Overview (Masterplots II: Drama, Revised Edition)
The Deputy begins in August, 1942, at the papal legation in Berlin. Riccardo Fontana, an idealistic Jesuit priest, pleads with the papal representative (the nuncio) of Germany to ask the pope to condemn publicly the Nazi extermination of the Jews of Europe. Kurt Gerstein, a German who joined the Schutzstaffel (SS) to gather information on the killings, and who has witnessed gassings of Jews in the Belec extermination camp, presents his graphic eyewitness account of the gassings and cremations to the nuncio. This confirms Fontana’s worst fears.
The nuncio tells Gerstein that he is not authorized to deal with German officers and directs him to leave. Father Riccardo, however, continues to listen with horror to Gerstein’s account. Gerstein says that at the Belec camp he saw 750 people crammed into each of four gas chambers, 3,000 people who were gassed in twenty-five minutes. Like Fontana, Gerstein has visited the nuncio to urge him to tell the pope to speak out against the mass murders in his capacity as Christ’s deputy on earth.
The action shifts to Berlin, where Adolf Eichmann, the bureaucrat in charge of the deportations to the extermination camps, is relaxing, socializing, and casually discussing the extermination of the Jews with top industrialists and government officials. Also present is the cynical Doctor, who is in charge of selections for the gas chambers and medical experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp....
(The entire section is 2365 words.)
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