Benghazi Bergen-Belsen

Author(s): Lahav Timor
Benghazi Bergen-Belsen is an original play inspired by a novel of the same name. Tracing the story of the holocaust of the Jews of Libya, the play gives voice to a larger cultural narrative that is absent from stories of the Jewish Holocaust. By citing the marginalized racial politics of the Holocaust, the show urges a reconsidering of both historical and contemporary religious, cultural and racial oppression and violence. Set in 1945, Benghazi Bergen-Belsen is narrated in the voice of Silvana Hajaj, an ambitious young Jewish feminist from Benghazi, Libya. Silvana and her family are uprooted from their home and sent to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Here, Silvana meets a young Dutch Jew, Rebecca Reis. The play tracks their encounter, which is layered with cultural and sexual tensions. Silvana and Rebecca are held in a shack in the concentration camp after being caught stealing water. In this confined space, they must decide which one shall be executed within the hour. As time runs out, Silvana is focused on the burning question of who is to live. But Rebecca has a different wish—she insists that Silvana tell her a story. Silvana painfully recounts the story of her and her family’s journey from Benghazi, on the coast of Libya, to the capital, Tripoli, and from there by boat to Italy, and eventually Germany. Tensions between Silvana and Rebecca culminate in a compelling experience. The frame of the show is this hour, in which they must make a decision.
Format: Full-length play
Cast Size:4M/4F
Running Time: 70 minutes


Original or Prominent Production:
World premiere presented at La MaMa Theatre, Manhattan, NY from March 23 to April 9, 2017.
Original Source Material: Loosely inspired by the Brenner Prize-winning 2016 novel of the same name by Yossi Sucary, the first book about Jews in World War II Libya. The novel depicts the transformations and tribulations this intriguing community underwent during the Second World War. The novel has been acclaimed for its role in dispelling denial about the Libyan Holocaust, so much so that the novel was chosen by the Israeli Ministry of Education to be included in the Holocaust studies program for high school students.
Nationality of Author: Israeli
Original Language: Several languages are spoken in the performance: English, Arabic, Italian, Hebrew and German.
Production Rights Holder:

Playwright Lahav Timor

Browse the Plays

Play Index


HTC Insights

Views, reference and research of interest.

A Personal Welcome to the Holocaust Theater Catalog

A Message from Arnold Mittelman After a career in not-for-profit and commercial theater spanning more than 40 years I was honored in 2007 to found the National Jewish Theater / Foundation and in 2010 to assume leadership of its Holocaust Theater International...

Many Questions and a Few Answers

by Robert Skloot 2022 NJTF HTII Lifetime Achievement Award AHO Winter Conference, Miami, FL I’d like to begin my remarks by asking the question that all of us have been asked often: “Why do you do the work you do?” There are, of course, many answers, but I’d imagine...