The answer to the Segre’s provocation is Remo Girone’s ‘Wiesenthal’

Liliana Segre.

Liliana Segre.

“I know what people say about Remembrance Day. People have been saying for years already, enough with this idea, how boring». Behind the bitter outburst of life senator Liliana Segre, an Auschwitz survivor, we must read the danger that has always hovered over the Holocaust and the extermination of eleven million men and women: that of oblivion. In all that is human, nothing is forever: even a massacre like the Holocaust risks disappearing or worse, being confused – like the hairy benevolence of the fascists (“so what about the sinkholes?”) – with other massacres or other genocides , so as to weaken its significance and moral gravity, in a zero-sum game where everyone is guilty and no one is guilty. Precisely for this reason, the uniqueness of Auschwitz is also a value to be preserved.
The antidote to oblivion is the scientific cult of history, the research and conservation of documents and evidence, attention to testimonies, non-fiction, literature, the circulation of ideas. We find all this in The Nazi Hunter. The adventurous life of Simon Wiesenthal, the monologue recited by Remo Girone written by Giorgio Gallione, who is also the director. We saw it at the Franco Parenti Theater in Milan, a very high example of civil theater that bears witness, memory, suffering and moral indignation. The response to the provocation of Liliana Segre and anyone who cares about the future of humanity, who wants to prevent history from falling back into the abyss of the concentration camp universe, was staged by Remo Girone (here the next dates of his tour). The need not to forget, the concern to find and keep evidence alive, the obsession with tracking down the perpetrators. All this in fact was Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter.

The monologue is designed in a very captivating way, like a thriller, but in its development enters all the horror procured by the German torturers which this stubborn and tough Jew hunts down, interned in 5 concentration camps, survived thanks to his skills as a draftsman (they made him paint the Nazi eagles on the carriages heading to Auschwitz), just as Primo Levi owed his salvation to the possibility of working in an analysis laboratory. Wiesenthal was rescued by the Americans in Mathausen, in April 1945, when he now weighed 45 kilos. Since then he has decided to dedicate his life to hunting down the Nazis. His motto was “justice, not revenge” (which later became the title of his autobiography). He painstakingly and patiently compiled the files of 22,500 war criminals responsible for the worst atrocities. Among these Adolf Eichman, the planner of the “final solution” together with Heydrich, Franz Stangl, commander at Treblinka and Sobibor or Karl Silbebauer, the non-commissioned officer of the Gestapo who arrested Anne Frank. But the prop of his mind was always Josef Mengele, said Todesengel, the angel of death, the kindest and most evil of all, the doctor who committed the worst atrocities against the children interned in the Auschwitz concentration camp. A psychopath, a monster who prided himself on his surgery wall totally covered in eyeballs. The man fled like many others to South America through the “rat line”, the route of mice, through the cover of the notorious Odessa organization.

Remo Girone, who plays Wiesenthal without rightly caring much about resembling him physically or in attitudes, moves within a scene that is the reconstruction of his study in the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna. The protagonist of the story remained there until he was 95, inside a space organized like a projection of his brain, he says in the monologue, mountains of folders enclosed in hundreds of files (the scenography is by Guido Fiorato). In the end, out of 22,500 names identified, he will have 1,100 arrested. During the monologue Girone spills bags of shoes, hair, gold rings, bullets used to kill the internees with a shot in the neck. Him irrefutable proof of what happened, so that it is not said that it was a sort of invention. The Nazis, as well as murderers, were also predators. And anyone who has visited Auschwitz cannot forget the room where mountains of hair have accumulated, a perennial testimony of the horror.
But in hindsight Wiesenthal is only a pretext. The Nazi hunter is the red thread that holds together the many episodes of atrocities committed in the concentration camp universe, the true protagonist of this monologue. What the actor manages to stage with his voice is the Shoah, the holocaust of six million Jews, within the extermination of 11 million men sent to die in concentration camps as part of the final solution devised by Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann and other Nazi leaders and politicians at the Wannsee Conference, near Berlin, in 1942. Girone in his monologue does not limit himself to testifying but questions himself on a still unanswered question, the same as Hannah Arendt in Banality of evil: because? Why did such mediocre people, who loved their children, ask for roses from their garden in their letters, then fill the holes in airport runways with piles of corpses of internees, kill, gas, beat to death, slam the children against walls to kill them and other atrocities, as if it were normal administration? Underlining an irrefutable fact: no SS officer, no tormentor would have risked anything if he had refused to carry out the extermination orders. When this occurred, the subject was not even subjected to a punishment or a reprimand. The Nazis who participated in the Final Solution, starting with Waffen SSwere all Hitler’s willing executioners.

Remo Girone’s voice snatches that huge tragedy from oblivion. His performance is extraordinary: there is no word that does not have the right intensity, each time managing to enter our soul to arouse our interest, our pain and our pity for what happened, and, consequently, our moral outrage. Heart and reason, in the warm and deep voice of Remo Girone, are allies to awaken the abyss, the black whirlpool of history into which humanity slipped in those years. It should be staged in every school, as a response to Liliana Segre’s provocation, as a perennial lesson against hatred.

The answer to the Segre’s provocation is Remo Girone’s ‘Wiesenthal’