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Main page / "Knowledge. Understanding. Skill" Journal / Contents / 2014 / No. 2

Makarevich E. F. The Mystery of The Living Corpse for Political Technologists

(Moscow University for the Humanities)

Abstract ◊ Defeated by the Allied troops in 1945, Hitlerite Germany was divided into occupation zones governed by respective military administrations of the winners of World War II. The U.S. military administration’s policy designed for the German population was based on culture and arts. Their political technologists developed a theater program that, inter alia, listed plays not recommended for staging at German theaters. Among those plays was “The Living Corpse” by Leo Tolstoy.

The article discusses the reasons why the U.S. administration did not venture to authorize the staging of this play of the world classical writer. Those were mostly social and moral reasons. According to the American political technologists, Tolstoys play was incompatible with the Germans mental and psychological state in that period and with the German recovery program, which was developed in accordance with the plan of U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall.

The U.S. political technologists stumbled over the problems posed by Leo Tolstoy in his play: the machinery of law and individual rights; what the human being is; and money as evil and the meaning of life. Those problems emphasized the issue of the Germans guilt for the crimes of fascism and the issue of punishment for those crimes where the court of justice played the main role. Following Tolstoys logic, the court of justice as such should not be immoral. However, it was the morality of the court of justice that the Germans doubted. So, according to the political technologists, the play could strengthen their false doubts. Tolstoy raises the issue of how the human being combines divine and evil natures and the issue of how fluid a person can be. Pondering over these issues, the Americans tried to combine humans fluidity with the Germans behavior. In addition, the play could provoke the Germans into thinking about the cruelty of the winners; in this case, the cruelty of the Americans and the British who had organized atrocious and inhuman bombardments of German cities. On the other hand, the play could give rise to thoughts of the phenomenon of Russian people who had conquered fascism and had come to Germany. However, the most alarming factor was the plays antimarket mood.

The play, whose main character states that money is filth and evil, involuntarily stood in the way of the Marshall Plan for Germany. This was acutely sensed by the psychological warfare experts of the U.S. military administration at that time. The mystery of this play is studied in the context of the mood prevailing among the German public in that period.

Keywords: L. N. Tolstoy, court of justice, individual rights, justice, money and the meaning of life, Nuremberg trials, complexity of human being, mystery of the Russian soul, market person, individuality and individualism, theater as a semiotic system.

Makarevich Eduard Fyodorovich, Doctor of Science (sociology), professor of the Philosophy, Culturology and Politology Department, Moscow University for the Humanities. Postal address: 5 Yunosti St., Moscow, Russian Federation, 111395. Tel.: +7 (499) 374-55-11. E-mail:


Citation: Makarevich E. F. The Mystery of The Living Corpse for Political Technologists // Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie. 2014. 2. S. 26–40.



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