Statements by Hanns Eisler under interrogation
by the House Committee on Un-American Activities
and about his deportation from the USA

See background notes by G Mayer and list of Eisler’s writings in English.

Taken from Hanns Eisler – Musik und Politik – Schriften 1924-1948, ed. Günter Mayer (1973:
VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig), pp. 494-503 © Stephanie Eisler.
Page turns in the 1973 edition are inserted thus: |#411-2| means the change from page 411 to 412.

Statement I (May 1947) · Statement II (May 1947) · Statement III (October 1947)
Statement IV: ‘Fantasia in G-Men’ (October 1947) · Statement on leaving the USA (March 1948)


Top of document   Statement [I] (1947)

Typescript, 9 May 1947, prepared by Eisler before his cross-examination by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in October 1947. For revised, expanded typescript dated 10 May 1947, see Statement [II]. See also Background notes to these statements by G Mayer. [pp. 494-496 in original edition]

For the past five months I have found myself attacked and publicized to a very unusual degree. The reason for this campaign against me is clear. I am accused of being the brother of Gerhart Eisler. And I have stood by him. I shall continue to do so.

What are the facts? I arrived in Hollywood in 1942.1 My activities have been artistic activities. In addition to the chamber music, piano and orchestral works I composed in Hollywood,2 I wrote the musical score for nine motion pictures, including Hangmen Also Die, Spanish Main and None But the Lonely Heart.3

My knowledge of American politics is limited, and I have never dabbled in them. That does not mean that I am not interested in world affairs, or that I advocate the old theory that an artist should remain isolated in his ivory tower, for which it is becoming increasingly difficult to pay the rent anyway.

It is not surprising to me that due, to the accident of my geographical situation — I am living in Hollywood — and the coincidence of my family ties, the House Un-American Activities Committee should find me a most convenient target for attack. But what does infuriate me, and what is most unfair in the announced investigation of my ‘Hollywood activities’, is the attempt to intimidate and smear my friends and the artists with whom I have had professional contacts.

Top of this document  In Germany it had been necessary for an artist who wished to remain a living and an eating one, (though not a corrupted one), to participate in the fight against reaction and fascism. I had participated in this struggle as a musician, and my contribution was a modest one. My contact with politics and political parties has always been casual. But on all my concert tours, professional trips which took me whether to Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Zurich, London, Madrid, |#494-5| Paris, New York, Prague or Moscow, I was received not only as a composer, but also as a co-fighter against the Nazis and their collaborators.

In my travels I met anti-fascists of every description: Communists, Social Democrats, Liberals, Monarchists and Confusionists — of all social strata. I saw mistakes and confusion, set-backs and defeats. It was a bitter time. What could I contribute? I was a musician, so I contributed music: songs, stage music, cantatas and oratorios. I did my best to inspire all those who fought against the Nazi criminals. Among these were Communists, reliable fighters with good discipline, who fought heroically under the most complicated conditions, where mercy was not expected and mercy was not given. Neither the syndicated hysteria of a certain press with its smear campaigns, nor a House Committee on Un-American Activities will be able to intimidate me or prevent me from saying this.

nd nobody can prevent me from stating my sympathy for labour. In my earliest childhood already I had heard my father speak with respect of labour. He was a distinguished philosopher, whose book, ‘The Encyclopedia of Philosophical Terminology’ (Wörterbuch der Philosophischen Begriffe)4 is still considered a classic. My mother was the daughter of a worker. My father’s philosophic attachment to labour was based on the works of Kant and Hegel, which he masterfully interpreted.

I was raised in the tradition of German (classical) music: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. I realized how susceptible the greatest musicians have been to the spiritual trends of their times. Johann Sebastian Bach, in his B Minor Mass, in the Passion According to St. John, and in the Passion According to St. Matthew, gave voice to the incredible suffering of the German people after the Thirty Years War. His musical style was a great progress from the cold, empty musical routine of his contemporaries. Mozart, for one of his most beautiful operas, chose a play by the radical playwright, Beaumarchais. In his chamber music and symphonies he developed a new sensitivity and differentiation of musical language which was clearly a response to the ideas of his age, the ‘Age of Reason and Enlightenment’.

