George Tabori's Jubiläum: Jokes and Their Relation to the Representation of the Holocaust

by Timothy B. Malchow
George Tabori's Jubiläum: Jokes and Their Relation to the Representation of the Holocaust
Timothy B. Malchow
The German Quarterly
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University of Minnesota

George Tabori's Jubilaum:Jokes andtheir
Relation to the Representation of the Holocaust

"Theater is therapy; the mystery of Hamlet's metamorphosis is also ours." -George Tabori, "Hamlet in Blue"


In a cemetery on the Rhein, Jurgen, a young neo-Nazi, appears to deface the graves with anti-Semitic slogans and swas- tikas. As he does so, one of the dead, a Jew- ish musician named Arnold, speaks up. He wants to help Jiirgen, who has apparently made a spelling mistake. '"Verrecke' mit 'ck', mein Junge," Arnold tells him.

With this grotesquely comical interac- tion, George Tabori opens Jubilaum (53). The play introduces a number of deceased characters who reenact or describe the con- ditions of their deaths-with one signifi- cant exception. Arnold, meant to represent Tabori himself, does not describe his own death. Instead, in the final scene, the audi- ence learns of the circumstances surround- ing the death of his father, a victim of the Holocaust, who arrives in ghost form. In addition, the young neo-Nazi, Jurgen, ap- pears throughout the play to torment the dead and to talk with Wumpf, a gravedig- ger.

The play was originally conceived in re- sponse to Hanne Hiob's search for a play- wright to make theatrical use of her collec- tion of anti-Semitic jokes in order to com- memorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Nazi seizure of p0wer.l Jubilaum premiered on that anniversary date, January 30, 1983, in the lobby of the Bochumer Kammerspiele with Tabori in the role of the ghost of Arnold's father. Marcus Sander argues convincingly that the ceme- tery setting serves as a model for four as- pects of the Holocaust: the continuation of persecution since 1945, the situation of the survivors since that time, the relationships between the Nazi perpetrators and the vic- tims in the historical concentration camps, and the current situation of the children of the victims and survivors, like Tabori him- self (196).

The cemetery setting surely symbolizes what society has buried, forgotten, and re- pressed; but it also recalls very concretely the renewed vandalism of Jewish cemeter- ies that accompanied the rise of right wing extremist and anti-Semitic groups in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Nearly forty years earlier, Max Horkheimer and Theo- dor Adorno had written of the central sig- nificance of the destruction of cemeteries: "Selbst die letzte Ruhe sol1 keine sein. Die Verwiistung der Friedhofe ist keine Aus- schreitung des Antisemitismus, sie ist er selbst" (192). Today, the relevance of the Jewish cemetery as a site of violation and violence is evident in acts ofvandalism such as the December 1998 bombing of the grave of Heinz Galinski, a leader of the German Jewish community, in Berlin. As though it were not enough that Galinski's wife and mother were murdered and that his father died while imprisoned by the Nazis, or even that he himself had the number 104 412 tattooed onto his arm, a reminder of his imprisonment in Auschwitz, now his grave itself is under attack (Brenner 147). Frank Stern notes that in Germany "during the 1970s and 1980s, antisemitic attitudes and

The German Quarterly 72.2 (Spring 1999) 167

expressions reentered the public sphere, the center of political culture, in intensified form" (435). The official culture of toler- ance, which had emerged after 1945 as a conscious break with National Socialism, began to give way already in the 1960s to increasingly visible signs of anti-Semitism. "During the 1970s, philosemitic symbolism and surrogate acts increasingly lost their formal functionalism and importance," but such imagery continued to make an ap- pearance when the "moral legitimation of the Federal Republic" was at stake (434). Tabori introduces the cemetery as a site of struggle, where the hypocritical side of stereotypical and somewhat self-serving philo-Semitic discourses can be unmasked. Here the victims of anti-Semitism can con- front their persecutors. As will be discussed below, in Jubilaum Tabori critically en- gages the German theatrical traditions for representing the Holocaust in the early

1980s; he unearths what they repress, thereby transforming both the traditions and his audience.

Certainly, Jubilaum is about memory and representation. It breaks taboos by questioning the sacred boundaries between victims and perpetrators and between the past and present, questioning the possibil- ity of a Vergangenheitsbewdtigung. Its ex- aggerated use of stereotypical characters and its appropriation of clichkd discourses undermine established and reverent means of representing the Holocaust. The play has a sense of timelessness; no approximate date can be deduced for many of the events described. Similarly, each of the characters plays a variety of roles, calling into question the distinctiveness of their identities and foregrounding the existence of discursive structures and subjectivities outside these individuals. These structures manifest themselves in a heteroglossic pastiche. Tabori criticism in general abounds with intertextual references to the work of such writers as Brecht, Beckett, Shakespeare, Kafka, and Peter Weiss. Indeed, Sander de- scribes Jubilaum as an intertextual "Kul- tur- und Zitate-Landschaft" (215). Perhaps most importantly, Jubilaum has many par- allels with Shakespeare's Hamlet, includ- ing the paternal apparition and a grave- yard scene in which Jiirgen contemplates life and death--or rather life and killing- with a skull in hand.2 Finally jokes, irony, and grotesque humor prevail as the mode of representation throughout most of the

play. In order to investigate Tabori's use of these elements and to consider their sig- nificance for his concept of theater as ther- apy, I intend to explore the intertexual ref- erences to the work of Sigmund Freud in Jubilaum and to illuminate the contours and limits of Tabori's complex relation to traditional psychoanalysis. Relevant ele- ments of Freudian theory include the "logic" of the unconscious, the Oedipus complex, and Freud's joke study. Further- more, I shall discuss the significance of in- tertextual references to theatrical tradi- tions, including Brecht's work, documen- tary drama, and post-war appropriations of Hamlet. Finally, I shall discuss Tabori's position in the ongoing debate surrounding the use of humor in the representation of the Holocaust.

I. Tabori and Freud

The two most dominant motifs in Ju- bilaum are the joke and the sustained in- tertextual presence of Shakespeare's Ham- let. In light of Freud's famous joke study and his Oedipal reading of Hamlet in Die Traumdeutung, this combination of motifs invites a Freudian analysis. This seems especially appropriate in light of Tabori's own comments about Hamlet and Freud: "One may think of Hamlet without Freud, though not profitably, it would be hard to think of Freud without Hamlet. His is the classic case, not Oedipus', who has given his name to the complex without having one" ("Hamlet" 128). I shall argue that Tabori has a profound personal interest in Freud but that his relation to Freudian theory is ultimately ambivalent.

