League for Proletarian Culture

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The League for Proletarian Culture (German: Bund für proletarische Kultur) was a short-lived German left-wing organisation for the promotion of proletarian culture. It was founded in Berlin in spring 1919 by Alfons Goldschmidt, Arthur Holitscher, and Ludwig Rubiner and was dissolved in early 1920.[1] It sought to promote "the eternal values bequeathed by the illustrious spirits of the past."[2] Under the auspices of the experimental theatre the Tribüne (founded in September 1919), it staged Ernst Toller's Transformation (Die Wandlung), which opened on 30 September 1919 with a cast that included Fritz Kortner.[3] The production ran into difficulties in mid-October, however, when some of its cast refused to play for metalworkers who were on strike at the time, which led to the termination of the relationship between the League and the Tribüne.[4] The director Karlheinz Martin and dramaturg Rudolf Leonhard, both of whom had worked on the Toller production, formed the "Proletarian Theatre of the League for Proletarian Culture" (Proletarisches Theater des Bundes für proletarische Kultur).[5] It produced Herbert Kranz's Freedom (Freiheit), which opened on 14 December 1919 on the platform of the Philharmonic Hall.[6] Despite the production's success, having filled the auditorium, only one performance was given.[7] The newspaper The Red Flag (Rote Fahne) thought that in its promotion of individual self-realisation through self-sacrifice the play adopted an anarchist political position.[8]



  1. Sheppard (2000, 261-262) and Willett (1978a, 14).
  2. Sheppard (2000, 261).
  3. Willett (1978a, 14).
  4. Pearlman (2000), Sheppard (2000, 261), Piscator (1980, 36), and Rorrison (1980, 37).
  5. Sheppard (2000, 261) and Rorrison (1980, 37).
  6. Rorrison (1980, 37) and Willett (1978a, 14).
  7. Piscator (1980, 36).
  8. Rorrison (1980, 37).


  • Pearlman, Alan Raphael, ed. and trans. 2000. Plays One: Transformation, Masses Man, Hoppla, We're Alive!. By Ernst Toller. Absolute Classics ser. London: Oberon. ISBN 1-84002-195-0.
  • Piscator, Erwin. 1980. The Political Theatre. Trans. Hugh Rorrison. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-33500-3. Originally published in 1929; revised edition 1963.
  • Rorrison, Hugh. 1980. Editorial notes. In Piscator (1980).
  • Sheppard, Richard. 2000. Modernism-Dada-Postmodernism. Avant-Garde & Modernism Studies ser. Evanston, Ill: Northwestern UP. ISBN 0-8101-1493-3.
  • Stourac, Richard, and Kathleen McCreery. 1986. Theatre as a Weapon: Workers' Theatre in the Soviet Union, Germany and Britain, 1917-1934. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-7100-9770-0.
  • Willett, John. 1978a. The Theatre of Erwin Piscator: Half a Century of Politics in the Theatre. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-37810-1.
  • ---. 1978b. Art and Politics in the Weimar Period: The New Sobriety 1917-1933. New York: Da Capo Press, 1996. ISBN 0-306-80724-6.