Hungarian-born writer confonted anti-Semitism

Hungarian-born playwright and director George Tabori, a legend in Germany’s postwar theater world whose avant-garde works confronted anti-Semitism died July 23 in Berlin. He was 93.

“George Tabori — a poet, a director, an actor, a genius of life, a truly unique human being – has reached the close of his life’s cycle,” the Berliner Ensemble theater, founded by Berthold Brecht, said in a statement.

Born into a Jewish family in Budapest, Tabori fled to London in 1936, where he started working for the British Broadcasting Corp., and became a British citizen. His father and other members of his family were killed at Auschwitz.

Tabori moved on to Hollywood in the 1950s, where he worked as a scriptwriter, most notably co-writing the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1953 film, “I Confess” as well as Joseph Losey’s “Secret Ceremony.”

He moved to Germany in the 1970s and launched a theater career that spanned from acting to directing to writing. He used sharp wit and humor in his plays to examine the relationship between Germany and the Jews, as well as attacking anti-Semitism.

Among his best known works are “Mein Kampf,” set in the Viennese hostel where Adolf Hitler lived from 1910-1913, and the “Goldberg Variations,” both dark farces that poke fun at the Nazis. He wrote the play “Leo the Last” upon which the John Boorman film was based.

“Tabori’s humanity and wisdom were unique in the world of theater,” Klaus Bachler, director of Vienna’s leading Burgtheater, where many of Tabori’s works were staged, told Austrian ORF state television.

Tabori is survived by his wife and three children.

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