Certainly, Tabori's engagement of Freud is well documented and far-reach- ing. While directing Heiner Muller's trans- lation of Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Bre- mer Theaterlabor in 1978-the year in which Muller's own Hamletmaschine ap- peared, incidentally-Tabori had his actors read Freud's essay "Trauer und Melan- cholie" and the classic Die Unfahigkeit zu trauern by the Freudian therapists Alexan- der and Margarete Mitscherlich (Feinberg, "Theaterlabor" 74). Also, while living in America, Tabori saw a psychotherapist, who stimulated his interest in Freud (Becker, "Lebensreise" 15). Finally, his in- terest in psychotherapy manifests itself in his use of Gestalt therapy techniques as a director and in his play Sigmunds Freude (Ohngemach 22).

Both Tabori and Freud can be consid- ered as historically located cultural work- ers, and Tabori's interest in Freud is rooted somewhat in biographical factors. Some similarities are immediately apparent. Both Freud and Tabori, born 58 years apart, are the descendants of Eastern European Jewish families; and both grew up in the anti-Semitic climate of pre-Holo- caust Europee3 Both lived in the West and produced their major works in response to the deaths of their father^.^ There are in- dications that both struggled with the Jew- ish identities of their fathers, although for different, but related, reasons. The cul- tural production of both men, "scientific" discourse in the case of Freud and theatri- cal works in the case of Tabori, became a vehicle for processing and exploring their inherited identities and, to some extent, for creating new onese5 Finally, the cultural production of each can be understood as stemming from a personal disposition to- ward the use of humore6 Tabori's treatment of Freud is dialectical, however. Freud, working before the historical Holocaust, developed a new "scientific" language which worked not only to unmask the un- conscious forces at work in society but also to control them rationally as part of the project of modernity Writing after the Holocaust, Tabori abandoned any project of rational discourse or documentary rep- resentation. He immersed himself in the theories of Freud but also turned rational- ity against itself in his disjointed narrative and in the form of his jokes. His insistence upon jokes, and specifically the tradition of Jewish jokes, was an affirmation of his heritage which stands in contrast to Freud's own ambivalence.

For areading ofJubilaum, the first rele- vant element of Freudian theory is the un- conscious, which is unaware of the passage of time and knows no distinctions between the past and present. Freud wrote, "Der Traum, an dem ja die Denkweisen des Un- bewul3ten manifest werden, kennt dementsprechend auch kein Entweder-Oder, nur ein gleichzeitiges Nebeneinander" (Witz 218). Clearly, such unconscious modes of thought are part of a technique that runs through much of Tabori's work, including his Holocaust plays such as Die Kannibalen, Mein Kampf, and Mutters Courage.

Timelessness is a central motif and means of representation in Jubilaum. Al- though reference is made repeatedly to the Holocaust, it is unclear whether any of the main characters actually died at that time. When Jiirgen calls Lotte and Arnold on the telephone in order to inform them of the death of their niece Mitzi, it is unclear whether they have in fact outlived their niece or whether Jurgen is speaking to the dead (55). The play combines description of the murder of children by Nazi doctors with the use of words such as "Kanaken" (631, a contemporary derogatory term directed against Turks in Germany, and ref- erences to contemporary scenes of terror, such as a young Arab lying in apool ofblood (57). In Sander's reading, the signs in Ju- bilaum are double-coded so that all events apply to both the past and the present. '"Zeit' wird in Jubilaum als immerwiih- rende Zeit der Erniedrigung begriffen, als endlose Wiederkehr der Tortur" (215).

Similarly, the characters in Jubilaum slip in and out of various roles, leading to a sense of identity confusion. This confu- sion is introduced at the outset of the play, in which the dead are said to be unable to forget the eighth circle of Hell, the place reserved for the deceitful in Dante's Divine Comedy (51). Thus, Tabori begins by vio- lating the taboo which separates victims and perpetrators. In the eleventh scene, Mitzi plays the roles of twelve people, in- cluding children killed during the Holo- caust and the Nazi perpetrators. Clearly, Tabori's work implies a distinction be- tween interchangeable social roles or sub- ject positions and the bodies onto which such positions are inscribed, bodies repre- sented by the physical presence ofactresses and actors who adopt various roles on stage.

The narrative structure of Jubilaum can be read as the epistemologically impos- sible attempt to write from within the un- conscious and to stage it. Of course, this attempt also problematizes the binary op- position of conscious and unconscious in Freudian theory and represents a moment in which Tabori surpasses Freud's model. Tabori allows us to see the ongoing effects of the Holocaust and larger systems of domination within the "logic" ofthe uncon- scious in order to remind us that there is a dialectical relationship between material conditions and human subjectivity; repres- sion and oppression can reinforce each other. Tabori's theater destroys "die Illu- sion einer Linearitat der Erinnerung und das heiljt auch die Illusion einer ab- geschlossenen, einer vergangenen Vergan- genheit" (Dahlke 133).The attempt to un- dertake a VergangenheitsbewaLtigung,to which much Holocaust theater aspires, is akin to the plan, described in JubiLaum, to pave over a cemetery in order to create a playground (73).The dead and their re- pressed stories will continue to exist in the subterranean unconscious without a con- ception of time or individual identity and will continue to determine the lives of the children playing on the pavement above.

Furthermore, an investigation of in- tertextual references to the Freudian Oedi- pus complex in Jubilaum will provide in- sight into Tabori's complex relation to Freud. My reading of the Oedipus complex here is informed by recent Freud scholar- ship, such as the works of Sander Gilman and Elliot Oring, who emphasize the cen- trality of the struggle for identity forma- tion-the desire to reject the identity of the father-rather than the traditional theme of sexual dynamics within the familial triad.

Tabori includes subtle allusions to the Oedipus legend throughout Jubilaum. For example, Mitzi, a physically disabled Jew- ish teenager, is shown struggling with the legacy of her Jewish identity and the death of her grandmother in the Holocaust. In a twist on the Oedipus complex in keeping with the motif of identity confusion, the Nazis poke out the eyes of Mitzi's grand- mother (77).Elsewhere, Arnold in the role of Boleslaw notes that Nazi doctors poked out the eyes of Jewish children, to which Jiirgen, in the role of his ex-Nazi father, responds with outrage and denial (70).In the Oedipus story, Oedipus pokes out his own eyes in response to his shame at the legacy he is passing on to his children. Reminiscent of this legacy is the letter Jiir- gen sends to Mitzi and her resulting sui- cide. The letter asks, "Liebe Mitzi. Wieso hat man Dich damals vergessen?" (63) Mitzi's response is a suicide reminiscent of the Holocaust; she sticks her head into an oven.

