Translated from the German by James Kirkup
Copyright :( 1964 by James Kirkup
All rights rcserved. No part of this book may be rcproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means,...
Alienist (Psychiatrist) - FRÄULEIN DOKTOR MATHILDE VON ZAHND
Head Nurse - MARTA BOLL
Nurse - MONIKA STETTLER
Chief Male Attendant - UWE SIEVERS
Male Attendant - MC ARTHUR
Male Attendant - MURILLO
Patient - HERBERT GEORG BEUTLER ("NEWTON")
Patient - ERNST HEINRICH ERNESTI ("EINSTEIN")
Patient - JOHANN WILHELM MÖBIUS
A Missionary - OSKAR ROSE
and his Wife - FRAU LINA ROSE
one of their sons - ADOLF-FRIEDRICH
one of their sons - WILFRIED-KASPAR
one of their sons - JORG-LUKAS
Inspector of Police - RICHARD VOSS
GUHL - Inspector of Police
BLOCHER - Inspector of Police
slope down to the lake. There is a stone embankment
along the edge of the lake.
Now only three patients at the very most occupy the
drawing room of the sparsely inhabitated "villa": as it hap-
pens, they are all three physicists, though this is not
entirely due to chance, for humane principles are put
into practice here, and it is felt that "birds of a feather"
should "flock together." They live for themselves, each
one wrapped in the cocoon of his own little world of
the imagination; they take their meals together in the
drawing room, from time to time discuss scientific mat-
ters or just sit grazing dully before them - harmless, lov-
able lunatics, amenable, easily handled and unassuming.
In fact, they would be model patients were it not that
certain serious, nay, hideous events have recently taken
place: three months ago, one of them throttled a nurse,
and now the very same thing has just happened again.
So once more the police are back in the house and the
drawing room is more than usually animated.
The dead nurse is lying on the parquet floor in a tragic
and quite unmistakable attitude, somewhat in the back-
ground, so as not to distress the public too much. But it
is impossible not to see that a struggle has taken place.
The furniture is in great disorder. A standard lamp and
two chairs have been knowcked over, and downstage left
a round table has been overtuned so that is presents only
its legs to the spectator.
Apart from all this, the transformation into an asylum
has left painful trances on the salon. (The villa was once
the Zahnd summer residence.) The walls have been cov-
ered to a height of six feet with hygienic, washable,
glossy paint: above this, the original plaster emegres,
with some remants of stucco moldings. The three doors
in the background, which lead from a small hall into the
physicists' sick rooms, are upholstered with black leather.
Moreover, they are numbered from one to three. To the
left of the little hall is an ugly central-heating unit;
to the right there is a washbasin with towels on a rail.
The sound of a violin, with piano accompaniment,
comes from Room Number 2 (the middle room). Bee-
thoven. Kreutzer Sonata. To the left is the wall over-
looking the park, with very high windows that reach
right down to the linoleum-covered parquet floor. Heavy
curtains hang to right and left of the high windows.
The glass doors lead on to a terrace, whose stone balus-
trade is silhouetted against the green of the park and the
relatively sunny November light. It is a little after half
past four in the afternoon. To the right, over a fireplace
which is never used and is covered by a wire guard,
there hangs the portrait of an old man with a pointed
beard, enclosed in a heavy, gilded frame. Downstage
right, a massive oak door. A ponderous chandelier is sus-
pended from the brown, coffered ceiling.
Furniture: beside the round table there stand - when
the room is in order - three chairs, all painted white like
the table. The remaining furniture, with well-worn up-
holstery, belongs to various periods. Downstage right,
a sofa and a small table flanked by two easy chairs. The
standard lamp should really be behind the sofa, when the
room should not appear overcrowded. Little is required
for the furnishing of a stage on which, contrary to the
plays of the ancients, the satire precedes the tragedy.
We can begin.
Police officials in piain clothes are busied round the
corpse: stolid, good-natured fellows who have already
downed a glass or two of white wine: their breaths smell
of it. In the center of the drawing room stands the IN-
SPECTOR OF POLICE, RICHARD VOSS, wearing coat and hat;
on the left is the head nurse, MARTA BOLL, looking as
resolute as she really is. In the armchair on the far right
sits a policeman taking everything down in shorthand.
The inspector takes a cigar out of a brown leather cigar
INSPECTOR: All right if I smoke?
SISTER BOLL: It's not usual.
INSPECTOR: I beg your pardon. (He puts the cigar back
in the case.)
SISTER BOLL: A cup of tea?
INSPECTOR: No brandy?
SISTER BOLL: You're in a medical establishment.
INSPECTOR: Then nothing. Blocher, you can take the
BLOCHER: Yes, sir. (He begins taking photographs.
INSPECTOR: What was the nurse's name?
SISTER BOLL: Irene Straub.
SISTER BOLL: Twenty-two. From Kohlwang.
SISTER BOLL: A brother in Liechenstein.
SISTER BOLL: By telephone.
INSPECTOR: The murderer?
SISTER BOLL: Please, Inspector - the poor man's ill, you
INSPECTOR: Well, the assailant?
SISTER BOLL: Ernst Heinrich Ernesti. We call him Ein-
SISTER BOLL: Because he thinks he is Einstein.
INSPECTOR (turns to the police stenographer): Have you
got the Statement down, Guhl?
GUHL: Yes, sir.
INSPECTOR: Strangled, doctor?
POLICE DOCTOR: Quite definitely. With the flex of the
standard lamp. These madmen often have gigantic
reserves of strength. It's phenomenal.
INSPECTOR: Oh. Is that so? In that case I consider it most
irresponsible to leave these madmen in the care of
female nurses. This is the second murder -
SISTER BOLL: Please, Inspector.
INSPECTOR: - the second accident within three months
in the medical establishment known as Les Cerisiers.
(He takes out a notebook.) On the twelfth of
August a certain Herbert Georg Beutler, who be-
lieves himself to be the great physicist Sir Isaac
Newton, strangled Dorothea Moser, a nurse. (He
puts the notebook back.) And in this very room.
If they'd had male attendants such a thing would
never have happened.
SISTER BOLL: Do you really think so?
INSPECTOR: I do.
SISTER BOLL: Nurse Moser was a member of the League
of Lady Wrestlers and Nurse Straub was District
Champion of the National Judo Association.
INSPECTOR: And what about you?
SISTER BOLL: Weight-lifter.
INSPECTOR: Now I'd like to see the murderer.
SISTER BOLL: Please, Inspector.
INSPECTOR: I mean - the assailant.
SISTER BOLL: He's playing his fiddle.
INSPECTOR: Doing what?
SISTER BOLL: Can't you hear him?
INSPECTOR: Then kindly request him to stop.
SISTER BOLL does not react.
I have to ask him some questions.
SISTER BOLL: Definitely not.
INSPECTOR: And why not?
SISTER BOLL: We cannot allow it, on medical grounds.
Herr Ernesti has to play his fiddle, and play it now.
INSPECTOR: But damn it, the man's just strangled a nurse!
SISTER BOLL: Inspector. He's not just any man, but a sick
man who needs calming down. And because he
thinks he is Einstein he can only calm down when
he's playing the fiddle.
INSPECTOR: Can I be going mad?
SISTER BOLL: No.
INSPECTOR: I'm getting confused. (He wipes the sweat
from his forehead.) Warm in here.
SISTER BOLL: I don't think so.
INSPECTOR: Sister Boll. Kindly fetch the doctor in charge.
SISTER BOLL: Quite out of the question. The Fräulein
Doktor is accompanying Einstein on the piano. Ein-
can only calm down when the Fräulein Doktor
plays his accompaniments.
INSPECTOR: And three months ago the Fräulein Doktor
had to play chess with Sir Isaac Newton, to calm
him down. We can't have any more of this, Sister.
I simply must speak to the doctor in charge.
SISTER BOLL: Certainly -
INSPECTOR: Thank you.
SISTER BOLL: - but you'll have to wait.
INSPECTOR: How long's this fiddling going to last?
SISTER BOLL: Fifteen minutes, an hour. It all depends.
The inspector controls his impatience.
INSPECTOR: Very well, i'll wait. (He roars:) I'll wait!
BLOCHER: We're just about finished, sir.
INSPECTOR: Am I. (Silence. The INSPECTOR wipes his
forehead.) You can take away the body.
BLOCHER: Very well, sir.
SISTER BOLL: I'll show them the way through the park to
She opens the French windows. The body is carried
out. Equipment also. The inspector takes off his
hat and sinks exhaustedly into the easy chair to the
left of the sofa. The fiddling continues, with piano
accompaniment. Then out of Room Number 3
comes HERBERT GEORG BEUTLER in early eighteenth-
century costume. He wears a full-bottomed wig.
NEWTON: Sir Isaac Newton.
INSPECTOR: Inspector Richard Voss. (He remains seated.)
NEWTON: I'm so glad. Really very glad. Truly. I heard
a noise in here, groans and gurglings, and then pe-
ople coming and going. May I inquire just what has
been going on?
INSPECTOR: Nurse Straub was strangled.
NEWTON: The District Champion of the National Judo
INSPECTOR: The District Champion.
INSPECTOR: By Ernst Heinrich Ernesti.
NEWTON: But he's playing his fiddle.
INSPECTOR: He has to calm himself down.
NEWTON: The tussle must have taken it out of him.
He's rather highly strung, poor boy. How did he - ?
INSPECTOR: With the cord of the standard lamp.
NEWTON: With the cord of the standard lamp. Yes.
That's another possibility. Poor Ernesti. I'm sorry
for him. Truly sorry. And I'm sorry for the Ladies'
Judo Champion too. Now you'll have to excuse me.
I must put things straight.
INSPECTOR: Do. We've got everything we want.
NEWTON rights the table and chairs.
NEWTON: I simply can't stand disorder. Really it was my
love of order that made me become a physicist -
(He rights the standard lamp.) - to interpret the
apparent disorder of Nature in the light of a more
sublime order. (He lights a cigarette.) Will it dis-
turb you if I smoke?
INSPECTOR: On the contrary, I was just thinking,... (He
takes a cigar out of his case.)
NEWTON: Excuse me, but we were talking about order
just now, so I must tell you that the patients are
allowed to smoke here but not the visitors.
If they did it would stink the place out.
INSPECTOR: I see. (He puts the cigar away.)
NEWTON: Will it disturb you if I have a nip of brandy?
INSPECTOR: No. Not at all.
From behind the wire guard in front of the fire
NEWTON takes a bottle of brandy and a glass.
NEWTON: That poor Ernesti. I'm really upset. How on
earth could anyone bring himself to strangle a
nurse? (He sits dowm on the sofa and pours out a
glass of brandy.)
INSPECTOR: I believe you strangled one yourself.
NEWTON: Did I?
INSPECTOR: Nurse Dorothea Moser.
NEWTON: The lady wrestler?
INSPECTOR: On the twelfth of August. With the curtain
NEWTON: But that was something quite different, In-
spector. I'm not mad, you know. Your health.
INSPECTOR: And yours.
NEWTON: Dorothea Moser. Let me cast my mind back.
Blonde hair. Enormously powerful. Yet, despite her
bulk, very flexible. She loved me and I loved her.
It was a dilemma that could only be resolved by the
use of a curtain cord.
NEWTON: My mission is to devote myself to the prob-
lems of gravitation, not the physical requirements
of a woman.
NEWTON: And then there was this tremendous difference
in our ages.
INSPECTOR: Granted. You must be well on the wrong
side of two hundred.
NEWTON stares at him uncomprehendingly.
NEWTON: How do you mean?
