By guest blogger, Abby Moyer ’14
On Nov. 15 and 16, Harrisburg Academy’s Upper School Drama Club will present “Raus,” an original work of fiction written and produced by senior, Abby Moyer. The play takes place in a concentration camp, where Dr. Albrecht Ostermann conducts medical experimentation on young women while trying to train a new line of soldiers. Hallucinations, vicious guards, propaganda-influenced young girls, and wicked surgical trials create a living hell. But, the playwright questions, “Was it really all for science?”
Given the sensitive nature of this material, we wanted to give Abby the opportunity to provide context to her work before the performances. Tickets go on sale today at www.harrisburgacademy.org/tickets; we strongly recommend Upper School students only – this performance is not appropriate for younger audiences.
In The Playwright’s Own Words
In the foreword to Naomi Baumslag’s 2005 book, “Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus,” Georgetown University professor emeritus of medicine and medical ethics, E.D. Pellegrino, shares: “Evil needs to be pondered just as much as good.”
These words originally came from the 1960s research of Carl G. Jung, also known as the founder of analytical psychology research. Jung’s sentiments continue: “To avoid evil, we must confront it; to confront it, we must look beyond the boundaries of the good into the darkness of evil. It does not suffice simply to be scandalized by evil and piously to repudiate it. We must be reminded how subtly evil masquerades as good, and how easy it is for all of us — individuals and nations — to lose our way and cross the boundary.”
This quote beautifully summarizes the purpose and inspiration for “Raus.” Most of my literary works veer towards darkness. While I do not generally think of myself as a dark person, I find that scary, devil-like characters are far more interesting for me to write. When a group of students approached me about writing the school play, my first thought was, “Oh no. I don’t do comedy.” So, I decided to do the opposite of comedy, and I went to Dr. Josef Mengele, the German SS Officer infamous for his medical experimentation upon concentration camp prisoners at Auschwitz, for inspiration.
I developed “Raus” after studying Dr. Mengele for my IB Historical Investigation. I then spent my summer in the Georgetown University library, studying medical experimentation in the Holocaust. Much to my dismay, I found that some of the concentration camp prisoners who lived had conflicting interpretations of Mengele’s moral character. Most described him as a monster, murdering patients with no known cause. Yet others described him as “caring,” giving his victims candies and allowing them to keep their hair.
While “Raus” was inspired by Dr. Mengele, I felt the need to incorporate the medical experimentation and personas of several other SS doctors. The main character, then, goes by the name of Dr. Albrecht Ostermann. Ostermann uses Dr. Mengele’s terminology throughout the play. For example, he references the barracks, the area where his victims lived, as “the Zoo.” But, instead of focusing on twins, he veers off into trials involving hypothermia and Typhus.
I hope that the Academy community will attend “Raus” and will appreciate our efforts to present an artistic work that is well-informed, timely, consistent with historical events, and challenges the audience to think beyond its comfortable sphere of acting and observing.