One should also consider the extent to which the intertextual presence of Hamlet in Tabori's play is influenced by an Oedipal reading of Shakespeare. In his initial dis- cussion of the Oedipus complex, Freud notes that Hamlet "auf demselben Boden wie Konig Odipus wurzelt" (Traumdeutung 268). In Freud's reading, Hamlet's in- ability to avenge his father's murder stems from his own Oedipus complex; his uncle has fulfilled his own inner desire for him. The influence of Freud's Oedipal reading of Hamlet on Tabori is clear in what he once said about the death of his father: '3eder Sohn mochte irgendwann einmal seinen Vater umbringen; wenn aber -wie in mei- nem Fall -andere das fur ihn erledigen, und er sich auf lahmende Weise zwischen einer Art Erleichterung und dem heftigen Verlangen nach Rache fiihlt -was dann?" (Dahlke 143and Becker, "Liebe" 29)

To pursue the issue of an Oedipalized Hamlet in Tabori's play, one must first de- termine which character in Jubilaum is meant to represent Hamlet. The insight that there are in fact two Hamlets, Jurgen and Arnold, cuts to the core of Tabori's dia- lectical approach to existing traditions. He parodies stereotypical uses of Hamlet in the representation of the Holocaust but im- plies the possibility of their productive re- appropriation. For most of the play, Jurgen is the obvious Hamlet figure. Only in the final scene, in which Arnold's father ap- pears as a ghost, does the second ~amct emerge. First, it is important to under- stand how Jurgen as Hamlet functions within the text. I shall return later to the reading of Arnold as Hamlet.

As the son of a Nazi perpetrator and a neo-Nazi himself, Jurgen is shown in an Oedipal conflict and then put in the role of Hamlet. Jurgen hates his father and calls him an "Arschloch" even while following in his footsteps (64). Jurgen's father, who committed atrocities as a Nazi, is now a baker. The bread he bakes functions as a symbol for the repression of his past that enables him to fit into contemporary Ger- many. Jurgen, however, acts out his li- bidinal urges and does so, in part, to irk his father. He explains, "aufierdem macht's mir Spal3, dal3 mein Vater die Hosen voll hat, wenn die Bullen mich aufgreifen und mich mit einem Klaps auf den Rucken wieder freilassen" (65).

In a direct reference to Hamlet (Act Y Scene 11,Jurgen is shown in the cemetery with the gravedigger Wumpf, who has been compared to the gravedigging clown in Shakespeare's play.7 In Shakespeare's ori- ginal scene, Hamlet finds the skull of his old friend Yorick:

HAMLETLet me see. (Takes the skull.) Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And now how abhorred in my imagi- nation it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. (155)

In Jubilaum, Jurgen finds the skull of his victim, Mitzi:


Die kenn ich.

Die Nase. Anne Mitzi. (Er weint.) Eigentlich sieht sie gar nicht jiidisch aus, was? Es hebt rnir den Magen.

WUMPFKopf hoch, Junge. Es gibt noch reich- lich Kanaken hier, Griechen, Itaker, Jugos, sogar ein paar Nigger. (Pause)


1st nicht dasselbe. (Er kuBt den ~chdelauf die Zahne). (75)

A comparison of the two scenes reveals significant changes made by Tabori. Jur- gen as Hamlet does not find the skull of an old clown, but rather that of his own Ophelia, the young woman Mitzi, who com- mits suicide after he rejects her. The clown in the scene is Jiirgen himself, a Hamlet incapable of reflection. This thoughtless, comical, Oedipalized Hamlet is one of a se- ries of intertexts that Tabori includes, not as a criticism of Shakespeare or even of Freud's reading, but as a parody of the use ofHamlet in post-war German culture and, more generally, of quasi-pious theatrical and literary attempts to master the Nazi past. The bumbling Hamlet figure, repre- sented in grotesquely hyperbolic form as a neo-Nazi, is a playful yet scathing criticism of a motif familiar to Tabori's German audience. Franz Loquai's study of the Ger- man literary reception of Hamlet traces the long tradition of equating Hamlet and Ger- man national identity and discusses its presence in German culture during the past century. Tabori himself discusses the striking "Germanism of Hamlet" and the "Hamletism of the Germans" ("Hamlet" 119). Loquai identifies literary treatments of Hamlet that attempt to confront the history of the Nazis in the work of Gisela Wenz-Hartmann, Klaus Mann, Alfred Dijblin, Gunter Grass, Gunter Kunert, and Walter Jens. Beginning in the 1960s, plays such as Konrad Wunsche's Der Unbelehr- bare and Martin Walser's Der schwarze Schwan presented the younger generation in a Hamlet-like role as it confronted the guilt of its parents. Through the use of ex- aggeration and absurdity, Tabori's satirical treatment highlights the elements of fas- cism still inherent in such Holocaust thea- ter. If Vergangenheitsbewaltigung works, he seems to imply, why does anti-Semitism continue?

In Tabori's version of the graveyard scene, he has added a line which, on the surface, seems designed to provoke laugh- ter from the audience: "Eigentlich sieht sie gar nicht judisch aus, was?" Upon further reflection, however, a dialectical reversal takes place; and the utter seriousness of the line-the truth content that its humor- ous treatment both masks and reveals- becomes apparent. Laughter makes the audience conscious of the ridiculousness of seeking discernible signs of difference Jewishness-in a human skull. The scene implies that the social order which creates such difference inscribes it so deeply onto the human body that only com- plete bodily decomposition, down to the bone, can bring about its dissolution. The same theme appears in a later scene when Mitzi remarks, "[Hitler] mul3te meine Oma abschaffen, denn sie war nur vom Kno- chenbau her ein Mensch" (77).

References to decomposition recur throughout the play and often provide a materialist critique of the idealist valori- zation of death as liberation. After Jiirgen describes Mitzi's suicide, Wumpf responds:

Den Toten geht es gut. Nur den Toten geht es gut. Gefahrdet kaum die Gesund- heit. 1st ohne Schrecken. Ein Ruhetag ohne Ende, eine stille Riickkehr in den feuchten Anfang; der Kreis ist geschlos- sen, der Schmerz endlich vorbei, und die Freude beginnt. Die Mitzi, die zuckt nicht mehr. Ihre krummen Glieder liegen lok- ker im Schlamm. Ihr geschundenes Fleisch gehort den Maden. Sie wird nie wieder verspottet und geschlagen. Sie schwebt ohne Sehnsucht, wie der Regen- bogen, aufgelost in der Freundlichkeit der Erde. (63-64)

When contrasted with the violence and grotesque references to the body in the play, these lines, which move from familiar euphemisms for death to pure kitsch about rainbows and a friendly earth, represent a parody of exotic portrayals of death that downplay its materiality. Tabori unearths the violence underlying the envy that the guilty living feel for the alleged peace of the victims of their brutality. Further- more, in the introductory comments to the play, the narrator describes the dead char- acters as they should appear: "Faulendes Fleisch, ein leeres Auge, eine fehlende Nase und so weiter." The grotesque, ma- terial side of death-its utter lack of ro- mance-is presented, violating taboos es- tablished in the name of good taste. In the following line, decorum makes its appear- ance but looks ridiculous in its contrast to material reality: "Sie tragen ihre besten Bestattungsklamotten" (51). Here Tabori's humor brings out the tragedy of a society in which only the loss of the body, the ma- terial appearance of lack, causes an end to domination. The "Bestattungsklammot- ten" represent the ridiculous persistence of social codes within and on the body even as it decays.