INSPECTOR: Well, being Sir Isaac Newton -
NEWTON: Are you out of your mind, Inspector, or are
you just having me on?
INSPECTOR: Now look -
NEWTON: Do you really think I'm Sir Isaac Newton?
INSPECTOR: Well, don't you?
NEWTON looks at him suspiciously.
NEWTON: Inspector, may I tell you a secret? In confi-
INSPECTOR: Of course.
NEWTON: Well, it's this. I am not Sir Isaac Newton. I
only pretend to be Sir Isaac Newton.
INSPECTOR: What for?
NEWTON: So as not to confuse poor Ernesti.
INSPECTOR: I don't get it.
NEWTON: You see, unlike me, Ernesti is really sick. He
thinks he's Albert Einstein.
INSPECTOR: But what's that got to do with you?
NEWTON: Well, if Ernesti were to find out that I am the
real Albert Einstein, all hell would be let loose.
INSPECTOR: Do you mean to say -
NEWTON: I do. I am he. The celebrated physicist and dis-
coverer of the theory of relativity, born March
14th, 1879, in the city of Ulm.
The INSPECTOR rises in some confusion of mind.
INSPECTOR: How do you do?
NEWTON also rises.
NEWTON: Just call me - Albert.
INSPECTOR: And you can call me Richard.
They shake hands.
NEWTON: I could give you a Kreutzer with a good deal
more dash than Ernesti. The way he plays the An-
dante - simply barbarous! Simply barbarous!
INSPECTOR: I don't understand anything about music.
NEWTON: Let's sit down, shall we? (He draws the IN-
SPECTOR beside him on the sofa. NEWTON puts
his arm around the INSPECTOR's shoulders.) Richard.
INSPECTOR: Yes, Albert?
NEWTON: You're cross, aren't you, because you can't
INSPECTOR: But Albert -
NEWTON: Is it because I strangled the nurse that you
want to arrest me, or because it was I who paved
the way for the atomic bomb?
INSPECTOR: But Albert -
NEWTON: When you work that switch by the door, what
INSPECTOR: The light goes on.
NEWTON: You establish an electrical contact. Do you
understand anything about electricity, Richard?
INSPECTOR: I am no physicist.
NEWTON: I don't understand much about it either. All
I do is to elaborate a theory about it on the basis
of natural Observation. I write down this theory in
the mathematical idiom and obtain several formulae.
Then the engineers come along. They don't care
about anything except the formulae. They treat
electricity as a pimp treats a whore. They simply
exploit it. They build machines - and a machine
can only be used when it becomes independent of
the knowledge that led to its invention. So any fool
nowadays can switch on a light or touch off the
atomic bomb. (He pats the INSPECTOR's shoulders.)
And that's what you want to arrest me for, Rich-
ard. It's not fair.
INSPECTOR: But I don't want to arrest you, Albert.
NEWTON: It's all because you think I'm mad. But, if you
don't understand anything about electricity, why
don't you refuse to turn on the light? It's you who
are the criminal, Richard. But I must put my brandy
away; if Sister Boll comes there will be wigs on the
green. (NEWTON hides the bottle of brandy behind
the wire guard in front of the fire, but leaves the
glass where it is.) Well, goodbye.
INSPECTOR: Goodbye, Albert.
NEWTON: Oh, Richard. You're the one who should be
arrested. He disappears into Room Number 3.
INSPECTOR: Now I will have a smoke.
He takes a cigar firmly out of his cigar case, lights
it and smokes. BLOCHER comes through the French
BLOCHER: We're ready to leave, sir.
The INSPECTOR stamps his foot. Yes, sir.
The INSPECTOR calms down and growls.
INSPECTOR: Go back to town with the men, Blocher. I'll
come on later. I'm waiting for the doctor in charge!
BLOCHER: Very well, sir. (BLOCHER goes.)
The INSPECTOR puffs out great clouds of smoke,
stands up, goes to the chimney piece and stands
looking at the portrait. Meanwhile the violin and
piano have stopped. The door to Room Number 2
opens and FRÄULEIN DOKTOR MATHILDE VON ZAHND
comes out. She is hunchbacked, about fifty-five,
wearing a white surgical overall-coat and stetho-
FRL. DOKTOR: My father, August von Zahnd, Privy Coun-
cillor. He used to live in this villa before I turned
it into a Sanatorium. He was a great man, a real per-
son. I am his only child. He hated me like poison;
indeed he hated everybody like poison. And with
good reason, for as an expert in economics, he saw,
revealed in human beings, abysses which are for
ever hidden from psychiatrists like myself. We
alienists are still hopelessly romantic philanthropists.
INSPECTOR: Three months ago there was a different por-
trait hanging here.
FRL. DOKTOR: That was my uncle, the politician. Chan-
cellor Joachim von Zahnd. (She lays the music
score on the small table in front of the sofa.) Well,
Ernesti has calmed down. In the end he just flung
himself on the bed and feil sound asleep. Like a little
boy, not a care in the world. I can breathe again: I
was afraid he'd want to fiddle through the entire
Brahms G Major Sonata. (She sits in the armchair
left of sofa.)
INSPECTOR: Excuse me, Fräulein Doktor, for Smoking in
here. I gather it's prohibited, but -
FRL. DOKTOR: Smoke away as much as you like, Inspec-
tor. I badly need a cigarette myself; Sister or no
Sister. Give me a light. (He lights her cigarette
and she smokes.) Poor Nurse Straub. Simply fright-
ful. She was such a neat, pretty little thing. (She
notices the glass.) Newton?
INSPECTOR: I had the pleasure of speaking to him.
FRL. DOKTOR: I'd better put it away.
INSPECTOR: Allow me. (The INSPECTOR forestalls her
and puts the glass away.)
FRL. DOKTOR: On account of Sister Boll, you know.
INSPECTOR: I know.
FRL. DOKTOR: So you had a talk with Sir Isaac?
INSPECTOR: Yes, and I discovered something. (He sits on
FRL. DOKTOR: Congratulations.
INSPECTOR: Newton thinks he is really Einstein.
FRL. DOKTOR: That's what he teils everybody. But in fact
he really believes he is Newton.
INSPECTOR (taken aback): Are you sure?
FRL. DOKTOR: It is I who decide who my patients think
they are. I know them far better than they know
INSPECTOR: Maybe so. In that case you should co-operate
with us, Fräulein Doktor. The authorities are com-
FRL. DOKTOR: The public prosecutor?
FRL. DOKTOR: As if it were my business, Inspector.
INSPECTOR: But two murders -
FRL. DOKTOR: Please, Inspector.
INSPECTOR: Two accidents in three months. You must
admit that the safety precautions in your establish-
ment would seem inadequate.
FRL. DOKTOR: What sort of safety precautions have you
in mind, Inspector? I am the director of a medical
establishment, not a reformatory. One can't very
well lock murderers up before they have committed
their murders, can one?
INSPECTOR: It's not a question of murderers but of mad-
men, and they can commit murders at any time.
FRL. DOKTOR: So can the sane; and, significantly, a lot
more often. I have only to think of my grandfather,
Leonidas von Zahnd, the Field Marshal who lost
every battle he ever fought. What age do you think
we're living in? Has medical science made great
advances or not? Do we have new resources at our
disposal, drugs that can transform raving madmen
into the gentlest of lambs? Must we start putting
the mentally sick into solitary confinement again,
hung up in nets, I shouldn't wonder, with boxing
gloves on, as they used to? As if we were still un-
able to distinguish between dangerous patients and
INSPECTOR: You weren't much good at distinguishing
between them in the cases of Beutler and Ernesti.
FRL. DOKTOR: Unfortunately, no. That's what disturbs
me, not the fuming of your public prosecutor.
Einstein comes out of Room Number 2, carrying
his violin. He is lean with long, snow-white hair
EINSTEIN: I just woke up.
FRL. DOKTOR: Oh, Professor!
EINSTEIN: Did I play well?
FRL. DOKTOR: Beautifully, Professor.
EINSTEIN: What about Nurse Irene?
Is she -
FRL. DOKTOR: Don't give it another thought, Professor.
EINSTEIN: I'm going back to bed.
FRL. DOKTOR: Yes, do, Professor.
Einstein goes back into his room. The INSPECTOR
has jumped to his feet.
INSPECTOR: So that was him!
FRL. DOKTOR: Yes. Ernst Heinrich Ernesti.
INSPECTOR: The murderer -
FRL. DOKTOR: Please, Inspector.
INSPECTOR: I mean, the assailant, the one who thinks he's
Einstein. When was he brought in?
FRL. DOKTOR: Two years ago.
INSPECTOR: And Sir Isaac Newton?
FRL. DOKTOR: One year ago. Both incurable. Look here,
Voss, I'm no beginner, God knows, at this sort of
job. You know that, and so does the public prose-
cutor; he has always respected my professional opin-
ion. My Sanatorium is world-famous and the fees
are correspondingly high. Errors of judgment and
incidents that bring the police into my house are
luxuries I cannot afford. If anything was to blame
here, it was medical science, not me. These inci-
dents could not have been foreseen; you or I would
be just as likely to strangle a nurse. No - medically
speaking there is no explanation for what has hap-
pened. Unless - (She has taken a fresh cigarette.
The INSPECTOR lights it for her.) Inspector. Haven't
you noticed something?
INSPECTOR: What do you mean?
FRL. DOKTOR: Consider these two patients.
FRL. DOKTOR: They're both physicists. Nuclear physicists.
FRL. DOKTOR: Inspector, you really have a very unsus-
The INSPECTOR ponders.
INSPECTOR: Doktor von Zahnd.
FRL. DOKTOR: Well, Voss?
INSPECTOR: You don't think -
FRL. DOKTOR: They were both doing research on radio-
INSPECTOR: You suppose there was some connection?
FRL. DOKTOR: I suppose nothing. I merely state the facts.
Both of them go mad, the conditions of both de-
teriorate, both become a danger to the public and
both of them strangle their nurses.
INSPECTOR: And you think the radioactivity affected
FRL. DOKTOR: I regret to say that is a possibility I must
face up to.
The INSPECTOR looks about him.
INSPECTOR: What's on the other side of the hall?
FRL. DOKTOR: The green drawing room and upstairs.
INSPECTOR: How many patients have you got here now?
FRL. DOKTOR: Three.
INSPECTOR: Only three?
FRL. DOKTOR: The rest were transferred to the new wing
immediately after the first incident. Fortunately I
was able to complete the building just in time. Rich
patients contributed to the costs. So did my own
relations. They died off one by one, most of them
in here. And I was left sole inheritor. Destiny, Voss.
I am always sole inheritor. My family is so ancient,
it's something of a miracle, in medicine, that I should
be relatively normal, I mean, mentally.
The INSPECTOR thinks a moment.
INSPECTOR: What about the third patient?
FRL. DOKTOR: He's also a physicist.
INSPECTOR: Well, that's extraordinary. Don't you think
FRL. DOKTOR: Not at all. I put them all together.
The writers with the writers, the big industrialists with
the big industrialists, the millionairesses with the
millionairesses, and the physicists with the physicists.
INSPECTOR: What's his name?
FRL. DOKTOR: Johann Wilhelm Möbius.
INSPECTOR: Was he working with radioactive materials
FRL. DOKTOR: No.
INSPECTOR: Mightn't he also perhaps -
FRL. DOKTOR: He's been fifteen years here. He's harmless.
His condition has never changed.
INSPECTOR: Doktor von Zahnd, you can't get away with
it like that. The public prosecutor insists that your
physicists have male attendants.
FRL. DOKTOR: They shall have them.
