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Christ. 
Le Christ. 



Christus (Anton Lang). 
Oberammergauer Passionsspiel 1910. 



Copyright by F. Bruckmann Ltd. Munich. 



pberammergau 

and its Passion Play. 



A Survey of the History of Oberammergau and its 
Passion Plays, from their origin down to the present 
day, including a description of the country of Ammergau 
D the characteristics and customs of its inhabitants, n 



TEXT BY HERMINE^DIEMER, NEE VON HILLERN. 
English Edition by Walter S. Manning, I^ondon — Munich. 



Illustrations from originals by Michael ^etio Diemer and Otto Geigenberger, as well 
as from official photographs of the Passion Play 1910, and also from photographs by 
n H. Traut, Municli, Hugo I^ang jun. etc. □ 



Second Edition. 



Munich 1910. 
Carl Aug. Seyfried & Comp. (Carl Schnell). Printers and Publishers. 



-T 



Preface to the Second Edition. 



Again another decennium has rolled by and for the second time this book 
goes out into the world to tell of the great event displayed in the solitudes of the 
mountain world. — Necessitated by the changes caused by the lapse of time and 
history I have had to alter much. Leaves have fallen from the tree of life — leaves 
too from the tree of the Idealwarning us that in all things human, we must meet 
with disappointments. But that which is lastingly and indissolubly connected with 
Ammergau: the thought of Christianity — this it is that will maintain its all 
conquering power for ever and ever! To this thought may the book be dedicated. 



Munich, April 26'^ 1910. 



Hermine Diemer, 

nee von Hillern. 




Mary. 
Marie. 



Maria (Ottiiie Zwink). 
Oberammergauer Passionsspiel 1910 



Copyright by F. Bruckmann Ltd. Munich. 




Christ. 
Le Christ. 



Christus (Anton Lang). 
Oberammergauer Passionsspiel 1910, 



Copyright by F. Bruckmann Ltd. Munich. 




Prologue. 
Prologue. 



Der Prolog (Anton Lechner). 
Oberammergauer Passionsspiel 1910. 



Copyright by F. Bruckmann Ltd. Munich. 




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Peter and John. 
Pierre et Jean. 



Petrus (Andreas Lang) und 
Johannes (Alfred Bierling). 



Copyright bj' F. Bruckmann Ltd. Munich. 



Oberammergauer Passionsspiel 1910. 







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The Christ and 

Annas before 

Herod. 

Le Christ et Anne 
devant Herode. 



Christus und Annas (Sebastian Lang) 
vor Herodes (Hans Mayr). 

Oberammergauer Passionsspiel 1910. 



Copyright by F. Briick mann 
Ltd. Munich, 




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The descent of the 
Cross. 

La descente de 
Croix. 



Die Kreuzabnahme. 
Oberammergauer Passionsspiei 1910. 



Copyright by F. Bruckmann Ltd. JIunich. 




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OBERAMMERGAU 

and its Passion Play. 

BY HERMINE DIEMER, NEE VON HILLERN. 



English Edition 

by 

WALTER S. MANNING. 




Oberainmeriiiiu. 



A Modern Pilgrimage. 



Wherever you ma}' come from, whoever 
you may be, kind Reader, will you follow 
me? — Whether you hail from Germany's 
northern plains, from far off seas and distant 
lands, come roam with me awhile. A guiding 
star, though unseen, is above us ; which 
leads to where in a peaceful village the 
passion flowers, nurtured by long centuries 
of tradition, are blossoming — to where the 
Wonder of Wonders passes before our very 
eyes : the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection 
of our Redeemer! 

We love to make pilgrimages to the holy 
places in Jerusalem, which His foot has 
trodden, that we may bring the holy form 
of our Lord and Saviour nearer to us ; we 
seek Him in the temples of God not only 
in the spirit, our eyes rest in devotion on 
the pictures, which artists, inspired by 
religious faith, have painted. In art-galleries 
too, we seek Him, and are happy when we 
find in His countenance traces of the Divine. 

So let us go then, to where something 
more than a picture, to where His figure, 
appears living and moving, where His voice 
is heard gentle and sorrowful, as it may have 
proceeded from His mouth 19 centuries ago! 
And as, to the true believer, the wonder- 



working pictures of Christ appear to begin 
to bleed, so here, the artificial blood becomes 
in truth the heart's-blood of the Redeemer. 
The soul is moved to tears of repentance, and 
all that was obscure before, now becomes 
intelligible. The soul, with the repentant 
sinner, clings to the foot of the cross, never 
to leave it again. These are the effects 
produced on the soul by simple human 
means, in this representation of the Suffer- 
ings of Christ. 

The thought was engendered in the sincere 
faith of a vigorous and earnest mountain 
people, and received its form in naive yet 
noble art, such as is produced by the believ- 
ing mind of simple, deep-feeling natures. 
In this representation, the spirit of Him who 
is from everlasting to everlasting, breathes 
upon us, and this ancient custom of 200 
years standing, this fervent piety of the peo- 
ple, spreads its beneficent influence over us. 

Let us then go thither, to this beautiful 

favoured land, where glorious mountain 

scenery is the cradle of an upright, steadfast 

and capable race, among whom religion and 

loyalty go hand in hand, with a vigour which 

is hereditary, and with a strict adhesion to 

tradition. 

1 




Oberammergau. In the background, the Kofel Mountain. 



The Village of the Passion Play and its 



Environs. 



At last we are in the village of the Passion 
Play. Near the first houses, or rather just 
before reaching them, we notice a bridge, 
which leads over the Ammer to the left. Its 
continuation is an even and picturesque road, 
which King Max II had made in the fifties, 
so that he could cross his hunting grounds 
more easily. This road leads near the 
delightful Dickelschwaig an old estate be- 
longing to the Ettal monastery; then through 
the village of Qraswang to Linderhof, and 
across the Tyrolese frontier to Plansee and 
Reutte. It is the route to Ammergau from the 
Tyrol. To the right stands a neat little house, 
the first in the village, with a picturesque 
garden, reaching up to the quarry in the 
mountain. In it lives an Ammergauer family 
of the purest blood : the carver Andreas 
Lang, the Peter of the Play, and his wife, 
the grand-daughter of that Diemer who 
.was leader of the choir in 1840 and 1850. 



She has inherited Diemer's musical talent to 
a high degree, and possesses a clear voice. 
Above, on a hill, the villa of Frau von Hillern 
stands out. The owner, who could not 
resist the bewitching influence of the Play 
in 1880, erected the house at considerable 
expense, and has now become with heart 
and soul an Ammergauer. 

Farther in front, to the right, also at the 
foot of the Villa Hillern, is the house inhabi- 
ted by "Old Rendl", the Peter of 1900, 
who, besides his trade of carver, also fills 
the post of concierge at the Villa Hillern. 
The next house is the Carving School, a 
handsomely constructed building. We drive 
in through the "Aussergasse", past clean 
and pretty houses, with neat gardens, 
flowers at the windows, and brightly painted 
shutters. A fine house, near the church, 
attracts our attention. It is the " Forsthaus " 
(forester's house), the former judicial court 



— 5 



of Ettal, which, after the abolishment of the 
monasteries, was offered to the Provost of 
Rothenbuch, Heri<ulan Schwaiger, as a dwell- 
ing place, and after his death in 1830, was 
used as the seat of the District Inspector 
of Forests for Ettal. The tastefully painted 
house is anyhow certainly one of the most 
interesting structures of the ISt'i century. 
Close at hand is the peaceful cemetery, 
through the re-arrangement of which in 1885 
the late pastor, Anton Glonner rendered a 
lasting service, in having i-t laid out in the 
village instead of at a remote distance. 
Every Sunday, after the morning service, the 
relatives come to the graves, and sprinkle 
them with holy water, and say their pray- 
ers. There are monuments to great and 
good people in the little burial-ground. In 
it stands the beautiful monument, erected 
by the community to its sons, who fell in 
1870 — 71 ; a memorial service is annually 
• celebrated here. There is also the monu- 
ment, erected by pupils and friends, to the 
teacher Dedler, composer of the " Passion " 
music, who died (1822) in Oberfohring and 
was buried in Ober Ammergau ; that to the 
Provost Herkulan Schwaiger, and above all 
the monument to the Geistlicher Rat Daisen- 
berger, the re-constructor and reviser of the 
text of the Play. As regards artistic merit, 
the last is perhaps the finest of all in the 





Oberammergau. Forsthaus. 



Hillernschlosschen . 

(Lower clown, the house of Old Hendl.) 

cemetery; it was made by an Oberammer- 
gauer. Otto Lang, a prominent Munich 
sculptor. 

Upon a simple red sandstone pedestal 
stands the bust of the ever 
memorable man, which re- 
produces his features with 
striking likiness. That the 
artist has made a present 
of his work to his native 
village of Oberammergau 
will surprise no one who 
knows the love of the brave- 
hearted Oberammergauer for 
his home. 

We will enter the church. 
It cannot compare in beau- 
ty with that of Ettal but for 
a village church it is a fine, 
spacious and worthy House 
of God. It was built on 




Oberammergau Cemetery. 



the site of the old one, then fallen into decay, 
in 1736 — 42, and was consecrated on June 
17 th 1749, by His Grace the Most Reverend 
Archbishop, Johann Marquard. 

