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March 27, 1964 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-03-27

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parently, offended against pro-
"After that he approached a
Swedish diplomat who took his
report to Stockholm. On Aug. 7,
1945, this was confirmed by the
Swedish Embassy in London, who
revealed that is was still in their
government's archives and had
been the subject of a statement
to the appropriate authorities in
London after the war.
"Had the contents of his re-
port been made known to the Al-
lies during the war, brisk inter-
national reaction might well
have hampered Himmler's plans
for the Final Solution of the
Jewish Question. However, per-
haps because they felt that such
a revelation might have be-
smirched their neutrality, they
kept this report secret and the
extermination experiments con-
tinued without undue interfer-
ence from the free world.
"Having had a somewhat simi-
lar experience of vacillation
when I escaped from Auschwitz
and made my own report I know
how frustrated Gerstein must
have felt. He was captured by
Allied troops towards the end
of the war and, perhaps under-
standably, committed suicide in
his prison cell."
Hochhuth has a different
version. "I shall never be-
lieve," he states in the "Side-
lights on History" appendix
to "The Deputy," "that Ger-
stein committed suicide. Any-
one who has gone deeply into
the story of this man, and has
heard the strange reports that
were sent to his widow from
Paris, must conclude that Ger-
stein was one more of the still
unaccounted Germans and
Frenchmen who were arbitra-
rily killed in France after the
liberation in 1944 . . . It is
possible, since none of his
fellow prisoners can remem-
ber Gerstein, that he was
hanged by hardcore SS men
when they realized how com-
mitted he was to the 'obliga-
tion of giving an account-
ing' to the Allies, a subject
he had touched on in a letter_
to his father."
Vrda's book is a chronicle of
suffering, of resistance to tor-
ture and survival of a strong-
willed youth against great odds.
It is an account of genuine hero-
ism. It also contains accusations
against Jewish, especially Zion-
ist, leaders, that they failed to
heed warnings, that they were
heartless in some instances, that
they also were blind to realities.
The Kastner case is opened
by Vrda, and Dr. Rudolf Kast-
ner, who negotiated with and
was betrayed by Adolf Eich-
mann, emerges guiltier in the
Vrda account than he did in the
Israel trial held over the accu-
sations leveled at him by Mal-
chlel Greenwald. It will be re-
called that Kastner was assissi-
nated in Israel. Part of the
verdict there against him was
Nevertheless, in view of the
uncertainties that existed at that
time, it is questionable whether
the Vrda indictment is alto-
gether justified. There were too
many, Zionists and other Jews,
and non-Jews, who were misled,
and to condemn one element
may be grossly unfair.
Vrba's book, however, de-
serves an important rank in
the literature that exposes the
Nazi crimes. It is valuable as
part of the record of the ex-
termination of a million Hun-
garian Jews.
Born in 1924 in Czechoslo-

vakia, excluded from the Brati-
slava high school by the Nurem-
berg laws at 15, Vrda was ar-
rested at 17, sent to Auschwitz
and after a two-year agonized
experience escaped to make his
report to Jewish and Catholic
leaders. He joined the Czech re-
sistance, was decorated and re-
ceived the Medal of Honor. He
resumed his studies in Prague in
Prague in 1951, received a Rock-
efeller grant in 1960 to study
at the Neuropsychiatric Research
Unit in Carshalton, England, and
is there now doing research on
the effects of neurotropic drugs
on metabolism.
Vrda's evidence is referred to
by Hochhuth in his history high-
lights in which he explains the
facts presented in "The Deputy"
and in which he defends him-
self against some of the attacks
on his book.
While "The Deputy" accuses
Pope Pius XII of failure to inter-
cede for the persecuted Jews
after evidence had been pre-
sented to him of the mass mur-
ders then in progress, there are
notable Catholic figures who are
heroes in the play.
Against the Pope, one of
the Catholic characters, Ric-
cardo, points out that the
statement that was issued by
the Vatican purportedly pro-
testing inhumanities, without
mentioning Jews, could have
been interpreted as an accu-
sation against the Allies for
bombing the German cities.
"The Deputy" ("Der Stellver-
tretter" in German) has a num-
ber of actual historical figures
besides the Pope—Kurt Ger-
stein, Adolf Eichmann, Berlin's
Apotolic Nuncio.
The most powerful plea was
that of Riccardo, who pinned
the Star of David on his chest
in the Pope's presence, when the
latter failed to listen to his ap-
peal, as a mark of commisera-
tion with Jewry.
Hochhuth's "Sidelights on His-
tory" are especially convincing.
Here the reader finds basic facts
relating to the theme and vindi-
cation of the author's views.
Here is the record of the activi-
ties of many of the characters,
including Herr von Weizsaecker,
Hitler's Ambassador to the Holy
See, with whose statement to
the Berlin Foreign Office, writ-
ten Oct. 28, 1943, the play
closes, as an announcer on tape
reads it as follows:
"Although the Pope is said
to have been importuned from
various quarters, he has not
allowed himself to be carried
away into making any demon-
strative statements against
the deportation of the Jews.
Although he must expect our
enemies to resent this attitude
on his part, he has neverthe-
less done all he could, in this
delicate question as other mat-
ters, not to prejudice relation-
ships with the German govern-
ment. Since further action on
the Jewish problem is probably
not to be expected here in
Rome, it may be assumed that

President's Aide to Fly
to Israel for a Week

White House announced that
Deputy Special Assistant to the
President Myer Feldman will de-
part Wednesday for a week's
stay in Israel. It is understood
that Feldman will be helping
with arrangements for Prime
Minister Eshkol's forthcoming
visit to the United States in
early June.

this question, so troublesome
to German-Vatican relations,
has been disposed of . . ."

