Hochhuth, Rolf

(1931- )
   Playwright. Hochhuth was among the first German playwrights to confront events in World War II by portraying individuals from recent history as characters in his plays. Erwin Piscator's premiere of Hochhuth's Der Stellvertreter (The Deputy) created a firestorm of controversy throughout Europe and North America because it portrayed Pope Pius XII as a willing collaborator in the Nazi persecution of the Jews. The inference of Vatican complicity outraged millions of Roman Catholics, especially those who had hidden or assisted Jews. Hochhuth's second play, Soldaten (Soldiers), was an indictment of Winston Churchill (1874-1965) in which he again tried to saddle characters with fictional motivations based on his documentation of the events portrayed. Both plays are extremely long, but they contain passages of powerful dialogue.
   Soldiers may have created more controversy than The Deputy did, at least in Great Britain. There, Hochhuth was held accountable for damages in a civil suit by one of the individuals portrayed in the play. The wider implication was that Churchill as British prime minister was responsible for the death of Polish general Wladislaw Sikorski, who was president of Poland in exile. Critics also detected in the play an inference that Churchill committed war crimes by ordering the destruction of German cities. Other critics said Hochhuth was a sensationalizing apologist for the German war effort, equating Churchill's wartime government with the Nazi regime.
   Hochhuth's subsequent attempts to employ historical precedent met with far less controversy, bad reviews, and much less success at the box office.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

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