Handsomely decorated with fine stained 
glass windows, the church among other 
things contains a beautiful communion rail 
and a most harmonious peal of bells. 

An altar here contains the bones of Saint 
Amandus. The frescoes on the roof by M. 
Gindter are interesting, of which, in particu- 




' Ausscrgassei 



lar, that over the organ, representing the 
tabernacle of St. Peter's in Rome, has a 
strikingly natural effect, on account of its 
clever perspective. Handsome, richly gilded 
altars in baroque style, which have only been 
renovated within the last ten years, make a 
good impression iwith their fine carvings. 
After the Passion Play of 1890 some Enghsh 
people presented the community with a 
splendid organ which surpasses in appear- 
ance and fullness of tone even that of Ettal. 
The last few years have 
brought altogether many 
a change in the church. 
To the north of the 
church lies the chief part 
of the village. We still 
see a few finely painted 
houses, but unfortunately 
the best here have been 
destroyed by fire. For- 
merly every house in 
the village was decorated 
with admirable frescoes, 
the work of the so-call- 
ed "Liiftlmaler" (painter 
in the air) the highly 



- 7 




Interior of the Oberammergau Church. 

gifted Franz Zwinck, colour-grinder and anecdotes still exist about his quickness of 
apprentice to Martin Knoller. He was a execution. For instance, he is said to have 
clever brisk worker, and many humourous once promised a peasant woman, who hap- 




Dr Lang's House, with frescoes bj' Franz Zwinck. 



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Garden-Side oi D^ Lang's House. 



pened to be churning butter at the time, 
that he would paint a Virgin Mary on her 
house by the time she had finished mailing 
the butter, if she would give him the latter. 
And so it was ; when the butter was ready, 
the Virgin Mary had been painted. At any 
rate, it is wonderful how fresh the colours 
still are, after these 120 years, and with 
what skill the whole is composed. W. Wyl 
calls him the Paul Veronese of Oberammer- 
gau, and thinks, perhaps rightly, that the 
art of this country Rococo-painter was a 
stray element of the mighty host of the art 
erf the Renaissance which had drifted into 
this lonely mountain village. Zwinck reach- 
ed an age of scarcely 40 years ; his great- 
grandson Johannes Zwinck is the " Judas " 
in this year's Play (IQIO). One of the finest of 
the still preserved houses is that of Dr 
Lang, which shows " Christ before Pilate " 
on the garden-side, and is probably un- 
equalled in the boldness of its architecture 
and perspective. 



Tastefully restored is also the house of 
the bookseller Quido Lang, who in order 
to accomodate the increasing throng of 
visitors, had a complete storey built on to 
his house. 

With that fine sense of style which cha- 
racterizes the Ammergauer, he has under- 
stood how to bring the new part into har- 
mony with the old, so that the venerable 
publishing house has no need to be ashamed 
of its new vesture. Interesting too in the 
"Oberdorf" is the old original house of 
the firm Georg Lang sel. Erben, the " Klep- 
perhaus " termed so from the machine which 
was used for making the grained frames 
which were made there in the Rococo 
period. The noise which this machine made 
in working, the village people called " Klep- 
pern " (clattering) and for that reason the 
house was named Klepperhaus. It is one 
of the most interesting of the old Ammer- 
gauer houses and with it grew the prosperity 
of the family Lang. Proceeding farther up 



— 10 







House of the Shoemaker, Ceroid. 



the street we come across Oberammergau's 
grandest modern elevation — the new carving 
school. — It is well-proportionally built, of 
noble aspect, with a happy combination of 
the old style with modern comforts. Here 
the youth of Oberammergau are taught and 
trained under the guidance of Ludwig Lang 




Peasant House. 



and the teacher of industrial art, Anton 
Lechner. Pretty objects of art are produced 
and it is a pleasure to see there young people 
so zealously carving, moulding and modell- 
ing. Thanks to their clever principal and to 
their experienced teacher, this school fully 
comes up to modern taste, meeting all requi- 
rements. Very pretty too are 
the modern constructions 
erected by the Bros. Zwinck 
and Schilcher, in addition to 
many others which have 
sprung up within the last 
few years and by which we 
see that the inhabitants of 
Oberammergau understand 
how to preserve rural style 
at the same time enhancing 
the effect of uniformity. 

We will now, after hav- 
ing surveyed the village, 
take a view of the sur- 
rounding country. The si- 
tuation of Ammergau is, 
we would say pleasing 
rather than impressive; 



— n — 




Carving School. 



we do not find ourselves yet among reallj' 
high mountains, but only between the spurs 
of the Ammer range. The most interesting 
part of this delightful group presents itself 
to view in the upper Qraswang valley near 
the castle of Linderhof. Between two enor- 
mous mountain ridges running west to east 
the rocky giants of the Ammer range, rise. 
Whilst the southern chain is divided into 
three separate groups, the northern range 
runs, like a blank wall, beginning at the 
Kofel, right along up to the Tegelberg near 
Hohenschwangau. Down below between 
these two crests, the snow-white Ories — 
the dry bed of the upper Ammer stream — 
>vinds its way through dark woods and green 
meads ; and, whilst in times gone by, the 
young Ammer, passing through the Ettal 
of to-day, emptied itself over the Kienberg 
down into the Loisach, it has in later cen- 
turies broken through the stony ridge of 
its native mountains and cleared a way for 
itself to the north. Just in this gap, which 
divides the Laber from the ridge of the 
Sonnenberg, lies Ammergau. The cone of 
the Kofel, rising 500 m. out of the valley 



with its steep and dangerous looking slopes, 
strikes us as being the most remarkable. 




The Kofel in winter, covered with ice and snow. 



— 12 




View of the Kofel from the Barenloch. 

Tliis Kofel was already known to the Ro- 
mans. They named the settlement in Am- 
mergau "ad Cofeliacas " after it. In the 
middle-ages on May 1st, the betrothals of 
bridal couples were celebrated on its sum- 
mit with dance and music. On May 30th 
15S0, a colossal wooden figure of a knight 
was set up which the merchant Pabst of 
Niirnberg had made. Later it was replaced 
by a large wooden cross which generally 
has to be renewed every 10 — 15 years, unless 
it has already been destroyed by lightning 
and storm. The Kofel must have presented 
a most glorious spectacle, when in 1807 
it stood enveloped in flames. The confla- 
gration lasted ten days and the enormous 
red-hot trunks of the trees slid down into 
the valley like rods of fire. The cruel walls 
moreover exact continual loss of life. Al- 
though a good path now leads up to the 
top, 1 would not advise inexperienced climb- 
ers to make the ascent of the Kofel without 



a guide. The view from the top, which latter 
can easily be reached in fi/o hrs. from the 
\illage, is extremely fine, especially that of 
Oberammergau of which we get a capital 
birds-eye view. On the " Kofelachsel " 
there is a cave the so-called " Kofelkuche ". 
Here the mysterious " Kofelweiblein " resi- 
des, who for ages past supplies Ammergau 
with children, and if they are found on the 
road after vespers she comes and carries 
them off again. 

The Kofel is the eastern corner-pillar of 
the " Sonnenberg " ridge, of which the 
"Zahn" and the " Piirschlingspitz " peep 
over into Ammergau, whilst the highest 
point of the mountain range (Klammspitze) 
1934 m.) is hidden by the mountains in front. 
Along the foot of the Kofel, delightful walks 
through shady woods lead right across the 
valley to the " Barenloch " at the foot of 
the Laber. This grand mountain encloses 
Ammergau to the south-east, rising to a 
height of 1680 m. and is noteworthy for 
its glorious view into the plain Graswang, 
Loisachtal and the mighty Wettersteinge- 
birge. A neighbouring peak of the Laber 
is the Ettaler Mandl (not visible from Am- 
mergau). To the left of the Laber the 
"Aufacker" and "4 Hornle " join on to 
the circle of mountains surrounding Am- 
mergau. Whilst on the one hand the entire 
Laber consists of solid marble, a peculiar 
yellow sandstone appears in the last-mention- 
ed mountains. Farther to the left, in the 
north, the Ammer enters flat country, and 
there appears the thickly-wooded "Scher- 
genberg " belonging to the group of the 
Trouch mountains. Seen from here it forms 
the background to the pretty, peaceful village 
of Unterammergau, high up to the left of 
which glistens the Unterammergauer " Wetz- 
steinbruch" (stone quarry), like a gaping 
wound in the dark forest. Still more to 
the left is the Steckenberg and in front of 
it the far reaching group of the " Oster- 
bichl " hills, upon the highest point of which 
a stone Crucifixion Group stands. Towards 
it we will now turn our steps. 



13 




Crucifixion Group. 



We pass the villas formerly belonging to 
Diemer. Mounting the steep ascent over 
the Osterbichl, we finally reach the Cruci- 
fixion Group, a gift of King Ludvvig 11. 
In front of the Crucifixion Group, is 
a large open piece of ground. Round about 
the monument are erected benches for 
kneeling. On certain Saints' days, as for 
example on St Ludwig and on the anni- 
versary of the death of the King, mass is here 
celebrated. The view is magnificent as seen 
from around the monument, over the village, 
to the surrounding mountains, the fresh 
green meadowes and the grassy slopes. More 



imposing perhaps than even the monument 
itself, is the spot upon which it is erected, 
for here is the concentration of soothing 
quietude, the peace and melancholy of these 
mountain regions. 