Top of this document  In my student days, modern music had to fight hard battles against reaction, both cultural and political. When the Nazis came to power, they outlawed modern music, and if the great master, Arnold Schönberg, my teacher, had not succeeded |#495-6| in leaving Germany, he would have ended in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Of course I wrote many compositions of concert character: symphonies, chamber music, orchestral suites, cantatas, oratorios and piano pieces. But I am proud of those of my works (what) which have been used in the great struggle against the threat of barbarism and destruction. And I am very grateful to my many friends in Hollywood who have stood by me in the present day continuation of this same struggle.

(If the House Committee of Un-American Activities is interested in other facts of my life or my professional activities, it can find them in most standard music encyclopedias, or in ‘Who’s News and Why 1942’, and without attempting to create a public hysteria.)


Top of this document  Statement [II]

Typescript, 10 May 1947. This is the revised and slightly expanded version of Statement [I] (9 May 1947). See also Background notes to these statements by G Mayer [pp. 501 to 504 in original edition, see above]

For the past months I have found myself attacked and publicized in the newspapers to a very unusual degree. The reason for this campaign against me is clear. I am accused |#501-2| of being the brother of Gerhart Eisler. And I have stood by him. I shall continue to do so.

Their treatment of me as an artist was somewhat bewildering. First they described me as a ‘noted refugee composer’ and a ‘well known composer’. Then they classified me as a ‘top red composer’, a more moderate ‘Hollywood Cornposer’, then ‘Hollywood songwriter’. And finally they dropped all reference to music and referred to me quite simply as the brother of a noted ‘atom spy’.5

It can easily be imagined what the consequences of such publicity are to an artist, especially a modern composer whose concert music is known only to a few colleagues, conductors, musicians and a few connoisseurs, and whose opportunities for earning a living are, at best, limited, and who has to make a living in Hollywood in 1947.

It is not surprising to me that due to the accident of my geographical situation — I am living in Hollywood — and the coincidence of my family ties, the House Committee should find me a most convenient and natural target for attack. But what infuriates me and what is most unfair in the announced investigation of my ‘Hollywood activities’ is the attempt to intimidate and smear my friends and the artists with whom I have had professional contacts.

Top of this document  I arrived in Hollywood in 1942. My activities have been artistic activities. My knowledge of American politics is limited and I have never dabbled in them. That does not mean that I was not interested in world affairs or that I advocate the old theory that an artist should remain isolated in his ivory tower, for which it is becoming increasingly difficult to pay the rent anyway. In Germany it had been necessary for an artist who wished to remain a living and an eating one, though not a corrupted one, to participate in the fight against reaction and fascism. I had participated in this struggle as a musician and my contribution was a modest one. My contact with politics and political parties has always been very casual. But on all my concert tours, professional trips which took me whether to Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Zurich, London, Madrid, Paris, New York, Prague or Moscow, I was received not only as a composer, but also as a co-fighter against the Nazis and their collaborators. I met anti-fascists of every description: communists, social democrats, liberals, monarchists and confusionists — of all social stratas. I saw mistakes and confusion, set-backs and defeats. It was a bitter time. What could I contribute? I |#502-3| was a musician, so I contributed music: songs, stage music, cantatas and oratorios. I did my best to inspire all those who fought against Nazi criminals. Among these were communists, reliable fighters with good discipline, who fought heroically under the most complicated conditions, where mercy was not expected and mercy was not given. Neither the syndicated hysteria of a certain press with its smear campaigns, nor a House Committee on Un-American Activities will be able to intimidate me or prevent me from saying this.

Top of this document  And nobody can prevent me from stating my sympathy for labor. In my earliest childhood already I had heard my father speak with respect of labor. He was a distinguished philosopher, whose book Wörterbuch der Philosophischen Begriffe (Encyclopedia for Philosophical Terminology) is still considered a classic. His sympathy for labor was based on the works of Kant and Hegel, which he masterfully interpreted. He belonged to the School of German idealistic philosophy. He was a neo-Kantist. The neo-Kantists tried to extend the methods of Kant to the findings of natural science of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.6 My father, the philosopher, married the daughter of a worker. Some members of my father’s family looked down on her and I was sensitive about it and resented it. So I developed quite naturally a sympathy and respect for labor.

