Rolf Hochhuth

Definition

Theater

  • (1931 - ) Swiss dramatist writing in German,who has been described as a professional contrarian. Hochhuth'sfirst successful play, The Representative (1963), wasa controversial but telling indictment of the Roman Catholic Church'sindifference to the suffering of the Jews during the Nazi era.The Soldier (1967) was no less contentious; itprovided a critical examination of Winston Churchill's role in thebombing of Dresden and even alleged that he plotted the death of GeneralSikorski, the wartime Polish leader in exile.

    In general, Hochhuth's works of the 1970s and 1980s failedto generate the same level of controversy or interest; they includeGuerillas (1970), Lysistrata and NATO (1973), and ImmaculateConception (1989), which deals with the subject of surrogate motherhood.More recently, however, Hochhuth has achieved a new level of notoreitywith two extremely provocative plays about the state of post-unificationGermany. In Wessis in Weimar (1992), Hochhuth accused Westerneconomic interests of exploiting the former East Germany.The play includes a reference to the assassination of Detler Rohwedder,who had been in charge of privatizing the former East Germany's state-ownedindustry. The line "Anyone acting like Rohwedder should notbe surprised to be shot dead" drew from Helmut Kohl, the Germanchancellor, the comment: "A German patriot is being slandered.It is a licence for murder..." Hochhuth's McKinsey isComing (2004) likewise caused outrage with its comparisonof the chairman of the Deutsche Bank to Gessler, the tyrannical bailiffshot dead by William Tell. The play ends with the on-stage burningof the EU flag. More bizarrely, Hochhuth has alienated many formersupporters with his public defence of the holocaust-denying 'historian'David Irving.

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