Rolf Hochhuth

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Rolf Hochhuth (born 1 April 1931, in Eschwege) is a German author and playwright. He is best known for his 1963 drama The Deputy and remains a controversial figure for his plays and other public comments, such as his 2005 defense of Holocaust denier David Irving.


Life and career


Rolf Hochhuth is descended from an old-established Hessian burgess family. During World War II, he was a member of the Deutsches Jungvolk. In 1948 he did an apprenticeship as a bookseller. Between 1950 and 1955 he worked in bookshops in Marburg, Kassel and Munich. At the same time he attended university lectures as a guest student and began with early attempts at writing fiction. Between 1955 and 1963 he was a lector at a major West-German publishing house.

The Deputy

Hochhuth's plays include his 1963 drama Der Stellvertreter. Ein christliches Trauerspiel (The Deputy, a Christian Tragedy, translated by Richard & Clara Winston, 1964), that caused controversy because of its criticism of Pope Pius XII's role in World War II. The play was subsequently published in the UK in Robert David MacDonald's translation as The Representative (1965).

It is regarded by some as a work of considerable literary merit, though publisher Ed Keating and journalist Warren Hinckle, who organized a committee to defend the play as a matter of free speech, considered it "dramaturgically flawed".[1] In 2007, Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Romanian spymaster, alleged that the play was part of a KGB campaign to discredit Pius XII.[2] A leading German newspaper opined "that Hochhuth did not require any KGB assistance for his one-sided presentation of history.[3][4]

The unedited version of the play is over five hours long and includes the true story of Kurt Gerstein. Gerstein, a devout Protestant and later a member of the SS, wrote an eyewitness report about the gas chambers and, after the war, mysteriously died as a POW.[5]

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