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Soldiers


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A: Rolf Hochhuth Pf: 1967, Berlin Pb: 1967 Tr: 1968 G: Hist. drama in 3 acts, prologue, and epilogue; German verse and ‘rhythmic prose’ S: Coventry, battleship, London bedroom, garden at Chequers, 1943 and 1964 C: 12mIn Coventry cathedral in 1964, a theatre director Dorland, guilty about his abuse of the Geneva Convention by bombing German civilians, rehearses his play about Churchill: On the North Sea in 1943, Churchill and his friend Wladysław Sikorski, head of the Polish government-in-exile, discuss the future of Poland, and Churchill recognizes that Sikorski may damage Britain's relationship with the USSR. In London, he arranges for Sikorski to be killed in a plane crash off Gibraltar. While trying to justify the terror bombing of German cities to the Bishop of Chichester, Churchill is informed of Sikorksi's death. Visibly shaken, Churchill comforts himself with the thought that ‘Soldiers must die, | but by their death – they nourish | the nation that gave them birth.’ Back in 1964, the director receives a telegram stating that his play is banned in England.

A: Rolf Hochhuth Pf: 1967, Berlin Pb: 1967 Tr: 1968 G: Hist. drama in 3 acts, prologue, and epilogue; German verse and ‘rhythmic prose’ S: Coventry, battleship, London bedroom, garden at Chequers, 1943 and 1964 C: 12m

Subtitled ‘An Obituary for Geneva’, this play was banned at the National Theatre and, as with The Representative, unleashed a storm of controversy, especially in Britain. Once again, the accompanying historical apparatus is more impressive than Hochhuth's rather wooden characterization and flaccid verse. There is no denying, however, that he possessed an astounding ability to provoke debate.

Subjects: Literature.


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