The monument is hewn from Kelheim 
marble and is of most imposing effect. — 
The amalgamation of Mary with Niobe of 
the Ancients, enhances, if anything, the telling 
effect. The inscription, worded and chosen 
by the King himself, runs as follows : " From 
King Ludvvig II, in memory of the Passion 
Play, to the art-loving Oberammergauers, 
true to the customs of their fore-fathers ". 



14 



In the middle of the base stand the words 
of the Gospel: "Woman, behold thy son!" 
and " Son, behold thy mother! " The sculp- 
tor has successfully embodied this, 1 might 
say, the most human moment in the death of 
Christ. We see the mouth of the Saviour 
still opened in uttering these words, St John, 
weeping, lifts up his clasped hands, whilst 
the "Mater Dolorosa" covers her face with 
her garment. 

The monument in its entirety is 40 ft. 
high; the Crucifix is 19 ft., and the other 
two figures each 14 ft. high. 

We cast a last glance over the glorious 
view, and then we go on our way, with sad 
memories clinging to us. Along the foot 
of the Kofel a picturesque walk through the 
woods leads us over the " Dettenbiihl " to 
the " Barenloch " ; then we turn in the 
direction of the village. Past the pretty 
houses of Zwinck's, and the newly-built 
hospital, we go up to the swimming-bath, 
and St Qregor, the property of the Lang 
family, following always the Laine, a cool, 
clear mountain stream. Here the little Gre- 
gori Chapel still stands, up to which the 
supplicatory processions against devastation 
by rain come. It contains an interesting pic- 
ture of the Passion Play of 1860, by the Ty- 
rolese painter, Pogl. (The Key must be 
brought from Ammergau.) We see here 
from the extensive shingle, to what a size 
the tiny mountain stream has already 
swollen. 

A delightful "hermitage", built of logs 
and bark, which the community has dedi- 
cated to its faithful friend and spiritual ad- 
viser Daisenberger, calls to mind the kindly 
figure of this great, noble, and true priest, 
who so loved to walk out to this place, 
and spend hours there in silent devotion. 
Here he reviewed the past eighty years of 'his 
life, and perhaps called to mind the words 
of the Psalmist: "And if by reason of 
strength they be fourscore years, yet is their 
strength labour and sorrow." But his in- 
fluence meant blessings upon generations to 



come, and his work has sown the seed of 
everlasting harvests. Deeply moved, we 
leave this peaceful spot, and after having 
looked at the gardens of Lang's house, we 
return along the pretty path. There are 
many other nice excursions to be made from 
Oberammergau; you will however do well 
in such outings to take a native of the place 
along with )'0U. In mountain trips the 
numerous royal hunting-paths prove very 
convenient. Especially within the last twenty 
years, since the Prince Regent Luitpold holds 
his extensive chamois-hunting parties in Am- 
mergau, many new paths have been made, 
and old ones repaired; still, in spite of this, 
there is a large field open to the lover of 
rock-climbing. You have only to try the 
pinnacles of the Geierkopfe, the crumbling, 
rocky walls of the Kreuzspitze (2185 m.), 
or the sharp ridges of the stofiy fields of 
the Hochplatt. 

The excursion most worth making, for 
non-climbers, is of course a drive into the 




Oregon 
Chapel 



15 



Graswang valley, to the royal castle of Lin- 
derhof, and the " Hundingshiitte ", situated 
in a lonely wilderness on the road to the 
Plansee. 

About a quarter of an hour's distance from 
Oberammergau, the beautifully situated Con- 
vent of Ettal is reached, the history of 



French have entirely destroyed the work 
of the pious Emperor. Finally a fire broke 
out on St Peter's and St Paul's Day 1744, 
which left only the outside walls standing. 
In the year 1710, when the Academy for 
young noblemen was founded, the re-erec- 
tion of the church was decided upon. One 




LM j i M ji jpi, xj^^]^: ^^imm Bm ' »jem 



Castle Linderhof. 



>vhich is much associated with that of Ober- 
ammergau. 

A short description of the convent may 
perhaps interest the reader. 

We enter the church. As it now stands 
there are only a few remnants of the origi- 
nal foundation walls which the great Em- 
peror Ludwig had begun to erect in 1330. 
Of the ancient votive church, only the foun- 
dation and principal walls exist. Confla- 
grations, inroads of the Swedes and of the 



of the Conventuals, Count Joseph von Gon- 
dola, travelled through the whole of Ger- 
many and beyond, into Holland and Belgium. 
In the years 1744 — 1750 he got together 
by collections, the amount of 24,Q77 florins. 
The Jesuits erected a new edifice upon the 
ruins of the old buildings. 

Whereever our eyes stray, they encounter 
subhme and grand proportions. Looking up 
into the roof of the dome, we seem to gaze 
into immeasurable space: "And behold, I 



17 - 




Convent Church of Ettal. 



saw the heavens open and angels ascending 
and descending." Knolier's beautiful pic- 
ture shows us the heavens opened, and the 
Ascension of the Virgin Mary. We see the 
Saviour surrounded by saints going to meet 
her, we see the angels and heavenly hosts 
joining in joyful ecstasy, and we feel our- 
selves being carried with the jubilant throng 
towards our eternal home. 

Besides the fresco in the rotunda, Knoller 



has also painted five other altar pictures : 
The picture over the high altar, "the two 
altar pieces", "the Martyrdom of St Seba- 
stian " and " the Beheading of St Cathe- 
rine " ; somewhat later, " The Holy Trinity 
adored by angels " and still later on " Mary 
with the Corpus Christi." 

Very fine too is the Benedict Altar, in 
the altar picture of which (painted by Felix 
Anton Scheffler, born in Bavaria Aug. 9. 



— li 




The Madonna of Ettal. 



1701, died 1760 in Prague) the death of the 
saint is represented. 



We will now ask one of the monks, who 
for the time being fills the charge of sacri- 
stan, to kindly lift the Madonna down for us. 
It is said to have originated in the school of 
Nicola Pisano, about the middle of the 13th 
century. Some authorities maintain it to 
be much older and assign it to the early 
Christian era; others again consider it to 
date back even before Christ and take it 
to be one of those Roman-Egyptian idols, 
representing Isis. Formerly the statue was 
coloured. The stone from which it is hewn 
is also highly remarkable, being of mar- 
vellous whiteness and of a peculiar trans- 
parency. One authority designates it as 
Indian porphyry. The figure diffuses an 
indescribable charm. The face of the mother 
bears such a sublime, majestic and spiritual 
expression, that of the child one of ineffable 
sweetness. Whether the artist be Christian 
or Heathen, he certainly endeavoured to 
glorify in it the manifestation of highest 
celestial beauty. 

We now visit the sacristy, with its 
handsome inlaid cabinets built into the wall, 
its artistically decorated ceilings and its cosy 
corners. 




Church of the Convent in Ettal. The Sacristy. 




Oberammergau with the Passion Theatre in 1634. 



The Passion. 
Origin. 



As far back as the 13th and 14t'i cen- 
turies, religious plays were performed in 
several parts of Germany, especially in the 
South, in Bavaria and the Tyrol, which were 
mostly dramatised by the clergy or monks 
or were at least superintended by the same. 

In this epoch of scanty education, when 
only the clergy and very few of the laity 
were acquainted with reading and writing, 
the theatre was the most suitable means 
of spreading knowledge among the people. 

Now the village of Oberammergau was 
particularly adapted for such representations 
being a much frequented village, where 
Sunday for Sunday whole companies of 
travellers put up. Also the proximity of the 
large and important convents of Rothenbuch 
and Ettal much contributed to the deve- 
lopment of these plays. 

The population, whose imaginative powers 
were quickened by these mercantile pro- 
cessions and caravans of foreigners assem- 



bled together in these parts, began to look 
upon these theatrical performances as a kind 
of religious custom or service. This was 
especially the case at the beginning of the 
17* century, when war devasted the Ger- 
man countries and had depopulated and 
impoverished the land of the Ammer. When, 
to make matters worse, in the year 1632 
or later in 1634 the plague broke out in Ober- 
ammergau, the community in their great 
trouble made a vow, in order to ward off 
the calamity, to perform the Passion of the 
Saviour at regular periods, as a work ac- 
ceptable to God. 

The representations took place every 10 
years. This was kept up until the year 
1674. In the year 1680 it was decided that 
the Passion should be performed in the 
years ending in 10 or its multiplicatives and 
this was done up to the year 1770, when 
no representations were given in accordance 
with an edict prohibiting all further religious 



20 




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SrentJamounSimpari 4(^ 



Passion Theatre in the year 1820 (from an old lithograph.) 



performances. In vain were petitions sent 
in to high authorities and it was not until 
the year 1760 that permission was again 
granted by reason of a petition and forcible 
arguments which, together with a new text, 
were laid before the Elector Karl Theodor. 
The community obtained the privilege of 
being allowed to perform the Passion 
publicly without any hindrance every ten 
years. 

Thus performances again took place in 
the years 1790, 1800 and 1810 — when 
another edict interrupted the religious re- 
presentations and it was only with the 
greatest possible difficulties that a deipu- 
tation, at the head of which was the 
publisher Georg Lang, succeeded in getting 
an exception granted in the case of Ober- 
ammergau. 