One might begin to consider Tabori's use of humor to confront the serious in con- nection with Freud's joke theory. In his

Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum Unbewupten, published in 1905, Freud devel- ops a complex taxonomy ofjoke types in his explanation of joke techniques and defines the differences among der Witz, das Komi- sche (or die Komik), der Humor, das Spiel and der Scherz. In Freud's theory, children have a general disposition toward play with language which becomes repressed as they are socialized. Children eventually cease to make Scherze, which have no content. In civilized society, only real Witze, which have both content and a tendency toward econ- omy (using few words to express a thought), prevail. Freud discusses the so- cial function of jokes and notes that a ten- dentious joke "stellt sich in den Dienst von Tendenzen, um vermittels der Witzeslust als Vorlust durch die Aufhebung von Un- terdriickungen und Verdrangungen neue Lust zu erzeugen" (151). In other words, tendentious jokes, those with an aggressive ulterior motive, are the most pleasurable and successful. This results from the com- bined pleasure of word play and the expres- sion of an otherwise censored, pre-con- scious thought. Freud suggests connec- tions between a joking disposition and a neurotic one but is hesitant to draw a de-

finitive conclusion. However, as Carl Hill notes, "it is clear in [Freud's] theory that the sufferings of the individual are inti- mately tied up with the production of jokes" (109).

Tabori himself has said, "humor is no laughing matter" (Feinberg-Jutte 79). All his plays which deal with the Holocaust use humor to approach their topic, but Ju- bilaum draws the most attention to the practice of joking itself. In the play's open- ing remarks, Tabori writes,

die meisten Witzeerzahler beginnen im- mer wieder mit "Unterbrechen Sie mich, wenn Sie den schon kennen", aber man kann die Toten nicht daran hindern, ihre Witze wieder und wieder zu erzahlen. (51)

Thus, from the start, Tabori sets up his technique of using jokes to remind the audience of what it has repressed.

The insistence on jokes and humor as a

predominant vehicle of representation has been called "der wohl verbluffendste und fiir viele irritierendste Aspekt in Taboris Werk" (Feinberg-Jutte 78). Tabori has called "Ausch-witz [...I der kurzeste Witz."8 In Jubilaum, the joking interac- tions of the characters provide the narra- tive flow of most of the play. For example, the opening scene described at the start of this essay functions like many of the Jewish jokes included in Freud's study. This joke scene, in which a Jew provides a neo-Nazi with a spelling correction, is tendentious and undermines the core of Nazi ideology, which attributes a corrupted use of Ger- man to the Jew, the speaker of "mau- scheln" (Gilman, Difference 175-90). Tabori's play uses anti-Semitic jokes only to invert them and to show what has been repressed in their formulation. Several anti-Semitic jokes are repeated throughout the text, but here the joke is on the tellers, who appear grotesque and comical. In fact, the play's title itself functions as an ironic joke that makes a comedy out of a tragedy; the concept of 'kbilaum" implies not only the commemoration of an event but a joy- ous celebration of it, which is an impossi- bility in the context of the Holocaust.

The joke motif also acts as a structuring element for the entire play, which can itself be taken as a joke, a disjointed tragedy with a punch line in the final scene. Throughout the play, the protagonist Arnold is depicted in a constant state of waiting for the impos- sible return of his dead fatheqg a condition that makes him comparable not only to Beckett's characters who await Godot, but also to Hamlet, whose inability to act leads to his own demise. At some points, Arnold is tormented and even shot at by the young neo-Nazi Jurgen; but he does nothing. Arnold's father, Cornelius Stern, bears the same first name as Tabori's father, who died in Auschwitz. In the final scene, the ghost of Cornelius Stern appears to fulfill his son's impossible wish. He announces that only bread was baked in the ovens of Auschwitz and brings bread for all to eat.

This scene casts the whole preceding play in an absurd light and makes a comedy out of the tragedy of the Holocaust. It repre- sents an ironic treatment of the possibility of undoing the Holocaust through Vergan- genheitsbewaltigung.

The bread brought by the ghost of Cor- nelius Stern tastes "komisch" because it is based on the lie told by revisionists who claim that the Holocaust never happened. The impossible belief in the lie is Arnold's only defense mechanism in his conflicted situation:

ARNOLDIch spinne nicht. Du wirst schon se-

hen. Letzte Woche hab ich in der Zeitung

gelesen, daJ3 man in Auschwitz Brot ge-

backen hat und keine Vater.

HELMUTUnd solchen Dreck glaubst du?


Dreck kann auch wahr sein. Es ist halt ein wahrer Dreck, die dreckige Wahr- heit, aber ich betejede Nacht, daJ3 man nur Brot gebacken hat. (85)

Tabori uses the lie to show the audience the bitter taste that it leaves behind. Those who would believe it are the eaters of the bread, who are guilty for surviving by hav- ing repressed their memories of what has happened. They are like the cannibals in Die Kannibalen10 or Schlomo, who eats a chicken in a similar scene in Mein Kampf. In the same way, the eaters of the totem banquet described in Freud's Totem und Tabu are guilty of the murder of their fa- ther. Tabori shows that commemorating and forgetting are intertwined, and he makes a sick joke of Hamlet and the Holo- caust to remind his audience of what it has forgotten and repressed.

Joking interaction forms the structure of the play until the eleventh scene, which precedes the play's final scene and the re- turn of Arnold's father. In the eleventh scene, Mitzi acts out the stories of children murdered by Nazi doctors. "Hier fand Tabori keinen Raum mehr fur seinen sar- kastischen Witz" (Rothschild 6). In fact, the scene takes on a style reminiscent of documentary theater, another established genre for confronting the Nazi past, as will be discussed below. Tabori includes this moment to remind us why we have been laughing, to expose what is at the core of our joking interactions by using signs fa- miliar to us as connotative of the serious. His return to humor in the final scene can be read as an undermining of the boundary between the serious and the comical, a col- lapsing central to Freud's joke theory. Tabori insists upon using jokes to reveal what is repressed; the preceding docu- mentary moment represents a catastrophe which has been "iiberrumpelt" by a joke.ll In Jubilaum, first the audience laughs; then the causes and implications of this laughter are shown in a medium tradition- ally perceived as serious. Finally, the audi- ence is asked to laugh again with the full consciousness of what it had repressed be- fore. Like the bread eaten in the final scene, the laughter feels "komisch." In this con- text, Arnold's final line, "wir sind halt komische Leut'," serves to undermine the stereotype of the comical Jew. Tabori's jux- taposition of the deadly serious and the comical, his revelation that they are one and the same, makes us take our stereo- typed comical Jew seriously and renders us unable to laugh without remembering, without consciousness.

