Jacobowsky and the Colonel (stage play)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Title: Jacobowsky and the Colonel. Comedy of a tragedy in three acts
Original language: German
Author: Franz Werfel
Premiere: October 17, 1944
Place of premiere: Basel
Place and time of the action: between Paris and the French Atlantic coast in June 1940
  • Jacobowsky ; from “Studno bei Radom ”, former general director in Germany
  • Colonel Tadeusz Boleslav Stjerbinsky ; former commander of a Polish - already reamed to action time - Cavalry - Regiment
  • Marianne ; Stjerbinsky's French mistress
  • Szabuniewicz ; longtime officer boy of Stjerbinsky
  • Dice player ; aka Commander Wright of His Majesty's Fleet

Jacobowsky and the Colonel. Comedy of a tragedy in three acts is a play by Franz Werfel that was created between 1941 and 1942. It premiered on March 14, 1944 in New York City and in German on October 17, 1944 in Basel.


June 1940. The German Wehrmacht invades France during the campaign in the west and pushes against the Atlantic. The Gestapo , supported by the SS and French police officers, is looking for members of the “Polish Army in France” who have fled "from the Angers and Agde camps " - including Colonel Stjerbinsky. But his lover Marianne , "Madame la France" as well as his two compatriots who from the German Reich expatriate "Much persecuted" Jew JACOBOWSKY and the "temporary asylum guards" Szabuniewicz save the colonel in association with a dubious dice player's life.

Road movie Jacobowsky, the colonel and his servant meet in
a Paris hotel . All three ended up fleeing from the Germans in France and must now flee again. Jacobowsky manages to buy a car, but he cannot drive a car himself. The "emaciated" Colonel condescends to drive Jacobowsky's automobile as a common escape vehicle. Szabuniewicz is on board. Jacobowsky proved himself on the run - in contrast to the brash, carefree, even unfit for life Colonel - z. B. in fuel and food procurement. The Colonel does not flee directly to
England - in a "gray civilian suit" - where he is supposed to be supposed to hand over secret papers to his government in exile , but first heads for the whereabouts of his lover Marianne. She's in Brittany near Pontivy . The beautiful woman is waiting for him in the midst of the advancing Wehrmacht. Jacobowsky doesn't like that at all. The relationship between the Colonel and Jacobowsky grows tense.

A triangular relationship
Then the “Réfugiés” - together with Marianne - turn to Bayonne . The last ship stupidly just left. On the way to the next port - Saint Jean-de-Luz , the final destination of this tour - Jacobowsky makes a success - very happy with happiness - Marianne advances. The colonel, this fluffing fighting cock, challenges the always modest, reserved, “crawling gentleness” captivating Jacobowsky to a duel on “army revolver, model 1938”. But suddenly the Germans get in the way. The refugees arepicked upby a German patrol (see below) .

In the key scene of the play, a “German patrol on motorcycles during the lightning advance ”confrontsthe four refugees. Everyone can identify themselves to the Gestapo, except for the wanted colonel. In this apparently hopeless situation, Jacobowsky invents a tale of lies. The colonel is a Frenchman whobroke outof the insane asylum near Nantes after a German bombardmentand was now on his way home with his wife Marianne and the madman Szabuniewicz - according to the circumstances without papers. The fairy tale is believed. The four refugees are allowed to pass.

The comedy paints the changing picture from the waiting lover Marianne to the budding fighter against the German occupation forces in the country. While Jacobowsky and the colonel flee, Marianne remains in France.


The viewer becomes aware of the allegorical character of the piece at the latest when the Eternal Jew (he has two years in Dachau behind him) appears together with Saint Francis . This illuminates the deeper meaning of the play together with the character of the actual main character of the comedy - Marianne - in a spotlight: Marianne - symbol of the French will for freedom - will fight the invaders in her own country and is invincible. The speaking name of the Jew Jacobowsky fits in with this. This Jacob is the second main character. Against these two heroes the Colonel is nothing more than a defeated warrior afflicted with almost all human weaknesses.

History of origin

In this play Werfel processed his own escape to Spain as well as the escape experiences of the Polish banker Stephan S. Jakobowicz, which the latter told him in 1940 during his stay in Lourdes .


"The radio was not invented for the truth."

"There is always only a moment between too early and too late."

"There is always time for women!"


  • Such a piece can only come into being after personal experience.
  • The colonel is the typical Polish nobleman as he is known from the 1830 uprising against Russia .


Radio plays:



Secondary literature

  • German literary history. Volume 10. Paul Riegel and Wolfgang van Rinsum: Third Reich and Exile 1933–1945 . Pp. 280-284. dtv Munich in February 2004. ISBN 3-423-03350-9
  • Gero von Wilpert : Lexicon of world literature. German Authors A - Z . P. 662. Stuttgart 2004. ISBN 3-520-83704-8

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Werfel, p. 162
  2. Werfel p. 21
  3. Werfel, p. 24.25
  4. Werfel, p. 141
  5. Werfel p. 4
  6. ^ Jacobowsky and the Colonel, Martin Beck Theater, 1944/1945, accessed on March 28, 2019
  7. Weblink k2 culture
  8. Werfel, p. 132
  9. Werfel p. 111
  10. Werfel p. 105
  11. Werfel, p. 136
  12. Werfel p. 112
  13. Werfel p. 7
  14. Werfel p. 56
  15. a b Werfel p. 101
  16. Werfel p. 106
  17. Werfel p. 109
  18. Werfel p. 103
  19. Klaus-Gunther Wesseling:  Werfel, Franz. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 13, Bautz, Herzberg 1998, ISBN 3-88309-072-7 , Sp. 786-832.
  20. Werfel p. 35
  21. Werfel p. 60
  22. Werfel p. 65
  23. bars and van Rinsum S. 282 u.
  24. Riegel and van Rinsum p. 284 and