The INSPECTOR picks up his hat.
INSPECTOR: Good. I'm glad you see it that way. This is
the second visit I have paid to Les Cerisiers, Fräulein
Doktor. I hope I shan't have to pay a third. Good-
He puts on his hat, goes out left through the French
windows on to the terrace and makes his way across
the park, DOKTOR MATHILDE VON ZAHND gazes
thoughtfully after him. Enter right the SISTER,
MARTA BOLL, who stops short, sniffing the air. She is
carry ing a patient's dossier.
SISTER BOLL: Please, Fräulein Doktor.
FRL. DOKTOR: Oh, I'm sorry. (She stubs out her ciga-
rette.) Have they laid out Nurse Straub?
SISTER BOLL: Yes, under the organ loft.
FRL. DOKTOR: Have candles and wreaths put round her.
SISTER BOLL: I've already telephoned the florists about it.
FRL. DOKTOR: How is my Great-aunt Senta?
SISTER BOLL: Restless.
FRL. DOKTOR: Double her dose. And my Cousin Ulrich?
SISTER BOLL No change.
FRL. DOKTOR: Fräulein SISTER BOLL, I regret to say that one
of our traditions here at Les Cerisiers must come to
an end. Until now I have employed female nurses
only. From tomorrow the villa will be in the hands
of male attendants.
SISTER BOLL: Fräulein Doktor von Zahnd. I won't let my
three physicists be snatched away from me. They
are my most interesting cases.
FRL. DOKTOR: My decision is final.
SISTER BOLL: I'd like to know where you are going to
find three male nurses, what with the demand for
them these days.
FRL. DOKTOR: That's my problem. Leave it to me. Has
Frau Möbius arrived?
SISTER BOLL: She's waiting in the green drawing room.
FRL. DOKTOR: Send her in.
SISTER BOLL: Here is Möbius's dossier. (SISTER BOLL gives
her the dossier and then goes to the door on the
right, where she turns.) But -
FRL. DOKTOR: Thank you, Sister, thank you.
SISTER BOLL goes. The DOKTOR opens the dossier and
studies it at the round table, SISTER BOLL comes in
again right leading FRAU ROSE and three boys of
fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. The eldest is carrying
a briefcase. HERR ROSE, a missionary, brings up the
rear. The DOKTOR stands up.
My dear Frau Möbius -
FRAU ROSE: Rose. Frau Rose. It must be an awful surprise
to you, Fräulein Doktor, but three weeks ago I mar-
ried Herr Rose, who is a missionary. It was perhaps
rather sudden. We met in September at a missionary
convention. (She blushes and rather awkivardly in-
dicates her neiv husband.) Oskar was a widower.
The FRÄULEIN DOKTOR shakes her by the hand.
FRL. DOKTOR: Congratulations, Frau Rose, heartiest con-
gratulations. And my best wishes to you, too, Herr
Rose. (She gives him a friendly nod.)
FRAU ROSE: You do understand why we took this step?
FRL. DOKTOR: But of course, Frau Rose. Life must con-
tinue to bloom and flourish.
HERR ROSE: How peaceful it is here! What a friendly at-
mosphere! Truly a divine peace reigns over this
house, just as the psalmist says: For the Lord hear-
eth the needy and despiseth not his prisoners.
FRAU ROSE: Oskar is such a good preacher, Fräulein
Doktor. (She blushes.) My boys.
FRL. DOKTOR: Good afternoon, boys.
THREE BOYS: Good afternoon, Fräulein Doktor. (The youngest
picks something up from the floor.)
JÖRG-LUKAS: A piece of electric wire, Fräulein Doktor.
It was lying on the floor.
FRL. DOKTOR: Thank you, young man. Grand boys you
have, Frau Rose. You can face the future with confidence.
FRAU ROSE sits on the sofa to the right, THE
DOKTOR at the table left. Behind the sofa the three boys,
and on the chair at extreme right, HERR ROSE.
FRAU ROSE: Fräulein Doktor, I have brought my boys
with me for a very good reason. Oskar is taking
over a mission in the Marianas.
HERR ROSE: In the Pacific Ocean.
FRAU ROSE: I thought it only proper that my boys should
make their father's acquaintance before their de-
parture. This will be their one and only opportu-
nity. They were still quite small when he fell ill and
now, perhaps, they will be saying goodbye for ever.
FRL. DOKTOR: Frau Rose, speaking as a doctor, I would
say that there might be objections, but speaking as
a human being I can understand your wish and
gladly give my consent to a family reunion.
FRAU ROSE: And how is my dear little Johann Wilhelm?
THE DOKTOR leafs through the dossier.
FRL. DOKTOR: Our dear old Möbius shows signs neither
of improvement nor of relapse, Frau Rose. He's
spinning his own little cocoon.
FRAU ROSE: Does he still claim to see King Solomon?
FRL. DOKTOR: Yes.
HERR ROSE: A sad and deplorable delusion.
FRL. DOKTOR: Your harsh judgment surprises me a bit,
Herr Missionary. Nevertheless, as a theologian you
must surely reckon with the possibility of a miracle.
HERR ROSE: Oh, of course - but not in the case of some-
one mentally sick.
FRL. DOKTOR: Whether the manifestations perceived by
the mentally sick are real or not is something which
psychiatry is not competent to judge. Psychiatry
has to concern itself exclusively with states of mind
and with the nerves, and in this respect things are
in a bad enough way with our dear old Möbius,
even though his illness takes rather a mild form. As
for helping him, goodness me, another course of
insulin shock treatment might be indicated, but as
the others have been without success I'm leaving it
alone. I can't work miracles, Frau Rose, and I can't
pamper our dear old Möbius back to health; but I
certainly don't want to make his life a misery either.
FRAU ROSE: Does he know that I've - I mean, does he
know about the divorce?
FRL. DOKTOR: He has been told the facts.
FRAU ROSE: Did he understand?
FRL. DOKTOR: He takes hardly any interest in the outside
world any more.
FRAU ROSE: Fräulein Doktor. Try to understand my po-
sition. I am five years older than Johann Wilhelm.
I first met him when he was a fifteen-year-old
schoolboy, in my father's house, where he had
rented an attic room. He was an orphan and wretch
-edly poor. I helped him through high school and
later made it possible for him to read physics at the
university. We got married on his twentieth birth-
day, against my parents' wishes. We worked day
and night. He was writing his dissertation and I
took a job with a transport Company. Four years
later we had our eldest boy, Adolf-Friedrich, and
then came the two others. Finally there were pros-
pects of his obtaining a professorship; we thought
we could begin to relax at last. But then Johann
Wilhelm fell ill and his illness swallowed up im-
mense sums of money. To provide for my family
I went to work in a chocolate factory. Tobler's
chocolate factory. (She silently wipes away a tear.)
For years I worked my fingers to the bone. (They
FRL. DOKTOR: Frau Rose, you are a brave woman.
HERR ROSE: And a good mother.
FRAU ROSE: Fräulein Doktor, until now I have made it
possible for Johann Wilhelm to stay in your estab-
lishment. The fees are far beyond my means, but
God came to my help time and time again. All the
same, I am now, financially speaking, at the end of
my tether. I simply cannot raise the extra money.
FRL. DOKTOR: That's understandable, Frau Rose.
FRAU ROSE: I'm afraid now you'll think I married Oskar
so as to get out of providing for Johann Wilhelm.
But that is not so. Things will be even more diffi-
cult for me now. Oskar brings me six sons from his
FRL. DOKTOR: Six?
HERR ROSE: Six.
FRAU ROSE: Six. Oskar is a most zealous father. But now
there are nine boys to feed and Oskar is by no
means robust And his salary is not high. (She
FRL. DOKTOR: Come, now, Frau Rose, you mustn't. Don't
FRAU ROSE: I reproach myself bitterly for having left my
poor little Johann Wilhelm in the lurch.
FRL. DOKTOR: Frau Rose! You have no need to reproach yourself.
FRAU ROSE: My poor little Johann Wilhelm will have to
go into a state institution now.
FRL. DOKTOR: No he won't, Frau Rose. Our dear old
Möbius will stay on here in the villa. You have my
word. He's got used to being here and has found
some nice, kind colleagues. I'm not a monster, you
FRAU ROSE: You're so good to me, Fräulein Doktor.
FRL. DOKTOR: Not at all, Frau Rose, not at all. There are
such things as grants and bequests. There's the
Oppel Foundation for invalid scientists, there's the
Doktor Steinemann Bequest. Money's as thick as
muck around here and it's my duty as his doctor
to pitchfork some of it in the direction of your dear
little Johann Wilhelm. You can steam off to the
Marianas with a clear conscience. But now let us
have a word with Möbius himself - our dear, good
old Möbius. (She goes and opens the door Number
1. Frau Rose rises expectantly.) Dear Möbius. You
have visitors. Now leave your physicist's lair for a
moment and come in here.
JOHANN WILHELM MÖBIUS comes out of Room Number
1. He is about forty, a rather clumsy man.
He looks around him uncertainly, stares at FRAU
ROSE, then at the boys, and finally at the missionary,
HERR ROSE. He appears not to recognize them and
FRAU ROSE: Johann Wilhelm!
THREE BOYS: Papi!
MÖBIUS remains silent.
FRL. DOKTOR: My dear Möbius, you're not going to tell
me you don't recognize your own wife?
MÖBIUS stares at FRAU ROSE.
FRL. DOKTOR: That's better, Möbius. Of course it's Lina.
MÖBIUS: Hullo, Lina.
FRAU ROSE: My little Johann Wilhelm, my dear, dear
little Johann Wilhelm.
FRL. DOKTOR: There we are, now. Frau Rose, Herr Rose,
if you have anything else to tell me I shall be at
your disposal in the new wing over there.
(She goes off through door left.)
FRAU ROSE: These are your sons, Johann Wilhelm.
FRAU ROSE: Of course, Johann Wilhelm. Three. (She
introduces the boys to him.) Adolf-Friedrich, your
MÖBIUS shakes his hand.
MÖBIUS: How do you do, Adolf-Friedrich, my eldest.
ADOLF-FRIEDRICH: How do you do, Papi.
MÖBIUS: How old are you, Adolf-Friedrich?
ADOLF-FRIEDRICH: Sixteen, Papi.
MÖBIUS: What do you want to be?
ADOLF-FRIEDRICH: A minister, Papi.
MÖBIUS: I remember now. We were Walking across St.
Joseph's Square. I was holding your hand. The sun
was shining brightly and the shadows were just as
if they'd been drawn with a compass. (MÖBIUS turns
to the next boy.) And you - you are - ?
WILFRIED-KASPAR: My name is Wilfried-Kaspar, Papi.
WILFRIED-KASPAR: Fifteen. I should like to study phi-
FRAU ROSE: He's an exceptionally mature boy for his age.
WILFRIED-KASPAR: I have read Schopenhauer and Nietz-
FRAU ROSE: This is your youngest boy, Jörg-Lukas.
JÖRG-LUKAS: How do you do, Papi.
MÖBIUS: How do you do, Jörg-Lukas, my youngest.
FRAU ROSE: He's the one who takes after you most.
JÖRG-LUKAS: I want to be a physicist, Papi.
MÖBIUS stares at his youngest in horror.
MÖBIUS: A physicist?
JÖRG-LUKAS: Yes, Papi.
MÖBIUS: You mustn't, Jörg-Lukas. Not under any cir-
cumstances. You get that idea right out of your
head. I - I forbid it!
JÖRG-LUKAS looks puzzled.
JÖRG-LUKAS: But you became a physicist yourself, Papi -
MÖBIUS: I should never have been one, Jörg-Lukas.