Since then the Passion performances have 
met with no more hindrances although em- 
barrassments were not lacking. 

In the year 1870, the German-Franco war 
interrupted the performances which were 
then later resumed. 

The representations were removed from 



the cemetry to the open square where 
they are now held and which was enlarged 
in the year 1830. This gave the Passion 
Play a great impetus onwards and from 
1840 attracted great crowds thither. 

If the Passion Play now draws together 
an audience composed of all nationalities, 
it is due principally to the beauty of the 
text. 

Omitting every confessional nuance, the 
text is founded upon the Bible and the 
Christian religion. It is simple and this 
simplicity it is which causes the true 
nobleness of the acted drama to stand out 
in still more significant force. 

The oldest Text still in existance dates 
back to the year 1662. The original of this 
text is in possession of the firm Georg 
Lang, sel. Erben. 

If the thorough and scrupulous researches 
of Dr. A. Hartmann and Karl Trautmann 
are correct, this text is composed from two 
still older ones: from one which was 
employed in the 15tli century in St Ulrich 
and St Afra in Augsburg and from a poetical 
work of the mastersinger Sebastian Wild, 



21 — 




Passion Theatre in the year 1S50. 



which originated towards about the middle 
of the 16tli century. 

In this text are many passages of extreme 
beauty and deep feeling, although not 
unalloyed perhaps .with ingredients which 
bear witness to the less-refined good taste 
of those times. 

This text was made use of until the 
year 1740. 



In the years 1730 and 1760, the text 
of Peter Rosner passed on to the scene, 
which however met with no very favourable 
reception, so that already in the year 1780 
the Ettal Pater Magnus Knipfelberger, at 
the suggestion of the inhabitants of Ammer- 
gau, revised the same making great changes 
and at the same time simplifying the 
whole. — 




Passion Theatre in the year i860 (From the painting in the Gregori Chapel at Oberammergau). 



t" 



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^^ J) Q,^^ '^^ Xy2> Qui /Our.«^4 



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Facsimile of the first page of the Text of the oldest Ammergau Passion Play 

of the year 1662. 

(The original manuscript is in the possession o£ the firm o£ G. Lang sel. Erben, Oberammergau.) 



— 23 — 

The Text. 

The te\i in its present actual form origi- ceptions, almost word for word the original 
nates from the pen of P. Ottmar Weiss, of Pater Ottmar Weiss, while the actual 
who wrote it in ISIO — 1815, put it on text of the play was transformed and 




Father Ottmar Weiss. (From an old oil-painting.) 



the stage in 1815 and under his personal improved b}' his pupil the Oeistlicher Rat 

direction, 1885, produced the same. The Joseph Alois Daisenberger. 

present text of the Songs is, with few ex- If any one has put finishing toui^nes to 



— 24 — 



beautify and improve the text, it is indeed gau, he devoted his whole energy and 



Daisenberger, to whom all honour is due. 
Born in the neighbourhood of Ober- 
ammergau, his youth passed in Ober- 
ammergau and educated in Ettal, Daisen- 
berger as the pupil of Pater Ottmar Weiss, 



talents to the development of his ideal 
— for which posterity honours him. 

As priest and teacher he sought by word 
and example to promote true Christian 
feeling among his parishioners. As director 



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Geistlicher Rath Daisenberger. 



not only frequently attended the Passion 
representations but even himself took part 
in them. Therefore Oberammergau and its 
Passion were always his ideal. When in 
the year 1845 at the request of the 
community he became priest in Oberammer- 



of the Passion performances he endeavoured 
to impregnate the actors ever and anon 
with the spirit of their sublime roles and 
with that of the divine Saviour, who devoted 
his Whole life to the love and service of 
all. 



The Music. 



The music of the Passion Play is one are unanimous as to the beauty of the 
part of the play about which there exists text, the music itself meets with many 
great diversity of opinion ; for, while all fault-finders, even decided opponents. 




Rochus Dedler, Schoolmaster in Oberammergau, Composer of the Passion Music. 




■/^//. 



— 26 — 



In any case even the opponents must own, 
that it abounds in rare beauties, containing 
a great number of truly subHme parts. 

We forget that the music which is here 
represented on the stage, is music adapted 
to the olden times ; in every case, if such 
can possibly here be used, it must in the 
first place be simple. 

The music to the Passion Play originates 
from a native of Oberammergau: the Lehrer 
Rochus Dedler. 

Dedler \vrote his first composition for 
the performance in the year 1811. This copy 
together with the archives of the community 
got lost in a fire in the year 1817. There- 
fore Dedler composed new music for the 
Passion Play 1820. 

Since then various attempts have been 
made to improve the music, but it has 
only been spoilt by so doing; at last it 
was decided to leave it almost in the original 
state. 

However the Lehrer Ferdinand Feldigl 
newly arranged the music for the year IQOO 
and formed a true masterpiece out of it. 
His idea only to improve Dedler by means 
of Dedler confers upon the "Reformer" the 



highest credit, who as clever composer and 
highly talented, proved himself fully equal 
to the task. 

Concerning the musicians and assistants, 
we can find all in the "Guide through the 
Passion Music, by F. Feldigl ". 

The orchestra and chorus is composed of 
40 singers and 42 musicians. 

Louis Wittmann is this year Conductor of 
the Orchestra of the Passion Play; since 
1906 he fills the post of teacher in Ammergau 
and is as gifted as Feldigl. Since his resi- 
dence in the community he has endeavoured 
to get together an efficient chorus and 
he has succeeded so well that the various 
members, in spite of the difficulties of their 
task have easily succeeded in overcoming 
them. The successor too of old Eduard Lang, 
the young Ferdinand Rutz, is very sympa- 
thetic. His name already tells us that he 
originates from an old family of musicians. 
He is the nephew of the Choragus Rutz 
and although not more than thirty years 
of age, he has nevertheless proved himself 
an excellent musician in the modern sense 
of the word, whilst filling his position as 
Director of the Ammergau Music. 




The Passion Theatre of Oberainmerffau. 



The Present Theatre. 



At the extreme north-westernly end of 
the village, stands the Passion Theatre. 

In accordance with the sublime subject 
of representation and its divine purpose, 
this theatre is totall}' different from all 
other buildings, bearing the name. As it 
now stands before us in its present state, 
it is from the very foundation the work 
of a native of Oberammergau. 

The Beneficiat Unhoch, who lived at the 
same time with Pater Ottmar Weiss and 
the teacher and composer Dedler in Ober- 
ammergau in official capacity, made up his 
mind to design the plans for the Passion 
theatre and also personally superintended 
the building of the same. From youth 
upwards he had made himself familiar with 
the Passion Play and as a man of great 
talents he understood to utilize his ex- 
periences to the good and welfare of the 
whole undertaking. 



With the exception of a few unimportant 
changes, the theatre of to-day is still so 
as Unhoch designed and built it. 

The improvements of the year 1890 — 
removal of the houses of Annas and Pilot 
to the two extreme side ends of the Pro- 
scenium, then the erection of the high steps 
by which they are reached, were carried 
out from designs by Ludwig Lang, the 
director of the Carving School. 

The stage is composed of 4 parts : the 
Proscenium, to the right and to the heft 
stand the houses of Annas and Pilot. He- 
re also the chorus delivers its perfor- 
mances and here the great mass scenes 
take place; the Entry of Christ, the Death 
Sentence by Pilot, the Carrying of the Cross. 
The central stage, where the interior scenes 
take place, as the Last Supper, the Meetings 
of the High Council and where also the 
Tableaux are set; finally the two streets 



28 













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Passion Theatre in Oberammergau. 
View of the auditorium from tlie stage. 



in Jerusalem, which run out to both sides 
of the central stage, streets in which the 
crowds arrange themselves for the mass 
scenes. 

The stage is not covered, with the excep- 
tion of the middle building. Open nature 
forms the background, the blue sky the 
roof. 

Grand is the impression the spectator 
receives, if during the Taking Dovvn from 
the Cross the thunder rolls and the lightnings 
flash from the clouds in the background — 
this being so often the case on hot summer 
days. 

The decorations, executed from designs 
by Lautenschlaeger, the machinist of the 
Court Theatre and painted by Burkart in 
Vienna, display, with respect to their rural 
and architectonical surroundings, an almost 
oriental character. 

Mechanic contrivances are entirely dis- 
pensed with. In the northern part of the 
theatre are roomy apartments in which 22 
dressing-rooms, rooms for the appurtenances 



and a small refreshment room for the actors 
are to be found. 

The Orchestra is situated in a recess in 
front of the proscenium. 

We will now let the actors pass by 
before the eyes of the reader. At their 
head is the choragus, the smith Jakob Rutz. 
He indeed deserves to rank among the 
Veterans of the Passion Play, for this year 
it is for the eighth time that he stands 
among the actors. In 1830 he sat as a 
curly fair-haired boy in the lap of Mother 
Eve; 1860 he sang in the choir as tenor, 
1870 — 71 as bass. 1880 he was Choragus 
and now in 1910 he is choragus again for 
the fourth time in 30 years. In the German- 
Franco war, in which he took part, he was 
decorated With orders and distinctions. To- 
day at the age of 63, he still arouses the 
admiration of the spectators by his voice 
and noble bearing. He still stands at his 
forge. In the midst of winter he climbs the 
roofs, in carrying out the arduous labours 
of his calling. 



