‘What times are these, in which
A conversation about trees is almost a crime
For in doing so we maintain our silence about so much wrongdoing!’
– Bertolt Brecht, ‘An die Nachgeborenen’, 1939, translated from the German by Scott Horton
‘An die Nachgeborenen’ was a dark prophecy of collapsing Europe, when many people – those who were not slaughtered on the battlefields or killed in concentration camps – changed countries more frequently than shoes. Including Brecht himself, who wrote these verses in Danish exile in 1939.
Today, as right-wing populism and xenophobia, border fortifications and refugees are rising once again across Europe and the world, Brecht’s words reverberate like poetic thunder from the future.
We are the Nachgeborenen, born after the horrors of the Second World War. We are the ones who are responsible for not repeating the mistakes of the past.