Never. I wouldn't be in the madhouse now.
FRAU ROSE: But Johann Wilhelm. That's not right. You
are in a Sanatorium, not a madhouse. You're having
a little trouble with your nerves, that's all.
MÖBIUS shakes his head.
MÖBIUS: No, Lina. People say I am mad. Everybody.
Even you. And my boys too. Because King Solo-
mon appears to me.
They are all Struck dumb with embarrassment.
Then FRAU ROSE introduces HERR ROSE.
FRAU ROSE: Let me introduce Oskar Rose to you, Johann
Wilhelm. He is my husband. A missionary.
MÖBIUS: Your husband? But I'm your husband.
FRAU ROSE: Not any more, my little Johann Wilhelm.
(She blushes.) We're divorced, you know.
FRAU ROSE: Now you know that, surely?
FRAU ROSE: Doktor von Zahnd told you. Of course she
FRAU ROSE: And then I married Oskar. He has six boys
of his own. He was a minister at Guttannen and
now he has been given a post in the Marianas.
MÖBIUS: In the Marianas?
HERR ROSE: In the Pacific Ocean.
FRAU ROSE: We're joining the ship at Bremen tomorrow.
MÖBIUS: I see. (He stares at HERR ROSE. They are all embarrassed.)
FRAU ROSE: Yes, that's right.
MÖBIUS nods to HERR ROSE.
MÖBIUS: I am glad to make the acquaintance of my boys'
HERR ROSE: I have taken them to my bosom, Herr Mö-
bius, all three of them. God will provide. As the
psalmist says: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not
FRAU ROSE: Oskar knows all the psalms off by heart.
The Psalms of David, the Psalms of Solomon.
MÖBIUS: I am glad the boys have found such an excellent
father. I have not been a satisfactory father to them.
The three boys protest at this.
THREE BOYS: Ah, no, Papi.
MÖBIUS: And Lina has found a husband more worthy of her.
FRAU ROSE: But my dear little Johann Wilhelm -
MÖBIUS: I congratulate you. Heartiest congratulations.
FRAU ROSE: We must be going soon.
MÖBIUS: To the Marianas.
FRAU ROSE: I mean, we must say goodbye to one another.
MÖBIUS: For ever.
FRAU ROSE: Your sons are remarkably musical, Johann
Wilhelm. They are very gifted players on their
recorders. Play your papi something, boys, as a
THREE BOYS: Yes, mama.
ADOLF FRIEDRICH opens the briefcase and distributes recorders.
FRAU ROSE: Sit down, my little Johann Wilhelm.
MÖBIUS sits down at the round table, FRAU ROSE and
HERR ROSE sit down on the sofa. The boys take their
places in the middle of the room.
Now. What are you going to play?
JÖRG-LUKAS: A bit of Buxtehude.
FRAU ROSE: Ready - one, two, three.
The boys play.
More feeling, boys, more expression!
The boys play with more expression. MÖBIUS jumps up.
MÖBIUS: I'd rather they didn't. Please, don't!
The boys stop playing, bewildered.
Don't play any more. Please. For King Solomon's
sake. Don't play any more.
FRAU ROSE: But Johann Wilhelm!
MÖBIUS: Please, don't play any more. Please, don't play
any more, please, please.
HERR ROSE: Herr Möbius, King Solomon himself will
rejoice to hear the piping of these innocent lads.
Just think: Solomon, the Psalmist, Solomon, the
singer of the Song of Songs.
MÖBIUS: Herr Missionary. I have met Solomon face to
face. He is no longer the great golden king who sang
of the Shulamite, and of the two young roes
that are twins, which feed among the roses. He has
cast away his purple robe! (MÖBIUS suddenly dashes
past his horrified family to his room and throws
open the door.) Now here in my room he crouches
naked and stinking, the pauper king of truth, and
his psalms are horrible. Listen carefully, Herr Mis-
sionary. You love the words of the psalms and
know them all by heart. Well, you can learn these
by heart as well. (He has run to the round table
left, turned it over, climbed into it, and sat down.)
A Song of Solomon to be sung to the Cosmonauts.
We shagged off into outerspace
To the deserts of the moon. Foundered in her dust
Right from the Start there were plenty
That soundlessly shot their bolts out there.
But most of them cooked
In the lead fumes of Mercury, were wiped out
In the oil-swamps of Venus and
Even on Mars we were wolfed by the sun -
Thundering, radioactive, yellow.
An arrow-swift rotatory mediane mash
He, the almighty, slung over us
Till we spewed up our guts over Ganymede.
FRAU ROSE: But, Johann Wilhelm -
Saturn we greeted with curses
What came next, a waste of breath
Uranus Neptune Grayish-green, frozen to death
Over Pluto and Transpluto fell the final
We had long since mistaken the sun for
Sirius Sirius for Canopus
Outcasts we cast out, up into the deep
Toward a few white Stars
That we never reached anyhow
Long since mummied in our spacecraft
Caked with filth
In our deathsheads no more memories
Of breathing earth.
SISTER BOLL: But Herr Möbius!
SISTER BOLL has entered, right, with nurse Monika.
MÖBIUS sits staring blankly, his face like a mask, in-
side the overturned table.
MÖBIUS: And now get yourselves off to the Marianas!
FRAU ROSE: My little Johann Wilhelm -
THREE BOYS: Papi!
MÖBIUS: Get yourselves away! And quick about it! Off
to the Marianas the whole pack of you! (He stands
up with a threatening look. The rose family is non-
SISTER BOLL: Come, Frau Rose. Come, boys. Herr Rose.
He needs time to calm down.
MÖBIUS: Away with you! Get out!
SISTER BOLL: Just a mild attack. Nurse Monika will stay
with him and calm him down. Just a mild attack.
MÖBIUS: Get out, will you! For good and all! Off to the
Pacific with the lot of you!
JÖRG-LUKAS: Goodbye, Papi! Goodbye!
SISTER BOLL leads the overwrought and weeping
family off right. MÖBIUS goes on yelling unrestrain-
edly after them.
MÖBIUS: I never want to set eyes on you again! You have
insulted King Solomon! May you be damned for
ever! May you and the entire Marianas sink and
drown in the Mariana Deep! Four thousand fathoms
down! May you sink and rot in the blackest hole of
the sea, forgotten by God and man!
MONIKA: We're alone now. Your family can't hear you any more.
MÖBIUS stares wonderingly at NURSE MONIKA and
finally seems to come to himself.
MÖBIUS: Ah, yes, of course. (NURSE MONIKA is silent. He
is somewhat embarrassed.) Was I a bit violent?
MÖBIUS: I had to speak the truth.
MÖBIUS: I got worked up.
MONIKA: You were putting it on.
MÖBIUS: So you saw through me?
MONIKA: I've been looking after you for two years now.
He paces up and down, then stops.
MÖBIUS: All right. I admit I was just pretending to be
MÖBIUS: So that I could say goodbye to my wife and
sons for ever.
MONIKA: But why in such a dreadful way?
MÖBIUS: Oh no, it was a humane way. If you're in a
madhouse already, the only way to get rid of the
past is to behave like a madman. Now they can for-
get me with a clear conscience. My performance
finally cured them of ever wanting to see me again.
The consequences for myself are unimportant; life
outside this establishment is the only thing that
counts. Madness costs money. For fifteen years my
Lina has been paying out monstrous sums, and an
end had to be put to all that. This was a favorable
moment. King Solomon has revealed to me what
was to be revealed; the Principle of Universal Dis-
covery is complete, the final pages have been dic-
tated, and my wife has found a new husband, a mis-
sionary, a good man through and through. You
should feel reassured now, nurse. Everything is in
order. (He is about to go.)
MONIKA: You had it all planned.
MÖBIUS: I am a physicist. (He turns to go to his room.)
MONIKA: Herr Möbius.
MÖBIUS: Yes, nurse?
MONIKA: I have something to tell you.
MONIKA: It concerns us both.
MÖBIUS: Let's sit down.
They sit down: she on the sofa, he in the armchair on its left.
MONIKA: We must say goodbye to one another too. And
He is frightened.
MÖBIUS: Are you leaving me?
MÖBIUS: What has happened?
MONIKA: I'm being transferred to the main building.
From tomorrow the patients here will be supervised
by male attendants. Nurses won't be allowed to
enter the villa any more.
MÖBIUS: Because of NEWTON and Einstein?
MONIKA: At the request of the public prosecutor.
Doktor von Zahnd feared there would be difficulties and
Silence. He is dejected.
MÖBIUS: Nurse Monika, I don't know what to say.
I've forgotten how to express my feelings; talking shop
with the two sick men I live with can hardly be
called conversation. I am afraid that I may have
dried up inside as well. Yet you ought to know
that for me everything has been different since I
got to know you. It's been more bearable. These
were two years during which I was happier than
before. Because through you, Nurse Monika, I have
found the courage to accept being shut away, to
accept the fate of being a madman. Goodbye. (He
stands, holding out his hand.)
MONIKA: Herr Möbius, I don't think you are mad.
MÖBIUS laughs and sits down again.
MÖBIUS: Neither do I. But that does not alter my posi-
tion in any way. It's my misfortune that King Solo-
mon keeps appearing to me and in the realm of
science there is nothing more repugnant than a
MONIKA: Herr Möbius, I believe in this miracle.
MÖBIUS stares at her, disconcerted.
MÖBIUS: You believe in it?
MONIKA: I believe in King Solomon.
MÖBIUS: And that he appears to me?
MONIKA: That he appears to you.
MÖBIUS: Day in, day out?
MONIKA: Day in, day out.
MÖBIUS: And you believe that he dictates the secrets of
nature to me? How all things connect? The Princi-
ple of Universal Discovery?
MONIKA: I believe all that. And if you were to tell me
that King David and all his court appeared before
you I should believe it all. I simply know that you
are not sick. I can feel it.
Silence. Then MÖBIUS leaps to his feet.
MÖBIUS: Nurse Monika! Get out of here!
She remains seated.
MONIKA: I'm staying.
MÖBIUS: I never want to see you again.
MONIKA: You need me. Apart from me, you have no one
left in all the world. Not one single person.
MÖBIUS: It is fatal to believe in King Solomon.
MONIKA: I love you.
MÖBIUS stares perplexed at MONIKA, and sits dowm
MÖBIUS: I love you too. (She stares at him.) That is why
you are in danger. Because we love one another.
EINSTEIN, smoking his pipe, comes out of Room Number
EINSTEIN: I woke up again. I suddenly remembered.
MONIKA: Now, Herr Professor.
EINSTEIN: I strangled Nurse Irene.
MONIKA: Try not to think about it, Herr Professor.
He looks at his hands.
EINSTEIN: Shall I ever again be able to touch my violin
with these hands?
MÖBIUS stands up as if to protect MONIKA.
MÖBIUS: You were playing just now.
EINSTEIN: Well, I hope?
MÖBIUS: The Kreutzer Sonata. While the police were
EINSTEIN: The Kreutzer! Well, thank God for that!
(His face, having brightened, clouds over again.)
All the same, I don't like playing the fiddle and I
don't like this pipe either. It's foul.
MÖBIUS: Then give them up.
EINSTEIN: I can't do that, not if I'm Albert Einstein.
(He gives them both a sharp look.) Are you two
MONIKA: We are in love.
EINSTEIN proceeds thoughtfully backstage to where
the murdered nurse lay.
EINSTEIN: Nurse Irene and I were in love too. She would
have done anything for me. I warned her. I shouted
at her. I treated her like a dog. I implored her to
run away before it was too late. In vain. She stayed.