— 29 — 



He labours in the fields in heat and cold 
and yet his melodious voice is by no means 
deteriorated. Although since the departure 
of Eduard Zwink in the church choir, he 
has to sing both the tenor and bass parts, 
yet his voice is very little affected. He 
possesses a high love for honour, he lives 
entirely wrapt up in his role and it 'is 
almost certain that he would die, if it were 
taken away from him. In addition, Jakob 
Rutz possesses a great love for literature. 
He is perhaps the only Oberammergauer 
of whom we can say he is born for the 
theatre. He possesses all the accomplish- 
ments and faults of an actor. Whether 
acting as manager or when presiding over 
the concerts, he invariably exhibits his ta- 
lents. He commands a most astounding 
repertory, dramatical as well as musical and 
is always well informed in the literature 
of both these branches. If you pass his 
smithy of an evening, you hear singing, prac- 
tising on the piano or the studying of a 
new role. His wife is just the contrary 
to him and brings to bear upon the artistic 
tendences of her husband the realistic 
counter-poise of serious practical life. His 
daughter is very musical and highly gifted, 
and is married to Christus-Lang, to whom 
she proves an exemplary Wife. In the year 
IQOO she was a pearl in the Passion Choir 
and her high soprano is still in fond remem- 
brance of those who at that time heard 
her. — They have a son who is an esteemed 
official in Munich and in the same city, 
a married daughter. Finally a still younger 
son who this year takes part in the chorus 
and who will inherit the craft of his father. 

We have already become acquainted with 
the Christus, Anton Lang in the year 1900. 
He is now 35 years old; his outward 
appearance has changed little within the 
last 10 years. He still bears the same regular 
fratures, sharply cut, surrounded by a fair 
beard parted in the middle; a pair of blue 
eyes with a marked expression of innocence, 
almost childish. This is the true Christus 
head where Christ would appear to us in 




Jacob Rutz as Leader of the Choir 1880, 1890, 1900 and 1910. 
(Photograph taken 1890.) 

the ordinary everyday garments of our time, 
but with the head of the Saviour. It 
is not the interesting individuality of Mayr, 
sparkling in manifold colours, not the power- 
ful, artistically eminent personality of the 
same, — but it is the "Christus" such as 
our greatest artists have imagined him. 

Mayr was of the dark, Roman type — 
the Christ of a Titian, a Velasquez, a Van 
Dyck; Anton Lang is of the blonde, truly 
Christ-like type, such as Raphael so often 
painted, such as Overbeck, Steinle and 
FiJhrich have created. Yes, the pure 
profile, the slightly curved nose, the small 
mouth, remind us strongly of that figure of 
our Lord which is recognised by the Church 
as being the only proper representation. 



— 30 — 




jA-nTfd^ H^ 




The Christus of 1900 and who again takes the part this year, 1910. 





The Workshop of Anton Lang 




Christus (Anton Lang) Oberammergau Passion Play 1900. 



— 32 — 




Johann Zwink (Judas, 1910) and his daughter Ottilie (Mary, 1910). 



Anton Lang is a true man, a pure, deep- 
thinking soul. He has grown up in the 
circle of a loving and happy family under 
the eyes of parents and grand-parents and 
has retained the naive simplicity of childhood 
in his temperament. He is now 35 years 
old. He attended the school at Oberammer- 
gau and following in his father's footsteps 
has learned the trade of a potter. He has 
repeatedly proved his pronounced talent for 
the theatre; but his blameless life and high 
ideals have weighed more in his favour in 
causing him to be chosen. He reads much, 
possesses artistic tastes and in his walks 
abroad composes poetry — of simple form 
but full of warm feeling and a sense for 
the beautiful. 

In this year Ottilie Zwink fills for the 
first time the role of Mary and she will 
do well through the expression of her 
features, which seem so thoroughly adapted 



for a telling representation of the Mater 
Dolorosa. At all the rehearsals she has 
proved herself an excellent representative 
through her genial acting and temperament. 
In the Passion performance of 1900 she took 
part in the singing as alto. She is 30 years 
of age. Her pleasing regular features, full 
of deep expression, are admirably suitable for 
the Mater Dolorosa. Her father, as in 1900, 
again acts the part of Judas. He comes 
of one of the oldest and most honoured 
Passion families. He is the grandson of 
the renowned Maler Zwink, who formerly 
so successfully filled the role of Johannes. 
Of all the actors he has decidedly the most 
interesting head and acts magnificently. 

Johann Zwink shows the full tragedy of 
his part in every detail. A tragic vein also 
runs through his life. A talented decorative 
painter, he could not however succeed in 
attaining successful results, never reaching a 



33 





Marie Mayr, Mary Magdalene igio. 



Alfred Bierling, St John igio. 



comfortable position in life. Among his four 
fine children, highly gifted, is the eldest 
daughter who represents Mary. His eldest 
son, though physically and mentally so far 
;well developed, is a confirmed invalid. And 
the unhappy father always has before his 
eyes the sight of this suffering son past 
all hopes of being cured and who might 
have proved an excellent actor. 

A charming personality of typical expres- 
sion is Marie Mayr in the role of Mary 
Magdalene. She is the daughter of the late 
carver, Paul Mayr, whose wife, a striking 
beauty of a fair type, took the part of 
Eve in 1880. She has, in the year 1900, 
already taken part as the angel in the Garden 
of Olives and has given decided proofs, 
during the rehearsals, of great talent possess- 
ing at the same time a pretty voice. 

Of the young Bierling, .who now performs 
Johannes, we know as yet little to say, except 
that the curly, fair-haired youth is the grand- 
son of old Deschler. Proofs of his abilities 
he has not yet displayed. We hope that 
the talent of his grandfather will descend 



down to him. A clever and highly talented 
performer is the Petrus of this year, Andreas 
Lang, the Rabbi of 1900 and the David of 
the Kreuzesschule of 1905. He is one of 
the principal wood carvers in Oberammer- 
gau, his family being distinguished through 
great talent and strict moral training. The 
mayor, Biirgermeister Sebastian Bauer per- 
forms Pilatus this year, .which role he also 
filled in 1900. He is one of the best and 
most experienced of the actors. He brings 
out the superiority and powerful personality 
of the high-spirited Roman to perfection. 
The characteristic manner in which he com- 
municates his true opinion to the crowd 
surrounding the high priests makes a most 
marked and the best possible impression 
upon the spectators. 

One of his daughters this year performs 
Martha. Bauer plays in the Passion Repre- 
sentations since 1860 and in the years 1880 
and 1890 was an excellent performer of 
the Rabbi. — Peter Rendl now gives the 
Joseph of Arimathea. Formerly he filled 
the role of Johannes. We are convinced 



— 35 



that he >vill perform masterly, so as we 
are accustomed to see him. Also Wilhelm 
Lang, who acts the part of Nicodemus. The 
personalities of both the actors, are sure 
guarantees. 

Now another few words about Caiaphas, 
played by Georg Breitsamter. Breitsamter, 
the Nathanael of 1900 and the speaker of 
the prologue of the Kreuzschule in 1905. 
He is not only an actor, but as a man 
— one of the most striking personalities in 
Oberammergau. 

At home, in all the affairs of practical 
every day life, he devotes himself to the 
planting of trees, to his gardens and to 
horticulture generally. His villa stands in 
a perfect little paradise of a garden. In 
representing his role, his face and red beard 
are most in keeping. Thanks to his gifts 
and to his most expressive mode of delivery, 
his Caiaphas tenders a splendid representa- 
tion. His two brothers appear on the stage 
as Nathanael and a Member of the High 
Council. 

Also the Rabbi too of this year, Wilhelm 
Rutz, is an excellent portrayer of character. 
Last time he performed Nicodemus. He 





Peter Rendl, St John 1900. 



Peter Rendl, St John 1900. 

commands a deep, pathetic tone which un- 
fortunately he is unable in his present role 
to bring out into effect. 

A first-rate performer is the Annas of 
this year, Messner Lang. His Nathaniel of 
1880 and 1890, his Caiaphas of 1900 and 
his King Saul at the Kreuzesschule of 1905, 
were in every respect, masterpieces. This 
year the role of Herold will be taken by 
the vice-mayor, 11 Biirgermeister Hans Mayr, 
son of the famous Christus-Mayr, whose 
gifts he possesses. 

Let us add a few more words to mention 
the Fachlehrer Anton Lechner, who has al- 
ready been mentioned as the right hand 
of Director Lang. In this year he does not 
fill a very thankful role, — he delivers the 
Prologue. A son of an excellent, former 
Judas he possesses remarkable artistic ta- 
lents, especially for character roles and he 



- 36 — 




George Breitsamter. 

