My father, aged 31, got killed while reporting in Russia during World War II. A talented writer who not only penned countless articles and one book, but also close to 500 love letters to my mother from occupied France, he also filled about 20 volumes of journals, covering almost the entire Third Reich on a daily basis. He considered those journals and letters his life’s inheritance. My mother cherished them, and always told me that once I was old enough I could have all of them. However, something horrible happened.
Because I have studied and taught in countries around the world for many years, I could not take her up on the offer. However, once I had settled in the Philadelphia area, I asked her for my father’s journals. I added a sentence that I will regret for the rest of my life, namely, “I want to publish them.” My mother, apparently horrified by that request, threw my father’s life’s work into an incinerator.
This act of deliberate destruction was one of the most dramatic and saddest moments in my life. The burning of my father's journals was the catalyst of my desire to write plays about subjects that people might not know about or may be too scared to touch. Out of that anguish, my first play, Metronome Ticking, grew like a phoenix out of the ashes, followed by more plays.
So far, almost all my plays deal with the oppression of Jewish people and culture, seen from a German perspective. I’ve also begun writing about American characters, presenting aspects that may feel as uncomfortable to some Americans as my German plays may feel uncomfortable to some German audiences. Bambi and Cinderella are not exactly my role models.
If my plays could encourage some people to think about the damage of prejudice, I would consider all the work done worth doing.