She wanted to take me away into the country. To
Kohlwang. She wanted to marry me. She even ob-
tained permission for the wedding from Fräulein
Doktor von Zahnd herself. Then I strangled her.
Poor Nurse Irene. In all the world there's nothing
more absurd than a woman's frantic desire for self-
MONIKA goes to him.
MONIKA: Go and lie down again, Herr Professor.
EINSTEIN: You may call me Albert.
MONIKA: Be sensible, now, Albert.
EINSTEIN: And you be sensible, too, Nurse. Obey the
man you love and run away from him; or you're lost.
(He turns back toward Room Number 2.) I'm
going back to bed. (He disappears into Room Num-
MONIKA: That poor, confused creature.
MÖBIUS: Well, he must have convinced you finally of
the impossibility of remaining in love with me.
MONIKA: But you're not mad.
MÖBIUS: It would be wiser if you were to treat me as if
I were. Make your escape now! Go on, run! Clear
off! Or I'll treat you like a dog myself.
MONIKA: Why can't you treat me like a woman?
MÖBIUS: Come here, Monika. (He leads her to an arm-
chair, sits down opposite her, and takes her hands.)
Listen. I have committed a grave mistake. I have not
kept King Solomon's appearances to myself. So he
is making me atone for it. For life. But you ought
not to be punished for what I did. In the eyes of
the world, you are in love with a man who is men-
tally sick. You're simply asking for trouble. Leave
this place; forget me: that would be the best thing
for us both.
MONIKA: Don't you want me?
MÖBIUS: Why do you talk like that?
MONIKA: I want to sleep with you. I want to have chil-
dren by you. I know I'm talking quite shamelessly.
But why won't you look at me? Don't you find me
attractive? I know these nurses' uniforms are hide-
ous. (She tears off her nurse's cap.) I hate my pro-
fession! For five years Five been looking after sick
people out of love for my fellow-beings. I never
flinched; everyone could count on me: I sacrificed
myself. But now I want to sacrifice myself for one
person alone, to exist for one person alone, and not
for everybody all the time. I want to exist for the
man I love. For you. I will do anything you ask,
work for you day and night: only you can't send
me away! I have no one else in the world! I am as
much alone as you.
MÖBIUS: Monika. I must send you away.
MONIKA (despairing): But don't you feel any love for
me at all?
MÖBIUS: I love you, Monika. Good God, I love you.
That's what's mad.
MONIKA: Then why do you betray me? and not only me.
You say that King Solomon appears to you. Why
do you betray him too?
MÖBIUS, terribly worked up, takes hold of her.
MÖBIUS: Monika! You can believe what you like of me.
I'm a weakling; all right. I am unworthy of your
love. But I have always remained faithful to King
Solomon. He thrust himself into my life, suddenly,
unbidden, he abused me, he destroyed my life, but
I have never betrayed him.
MONIKA: Are you sure?
MÖBIUS: Do you doubt it?
MONIKA: You think you have to atone because you have
not kept his appearances secret. But perhaps it is
because you do not stand up for his revelations.
He lets her go.
MÖBIUS: I - I don't follow you.
MONIKA: He dictates to you the Principle of Universal
Discovery. Why won't you fight for that principle?
MÖBIUS: But after all, people do regard me as a madman.
MONIKA: Why can't you show more spirit?
MÖBIUS: In my case, to show spirit would be a crime.
MONIKA: Johann Wilhelm. I've spoken to Fräulein Dok-
tor von Zahnd.
MÖBIUS stares at her.
MÖBIUS: You spoke to her?
MONIKA: You are free.
MONIKA: We can get married.
MONIKA: Fräulein Doktor von Zahnd has arranged every-
thing. Of course, she still considers you're a sick
man, but not dangerous. And it's not a hereditary
sickness. She said she was madder than you, and she
MÖBIUS: That was good of her.
MONIKA: She's a great woman.
MONIKA: Johann Wilhelm! I've accepted a post as dis-
trict nurse in Blumenstein. I've been saving up. We
have no need to worry. All we need is to keep our
love for each other.
MÖBIUS has stood up. It gradually gets darker in the
Isn't it wonderful?
MÖBIUS: Indeed, yes.
MONIKA: You don't sound very happy.
MÖBIUS: It's all happened so unexpectedly -
MONIKA: I've done something else.
MÖBIUS: What would that be?
MONIKA: I spoke to Professor Schubert.
MÖBIUS: He was my teacher.
MONIKA: He remembered you perfectly. He said you'd
been his best pupil.
MÖBIUS: And what did you talk to him about?
MONIKA: He promised he would examine your manu-
scripts with an open mind.
MÖBIUS: Did you explain that they have been dictated
by King Solomon?
MONIKA: He just laughed. He said you'd always been
a bit of a joker. Johann Wilhelm! We mustn't think
just of ourselves. You are a chosen being. King
Solomon appeared to you, revealed himself in all
his glory and confided in you the wisdom of the
heavens. Now you have to take the way ordained
by that miracle, turning to neither left nor right,
even if that way leads through mockery and laugh-
ter, through disbelief and doubt. But the way leads
out of this asylum, Johann Wilhelm, it leads into
the outside world, not into loneliness, it leads into
battle. I am here to help you, to fight at your side.
Heaven, that sent you King Solomon, sent me too.
MÖBIUS stares out of the window.
MÖBIUS: Yes dear?
MONIKA: Aren't you happy?
MONIKA: Now we must get your bags packed. The train
for Blumenstein leaves at eight twenty.
MÖBIUS: There's not much to pack.
MONIKA: It's got quite dark.
MÖBIUS: The nights are drawing in quickly now.
MONIKA: I'll switch on the light.
MÖBIUS: Wait a moment. Come here.
She goes to him. Only their silhouettes are visible.
MONIKA: You have tears in your eyes.
MÖBIUS: So have you.
MONIKA: Tears of happiness.
He rips down the curtain and flings it over her. A
brief struggle. Their silhouettes are no longer visible.
Then silence. The door to Room Number 3 opens.
A shaft of light shines into the darkened room. In
the doorway stands NEWTON in eighteenth-century
costume. MÖBIUS rises.
NEWTON: What's happened?
MÖBIUS: I've strangled Nurse Monika Stettler.
The sound of a fiddle playing comes from Room
NEWTON: Einstein's off again. Kreisler. Humoresque.
(He goes to the fireplace and gets the brandy.)
One hour later. The some room. It is dark outside. The
police are again present, measuring, sketching, photo-
graphing. But this time the corpse of MONIKA STETTLER
cannot be seen by the audience and it is assumed to be
lying backstage right, below the window. The drawing
room is brightly lit. The chandelier and the standard
lamp have been switched on. On the sofa sits FRÄULEIN
DOKTOR MATHILDE VON ZAHND, looking gloomy pre-
occupied. There is a box of cigars on the small table in
front of her. guhl, with his stenographer's notebook, is
occupying the armchair on the extreme right. INSPECTOR
VOSS, wearing his coat and hat, turns away from where
the corpse is presumed to be lying and comes downstage.
FRL. DOKTOR: Cigar?
INSPECTOR: No, thanks.
FRL. DOKTOR: Brandy?
Blocher, you can take your photographs now.
BLOCHER: Very well, Inspector. (Photographs and
INSPECTOR: What was the nurse's name?
FRL. DOKTOR: Monika Stettler.
FRL. DOKTOR: Twenty-five. From Blumenstein.
INSPECTOR: Any relatives?
FRL. DOKTOR: None.
INSPECTOR: Have you got the statement down, Guhl?
GUHL: Yes, sir.
INSPECTOR: Strangled again, doctor?
POLICE DOCTOR: Quite definitely. And again, tremendous
strength was used. But with the curtain cord this time.
INSPECTOR: Just like three months ago. (He sits down
wearily in the armchair downstage right.)
FRL. DOKTOR: Would you like to have the murderer
INSPECTOR: Please, Fräulein Doktor.
FRL. DOKTOR: I mean, the assailant.
INSPECTOR: I don't think so.
FRL. DOKTOR: But -
INSPECTOR: Fräulein Doktor von Zahnd. I am doing my
duty, taking down evidence, examining the corpse,
having it photographed and getting the police doc-
tor's opinion. But I do not wish to examine Möbius.
I leave him to you. Along with the other radioactive
FRL. DOKTOR: And the public prosecutor?
INSPECTOR: He's past being angry now. He's just brood-
The DOKTOR wipes her forehead.
FRL. DOKTOR: Warm in here.
INSPECTOR: I don't think so.
FRL. DOKTOR: This third murder -
INSPECTOR: Please, Fräulein Doktor.
FRL. DOKTOR: This third accident is the end as far as
my work at Les Cerisiers goes. Now I can resign.
Monika Stettler was my best nurse. She understood
the patients. She could enter into their states of
mind. I loved her like a daughter. But her death
is not the worst thing that's happened. My reputa-
tion as a doctor is ruined.
INSPECTOR: You'll build it up again. Blocher, get another
shot from above.
BLOCHER: Very well, Herr Inspektor.
Two enormous male attendants enter right pushing
a trolley with food, plates, and cutlery on it. One
of them is a Negro. They are accompanied by a
chief male attendant who is equally enormous.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Dinner for the dear good patients, Fräu-
The INSPECTOR jumps up.
INSPECTOR: Uwe Sievers.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Correct, Herr Inspektor. Uwe Sievers.
Former European heavyweight boxing champion.
Now chief male attendant at Les Cerisiers.
INSPECTOR: And these two other bruisers?
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Murillo, South American champion, also
a heavyweight. And McArthur (Pointing to the
Negro:), North American middleweight champion.
McArthur, the table.
MC ARTHUR rights the overturned table.
Murillo, the tablecloth.
MURILLO spreads a white cloth over the table.
McArthur, the Meissen.
MC ARTHUR lays the plates.
Murillo, the silver.
MURILLO lays out the silver.
McArthur, the soup tureen in the middle.
MC ARTHUR sets the soup tureen in the center of the table.
INSPECTOR: And what are the dear good patients having
for dinner? (He lifts the lid of the tureen.) Liver-
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Poulet à la broche. Cordon Bleu.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: First class.
INSPECTOR: I am a mere fourteenth-class official. Plain
cooking is all we can run to in my home.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Fräulein Doktor. Dinner is served.
FRL. DOKTOR: Thank you, Sievers. You may go. The pa-
tients will help themselves.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Herr Inspektor. Glad to have made your
The three attendants bow and go out right. The
INSPECTOR gazes after them.
INSPECTOR: Well I'm damned.
FRL. DOKTOR: Satisfied?
INSPECTOR: Envious. If we had them with the police -
FRL. DOKTOR: Their wages are astronomical.
INSPECTOR: With all your industrial barons and multi-
millionairesses you can certainly afford such luxu-
ries. Those fellows will finally set the public prose-
cutor's mind at rest. They wouldn't let anyone slip
through their fingers.
From Room Number 2 comes the sound of EINSTEIN
playing his fiddle. There's EINSTEIN at it again.
FRL. DOKTOR: Kreisler. As usual. Liebesleid. The pangs
BLOCHER: We're finished now, Herr Inspektor.
INSPECTOR: Take the body out. Again.
Two policemen lift the corpse. Then MÖBIUS rushes
out of Room Number 1.
MÖBIUS: Monika! My beloved!
The two policemen stand still, carrying the corpse.
FRÄULEIN DOKTOR rises majestically.
FRL. DOKTOR: Möbius! How could you do it! You have
killed my best nurse, my sweetest nurse!
