What is happiness in a single line

SZ.de: Do you look back with similar indulgence at the Hannah Arendt quote about you: "He is not particularly intelligent, let alone gifted"?

Hochhuth: I don't think you said that. That is on the Internet without a source. I even imagine that I am the only German post-war author that Hannah Arendt wrote about in the New York Herald Tribune has published an essay of no more than ten book pages. And I'm the only German post-war author besides Jaspers, about whom she gave a full-length lecture in the Goethe House in New York. I don't think she would have done that if she thought the "stand-in" writer was a fool. She also really enjoyed what I wrote about her. About 20 years ago it was taken for granted that in all Hochhuth-Verrissen it was written almost literally: "He has no language, he cannot speak German, he has no rhythm." And I swear to you in the light of my grandchildren's life: There was not a single one who would have quoted a single line from Hochhuth to substantiate this slander. Not a single word of honor.

SZ.de: How do you explain these numerous deviations?

Hochhuth: I would like to state: I have given many theaters bad reviews, but never a flop in the box office. The people are very fond of me, which I also notice in the number of visitors. It is interesting that when it came to historical pieces, such slips never came. It is anger about preoccupation with the present. I can't explain it to myself any other way. It's not just about politics in my dramas. A whole generation: Frisch, born in 1911, Dürrenmatt in 1921, Walser in 1927, to Hochhuth, born in 1931, is no longer staged.

SZ.de: You have repeatedly stated that "no Ossi was able to open a milk shop on Friedrichsstrasse during the fall of the Wall". How did you come up with that?

Hochhuth: He couldn't have opened the milk shop because the Kohl State set it up that way. Wessis alone, whether they were Americans or a Basler like me, could have paid for it - but not the Ossis. No Ossi could buy anything worth mentioning there in the GDR, but a single Zurich family could buy 100 Interhotels between Werra and Oder!

SZ.de: You often criticize the German theaters and ask: Where are the playwrights who take up political issues such as unemployment, criticism of society and capitalism and bring them to the stage?

Hochhuth: These are the playwrights who are not played. The theater plans are printed in every newspaper, so you can check that. When I think of the indescribable coincidences to which I owe that my "deputy", who was lying somewhere in the dirt for two years, even saw the light of day. When the success was there, a dozen artistic directors like Gustav Gründgens swore the sacred oath never to have heard of this piece. I believe you, but my "deputy" lay with you in the house for three years, unnoticed by all the dramaturges - but was never even presented to the director! Dramaturges are invariably vicious sausages who wanted to become a director, writer or actor themselves, but since they couldn't do it, suppress their contemporaries. They are then no longer jealous of the dead; but mostly don't know anymore.

SZ.de: How did it come about that the "deputy" got on a stage?

Hochhuth: I was incredibly lucky. The greatest theater man who had emigrated, besides Brecht, was his friend Piscator. He created the political theater in the 1920s and then got an artistic director again at the age of 68, the Theater am Kurfürstendamm. And Rowohlt said: If the madman takes that, we will print 1,500 copies with it. By then the piece had been with Rowohlt for a year and a half, unprinted. It was sent to Piscator by courier. He got the piece at ten in the morning. At eleven he telegraphed: "Who is behind the pseudonym Hochhuth? I'm playing this piece." That was my fate.