Share |

A Lesson from Auschwitz

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 29th Jan 2017 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin

4621692352.jpg

Will you allow it to happen again?

I still remember seeing images of Rudolf Höss (not to be confused with Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess) and his staff celebrating the successful murder of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews - the so-called "Ungarn-Aktion". They were part of the "Höcker-Album", a collection of photographs collected by SS officer Karl-Friedrich Höcker, illustrating the lives and living conditions of the officers and administrators who ran the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex and an important document of the Holocaust. Höss was the longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz and is shown in many of Höcker's photos, often together with Josef Mengele. Höss was the most successful commandant of Auschwitz and the man who introduced Zyklon B to murder Europe's Jews more efficiently and in far greater numbers.

James Hyland is trying to shed light on the mentality of this mass murderer and the other perpetrators in his disturbing play that focusses on a secret meeting of Höss and his SS personnel in 1941. Purpose of the meeting was the introduction of Zyklon B, a more efficient method than mass shootings.

As the play begins, Abraham Könisberg (Michael Shon) a Jewish prisoner, who has been badly beaten, is standing on stage, wearing a blackboard with the words "Ich bin zurück" (I am back) around his neck. Höss treats him with condescension from the start and interrogates him personally about his escape, using him as an object to prove his inhuman theories whilst spreading the typical anti-semitic slander. The prisoner tries to keep his dignity despite the terrible abuse and humiliation he is subjected to.

Höss marches across the stage, clicking his heels before addressing his personnel, meaning to intimidate and demonstrate who is in charge. He also proves a master of rhetoric and manipulation. From the start, he makes them complicit: "There is no turning back now, gentlemen." Coaxing and threatening the soldiers in equal measure, he tries to turn them into effective killing tools who will obey all orders unquestioningly and abandon any human emotions such as mercy as this "weakness" helped the prisoner escape. Höss makes it quite clear that there is no room for weaklings.

James Hyland's portrayal of Höss is frightening - a sadist and a manipulative bully who seems capable of any atrocity. His rhetoric style reminds me of Roland Freisler, a Nazi judge who completely perverted his office. Michael Shon impresses as Abraham Könisberg, a man who tries to keep his dignity in this hell.

Directed, written and produced by James Hyland, this production should be seen by all - especially in the light of recent events.

By Carolin Kopplin

Running time: 60 minutes with no interval.

Recommended for ages 14+

Next performance:

FEB 25 @ 7.30pm

KETTERING - KETTERING ARTS CENTRE

St Andrew's Vicarage, Lindsay St, Kettering NN16 8RG

01536 513 858 www.ketteringartscentre.com

The play is dedicated to all victims of the Holocaust: those who were murdered and those who survived.

Proceeds will be donated to charity

 
 

Comments

0 Comments

     
Please login or sign up to post on this network.
Click here to sign up now.