MÖBIUS: I'm sorry, Fräulein Doktor.
FRL. DOKTOR: Sorry.
MÖBIUS: King Solomon ordained it.
FRL. DOKTOR: King Solomon. (She sits down again, heav-
ily. Her face is white.) So it was His Majesty who
arranged the murder.
MÖBIUS: I was standing at the window staring out into
the falling dusk. Then the King came floating up
out of the park over the terrace, right up close to
me, and whispered his commands to me through the
FRL. DOKTOR: Excuse me, Inspector, my nerves.
INSPECTOR: Don't mention it.
FRL. DOKTOR: A place like this wears one out.
INSPECTOR: I can well believe it.
FRL. DOKTOR: If you'll excuse me - (She stands up.) Herr
Inspektor Voss, please express my profound regret
to the public prosecutor for the incidents that have
taken place in my Sanatorium. Kindly assure him
that everything is now well in hand again. Doctor,
gentlemen, it was a pleasure. (She first of all goes
upstage right, bows her head ceremoniously before
the corpse, looks at MÖBIUS and goes off right.)
INSPECTOR: There. Now you can take the body into the
chapel. Put her beside Nurse Irene.
The two policemen carrying the corpse and the
others carrying their apparatus go out through the
doors to the garden. The police doctor follows them.
Monika, my love.
The INSPECTOR walks to the small table beside the
INSPECTOR: Möbius, come and sit down. Now I abso-
lutely must have a cigar. I've earned it. (He takes
a gigantic cigar out of the box and considers its
size.) Good grief! (He bites off the end and lights
the cigar.) My dear Möbius, behind the fireguard
you will find a bottle of brandy hidden away by Sir
MÖBIUS: Certainly, Herr Inspektor.
The INSPECTOR blows out clouds of smoke while
MÖBIUS goes and gets the brandy and the glass.
May I pour you one?
INSPECTOR: Indeed you may. (He takes the glass and
MÖBIUS pours out another glass.
MÖBIUS: Herr Inspektor, I must ask you to arrest me.
INSPECTOR: But what for, my dear Möbius?
MÖBIUS: Well, after all, Nurse Monika -
INSPECTOR: You yourself admitted that you acted under
the ordere of King Solomon. As long as I'm unable
to arrest him you are a free man.
MÖBIUS: All the same -
INSPECTOR: There's no question of all the same. Pour me
MÖBIUS: Certainly, Herr Inspektor.
INSPECTOR: And now hide the brandy bottle away again
or the attendants will be getting drunk on it.
MÖBIUS: Very well, Herr Inspektor. (He puts the brandy
INSPECTOR: You see, it's like this. Every year in this small
town and the surrounding district, I arrest a few
murderers. Not many. A bare half-dozen. Some of
these it gives me great pleasure to apprehend; others
I feel sorry for. All the same I have to arrest them.
Justice is Justice. And then you come along and
your two colleagues. At first I felt angry at not
being able to proceed with the arrests. But now?
All at once I'm enjoying myself. I could shout with
joy. I have discovered three murderers whom I can,
with an easy conscience, leave unmolested. For the
first time Justice is on holiday - and it's a terrific
feeling. Justice, my friend, is a terrible strain; you
wear yourself out in its service, both physically and
morally; I need a breathing space, that's all. Thanks
to you, my dear Möbius, I've got it. Well, goodbye.
Give my kindest regards to Einstein and Newton.
MÖBIUS: Very well, Herr Inspektor.
INSPECTOR: And my respects to King Solomon.
The INSPECTOR goes. MÖBIUS is left alone. He sits
down on the sofa and takes his head in his hands.
NEWTON comes out of Room Number 3.
NEWTON: What's cooking?
MÖBIUS does not reply.
NEWTON takes the lid off the tureen.
Liver-dumpling soup. (Lifts the lid off the other
dishes on the trolley.) Poulet à la broche, Cordon
Bleu. Extraordinary. We usually only have a light
supper in the evenings. And a very modest one. Ever
since the other patients were moved into the new
building. (He helps himself to soup.) Lost your
MÖBIUS remains silent.
I quite understand. I lost mine too after my nurse.
(He sits and begins to drink the soup.)
MÖBIUS rises and is about to go to his room.
MÖBIUS: Sir Isaac?
NEWTON: I have something to say to you, Möbius.
MÖBIUS remains standing.
NEWTON gestures at the food.
NEWTON: Wouldn't you like to try just a spoonful of the
liver-dumpling soup? It's excellent.
NEWTON: Möbius, we are no longer lovingly tended by
nurses, we are being guarded by male attendants.
Great hefty fellows.
MÖBIUS: That's of no consequence.
NEWTON: Perhaps not to you, Möbius. It's obvious you
really want to spend the rest of your days in a mad-
house. But it is of some consequence to me. The fact is,
I want to get out of here. (He finishes his
plate of soup.) Mmm - Now for the poulet à la
broche. (He helps himself.) These new attendants
have compelled me to act straight away.
MÖBIUS: That's your affair.
NEWTON: Not altogether. A confession, Möbius. I am not mad.
MÖBIUS: But of course not, Sir Isaac.
NEWTON: I am not Sir Isaac Newton.
MÖBIUS: I know. Albert Einstein.
NEWTON: Fiddlesticks. Nor am I Herbert Georg Beutler,
as they think here. My real name, dear boy,
MÖBIUS stares at him in horror.
MÖBIUS: Alec Jaspar Kilton?
MÖBIUS: The author of the Theory of Equivalents?
NEWTON: The very same.
MÖBIUS moves over to the table.
MÖBIUS: So you wangled your way in here?
NEWTON: By pretending to be mad.
MÖBIUS: In order to - spy on me?
NEWTON: In order to get to the root of your madness.
My impeccable German was acquired in our Intelli-
gence Service. A frightful grind.
MÖBIUS: And because poor Nurse Dorothea stumbled on
the truth, you -
NEWTON: - Yes. I am most extraordinarily sorry about
the whole thing.
MÖBIUS: I understand.
NEWTON: Orders are orders.
MÖBIUS: Of course.
NEWTON: I couldn't do anything else.
NEWTON: My whole mission hung in the balance, the
most secret undertaking of our Secret Service. I had
to kill, if I wanted to avert suspicion. Nurse Doro-
thea no longer considered me to be demented;
Fräulein Doktor von Zahnd thought I was only
slightly touched; to prove my total insanity I had
to commit a murder. I say, this poulet à la broche is
EINSTEIN is fiddling in Room Number 2.
MÖBIUS: Einstein's at it again.
NEWTON: That Bach Gavotte.
MÖBIUS: His dinner's getting cold.
NEWTON: Let the old idiot get on with his fiddling.
MÖBIUS: Is that a threat?
NEWTON: I have the most immeasurable respect for you.
It would grieve me to have to take violent steps.
MÖBIUS: So your mission is to abduct me?
NEWTON: Yes, if the suspicions of our Intelligence Serv-
ice prove correct.
MÖBIUS: What would they be?
NEWTON: Our Intelligence Service happens to consider
you to be the greatest genius among present-day
MÖBIUS: I'm a man whose nerves are sick, Kilton, that's
NEWTON: Our Intelligence Service has other ideas on the
MÖBIUS: And what is your opinion?
NEWTON: I simply consider you to be the greatest physi-
cist of all time.
MÖBIUS: And how did your Intelligence Service get on
NEWTON: Through me. Quite by chance I read your dis-
sertation on the foundations of a new concept of
physics. At first I thought it was a practical joke.
Then the scales seemed to fall from my eyes. I real-
ized I was reading the greatest work of genius in the
history of physics. I began to make inquiries about
its author but made no progress. Thereupon I in-
formed our Intelligence Service: they got on to you.
EINSTEIN: You were not the only one who read that
dissertation, Kilton. (He has entered unnoticed
from Room Number 2 with his fiddle and bow
under his arm.) As a matter of fact, I'm not mad
either. May I introduce myself? I too am a physicist.
Member of a certain Intelligence Service. A some-
what different one from yours, Kilton. My name is
MÖBIUS: The discoverer of the Eisler-effect?
EINSTEIN: The very same.
NEWTON: "Disappeared" in 1950.
EINSTEIN: Of my own free will.
NEWTON is suddenly seen to have a revolver in his hand.
NEWTON: Eisler, might I trouble you to stand with your
face to the wall, please?
EINSTEIN: Why of course. (He saunters easily across to
the window seat, lays his fiddle and bow on the
mantelpiece, then swiftly turns with a revolver in
his hand.) My dear Kilton, we both, I suspect, know
how to handle these things, so don't you think it
would be better if we were to avoid a duel? If pos-
sible? I shall gladly lay down my Browning if you
will do the same with your Colt.
EINSTEIN: Behind the fireguard with the brandy. Just
in case the attendants come in suddenly.
They both put their revolvers behind the fireguard.
EINSTEIN: You've messed up all my plans, Kilton. I
thought you really were mad.
NEWTON: Never mind: I thought you were.
EINSTEIN: Things kept going wrong. That business with
Nurse Irene, for example, this afternoon. She was
getting suspicious, and so she signed her own death
warrant. I am most extraordinarily sorry about the
MÖBIUS: I understand.
EINSTEIN: Orders are orders.
MÖBIUS: Of course.
EINSTEIN: I couldn't do anything else.
EINSTEIN: My whole mission hung in the balance; it was
the most secret undertaking of our Secret Service.
But let's sit down.
NEWTON: Yes, let's sit down.
He sits down on the left side of the table, EINSTEIN
on the right.
MÖBIUS: Eisler, I presume that you, too, want to compel
me now to -
EINSTEIN: Now MÖBIUS -
MÖBIUS: - want to persuade me to visit your country.
EINSTEIN: We also consider you to be the greatest physi-
cist of all time. But just at the moment all I'm inter-
ested in is my dinner. It's a real gallows-feast. (He
ladles soup into his plate.) Still no appetite, Möbius?
MÖBIUS: Yes; it's suddenly come back. Now that you've
both got to the bottom of things. (He sits down
between them at the table and helps himself to the
NEWTON: Burgundy, Möbius?
MÖBIUS: Go ahead.
NEWTON pours out the wine.
NEWTON: I'll attack the Cordon Bleu, what?
MÖBIUS: Make yourselves perfectly at home.
NEWTON: Bon appetit.
EINSTEIN: Bon appetit.
MÖBIUS: Bon appetit.
They eat. The three male attendants come in right,
the CHIEF ATTENDANT carrying a notebook.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Patient Beutler!
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Patient Ernesti!
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Patient Möbius!
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Head Nurse Sievers, Nurse Murillo,
Nurse McArthur. (He puts the notebook away.)
On the recommendation of the authorities, certain
security measures are to be observed. Murillo. The
MURILLO lets down a metal grille over the window.
The room now suddenly has the aspect of a prison.
McArthur. Lock up.
MC ARTHUR locks the grille.
Have the gentlemen any further requests before re-
tiring for the night? Patient Beutler?
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Patient Ernesti?
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Patient Möbius?
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Gentlemen, we take our leave. Good
night. The three attendants go. Silence.
NEWTON: They've got more of the brutes lurking in the
park. I've been watching them from my window for
EINSTEIN goes up and inspects the grille.
EINSTEIN: Solid steel. With a special lock.
NEWTON goes to the door of his room, opens it, and looks in.
NEWTON: They've put a grille over my window. Quick
work. (He opens the other two doors.) Same for
Eisler. And for Möbius. (He goes to the door right.)
Locked. (He sits down again. So does EINSTEIN.)
NEWTON: Only logical. What with our nurses and every-
EINSTEIN: We'll never get out of this madhouse now un-
less we act together.
