Kirkus Reviews QR Code
A GERMAN LOVE STORY by Rolf Hochhuth



Pub Date: June 5th, 1980
Publisher: Little, Brown

Hochhuth's controversial play The Deputy dealt with WW II Vatican diplomacy, but here he finds a smaller, everyday-people focus for his grieving, outraged search into the Nazi infection--the tragic love affair between German housewife and mother Paula and Stasiek Zasada, a handsome young Polish prisoner consigned to farm work in her village. Although the Nazi code penalizes intercourse between a German woman and a foreigner (concentration-camp for her, death for him), these two lonely young people are too vulnerable, too fragile, to become other than victims. At first, Pauline and Stasi themselves are seen only in a few small vignettes--aberrant gleams of sunlight before the dark--while Hochhuth wrestles with that nagging question: why did ordinary people seem to absorb and perpetuate the mental illness at the top? Through excerpts from documents and interviews, he convincingly recreates ""the terrible density of the police net which enshrouded Nazi Germany. . . . There was not a citizen whom the system failed to debase into a dog, not a dog without a watchdog trotting beside him."" He mulls over the national--or is it universal?--pull of ""obedience,"" the infatuation with a ""legal, collective"" conformity, the ""hatred of the intellect. . . ."" And only after reviewing the blinkered impotency of seasoned military men, the paranoiac bases of Nazi racial and ethnic policies, and the atrocities practiced by Germans against Germans (soldiers executed for ""treasonous"" clowning), does Hochhuth bear down on the personal case at hand: the execution of Stasi--a bungled, horrible death by hanging carried out by the tentatively decent, the truculent, the bored, the titillated, the disgusted. . . who all watch a strong young man slowly strangle for the sake of legality and order. An old but demandingly angry argument--and an often searing, incontestably moving, painfully simple story.