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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMA   OF   EXPRESSIONISM                  395

dramatist; but while Kaiser would lift up the proletariat and liber-
ate them from the deformation of routine labour, Toller descends
to them wholeheartedly and identifies himself with their aims and
hatreds; where Kaiser uses politics for the drama, Toller uses the
drama for politics. In Die Wandlung (1919) a soldier, who by
patriotism has earned the respect of his fellow-countrymen, casts
off all outward honour to be born again as pure man calling, in
love, his brothers to revolution. Masse Mensch (1920) discusses the
question whether murder in the cause of progress is to be tolerated
or not; the State that murdered by means of generals was Moloch,
and so are the masses if they murder for the sake of a cause. In Die
Maschmensturmer (1922) the mass of the workers are the collectivist
hero. The revolutionary propaganda is taken back to the Luddite
riots in England; it proclaims Kaiser's doctrine that machinery
makes men automatons and destroys the soul. Der deutsche Hinke-
mann (1923) is bitter with disillusionment; a war veteran returns,
with his virility shot away, to his wife. Fetter aus den Kesseln (1930)
dramatizes the revolt of the sailors at Kiel which was the begin-
ning of the end of the War. In 1919 Toller was imprisoned for his
share in Kurt Eisner's coup d'etat in Munich, and during his in-
carceration he wrote his poem Das Schwalbenbuch (1923): a pair of
swallows make their nest in his cell, and he describes their summer
life. In I was a German (1934), written as a political exile in English,
and in Erne Jugend in Deutschland (1934), Toller tells his own story.
He hanged himself, as a refugee, in New York in 1939.

The Communism in the plays of Toller and other Aktivisten is
interesting in its revelation of the mentality produced by the col-
lapse of the militaristic system in 1918. The war at sea found its
dramatist in REINHARD GOERING (1887-1936); the action of his
SeesMacht (1917) takes place in the turret of a cruiser before and
after the Battle of Jutland; the conflict is between duty and revolu-
tion; the seven sailors fire the guns rather than rebel, because it is
easier to obey, but the ideas of mutiny are not so much political as
bound up with the question of intense individual life calling away
from an impersonal fate that rolls its slaves round and round as
cogs in a grinding wheel. The action otScapaFlow (1919) is before
and after the sinking of the surrendered German fleet.

The war on land finds its most lyrical expression in the verse
plays of FRITZ VON UNRUH (1885- ). He had begun, while serving
as a Prussian officer, with two tragedies, Officers (1912) and Louis