.will certainly become as famous a represen- 
tative of Judas as his father once was. In 
former Passion Performances he took a 
leading tenor part in the Choir. This year 
he appears for the first time in a speaking 
role. Lechner is a bright and amiable artistic 
character, leads a happy family life and 
is the father of a family of clever children. 
He has a daughter who, with her high 
soprano voice, takes part as one of the 




Anton Lechner, Drawiny-Master. 

chorus. As painter and designer Lechner 
has, in no less a degree as actor, taken part 
and done his full share. Even as a child 
he displayed talent for painting, but on ac- 
count of his weak eyes he was prevented 
from devoting himself to this art. Later on 
owing to his remarkable energy and love 
of work he was enabled to enter the Aca- 
demy of Fine Arts in Munich and to pass 
an examination which helped him on to 
procure a state appointment as teacher at 
the school for sculpture. In his branch of 
study, he is highly talented. He arranges 
from time to time the decorations for the 
plays and rehearsals and helps Director Lang 
in the designing of the costumes. 




Entry into Jerusalem. 



The "Passion". 



Does the Oberammergau Passion Play 
aim at becoming a secular theatre and, as 
it is so generally assumed, look to money 
making? No, this is certainly not the case. 
It is Faith which once brought the crowds 
hither, which still attracts and draws them 
on and which will also continue to do so. 
As regards the inhabitants of Oberammer- 
gau themselves, their sole intention is to 
edify and to fulfil the vow of their ancestors. 

Let us now endeavour to give the reader 
a short description of the impressions on 
that great day. 

We are awakened early by the report of 
the signal gun. We follow the stream of 
devout people to the church, .where my 
fellow-countryman (from Baden) to whose 
kindness I owe the interesting biography 
of his predecessor Unhoch, celebrates early 
mass. We see the church filled with crowds of 
worshippers, and most of the Passion actors 
are there to fortify themselves for the great 
work Nvith a prayer. 



But renewed reports ;warn us that the 
Play is about to commence, and we must 
make haste if we are to get there in time. 

A curious sensation comes over us as yve 
approach the huge hall with its large vaulted 
roof. — A devout stillness surrounds us, 
infinite awe seizes us at the sight of the 
venerable stage, which, iwith but few, minor 
alterations, has remained practically the same 
through all these centuries. A place of such 
sacred art is holy ground. The very ground 
upon which this stage stands seems hallowed. 
The sight of it awakens in us sensations 
that we cannot explain. It is as if the times 
of days long gone by, had once more 
returned. — And away over the gable of 
the theatre we see the peaks of the 
mountains, and the sunshine of a glorious 
spring morning floods the bye-ways of Jeru- 
salem. 

The music begins — muffled and harmo- 
nious from the half hidden orchestra. From 
the columned halls on either side of the 



— 38 — 



stage, the Chorus slowly and solemnly 
comes forth. 

In antique white robes, with coloured 
mantles, it strides in two processions across 
the proscenium taking up its position in 
one long row. The Choragus then com- 
mences his recitative. 

Just as we burst into tears when sym- 
pathizingly and unexpectedly spoken to, of 
an old and long-hidden sorrow — so, upon 
the address uttered by the Choragus, the 
whole misery of the curse upon mankind 
seems to come over us, and we shed un- 
controllable tears of remorse. 

The first Tableau is shown : "The Expul- 
sion of Adam and Eve from Paradise." 

Adam and Eve, dressed in skins, are 
driven out of Paradise. Adam hides his face 
with his hands, but Eve on the other hand 
casts a longing glance back to the lost 
Paradise, and w4th her, sorrowing mankind 
looks back once more upon the lost Para- 
dise of religious peace and childHke inno- 
cence. The Chorus accompanies this tableau 
with most touching and appropriate music. 
And now the "Prolog" begins — he recites 
the fine introductory verses in the same 
antique metre in which Daisenberger has 
written the introduction for the chorus and 
the text with its iambics then begins. 

In sublime beauty, harmonious to the ear 
— as a message of consolation after the 
divine punishment — the words of Anton 
Lechner resound. 

Behind the scene are now heard the loud 
cries of Hosanna, and mingling with the 
song of the Chorus are heard the voices 
of the jubilant crowd bringing Hosannas to 
their Lord and Saviour. The spectator is 
strongly impressed; he hardly expected to 
find these masses of people, such good 
taste in the colour and arrangement of the 
costumes, together with this flow of pul- 
sating Hfe in every movement and action. 
The first impression is overpowering and 
we put the questions to ourselves : Does 
all this originate from heaven, is it born 
of earth, is it art, is it nature, or is it 



both? We never have seen the like before. 
We have scarcely grasped all this when we 
are suddenly placed under the spell of the 
wonder of wonders, and to quote the words 
of the song "Die Erfiillung fangt schon an" 
(„The Fulfilment of the Promise now be- 
gins"). 

Now He Himself appears, and a fervent 
glow of devotion pervades pur hearts when 
we see before our very eyes the figure 
which is so famihar to us from the days 
of our childhood — from numberless pic- 
tures. He steps forth before us, a living 
form. All this is acted and yet not acted as 
it were; for that which distinguishes it from 
mere acting is the spirit of true belief. 
And over the audience and the performers 
an invisible web is woven, which with a 
thousand threads connects the qne with the 
others. — And how really fine these moving 
masses of people are, in their bright rai- 
ments, which in no way give the idea of 
mere costumes! — In these figures so true 
to life ;We see best how wrong the idea 
of our modern painters is, who can only 
imagine "Truth" clothed in the every-day 
dress of our European fashions. 

When we witness the strewing of palms 
upon which the Son of Man treads, his 
slender form in the traditional red and grey 
garments standing out in all its chastity 
— when we see the face with the expression 
of infinite gentleness and submission, we 
realize that he is standing before us in 
the flesh. 

The representative of this year's Christus 
will most favourably bear comparison with 
his predecessor Mayr. — The two can stand 
side by side — just as well as the various 
types of Christ of various artists. — What 
Anton Lang lacks of Mayr's spiritual fervour 
is replaced by his more dogmatically correct 
appearance — where he cannot command 
the depth of expression of his predecessor 
he has the indescribable dignity and majesty, 
as also the infinite pathos, of the whole 
figure. If Mayr was more the powerful 
God, who in full knowledge of the same, 



— 39 — 



voluntaril)' met his death — with whom 
only the human part of his nature was to 
a certain extent, under his strong will, 
shaken in its depths — and whose agoniz- 
ing groans always made us recognize the 
conflict between the Godhead and Man — 
so Anton Lang is entirely the Lamb of 
God, who without complaining, without re- 
sisting, bears the sins of the world in dumb 
submission. — I believe that, Flunger ex- 
cepted, there has been no such typical and 
truly German embodiment of the "Naza- 
rene" during the whole of the century as 
in Anton Lang. When he is hanging on 
the Cross, it is just as if the wonderful 
picture of the Crucifixion by Overbeck in 
the Rosminianum at Stresa .were before us. 

But let us now continue to follow the 
course of the Play. In the meantime Christ 
has ahghted from the ass and has entered 
the precincts of the temple. He sees the 
desecrated spot which the traders have turn- 
ed into a market place. In holy anger 
he raises his hand, overturns the tables 
and brandishes the scourge over the heads 
of the profaners of the temple. The Phari- 
sees become enraged, the traders conspire 
together for revenge, the animal nature in 
man now associates itself with the threat- 
ening power of the priestly throngs. All 
conspire together to destroy Him. 

The foundation is now laid upon which 
the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders 
can erect their pernicious fabric. In the next 
act begins the conspiracy of the High 
Council. 

We may call this assembling of the High 
Council a masterpiece of the text of Weiss 
and Daisenberger, so powerfully do those 
assembled work upon us. The eminent 
dialectics of the Chief High Priest, the reli- 
gious fanaticism, the priestly hierarchy in 
danger of being overthrown, the passion- 
ateness of the Jewish character which is 
expressed in the words : "An eye for an 
eye, a tooth for a tooth" — all this presents 
a picture of grandest truth and of masterly 
portrayal of character. 



The Leave-Taking at Bethany follows, and 
the whole shadow of coming painful events, 
as described in the gospel of St John, 
seems to cast itself over our hearts, and 
we shudder at the thought of how they 
will come to pass. 

Here for the first time the women appear. 
Mary Magdalene anoints the feet of the 
Lord and dries them with her long fair hair. 
Judas is enraged at the waste, and we feel 
that avarice has already seized his soul 
Then we witness the sorrowful leave-taking 
of the Saviour and His disciples, we see 
the last leave-taking from the Mother, whom 
He thanks for all her loving care which she 
has shown to Him in the thirty-three years 
of His life (one of the most beautiful and 
touching scenes), — There is nothing more 
impressive than the sight of Him, appointed 
to die, who in full knowledge of the same, 
goes to meet His destiny. All Christ's sor- 
rowful preparations in which he explains to 
his disciples the expediency of his sufferings, 
the effective scene of the washing of feet, 
the sublimity of the Last Supper, all things 
carry the soul through a sea of approaching 
sorrow on to the Mount of Olives where 
the presentiment becomes certainty — where 
the apprehensive, gloomy feeling of leave- 
taking is converted unto heart-rending la- 
mentation. — The impression made upon 
us by the Last Supper cannot be described. 

The Washing of Feet and the Last Supper 
are placed before us in so perfect a manner 
that our souls seem, as it were, brought 
nearer to the source of all love — it is 
the highest manifestation of the Divine in 
art. 

