Taken at Midnight, a new play by Mark Hayhurst, tells the story of a mother’s fight for her son’s freedom. Hans Litten was a young German lawyer who represented opponents of the Nazis, defending their human rights. In 1931 he subpoenaed Adolf Hitler to appear as a witness at the trial of four SA men (storm troopers) accused of murder. During a brilliant three-hour cross-examination he demolished Hitler’s attempts to deny that the leadership of the Nazi Party approved the murderous violence of the SA. However he paid dearly for this. In 1933 he was taken into “protective custody” with hundreds of other opponents of the Nazis and incarcerated in a series of concentration camps where he was horribly tortured. Despite strenuous attempts by his mother to obtain his release, he committed suicide in Dachau in 1938.
Members of Canterbury Group saw this remarkable and moving play at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in May. The trip was arranged by Barbara Rogers, a Canterbury member who is related to the Littens. Afterwards the group was privileged to meet Penelope Wilton and Allan Corduner, who play Litten’s parents Irmgard and Fritz, together with the writer Mark Hayhurst. Penelope Wilton spoke of her admiration for Irmgard Litten, who campaigned so tirelessly to get justice for her son. She said it was sad and worrying to see that intolerance of minority groups, especially anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred, is on the increase again in Europe.