Toller, Ernst (ĕrnst tôlˈər) [key], 1893–1939, German dramatist and poet of the expressionist school. He was imprisoned (1919–24) for participating in the Communist Bavarian revolution. In 1932 he left Germany, and in 1936 he went to New York City, where he later committed suicide. His plays of social protest include Die Wandlung (1919, tr. Transfiguration, 1935); Masse Mensch (1920, tr. Man and the Masses, 1924); Die Maschinen-stürmer (1922, tr. The Machine-Wreckers, 1923), based on the Luddite riots in England; Hinkeman (1924, tr. Brokenbow, 1926); and Pastor Hall (tr. 1939), about Martin Niemoeller. Schwalbenbuch [swallow book] (1923), a collection of lyric verse, and Briefe aus dem Gefängnis [letters from prison] (1935), an account of his imprisonment, appeared together in English translation as Look Through the Bars (1937).
See his autobiography, Eine Jugend in Deutschland (1933, tr. I Was a German, 1934); study by J. M. Spalek (1968).