And then the announcer closes
the play with these words: "And
so the gas chambers continued
to work for a full year more. In
the summer of 1944 the so-called
daily quota of extermination
reached its maximum. On Nov.
26, 1944, Himmler ordered the
crematories to be blown up. Two
months later the last prisoners
in Auschwitz were freed by Rus-
sian soldiers."
Hochhuth's historical data in-
cludes pertinent quotes from
important sources. There is an
expose of the guilt of the
Krupps. There is evidence that
Pope Pius XI would have acted
against the Nazi terrorism, but
death halted his voice. And in
reference to Pius XII and the
message he did send out with-
out mentioning Jews Hochhuth
"Pope Pius XII was undoubt-
edly one of the most intelligent
men of the first half of this
century. He was . . . a dis-
tinctly dry man—skeptical, real-
istic, and also suspicious, cool,
unsentimental, and given to sar-
casm in conversation. Even to a
diplomat as difficult to impress
as Foreign Minister Matsuoka of
Japan, who in March 1941 had
also seen his allies Hitler and
Mussolini at the peak of their
power, Pope Pius seemed the
most impressive man in Europe.
All the more painful, then, is
the question—if, indeed, it re-
mains a question—of whether



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We extend our greetings to our families, our
associates in the community and all our friends by
proclaiming our faith in our freedoms. We are con-
fident of the ultimate triumph of justice and of all
democratic aims as we read again in the Passover
Haggadah this admonition to us to perpetuate the
message of our great Festival of Freedom:

"In every generation, one ought to regard him-
self as though he had personally come out of Egypt.
As it is said: 'And thou shalt tell thy son on that

day, saying: This is on account of what the Lord did
for me when I went forth from Egypt.' Not only
our forefathers did the Holy One, blessed is He, re-
deem, but also ourselves did He redeem with them.
As it is said: 'And us did He take out from there,
in order to bring us hither, to give us the land
which he had sworn unto our fathers'."

074€1 Stolifnans

27 , 1964

There are very few occasions
on record when the text of a
play, written for a seven-hour
run, and the actual production,
which was cut for a three-hour
dramatization, created as much
controversy as "The Deputy" by
Rolf Hochhuth.
There continues to be the tak-
ing of sides by representatives
of all faiths. There is a division
of opinion relative to the wis-
dom of presenting such a drama
for public view as well as in
regard to the factuality of the
With the play a sell-out for
a number of weeks to come at
the Brooks Atkinson Theater in
New York, the debate over the
wisdom of sponsoring it contin-
ues, and a number of public
functions have flared into hostili-
ties among the participants in
the course of discussions in-
volving Pope Pius XII and the
stand he had taken on the per-
secutions by the Nazis.
Grove Press, Inc. (64 Uni-
versity P1., NY3), already has
gone into the third printing
of the text of "The Deputy,"
and Hochhuth's work is as
much a best seller in book
stores as the tickets for his
play are at the box office.
Grove Press also has pub-
lished another book by a man
who is referred to by Hoch-
huth in "Sidelights on His-
tory"—a 66-page essay that
follows the text of the play
in the published work. It is
"I cannot Forgive," by the
escapee from Nazism, Rudolf
Vrba, who collaborated in
describing his experiences dur-
ing the holocaust with Alan
Bestic. The explanatory state-
ment about the book on its
cover is: "The full story of the
man who escaped from Ausch-
witz in 1944 and who today is
chief witness at the 1944
Auschwitz trial."
Both Grove-published works
need to be reviewed together be-
cause they are so closely inter-
related, because there is so
much in them that is akin, be-
cause the aim is the same: to
make certain that the German
crime is not forgotten.
There is a special relationship
in the two books in their refer-
ence to S. S. Captain Kurt Ger-
stein, whom Vrba calls "a re-
markable man." Obersturmfueh-
rer SS Gerstein appears in the
cast of "The Deputy." He had
brought evidence of the Nazi
crimes to the Nuncio. He was
not received, his material later
went to other Church quarters,
his appeals were among those
that fell on deaf ears.
In Vrba's account, Gerstein
committed suicide after the col-
lapse of Nazism. In Hochhuth's
"Sidelights on History," doubts
are expressed over the reported
suicide and the German play-
wright maintains that the SS
captain was murdered by fellow-
officers in the German hierarchy.
In Vrba's report of his es-
cape from Auschwitz and his
efforts to present the story
of the mass murders to Jewish
leaders and to officials of sev-
eral governments, Gerstein's
statement on the conditions
and the atrocities in the Bel-
zee extermination camp are
presented as a special Appen-
Explaining the Gerstein state-
ment, Vrba explains:
"Having compiled a consider-
able dossier, he wrote his report
and took it first to the Papal
Nuncio in Berlin. There he was
was turned away because he was
in military uniform which, ap-

19 - THE DETROIT JEWIS H NEWS — Friday, M arch

The Deputy' and 'I Cannot Forgive,' Hochhuth,
Vrba Holocaust Horror Revelations, Combine
Data Exposing Failures to Act in Jews' Defense

the Pope can possibly have
spoken in good faith when he
sent this proclamation into the
world—this and his innumer-
able other carefully insipid,
flowery, vaguely moralizing and
generalizing speeches, or rather
assemblages of cliches about the
events of the war. In none of
these did he ever specifically
name a statesman, a country—
aside from Poland—or even the
fact of the deportations which
had been going on for years."
Only those who have not read
the book, let lone seen the play,
are condemning Herman Shum-
lin for producing the drama,
Hochhuth for writing it, theater-
goers for dignifying it. The facts
are on the record, and Hoch-
huth has placed them there. He
has written a great drama, never
to be forgotten, certain to cre-
ate a new sense of justice in
treating world affairs.
—P. S.

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