BY JENNIFER RUBENSTEIN
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
The play, The False Witness, is set before the Gates of Purgatory, where Adolf Hitler is being brought before the Criminal Court of the High Tribunal. The work proposes to put Germany, Christianity and Mankind on trial for the tragedy known as the Holocaust. Robert Krakow, author of the False Witness was on hand at the Chabad of Boca Raton Thursday evening to discuss how he researched and wrote the play. During the play audience members become the jury as the indictment against Hitler is read. The testimonies of Martin Luther, Richard Wagner, Henry Ford and Franklin D. Roosevelt are brought before the jury as the Defense Counsel argues the innocence of Hitler. Joan of Arc presents the prosecution.
With Luther, the audience finds medieval foundation of Hitler's policies,
as the Defense Counsel places into evidence
the Luther tract, "The Jews and Their Lies".
This accuses Jews of blaspheming Jesus in prayer books and in
their synagogue and of kidnapping Christian children and using
their blood for Passover service.
"I wanted to explore the schism in Christianity which portrays
Jews as inferior, Krakow said. "Through using Joan of Arc
as opposite to Luther, it voices the true message of the Nazarene,
and contrast with Luther. The exchanges between them are forceful
and bring to surface the conflict."
The subsequent witnesses include William Shakespeare, who was
responsible for creating the image of Shylock, the classic medieval
stereotype of the Jew. Richard Wagner is the philosophical mentor
of Hitler and his regime's Aryan ideology. Joan of Arc proposes
that Wagner"s father was a Jew, and the jury is left to
ponder the bizarre backdrop of the
Third Reich's Aryan ideology. Wagner tells
the Tribunal that his operas warned Germany of its racial degeneration,
and the need for the renewal of the Aryan spirit.
"It struck me that if a non-Jew - who thought he was Jewish
- could have such implications, made me sensitive to the fact
that there is such criticism in the Jewish community,"
Krakow said. "If we are not proud of our heritage then
terrible things can happen to us."
In Henry Ford, the jury is confronted with the contemporary
aspects of American anti-Semitism, which caused the American
congress in the 1930's to close doors to the Jewish refugees
fleeing Nazi terror. With Franklin D. Roosevelt, the defense
confronts the jury with realities including the Jews not being
wanted by the world community.
Krakow researched content for the play by scanning Mein Kampf
into his computer more than 25,000 times
looking for frequency of words and phrases.
After about 1,000 scans, he noticed certain thought patterns
that showed the ideologies of Shakespeare, Luther, Ford and
"It showed that Hitler was unoriginal, and that his ideology has historical origins in Christian Nationalism," he said. "The subject matter was what captivated and gave me the impulse to write a play that was provocative and meaningful to the audience."
The play, which is being sponsored by the Mount Zion Foundation, opens at the Royal Palm Theater Feb. 13 and runs until Feb. 22. For ticket information, call 561-967-8817.