The Future Lurks Everywhere and Nowhere


Ibrahim, a refugee from Syria
David, a former Jewish DP and Shoah survivor
Viktor, a social worker who works in the refugee shelter
Kerstin Wissenschläger-Kanava, journalist
Chorus of Citizens
Mrs. Kamenizki, assistant to the mayor
Sabine Striegl, a city dweller
Lady in Fur
Melanie Lefzowitz, “Spokeswoman for the Peace League for an Islam-Free Europe”
Adalbert Kuf, a representative of “ARGE Borderline”
Kurt Trutschner, also a representative of “ARGE Borderline”
Chorus of Refugees
Samar, Ibrahim’s daughter
Munir, an Assyrian from Iraq
Nabil, an Assyrian from Iraq
Smuggler in Izmir
Other members of refugee choir
Voice of Hanna, David’s childhood friend


Town hall of a city in Germany or Austria
In front of the entrance to a refugee shelter in the same city



With poems by Ina Ricarda Kolck-Thudt and Rumi



A flute player stands on the Mountain of Memories and plays the Hymn to the Goddess Nikkal. At first only she is visible, then gradually we see the street. The flute player disappears. 

On the street near the refugee shelter.

David, Chorus of Demonstrators and Counter-Demonstrators, wearing coats, on the street: Sabine Striegl, Helma, Mrs. Kamenizki, Viktor, Melanie Lefzowitz, Adalbert Kuf, Kurt Trutschner, Kerstin Wissenschläger-Kanava.

David: Yes, Hanna, I know I’ve told you that joke a hundred times.

When I was in the camp, I suddenly felt the need to tell jokes. So, Jankel and Chaim meet in front of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin . . . What, you already know that one too? Okay then, Jankel and Chaim meet . . . Excuse me, do you know where Sperlingstraße is? It’s odd that I can’t find the way when day after day I went . . .

Sabine Striegl: You are already the third person to ask me that today. It’s all the curious onlookers from outside the city coming to gawk.

David: Do I look so curious?

Lady in Fur: Just keep going.

Mrs. Kamenizki: First an arson attack, then a demonstration.

Kerstin Wissenschläger-Kanava: Against the demonstration.

Viktor: Demonstration and counter-demonstration.

Sabine Striegl: There are lots of nice and helpful people in our city, not only these violent . . .

Chorus: Demonstrators



*********They are the victims

*********People in need

*********We don’t need them

Melanie Lefzowitz: You have to take people’s fears and concerns seriously. The legitimate concerns . . .

Chorus of Do-Gooders: . . . of Nazis and racists.

Albert Kuf: If this continues, the muezzin will soon call from the church tower for Morning Prayer.

Mrs. Kamenizki: If stupidity had wings, you would flutter around our church tower.

Chorus of Racists: The do-gooders are our misfortune.

Helma: I’ve suspected for a long time that someone is listening in on my phone.

Albert Kuf (walking on Helma’s side): Most likely. The brother-in-law of my wife’s younger sister is a police officer and knows from a reliable source that we . . .

Kurt Trutschner: . . . are the people.

Viktor: Bull!

David: Excuse me, how can I get to Sperlingstraße?

Chorus: This IS Sperlingstraße.

David: Well then, I have arrived.

Kerstin Wissenschläger-Kanava: You’re not the only one.

David: Don’t leave me alone, Hanna. Do you hear me? Don’t leave me alone again. I must go there now.

Viktor: What do you want there?

David: I must retrieve something.

Viktor: What?

David: A feeling.

Viktor: Then you are in the right place. We have plenty of those. (Begins to take pictures.)

Chorus: Feelings in abundance.

*********Emotions for sale.

*********Fears on special offer.

*********Worries for peanuts.

Everyone, except Viktor, walks around on stage in a confused jumble and then comes together in a corner.

Chorus: Rage for free.

David: I have long since spent my rage and paid dearly for it.

Sabine Striegl: Then you will find the way.

David continues on his way.



Town hall. Office of the Mayor. Mayor, her assistant, Mrs. Kamenizki, later Ibrahim, Samar, Munir, and Nabil.

Papers. A telephone.

A poster with the inscription: “Homeland for all who” . . . Later a poster with the inscription “Say it loud, say it clear: Refugees are welcome here!”

Noise, sirens of emergency vehicles.

Mrs. Kamenizki appears.

Mrs. Kamenizki: The three Assyrians are here now.

Mayor: Yesterday Syrians, the day before yesterday Syrians, always Syrians, Syrians, Syrians. Now I’m happy when I run into Turks for a change. Who would have thought that!

Mrs. Kamenizki: It’s Assyrians, Madam Mayor, not Syrians. They come from Iraq.

Mayor: Have we become so desirable, Mrs. Kamenizki, that even extinct peoples flee to us? Assyrians today, Babylonians tomorrow, Philistines the day after tomorrow?

Mrs. Kamenizki: They’re waiting out in the lobby.

Mayor: What do they want?

Mrs. Kamenizki: You scheduled the meeting yourself yesterday and then confirmed it.

Mayor: I did?

Mrs. Kamenizki: You did.

Mayor: All right, in ten minutes. No. I’ll tell you when they may come in. They should wait.

Mayor (picks up the phone receiver, presses a button): Frizzi, who the devil are these Allahu Akbar friends again with whom I supposedly . . . Oh, is that so? . . . Whatever . . . I really do not remember . . . All hell has broken loose since the attack . . . Why don’t I have the report on my desk? (Mrs. Kamenizki leaves.) Who are these . . .? According to Wikipedia, according to Wikipedia. I can check Wikipedia myself . . . No, Frizzi, don’t bother . . . Thanks . . . Bye. (She hangs up.)

Mayor gets up, removes the poster behind her back.

Mayor: Strange, it’s as though yesterday has been erased from my memory. At the same time, I know that there was an attack and also about the matter with the children. But why did I schedule this meeting? Amnesia? Alzheimer’s? Monday morning blues?

She gets a colorful poster saying, “Say it loud, say it clear: Refugees are welcome here!” She hangs it in place of the poster she just removed from the wall.

Mayor: This wet-eyed, olive-skinned, Oriental plague. Like swarms of locusts, they’ve rained down upon us . . . Now I have to change the whole election campaign. (The poster hangs crookedly.) One of them is cute, though. He’s helping out in the economics department now. Handsome. Really. A handsome boy! Inarticulate noisy brats. Young men who either have Allah or women on their minds. In most cases both. Hormone-driven . . . (she breaks off, giggles lasciviously). I can only laugh at those naive idiots who think that they’re all just nice people who come to us. But the zeitgeist is a dog. He just wants to play . . . Before he bites. (She picks up the receiver again.) The Assyrians may come in now.

Enter Samar, Ibrahim, Munir, and Nabil.

Mayor: Welcome!

Samar: Hello, Madam Mayor.

Mayor: Your dear father is accompanying you today? Salaam alaikum.

Nabil: Wa alaikum as salaam.

Munir (speaking with an accent): Good day.

Samar: I’m happy you have the time . . .

