Hanns Eisler: What's New and What's News?

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Bullet Special film journal issue about Eisler

Take a virtual tour of Eisler's music

Our RealAudio tour of Eisler's music—from the mid-1920s until his death in 1962—is now available along with translations of texts and expanded comments on each composition.

Book reveals U.S. spying on German exiles

Communazis by Alexander Stephan
The Living Arts Section of the New York Times on Aug. 30, 2001, (p. B1) featured an article by Dinitia Smith about "Communazis," a book by historian Alexander Stephan of Ohio State University. It explores the World War II surveillance of Bertolt Brecht, Hanns Eisler, Thomas Mann and other prominent German exiles then living in the United States.

The book was published in 2001 by Yale University Press and is available for sale on U.S. Amazon website. Stephan's earlier books have centered on East German literature, novelist Christa Wolf and the exile writings of Anna Seghers.

"'Communazis' shows that surveillance of German exiles in North America was "wider and deeper than previously known," writes Smith in the Times. "Mr. Stephan said he obtained more than 10,000 pages of documents that show that the exiles were watched not only by the FBI, but also by the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA; the Immigration and Naturalization Service; military intelligence groups; the State Department; and other government agencies.... The surveillance demonstrates 'an absolute waste of manpower in time of war,' Mr. Stephan said in a telephone interview. 'These were 20th-century bureaucracies that outgrew themselves.'"

The FBI files on Eisler and Brecht have been public record for some time, but Stephan's book shows that even exiles who had no Communist sympathies were targeted. "In the background of FBI surveillance lay a widespread public fear of foreigners, especially German spies and saboteurs, combined with deep distrust of liberal or socialist ideas," Stephan writes.

Film journal on Eisler available on the Web

The October, 1998, issue of the "Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television" devoted to Eisler is now online at FindArticles.com. All articles are in English. Includes Horst Weber on Eisler as a Hollywood film composer, Tobias Faßhauer on Eisler's twelve-tone "Chamber Symphony," Berndt Heller on the reconstruction of Eisler's early film music, Martin Hufner on the Adorno/Eisler book on "Composing for the Films," director Larry Weinstein on his documentary "Solidarity Song," Albrecht Betz's conversation with legendary documentary director Joris Ivins, Jürgen Schebera on the Fritz Lang wartime movie "Hangmen Also Die," and Albrecht Dümling on the first postwar documentary about the Holocaust: Resnais/Eisler's "Night and Fog." To locate these articles, type "Hanns Eisler" into the search field when you reach the front page at FindArticles.com.

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Written by Andy Lang.

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