Play Reading on the Fate of Hans Litten
In commemoration of her uncle Hans Litten whom the Nazis had driven to commit suicide, the renowned theater and movie actress Patricia Litten staged a play reading before about 30 listeners. She read from the book “A mother fights Hitler” written by her grandmother Ingeborg “Mimi” Litten. The event had been organized by the International Tracing Service (ITS) in cooperation with the vhs adult education center in Kassel, the German-Israeli Association (DIG), the Evangelical Forum, the Memorial Breitenau and the Association “Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie”.
Coming from a mixed Jewish-Christian family, Hans Litten was a committed public defender in the Weimar Republic. Young in his function, Litten called Adolf Hitler to the witness stand at the Berlin criminal court in Moabit, in order to unmask and bring to light the open propensity towards violence of the SA and NSDAP. In quite a number of trials, he defended juvenile delinquents and communist laborers. In the night the Reichstag went up in flames late in February 1933, he was seized. Invincible loyalty to his principles sent him to his doom and resulted in many years of confinement in prisons and concentration camps.
His mother started struggling for her son’s release or, at least, for relieved conditions of imprisonment, as unyielding as he. Later on, she described her situation at that time and the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, told of her frequent visits to her son, reflected her emotions and her uncountable attempts to give help.
Interpreting passages from this touching and furious text authentically and emotionally, the Swiss-born actress succeeded in giving the audience an understanding of her grandmother’s feelings and her uncle’s suffering. The tortures in the various camps, the visits under the Nazis’ eyes, the code words used in their talks, Hans’ repeated efforts to kill himself, the countless attempts to save him and the final suicide of the young lawyer allowed the audience an intimate look into the long five years of his persecution.
Gently, but at the same time powerfully, the reading was accompanied by the prize-winning musician Michael Tröster who followed the traces of Hans Litten with the sound of his guitar.
“Thanks to such testimonies as Ingeborg Litten’s book, history is not bygone, but part of our present”, said Dr. Susanne Urban, Head of the Department for Research and Education at the ITS. “These texts give us a glimpse of various people’s fates and allow us to come as close to the events as possible at all. Whoever has read and now also listened to these texts will always remember what happened at that time, what human beings are capable of doing to others.”
During a visit at the ITS one day after the reading event, Litten was able to see the bulk of archives available and also looked at the original documents concerning her uncle, among them his prisoner registration and effects cards, his death certificate as well as a variety of lists on transports between the single concentration camps and prisons. Correspondence between the German Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Berlin Gestapo dating back to 1938 informed her that “… Mr. Litten’s state of health is most satisfactory. The injuries he received during his accident at work have healed.”