When we say, ‘Never Again’ we must mean it.

PA Representative Dwight Evans’ statement in response to White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s comments on Adolph Hitler.

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer mentioned Hitler in reference to the most recent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Assad and said, “you had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” This incredibly careless and disrespectful comment demonstrates Mr. Spicer’s clear mischaracterization of history.  Mr. Spicer’s inexcusable comments fall during Passover. We can never tolerate Holocaust denial, but it certainly is in even greater distaste during this reflective and meaningful time for Jewish communities across the US and our globe.  Holocaust denial and a general lack of understanding for communities who have suffered the worst form of persecution throughout our history and those who are still being persecuted today is something we as a nation cannot and will not stand for. I am glad to see Mr. Spicer apologize for his comments yesterday but I repeat when we say, #NeverAgain we mean Never Again.

Watch Sean Spicer’s original comments comparing Hitler and Assad:

Rubio Yom Kippur Fundraiser Venue Features Hitler’s Art

Personal library of Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow.

Personal library of Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow.

Today, as the sun is setting for Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement and the most holy day on the Jewish calendar – Senator Marco Rubio will hold a fundraiser in a Highland Park, Texas home that features two paintings by Adolf Hitler, a signed copy of Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, and a cabinet full of place settings and linens used by the Nazi leader.

Statues of Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong in Crow's "Gallery of Fallen Dictators".

Statue in Crow’s “Gallery of Fallen Dictators” of a 1949 meeting of Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong.

Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow has an enormous collection of war memorabilia including “a ‘garden of tyrants’ that includes busts and statues of such notorious dictators as former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.”

According to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

An event at a home with items like these is appalling at any time of the year. Adding insult to injury, Rubio is holding this event on the eve of the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Holding an event in a house featuring the artwork and signed autobiography of a man who dedicated his life to extinguishing the Jewish people is the height of insensitivity and indifference. There’s really no excuse for such a gross act of disrespect. Mr. Rubio, who by the way, represents a sizable Jewish population in our home state of Florida, should cancel this tasteless fundraiser. It is astounding that the presence of these items that represent horror for millions of Jews the world over, would not stop Mr. Rubio or anyone on his team in their tracks when planning this event.

The Republican National Committee’s national press secretary Allison Moore attempted to switch the subject by attacking the messenger:

rather than manufacture a false controversy over a collection of historic memorabilia … Debbie Wasserman Schultz should have opposed the weak Clinton-Obama Iran deal that puts Israel’s safety in jeopardy.

Official PA Daily Praises Hitler, Says 9/11 was an American Action

— by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Just before US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and the PA, the official PA daily chose to print anti-American hate speech along with pro-Hitler comments in an op-ed:

Our history is replete with lies… [including] the lie about Al-Qaeda and the September 11 events, which asserted that Muslim terrorists committed it, and that it was not an internal American action by the Freemasons.

The op-ed further implies that Hitler was greater than both Churchill and Roosevelt, who were “alcoholics”:

Churchill and Roosevelt were alcoholics, and in their youth were questioned more than once about brawls they started in bars, while Hitler hated alcohol and was not addicted to it. He used to go to sleep early and wake up early, and was very organized. These facts have been turned upside down as well, and Satan has been dressed with angels’ wings.

More nonsense after the jump.
The PA daily op-ed further asserts that negative attitudes toward Nazism are not objective but the result of the West’s victory:

Had Hitler won, Nazism would be an honor that people would be competing to belong to, and not a disgrace punishable by law.

Palestinian Media Watch has documented anti-US messages promoted by the PA. PMW has also documented the PA’s praise for the September 11 terror attacks.  

Here is more from the op-ed by Hassan Ouda Abu Zaher printed in the official PA daily:

‘History is a great lie written by the victors’ — said Napoleon Bonaparte, the source of dubious historical writing and father of Freemasonry in France. If so, is the history planted in us through TV and the standard educational curriculum indeed true? The source of this history is the West — the victor ever since the fall of Andalusia (Muslim Spain)! […] Our history is replete with lies, from lies about the corrupt [Caliph] Harun Al-Rashid, which ignore the sources indicating that he dedicated one year to pilgrimage [to Mecca] and one year to Jihad (i.e., he was a good Muslim), to the lie about Al-Qaeda and the Sept. 11 events, which asserted that Muslim terrorists committed it, and that it was not an internal American action by the Freemasons, which was mentioned in the Illuminati game cards ten years before it took place, and in over 15 Zionist and Freemason Hollywood-produced films in the 1990s. The method of repeating [the lies] over and over has authenticated false facts. Had Hitler won, Nazism would be an honor that people would be competing to belong to, and not a disgrace punishable by law.

