AT: The Deputy A: Rolf Hochhuth Pf: 1963, Berlin Pb: 1963 Tr: 1963 G: Hist. drama in 5 acts; German verse S: Berlin, Rome, and Auschwitz, 1942–4 C: 36m, 4f, 2 children (1m, 1f)In Berlin in 1942, Father Riccardo Fontana and a humane SS officer Kurt Gerstein plead with the Papal Nuncio to get the Pope to denounce the Nazi's slaughter of the Jews. In Rome, Riccardo begs his wealthy father Count Fontana to use his influence with the Pope to intercede on behalf of the Jews, but the Count supports the Pope's neutrality. As persecution of the Jews reaches Rome and the Pope still fails to speak out, Riccardo says that he will join the Jewish transports to the death camps. When the Pope appears at last, he is busy discussing Church finances with Count Fontana. Angrily confronting the Pope, Riccardo is told that Hitler is preserving Europe from Communism and that the Church cannot be sacrificed for the sake of the Jews. Issuing a totally ineffectual proclamation, the Pope prays for the suffering of the persecuted. Riccardo pins on a yellow star and is taken to Auschwitz, where he encounters and tries to kill the evil Doctor. He is shot and burned alive, while the gas chambers continue to operate.
AT: The Deputy A: Rolf Hochhuth Pf: 1963, Berlin Pb: 1963 Tr: 1963 G: Hist. drama in 5 acts; German verse S: Berlin, Rome, and Auschwitz, 1942–4 C: 36m, 4f, 2 children (1m, 1f)
This proved probably the most controversial play in the history of theatre, immediately generating over 12 books and sparking debate and even rioting across the world. Accompanied by 65 pages of historical documentation, Hochhuth sets out a very plausible case for attacking the guilty silence of the Catholic Church, which did not even excommunicate Hitler. Unfortunately, the plot is melodramatic, focused on individuals, and is expressed in pedestrian verse. The evil Doctor becomes an almost mythical figure, and the real causes of Fascism and the support it generated are obscured by moral outrage about the Pope – what Armand Gatti called ‘the worst kind of bourgeois hypocrisy’.