I was raised in the tradition of German classical music: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. I realized how suspectible the greatest musicians have been to the spiritual trends of their times. So had Johann Sebastian Bach in his B Minor Mass, in the Passion According to St. Matthew, the Passion According to St. John, given voice to the incredible sufferings of the German people after the 30 year war. His musical style was a great progress from the cold, empty musical routine of his contemporaries. Mozart, for one of his most beautiful operas, chose a play by the radical playwright Beaumarchais. In his chamber music and symphonies he developed a new sensitivity and differentiation of musical language which was clearly a response to the ideas of his time, the ‘Age of Reason and Enlightenment’. The revolutionary character of Beethoven’s music is well known.

In my student days modern music had to fight hard battles against reaction, both cultural and political. When the Nazis came to power, they outlawed modern music, and if the great master, Arnold Schönberg my teacher had not |#503-4| succeeded in fleeing to America, he could have ended in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Of course I wrote many compositions of concert character: symphonies, chamber music, orchestral suites, cantatas, oratorios and piano pieces. But I am proud of those of my works that have been used in the great struggle against the threat of barbarism and destruction. 

Top of this document  Endnotes (statements I and II)

1. Eisler had lived in Hollywood since April 1942. He taught at New York’s New School for Social Research until early 1942. His research work on the Film Music Project continued.

2. See Eisler’s compositions for voice and piano, Hollywood-Elegien (Brecht), Anakreon-Fragmente, Hölderlin-Fragment. His Piano Sonata appeared in 1943. At that time Eisler was working on the orchestral movements of a German Symphony. During the same period he also produced several stage works including Die Geschichte der Simone Machard (Brecht, 1946) and much film music (see next footnote)

3. In fact he only wrote music for eight films between 1943 and 1947: 1943 - Hangmen Also Die (Bertolt Brecht/John Wexley/Fritz Lang); 1944 - None but the Lonely Heart (Clifford Odets), Spanish Main (Mankiewicz/Borzage), Jealousy (Machate); 1946 - Deadline at Dawn (Clifford Odets/Harald Clurman), A Scandal in Paris (Sirk); 1947 - So Well Remembered (Edward Dmytrik), Women on the Beach (Jean Renoir).

4. Wörterbuch der Philosophischen Begriffe und Ausdrücke quellenmäßig bearbeitet (Berlin 1900).

5. Exact press references for these quotes have yet to be found.

6. Neo-Kantianism was influential movement in German late-bourgeois philosophy during the last third of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth centuries. It was a reaction agains the demands of philosophical materialism which appeared in various branches of knowledge, especially within the natural sciences, and which acknowledged the need for exact research methods. It played down the value of dialectic theories of development which were equated with scientific socialism. After the turn of the century, Neo-Kantianism gained some influence on revisionist tendencies within the labour movement.

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Top of this document  Statement [III]

Typescript by Hanns Eisler (1947)

See also background notes by G Mayer and list of Eisler’s writings in English.

Taken from Hanns Eisler – Musik und Politik – Schriften 1924-1948, ed. Günter Mayer (1973: VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig), pp. 514-520. © 1973 Stephanie Eisler (Berlin) and George Eisler (Vienna), Page turns in the 1973 edition are inserted here according to the principle that |#411-2| means the change from page 411 to 412.

For the past 5 months I have found myself attacked and publicized in the newspaper to a very unusual degree. The reason for this campaign against me is clear. I (have tried to defend my) am the brother of Gerhart Eisler.

Apparently, since my brother is a German communist, the House Committee of Un-American Activities with the help of the newspapers set out to show the American public how anyone who tries to defend a communist can be discredited. Their treatment of me as an artist was somewhat bewildering. First they described me as a ‘noted refugee composer’ (or a ‘well known composer’). Then they classified me as a ‘top red composer’ or a ‘party song writer’. Next they simplified their description to a more moderate ‘Hollywood composer’, then ‘Hollywood songwriter’. And finally they dropped all reference to music and referred to me quite simply as the brother of a noted ‘atom spy’.

(The treatment I received as an artist did not disturb me very much. The example of Arnold Schönberg, for whom I have boundless admiration and respect, taught me to take the opinions of the daily press not too seriously. The importance of an artist does not depend on publicity of any kind. I just said to myself: sometimes even newspapers make mistakes. And I remained silent.)

