Tags: Willy Mahler

Sweet Theresienstadt [Sladký Theresienstadt: Vůdce daroval Židům město]

The play is based on documents about life in the Theresienstadt ghetto: the diary of Czech journalist Willy Otto Mahler, and the story of Kurt Gerron, a German-Jewish actor and director who was coerced into the filming of a propaganda documentary, The Führer Gives the Jews a City, that gave a false idea of life for the Jews in Theresienstadt. (The Führer Gives the Jews a City is also the subtitle of the play). Their stories are linked by the two characters’ belief that their privileges offered them some distance from the suffering of the other prisoners: Mahler had a somewhat elevated position at Theresiestadt, he worked at the post office, was a member of the Jewish administration and was the head of Block B in the Hannover Barracks. Gerron believed the Nazis’ promise of safety for himself and his family for making the documentary. The play portrays the irony of their self-deception. Both men, as well as Gerron’s family, died in the extermination camps.