BBC Radio 4, 31 July 2013
It's 1945, and Michel Oppenheim
- lawyer and porcelain collector (Julian Rhind-Tutt) has been visited by Gerhard Schwoerer (Ed Stoppard), as Schwoerer looks
for a testimonial, that might spare him from execution by the occupying American forces.
Oppenheim's view of the former Gestapo officer
has been coloured by his experience of the War, when Schwoerer was in power, and Oppenheimer was made head of the Jewish community
in Mainz. Oppenheimer might have been exterminated, were it not for the intervention of his non-Jewish wife Gerda (Tamzin
Bailey's production initially seemed like a revenge-drama, with Oppenheim making Schwoerer aware of every single atrocity
that had been committed against the Jewish population under twelve years of Nazi rule. The drama seemed to reinforce
this impression, with an (unnamed) Speaker (Robin Lustig) periodically reading out details of Nazi edicts as to what
the Jews could and could not do in everyday life. Given what had happened, it seemed highly unlikely that Oppenheim
would agree to Schwoerer's request: surely the Nazi officer had to stand trial for what he and his followers had done when
they were in power?
As the action unfolded, however, it became aware that Oppenheim was not interested in revenge; to do so would be
to behave in precisely the same way that the Nazis had done. He wanted to provide a lasting memory of what had happened
during the Holocaust; and perhaps this could be best achieved by granting Schwoerer's request.
A passionate piece, performed with utter
conviction by the two protagonists, The Gestapo Minutes proved once again how difficult it is to respond to acts of