Nazi Theatre Nightmare
I had a series of nightmares last night, but the last one I can remember is super weird and dark:
I’m supposed to be living in Germany in 1943, and my whole town has been required to attend a travelling theatre performance called The Trapping of the Jew. It’s supposedly a comedy about all the ways crafty Nazi protagonists trick dumb Jews into outing themselves so they can be rounded up onto the trains.
It’s a series of short skits of Jews being lured out of hiding, with each set in a different city in the occupied territories. In one, a poster written in Yiddish is hung up on a street corner. A bunch of people walk by it. A few look at it quizzically. One man looks at it, realises it says “Your shoes are untied”, and glances at his feet. A bunch of snazzily uniformed young men walk onto the stage to drag him away.
In the next, a man dressed as a caricature of a Jew is acting as a barber. There was recently a decree in this unnamed town that every man must get at least one haircut from him. While he’s cutting someone’s hair, he whispers “Would you like a blessing for your health?”. “How can you do that?” asks the customer. “Because I am a rabbi.” The customer looks delighted by this news and agrees to be blessed. The barber snaps his fingers and the uniformed young men walk back onstage to drag the customer away.
In another, a rumor is spread that a cargo ship bound for Brazil is going to enter the port in a week and will take anyone aboard, no questions asked, for a bribe. On the day the ship is to arrive, a few families are sitting around in a shop near the port with their limited luggage at hand. The same uniformed young men walk onto the stage and drag them away. The children are screaming. This is a “““comedy””” show.
After the show, the crowd starts dispersing, but one of the actors walks over to me and asks me to come speak to the stage manager. I follow him into a nearby building. Once there, the stage manager begins questioning me.
Him: “How did you like our show?”
Me: “It was alright.”
Him: “Why didn’t you laugh, then? No one saw you laughing. Other people laughed.”
Me: *shrug* “I guess I just didn’t find it very funny.”
Him: “Why’s that? What prevented you from seeing the humour in our show when everyone else clearly could?”
Me: “I… Maybe I just don’t find screaming, crying children funny, OK? Maybe I have too much sympathy for defenseless kids to laugh at them? That’s common decency.”
Him: *raises eyebrows* “You have sympathy, you say? For the children? Even the Children of Israel?”
Me: *small, worried nod*
Him: “Well, I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn that your sentiment is quite uncommon. After all, everyone else laughed. More than that, even - before we realised that the whole world must be cleansed of Jews, we tried to make them leave Germany on their own, and the Americans even refused shipments of children. You say “common decency”, but are clearly appealing to some holier-than-thou idea to hide the fact that you have motivations none of us share.”
Me: “…What do you mean?”
Him: “Madam, if you were to take my place and my thankless job, how likely would you find it that the woman standing in front of you was herself a child of Israel?”
The door clicked behind me, uniformed young men who (I now realised) were probably not just actors walked in, and the dream ended in darkness.