Mayor: Time is the least of what we have. What can I do for your friends, Ms. Massoud?

Samar: It would be best for them to tell you themselves.

Ibrahim: They request that . . .

Munir: My name is Munir Rassam. My family is very grateful to this country . . . very grateful for what they have done for us . . . we will never forget what they have done for us. Nevertheless, I have to approach you with an urgent request. My family has had to suffer a lot . . .

Mayor (interrupts): Tragic, terrible, it breaks my heart—no, it’s long since broken after all the stories I’ve heard, but if my heart were still whole, it would break now. But what’s your concern? I’m also on the run. The time that I don’t have is breathing down my neck, and the time I would have had, I lost some time ago.

Nabil, Munir, Ibrahim, and Samar discuss in Arabic what the mayor could have meant.

Mayor questioning movement.

Samar: You cannot blame me. I am only the translator. I interpret, I mediate. I . . . I deliver . . .

Mayor: There were times when the messenger who brought bad news was executed. (She laughs.) That was a joke.

Ibrahim: The two gentlemen have nothing against Muslims. They sat with them in the same boat . . .

Samar: . . . in a biting cold wind and high waves.

Ibrahim: This gentleman here is a priest.

Samar: He has a son, two daughters, and an ecumenical outlook on life.

Mayor: A what?

Samar: He has always been in favor of dialogue with everyone.

Ibrahim: Except with the Afghans, of course.

Mayor: By now we’re all in the same boat. Sooner or later I’m afraid we’ll have to throw some overboard before they throw us overboard.

Samar: Nevertheless, the two gentlemen ask that they and their families be moved to other quarters.

Mayor: But you know as well as I do that there are no accommodations left in the city. Do they want to go back to the camp?

Ibrahim: They are afraid of attacks.

Samar: Yesterday, the incendiary device was thrown through an open window. A miracle, that the children . . .

Mayor: We will track down those criminals.

Samar (resigned): Yes, yes . . .

Mayor: Everyone is afraid, everyone would like to be moved to other quarters,
but . . .

Samar: Assyrians are not Muslims.

Mayor: That much is clear to me by now.

Samar: The “Peace League for an Islam-Free Europe” and its followers, however, are against Muslims. Therefore, the gentlemen here believe that they are not the intended targets at all, that the attacks are not meant for them. But if their own separate quarters were created for them, so that everyone knew that only Christians lived there, then they would be safe . . . at least, that’s what they believe.

Mayor: Put a cross next to the front gate and a picture of Mary above the entrance.

Nabil: Das ist eine good idea!

Mayor (laughs loudly): As if the dimwits of the Peace League and the violent illiterates and social parasites in their orbit, who throw incendiary devices and don’t even know how to spell “homeland,” would notice whether you two, my dear gentlemen, were Chaldeans, Catholics, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Druze, or Yazidis.

Nabil: But . . .

Mayor: Shall I bring you a mirror, Habibi?

Samar: Syrians are fighting with Afghans in the shelter, some deal drugs, many are discouraged, depressed, desperate, and they, the Christians, are even more desperate than the others. They are terrified of the radical Muslims in the shelter and of the neo-Nazis out in the street. Maybe they could be moved to another city? Somewhere, where there is already an Assyrian community . . .

Mayor: Out of the question! You know how the situation is. Apart from that, it’s not my decision. And besides, gentlemen, believe me, they DO mean you when they’re hostile towards you. For the Muslims, you are Christians. And for the locals, although you are not religiously Muslim, you have a Muslim quality about you. You have a Muslim aura. So to speak. Welcome to Europe! (Goes back to her seat, hesitates.)

Lighting change.

Mayor sits down.



Viktor, Chorus of Refugees (men, women, and children) come out at Viktor‘s call, later David.

In front of the entrance to the refugee home “Sperlingstraße.”

Sign saying “Unauthorized access is prohibited” or “Access only with permission” or something similar. Police barriers. Signs of construction activity.

Viktor (addressing the Refugees): Come on people, I have an idea for a great project. It’s in your interest. (Pulls out a smartphone and looks for a suitable angle to photograph the refugees.) A PR measure for our homepage. And for my own Facebook page . . . a call for donations. We need happy photos, and we need sad ones. Depending on where and how we use them. You know what I mean, right? We’ll start with the happy part. Wonderful. First the children: the politically correct mélange. That’s good. A perfect calendar picture. Hey, you! Yes, you! Give me a smile. You’re already a big girl. How old are you?

Girl: Eleven.

Viktor: You look fourteen. Say cheese. Think about something nice. Come on! Smile. Here comes the sun!

(Munir has dropped a coin, which he picks up by turning his rear end to the camera. Viktor reacts outraged. At this moment, Abdullah pulls out his phone and starts to make selfies, the group of Refugees follows Abdullah’s photo shots.)

Hakim: Finished?

Tola: Cheese enough?

The Refugees no longer pay attention to Viktor and now look at the selfies just taken. 

Viktor: All right, all right, now we need the sad pictures. Tristesse! Come on people! Think about your sad fates (laughter from the Refugees), the bombs, your escape, relatives killed, murdered friends, the people drowned during the crossing (laughter from the Refugees), your wrecked shoes, the bad food, the endless interrogations, the meanness of the bureaucrats (laughter from the Refugees), family life on sleeping pads between fences in old garages and furniture halls. About what’s coming. (Laughter from the Refugees) . . .  Remember that you could be sent back. To Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq . . .Think about Hungary. Hungary! Turkey! (As the countries are named, the Refugees gradually start to pay attention, and as soon as Hungary is named, they fall silent and become serious.) There you go. Now it’s working.

The demonstration and the counter-demonstration become audible while Viktor continues to shoot. David comes slowly forward. The Refugees withdraw more and more until Viktor stands alone at the end of the scene without realizing it.

Viktor (photographing): Unbelievable how much time some people have to scream their heads off.

Demonstration becomes quieter.

Viktor: I wonder when they go to work. Slackers. Or are there so many unemployed in this country?

David: It was here. No. Here. You could hardly walk anymore, dear Hanna. I had to support you, and yet you wanted to get out of the tomb, where the musty bunk beds smelled of death and the past. Out into the fresh air—on this warm Tuesday morning in April. You would have turned seventeen in May. You are never a child in my memory. You weren’t allowed to be a child anymore . . .

Viktor (turns to David): Excuse me please?

David: I’m just looking around . . .

Viktor: Do you have a moment?

David: I have all the time in the world.

Viktor: Wonderful! Could you take a group picture of me and the people here? Or maybe several photos? From different angles. Just press. The camera will take care of everything else. Sometimes it’s smarter than all of us together.

Viktor strikes a pose, standing once in the middle of the group, once to right, once to the left.

David: We sat on the bench. The sun was shining in your face.

Viktor: Well then, let’s take one more.

David: You closed your eyes . . .

Viktor: Well then, one more.

David . . . and suddenly I heard you whispering, softly, very softly . . .

Viktor (changing his position): One more. The very last one! If you could be so kind.