MÖBIUS: I do not wish to escape.
EINSTEIN: MÖBIUS -
MÖBIUS: I see no reason for it at all. On the contrary. I
am quite satisfied with my fate.
NEWTON: But I'm not satisfied with it. That's a fairly
decisive dement in the case, don't you think? With
all respect to your personal feelings, you are a genius
and therefore common property. You mapped out
new directions in physics. But you haven't a mo-
nopoly of knowledge. It is your duty to open the
doors for us, the non-geniuses. Come on out: within
a year, we'll have you in a top hat, white tie and
tails, fly you to Stockholm and give you the Nobel prize.
MÖBIUS: Your Intelligence Service is very altruistic.
NEWTON: I don't mind telling you, Möbius, they have a
suspicion that you've solved the problem of gravi-
MÖBIUS: I have.
EINSTEIN: You say that as if it were nothing.
MÖBIUS: How else should I say it?
EINSTEIN: Our Intelligence Service believed you would
discover the Unitary Theory of Elementary Particles.
MÖBIUS: Then I can set their minds at rest as well. I have
NEWTON mops his forehead.
NEWTON: The basic formula.
EINSTEIN: It's ludicrous. Here we have hordes of highly
paid physicists in gigantic state-supported labora-
tories working for years and years and years vainly
trying to make some progress in the realm of physics
while you do it quite casually at your desk in this
madhouse. (He too mops his forehead.)
NEWTON: Möbius. What about the - the Principle of
MÖBIUS: Yes, something on those lines, too. I did it out
of curiosity, as a practical corollary to my theoreti-
cal investigations. Why play the innocent? We have
to face the consequences of our scientific thinking.
It was my duty to work out the effects that would
be produced by my Unitary Theory of Elementary
Particles and by my discoveries in the field of gravi-
tation. The result is - devastating. New and incon-
ceivable forces would be unleashed, making possible
a technical advance that would transcend the wildest
flights of fantasy if my findings were to fall into
the hands of mankind.
EINSTEIN: And that can scarcely be avoided.
NEWTON: The only question is: who's going to get at
MÖBIUS: You'd like that for your own Intelligence Serv-
ice, wouldn't you, Kilton, and the military machine
NEWTON: And why not? It seems to me, if it can restore
the greatest physicist of all time to the confraternity
of the physical sciences, any military machine is a
sacred Instrument. It's nothing more nor less than
a question of the freedom of scientific knowledge.
It doesn't matter who guarantees that freedom. I
give my Services to any System, providing that sys-
tem leaves me alone. I know there's a lot of talk
nowadays about physicists' moral responsibilities.
We suddenly find ourselves confronted with our
own fears and we have a fit of morality. This is
nonsense. We have far-reaching, pioneering work
to do and that's all that should concern us. Whether
or not humanity has the wit to follow the new trails
we are blazing is its own look-out, not ours.
EINSTEIN: Admittedly we have pioneer work to do.
I believe that too. But all the same we cannot escape
our responsibilities. We are providing humanity
with colossal sources of power. That gives us the
right to impose conditions. If we are physicists, then
we must become power politicians. We must decide
in whose favor we shall apply our knowledge, and I
for one have made my decision. Whereas you, Kil-
ton, are nothing but a lamentable aesthete. If you
feel so strongly about the freedom of knowledge
why don't you come over to our side? We too for
some time now have found it impossible to dictate
to our physicists. We too need results. Our political
system too must eat out of the scientist's hand.
NEWTON: Both our political Systems, Eisler, must now
eat out of Möbius's hand.
EINSTEIN: On the contrary. He must do what we tell
him. We have finally got him in check.
NEWTON: You think so? It looks more like stalemate to
me. Our Intelligence Services, unfortunately, both
hit upon the same idea. So don't let's delude our-
selves. Let's face the impossible Situation we've got
ourselves into. If MÖBIUS goes with you, I can't do
anything about it because you would stop me. And
similarly you would be helpless if Möbius decided
in my favor. It isn't we who have the choice, it's
EINSTEIN rises ceremoniously.
EINSTEIN: Let us retrieve our revolvers.
NEWTON rises likewise.
NEWTON: Let us do battle. (NEWTON brings the two re-
volvers and hands EINSTEIN his weapon.)
EINSTEIN: I'm sorry this affair is moving to a bloody
conclusion. But we must fight it out, between us
and then with the attendants. If need be with
Möbius himself. He may well be the most important
man in the world, but his manuscripts are more im-
MÖBIUS: My manuscripts? I've burned them.
EINSTEIN: Burned them?
MÖBIUS (embarrassed): I had to. Before the police came
back. So as not to be found out.
EINSTEIN bursts into despairing laughter.
NEWTON screams with rage.
NEWTON: Fifteen years' work.
EINSTEIN: I shall go mad.
NEWTON: Officially, you already are.
They put their revolvers in their pockets and sit
down, utterly crushed, on the sofa.
EINSTEIN: We've played right into your hands, Möbius.
NEWTON: And to think that for this I had to strangle a
nurse and learn German!
EINSTEIN: And I had to learn to play the fiddle. It was
torture for someone like me with no ear for music.
MÖBIUS: Shall we go on with dinner?
NEWTON: I've lost my appetite.
EINSTEIN: Pity about the Cordon Bleu.
MÖBIUS: Here we are, three physicists. The decision we
have to make is one that we must make as physicists;
we must go about it therefore in a scientific manner.
We must not let ourselves be influenced by personal
feelings but by logical processes. We must endeavor
to find a rational Solution. We cannot afford to
make mistakes in our thinking, because a false con-
clusion would lead to catastrophe. The basic facts
are clear. All three of us have the same end in view,
but our tactics differ. Our aim is the advancement
of physics. You, Kilton, want to preserve the free-
dom of that science, and argue that it has no re-
sponsibility but to itself. On the other hand you,
Eisler, see physics as responsible to the power poli-
tics of one particular country. What is the real
position now? That's what I must know if I have
to make a decision.
NEWTON: Some of the world's most famous physicists are
waiting to welcome you. Remuneration and accom-
modation could not be better. The climate is mur-
derous, but the air-conditioning is excellent.
MÖBIUS: But are these physicists free men?
NEWTON: My dear Möbius, these physicists declare they
are ready to solve scientific problems which are de-
cisive for the defense of the country. Therefore,
you must understand -
MÖBIUS: So they are not free. (He turns to EINSTEIN:)
Joseph Eisler, your line is power politics. But that
requires power. Have you got it?
EINSTEIN: You misunderstand me, Möbius. My political
power, to be precise, lies in the fact that I have re-
nounced my own power in favor of a political party.
MÖBIUS: Would you be able to persuade that party to
take on your responsibility, or is there a risk of the
party persuading you?
EINSTEIN: Möbius, that's ridiculous. I can only hope that
the party will follow my recommendations, nothing
more. In any case, without hope, all political sys-
tems are untenable.
MÖBIUS: Are your physicists free at least?
EINSTEIN: Well, naturally, they too are needed for the
defense of the country -
MÖBIUS: Extraordinary. Each of you is trying to palm
off a different theory, yet the reality you offer me
is the same in both cases: a prison. I'd prefer the
madhouse. Here at least I feel safe from the exac-
tions of power politicians.
EINSTEIN: But after all, one must take certain risks.
MÖBIUS: There are certain risks that one may not take:
the destruction of humanity is one. We know what
the world has done with the weapons it already
possesses; we can imagine what it would do with
those that my researches make possible, and it is
these considerations that have governed my conduct.
I was poor. I had a wife and three children. Fame
beckoned from the university; industry tempted me
with money. Both courses were too dangerous. I
should have had to publish the result of my re-
searches, and the consequences would have been the
overthrow of all scientific knowledge and the break-
down of the economic structure of our society. A
sense of responsibility compelled me to choose an-
other course. I threw up my academic career, said
no to industry, and abandoned my family to its fate.
I took on the fool's cap and bells. I let it be known
that King Solomon kept appearing to me, and be-
fore long, I was clapped into a madhouse.
NEWTON: But that couldn't solve anything.
MÖBIUS: Reason demanded the taking of this step.
In the realm of knowledge we have reached the farthest
frontiers of perception. We know a few precisely
calculable laws, a few basic connections between
incomprehensible phenomena and that is all. The
rest is mystery closed to the rational mind. We have
reached the end of our journey. But humanity has
not yet got as far as that. We have battled onwards,
but now no one is following in our footsteps; we
have encountered a void. Our knowledge has be-
come a frightening bürden. Our researches are
perilous, our discoveries are lethal. For us physicists
there is nothing left but to surrender to reality. It
has not kept up with us. It disintegrates on touching
us. We have to take back our knowledge and I have
taken it back. There is no other way out, and that
goes for you as well.
EINSTEIN: What do you mean by that?
MÖBIUS: You must stay with me here in the madhouse.
NEWTON: What! Us?
MÖBIUS: Both of you.
NEWTON: But Möbius, surely you can't expect us to -
for the rest of our days to -
MÖBIUS: I expect you have secret radio transmitters.
MÖBIUS: You inform your superior that you have made
a mistake, that I really am mad.
EINSTEIN: Then we'd be stuck here for the rest of our
lives. Nobody's going to lose any sleep over a broken-
MÖBIUS: But it's the one chance I have to remain unde-
tected. Only in the madhouse can we be free. Only
in the madhouse can we think our own thoughts.
Outside they would be dynamite.
NEWTON: But damn it all, we're not mad.
MÖBIUS: But we are murderers.
They stare at him in perplexity.
NEWTON: I resent that!
EINSTEIN: You shouldn't have said that, Möbius!
MÖBIUS: Anyone who takes life is a murderer, and we
have taken life. Each of us came to this establish-
ment for a definite purpose. Each of us killed his
nurse, again for a definite purpose. You two did it
so as not to endanger the outcome of your secret
mission; and I, because Nurse Monika believed in
me. She thought I was an unrecognized genius. She
did not realize that today it's the duty of a genius
to remain unrecognized. Kalling is a terrible thing.
I killed in order to avoid an even more dreadful
murder. Then you come along. I can't do away
with you, but perhaps I can bring you round to my
way of thinking. Are those murders we committed
to stand for nothing? Either they were sacrificial
killings, or just piain murders. Either we stay in this
madhouse or the world becomes one. Either we
wipe ourselves out of the memory of mankind or
mankind wipes out itself.
NEWTON: This place. These ghastly male attendants.
That hunchback of a doctor!
EINSTEIN: We're caged in, like wild beasts!
MÖBIUS: We are wild beasts. We ought not to be let
loose on humanity.
NEWTON: Is there really no other way out?
MÖBIUS: None. Silence.
EINSTEIN: Johann Wilhelm Möbius, I am a man of in-
tegrity. I'm staying.
NEWTON: I'm staying too, for ever.
MÖBIUS: Thank you. Thank you for leaving the world
this faint chance of survival. (He raises his glass.)
To our nurses!
They have gravely risen to their feet.
NEWTON: I drink to Dorothea Moser.
THE OTHERS: Nurse Dorothea!
NEWTON: Dorothea! You had to be sacrificed. In return
for your love, I gave you death! Now I want to
prove myself worthy of you.
EINSTEIN: I drink to Irene Straub!
THE OTHERS: Nurse Irene!
EINSTEIN: Irene! You had to be sacrificed. As a tribute
to your memory and your devotion, I am now go-
ing to behave like a rational human being.
MÖBIUS: I drink to Monika Stettler.
THE OTHERS: Nurse Monika!
