he said he didn’t need one, but … (“Ich benötige keinen Grabstein, aber”) … he got one anyway. so he can be found: laying on the dorotheenstädtischer friedhof, chausseestraße, next to helene weigel, just around the corner from hegel & fichte: the who-is-who of the german „geist“ (spirit/ ghost). imagine crossing this cemetery at midnight: THRILLER for all students of the „sciences of the spirit“ (humanities). as a materialist brecht was hardly interested in the spirit, this legacy of german idealism, but rather in the ghost – the ghost of communism: terrifying to the oppressors only, friendly to kids. thus he moved into the house right next to the cemetery, overlooking graves and listening to the mumbling discourses of the “ghosts’ republic”. today we- those born after (“die Nachgeborenen”) – only hear him mumbling when we put our head on his grave (the books), whispering between the lines with a voice that’s also terrifying and comforting at once. but no, there is no ghost of brecht haunting those born after or at least not in the country from which he was “chased away with good reason” (Verjagt mit gutem Grund). but there are still people today who want to chase him away again. when I visited him for the first time a few months after the fall of the wall, his grave was defiled with anti-Semitic writing, unimpressed by the fact that brecht wasn’t Jewish (the offenders followed the old cynic logic of the notorious nazis: “it’s up to us to decide who is Jewish.”) as adorno & horkheimer said: defiling graves is anti-Semitism in its essence. this may be the reason why brecht’s ghost/ spirit lives in exile today like the man himself for too many years of his too short life. so does his poem about his tombstone have to be rewritten in the end?
“Er hat Vorschläge gemacht. Wir
Haben sie nicht angenommen.
Durch solch eine Inschrift
Sind wir alle entehrt.“
„He made propositions. We / Didn’t accept them. / By such an inscriptions / we are all dishonoured.”