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Sunday, November 2, 2008

AAA World presents, Oberammergau...With or Without the Passion

AAA's Obergammergau, a response:

I was astonished to find that AAA World is promoting tours to {Oberammergau: It's all about 'Passion'}. For hundreds of years Oberammergau’s blatantly antisemitic passion play has demonized the Jews, has described us as Christ-killers in league with the devil, as vermin. The play has served successive generations as justification for murderous antisemitic outbursts against innocent Jews. Oberammergau inspired Hitler, who promoted its value as an educative tool by which the Party could enlighten Germans as to the need and justification for a Final Solution to Europe's 2000 year long Jewish Problem. He makes this explicit in the following quote following its performance: "One of our most important tasks will be... to remain forever watchful in the knowledge of the menace of Jewry. For this reason alone it is vital that the Passion Play be continued at Oberammergau; for never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed as in the presentation in the times of the Romans. There one sees in Pontius Pilate a Roman racially and intellectually so superior, that he stands out like a firm, clean rock in the middle of the whole muck and mire of Jewry."

I believe you owe your readership, and particularly those among your membership who, like myself, are Jews, an apology. That apology should also include publication of this letter as a small step in distancing your magazine and organization from the explicit antisemitism your article appears to support.

Oberammergau...With or Without the Passion
The famous Passion Play is a main draw—but not the only draw—to this small Bavarian village. By Melissa Burdick Harmon
AAA World, November/December, 2008, pps. 54-60

It is a story of war and plague and a promise, a story of a gloriously handsome young king trapped in a world of dreams, of majestic mountains and hidden green valleys, of glistening baroque churches as pastel and white and rich-looking as ice cream sundaes, and of farms so immaculate they look as though the fields are vacuumed and dusted every morning.

Most of all, however, it is a story of people who remember to be grateful.

It is the story of Oberammergau, a small southern Bavaria village of woodcarvers and craftspeople, its houses sporting brightly painted Bible stories on their exterior walls, its lifestyle little changed over the centuries.

That is until the year ends in zero, when hundreds of thousands of tourists arrive.

In 2010, the Oberammergau Passion Play—complete with a cast, orchestra, choir and behind-the-scenes participants totaling 2,000—will present for the 41st time the story of the last week of Jesus’ life, his death and his resurrection. Some 4,700 people will attend each performance of this megaspectacle, which will run from mid-May to early October, come rain or shine, on the open-air stage at Oberammergau’s state-of-the-art Passion Play Theatre. The play is one of Germany’s most important tourist events.

An Act of Gratitude

Oberammergau has presented its Passion Play since 1634, when the Thirty Years War was raging, famine was rampant, and countless people were dying of the plague.

In fact, death had become so common that the villagers began to fear that no one would survive. They made a promise to God that they would perform the “play of the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” every 10 years if they were spared extinction.

They put on the play, the plague disappeared, and the villagers have kept their promise for almost four centuries, viewing the production as an act of gratitude for the lives (in many cases of their ancestors) that were saved centuries ago. Today, local residents still form more than half of the play’s vast cast.

Over time word spread, tourists arrived, and they kept on coming, except for interruptions caused by war. Tickets are already on sale for the 2010 Oberammergau Passion Play (see below).

Attending the Passion Play is a moving and dramatic way to see Oberammergau and its environs. Another option, however, is to visit during the years when the play is not being performed. Then, you can enjoy the rich pleasures of southern Bavaria when life is normal, when an evening involves nothing more dramatic than sipping some Augustiner with the locals in an outdoor beer garden.

And so on…..