Viktor notices that he is alone, exits.

David: TO LOSE A TAIL BUT NOT BE AN ANIMAL . . . BUT LIKE . . . I could never lose a part of myself. I have never lost my head nor have I lost my tail. Why am I still alive?




Hanna: You did not hear what I whispered to you on that Tuesday in April because you could not hear it. Because you did not want to listen . . . maybe you weren’t supposed to hear it.

Hanna: Do not ask.

Lighting change.



Town hall. Office of the Mayor. Mayor sits at her desk.

Mayor: Why is this happening to me? Why me of all people during my term in office? Why now, of all things, why now? Couldn’t these global political events have taken place ten years earlier or ten years later? What can I do about them? Why didn’t they mine the Aegean in time? Why didn’t they shut off the Mediterranean? We can’t absorb everything that gets washed ashore. And now we have terrorism, but we continue to discuss humanity and human rights rather than targeting Jihad kindergartens. I have stated that clearly–within the party, of course, not publicly. But nobody is listening to me, no one is concerned about ME. Nor are they concerned with our local situation. Nobody cares. They patted me nicely on the shoulder. And what’s the result? For the do-gooders, I’m a fascist, for the fascists, I’m a do-gooder, and everyone else thinks I’m simply stupid . . . (picks up the receiver) Mrs. Kamenizki! Where the devil are you? . . . What do you mean, you’re where I put you? Oh, so that’s it?! . . . All right . . . Listen: We’ll visit Sperlingstraße again today, in the late afternoon . . .

Refugees enter.

. . . with TV and all the bells and whistles, and then hold a press conference on the current situation. No, wait, we’ll do the press conference right inside the refugee camp. That would be new! . . .  Unfavorable? . . . Then everyone would see how the conditions here are, and anyway, it’s no longer a secret that . . . Yes, if they send us more people than we can take on and accommodate! Just yesterday three hundred more arrived . . . Sounds like a boomerang? It’s probably not possible to get more boomerangs than we’ve already gotten on the head… Yes, as far as I’m concerned, also in front of the entrance to the refugee camp … For God’s sake, then take a look to see what the weather forecast is. Otherwise we’ll do it inside. Period! Bye! (Angrily hangs up the phone.) What kind of world do we live in? (Ponders.) An epidemic (cell phone music from the Refugees) would not be bad, one that WE would be immune to but that would kill THEM. Oh, what beautiful and sincere speeches of compassion and humanity I could then give!

Lighting change.



In front of the refugee quarters on Sperlingstraße. David is still sitting there. The Refugees sit, stand around, and listen to Syrian music on their cell phones. The Journalist appears. She carries a microphone in her hand and turns to the audience, as if the cameraman were there somewhere.

Journalist: So, first the long shot, then you drive in closer, then you swing over and then . . . everything just like we discussed. Got it? Good, then let’s get started . . . (in the course of the first sentence, music gradually becomes quieter) Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. After the renewed arson attack on the refugee reception center Sperlingstraße, the spiral of violence has reached a new dimension. According to a police source, the likelihood of finding the perpetrators is considered very low. Political leaders appeared shocked, but have limited themselves to general platitudes. Nevertheless, today as every Wednesday, the usual demonstrations and counter-demonstrations are taking place. Everything is back to the way it was, the same as before the attack. This is Kerstin Wissenschläger-Kanava for station Amarillo Four . . . (Aleppo song by itself on mobile) Okay.

That’s it. We’ve got it. And now for the inserts: First, a few shots of the people there. Without me. Then the interviews. Then the demonstrations.

Ibrahim and Samar appear.

Journalist: Yes, that’s great. We’ll put that one in right away. (Walks over to Ibrahim with the microphone, cell phone music fades): Hello, I think we know each other from another interview, right? May I ask you a few questions?

Ibrahim: Yes.

Journalist: What do you have to say about yet another attack?

Ibrahim: Bad.

Journalist: After so many attacks—do you fear for your life?

Ibrahim: Yes.

Journalist: How does it make you feel to have escaped war and terror in your homeland and to be confronted with hostility and attacks here, in Europe, which is supposed to be safe?

Ibrahim: How would you feel if you had been raped and the man who rescued you from the rapist starts sexually harassing you?

Journalist (to the cameraman): Okay, let’s cut that!

Ibrahim: Yes, do!

Journalist: No, that’s not a good comparison.

Samar: It’s not a comparison, it’s a parable.

Journalist: Oh? (To Ibrahim) And how do you see your own future in a Christian Europe?

Ibrahim: I do not see anything. I wait.

Journalist: For what?

Ibrahim: For finally being able to move out of here. For work.

Journalist: A little normalcy?

Ibrahim: Every morning I wake up, hoping it was all just a nightmare. Before the war, I was a professor at the University of Damascus. I was invited to New York. My daughter was at a Swiss boarding school for many years. And where are we now? A little normalcy? Should I tell you who has been murdered in my family in the past few years?

Journalist: Yes, please do.

Ibrahim: But I don’t want to.

Journalist: I can understand that. And what do you have to say about conditions in the quarters?

David: Lice. Bedbugs. Lice and bedbugs. Hanna suffered the most from those. The bunk beds, the filth, the tight spaces—it’s all bearable when you are in distress. But the fight with vermin is humiliating.

Journalist: Lice and bedbugs? Is that true?

Ibrahim: Bedbugs?

David: I never complained. We survived. You pay attention to other things when life is an extension of death, which in turn opens a door to life. But which life?

Ibrahim: Indeed, which life are we talking about?

Aleppo song about the quarters.

Lighting change 

The Refugees pick up their backpacks, start digging in their bags and pull out life vests. (Car, city, police, later harbor noise.) A Smuggler appears, indicates to the Refugees to be quiet and to duck down, police patrol appears, bribe is paid, and someone coughs. The Smuggler comes back and leads the Refugees on, has them duck again, tells them that only one piece of luggage is allowed for every five people. Protest. Repacking. Rolls of adhesive tape, plastic bags, belt pouches, etc. Boarding the boat. Hatim lies on the bottom of the boat, is being covered with bags. The Smuggler instructs the man at the helm (engine noise, which then later stops). As soon as the boat is on its way, the Smuggler picks out pieces of luggage he can use and takes them with him.


High waves, engine failure, boat lurching, people row with their hands, bail water out of the boat by hand, throw luggage into the sea, bail water out of the boat with a baseball cap, with garments, tail rudder is lost, men pull the boat in which a woman is standing with her children.

People get out of the boat, fall to the ground. One person unpacks a cell phone, calls.

Lighting change.

The Refugees throw all their luggage back on the heap, go back to their seats, and look at their cell phones, as at the beginning of the scene.

At the same time:

Helma: Freemason Jews sent us the refugees! Masonic Jews, America, and the Muslims want to dominate us. That’s why we have IS terror attacks, attacks in Paris and Brussels, monsters with shaggy beards. Beware of the Jewish Zionist Islam fascists serving the US! Put on your aluminum hats! Put on your aluminum hats! Otherwise they’ll read your thoughts. Close the borders! Close the borders! Close the borders!!!

