In the preface of the first English volume of Fritz Hochwälder’s dramas, The Public Prosecutor, theater critic Martin Esslin wrote that the enduring value of Hochwälder’s work will be increasingly recognized in the future and that his best plays will rightfully survive in the permanent repertoire of world drama. Other critics have not always been as generous—for example, at premiere performances of Donnerstag and Lazaretti in Hochwälder’s native Austria, at the Salzburg festivals. Nevertheless, as is evidenced by the many productions of his plays and his numerous Austrian literary awards, Hochwälder was probably the best-known Austrian dramatist between the years 1945 and 1970.
The prestigious Burgtheater of Vienna has staged three premieres and four other productions, while Switzerland and Germany have hosted others. Translations of his plays have spread throughout Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. There were four hundred performances of The Strong Are Lonely in Paris alone.
Hochwälder was the recipient of several literary honors: the Literature Prize of the city of Vienna in 1955, the Grillparzer Prize from the Viennese Academy of Sciences in 1956, the Anton Wildgans Prize in 1963, the bestowal of the title of Professor from the president of Austria in 1964, the State Prize for Literature in 1966, the Austrian medal of honor for Art and Science in 1971, the Ring of Honor from the city of Vienna in 1972, and the Drama Prize in 1982 from the Swiss section of the Society of Authors and Playwrights, an award that is usually granted to French-speaking authors.
Although Hochwälder attained a certain amount of literary acclaim, his dramas have suffered from a dearth of interest and analysis. There is, nevertheless, no doubt about the forcefulness of his message, applicable at the personal, political, or social level, that man is capable of the worst evils and therefore must cultivate vigilance to keep that evil in check.