MÖBIUS: Monika! You had to be sacrificed. May your
love bless the friendship which we three have
formed in your name. Give us the strength to be
fools, that we may guard faithfully the secrets of
They drink and put the glasses on the table.
NEWTON: Let us be changed to madmen once again. Let
us put on the shade of Newton.
EINSTEIN: Let us once again scrape away at Kreisler
MÖBIUS: Let us have King Solomon appear before us
NEWTON: Let us be mad, but wise.
EINSTEIN: Prisoners but free.
MÖBIUS: Physicists but innocent.
The three of them wave to each other and go back
to their rooms. The drawing room stands empty.
Then enter right MC ARTHUR and murillo. They
are now wearing black uniforms, peaked caps, and
pistols. They clear the table, MC ARTHUR wheels the
trolley with the china and cutlery off right. MURILLO
places the round table in front of the window right,
and puts on it the upturned chairs, as if the place
were a restaurant closing for the night. Then MU-
RILLO goes off right. The room stands empty again.
Then enters right FRÄULEIN MATHILDE VON
ZAHND. As usual she is wearing a white surgical
coat. Stethoscope. She looks about her. Finally
SIEVERS comes in, also wearing a black uniform.
SIEVERS: Yes, boss?
FRL. DOKTOR: Sievers, the portrait.
MC ARTHUR and MURILLO carry in a large oil paint-
ing, a portrait in a heavy gilded frame. It represents
a general. SIEVERS takes down the old portrait and
hangs up the new one.
It's better for General Leonidas von Zahnd to be
hung in here than among the women patients. He
still looks a great man, the old war-horse, despite
his goiter. He loved heroic deaths and that is what
there have been in this house. (She gazes at her
father's portrait.) And so the Privy Councillor must
go into the women's section among the million-
airesses. Put him in the corridor for the time being.
MC ARTHUR and MURILLO carry out the picture right.
Has my general administrator arrived with his
CHIEF ATTNDT.: They are waiting in the green drawing
room. Shall I serve Champagne and caviar?
FRL. DOKTOR: That gang's here to work, not stuff its guts.
(She sits down on the sofa.) Have Möbius brought
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Sure, boss. (He goes to Room Number 1.
Opens door.) Möbius, out!
MÖBIUS appears. He is exalted.
MÖBIUS: A night of prayer. Deep blue and holy. The
night of the mighty king. His white shadow is
loosed from the wall; his eyes are shining.
FRL. DOKTOR: Möbius, on the orders of the public prose-
cutor I may speak to you only in the presence of an
MÖBIUS: I understand, Fräulein Doktor.
FRL. DOKTOR: What I have to say to you applies also to
MC ARTHUR and MURILLO have returned.
MC ARTHUR and Murillo. Fetch the other two.
MC ARTHUR and MURILLO open doors Numbers 2 and 3.
MURILLO and MC ARTHUR: Out!
NEWTON and EINSTEIN come out, also in a state of
NEWTON: A night of secrets. Unending and sublime.
Through the bars of my window glitter Jupiter and
Saturn unveiling the laws of the infinite.
EINSTEIN: A blessed night. Comforting and good. Riddles
fall silent, questions are dumb. I should like to play
on for ever.
FRL. DOKTOR: Alec Jaspar Kilton and Joseph Eisler -
They both stare at her in amazement.
I have something to say to you.
They both draw their revolvers but are disarmed by
MURILLO and MC ARTHUR.
Gentlemen, your conversation was overheard; I had
had my suspicions for a long time. McArthur and
Murillo, bring in their secret radio transmitters.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Hands behind your heads!
MÖBIUS, EINSTEIN, and NEWTON put their hands be-
hind their heads white MC ARTHUR and MURILLO go
into rooms Numbers 2 and 3.
NEWTON: It's funny! (He laughs. The others do not.
EINSTEIN: I don't know.
NEWTON: Too funny! (He laughs agam, then falls silent.)
MC ARTHUR and MURILLO come in with the transmitters.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Hands down.
The physicists obey.
FRL. DOKTOR: Sievers. The searchlights.
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Okay, boss. (He raises his hands. Search-
lights blaze in from outside, bathing the physicists
in a blinding light. At the same time, SIEVERS switches
off the lights in the room.)
FRL. DOKTOR: The villa is surrounded by guards. Any
attempt to escape would be useless. (To the attend-
ants:) You three, get out!
The three attendants leave the room, carrying the
revolvers and radio apparatus. Silence.
You alone shall hear my secret. You alone among
men. Because it doesn't matter any longer whether
you know or not.
(Grandly:) He has appeared before me also. Solo-
mon, the golden king.
All three stare at her in perplexity.
FRL. DOKTOR: This many a long year.
NEWTON softly giggles.
(Unconcerned:) The first time was in my study.
One summer evening. Outside, the sun was still shin-
ing, and a woodpecker was hammering away some-
where in the park. Then suddenly the golden king
came floating toward me like a tremendous angel.
EINSTEIN: She's gone mad.
FRL. DOKTOR: His gaze came to rest upon me. His lips
parted. He began to converse with his handmaiden.
He had arisen from the dead, he desired to take
upon himself again the power that once belonged to
him here below, he had unveiled his wisdom, that
Möbius might reign on earth, in his name.
EINSTEIN: She must be locked up. She should be in a
FRL. DOKTOR: But MÖBIUS betrayed him. He tried to keep
secret what could not be kept secret. For what was
revealed to him was no secret. Because it could be
thought. Everything that can be thought is thought
at some time or another. Now or in the future.
What Solomon had found could be found by any-
one, but he wanted it to belong to himself alone, his
means toward the establishment of his holy domin-
ion over all the world. And so he did seek me out,
his unworthy handmaiden.
EINSTEIN (insistently): You - are - mad. D'you hear,
you - are - mad.
FRL. DOKTOR: He did command me to cast down Möbius,
and reign in his place. I hearkened unto his com-
mand. I was a doctor and MÖBIUS was my patient. I
could do with him whatever I wished. Year in, year
out, I fogged his brain and made photocopies of the
golden king's proclamations, down to the last page.
NEWTON: You're raving mad! Absolutely! Get this clear
once and for all! (Softly:) We're all mad.
FRL. DOKTOR: I went cautiously about my work. At first
I exploited only two or three discoveries, in order
to rake in the necessary capital. Then I founded
enormous plants and factories, one after the other.
I've created a giant cartel. I shall exploit to the full,
gentlemen, the Principle of Universal Discovery.
MÖBIUS (insistent): Fräulein Doktor Mathilde von Zahnd,
you are sick. Solomon does not exist. He never ap-
peared to me.
FRL. DOKTOR: Liar.
MÖBIUS: I only pretended to see him in order to keep my
FRL. DOKTOR: You deny him.
MÖBIUS: Do be reasonable. Don't you see you're mad?
FRL. DOKTOR: I'm no more mad than you.
MÖBIUS: Then I must shout the truth to the whole world.
You sucked me dry all these years, without shame.
You even let my poor wife go on paying for me.
FRL. DOKTOR: You are powerless, Möbius. Even if your
voice were to reach the outside world, nobody
would believe you. Because to the public at large
you are nothing but a dangerous lunatic. By the
murder you committed.
The truth dawns on the three men.
MÖBIUS: Monika -
EINSTEIN: Irene -
NEWTON: Dorothea -
FRL. DOKTOR: I simply seized my opportunity. The wis-
dom of Solomon had to be safeguarded and your
treachery punished. I had to render all three of you
harmless. By the murders you committed. I drove
those three nurses into your arms. I could count
upon your reactions. You were as predictable as
automata. You murdered like professionals.
MÖBIUS is about to throw himself upon her but is
restrained by EINSTEIN.
There's no point in attacking me, Möbius. Just as
there was no point in burning manuscripts which I
already possess in duplicate.
MÖBIUS turns away.
What you see around you are no longer the walls
of an asylum. This is the strong room of my trust.
It contains three physicists, the only human beings
apart from myself to know the truth. Those who
keep watch over you are not medical attendants.
Sievers is the head of my works police. You have
taken refuge in a prison you built for yourselves.
Solomon thought through you. He acted through
you. And now he destroys you, through me.
But I'm taking his power upon myself. I have no
fears. My Sanatorium is full of my own lunatic rel-
atives, all of them loaded with jewels and medals. I
am the last normal member of my family. No more.
The last one. I am barren. I can love no one. Only
humanity. And so King Solomon took pity on me.
He, with his thousand brides, chose me. Now I shall
be mightier than my forefathers. My cartel will dic-
tate in each country, each continent; it will ransack
the solar System and thrust out beyond the great
nebula in Andromeda. It all adds up, and the answer
comes out in favor, not of the world, but of an old
hunchbacked spinster. (She rings a little bell and
the CHIEF ATTENDANT comes in right.)
CHIEF ATTNDT.: Yes, boss?
FRL. DOKTOR: I must go, Sievers. The board of trustees
is waiting. Today we go into world-wide operation.
The assembly lines are rolling. (She goes out right
with CHIEF ATTENDANT.)
The three physicists are alone. Silence. It is all over.
NEWTON: It is all over. (He sits down on the sofa.)
EINSTEIN: The world has fallen into the hands of an in-
sane, female psychiatrist. (He sits down beside
MÖBIUS: What was once thought can never be un-
MÖBIUS sits down in the armchair on the left of the
sofa. Silence. The three stare before them. Then
each speaks in turn, quite calmly and naturally, sim-
ply introducing themselves to the audience.
NEWTON: I am Newton. Sir Isaac Newton. Born the 4th
of January, 1643, at Woolsthorpe, near Grantham.
I am president of the Royal Society. But there's no
need to get up on my behalf. I wrote the Mathe-
matical Principles of Natural Philosophy. I said:
Hypotheses non fingo - I do not invent hypotheses.
In the fields of experimental optics, theoretical me-
chanics, and higher mathematics my achievements
are not without importance; but I had to leave un-
resolved certain problems concerning the nature of
gravitational force. I also wrote theological works.
Commentaries on the Prophet Daniel and on the
Revelation of St. John the Divine. I am Newton,
Sir Isaac Newton. I am the president of the Royal
Society. (He rises and goes into his room.)
EINSTEIN: I am Einstein. Professor Albert Einstein. Born
the 14m of March, 1879, at Ulm. In 1902 I started
work testing inventions at the ederal patent office
in Berne. It was there that I propounded my special
theory of relativity which changed our whole con-
cept of physics. Then I became a member of the
Prussian Academy of Science. Later I became a
refugee. Because I am a Jew. It was I who evolved
the Formula E = mc2, the key to the transformation
of matter into energy. I love my fellow men and I
love my violin, but it was on my recommendation
that they built the atomic bomb. I am Einstein. Pro-
fessor Albert Einstein, born the 14th of March, 1879,
at Ulm. (He rises and goes into his room. He is
heard fiddling. Kreisler. Liebesleid.)
MÖBIUS: I am Solomon. I am poor King Solomon. Once
I was immeasurably rich, wise, and God-fearing.
The mighty trembled at my word. I was a Prince
of Peace, a Prince of Justice. But my wisdom de-
stroyed the fear of God, and when I no longer
feared God my wisdom destroyed my wealth. Now
the cities over which I ruled are dead, the Kingdom
that was given unto my keeping is deserted: only a
blue shimmering wilderess. And somewhere round
a small, yellow, nameless star there circles, point-
lessly, everlastingly, the radioactive earth. I am Solo-
mon. I am Solomon. I am Solomon. I am poor King
Solomon. (He goes into his room.)
Now the drawing room is empty. Only EINSTEIN's
fiddle is heard.