Himmelweg (Camino del cielo), de Juan Mayorga


In 1944 Maurice Rossel, a Swiss Representative of the Red Cross visited the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Before his visit this camp had been converted into a model village. Any indication that the Jews were unwilling prisoners living in terrible conditions was disguised. This pretence of ordinary life fooled Rossel who wrote a favourable report about his inspection. In the first act of Himmelweg – a play divided into five acts – a Red Cross Representative delivers a monologue describing a similar act of deception that took place when he visited a concentration camp in 1942. Contrary to expectations, the Representative was not greeted by monstrous guards or emaciated Jewish prisoners. Instead, a cultured and affable Nazi Commandant gave him leave to inspect what appeared to be an unremarkable Jewish town complete with a theatre and a synagogue. Accompanied by the Commandant and the Jewish ‘mayor’ of this town, Gershom Gottfried, the Representative toured the camp. He saw scenes of everyday life: an arguing couple; children playing. Yet despite the unexceptionality of the things he saw, the Representative became increasingly uneasy. He recalls that the entire experience felt unreal and stilted: the Jews seemed awkward; the Commandant overly welcoming.

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