Ibrahim: Islam fascists. (Laughs bitterly) People want to know who I am and ask me about my religion.

Journalist (turns back to David): Can you tell us how you came here?

David: I waited a long time at the station.

Ibrahim: I did too.

David: The station made a shabby impression. It was full of people and was still such a beautiful and peaceful place for me.

Journalist: I often say that despite the renovation last year, our station still has something shabby about it.

David: I’m surprised it was not destroyed in the war.

Journalist: As far as I know, it was damaged.

David: Yes, I saw that.

Journalist: Really?

Ibrahim: People like us who have experienced a war do not overlook such things.

David: I traveled by train for twelve hours, and I had to stand the whole time.

Journalist: Horrible!

David: Not as horrible as the train rides I had to experience before—with locked doors: the death trains . . .

Journalist: Death trains may be stretching it a bit, but I’ve heard about those trains—in Hungary.

David: Not only in Hungary. Young lady, considering . . .

Ibrahim: . . . how often death has accompanied us over the years. Yes, young lady, death is, as the saying so beautifully expresses it, a part of life.

Journalist: Beautiful?

Ibrahim: Yes, life is beautiful.

David: Hanna wrote a poem about beauty here.

Ibrahim: In the winter, I was traveling with a group of friends (from here on in Arabic), a fifteen-year-old was also with us . . .

David: I was born in May. The day of liberation was also my birthday. My re-birthday.

Journalist: The May of which you speak . . .

Ibrahim: But I’m talking about that winter, when we crossed the border, one of the many borders . . .

Ibrahim (in Arabic) and Samar (in English): We camped outside the border, we searched for the right place, waiting for the right moment. The way was steep, and at some point we sank up to our hips in the snow. One of us, a friend I already knew from the refugee camp in Lebanon, had a heart attack and died. We could not even give him a decent burial. Then we reached this lonely, remote place right on the border, forgotten by the world. To the right of the road was an abandoned stone house with weathered green wooden shutters, but it had a stone wall, which at some point had been plastered white, that shone in the sunlight. Such beauty—in the midst of the madness . . . overwhelming.

David: I think I know the place and the house, but the house is not on the right, it’s on the left of the road. It’s an inn. I wanted to take a break, but the guide helping us pushed us on. We had to hurry down into the valley. Yes, it was on the left of the road!

Journalist: You were on your way south, right?

Ibrahim: Later, in dirty camps or underground garages, I thought of that moment, not of the beautiful moments in my life before the war.

David: That would have been too painful. I’m familiar with that.

Samar: My grandmother also had to flee. She was expelled, from Palestine, from Haifa, lived for decades in Syrian refugee camps. Now our family has had to flee again.

Journalist: That’s interesting! Could you elaborate a little on . . .

Ibrahim (cuts in): No! (He then says something in Arabic to Samar that does not sound very nice . . .)

David: I did not expel anyone!

Samar: We are double refugees. Twice expelled . . .

Journalist: Yes, precisely, and that’s why I’d like to know what . . .

Ibrahim (angrily): No!

Samar (defiantly): Expelled twice, fled twice.

David: I am also a double, actually, a multiple refugee.

Journalist (to Ibrahim): And what do you feel when you think about the terrorist attacks in Brussels, for example? Are you Muslim?

Ibrahim: Should I beg your forgiveness and burst into tears? Or should I renounce my religion? Or should I tell you that I forgot my explosive belt in the refugee camp in Turkey?

Journalist: Many people claim that refugees . . .

Ibrahim: Slaughter cows and children.

Sounds from the demonstration.

David: I have learned to live with the constant threat of terror. Half a year after the liberation, they came back and killed us a second time.

Ibrahim: What?

Journalist: What?

Viktor appears on stage.

Viktor: Clear the area! Now! Clear the area! Get out of here right away!


Mayor and Mrs. Kamenizki rush in. 

Mayor: I can’t believe it! This can’t be! It’s incredible! He’s always been a pig, but now he’s really an ass! I feel like puking when I think of him, that pig!

Mrs. Kamenizki: He should convert to Islam right away.

Mayor: Please remain objective, Mrs. Kamenizki. You know that I can’t abide your crudeness.

Mrs. Kamenizki: One should not argue about taste or religion.

Mayor: Will you just take a look at what he just said instead of making pronouncements that sound like bad Facebook posts?

Mrs. Kamenizki sits down, opens the laptop.

During the scene noises from cell phones/loudspeaker.

Mayor: There it is, Mrs. Kamenizki!

Mrs. Kamenizki: Wait, let’s calm down.

Mayor: Calm? I can’t afford to calm down.

Mrs. Kamenizki: So . . . “As already reported” . . . blah, blah, blah . . . Ah! Here it is: “Assistant Mayor Kornelius Schnepfl said today in an interview for the Daily News” . . . blah, blah, blah . . . “In this matter I must emphasize with complete clarity, and those who know me, know that I am not shy about speaking clearly . . .”

Mayor: Blah, blah, blah.

Mrs. Kamenizki: “In the face of recent events that have paralyzed us up to this point, we should finally take action, take concrete steps, rather than appease or cater to a particular clientele—and everyone understands what I’m referring to—with Islamophobic statements and scare tactics.”

Mayor: Everybody understands what I’m referring to, everyone understands . . . Only a few days ago at the committee meeting he spoke about ladies wearing headscarves, which does cause legitimate and understandable aggression among certain sections of the population. That pig is planning a coup against me.

Mrs. Kamenizki: Just ignore it. Wait it out!

Mayor: Bastard!

Mrs. Kamenizki: “That’s why I will not participate in today’s press conference at the refugee home. We don’t need press conferences, we need clearly developed plans. My party friends and I will present one in the next few days.”

Mayor: Like hell he will! Nothing but drivel. If he could present viable plans, he would have proclaimed them on every corner—with sentences that all begin with the word “I.” (She reaches for the phone/intercom.) Frizzi! Did you hear the news? . . . You did? Why do I hear these things from the media and not . . .? Yeah, all right . . . What? . . . Sixteen calls on hold . . . Who? Oh God, no. I’ll call you back. Later. No, tomorrow. Or even better: Say, that I died . . . Yes, of course, a joke. Please don’t say that. Who else? No. No! No!! Oh no!!! Please put him through immediately. Thank you! Hello, Mr. . . . Yes, I understand . . .Yes . . . Yes . . . I’ll do my best . . . You’re completely right . . . I’ll do it . . . That’s a great suggestion . . . Yes . . . But you know me and do not believe that I really . . . Yes, yes, yes, thanks! . . . Thank you for calling me . . . Thanks again and goodbye! (She hangs up.) Asshole, stupid idea!

Mrs. Kamenizki: A brilliant suggestion?

Mayor: Mrs. Kamenizki, don’t talk like that—I can be sarcastic myself! Listen, not only are we going to have a press conference tonight at the refugee home, we’re going to put on a really big show—words of welcome, music, maybe a buffet, children singing something. Children are always good.