Now comes the preparation for the Mount 
of Olives. — As the beautiful Tableau, the 
"Manna in the Wilderness", and the "Gra- 
pes brought by the spies from Canaan " 
introduce the Last Supper, so the sufferings 
on the Mount of Olives, and the taking 
prisoner of Jesus are prefaced by two 
introductory pictures : " Adam tilling the 
soil in the sweat of his brow ", as a 
precursor of the Agony of Jesus on the 



40 




The Way of the Cross, 



Mount of Olives, and the " Assassination Of 
Amasa by Joab near the rock Of Gibeon." 
The music here is exceptionally good and 
forms a most suitable preface to Judas' trea- 
chery. 

And then, with Christ, we stand at the 
Mount of Olives — we witness His anguish, 
we hear the sorrowing, reproachful tone in 
Iwhich he says to his disciples: "What, 
could ye not Watch with me one hour ", 
an appeal which certainly many of us has 
repeated when watching alone in pain and 
sorrow. — But human flesh is weak — the dis- 
ciples again fall asleep and again the agony 
of death steals over the Redeemer. — The 
beautiful profile of the pale, sorrow-stricken 
countenance stands out from the background 
— and the angel approaches Him in His 
Despair; — strengthened through the aid of 
the Father, the Son of Man goes forth to 
meet His destiny. — But we know, that the 
Scriptures must be fulfilled. 

Up till now we have consoled ourselves, 
on hearing the sentence of death upon the 
Saviour, that it cannot be possible — we still 



hoped, that what the prophets prophesied 
was only in the spirit; but when we see the 
Son of God in the hands of his enemies, we 
know that all comes to pass, that all now 
stands out visibly before us which w^e con- 
ceived to be impossible to be witnessed. 

I forbear to depict scene for scene — the 
cruel trials before Caiaphas and Annas, the 
rough treatment by the soldiers, the whole 
torment of martyrdom, which the God in 
Man had to go through. 

The Way in which the actors perform all 
this, with what nicety of perception — how 
all the scenes, however boisterous, are still 
kept within the bounds of good taste, — 
to realize all this we must have witnessed 
it. Amidst all this again, come the affecting 
scenes of the faithless disciple, the repen- 
tence of Peter, the terrible ending of Judas. 

And now they drag Him, the Man without 
Sin, to Pilate, that he may pronounce upon 
Him the sentence of death. — A fresh gleam 
of hope rises in our hearts, — the noble 
Roman sees through the machinations of 
the Jewish High Council, like sledge-hammer 



— 41 



blows his forcible arguments fall upon the 
heads otthe High Priests, and it really does 
one good to hear how he tells them the 
truth. 

But he is too weak to set the Saviour 
free; he sends him to Herod that the latter 
may condemn him. But this worldly sen- 
sualist, who had John the Baptist executed 
in cold blood, — finds no fault in the Lamb 
of God — he sends him back again to Pilate ; 
but Pilate again refuses to pass the sen- 
tence of death and asks to hear the general 
voice of the people, — in the meantime 
however he orders Christ to be scourged. 

And now the awful torture is continued. 
Christ is bound to the pillar, scourged, and 
when covered all over with blood, crowned 
with the crown of thorns. — The manner in 
which this scene is enacted, how the soldier 
who puts the crown of thorns on him first of 
all puts on the iron glove so as not to hurt 
himself, and the way in which the men 
press the crown, with crossed rods, down 
on the noble head — it is all so cruelly yet 
quietly carried out that it cuts into our very 
souls VvithDut at the same time offending 
our aesthetic feelings. 

He wishes to hear the voice of the people 
— "let him hear it", cry the High Priests, 
and already that distant murmur of an uproar 
begins to sound in the streets of the city. 
— Headed by the High Council, spurned, 
on by the inflammatory words of the fanati- 
cal Priests, the misled, maddened crowd, 
among whom are the traders which Christ 
drove from the temple, rushes out of all 
the streets of the city. — As a mighty flood, 
the rioters move on, to the front of Pilate's 
palace. Pale with fear, crying "Revolt", 
" Rebellion " the servants rush out. The 
words of the high priests fall like firebrands 
among the frenzied mob, kindling flames 
of ungovernable fury. 

Once again the Governor, Pontius Pilate, 
endeavours to save Christ : " I will release 
unto you Christ instead of this murderer 
Barabbas." But no, they cry out once more, 
saying, " Away with this man and release 



unto us Barabbas." Not even the pale 
countenance of the " Ecce homo " can move 
this infuriated rabble. 

When once the surging wave of passion 
has taken possession of the brains and hearts 
of men — their eyes are closed for the noble 
and beautiful, and their hearts are dead 
to all sense of sympathy. 

" His blood be upon us and our children ", 
they cry. — Oh wretched, blinded humanity, 
how often have ye called down from heaven 
the curse upon you and your descendants, 
from which whole generations have had to 
suffer. 

Pilate is forced to yield. He washes his 
hands — saying that he is innocent of the 
blood of this just person — and breaks his 
staff. Reluctantly the words proceed from 
his mouth " Take ye Him and crucify Him." 

Now come the two wonderful tableaux: 
" Isaac bearing the wood for the sacrifice 
up Mount Moriah ", and the " Setting up 
of the brazen Serpent as a symbol of the 
Crucifixion." 

Again the curtain rises and we see the 
group of the holy women anxiously seeking 
the Lord, and knowing as yet nothing of 
the fate which is to befall Him. Out of 
one of the city streets comes a sad pro- 
cession — a criminal who is being dragged to 
execution — unhappy Mother, now becomes 
verified that which was prophesied of thee, 
that 'a sword shall pierce thy soul; be firm, 
do not break down, O tortured heart, when 
thou seest Him, the innocent Man, Him- 
self dragging the Cross to Qolgatha. — For 
the third time He falls under the heavy 
burden — then they take the cross off His 
shoulders and put it upon Simon of Cyrene; 
and now the women, lamenting and bewail- 
ing Him, approach. But we hear the gentle 
voice of the Patient Sufferer saying " Daugh- 
ters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but 
weep for yourselves, and for your children ". 
— Then Veronii:a hands Him the linen cloth 
to wipe the sweat from off His brow — 
but the soldiers drive the women away, and 
there remains but one consolation left to 



42 — 



them, that of following- the procession to the 
place of execution. 

The scene changes, Jesus now being in 
Golgatha. The Chorus appears, singing the 
funeral dirge. 

The Chorus has completed its song of 
lamentation. A noise, heard from behind the 
curtain, accompanies the last verses — ham- 
mering — what can it mean? — No — the verv 
thought of it is too awful! — We hear it — 
we try not to hsten to it! — The silence of 
death prevails among the audience — the 
blows of the hammer become more distinct 
— the curtain rises — there He is lying. His 
feet towards us, stretched out flat on the 
Cross, which is on the ground. And they 
drive the nails through His limbs with heavy 
blows. They bore through those tender 
hands, which have never done harm to 
any living creature ; which, wherever raised, 
healed all wounds and relieved all pain — 
those feet which carried the Divine form 
so lightly — gliding over the hot sands of 
the country and over the rolling waves of 
the ocean — onwards towards the goal of 
love. — He now lies pitifully here on the 
ground, stretched out on the accursed tree 
— His muscles tense and rigid as a fallen 
stag. To the right and the left, already erect- 
ed, stand the low crosses of the two thieves. 
The latter have their arms merely bound 
to the crossbeam, and only the feet are 
fastened with nails. Christ alone is nailed 
through hands and feet, the Pharisees being 
troubled by a presentiment of their not being 
able to kill Him altogether. If they dared, 
they would tear him in pieces and scatter 
the parts to the four winds, so as to be 
quite certain of His not rising again the third 
day, as He prophesied. 

The executioners have finished binding 
the thieves : " Now the King of the Jews 
must be raised! " 

'•Raise the Cross! Lay hold!" commands 
the centurion. Breathless silence reigns 
supreme, every heart stands still. The four 
executioners lay hold with their muscular 
arm. — " Up with it. Don't leave go ! " 



The cross is heavy, the soldiers groan, and 
push it up with their shoulders — their veins 
swell out — another heave — up it goes in a 
huge sweep — humanity bows its head, shud- 
dering at the atrocious deed. 

It cannot be, it is impossible! It can be, 
and is. Horror seizes the on-looker — his 
limbs tremble. The spectators clutch hold of 
each other, lest the cross fall on them and 
crush them. The cross is coming — coming 
over the whole world! Higher — and ever 
higher! '-'Hold tight^don't let go!" 

It stands, it is fastened! 

There hangs the Divine Form, naked and 
bare. The nails go right through the bleed- 
ing hands and feet — and our eyes, which 
would be blind to the fact, are obliged to 
witness it — our hearts, which long to make 
all undone, must bear it! But we can con- 
trol ourselves no longer, in loud sobs our 
long restrained grief bursts forth, and our 
trembling hands are clasped in suppHcant 
love. — Unutterable pity is poured out in 
uncontrollable tears, forming a cloud of sym- 
pathetic sorrow about the head of the Cruci- 
fied One, to lighten the agony of death. And 
gradually the eye becomes accustomed to 
that which it has never witnessed before, 
and is able to gaze on the awful scene. 
Divine grace spreads over the slender Form, 
and as sense of the beautiful eternally 
reconciles heaven and hell, and ennobles 
even the most terrible, so our horror 
harmoniously resolves itself into pious 
admiration of perfect manly beauty, such 
as is unfolded to our gaze in chaste calm 
and majesty. 