Pennsylvania Senate Candidate Praises Holocaust Rhetoric

(NJDC) Once again, a Republican candidate for office has condoned — and even applauded — the use of offensive Holocaust rhetoric. Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith took the stage at the Blair County Tea Party FreedomFest 2012 where he praised a Tea Party speaker who he said spoke “eloquently”-despite the fact that he had just finished comparing President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler.

The Huffington Post’s John Celock reported:

‘As the gentleman that was speaking before me was so eloquently saying about so many things,’ Smith said prior to giving a speech regarding Obama’s energy policies.

Smith is challenging Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and has been backed by several national Tea Party groups including the Tea Party Express.

[Preceding spekaer Phil] Waite started by discussing what he called the history of various economic and governmental policies, including those that he deemed socialist. He said the Obama administration is employing socialist policies, similar to those employed by the Communists in the Soviet Union and Fascists in Germany.

‘I will not allow a group of Marxist, Socialist law professors, left-wing extremists to annihilate my country without a fight,’ Waite said.

Waite launched into a diatribe about the Nazi Party and Hitler, saying that Obama and Hitler both wanted to centralize power and strip local governments’ authority.

‘All other parties were outlawed, all free elections were outlawed, 45 million dead people later, we ended that regime,’ Waite said. ‘Why? Because you had a slick, quick talker and someone who said ‘you don’t need to worry about responsibility, we’ll take good care of you. Just walk the party line and smile.’ And you know how that ended up.’…

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party was quick to condemn Smith and Waite.

‘The speaker’s comments were shocking, but it’s not surprising that … Tom Smith applauded the extremism of his fellow Tea Partier,’ party spokesman Mark Nicastre said in an email. ‘After all Smith is a self-proclaimed ‘Tea Party guy’, who founded his own local Tea Party. Throughout his campaign, Smith has embraced all of the extreme policies and extreme rhetoric of the Tea Party, and this is just the latest example of how out-of-touch Tom Smith is with middle-class Pennsylvanians.’

As we have said repeatedly, invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable and the use of this type of language should be condemned by all. Period.  

History Lesson By Teen Troupe

— by Hannah Lee

From the mouths of babes and the brainstorming of teens: “Sosúa: Dare to Dance Together” is the result of an outreach effort to bring together the Jewish and Dominican populations of the Upper Manhattan neighborhood. Teens performed in song, dance, and rapping monologues this past Sunday at the National Museum of American Jewish History.  Their performance highlighted the little known fact of synergy that occurred in 1938 when the Dominican Republic was the only country of the 38 nations invited to the Évian Conference, organized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to offer a haven to Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled countries.

More after the jump.

One of Latin America’s most repressive dictators, General Rafael Trujillo, had ulterior motives for rescuing Jews.  His nation bordered Haiti, his army had massacred 15,000 unarmed Haitians, and he wanted to deflect the international outcry.  Also, as documented by Allen Wells in his 2009 book, Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa, Trujillo “sought to “whiten” the Dominican populace, welcoming Jewish refugees who were themselves subject to racist scorn in Europe.”  

Trujillo offered to accept up to 100,000 refugees, although only 750 Jews succeeded in crossing the Atlantic Ocean between 1940 and 1945.  Mostly from Germany and Austria, the Jews settled in the small seaside town of Sosúa and they created a dairy and cheese cooperative, named Productos Sosú, on the grounds of an abandoned banana plantation,  which is still in existence today.  Most of the descendants of the original settlers moved away to New York or Miami, including the abovementioned author Wells, but some still live in Sosúa, where they maintain a synagogue and a museum.