This use of the stereotype is modeled upon Tabori's reading of Shakespeare's own technique. In his discussion of Shake- speare's Shylock character, he notes:

Writing most subversively at a time of Jew-hunting, Shakespeare shows the ste- reotype in order to unmask it. Thus he shows his contempt for stereotypes. When Shylock is not alone, he is the Jew playing the Jew as the goyim wish to see him. When Shylock is alone, the mask is off, and the prophet's voice cries out, as if from the belly of the whale, denouncing the mask and those that make him wear it. The intention is to choke off the Jewbaiter's giggle and leave him stranded in shame. ("Hamlet" 117)


11. Jubilaum as Tabori's Hamlet

Tabori has been influenced by Shake- speare probably more than by any other writer (Feinberg, Embodied Memory 164). Tabori's fascination with Hamlet is evident in his two productions of the play-1978 and 1990-and in his assertion that he reads it every year ("Hamlet" 119). In light of the final scene, which reveals Arnold as the true Hamlet of the play, Jubilaum can be read as Tabori's own carnivalesque Hamlet--or perhaps his anti-Hamlet. Whereas Hamlet's father appears at the beginning of Shakespeare's play and thereby ushers in a tragedy, Arnold's father comes at the end to do the opposite. Although Iwona Uberman reads the final scene as a reconciliation indicative of Tabori's belief in a peaceful future (1111,I agree with Sander's rejection of this hy- pothesis (215). Among the play's opening remarks is a joke in keeping with the motif of timelessness: '3edes Leben hat einen An-fang, eine Mitte und ein Ende, wenn auch nicht unbedingt in dieser Reihenfolge" (52). Arnold repeats the joke in the play's final scene to indicate that his life in the shadow of his father's fate was over before it began. No reconciliation is possible. When Arnold shows a picture of his father to the other dead and explains, "Der Schat- ten hinter ihm bin ich," he is speaking al- legorically (84). If the Oedipus/Hamlet complex is read as a desire to reject one's identity as borne by the father, the child of a victim of the Holocaust is in a precarious position, one of wanting to destroy the par- ent whom others have already destroyed. This "ambiguity of grief' is at the core of Tabori's own reading of Hamlet ("Hamlet" 128).

Through the appearance of Arnold as Hamlet, Tabori reappropriates the Shake- spearean tradition and suggests that there is still a revolutionary potential in seeking the contemporary historical manifestation of Hamlet not in Germans but in Jews. Clearly, in the context of the Holocaust, a Jewish Hamlet, whose father is the victim of fratricide, is more appropriate than the clichkd German one, whose reflections bor- der on narcissism. There is a provocative, disturbing quality to Arnold's Hamlet, however. In the final conversation with his father, his docile acceptance of his situation is shown as connected to his clinging to his family's bourgeois traditions, which have been rendered meaningless and absurd by the Holocaust. Arnold phantasizes about his father's appearance to discuss dusting off old books, organizing phonograph re- cords, practicinga musical instrument, and making coffee-all signs of bourgeois life

and its fetishization of reified cultural ob- jects. When his father appears with the bread-possibly the same bread baked by Jiirgen's ex-Nazi father-the conversation that Arnold has anticipated ensues:


Hast du die Biicher



ARNOLDSVATER:Hast du die Schallplatten




Wie geht es Lotte?
ARNOLD: Wie immer.

Und den Kindern?
ARNOLD: Die Kinder sind tot.

fhst du auch jeden Tag?
ARNOLD:Ja. (8586)

The familiar quality of the conversation between an aging father and his son is in- terrupted and rendered ridiculous by the seemingly unnoticed mention of the dead children. Here, Tabori's grotesque humor serves to show Arnold's outrageous re- pression of any feeling, his stiff compliance with outdated and irrelevant social codes. The shock it provides challenges his audi- ence's own complacency.

In Tabori's reading of Hamlet, elabo- rated in "Hamlet in Blue," the title char- acter is suffering because of his inability to really suffer, because of the ambiguity of his grief-a reference to the Mitscherlichs' work. A fear of madness, of "losing con- trol," underlies his madness (127). Only through the experience of the "play within the play" is Hamlet transformed. In Ju- bilaum, Arnold's complacency at the play's end reveals that he has not yet undergone such a transformation. However, the re- peated reference to beginning, middle, and end-the disruption of linear time-im- plies that the moments of potential trans- formation, the "plays within the play," have already been staged. Tabori provides many such moments and explodes the lin- ear boundaries of conventional theater in doing so. Shakespeare's Hamlet chooses to stage a play in order to "catch the con- science of the King" (90). In the absence of a single murderous uncle, Tabori's play

aims to shock the conscience of his audi- ence and his society. In a move reminiscent of the power of laughter in Bakhtin's car- nival, in which parody includes parody of the self as part of the whole, Tabori even implicates himself as a practicing director

in the German theater. Unlike the tenden- tious jokes he parodies, Tabori's comedic dramaturgy focuses not on individual peo- ple, but on domination and the repression of memory.

Thus the "plays within the play" in Ju- bilaum appear as intertextual references to established forms of theater. Tabori's inclusion of them suggests that, through their repetition, these forms have taken on an aura which, on some level, lulls the audi- ence into complacency. As discussed above, Tabori uses the character of Jurgen to en- gage the use of Hamlet in German Holo- caust theater; thus, Hamlet appears as a play within Tabori's own Hamlet. Another intertext to come under scrutiny is the work of Brecht.12

Tabori notes that Brecht's influence on him is equaled only by that of Shakespeare (Feinberg, Embodied Memory 164). How- ever, Tabori has criticized Brecht for deny- ing feeling and championing rationality in his theater ("Hamlet" 130-31). Like anun- transformed Hamlet, Brecht has an "anti- psychological aesthetic [...] rooted in un- mastered ambivalences" (118). In Ju

