Preventing Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Barbarism in the Present and in the Future through Art: Using the Example of the Play “The Investigation. Oratorio in 11 Songs” by Peter Weiss

  • Oliver Keune Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia


75 years have passed since the liberation of Auschwitz, but racism, nationalism and xenophobia (including anti-Semitism) are still widespread; in fact, due to an increasingly solipsistic policy of international leaders, hostility against those who don’t match race, religion, culture or sexual orientation is even experiencing a renaissance. Fake news start to replace facts. In Germany, politicians of the (democratically elected) right-wing party AfD (Alternative for Germany] publicly question the significance of the holocaust. According to the polls, around 33% of European youths have little or no knowledge about the attempted annihilation of Jews during World War II. In order to prevent the return of barbarism it is essential to remember and understand the characteristics that actually led to barbarism in the first place. Peter Weiss’ play Die Ermittlung: Oratorium in 11 Gesängen [The Investigation. Oratorio in 11 Songs] written in 1965, takes a very thorough look at what Auschwitz was, how it had been made possible and how it survived in society even after the war. The following article examines the play and its context in literature and films on the Holocaust, paying particular attention to the possibility of explaining the, as Elie Wiesel has put it, “unexplainable” and converting it into a teaching experience for current generations.

Author Biography

Oliver Keune, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Oliver Keune is an Associate Professor at the Department of Integrated Marketing Communications and Branding at Ural Federal University. PhD, former professional within the German television and film industry. Research interests: feature films, theater, documentary cinema.


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How to Cite
Keune, O. (2021). Preventing Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Barbarism in the Present and in the Future through Art: Using the Example of the Play “The Investigation. Oratorio in 11 Songs” by Peter Weiss. Changing Societies & Personalities, 5(2), 267–283. doi:10.15826/csp.2021.5.2.133