It is believed that the only time Bertolt Brecht ever appeared in person on a Berlin Cabaret stage was in January 1922.
Six years prior to his triumphant collaboration with Kurt Weill on The Threepenny Opera, the 24 year old budding writer and director, took to the stage of Trude Hesterberg’s ‘Wilde Bühne’ at the Theater de Westens for just six nights.
He performed his songs ‘Jakob Apfelböck’ – about a boy who murders his parents- and the grotesque war song ‘Die Ballade vom totem Soldaten’ (The Ballad of the Dead Soldier).
The song, written in 1918, describes how the German Army, short on manpower in the last months of the First World War, dig up a soldier who has already died in battle and, filling him with schnapps and dousing him in incense to cover up the smell, send him back to the Front to once again die a ‘hero’s death’
‘This bitter work, which also attacked military doctors, churchmen, and chauvinist citizens, caused a scandal at it’s first performance, and Hesterberg had to drop the curtain until the audience quietened down”
Peter Jelavich – Berlin Cabaret