Antiwar literary and philosophical selections

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Bertolt Brecht: Selections on war

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Bertolt Brecht
From Mother Courage and Her Children (1939)
Translated by Eric Bentley

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MOTHER Courage: …What is it, were you attacked? On the way back? I bet it was that soldier who got drunk on my liquor. I should never have let you go…They’re worse than animals.

CHAPLAIN: I reproach them with nothing. At home they never did these shameful things. The men who start the wars are responsible, they bring out the worst in people.

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MOTHER COURAGE: I won’t let you spoil my war for me. Destroys the weak, does it? Well, what does peace do for ’em, huh? War feeds its people better.

She sings:

If war doesn’t suit your disposition
When victory comes, you will be dead.
War is a business proposition:
But not with cheese, with steel instead!

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