Audio Drama Wiki

Himmler's Boy by Adam Thorpe
Directed by Patrick Rayner
BBC Radio 3 2004 Drama on 3 24.10.2004


In 1931, in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, art history student Klaus Bessel meets and falls in love with the clever and vivacious Anya Goldberger. But Anya is a Polish Jew, and in a few short years Klaus will be a member ofa special SS unit, personally charged by Reichsfuhrer Himmler to plunder occupied Poland of its priceless art.

The Cast[]

Klaus ...... Thomas Arnold
Anya ...... Lesley Hart
Liesl ...... Vicki Liddelle
Himmler ...... Richard Greenwood
Schaefer ...... Paul Young
Muhlmann ...... Michael Perceval-Maxwell
Aunt Maryla ...... Joanna Tope

Critical Reactions[] "Love across the divide is one of the great dramatic staples. In his play Himmler's Boy (Radio 3, Sunday), Adam Thorpe took one step back from this thorny, reliably gripping subject to look at love emerging, tentatively and unpredictably, as a new divide begins to take shape. Beginning in Vienna in 1931, the play shadows idealistic German art student Klaus Bessel as he meets and falls for spiky, feisty Anya Goldberger, a young Jewish woman from Krakow. Despite herself, she warms to him and his excitable proclamations ("smash down the bourgeois walls that lock us all into this vulgarity and baseness that hide the sublime beauty and spirit of the world!" is a typical chat-up line). They spend two intense days together, part, and gradually lose touch. By 1941, Bessel is a member of a special SS unit responsible for plundering occupied territories such as Poland of its priceless art collections. He requests a post in Krakow and sets about finding Anya. When he does, he stumbles over explaining himself turning up in an SS uniform. "Nothing to do with the..." he says, struggling for words and realising none are quite up to the job. "[It's] a completely different department." Anya, still stingingly sharp, wants no help from him, but knows she has to take it. "It's not fair is it?" she rails, "that I have to be grateful to a monster." What Thorpe managed so impressively was to see this fledgling relationship through a filter of some of history's darkest days, but to do so with a coolness and lightness of touch that staved off melodramatic and mawkish moments. Every scene felt quietly real, for all the rush of social change and infinite cruelty just beyond it. "