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Devil's General


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A: Carl Zuckmayer Pf: 1946, Zurich Pb: 1946; rev. 1967 Tr: 1953 G: Drama in 3 acts; German prose S: Berlin, 1941 C: 20m, 5fGeneral Harras is an urbane, likeable flying ace in the German Air Force in the Second World War. At a party given for an airman on leave from the front, Harras admits that he is under suspicion from the Gestapo. Carelessly, he reproaches an industrialist for helping the Nazis to power, argues with a young pilot who believes in the Third Reich, and secretly offers help to some Jews. Only falling in love with a pretty young actress seems to slow his slide into self-destruction. He is arrested by the Gestapo and given ten days to find the saboteurs who are causing planes to crash. Together with his chief engineer Oderbruch, he sets about exposing them. To his dismay, he discovers that it is Oderbruch himself who is responsible for tampering with the aircraft engines. Recognizing that Oderbruch is right to undermine Hitler's war effort, Harras admits that he has been the ‘Devil's general’ for too long, and leaves to fly off in one of the defective planes. He dies in the air, and the Third Reich will claim him as a hero who gave his life for the Führer.

A: Carl Zuckmayer Pf: 1946, Zurich Pb: 1946; rev. 1967 Tr: 1953 G: Drama in 3 acts; German prose S: Berlin, 1941 C: 20m, 5f

This was the first German post-war play to be written about the Nazis, and, despite a certain nervousness amongst the occupying Allies, was widely performed across Germany, granting Zuckmayer an inflated reputation as Germany's leading contemporary playwright. The play was reassuring to post-war Germany, portraying the good, self-sacrificing German, and demonizing Hitler as a mythical evil force in the background, thus avoiding the uncomfortable need to analyse how he came to power.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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