Re: R.I. author blends history, fiction (June 24)


I appreciated Michael Fink’s review of “Eavesdropping in Oberammergau.” However, I would like to correct a few points.

The review quotes me as saying: “After his Kindertransport sojourn in England, he somehow, for some reason of his own, returned to Germany ... and to Oberammergau.”

I would not have said this as the character of Stefan (and his historical counterpart) was an adult when he was taken to Dachau, and he would not have been on a Kindertransport, which was for children.

The article misstates that “The Passion Play” was “performed publicly throughout the 1950s, despite protests from Jewish organizations.” The play was not performed throughout the 1950s. It is a play performed every 10 years since 1634 and still is.

I saw “The Play” in the summer of 1950, when I lived in Oberammergau as the child of a U.S. military officer from 1949-1952. I did not know then why I didn’t like it. It took reading the books by James Shapiro and many others for me to understand why. I felt compelled to write about this village that had seemed so quaint and charming to me but no longer seemed the idyllic village of my childhood memories. As an adult, I knew how the Biblical story of the Passion of Jesus has taught contempt for Jews, leading to centuries of brutality toward the Jewish people. That the Oberammergau “Passion Play” was of particular concern to U.S. Jewish organizations after the Holocaust struck me personally.

I will be participating in a book program at the Narragansett Library on Monday, Aug. 15, at 6:30, during which I look forward to more opportunities to explore the themes of my novel. 

Hilary Salk

Author, “Eavesdropping in Oberammergau”