The inter-racial and inter-cultural project was conceived by Victoria Neznansky, the chief program officer of the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood, where the German and Russian Jews do not mingle with the larger Hispanic population, comprised mostly of immigrants from the Dominican Republic.  In 2008, the Museum of Jewish Heritage held an exhibit on Jews who had found shelter in the Dominican Republic just before the outbreak of World War II.  That historical link gave Neznansky the spark to reach out to noted composer Elizabeth Swados about creating a dance theater piece for her teen constituency.  Art would be the lure to bring in the two groups of participants.

Neznansky started with a group of 10 Jews and 10 Dominicans in 2009, but now the project reaches out beyond its neighborhood.  The current performers hail from 17 schools in the greater New York area.  Ranging in age from 12 to 18, the participants met weekly to study the historical episode, bond over their shared history of discrimination, and rehearse the production. Each year’s teens add their own stories, interpretations and raps.  One of the participants, Kaitlin Abreu composed a Spanish song to add to Swados’ original score.  

Part I tells the story of how the Jews arrived in Sosúa.  A memorable prop of clear plastic Magen David (six-pointed star of David) was held aloft by teens and torn apart to depict Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, in which coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria occurred on 9-10 November 1938.  Part II recounts how the Dominicans welcomed the Jews into their midst, often resulting in marriage between the mostly male Jews and the local Latina girls.  At the finale, two large red hands are linked together and flipped to represent a stylized heart.

In one monologue, a teen offered the ice cream sundae as a metaphor for racial harmony: Hitler only wanted vanilla, Trujillo wanted to get rid of his country’s fudge sauce, but “everyone knows that the best ice cream sundae has all of its parts.”  And in another segment, another teen noted that “one’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and what happened in Sosúa went “way beyond recycling.”

At the talkback after Sunday’s performance, an audience member referred to a piece of monologue about middle school being the pivotal period when children no longer play together innocently, regardless of racial or ethnic background.  As the performers are all in their teens, what would they suggest for parents who wish to raise their own children with tolerance?  One performer recommended communal projects such as theirs.  A Dominican girl told about living on the Jewish side of her mixed community and being asked to turn on lights for her religious Jewish neighbors.  She had no context for what it meant.  Another Hispanic teen enthusiastically spoke about joining in a Chanukah celebration with his Jewish peer from the group.  A third girl endorsed the study of world history, to learn about the cultural contributions of people other than our own.  Another boy endorsed “celebrating other races,” other cultures.  Finally, several teens raved about their theatrically focused high school programs for facilitating tolerance, as the performing arts tout excellence, regardless of background.

“Sosúa: Dare to Dance Together” has since been performed,  amongst other venues, at the United Nations and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan.  According to The Jewish Week, the filmmaker Peter Miller, whose documentaries, such as “Jews and Baseball” and “Sacco and Vanzetti,” have aired on PBS, has begun co-directing a documentary about the project with Renee Silverman,  a member of the Washington Heights Y.  Neznansky reports that the filmmakers have recently received a grant from the Kroll Foundation to edit and complete a rough draft of the documentary.   However, the Y needs funding to continue the project beyond the original three-year grant from the UJA Federation of New York.  Indeed, at Sunday’s performance, an appreciative audience member voiced the hope that every school could see the performance.

Photo credits: Historical black and white photographs courtesy of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives. Color teen photos courtesy of Roj Rodrigues.

UNESCO Cuts Off Funding to Pro-Nazi Palestinian Magazine

— by Sharon Bender

B’nai B’rith welcomes the cut-off of funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to the Palestinian children’s magazine Zayzafuna after a deeply disturbing story came to light that glorified Hitler. We also praise the U.S. mission to UNESCO for taking swift, strong action in its condemnation of this hateful publication, one which UNESCO should never have funded in the first place.

More after the jump.
Since August 2011, UNESCO has financially supported the magazine. Once this hateful message was revealed, UNESCO issued a statement saying: “UNESCO is shocked and dismayed by the content…UNESCO strongly deplores and condemns the reproduction of such inflammatory statements in a magazine associated with UNESCO’s name and mission and will not provide any further support to the publication in question.”

In a statement today from the U.S. mission condemning the story’s blatant anti-Semitic nature, Ambassador David T. Killion, U.S. permanent representative to UNESCO said: “The decision that UNESCO took today to condemn this magazine’s hateful content will, I hope, be a strong signal to the Palestinian leadership that its messages to the international community and the messages it teaches to its young must be the same, and must move towards peace.”