After the headline stories, the columnists took up the issue. Miss Dorothy Thompson demanded that I be investigated.1 Mr. Drew Pearson tastelessly and irresponsibly brought the name of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt into the affair.2 Another newspaper pointed horrified at Mr. Charles Chaplin, who honoured me by calling me a friend.dego

Top of this document  And when I saw my name mentioned together with such a successful and popular artist as Mr. Frank Sinatra, I was sure that the intention was not to make me popular. They used my name already as an instrument to punish Frank |#514-5| Sinatra for having reacted temperamentally against a man who insulted him by calling him a dago. I, hardly a fighter at all but a peaceful little fellow, rather liked him for his ability to fight.

When, in the interest of accuracy, I did my best to inform the public, as for example that I never had had the honour to meet Mrs. Roosevelt, a truly great American lady, no effort was made to correct the erroneous report. Instead, Mr. Drew Pearson proceeded to describe me in one of his columns as a ‘top communist’ who is accused of passport fraud and who has refused to testify before the Committee on Un-American Activities.3 A telegram which I sent him, pointing out the confusion, was never answered.

And, where the newspapers and columnists left off the radio commentators began. They thought me a heartless man. It seems they were outraged that I had so little family loyalty as to refer to Miss Fischer as ‘my former sister’. Oddly enough, their fine sensibilities were in no way offended when Miss Fischer testified against her brother Gerhart in an obviously psychopathic manner, and when she sold to a newspaper syndicate a series of six articles designed to ruin him. In view of the fact that Miss Fischer’s utterances and writings contained the wildest distortions of the truth, the most fantastic inventions of events and dates and who, strangely enough, desires to see him in prison, I consider my reference to her as ‘my former sister’ a most restrained and modest one.

The source of most of the press releases about me: probably the overeagerness of an ambitus public relations counsel of the House Committee, who alternately calls me ‘as dangerous as Gerhart Eisler’, ‘less dangerous than Gerhart Eisler’, ‘a philosophical communist’, ‘a crypto-communist’, ‘an agent with more connection with Moscow’, ‘with less connection with Moscow’. Some newsmen had even the impudence to ask Charles Chaplin if he would still like me if I were a spy or agent.

It can easily be imagined what the consequences of such publicity are to an artist, especially a modern composer, not particularly successful in this country, whose concert music is known only to a few composers, conductors, musicians and a few connoisseurs, and whose opportunities for earning a living are, at best, limited, and who has to make a living in Hollywood in 1947. Overnight I became an outcast. It became on the one hand increasingly difficult for me to hold |#515-6| a job, and on the other hand, impossible for me to accept any of the many invitations to give concerts in Europe without risking such headlines as ‘Brother of Gerhart Eisler seeks to flee country’.4

Top of this document  A casual observer familiar with my music could ask himself: ‘why are they doing this to Hanns Eisler who is a composer and not a politician? Is he a subversive character? Did he commit a crime?’

My answer is: ‘My subversiveness is that I love my brother. My crime is that I am trying to defend him’.

So now the Un-American Activities Committee is after me and is showing special interest in my ‘activities in Hollywood’. Why is it necessary to convince the American public that not only Gerhart Eisler, but also I, are suspicious characters? The witch-hunt is on and hares are needed for the hounds.

In Hollywood, especially, the air is hot. The atmosphere is charged with accusation, indignation, recrimination and protests. No one is immune.

It is not surprising to me that due to the accident of my geographical situation — I am living in Hollywood — and the coincidence of my family ties — I am a brother of Gerhart Eisler — the House Committee should find me a most convenient and natural target for attack. But what infuriates me and what is most unfair in the announced investigation of my Hollywood activities, is the attempt to intimidate and smear my friends and the artists with whom I have had professional contacts. I arrived in Hollywood in 1942.

