Anne and Goebbels - The opposites of right and wrong
(written March 2010)
Last week I went to see quite an interesting play at the Bellevue Theater in Amsterdam. Two people who can be seen as complete opposite poles and key figures in the imagery of World War II together on a stage, both reading from their respective diaries. One a man, hungry for respect and honour, with a deep love for his country and for a certain Adolf Hitler. The other a young girl, adolescent in her manner of dreaming, yet almost woman-like in some of her remarks on life.
Putting the characters of German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and Dutch Jewish girl Anne Frank on the same stage seems a bit controversial at first, but the play “Anne and Goebbels: A Confrontation” by Eddy Habbema has a lot more to offer than mere sensationalism. The play focuses solely on the content of the respective diaries of Frank and Goebbels, with an occasional original audio bite or film clip to give some extra historical context. Anne Frank, played wonderfully by the beautiful Merel Polat, mostly sits on or around her bed on the left side of the stage, reading from her diary, which she named Kitty. She considers Kitty to be the only friend who can really listen to her, especially when she is hiding with her family in the Achterhuis. On the other side of the stage, sitting behind his desk, we find Joseph Goebbels, played by a charismatic Victor Löw. At times quiet and at times shouting, Goebbels recites his diary starting somewhere in the late nineteenth century. Through his remarks, we travel through the times of World War I and the Weimar Republic as seen through the eyes of a becoming national-socialist. The way Goebbels describes the uprising of Adolf Hitler in the late twenties and early thirties of the last century makes one feel more than a little unsettled, not so much because of the knowledge we now have, but more because it is not hard at all to understand some of the things Goebbels is saying.