As reported in the Palestinian Media Watch’s new book “Deception: Betraying the Peace Process,” the Palestinian children’s magazine Zayzafuna included an essay by a teenage girl who portrays Hitler as a role model. In her dream, the girl asks Hitler, “You’re the one who killed the Jews?” Hitler says: “Yes. I killed them so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world. And what I ask of you is to be resilient and patient, concerning the suffering that Palestine is experiencing at their hands.” The girl responds: “Thanks for the advice.”

While the Palestinian Authority touts its readiness to be a member of this U.N. agency, it simultaneously violates the organization’s founding principles through appalling actions like this magazine article.

“We praise U.S. mission officials for swiftly bringing this to the attention of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and welcome the U.N. agency’s announcement that it will cut off the funding to this publication,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “This is yet another promotion of hate-filled messages that only serve to undermine the peace process. Not only is the story itself despicable, but equally deeply disturbing is the fact that the magazine found it a suitable message to publish.”

B’nai B’rith also calls upon the director-general to fully investigate the situation to ensure that procedures are in place to prevent a repetition of such hateful behavior.

“This is an extreme example of contemporary anti-Semitism. Notwithstanding the promises Palestinians made 18 years ago when they signed the Oslo Accords, incitement against Israel and Jews continues. UNESCO should never have funded this to begin with, and we urge it to look into all other Palestinian publications that they may be funding,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.

B’nai B’rith, accredited as a non-governmental organization at the United Nations since 1947, swiftly raised this issue with officials of both the U.S. mission and UNESCO as soon as we became aware of the article in the magazine.

“They Were Our Neighbors”: Our Class at the Wilma Theater

The Wilma Theater begins its season with the United States Premiere of Our Class, written by Polish playwright Tadeusz Stobodzianek (translated by Ryan Craig) and directed by the Wilma’s Artistic Director Blanka Zizka.   Based on true events in the Polish village of Jedwabne and inspired in part by Princeton History Professor Jan T. Gross’ controversial book Neighbors, Our Class chronicles the lives of ten classmates from their childhood in the 1920s to the beginning of the new millennium.   While it is difficult not to be moved by the tragic subject matter, the play’s overwrought writing, full of sensational and clichéd plotting, does not, finally, succeed in translating the events that happened in Poland into an artful, engaging evening of theatre.  

More after the jump.
On the sparse set, designed by Marsha Ginsberg, you witness the haunting barn inside which 1600 Jews were murdered, burned to death not by the Germans, but by their fellow Polish citizens.   Slobokzianek’s play raises important questions: how can neighbors be moved to murder neighbors, and how does one survive the aftermath of such atrocities?  How do individuals and societies lives with or bury the memory of such deeds?   Unfortunately, the story itself is not told in a compelling, original manner but too often falls into clichéd writing.  For instance, at the opening of Act 2, Wladek, a Pole who must clean up the burned Jewish bodies describes how the bodies were chopped up: “It was horrific.  It made me wretch. I threw up.”   This kind of writing does not add anything to either our understanding of the events nor, more importantly to the character’s development.  

The characters remain wooden and empty vessels – types — who are not fleshed out human beings who one grows to care about.   Torture and brutality and murder and rape – we are well aware of the atrocities of crimes committed by Stalinists and Fascists; good theatre is powerful because it tells us a compelling story with particular details in an engaging way.  Unfortunately, by the time the fourth rape is graphically enacted on the stage I am repelled not by rape, but by the sensationalistic, unaesthetic depiction of actors on a stage.  This could be any rape anywhere and loses its power to move us.   Rather than making the murder that happened in this barn more real, more intimate, more personal, this piling on of characters and rapes effectively dulls us to the events.  It becomes an all too familiar and general tale of life gone very bad for a young group of class mates.  

