Busch, Ernst


Ernst Busch was born in Kiel on January 22, 1900. He was trained as a machinist, but took classes in the performing arts as well. In the fall of 1921, he got his first engagement at the theater in Kiel and, in 1927, he became a member of the Erwin Piscator’s Theater Collective in Berlin. He was also a prominent figure in the Berlin cabaret scene in the 1920s. During this period, he met Brecht and Eisler and played in the 1928 theater production of Bertolt Brecht's Die 3 Groschen-Oper, as well as in the 1931 film adaptation by Georg Wilhelm Pabst. Busch also played and sang in Kuhle Wampe, oder Wem gehört die Welt? His interpretation of the “Solidarity Song” in the film was so catchy that it became an anthem for the workers’ movement.


As a lifelong communist, Busch fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and eventually settled in the Soviet Union. In 1937, he joined the International Brigades fighting for a republican Spain. When Spain fell to Franco, he emigrated to Belgium, where he was interned during the Nazi occupation and later imprisoned at camps in St. Cyprien and Gurs in France. A failed escape in 1942 got him transferred to Paris and then to the prison in Berlin-Moabit. Accused of high treason, he escaped execution thanks to the intervention of actor and director Gustaf Gründgens; instead, he was sentenced to four years in prison.


After the war, Busch settled in East Berlin, where he worked at the Volksbühne and Deutsches Theater; starting in 1950, he also worked with Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator at the Berliner Ensemble. Busch was involved in various film productions as an actor and/or singer; he is best remembered for his performance in the title role of Brecht's Galileo (dir. Erich Engel). Busch founded his own music label and recorded his own renditions of workers’ and protest songs, many composed by Hanns Eisler. His haunting performances of “The Battalion” and “Peat Bog Soldiers” have made them some of Europe’s best-known protest songs. Ernst Busch died on June 8, 1980.


Bibliography & More:


1982 Busch singt (Busch Sings, GDR, dir. Reiner  Bredemeier, Erwin Burkert, Ludwig Hoffmann, Peter Voigt, Konrad Wolf ) 



1982 Walter Ballhause: Einer von Millionen (Walter Ballhause: One among Millions)
1978 Die Pflaumenbäume sind wohl abgehauen (The Plum Trees Have No Doubt Been Chopped Down, singer, doc.)
1975 Er könnte ja heute nicht schweigen (Even Today He'd Speak His Mind)
1974 Die sieben Affären der Dona Juanita (The Seven Affairs of Dona Juanita, singer, TV)
1971 Goya oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis (Goya, or the Hard Way to Enlightenment)
1969 Hans Beimler, Kamerad (Comrade Hans Beimler, singer)
1967 Ich war neunzehn (I Was Nineteen, singer)
1960 Fünf Patronenhülsen (Five Cartridges, singer)
1960 Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (Mother Courage and her Children)
1953 Lied der Ströme (Song of the Rivers, singer)
1932 Kuhle Wampe, oder Wem gehört die Welt? (Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?)
1931 Kameradschaft (Comradeship)
1931 Die 3 Groschen-Oper (The Three Penny Opera)

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