Page 41 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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— T
h e
itera ture
o f
by night and a bed and a man who loves his work, and
gives me comfort and warmth in the night and a shield.
We had forgotten the menace of the world.
The Representative
Hochhuth also presents two of the
most unfathomable demoniac characters produced by the whole
literature of remorse.
The first of these is a minor character in the play: the his­
torically authentic figure of Professor H irth of Strassburg.
H irth’s scientific life-mission was the setting-up of a compre­
hensive collection of formalin-preserved skulls taken from Jewish
corpses. Rationalizing his necrophilic obsession, he claimed that
these exhibits would provide incontrovertible proof of the
degeneracy and the necessity for the Final Solution—if future
generations of Germans should ever doubt the wisdom of their
forefathers’ actions.
Going beyond the historically established facts, Hochhuth
attributes a wish-fulfillment fantasy to Hirth which reveals
tremendous poetic insight into the depths of the demonic psyche.
Musing on the apparently not-too-distant day of Germany’s
final victory, Hirth has a vision of ecstatic bliss. On Victory Day
he wants to hear Bach’s Mass in B minor at Strassburg Cathe­
dral and have the Fuehrer inspect his collection of skulls after­
wards. Hochhuth heightens the impact of this monstrous juxta­
position of images by making Hirth add that his meeting with
the solitary Hitler should take place in complete silence. No
sound, no loud word should intrude itself to disturb the mystical
rapport between visitor and host within sight of the last remains
of an extinct race.
The other and far more important demonic character in
is the “Doctor”—a composite figure combining
Dr. Mengele’s scientific fiendishness with Goebbel’s nihilism and
the philosophizing sadism of Camus’ Caligula. This “Doctor”
has been acknowledged by many critics as such an ingenious por­
trayal of total evil on the stage and so much has already been
written about him that I shall not deal with him in any detail.
Another doctor playing a crucial role in a work touching
upon the holocaust is the medical officer of Andorra, in Max
Frisch’s parable of the same name. (The fact that doctors and
teachers figure so prominently—either as demons or as philistines
—in this genre of literature arises from the view that their par­
ticular “trahison du clercs” made them even more culpable than
other sections of the population.)
The doctor in
is a totally believable creation—a
garrulous, phrase-mongering philistine existing on quite a dif­