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Jews Protest Fassbinder Play, Call it Anti-Semitic

September 24, 1985

BERLIN (AP) _ A Jewish group on Tuesday said it would file criminal charges in an effort to stop next month’s premiere in Frankfurt of a Rainer Werner Fassbinder play it described as ″anti-Semitic to the core.″

The Jewish Culture Forum in Berlin, said at a news conference that it would file charges of racial hatred and incitement against a people.

Michael Lang, the forum’s spokesman, said that if criminal charges failed, the group would file a civil suit to try to block the Oct. 31 opening of ″Garbage, City and Death.″

In a statement, the group said, ″The negative identification figure of the play is the rich Jew, who, like the caricatures in the Nazi newspaper ‘Stuermer,’ arouses abhorrence and hatred.″

The play’s premiere already has been held up twice. Plans to stage it have sparked heated debates in the Frankfurt City Council and brought protests from B’nai B’rith and from Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders.

The premiere is scheduled at the Frankfurt Playhouse where several Frankfurt politicians have promised to stage a demonstration opening night,

Heiko Holefleisch, who is staging the work, said Fassbinder was attempting to deal with ″latent″ anti-Semitism in West Germany existing despite the horror over the massacre of Jews during World War II. He said the premiere will take place as scheduled.

Fassbinder, a controversial director and writer who died in 1982 at age 36 from a fatal combination of drugs and alcohol, wrote ″Der Muell, die Stadt und der Tod,″ (Garbage, City and Death), in 1975.

Lang said the play, which is set in Frankfurt and depicts a rich Jewish land speculator in the 1970s, was ″anti-Semitic to the core.″

The play’s main character is referred to only as the ″the rich Jew,″ who buys old houses, tears them down and then builds new ones in their place. At the end of the play, he murders a prostitute with whom he’d been having a love affair.

The playhouse has scheduled three public forums to acquaint the public with its content before the scheduled premiere.

Fassbinder, best known for such films as ″The Marriage of Eva Braun,″ ″Effi Briest,″ ″Lilli Marleen,″ and ″Fear Eats the Soul,″ was one of postwar Germany’s most talented and prolific movie directors.

He also was known for his bizarre personal habits and frenetic work pace. ts he often sported.

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