Mrs. Kamenizki: I’ve already thought of it and arranged it, Madam Mayor.

Mayor: Mrs. Kamenizki, you’re a gem.

Mrs. Kamenizki: Yes, I know.

Mayor: An intercultural event.

Mrs. Kamenizki: A transcultural event.

Mayor: What?

Mrs. Kamenizki: Now it’s called transcultural—that’s the current politically correct term. Intercultural is passé.

Mayor: My God. Such are our problems—multicultural, intercultural, transcultural. What’s next?

Mrs. Kamenizki: No culture.



In front of the refugee shelter.

Refugees, including Ibrahim, later Viktor.

The Refugees sing (at the same time lighting change).

Humming, Abdullah speaks “The Song of the Reed Flute.”

Abdullah: Listen to the reed flute, how it tells the tale,

***********Laments the pain of separation:

***********“Ever since I was cut from my native cane thicket,

***********Men and women cry to my wails.

***********I look for hearts, shattered by separation,

***********To sing of the suffering of being apart.”

Viktor: No, no, stop! That’s enough. People. A few sentences from that Persian poet are nice, but we don’t need to hear that whole thing.

Abdullah: It’s Rumi.

Viktor: So what?! It wouldn’t matter if it was Michael Jackson . . . I get it, I understand, I’m on your side, and if it were up to me, you could recite for hours, make music and beat drums. But don’t forget—it’s about our mayor, about politics, so it would be a shame to waste that beautiful poem. Did you prepare something in German?

Ibrahim: Of course.

Chorus of Refugees (sings):“Kein schöner Land in dieser Zeit, als hier das unsre weit und breit, wo wir uns finden wohl unter Linden zur Abendzeit, wo wir uns finden wohl unter Linden zur Abendzeit . . .”

Viktor: Stop! That’s enough! That may be a bit too politically . . . sensitive . . . Don’t you have something . . . uh . . . more fitting . . . uh:

***********“Junge, come back home soon, come again back home.

***********Junge, do not go forth, never forth to roam.

***********I’m sick with worry, worry for you.

***********Think of tomorrow, think of me too.

***********Come home soon, boy . . .”

The refugees join in Viktor’s song.

Viktor: Wonderful! We’ll use that. Just like that! In exactly an hour and a half we’ll meet again here. And do not forget: one-and-a-half hours are not two hours and definitely not two-and-a-half. Punctuality! That’s what’s made Europe rich and powerful! (Leaves.)

David is still sitting in the same spot, Ibrahim approaches him.

Ibrahim: May I ask you a question, sir?

David: Please.

Ibrahim: Why did you return to this sad place after seventy years?

David: I have to show you something. (Shows photos.)

Ibrahim: What did you mean when you said you were killed a second time a year after the liberation?

David: Look here.

Ibrahim: How nice. My parents had very similar photos—from the French Mandate period.

The refugees slowly surround David and Ibrahim. After a while, they bring out their own pictures, look at them.

David: Hanna’s father, a teacher. Her mother, her Uncle Samuel, a rabbi, but also a free thinker. Aunt Rivka—she had twelve children, three of whom died as children. Cousin Itzik, the black sheep of the family, a ne’er-do-well, a player. Here’s Benjamin, a cousin, and Moira, the unmarried cousin—she had a tragic story, about longing, deceit, and disappointment.

Ibrahim: Every big family has an unmarried cousin with such a history.

David: Hanna and her cousin Moira were the only survivors.

David raises his head; Refugees slowly go back and look at their own pictures.

Oud music (picture viewers exit).

Her parents were immediately . . .

Ibrahim: Why did you come back here, sir?

David: Moira died of exhaustion one day after the liberation.

Ibrahim: So many people escaped the war at home in Syria and then drowned in the Mediterranean crossing.

David: That almost happened to me too. Back then the passage to Palestine was a nightmare. The British stormed our ship. (Refugees go into the audience and show their pictures.) They arrested us and interned us in a camp in Cyprus . . . Look, I have more photos.

The Refugees comment and explain in Arabic. Meanwhile, the Journalist comes back. As soon as she starts speaking, music stops, the refugees return and again surround David and Ibrahim.

Journalist: (turns to one of the Refugees): Mr. Quasim . . .

Abdullah: Abdullah.

Journalist: OK. Abdullah, could you tell us how you met Mr. . . .

Karim (interrupts): Karim.

Journalist: Abdullah, please tell us how you met Karim and how you became best friends. Was that while you were still in Syria? In the war? While you were fleeing? In the boat?

Abdullah: No, no, we became band brothers.

Refugee helpers: Time to line up, please. One line, please, one line, go, stop, come, stand up, sit down.

The scene in which Refugees are grouped, with the refugee choir follows this. Standing in line. Groups are formed.

Karim: That’s how we became brothers.

Abdullah: Band brothers.

Karim: One-line brothers.

Journalist: And what do you hope for your future?

All choir members tear off their bands and throw them on the floor.

David: I did not even weigh 90 pounds after the liberation. It took some time until I . . . Anyway, I came home in the summer. To Poland. I was fifteen and wandered around desperately until I found a former neighbor who had survived. He took care of me. Until they came back and killed him.

Ibrahim: Who?

David: The anti-Semites, the criminals.

Ibrahim: After the war?

David: They started attacking us again. A pogrom—yes, yes, after the war. They killed me a second time. After that, I was dead because I was completely empty inside. Until I met Hanna.

Samar: This is the house in Haifa where my grandmother was born. She was still a small child when she was expelled, but she never forgot the day. Jews live in our house now. What do you say to that?

David: Ten years ago, when Hezbollah shelled us, I sat in an air-raid shelter. I escaped from Haifa to the south, and a few years later people fled north from the rockets. The Arabs fled from us, we fled from them.

Ibrahim: You live in Haifa? In Haifa!?

David: It is the most liberal city in the country. Provincial, but almost cosmopolitan.

Samar: My mother was born in a refugee camp in Syria, twenty years after the expulsion!

David: I did not expel anyone.

Chorus says something anti-Semitic in Arabic.

David: But it was not Jews who persecuted and expelled you now, right?

Ibrahim: Why did you come back here, sir? Why today?

Hanna: In misery our days have flown,

*********Accompanied by pangs of grief.

*********But as the days go by, let them go in peace,

*********Only you should stay, you who are so pure!

*********The sea never sates the fish alone,

*********The day is long when you have no bread.

*********The raw cannot understand the ripe,

*********And so my word must come to an end.

Lighting change.



Mayor: We must ensure that all of our fellow party members from the city council are present (picks up the phone). Frizzi, could you connect me with Günter? Oh, so he’s already called three times. Good, then put him through . . . Dear Günter, hello . . . Thank you for asking. What I wanted to point out about this evening . . . What do you mean, you can’t come?! You have to come, you know what’s going on. You have to!!! . . . Your mom? . . . Oh? . . . I’m sorry . . . I understand . . . Of course I understand that family is more important than anything else . . . OK, bye. I don’t believe him, that cowardly dog.

