13 Minutes. Johann Georg Elser, The Man Who Tried to Assassinate Hitler
2m & 1f (also possible with 2m); age 10+; first produced at Trias Theater Ruhr
“Back in autumn 1938, the carpenter Johann Georg Elser resolved to kill the leaders of the National Socialist Party – Hitler, Göring and Goebbels. He hoped that this would prevent the imminent threat of war. Elser knew that Hitler always gave a speech on 8 November in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller to commemorate the anniversary of his failed putsch in 1923. Elser gained access to the venue, and noted that the hall was not guarded. One year later, he worked for a week to rig one of the bearer columns with an explosive device. On 8 November 1939, Hitler unexpectedly left the hall just a few minutes before the explosion, and thus escaped the assassination attempt.” (www.georg-elser.de)
Today Johann Georg Elser is far less well known than the plotters of 20 July, because he was a would-be assassin who made his compatriots feel uncomfortable.
He was an ordinary man of the people, not well educated and with no profound insight into the plans of the Nazi government. But he was all too aware that those plans would lead inevitably to war. Thus his action contradicts the old excuse: “We couldn’t have known what was coming.” A simple carpenter with a vision of a better life knew enough, and also had the courage, to draw the logical and obvious conclusion from that knowledge: that he must kill Hitler and his henchmen. If his attempt had succeeded, it would have changed the world. On 9 April 1945, just a few weeks before the end of the war, Johann Georg Elser was murdered in the concentration camp at Dachau.
In this play, Ulrich Penquitt depicts what Elser might have been thinking in the last few hours before the attempted assassination. He vacillates between conscience and conviction, between the desire to live a normal life again with his beloved Elsa and the certainty that under Hitler this life could no longer be even a possibility. He is a lonely man, and his plight leaves us facing the all-important question: ‘What can one man do?” The answer is: “Anything.”
junge töne [young sounds]:
From summer 2012, this play will be available with a composition for zither and accompaniment by Clemens Nachtmann.
Johann Georg Elser loved playing the zither. During his solitary confinement in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, he was allowed to make a zither which he was able to take with him when he was transferred to Dachau. According to one of his guards, he particularly liked playing the song “Ich hab im Herzen drin ein Stückerl altes Wien” [Deep in my heart I have a piece of old Vienna]. The piece for zither and electronic accompaniment (working title Elser in Dachau) takes this song as its starting point, and with the strange sounds of the zither reflects the situation of a man who almost succeeded in wiping out the Nazi leaders, and who after his failure to do so was completely cut off from the outside world and his fellow prisoners, leaving only this musical instrument for him to confide in.
Besetzung: 1 Dame(n) , 2 Herr(en)
Alter: empfohlen ab 10
Uraufführung: Trias Theater Ruhr