Those immortal words came from my favorite writer, the German Bertolt Brecht. In German it is
“Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral”Bertolt Brecht, The Threepenny Opera
Brecht was apparently right at the top of the list of people Hitler wanted to be killed. He fled Nazi Germany, and then the Republican US–but not before exposing the fools on the US House Un-American Affairs Committee (HUAC). There is actually an audio tape of his testimony, which is so funny that I only listen to it on my birthday, and we happen to have the same birthday, February 10.
Anyway, here is the poem for today.
Long I have Looked for the Truth
Long I have looked for the truth about the life of people together
That life is crisscrossed, tangled, difficult to understand.
I have worked hard to understand it and when I had done so
I told the truth as I found it.
When I had told the truth that was so difficult to find
It was a common truth, which many told
(And not everyone had such difficulty in finding.)
Soon after that people arrived in vast masses with pistols given to them
And blindly shot around them at all those too poor to wear hats
And all those who told the truth about them and their employers
They drove out of the country in the fourteenth year of our semi-republic.
From me they took my little house and car
Which I had earned by hard work.
(I was able to save my furniture.)
When I crossed the frontier I thought:
More than my house I need the truth.
But I need my house too. And since then
Truth for me has been like a house and car.
And they took them.Bertolt Brecht
Thanks to the Brits and Methuen publishers for this translation. Food, house, and car first, indeed.