(Into the phone) Frizzi, I must urgently speak with Sebastian now . . . Oh, he already called too, well then put him on . . . Sebastian, my dear friend, I was just about to call you . . . Where in the world are you? In Amsterdam? Since when? What are you doing in Amsterdam? . . . Oh? Really? And that at your age? . . . No, no, I don’t need to hear the details. Can you make it tonight . . .? That’s really annoying! You know what’s going on here, and Cornelius, that pig . . . Listen, if I go down, you go down with me, especially you. . . . Now, listen! . . . Yes, you me too!

Frizzi! . . . Excellent, give me Cornelia right away . . . Cornelia, my dear, my heart is lighter at the sound of your voice. I’d like to ask you, because it falls into your department, to make a suitable statement at today’s press conference . . . What? You can’t be serious, Cornelia! You can’t seriously mean that your kennel club is more important . . . I know that’s your district, but sometimes you have to have the courage to make decisions based on the situation . . . I also don’t like going bungee jumping . . . Cornelia, must I remind you that you owe me! Cornelia? Cornelia! Cornelia!!

They don’t know me yet, but they will soon. Everyone will get to know me! Everyone!

Lighting change.



Noise from the demonstration.

In front of the refugee shelter. Present at the beginning are the JournalistMelanie Lefzowitz, the spokeswoman for the “Peace League for an Islam-free Europe,” then Adalbert Kuf and Kurt Trutschner, representatives of “ARGE Borderline.” Slowly, refugees arrive, among them Ibrahim, then Viktor.

Journalist: (addressing Melanie Lefzowitz): Start rolling . . . and begin . . . Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not the first time and probably won’t be the last that Ms. Melanie Lefzowitz, the spokeswoman for the Peace League for an Islam-free Europe, is here with us for an interview.

Melanie Lefzowitz: Hello.

Adalbert Kuf and Kurt Trutschner: We are the border, we are the people.

Journalist: Next to me, two representatives from ARGE Borderline, the umbrella organization for all Pegida organizations close to the border . . .

Adalbert Kuf: We are a platform for self-organized groups and associations of concerned, alert citizens, who see themselves as a border bastion of resistance to the flood of asylum seekers and who want stem this flow of refugees . . .

Kurt Trutschner: Before the flood turns into an ocean.

Journalist: Ms. Lefzowitz, you recently stated: “Integration cannot succeed. Never! The only integration that’s taking place is the integration into our social welfare systems.” What do you mean by that?

Kurt Trutschner: The refugees are good for nothing.

Melanie Lefzowitz: Most are young Muslim men who do not want to integrate. They despise us, they laugh at us for our naive humanity and silly welcome culture. They rob and rape our women and girls.

Kurt Trutschner: We demand revenge for Cologne!

Kurt starts to pull down barrier tape, Adalbert puts up posters.

Melanie Lefzowitz: The political reaction to the situation is pitiful and incompetent . . .

Adalbert Kuf: We will throw the corrupt politicians out of office with an iron rod!

Melanie Lefzowitz: Furthermore, it’s interesting that WE take most of the so-called refugees . . .

Journalist: So to sum up . . .

Kurt Trutschner: They stick it to us and we end up being the stupid ones.

Melanie Lefzowitz: Bringing these people here will lead to our ruin—I am rarely mistaken, certainly not in this case! Shouting out “Allahu Akbar” in public must be punished in Europe in the same way as “Heil Hitler.” It’s a fascist battle cry.

Kurt Trutschner: And then we’ll all be blown up at regular intervals.

Melanie Lefzowitz: In the foreseeable future the do-gooders will . . .

Adalbert Kuf: Piss and shit themselves out of fear.

Journalist: If I have understood you correctly . . .

Adalbert Kuf: Get rid of the rabble! We are the border because we are the people!

Journalist: But if you are the people and at the same time the border, which people, or which peoples, live on this side and which on the other side?

All three borderliners: Huh?

Journalist: So if you say you’re the border, the borderline, that must mean . . .

Adalbert Kuf: Yes, you me too!

Melanie Lefzowitz: Enlightenment processes are unknown in Islam. The mercy of Allah applies only to the converts. His orders are to proceed with the sword against the nonbelievers.

Slow fade-out of the protest sounds.

Kurt Trutschner: Islam does not belong in Europe.

Journalist: I would be particularly interested in what you expect from the press conference announced by our mayor to take place here in the refugee home.

Melanie Lefzowitz: The do-gooder mafia has bought our mayor.

Journalist: What do you mean by that?

Melanie Lefzowitz: This lady appears to be sympathetic to the concerns and hardships of the population. But in fact, she’s simply . . .

Adalbert Kuf: . . . stupid.

Melanie Lefzowitz: Bert!

Journalist: And the press conference?

Melanie Lefzowitz: What will come out of it? Nothing but hogwash while Islamists take over in the city.

Adalbert Kuf: My brother-in-law in Tittmoning told me that three drunken young Syrians broke into the garden of the sister of a work colleague of his.

Journalist: And?

Adalbert Kuf: The friend of the sister of my brother-in-law’s work colleague drove them away, but by then they had already pissed on the flowerbeds.

Melanie Lefzowitz: Bert! Urinated! Urinated on the flowerbeds.

Adalbert Kuf: Yes, that too. And they also chopped off the garden gnomes’ heads.

Journalist: I beg your pardon?

Adalbert Kuf: You might think that isn’t so important. Garden gnomes. But it has something . . . eh . . . something . . . um . . .

Melanie Lefzowitz: Something symbolic. A threatening gesture. A metaphor for everything that awaits us when we simply let these people into our country.

Adalbert Kuf: Thanks, Melanie! You took the words right out of my mouth!

Melanie Lefzowitz: We vehemently reject violence.

Adalbert Kuf: And if need be, even to the point of drawing blood.

Melanie Lefzowitz: The do-gooders are holding candle-lit demonstrations. But we, worried Europeans of all countries, united against the invasion of Islamist beards and headscarves, will hold rolls of barbed wire and fences in our hands—from Stockholm to Athens.

Kurt Trutschner: A fence chain of freedom and resistance!

Melanie Lefzowitz: WE will not let ourselves be raped!

Adalbert Kuf: And then what should have happened long ago will finally happen.

Kurt Trutschner: The do-gooder governments will fall.

Adalbert Kuf: And we’ll put all so-called refugees in trains, lock the doors from the outside and off you go—never to be seen again!

David has approached the group and stands before the barrier.

David: No, no! No more trains with locked doors again! No deportations! Never! Never again! That killed Hanna! Deportation, camps, forced labor, camps, death marches, camps, liberation, homecoming, pogroms, fleeing, refugee camps—this one here, and all around people who cursed them. We forgot to gas them, they said, we should have turned them into Jewish soap, the Jews are dirty, they are crooks, they should disappear. Having to hear all this, then hearing it all again, this is what killed Hanna. Hanna wanted to go to Palestine. But she was too weak, she was hungry, she got sick and died, here, in this camp, in my arms. I buried her . . .  And now they talk about deportations here again.

