Guest 2004.

Rolf Hochhuth [ Germany ]

Rolf Hochhuth was born in Eschwege in Hessen 1931.  After finishing his training as a retail bookseller, he worked in bookshops in Marburg, Kassel and Munich.  In 1955 he took a job as editor at Bertelsmann-Lesering, at which he supervised various editions and anthologies.  In 1963 he moved to the countryside around Basel, where he has lived ever since as a freelance writer.  In addition to his own prose pieces, Rolf Hochhuth has mainly written dramatic works, and he is considered the most important representative of German documentary theatre.  His theatre pieces combine fictional dialogue with historical and incriminatory material, in which the artistic occasionally gives way to the factual.  His flair for political as well as emotionally charged themes has made him one of the most successful and controversial artists in the country.  As a consequence of his embracing social taboos, and his absolute insistence on the moral responsibility of the individual, Hochhuth has contributed to the development of the critical awareness in postwar Germany.  He has been honoured many times for his multi-faceted work and received the the Jacob Grimme Prize, among others, in 2001. Hochhuth's first literary work proved that writing can also change things politically.  In 1963 the debuted documentary drama 'Der Stellvertreter' raised the question of the complicity of Pope Pius XII in the crimes of the Third Reich; its overwhelming resonance throughout Europe forced the church to confront its disreputable past.  Equally consequent was Hochhuth’s short story 'Eine Liebe in Deutschland' (1978), which, like the play 'Juristen' (1979), dealt with the role of the former NS judges in Germany during the 1970’s. The author attacked, among others, the then prime minister of Baden-Württemberg Hans Filbinger, who was forced to step down as a result of the revelations about his past as a naval judge during the Nazi period.  Hochhuth has made headlines with 'McKinsey kommt' (2003), a debate about unemployment and greed for profit in Germany ruled by capitalism since the end of the Cold War.  The play, which asserted the inevitability of a future social revolution, became public even before its premier; Hochhuth was accused of advocating vigilantism and politically motivated murder; however the author did not let himself be deterred by this criticism; rather he wishes to continue making radical political theatre, because, "On stage things should be said like they are." His tragicomedy "Heil Hitler" (2001) premiered early in 2007 at the Academy of the Arts in Berlin.

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