bilaum, the intertextual reference to "Die

judische Frau" from Brecht's Furcht und

Elend des dritten Reiches is so obvious as

to be unmistakeable; in scene four, Helmut

refers to the piece by name and summarizes

it (60). Brecht's character Judith is a Jew-

ish woman married to a non-Jewish Ger-

man man during the Third Reich. She calls

four people on the telephone, ranging from

a doctor to a close friend; but she is unable

to speak the truth of her situation-her

awareness that she is going into permanent

exileto any of them. Finally, after a mono-

logue in which her consciousness of the se-

riousness of her situation is made clear, she

talks with her husband but is unable to

have a frank discussion about the reality of

which both are evidently aware. Social

codes prevent her from speaking of social

reality. In Jubilaum, Lotte begins aparallel

scene by talking about her dissatisfaction

with her husband Arnold and "dessen

unertragliche Gute" (71); the comparison

with Brecht's scene implies another in-

stance of beginning, middle, and end ap-

pearing not necessarily in that order. Lotte

goes on to describe her death by drowning,

calling it more beautiful than the death of

Ophelia. In light of the play's final scene,

Lotte emerges here as a second Ophelia fig-

ure, corresponding to Arnold in the role of

Hamlet. Whereas Brecht's character is ar-

guably of narrative interest as the wife of

a German, the focus on a Jewish couple,

Lotte and Arnold, represents a reappro-

priation of Brecht's scene that explodes the

narrative framingof the dominant German

culture. In the scene depicting Lotte's death, she stands in a phone booth in the middle of a carnival celebration and calls the same four characters named in Brecht's play. Each conversation begins and ends with cita- tions from "Die judische Frau." As Lotte speaks, however, she notices that the booth is filling with water and that she is unable to escape. Thus, she does not speakinveiled language about her impending departure, as in Brecht's piece; she calls repeatedly for


help and tells her interlocutors that she is dying. The contrast is most obvious in the transformation of the line with which Brecht's character opens her final conver-

sation: "Anna? Hier ist Judith, du, ich fahre jetzt" (1129). In Tabori's text, the line ap- pears as "Anna, hier ist Lotte, du, ich sterbe jetzt" (73). Lotte's inability to communi- cate the gravity of the situation-"Nein, das ist kein judischer Witz," she tells a dis- believingperson on the other end of the line

(72)--occurs in spite of her direct appeal for help, removing any ambivalence pre- sent in Brecht's piece. Lotte's subsequent drowning functions as an allegory for the situation of Jews whom no one helped dur- ing the Third Reich. Tabori's use of alle- gory to represent her death is nonetheless a reflection of the inability of story-tellers today to produce an unmediated repre- sentation of the Holocaust. As Lawrence Langer writes, "the paradox of the Holo- caust for the artist is its exclusiveness, the total absence of any shared basis of experi-

ence that would simplify the imagination's quest for a means of converting it into uni- versally available terms" (289).

Another intertext in Jubilaum is the practice of documentary theater, which emerged in the 1960s as an attempt to re- vive a lost tradition from the Weimar Re- public. Plays to make use of this technique, in which authors attempt to represent his- tory through the use of unaltered historical documents, include Rolf Hochhuth's Der Stellvertreter, Heinar Kipphardt's In der Sache J Robert Oppenheimer, and Peter Weiss's Die Ermittlung (Demetz 238). In Jubilaum, Tabori parodies the contempo- rary practice of this tradition, as he does with recent appropriations of Hamlet, sug- gesting that documentary theater's poten- tial for social transformation has been somewhat reified, turning it into an object for high culture.

As mentioned above, Mitzi's appear- ance in the eleventh scene evokes docu- mentary theater. Also, in the seventh scene of the play, the characters Jurgen and

Tabori 177

Helmut take on other roles in order to act out a scene reminiscent of that genre. Jur- gen plays the role of a state attorney and Helmut plays the role of Jurgen's father, who is on trial for Nazi war crimes. In this piece, however, it is clear that the repetition of the text of the trial is done because of the sadistic pleasure it provides; and the young neo-Nazi Jurgen coerces Helmut into par- ticipation. The scene has evidently been en- acted many times by Jurgen and his father; in an ironic twist on the loss of documen- tary theater's effectiveness in contempo- rary Germany, Jurgen laments the reduc- tion in pleasure provided by the current recitation:


[...I SO geht es nicht, Helmut.

HELMUT:Etwas fehlt.

JURGEN:Du machst es nicht wie Paps.

HELMUT:Paps macht es auch nicht wie



WO ist der Zauber geblieben? (68)

Thus, the disturbing ambivalence of un- mediated documentary representation emerges. Tabori parodies the petty fetishi- zation of the precise rendering ofhistorical documents in exchanges such as the fol- lowing:


Erinnern Sie sich ...

(korrigiertihn)Entsinnen Sie sich, pa8 auf, Junge. J~GEN:

Entsinnen Sie sich, im August 1944 zwei Hiiftlinge eigenhhdig ertriinkt zu haben? (67)

Tabori's use of Jurgen in such scenes, as well as in his Hamlet role, represents an exaggeration with a comical effect that nonetheless exposes an underlying truth content. The stereotyped neo-Nazi stands in for more subtle manifestations of fas- cism in established German society, such as the ways in which seemingly reverent moments of cultural production sometimes profit from the Holocaust and reinforce the status quo. Tabori parodies the notion that youngneo-Nazis are somehow monads who emerge without underlying social causes.

Through this simple-minded and comical character, he exposes the repression that would deny Jurgen's embeddedness in a society with unresolved fascist tendencies. In fact, all the characters in Jubilaum are stereotypes whose presence provides pleas- urable moments of humor but also ulti- mately provokes reflection on reductive so- cial analyses.

111. Transforming Freud

Although Freud's influence on Tabori is undeniable, it is important to look at as- pects of Jubilaum that demonstrate how Tabori surpasses Freud. The stereotyped, gay character Helmut is especially relevant to this discussion. Out of a sense of guilt at being Jurgen's uncle, Helmut, who is not Jewish, decides to have himself circum- cised. Here, Tabori reverses the theme of the compulsion toward conversion among European Jews prior to the Holocaust and includes a reference to the Freudian cas- tration complex. Helmut ends up in a psy- chiatric clinic; and the doctor who treats him, reminiscent of a Freudian analyst, is an extremely negative character. While theater is a form of therapy for Tabori, tra- ditional clinical therapy comes under at- tack in his play. The doctor, played by Helmut's lover, Otto, applies electroshocks and pills to treat Helmut and to repress his traumatic memories, his strange dreams, and the screams of children that he hears. The doctor tells an anti-Semitic joke to de- termine whether Helmut has recovered his sense of humor (61-62). He misunder- stands Helmut's homosexuality as a desire to be a woman. Once Helmut is "cured" of such impulses, he commits suicide.

