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The father is an alcoholic, the mother is unable to support the family: As a child, Friedrich Zawrel (1929 - 2015) first ends up in the home, and finally in the Spiegelgrund, the notorious "children's department" of the German Reich in Vienna, in which euthanasia murders of sick and committed against disabled children.


From the prison doctor Dr. Zawrel is classified as “hereditarily and socially inferior” and is tortured with medical experiments, but one day he is able to escape the institution with the help of a nurse.

As an adolescent he lives on the streets, followed by a career as a petty criminal in post-war Vienna. This takes him repeatedly to prison and repeatedly before psychiatric experts, until one day he sits opposite his former tormentor, who wants to offer him a deal. But Zawrel refuses to be bribed. However, it was not until 2000 that a court case was brought to an end because of Gross's alleged dementia. He can't remember anything anymore.

The puppet theater evening by Nikolaus Habjan and Simon Meusburger was created on the basis of experienced history: Friedrich Zawrel, this lovable, humorous and resilient Viennese, as an elderly contemporary witness, told school classes and on other occasions what happened to him until his death in 2015 .

The result is a dramatic, touching and theatrically gripping piece of memory work. The production received the Nestroy Prize 2012 in the category of Best Off-Production and has so far been played more than six hundred times by Nikolaus Habjan: Friedrich Zawrel, he lives on in Nikolaus Habjan's mouth puppet.


Awarded the Nestroy Prize for Best Off-Production
Additional information
Participating artists
Nikolaus Habjan (Autor/in)
Simon Meusburger
Nikolaus Habjan (von und mit)