Are these class mates – Catholic and Jewish, men and women —  the victims of historical circumstances or did they make choices? Unfortunately the play only hints at such questions but its focus seems to want to make us as uncomfortable as possible.   At the performance I attended a group of women left during the intermission.   I had the opportunity to talk with them and the director briefly.  Ms. Zizka, the director, explained that the play does not provide easy answers.   It depicts Jews who sympathized with Stalin as well as local Poles as being responsible for the crimes that occurred.   She said “The characters’ individual memories are subjective and even contradictory.  I admire Tadeusz Slobodzianek’s resolve to ground the play in moral rather than ideological concerns and to leave it to the audience to create their own picture, their own understanding of the events from this choir of disparate voices.”   The audience members with whom I spoke thought the play to be “too much.”  When pressed to state too much of what – they effectively said that the writing was not engaging, that the story was not told in an original manner.   “The characters are not individual, it’s not that the subject matter that is difficult, for I’ve seen many depictions of the Holocaust, but that the writing did not engage me.”  

Despite all of this, the acting is strong, with excellent performances by Kate Czajkowki, who plays Rachelka, a Jewish woman who converts to Catholicism; Michael Rubenfeld, who plays Abram, a Jewish member of the young Polish class who emigrates to America and becomes a rabbi; Ed Swidey who plays Wladek, gives a striking performance.  

In the end Our Class becomes a soggy tale with too much talk of vodka, beatings, hookers and broken fingers, and too little character development to make the play engaging which is a shame as the subject is an excellent one for dramatic adaptation.   Do we really need to know that “eels had eaten off his face.”  In the end, while I admire Our Class’ political and moral engagement with historical material, (for anti-Semitic vandals recently defaced a Polish monument that commemorated where the Polish Jews were killed, writing “they were flammable” and a swastika on the memorial) it fails to make it new, to give new expression to the Shoah.  This does not mean we shouldn’t see the play, and discuss it amongst ourselves — Jews, Poles, Catholics, priests and rabbis.    

After almost three hours of theater, I am left with a lot of chatter — song, dance, and a deluge of words in Our Class, but not what the quiet gravitas that great art may give us by knowing what to leave out.  I wish Our Class had left more restrained silences, more brokenness in its telling of the story of this Polish village.   The German poet Paul Celan’s ambiguous, often sparse poems, in their quiet, mystical restraint, are humble meditations about the Shoah:  “Count the almonds/count what was bitter and kept you awake/ count me in.”  
*  
On Tuesday, November 1st: “America as Haven,”  A program of The Wilma Theatre and the National Museum of American Jewish History.  This program will examine the idea and reality of this country as a place where immigrants can find a new life.  Director Blank Zizka, who was born in the former Czechoslovakia, will discuss her own experience alongside others with expertise of 20th Century immigration.  Actor Michael Rubenfeld from the production of Our Class, will read letters from the Museum’s collection written across continents between immigrants and their families.  Complimentary reception follows the discussion..   Held at the National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East.

Our Class: October 21 – November 13, 2011
Where: The Wilma Theatre   265 South Broad Street   Philadelphia, PA 19107
Tickets: range from $39 to $66, available at the Wilma Box office 215 546 7824, visiting www.wilmatheater.org or at the theater.

   

Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s Filmmaker, Arrested in Philadelphia

–by Henrik Eger

A beautiful young woman, clutching her film reel like a Torah, is fighting to defend her work against an arresting American officer in occupied Austria in 1946. Reluctantly, with a pistol in her face, she hands over the canister. Then, in a demanding voice, she says, “Cut! We’ll do it again.”

Playing Leni, by David Robson and John Stanton, directed by the innovative Seth Reichgott, and produced by Madhouse Theater Company at the Adrienne Theater in Philadelphia, looks at the manipulations of Leni Riefenstahl, the Führer’s most influential filmmaker, her many propaganda films, and her denial that she glorified the Nazi Empire, numbing millions to the horrors to come.

More after the jump.

Doyenne of Denial

Playing Leni centers around Riefenstahl vehemently rejecting any accusations that her heroic propaganda films contributed to the Third Reich and the Holocaust.

During the play, the audiences witness an excerpt from Riefenstahl’s original film Tiefland (Lowland) with Gypsies as Spanish peasant extras. The soldier tries to get Riefenstahl to confess that the actors were from a forced labor camp and that she made a contract with the SS to hire them, despite knowing that most of them would end up murdered in Auschwitz shortly after the shooting.

Riefenstahl, doyenne of denial, claims that she still maintains a wonderful correspondence with many of them. However, the soldier tries to tear down her web of fabrication: “All of those extras have been exterminated!”

