The Deputy, a Christian tragedy (German: Der Stellvertreter. Ein christliches Trauerspiel) was a controversial 1963 drama by Rolf Hochhuth which portrayed Pope Pius XII as a hypocrite who remained silent about The Holocaust.
The play opens with a discussion over whether Pope Pius XII should have abrogated the Reichskonkordat to protest the actions of the Nazis.
An icy Catholic industrialist—played by the same actor as Pius—defends his use of slave labor.
Act II repeatedly attempts to drive home the pointe that Hitler feared Pius more than any of his contemporaries and that Pius's commercial interests preclude him from condemning Hitler.
One of the Cardinals argues that the Nazis are the last bulwark that remains against Soviet domination of Europe.
As the Jews are rounded up for deportations "under the Pope's windows," Riccardo Fontana, the priest protagonist, declares "doing nothing is as bad as taking part [...] God can forgive a hangman for such work, but not a priest, not the Pope!" and a German officer comments that the Pope has given "friendly audiences to thousands of members of the German army.
Pius, with a "cold, smiling face," "aristocratic coldness," and an "icy glint" in his eyesvoices his concerns about the Vatican's financial assets and the Allied bombing of factories in Italy, worrying that the bombing will create impoverished workers who ultimately will become anarchists. Pius reiterates his commitment to help the Jews while keeping silent "ad maioram mala vitanda" (to avoid greater evil).
When angrily questioned by Fontana, Pius pontificates on the geopolitical importance of a strong Germany vis-a-vis the Soviet threat.
Fontana dons the yellow star and joins deportees to die at Auschwitz, where the rest of the act takes place, ending with a quotation from German ambassador Weizsacker:
Books such as Dr. Joseph Lichten's, A Question of Judgment (1963), written in response to The Deputy, defended Pius XII's actions during the war. Lichten labelled any criticism of the Pope's actions during World War II was "a stupefying paradox" and said, "no one who reads the record of Pius XII's actions on behalf of Jews can subscribe to Hochhuth's accusation."