Top of this document  (I was never a member of any political organization and as an alien although I had received my first citizenship Papers in 1941) as an alien I have behaved with the utmost correctness. All my activities (were) have been artistic activities (only). My knowledge of American politics is limited and I have never dabbled in them. That does not mean that I was not interested in world affairs or that I advocate the old theory that an artist should remain isolated in his ivory tower, for which it is becoming increasingly difficult to pay the rent anyway. I learned the hard way in Germany how necessary it is for an artist who wishes to remain a living and an eating one, but not a corrupted one, to participate in the fight against reaction and fascism. I participated in this struggle as a musician and my contribution was a modest one. My contact with politics and political parties was very loose. (I never held a membership card of any party. However, in this period I, like many other artists, had the inclination to fondle around with what was then called ‘proletarian’ or ‘revolutionary’ music.) In Germany, and later in exile, I met anti-fascists of every description: Communists, Social Democrats, Liberals, Monarchists and Confusionists — of all social strata; scientists, workers, housewives, clerks, priests, bohemians, teachers, painters, poets and composers. Many of them were willing to fight or at least to do something. Some of them showed real courage. Too many of them died. I saw mistakes and confusion, setbacks and defeats. It was a bitter time. (And as a result of my experiences) I must say that the communists were the least confused, the least demoralized, were reliable fighters with good discipline, who fought and died heroically under the most complicated conditions, where mercy was not expected and mercy was not given. And not only in Germany they fought: in Spain, in the resistance movements of France, Yugoslavia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Greece, Denmark and Norway, during a time when the Russian people fought the historical battles of Stalingrad, Moscow, Leningrad and Berlin. I, an artist who had not fought these battles, living quite comfortably in Hollywood, admire them, and no crank, psychopath labour spy, nor the syndicated hysteria of (the) a certain press with their smear campaigns nor, last but not least, a House Committee in Un-American Activities will intimidate me or prevent me from saying this. Did I always agree with the communists? No, certainly not. There is often disagreement between allies. This is implicit in the nature of the relationship.

Top of this document  (Was I, a composer primarily interested in his art, always pro-labour? Certainly. A nationally-known magazine suggested in a recent article that my family had something to do with this. I must concede this point. But the picture presented of my family was so tasteless and distorted that I now take the liberty of making some remarks to correct it.

I do not think it is worth mentioning that I have mixed blood. More significant is the fact I am the offspring of different classes. My father was an important philosopher whose book Wörterbuch der Philosophischen Begriffes (Encyclopedia of Philosophical Terminology) is still considered a classic. His sympathy for labour was based on his masterly interpretation of the works of Kant and Hegel. He was never a Marxist though, but belonged rather to the school of German idealistic philosophy. He was a Neo-Kantist. The |#517-8| Kantists tried to extend the methods of Kant to the findings of natural science of the 19th Century. (Die Marburger Schule, Paul Natrop. And Hermann Cohen.)5

Hungarian Infantry Regiment. There the Hungarian Peasants became my teachers and showed me how to survive under the more difficult circumstances. If the House Committee on Un-American Activities is interested in other facts of my life or in my professional activities, it need not investigate me. It can find them easily in music encyclopedias or in Who’s News and Why, 1942.

Top of this document  Many of my compositions, especially those written in Germany and during my exile, reflect some of my experiences and if some of these works had become more or less known in the labour movements throughout the world, it does not mean that they were written for any political organizations. To give a few examples: The song ‘Solidarity’ was written for a film, Kuhle Wampe, produced in Berlin in 1931; the song ‘In Praise of Learning’ was written for the play Mother which was produced in 1935 in Berlin and also in Copenhagen, New York, London and Paris; the song ‘United Front’ was written for a short play produced in London by German refugees in 1936;6 the song called ‘Comintern’, which can be found in many song books under various titles such as ‘Arise’, ‘Unity’, etc. was written for a play produced by students in Berlin in 1927. These songs have been translated into almost every language. And I am not responsible for the quality of the translations into English, Chinese, French or Spanish.

But these were only a small part of my artistic activity. I am the composer of many chamber music works, orchestral works, choral works, cantatas, oratorios, etc. In America I am more or less known through my works for the stage, the film, through my chamber music, choral works, songs, a few performances of my orchestral compositions, and gramophone recordings. My Viennese publishing house has now begun, after 54 years of suppression by Hitler, to publish my works again, and I think my publishers in Paris and Berlin will soon follow. Interest in my works is being revived in Europe. I am mentioning these only in an attempt to restore somewhat my standing as an artist which was so distorted by the newspapers, columnists and radio commentators. But I have no illusions. This is an uneven match. I feel like a primitive trying to defend himself against a bomber squadron with bow and arrow.

