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Auschwitz Lullaby

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Auschwitz Lullaby

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Auschwitz Lullaby
By James C. Wall
Plays on Tape and CD, (2000)
ISBN: 1889889024

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Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness:

James C. Wall's stage play, Auschwitz Lullaby is a deeply disturbing glimpse into the hellish world that existed within Auschwitz. Directed and adapted by Liz Ortiz-Maches, this audio production of Wall's play is incredibly intense. It begins with a grossly explicit murder, which aptly sets the tone for the rest of play. This story follows the fate of Dr. Isaac Jonah and his family after their arrival in Auschwitz, one of the most notorious of the Nazi extermination factories.

Jonah is a Hungarian Jew, and due to his medical background he is forced to work for SS Dr. Josef Mengele. Mengele was a sadistic monster who found pleasure in conducting pseudo-experiments on the Jewish and Gypsy inmates of the concentrations camps. Experiments which, more often than not, result in the death of the inmate being experimented upon. Mengele had a special affinity for twins and dwarfs. He took special pleasure in experimenting on them, experiments that which could more aptly be described as pure torture. When he was 'done', he would often kill his victims so that he could examine the results of his 'scientific' endeavors. Mengele was also one of the many officers that would take turns sitting near the train platforms when the cattle cars arrived in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp complex. As the Jews where disgorged from the trains, everyone would have to pass by him. With a single word, left or right, he would sentence them to immediate death in the gas chambers or to a chance to live a little longer by being worked to death as slave laborer. With good reason, Mengele acquired the nickname, The Angel of Death.

In this hell on earth, a miracle occurs. While disposing of the corpses in one of the gas chambers, workers find someone alive! The lone survivor is Lena, a young Jewish girl of sixteen. At the risk of their own lives, they attempt to save her. Almost against his will Jonah is embroiled in their scheme, although he has more to risk than most. Jonah's family is still alive. By trying to save this one girl, who he doesn't even know, he is risking not only his own life, but the life his wife and daughter as well.

Auschwitz Lullaby is a riveting drama that will haunt you for years. In it there are enough horrors to last several lifetimes, yet all the entire play takes place within a one month period, and is set in September 1944. Unfortunately, the incident portrayed are not exaggerations. They empathically portray some of the unimaginable, yet actual horrors, that existed inside the extermination camps. This play is based upon the diaries of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli. His diaries were published under the title Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account. Nyiszli was a Jewish pathologist who was forced to work for Mengele. Nyiszli survived the Holocaust.

This Plays on Tape edition of Auschwitz Lullaby is a full-stage production, complete with original music score. The cast includes Preston Simpson as Dr. Isaac Jonah and Alene Harris as his wife, Miriam Jonah. Peter Byrnes as "Canada," the prisoner who discovers Lena, who is played by Olivia Jane Greer. Canada is determined to do everything possible to ensure that Lena survives. Dan L. McComas as Captain Hans Gunter the morphine addicted SS officer and Marlene Hogdon as the sadistic Kapo, Eva Vacek.

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