Melanie Lefzowitz: Nobody is talking about deportations.

Kurt Trutschner: We’re talking about legitimate removals.

Melanie Lefzowitz: Your story is devastating—I’m shocked. I have nothing against Jews. On the contrary. The Jews in Israel know better than we do about Islam.

David: I am an Israeli. Is that why I am an expert on Islam?

Melanie Lefzowitz: Millions of Jews were murdered! Do you want more?

Adalbert Kuf: We are the border!

Kurt Trutschner: We are the people!

Adalbert Kuf: And the whole rabble should be shipped out on trains and off to Damascus or just out of Europe.

Journalist (yells over to the Refugees): Did you hear that, people? This guy wants to deport you back to Syria! To Iraq! To Afghanistan!

Short commotion. The Refugees break through the barrier.

Viktor: People, stop! Do not screw up your future!

All but Ibrahim exit, the barrier tape remains on the ground.

Sabine Striegl appears.

Sabine Striegl: Excuse me . . . Excuse me, are you somehow part of the refugee shelter? Can you speak German?

Ibrahim: Yes, I speak German. I live here.

City resident: May I introduce myself? My name is Sabine Striegl. I’m looking for a cleaning lady and thought that maybe one of the nice refugee women . . .

Ibrahim: What?

Sabine Striegl: Don’t get me wrong. I see this mainly as a humanitarian gesture. Last year, I volunteered once at the train station. I know your plight; I’m on your side.

Ibrahim: Aha.

Sabine Striegl: I can’t pay much—three to four Euros per hour—but since the asylum seekers are not allowed to work, it would be some nice extra income. I also have chocolate and toys for children in case the lady has children. See this as a sign of solidarity. I’ve had a cleaning lady for years, a Bosnian, but she’s old now . . . and I have nothing against women wearing headscarves. I think I’ll come back another time.


Scene 10: HANNA’S WISH

We hear Hanna’s voice.

David appears with a spade and begins to dig.

Hanna 2:


The Refugees come and watch David. Ibrahim is also there. 

David: Some time ago, Palestinian terrorists kidnapped a Jewish child and killed him. Then Jewish terrorists abducted a Palestinian child and killed him. Then a Palestinian took a knife and killed a Jew. The army shot the Palestinian. His family vowed revenge. A relative of the man who was killed then killed a Jew. The army blew up his house. His relatives and friends swore revenge.

Ibrahim: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

David: When I arrived in Israel, there was a war. When my children and grandchildren were in the army, there was still war. When my great-grandchildren are grown and have to enlist, there probably still won’t be peace.

Ibrahim: You see no way out?

David: No, and that’s why I’m taking Hanna and will bury her in Jerusalem.

Ibrahim: I don’t understand that.

David: I cannot fulfill Hanna’s wish. It’s about me now. I reach for the stars because there has long been no thread of hope in sight.

Ibrahim: What was Hanna’s wish?

David: When her illness broke out, she said: “When I die, you will bury me here in our garden, and take me later to Palestine and bury me in holy ground, when our land has become what we had dreamed that night.” But when I arrived in Israel . . . I fought and killed, drove Arabs out of their homes and villages and towns. I did not want to be killed a THIRD time. They would have killed us. YOU all would have killed us! But there is no right in wrong, no forgetting, and guilt cannot be shared. Maybe it’s my punishment that I’m still alive.

Some Refugees go away and get shovels, for themselves and others.

Ibrahim: There was a garden here?

David: We were told to plant vegetable gardens.

Ibrahim: Here?

David: Right here. I buried her here. That was against the law, of course. But laws can be gotten around. Now I’m taking Hanna to Jerusalem.

Ibrahim: And why today rather than ten, twenty, or fifty years ago?

David: I’m dying.

Ibrahim: Don’t say such a thing!

David: I want to tell my great-grandchildren: “Look, here lies Hanna Pinsker. In the Winter of Hunger in 1945/46 I got to know the joys of love for the first time, with her, in a lousy refugee camp. I was her first and only love. Make sure I did not bring Hanna to Jerusalem for nothing! Create peace and a decent life for all in this land.” (Uses a stick as a shovel to dig.) Sir, am I now a foolish and maudlin old man in your eyes?

Ibrahim: My eyes are cloudy.

David: She’s not here. But she must be lying here. Here, right here, is where I buried her! Maybe there is nothing left of her, just a place in my heart.

Refugees (in chorus): We’ll find her. We’ll find her, we’ll find her . . .

David: I even spoke the Kaddish for her, although we had agreed that God had long ago become an atheist. But Kaddish is Kaddish.

Ibrahim: Take a break, sir.

Ibrahim: We’ll find her. It is our gift—a gift from today’s refugees to the refugee before us.

David is left alone. Hanna’s voice.

Hanna 3: They’re right, David, it’s now their camp and no longer yours.

David: But. But I have to . . .

Hanna: Not everything is your fault, David. Each person is only responsible for his own guilt, which is already hard enough to bear.

David leaves.

Lighting change.



In front of the refugee shelter. Viktor and the Journalist.

Viktor (to the Journalist): It is always the same with people. It’s ten till, and no one’s here.

Journalist: The mayor will also be late. She’s always late for these events.

Viktor: Everyone should really have more discipline. And those who don’t have it should be taught.

Journalist: I was behind the building half an hour ago. What is actually being dug there?

Viktor: It’s some work that needs to be done. Okay, off the record: This is a good example of the constant chaos that reigns here. The refugees say they’re building a playground and a theater stage. In any case, that’s what they claim. So I ask who’s allowing this. The people in charge they say, but there’s no one in the operations center, only Gabi, and she tells me, the people in charge say that I gave the order.

Journalist: Where are the ladies and gentlemen of the operations center anyway?

Viktor: They’re all on their way, although they should already be here. Chaos . . . The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.

Journalist: Now I’m curious.

Viktor: The refugees come to us—in comparison to the conditions in their home countries and all the camps and transit camps, this is a pleasant place for them, one where they’re not treated like doormats, perhaps for the first time in their lives. They’re treated like people, and they become demanding, cheeky, and impudent. Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile, and if you’re not careful—they’ll take everything else. I’m going to look for them now.

Viktor exits.

The mayor appears on the scene, followed by Mrs. Kamenizki, a few steps behind her. She carries a briefcase. As soon as she starts talking, a Refugee boy comes out. 

Mayor: Mrs. Kamenizki, do you have my emergency drops?

Frau Kamenizki: Of course, Madam Mayor.

Mayor: The vitamin C?

Frau Kamenizki: Yes indeed.

Mayor: And the disinfectant?

Frau Kamenizki: Of course, although there is disinfectant placed all around in the camps.

Mayor: But only in the green containers.

Mayor (sees a child): Salaam alaikum.

David: Shalom.

Boy: Wa alaikum as salaam.

Mayor: A disaster! Total impudence! (Hisses) Where are they all?

Frau Kamenizki: Wait a little, Madam Mayor. After all, they are Orientals.

Mayor: Salaam alaikum.