Top of this document  What further surprises has the House Committee on Un-american Activities in store for me? What new headlines? That I was in Moscow? Yes, I visited the Soviet Union several times as did many artists. I gave concerts there composed the music for a films and enjoyed the musicality of the Russian people for whom I have the deepest sympathy. That I was in the United States in 1935? That I was invited here by the Lord Marley Committee and the Anti-Nazi League to give concerts and lectures for the benefit of the children of refugees from the Saar? These are well known facts about which I was questioned endlessly when I immigrated in 1940. Do they want to prove that I mixed with the wrong crowd, with communists? I would have mixed with any crowd that had the foresight then to realize then that Hitler meant war. And since the American communists, together with other individuals and organizations, understood the danger of Hitlerism from the beginning and worked to mobilize and to unite forces against it, I’m sure I met, at least, some of them. I can’t remember the face and name of everyone who shook my hand after a concert or a lecture, but I guess some of them must have been communists. I gave interviews to all the press, including the labour press, even to the Daily Worker. I could not speak a word of English then, and all my interviews and lectures were in German and had to be translated by voluntary translators. I was a complete greenhorn. I have never wanted to overthrow American music or the American government, and I was not in the remotest way ever a threat to the security of the United States.

Now I am furious over the treatment my brother is receiving. Gerhart Eisler was a political figure all his life. His activities were like those of any political figure — writing, speaking, organizing. It is outrageous and slanderous to label him an informer, a spy, a terrorist, an agent for a foreign power. I am proud of his fight against reaction and fascism in Germany and in exile. I am proud of his behaviour in concentration camps. I am especially infuriated by the fact a man who stood so firmly for a cause for which the American people and their allies have made heroic sacrifices, should now through the help of psychopaths and false witnesses, be thrown into an American prison. I have stood by my brother the German communist Gerhart Eisler, and shall continue to stand by him. I shall do my best to help and to defend him until he is cleared of all the charges and is permitted to return to Germany. If this means discrimination against me |#519| as an artist, I shall have to face it. If it makes it difficult or even impossible for me to hold a job or even a living, I shall have to face it.

Voltaire was once asked: ‘Suppose you were accused in Paris of having stolen Notre Dame, what would you do?’ He answered: ‘I would leave immediately for London.’ Thus the great Voltaire expressed wittily his distrust of the law and justice of an absolute monarchy. He had the historical right to do so. I do not live in an absolute monarchy. I live in a democracy, in a country I love. I have trust in the American law and justice. And above all, I have trust in the American people.

Top of this document  Endnotes (statement III)

1. Dorothy Thompson was a progressive journalist who involved herself in a campaign for Hanns Eisler’s right to enter the country. She also demanded that Hanns Eisler be given a real opportunity to refute the accusations brought against him.

2. Drew Pearson was a well-known US columnist. In 1938, ex-president Franklin D Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor had written a letter to US Foreign Minister, Summer Welles, asking for a favourable decision regarding Eisler’s immigration case. This episode was dusted off again in 1947 in order to discredit the Roosevelt regime by associating it with supposed communist infiltration.

3. Still not proven. Eisler did appear |#520-1| as witness at his brother’s interrogation. He also obeyed instructions to attend his own cross-examination on 24 September 1947.

4. Eisler could not accept such invitations because he could not obtain an exit visa. During interrogation on 24 September 1947, Chief Investigator Robert E Stripling stated that a telegram had been sent on 30 June 1947 to all possible exit points instructing the authorities to keep an eye open for Eisler and to prevent him from leaving the country.

5. The page is cut at this point until the start of typescript page 6 (at ‘Hungarian Infantry Regiment’). The missing passage can be found in ‘Extension of statements and refutations’.

6. The song was originally composed in 1934.

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Top of this document Hanns Eisler: Statement IV — ‘Fantasia in G-Men’ (1947)

See background notes by G Mayer and list of Eisler's writings in English.

Taken from Hanns Eisler – Musik und Politik – Schriften 1924-1948, ed. Günter Mayer (1973: VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig), pp. 521-530. © 1973 Stephanie Eisler (Berlin) and George Eisler (Vienna), Page turns in the 1973 edition are inserted here according to the principle that |#411-2| means the change from page 411 to 412.

