‘Where Is His Voice?’

The Representative, by Rolf Hochhuth (Methuen, 1963, 331 pp., 16s), is reviewed by J. D. Douglas, British editorial director, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

Because of the furor this play has caused in Europe, it is advisable at the outset to get straight certain historical facts. Between four and six million Jews (no one knows the precise figure) were massacred by the Nazis during World War II. Pope Pius XII avoided specific condemnation of the massacres. So much for the facts. Was Pius wrong in not speaking up? It is this problem of choice that Hochhuth deals with in his play, which has been widely misunderstood. The 31-year-old German publisher’s reader, himself neither Roman Catholic nor Jew, does not accuse the Vatican of anti-Semitism, does not say that papal intervention would have saved the Jews, and does not fail to give specific examples of Pius’ concern for them. Nor is this a German attempt to shift some of the responsibility for the national guilt—careful perusal of the play will reveal, indeed, that Hochhuth deals ruthlessly with his fellow countrymen.

Much of the dialogue is concerned with a young Jesuit father’s indignation about the pope’s silence. Though he displays at times a naïveté one does not normally associate with the Society of Jesus, one exchange which the priest has with his father, a Vatican official, puts the whole thing in a nutshell. “How you simplify …,” says Count Fontana; “can you believe the Pope can see without pain the hunger and suffering of a single person? His heart is with the victims.” Replies Father Riccardo: “And his voice? Where is his voice?”

Says the Christian S.S. officer (an almost incredible character) to the cardinal; “For sixteen months now Rome has known what Hitler ...

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