Clearly, Tabori is aware of a moment of repression in Freudian theory, which fo- cuses on the strengthening of the ego as a manager that negotiates among the de- mands of the superego, the id, and the ma- terial world. Tabori rejects the primacy of the ego and of the rational, conscious self-the cogito; this is clear both in his own theoretical writing and in the narrative technique he uses in Jubilaum. Freud in- herited the primacy of the cogito as a legacy of German idealism. Tabori, on the other hand, writes, "'I think, therefore I am,' is the denial of life beneath the chin, an on- tology for paraplegics" ("Hamlet" 122). Tabori's narrative technique of pastiche, appropriately termed "post-modernism" by Anat Feinberg (Embodied Memory 240), suggests that the emancipatory force of the unconscious, of the repressed, can itself be given a voice that speaks through the reor- ganization and reappropriation of estab- lished narrative structures, those recog- nized by the conscious subject. He creates a subject position through the experience of laughter and bodily sensations at a site where traditional epistemologies say that none is possible.13 Tabori's self-proclaimed Marxist interest in social transformation gives his Freudianism a decidedly materi- alist edge that undermines some of its own premises. He reads Hamlet as a neurotic thinker who represses his feelings, a sick- ness endemic to the modern age:

Hamletism is an occupational disease of capitalism, a split between thinking and acting, mirroring the great split of the classes and mirrored by it. To heal that split is called revolution, but the art of revolution remains shit unless it embra- ces the therapy of art and the art of the- rapy. Those that deny the dialectics of health and sickness testify to their own sickness, and sick men can only make a sick revolution, not a revolution of the sick. [...I The efficacy of political theatre is affirmed by the theatricality of politics and therapy. Freud is unthinkable wi- thout Sophocles. ("Hamlet" 132)

Tabori's revolutionary reconfiguration of Freudian theory and his challenge to es- tablished, Oedipal narrative suggest the possibility of theoretical kinship with the project of schizo-analysis developed by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in Anti



Oedipus. Tabori himself has described the schizophrenic in a sick society as a "prophet signalling through the flames" ("Hamlet" 129). Deleuze and Guattari reject the com- pulsory binary oppositions of Freudian the- ory, asserting that "instead of participating in an undertaking that will bring about genuine liberation, psychoanalysis is tak- ingpart in the work ofbourgeois repression at its most far-reaching level" (50).While it is beyond the scope of this essay to de- velop this connection completely, it is worth noting that Jack Zipes finds a model ade- quate to the interpretation of the recent work of several German Jewish writers, in- cluding Tabori, in Deleuze and Guattari's text Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (Zipes 2141).

IV.Concluding Remarks: Humor and the Representation of the Holocaust

When Tabori's first Holocaust play, The Cannibals, premiered at New York's American Place Theater in 1968, American audiences overwhelmingly rejected it. New York Times reviewer Walter Kerr saw in it an indictment "so single-minded, so relent- less, so hysterically eager to hurt, that we recoil." Soon thereafter, Maria Sommer helped bring the play to Germany, where it succeeded. Sommer reflects, however, that in doing so, she asked herself, "Kann man Auschwitz 'spielen'?" (Ohngemach 49).

Sommer's question is central to the de- bate surrounding the representation of the Holocaust, a debate based in part on inter- pretations of Adorno's famous interdiction against writing poetry after Auschwitz (31). The success of Hollywood films such as Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, which, ironically, depicts a German capital- ist as a hero of the Holocaust, seems to in- dicate that some form of representation is in fact possible. Nonetheless, audiences should ask themselves to what extent they are being sold the culture industry's pre- packaged version of the Holocaust, one which prescribes how all representation of that event is to proceed and what form it must take. Do not the prescriptions of good taste, which correspond to the popularly accepted documentary formula for Vergan- genheitsbewdltigung, act to censor the work of those whose own experience with the Holocaust is personal and multi-fac- eted, as in the case of Tabori?

Mark Cory has written about the nu- merous examples of literature by or about the children of Holocaust survivors which deal with the "death imprint" left on them (a term coined by Robert Lifton and Alan Berger). These include Susan F. Schaeffer's Anya, Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet, Edgar Wallant's The Pawnbroker, and Jurek Becker's Bronsteins Kinder (38). He also discusses Art Spiegelman's Maus comic books, which successfully use humor and an aura of the grotesque and comical to represent Spiegelman's own experience as the son of a Holocaust survivor, an ex- ample ofrepresentation that would be wor- thy of comparison with Tabori's plays.

Any controversy surrounding Tabori's use of humor in representing the Holocaust can be viewed in the context of a larger debate. This debate has been reopened re- cently due to the success of Roberto Be- nigni's film Life is Beautiful, which uses much more traditional narrative strategies than Tabori's work. As discussed above, the use of humor as part of a social process allows the unconscious to speak of what has been repressed. In a review of Benigni's film, Edward Rothstein asserts that "fas- cism meets its match in farce." Sarah Co- hen notes that Jewish humor in general has been used as a "life preserver" for those who refuse to take on the "stance of tragic heroism" (14). Similarly, Dahlke notes that a refusal to represent what is perceived as unrepresentable about the Holocaust might give its victims "eine Aura des Heili- gen" that would cover up the fact of their murder (131). To see "the Jew" simply in the role of lost victim is to reinforce the stereotypes on which anti-Semitism is


In discussing the sociological study of humor, Gary Alan Fine notes that groups under stress are unified by the use of hu- mor, that laughter at humor indicates a "shared perspective," and that Eugen KO- gon's 1958 study of people who had been concentration camp inmates demonstrated that "humor performed a cohesive role" in the camps (173). As Freud himself notes in his joke study, "jeder Witz verlangt so sein eigenes Publikum, und iiber die gleichen Witze zu lachen ist ein Beweis weitgehen- der psychischer Ubereinstimmung" (164). To refuse the use of humor in representing the Holocaust is to refuse an understanding of the lives of those who lived and died in it.

On the other hand, scholars such as Paul Lewis warn about the limits of humor in representation. ". .. all humor may be gallows humor: a temporary evasion of re- ality, amusement stolen in the midst of dan- ger" (72). He notes that each individual context determines whether gallows hu- mor is liberating or oppressive. Hill is also aware that jokes have an uncontrollable quality. They cannot be made to serve any single point ofview. "Witz demonstrates its tendentious nature in setting up cultural, class, and gender boundaries just to smash them once again. These aggressive ener- gies can even turn back on themselves and a moment of melancholic gallows humor is its frequent, if not inescapable, compan- ion" (9). Such an awareness of humor's unbridled power might have informed Allan Nadler's reaction to Benigni's "disturb- ing" film: "the desperate attempt to snatch redemption, morality and victory from the crematoriums-that is what is so emotion- ally ndive and historically wrong about Mr. Benigni's work."

To gain insight into Tabori's position within the debate, one might begin by look- ing at the opening remarks to Jubilaum. Here, Tabori suggests, ''da13 ein stockendes Herz, wenn die Klingel geht, nicht weniger dokumentarisch ist als das gedruckte Wort" (51). Tabori's theater does not sweepingly deny the validity of documen- tary or testimonial representation. In- stead, it insists upon a complementary form of subjective representation, one which sensually evokes our embeddedness in a social reality that cannot be neatly cor- doned off in time and space from the Holo- caust. Jokes and laughter, as discussed above, provide him with the means. In this context, Dahlke has described Tabori's use of humor brilliantly. In her view, the Holo- caust produced "ein Loch der Erinnerung, die der Witz [...I wachhdt und zugleich preisgibt, ein Loch, an dessen Stelle das Lachen ausbricht und uber seine korper- liche Spur zugleich der Erinnerung selbst ihre korperlichen Spuren des Vergessenen schafft" (130). Tabori's use of humor is a refusal to reify the event of the Holocaust and the people involved. His sensual thea- ter requires us to feel its presence, and the traces of our memory of them, within our own bodies through conscious laughter. In opposition to attempts at objectivity, his theater provides a "ProzeB der theatralen Aneignung von 'Geschichte' durch das Subjekt" (Sander 209).