Editorial preceding Eisler’s article ‘Fantasia in G-Men’ in New Masses (CPUSA culture periodical), 14 October 1947

And now Hanns Eisler! After hounding this great anti-fascist composer for months because he is a brother of Gerhart Eisler, the House Un-American Activities Committee has called on the Department of Justice to put the finishing touches to its persecution. The Justice Department, |#523-4| co-operating with a zeal which won the praise of Committee Chairman J. Parnell Thomas, has arrested Eisler and his wile for deportation proceedings. What a grotesque irony: Gerhart Eisler, who wants to go back to his homeland to take his place in the fight for a democratic Germany, is told he must go instead to an American jail. Hanns Eisler, who wants to remain in this country where his work has enriched our culture, is told he will be kicked back to Germany!

It is time for all Americans who want to preserve the Bill of Rights, no matter what their political beliefs, to demand of Attorney General Tom Clark that he halt the persecution of Hanns Eisler. And let the protests resound also against the Un-American Committee's Hollywood inquisition which reopens in Washington October 20.

We present Hanns Eisler's challenging statement to the Un-American Committee which he was not permitted to read at his hearing.

Top of this document  Fantasia in G-men [Statement IV]

See Günter Mayer's background notes to this document.

This hearing is both sinister and ridiculous. This committee is not interested in any testimony I may give or in anything I can testify about. The only thing of any public importance about me is my standing as a composer. Although my reputation is international, I do not suppose that that fact makes my musical activities un-American. I would be delighted to spend as much time as this committee will allow to lecture on musical topics, the only matters which I am qualified to speak about. I could then discuss, for example, the development technique of Beethoven's last sonatas and string quartets or analyse the art of the fugue. But I doubt that I have been called to further such cultural interests.

On the contrary, this Committee has called me only in order to continue its smear of me in the press, hoping that it will thereby intimidate artists throughout the country to conform to the political ideas of this committee. This is the second time that you have called me to testify, the first being before your subcommittee in Hollywood last May.|#521-2|

Top of this document  The interest you show in me a quite flattering. But it has no proper purpose. To prove this let me tell you about my activities in this country. I first came to the United States early in 1935 under the auspices of a British committee headed by Lord Marley, of the British House of Lords, to raise money for the children of German anti-Nazi refugees. I made a concert and lecture trip for two or three months. The subject of my lectures was the destruction of musical culture under Adolf Hitler. My lectures were in German and were translated to my audiences.1

I returned to the United States in the fall of 1935 in order to accept a professorship of music at the New School for Social Research in New York City. There I taught theory of musical composition and counterpoint. At this time also there was produced on Broadway a musical play, 'The Mother', for which I had written the score. I left the United States early in 1936 to become musical supervisor and composer for the British International Pictures' production 'Pagliacci'. I returned to the United States at the beginning of 1938 and resumed teaching music at the New School. In May, 1939, I went to Mexico City to become visiting professor of music in the State Conservatory. About September, 1939, I again returned to teach at the New School. At this time I composed the score for a picture for the New York World's Fair.2

In October, 1940, I was admitted to the United States as an immigrant on a non-quota visa as a professor of music. About that time the Rockefeller Foundation made a great of $20.000 for me to direct in the New School a research project on the relation of modern music and the films. The results of this study appear in my book, entitled 'Composing for the Films', just published by Oxford University Press. If the Committee is interested in my artistic beliefs and principles, I recommend that each member of the Committee read this book and study it very carefully.

In the last five years, I have lived in Hollywood where I have written the music for eight motion pictures, including 'None But the Lonely Heart', 'Hangmen Also Dies', 'Spanish Main', 'Woman on the Beach' and 'So Well Remembered'. I was also for a short time a professor of music at the University of Southern California.

During all this time I have also written numerous symphonic works for orchestra, chamber music and vocal music. My last performed compositions include a woodwind quintet, sonata |#522-3| No. 3 for piano, variations for piano, sonata for viola and piano, cantatas for alto, two clarinets, viola and cello, symphonia brevis for orchestra, etc. Many of my compositions have been recorded.

These, gentlemen, are my activities in the United States and I must suppose that these are what the Committee considers 'un-American'. Apparently you are not connoisseurs of music.