Riefenstahl shrugs off the accusation, “I am a director, not a casting agent.” The soldier, unimpressed, pushes on: “What did you know about the systematic murders of Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies-?”  The woman who was closer to Hitler and Goebbels than anyone outside the Nazi hierarchy, renounces all accusation of involvement, adamantly declaring, “This won’t be in my film or any film!”

Cat-and-Mouse Games

Audiences of Riefenstahl’s works, like Triumph of the Will or the two famous 1936 Olympic films, may not have realized that they got played and sucked into toxic, persuasive propaganda.

Similarly, Frau Riefenstahl, the mistress of power and control (compellingly portrayed by Amanda Grove), goes all out to seduce the arresting U.S. soldier (the multi-talented Robert DaPonte) by playing Leni, browbeating him-and the audience-into submission: “No Leni, no movie,” and, “This is my story and my arrest!  So stop screwing around with B-movie shit!”

She manages to turn her brief incarceration into a scene where she coaxes the American officer into acting various parts, forcing him to play her role while interacting with Goebbels. She even manages to get him to play a German officer who kills prisoners in Poland while she films the scene.

The soldier, unwillingly dragged into Riefenstahl’s cat-and-mouse game, tries to turn the situation to his advantage by working on her script as his ruse to get her cooperation and to reveal information before the Nuremberg trials.

Just when the soldier thinks he has caught her in his trap, confronting her with the impact of her films on countless lives, she brushes him off: “Life is too short for regrets.”

“First Rule of the Interrogation: Don’t Joke About the Jews”

The soldier, modeled on Budd Schulberg, the writer who actually arrested and interrogated Riefenstahl, reveals himself as Jewish. The stubborn anti-Semite, who clearly has not learned anything, ridicules him. He then warns her, “First rule of the interrogation: Don’t joke about the Jews.”

In an almost Pavlovian fashion, Riefenstahl declares that she has nothing against anyone, “as far as I’m concerned, people are all the same.” Yet, she uses euphemisms to avoid the term “Jews.”  The interrogator has to beat it out of her before, referencing Hitler, she admits to prejudices against, “people unlike himself.” The U.S. soldier spells it out for her, “Jews you mean.”

Apparently unaware of the presence of a significant Jewish community in Los Angeles, Hitler’s filmmaker dreams of making movies in Hollywood-the height of chutzpah. The soldier reacts sardonically, “I’m not sure the Jews on Rodeo Drive have gotten past it yet.”  The audience roared with delight.

A Thorny Issue

My friend and guest, Stefanie Seltzer, president of the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust (WFJCSH), did not laugh.  The Riefenstahl play had brought back many painful memories of her childhood in occupied Poland.  

Going by the derisive laughter in the theater, often directed at Leni, I wasn’t sure whether the audience went home feeling enlightened or merely entertained by schadenfreude, whether they saw Riefenstahl as the “Inglorious Bitch” akin to Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds-or whether they went home in self-reflection.

“We Are the Same, You and I”

Playing Leni, the drama about the power-hungry filmmaker willing to walk over bodies, encourages the American audience to discover not only some of the inner workings of a Third Reich mind, but also our own: “You’re doing this for you!  We are the same you and I,” asserts Riefenstahl.

Through the American soldier and the German filmmaker, we may recognize our own ambiguities in the pursuit of happiness.  As Robson puts it, Riefenstahl was “an opportunist extraordinaire. Life is full of people willing to do anything to become famous. Where does the conscience go in all that?”

Entering the theater, Riefenstahl’s The Triumph of the Will fills the screen.  Leaving the theater, where we had just witnessed the unbearable Riefenstahl, did we look critically at the triumph of the will-within ourselves?


HENRIK EGER, Professor of English and Communication, DCCC, Media, PA.  Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago (1991). Member: Board of Directors, Theatre Ariel, the Jewish theatre of Philadelphia.  Philadelphia correspondent of All About Jewish Theatre (AAJT) and YouTube producer-writer: AAJT–The World’s Largest Secular Synagogue and Open University http://www.youtube.com/watch?v… Playwright of Jewish life and people, seen from a German perspective. For a detailed description, click here: http://www.pdc1.org/memberprof…

CONTACT: henrikeger@gmail.com, http://www.henrikeger.com