written by Robert David MacDonald; directed by Charlotte Headrick
Friday, May 2, 2014 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Franz Stangl was the commandant of Treblinka August 1942-August 1943, and in that year he oversaw the killing of about 900,000 people, the preponderant majority of them Polish Jews. At the close of
the war he was briefly imprisoned, but in 1948 he escaped, traveling first to Syria and then, in 1951, to Brazil, where he lived, under his own name, until 1967, when he was arrested and extradited
to Germany. During his subsequent trial, he admitted supervising the gassing of prisoners, but claimed that his conscience was clear, because he had simply done his duty. Sentenced to
life in prison, he was in the process of appeal when he died of a heart attack in June 1971.
In 1970 and 1971, Stangl was interviewed in prison by a noted Austrian journalist, Gitta Sereny. Sereny also interviewed others who knew him, particularly his wife. After Stangl’s
death, Sereny published Into That Darkness, based on her interviews of him and her additional research. Sereny’s book remains a classic of Holocaust literature.
In Quest of Conscience is a dramatization of Into That Darkness. It focuses on the exchanges between Stangl and Sereny, and especially on Stangl’s efforts to justify himself. For this
reason, it provides a chilling investigation into what Hannah Arendt famously called “the banality of evil.” The play will be performed as reader’s theater.