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Antisemitic past of German town’s Passion Play is not to be overlooked

Oberammergau’s Passion Play is performed on an open-air stage at the front of a 4,384-seat covered theater. With a current cast of 1,400 adults and 400 children, the play normally draws a crowd of about 450,000 attendees over 110 performances.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

It is most unfortunate that the Globe’s coverage of this year’s Oberammergau Passion Play (“Enduring Passion,” Sunday Arts, Sept. 25) fails to mention the 400 years of pain and suffering this event has caused through its perpetuation of virulent antisemitism.

While the passion play, as a Christian cultural event, has often been associated with portrayals of Jews in a negative and harmful light, the Oberammergau has been particularly notorious. It earned the explicit and particular praise of Adolf Hitler, who said that “never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed as in this presentation of what happened in the times of the Romans.” Hitler urged a nationwide tour across the Third Reich “so that the whole country could be inflamed against the Jews.”


Following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Catholic Church repudiated the charge of Jewish collective guilt for the death of Jesus. Renewed pressure was brought to bear on the Oberammergau to make changes, to little avail.

The significant news story in 2022 is not the return of the play, having been delayed by COVID-19. Rather, it is the visionary leadership of current director Christian Stückl, who has demonstrated openness to work through a decades-long process with an American Jewish Committee-convened advisory group of Jewish and Christian experts to finally work toward ridding the play of its ancient tropes that have brought so much harm to the Jewish community.

That Globe readers would be left unaware of this history and the current progress is a disservice that needs to be rectified.

Jeremy Burton


Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston

Robert Leikind

Regional director

AJC New England