Boy (repeats): Wa alaikum as salaam. (Reaches out) Hello.

Mayor (takes his hand): Hello.

Mayor turns to Mrs. Kamenizki and extends her hands to her.

Mrs. Kamenizki takes a bottle of disinfectant from her briefcase and disinfects the mayor’s hands.

Mayor: Mrs. Wissenschläger-Kanava, what an extraordinary pleasure to see you. How are you?

Journalist: Fine.

Mayor: And the children?

Journalist: Very well thank you!

Mayor: Your worthy husband too, I hope. Where is he, the editor-in-chief? Please tell him I said hello.

Journalist: We survived the divorce well. I’ll give him your message.

Mayor: Oh.

Mayor goes up to the podium; wearing a professional and friendly smile, she begins her speech. The Refugees approach, crawling across the ground, searching, rummaging in their sacks. The Group of right-wing extremists comes from the other side. They surround everything and everyone . . .

Mayor: Ladies and gentlemen, dear refugees, care givers, (appearance of the citizens Striegel, Helma, Lady in Fur) volunteers, and members of the executive committee, of the city, state, country, and the press, dear friends! After the sad events of the past few days, I would like to welcome you to this press conference. The place for this conference was not chosen by chance, because right now, in a time of crisis, we want to send out a message of solidarity. As much as we must give people who are in need and come to us (appearance of the Refugees) a sense of security, we must also never forget the legitimate concerns of the native population.

We have nothing against Islam, but we must remain vigilant. We have nothing against people from foreign countries, but they must behave decently. Other cultures are an enrichment to ours, but they must adhere to our German values.

Unfortunately, what we are experiencing today is an explosive mixture.

It’s the dose that makes the poison (appearance Racists), and the poison must of course be known. Developing poisons and antidotes is the task of politics.

Allow me to make a few personal comments. I was brought up in a traditional way. Honesty, family togetherness, openness and loyalty: these are the values ​​that I got from my parents. These are also values ​​for which I stand, as a person and as a politician. Anyone who knows me knows that I will not waver.

It may come as a surprise, but the migration of peoples, supported by so many unrealistic dreamers, will give more prominence to the values I ​​mentioned, since most refugees are decent, conservative people, for whom family is a matter of course, and for whom the idea of a “blended family” is foreign.

These are people for whom the word “honor” does not cause mocking laughter, as it does with native do-gooders, who are proud that their children have two mothers or two fathers, who confuse pornography with art and are charmed by a bearded singer in women’s clothes.

This flood of refugees, ladies and gentlemen, seems to me, as a conservative politician, to be a great opportunity to strengthen our conservative values and enrich our society. We have to separate the wheat from the chaff (David enters and begins to speak immediately), from which a delicious bread can be baked that will satisfy all of us, and therefore, we are establishing a citywide platform, open to all decent people.

David: When will it stop?

Mayor: What?

David: Does that ever stop? Can anything be done about it?

Mayor (impatiently): Who are you?

David (comes to the Mayor at the podium, moves her out of the way): I’m talking about the bug plague.

Mayor: Bugs?

David: I was in this camp seventy years ago, and we all suffered from the bugs. They weren’t ordinary bugs, but rather big, fat, extremely aggressive and greedy bugs. They crawl into your brain, and I’ve seen them again today—disgusting, fat, light brown, black striped bugs. It seemed that they were grinning at me.

Mayor (begins to scratch): That’s outrageous. Mrs. Kamenizki!

David: Who I am? I’m the man who came to fetch Hanna.

Mayor: Who’s Hanna?

David: I haven’t found her.

Viktor: Please leave! Go away!

Journalist: No, no, stay here! Please stay here!

David: Where’s Hanna? Hanna, where are you?

Refugees (individually and in chorus): I found them! I found them! I found them! I found them! (They hold individual items (suitcases, bags, shoes) in the air. Dirt falls out of these things onto the ground . . .)

Mayor (desperately trying to finish her speech): Allah is God, ladies and gentlemen! We all believe in the same God. Even atheists all reject the same God! You are all invited to join this platform to build something together.

Melanie Lefzowitz (triumphant, passionately): From Stockholm to Athens. Our fence chain of freedom and resistance! Secure freedom, draw boundaries!

Kurt Trutschner: Not a step further!

Adalbert Kuf: Because we are the border!

Ibrahim begins to sing.

Everyone gets out of the barbed wire in slow motion.

Ibrahim has finished, Hanna’s voice.

Hanna: Did you find me, David?

David: Don’t you know that?

The End



Some statements by Melanie Lefzowitz, Kurt Trutschner, and Adalbert Kuf are (albeit modified or slightly changed) taken from Facebook entries.

The radical right-wing group “We Are the Border” actually exists—in the Bavarian border town of Freilassing.

[1] Ina Ricarda Kolck-Thudt:“Abschweifen,” Zwischenwelt. Zeitschrift für Kultur des Exils und des Widerstands,” No. 3, 2014.

[2] Ina Ricarda Kolck-Thudt: “Vom Schweigen sprechen, ”Zwischenwelt.

Zeitschrift für Kultur des Exils und des Widerstands, No. 3, 2014.


Vladimir Vertlib

Vladimir Vertlib writes about seminal themes in our globalized world. He was born in 1966 in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, but he and his family left the USSR in 1971. Vertlib’s father was a Zionist activist who became a persona non grata in his homeland. The stations on their ten-year odyssey in search of a country where Vertlib’s parents could live according to their expectations and abilities included Israel, Austria, the Netherlands, and Italy. In 1981, after a failed attempt to immigrate to the United States, the family returned to Austria, where Vertlib has lived ever since.

After studying economics at the University of Vienna, Vertlib turned to writing full time in 1993, dividing his place of residence between Salzburg and Vienna. He is a highly visible member of the Austrian cultural and literary scene, and the recipient of numerous prestigious prizes and awards. Topics he handles in his fictional work include a nomadic life, self-imposed and forced exile, overcoming bureaucracy, multiple identities that break national, religious, and linguistic boundaries, and above all, Jewish identity in a pre- and post-Shoah world. Other themes in his writing include life in the Diaspora, the question of Heimat (homeland), collective and cultural memory, amnesia, anti-Semitism, the effect of World War II, Islamophobia, and, most recently, the current refugee crisis in Europe.

Vertlib’s writings have been translated into Russian, French, Italian, Czech, Slovenian, and English. His most recent novel, Viktor hilft, was published in 2018.

Julie Winter

Julie Winter holds a PhD in German from Northwestern University and is the translator of four books of memoirs about the German resistance to Hitler and the experiences of children who were expelled from their homelands in the East after the war. She has published a variety of literary essays, songs, and poems in Words Without Borders, Exchanges, Asymptote, Ezra, and InTranslation. Her translation of Vladimir Vertlib’s play The Future Lurks Everywhere and Nowhere has been selected for a staged reading at the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) Conference in Rochester, New York in November 2019.

Copyright (c) Vladimir Vertlib, 2016. English translation copyright (c) Julie Winter, 2019.