It grows dark. There is a rustling and 
murmuring in the air, which comes nearer 
and nearer. Is it the sound of the wings 
of the angels of death? Or is it a flight 
of those sacred birds, of which the legend 
says, that they tried to peck out the nails 
with which the Saviour was nailed to the 
Cross, until they bent their weak little bills 
crooked, and to which the name of cross-bills 
was given? 



43 



The Sufferer up above is quiet and still. 
— His bright eye alone speaks — speaks to 
the invisible powers, which reign and hover 
around in this hour of consummation. 

At the foot of the Cross the soldiers are 
casting lots for His vesture — the priests are 
triumphant— the wild beast "cynicism" is 
lurking with wolfish eagerness till its prey 
fall undisputed, and showing its teeth in 
anger, cries in fierce mockery: "If thou 
be the Son of God, come down from the 
cross " — 

" He calls upon God, let Him save Him, 
if He has found favour in His sight!" 

"He would destroy the temple and build 
it up again in three days. — Show now Thy 
power, proud King of the Jews :" 

Hereupon the tortured One in agony 
turns His head: 

" Lord, forgive them, for they know not 
what they do." — 

And the one thief, even in his own dying 
agony, mocks at Him ; but the other rebuk- 
es him saying "We receive the due 
reward of our deeds : but this man hath done 
nothing amiss!" and he beseeches: "Lord 
remember me when Thou comest into Thy 
kingdom ! " 

Then Christ utters the wonderful words : 
" Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thon 
be with me in paradise!" 

Fresh cries of mockery from the Phari- 
sees : " He saved others ; Himself He cannot 
save ! " 

But Christ no longer hears them, His 
senses are numbing; He bends His head to 
Mary and John: "Woman, behold thy son! 
Son, behold thy mother! " 

And now come the signs of approaching 
death. He becomes restless — He struggles 
for breath, His tongue cleaves to the roof 
of His mouth. 

"I thirst!" 

They hold up to Him a sponge filled 
.with vinegar, at the end of a long spear. 

He sips, but it does not refresh Him. 
His anguish has reached its highest point: 
"Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani ! " groans the 
breaking heart : a wave of agony passes over 



the noble form in its death-struggle. Then, 
deeply sighing. He speaks in tones of an 
aeolean harp, the words "It is finished! 
Father, into thy hands 1 commend my 
spirit! " He gently bends His head, and dies.— 

Roars of thunder shake the earth, dust 
whirls up from the ground, and steam hisses 
out of the clefts and darkens the air. The 
graves open and give up their dead. — In 
holy rage the Father strikes the earth as 
He takes the sacrifice back which He left 
only too long to pitiless torment. The temple 
is burst asunder, the veil is rent — and in the 
fire of Heaven the Father's heart shines 
forth upon Him, the cruelly-treated, patient, 
and obedient Son! — 

"Come, O Beloved!" rings the longing 
cry in Heaven. "Come, O Beloved!" is 
re-echoed from mouth to mouth among the 
audience down below. They still have to 
witness how the beloved Body is pierced by 
a sharp lance, till the warm blood flows 
out of the wound — and it is as if the 
thrust went through the heart of the whole 
world. They must still hear the howHng 
of the wolves contending for the holy Body 
— but the tortured sou! may rest at last 
with Him. 

The hand of the Governor has protected 
the Body and handed it over to His family. 

Stricken with awe at the terrible signs, 
the crowd becomes scattered as dust before 
the wind — the priests flee, pale, with fear, 
back to their shattered temple. Golgatha 
becomes deserted. The scoffings and blas- 
phemings are hushed, the uproar of the 
elements has abated — and the holy calm 
of evening surrounds those left behind. " It 
is finished. He has gone home to the bosom 
of His Father!" Noiselessly do the drops 
of Blood trickle on to the sand. Nothing 
is heard but the gentle weeping of the 
women at the foot of the Cross. 

And now compassionate love approaches, 
and never has such faithful devotion been 
witnessed as that which this next hour 
brings. The first blades of that love now 
burst forth, the seed of which has since 
spread over all the earth. 



44 — 



Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus 
come with ladders and tools to take the 
Body down. — They climb up and bind the 
dead Body with long strips of white linen, 
the ends of which they throw over the Cross. 
The friends standing round take hold of 
them, acting as a resisting force in order 
to let the Body down gently. Joseph and 
Nicodemus now begin to draw the nails 
out of the flesh with pincers ; we hear the 
wood creak and spHnter, so fast are the nails 
driven in. 

Mary is sitting on a stone, and with folded 
hands resignedly awaits her Son. "Noble 
men, bring me soon the Body of my Child! " 
she gently implores. 

The women spread a linen cloth before 
her feet to receive Him, — at last the nails 
are drawn out. — 

Carefully the one friend places the loosen- 
ed rigid arms of the Dead upon the shoul- 
ders of the other so that they shall not 
drop suddenly, — Joseph of Arimathsa em- 
braces the Body: "Come holy, blessed Bur- 
den, come rest on my shoulders!" 

He descends from the ladder with the 
Body. Partly carried, partly suspended in 
the cloths, the lifeless Form is let down 
from the pillar of torture. Nicodemus 
spreads out his arms towards it: "Come, 
holy Body of my only Friend, let me em- 
brace thee! And they carry him to Mary — 
that the Son may rest once more in the 
lap of the Mother. And she takes Him in 
her arms, all covered with wounds, the Son 
born again in sorrow." 

Mary Magdalene kneels by the side: "Let 
me once again kiss the hands which have 
so often blessed me." And with chaste fer- 
vour the lips of the sinner touch the cold 
pierced hands of the Body. 

Another of the women throws herself over 
it: "Beloved Master, one more tear upon 
thy lifeless Body!" And the sobbing mur- 
murings sound sweet and gratifying, as 
peaceful evening bells after the terrible 
storm. 



The men on the other hand stand around 
in mute adoration. 

He is laid in the grave. — A funeral chorus 
bids the weary soul and the beloved Body 
rest from the torments of the past. 

In front of the sepulchre lie the watchmen, 
whom the maHce of the Pharisees has placed 
there to keep Watch. 

A great noise is heard. The stone at the 
door of the sepulchre fs overturned, the 
watchmen fall to the ground, and out of 
the sepulchre appears the Saviour, who has 
overcome death. 

After the music of the " Halleluja ", fol- 
lows the final apotheosis. Christ ascends, 
out lof the midst of his disciples and the holy 
women, into heaven. 

But the shadows of evening are fast ap- 
proaching, — the sun's rays shine slantingly 
over the stage of the Passion. — Slowly the 
curtain falls amidst the final strains of the 
Hallelujah Chorus. And over the vast plains 
it rings out to the rocky heights, and it seems 
as if all nature would join in loud rejoicings 
over the Resurrection. 

Quietly, most deeply moved, the crowd 
of people leave the theatre. The mountains 
and rosy meads lie spread out in the golden 
glow of evening. The night-trains, which 
carry the pilgrims off again, take with them 
numbers of people serious and deeply affect- 
ed, and in many a heart, which came hither 
in the icy bann of the chilling cold of winter, 
it has become Eastertide — the blissful spring- 
time and Easter, full of the wonder of the 
Resurrection and Heaven's exultant joy. Of 
what it has witnessed, felt, and suffered, and 
of what the revelation has effected in it, the 
heart cannot as yet give account— but we 
irresistibly join in the final words of the 
Chorus: 

Halleluja! 
Praise, Honour, Worship, Power and 

Glory- 
Be to Thee from Everlasting to Ever- 
lasting! 



Pictures 
of the Oberammergau Passion Play. 



In this part of the book are given pictures and scenes of earlier Ober- 
ammergau Passion Plays. Many a visitor of the last or former representations will 
be pleased to come across an old acquaintance in one or other of the actors 
whom he once saw as a child, later on as a grown-up man, and whom he now 
once again recognises as a veteran in the Passion Play. 




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Christ taking leave of the Virgin Mary. 

Le Christ fait ses adieux a sa s'e Mere. 




Mary of 1900. 



Maria von 1900 (Anna Plunger). 



Marie de 1900. 







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The Descent from the Cross. 

La descente de la croix. 



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The expulsion from the 
garden of Eden. 



Die Vertreibungf aus dem Paradiese. 



L'expulsion du Paradis. 




The Departure of Tobias. 



Der Abschied des Tobias. 



Le depart de Tobie. 



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Der Herr gibt dem Volke das Manna und die Trauben aus Kanaan. 
The Lord gives to the people the manna and the grapes of Canaan. 
Le Seigneur donne au peuple la manne et les raisins de Chanaan. 




Toseph sold by his brethren. Joseph wird von seir.en Briidern verkauft. Joseph vcndu par ses fieres. 




Adam fight against life's burden. 



Adam muC im bittern SchweiCe seines 
Angesichtes sein Brot essen. 



Adam condamne a manger son 
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Samson avenging himself on 
the Philistines. 



Der gefangene Samson muC den 

Philistern zu hohnender Kurz- 

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Samson enchaine doit servirde passe- 
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Jacques. 



Andrew. 



Andreas. 



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Matthew. Matthaus. 

Disciples. 







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