Clearly, Tabori is sensitive to the am- biguous nature ofjokes themselves. He pre- sents Jurgen's unrestrained libidinous jok- ing as grotesque and destructive in Jubilaum. The carnival celebration in the background of Lotte's death scene is remi- niscent of Bakhtin's theory of the carnival as a suspension of domination's power. Here, it can represent the indifference and ambivalence of jokes and carnival in the face of death. Tabori knows that jokes can have both a transformative function and a compensatory one and that suffering oc- curs in spite of them.

Tabori does not ask us to laugh in the face of tragedy and death. Rather, he asks us to realize why we laugh at all and, in doing so, to remember. Conversely, in his reappropriation of seemingly reverent the- atrical traditions, he calls into question those moments when we feel justified in taking on a self-righteous stance of utter seriousness. In this light, we can under- stand him when he says, "Das Tragische ist niemals lachhaft, eher umgekehrt, und unsere besten Witze gninden sich aufs De- saster" (Sander 187). Tabori embraces hu- mor as a means of representation that speaks volumes about the seriousness of what has been repressed. His theater aims to address its audience members as think- ing, feeling-and acting-subjects. Tabori's work demonstrates that the Holocaust is not merely a completed historical moment but also part of an ongoing process in which we are all embedded.


I wish to acknowledge Jack Zipes for his valuable comments and generous assistance. I am also grateful to John Mowitt, Lisa Jen- nings, and the anonymous reviewers of the German Quarterly for their helpful sugges- tions.

lAccording to Maria Sommer, quoted in Ohngemach (53).

2The comparison to Hamlet was probably first discussed in a review of the premiere, such as Becker, "Die republikanischen Masken" (20). The parallel is developed more fully by Sander (211).

3Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia, in 1856. In 1860, he moved to Vienna with his family (Gay 5-8). Tabori was born in Budapest in 1914 and raised there. He moved to Berlin in 1932 (Becker, "Lebensreise" 8).

41n 1897, Freud began self-analysis in re- sponse to the recent death of his father. From within that experience, he developed his theory of the unconscious, his Oedipus theory, and be- gan work on his joke theory (Oring 3 and Gil- man, Difference 185). Oring has hypothesized that the main impulse behind Freud's genera- tion of the Oedipus theory and his own Oedipus complex was the desire to reject the Jewish identity of his father (75). Oring's analysis pre- sents Freud's relationship to his Jewish iden- tity as complex and ambivalent, not unlike the conflicted feelings of the son toward his father

as described in the theory of the Oedipus com- plex (4447). According to Gilman, Freud's fa- ther served as his model for the persecuted Jew. "Kallamon Jakob Freud would have also been his model for the Jews who revealed their na- ture through the difference of their speech. The special language of the Jew has another, major dimension for Freud. It is not merely that provincial Jews speak comically, but that this comic speech reveals their other hidden difference, their sexuality. The language of the Jewish joke is the language of sex.... The Ostjude, whether Jakob Freud or not, speaks a sexualized language, a language that reveals hidden truths in comic form" (Difference 186).

5There is evidence that Freud saw his cre- ation of scientific discourse, his cultural pro- duction, as akin to the writing of plays. In Die Traumdeutung, Freud mentions that Shake- speare himself wrote Hamlet after his own fa- ther's death (270). Peter Rudnytsky argues that Freud identifies both with Hamlet as a character and Shakespeare as a playwright. In Freud's view, Shakespeare and he both created their masterpieces after the deaths of their re- spective fathers. "He saw Hamlet as occupying the same symbolic place in Shakespeare's life as his great work did in his own. The bifold quality of Freud's resemblance to Hamlet as character and Shakespeare as author corre- sponds to his dual role as hero and author of The Interpretation ofDreams" (84). Tabori dis- cusses his own connection to both Shakespeare and Hamlet: "Hamlet's father and mine were both murdered, Shakespeare's had died natu- rally some four years before the play was writ- ten; but natural death is murder to someone struggling with the death-wish'' ("Hamlet" 127).

6"Humor, especially Jewish humor, united Jakob Freud and his son, and it is a dimension of Freud's Jewish identity formed in the early period and present throughout his life" (Gresser 68). Oring describes the "deep and personal relationship between Freud and his Jewish jokes" and notes that Freud's sense of humor is nearly always emphasized in charac- terizations of him by his friends (24). Freud used Jewish jokes as a means to distance him- self from the identity of the Ostjude, whom they present as comical. His scientific dis- course became a means to master his discom- fort regarding his identity and even his dispo- sition toward joking; but ironically, it also pro- vided an acceptable avenue for him in which to tell his favorite jokes (Oring 3242). In this connection, Gilman writes of Freud's "overtly

scientific discourse" and its difference as "the language of the Jew as writer of scientific Ger- man" from "the language, mauscheln, ascribed to the Jews in the jokes Freud presents" (Difference 186). Tabori remembers his father as a joker who couldn't decide whether to make people laugh or to make them cry (Becker, "Le- bensreise" 8).

7Discussed in Sander 190 and in Becker, "Die republikansichen Masken" 20-21. sAccording to Ignatz Kirchner, quoted in Ohngemach 123.

g" ~~ ~~~

A . . . Seit vierzig Jahren warte ich auf seine wundersame Heimkehr, jeden Abend, zu dieser Stunde, meiner besten Zeit" (85).

1°Tabori has described Die Kannibalen as a "black mass." Indeed, the sharing of bread here is reminiscent of the Christian Eucharist and the Jewish Pesach (Sander 214).

ll"Witze sind nichts anderes als iiberrum- pelte Katastrophen." Tabori quoted by Dahlke (123).

12For a detailed reading of Brechtian ele- ments in Jubilaum by the director of the American premiere, see Susan Russell's essay.

l3In this context, I am reminded of Helene Cixous's 1976 play Portrait de Dora, in which she undertakes a staging of the unconscious, the creation of a subject position for 1'e'criture feminine where the theories of Freud and Jac- ques Lacan assert that none exists, in order to reappropriate psychoanalysis in the name of those who were its excluded objects: women and, specifically, hysterics. Cixous and Cather- ine Clement develop this position theoretically in La jeune nPe (The Newly Born Woman). Their complex stance toward Freud, like that of Tabori, becomes clear in statements such as the following, penned by Clement: "It is good enough that, even if unwittingly, he [Freud] has given us the instruments for thinking of these changes, of their limits, and of something else that may break open these limits" (49).

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