In the United States I have never engaged in political activities and was never a member of a political party. The Committee knows these things about me from its investigations and earlier hearing. Why then am I subjected to this fantastic persecution? Why has the Committee outdone itself to smear my name for over a year? Why has it made it difficult for me to earn my living? Why has the Committee induced the State Department to threaten unlawful action to prevent me from visiting Paris to compose the score for a French production of 'Alice in Wonderland'?3

The answers to all these questions are very simple. I am accused of being the brother of Gerhart Eisler, whom I love and admire and whom I defend and will continue to defend. Does the Committee believe that brotherly love is un-American? More important, the Committee hopes that by persecuting me it will intimidate many other artists in American whom it may dislike for any one of various unworthy reasons. The Committee hopes to create a drive against every liberal, progressive, and socially-conscious artist in this country, and to subject their works to an unconstitutional and hysterical political censorship. It is horrible to think what will become of American art if this committee is to judge what art is American and what is unAmerican.

This is the sort of thing Hitler and Mussolini tried. They were not successful and neither will be the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Top of this document  Footnotes to Statement IV — ‘Fantasia in G-Men’

1. See 'Ansprach bei Solidaritätskonzerten', in Eisler (ed Mayer, 1974). p. 266, ff.).

2. The wind quintet is almost certainly Divertimento für Bläserquintett, Op. 40 (1924), the 3rd Piano Sonata is from 1943, the Variations for Piano from 1940, the Sonata for Violin and Piano (Reise-Sonate) from 1937-38, the Solo Cantata from 1937 and the Little Symphony Op.29 from 1932.

3. Eisler received the invitation for this work in early summer of 1947. He could never understand why he was not allowed to leave the country to fulfil this commitment.


Top of this document  Statement on leaving the USA (1948)

Typescript, written shortly before leaving the USA on 26 March 1948.

I leave this country not without bitterness and infuriation. I could well understand it when in 1933 the Hitler bandits put a price on my head and drove me out. They were the evil of the period; I was proud of being driven out. But I feel heartbroken over being driven out of this beautiful country in this ridiculous way.

What am I accused of?

Of participating in the fight of the American people for the honest and lost causes?

Unfortunately not.

I have not fought against reaction and fascism in this country. I have not fought against (the errand-boys of Wall Street) those who want to involve the world in a new war.

I have not fought against the shamelessness and corruption and commercialism of a certain press and magazines which creates a paper curtain separating the American people from political and economic realities.

I have not fought for the rights of veterans to get decent housing.

I have not fought against the impudence of (business men) profiteurs who make the living of simple men unbearable. I have not fought for the classic tradition of this great country (for) of upholding (the) decency and freedom (of) for the common man.

I have not fought against the shamelessness of the Taft-Hartley Bill.

I have not fought against the (censorship) monopoly imposed on art: music, films, literature, radio.

I have not fought against corrupt political machines.

I have not fought against the racial discrimination (against) oppressing my colored brothers.

I have not fought against anti-Semitism.

No, I am not accused of being a fighter. (And I feel sorry that I am not accused of being a fighter.) |#529-30|

My trouble started (only) when I (stood up in a simple, rather little, fight/affair. Namely when I was called as witness to) was subpoenaed a witness before by The House Committee on Unamerican Activities. I listened to their talk (and their questions) the talk and the questions of this men and I saw their faces. As an old anti-Fascist (I knew immediately) it became plain to me that these men represent fascism in its most direct form. That they represent the ignorance and barbarism, (and a new war) which could lead to a new war. (Why was I was against them. There is (namely) a limit(ation) to the patience of an artist (equally concerned with his art and with the general affairs of the world which interact so closely.)

(And) I saw (corrupted businessmen) these evil men trying to take over the affairs of this great country (during) at a time really complicated and indeed dangerous for all of us. And I had to (speak) stand up against (them) these men, regardeless of consequences.

(As a composer I know) A composer knows that music is written by human beings for human beings and that music is a continuation of life, not something separated from it. And I had to defend music.

(Now I take my, after all, little/small hardship.) But in leaving this country I take with me the image of the real American people (and my fellow artists whom I love.)

Now I am forced to leave. But I take with me the image of the real American people whom I love.

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