solution and Public History

2016 July 21
For all who suffered

Banner of East Hetton NUM at the Durham Miners’ Gala a few years ago

In the politically unsettled time of the last few weeks it has been difficult to get down to concentrated work. However, I have recently finished revisions and picture captions for my article on ‘Where is Public History?’ for a collection being edited by David Dean that I mentioned some time ago here. Part of the article discusses Brecht’s Questions from a Worker who Reads in which I suggest that in the writing of history the questions one asks are just as important as ‘the answers’.

However, his poem written about the workers’ uprising in East Berlin in 1953 – and which was only published several years afterwards- is probably more relevant for the times in which we live today. In case younger readers – and the Labour Party NEC – don’t know the poem I reproduce it here:

The Solution

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

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