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This show closed on May 11, 2019

About A German Life

“I had no idea what was going on. Or very little. No more than most people. So you can’t make me feel guilty.”

A new play by Christopher Hampton, drawn from the life and testimony of Brunhilde Pomsel, directed by Jonathan Kent.

Brunhilde Pomsel’s life spanned the twentieth century. She struggled to make ends meet as a secretary in Berlin during the 1930s, her many employers including a Jewish insurance broker, the German Broadcasting Corporation and, eventually, Joseph Goebbels. Christopher Hampton’s play is based on the testimony she gave when she finally broke her silence to a group of Austrian filmmakers, shortly before she died in 2016.

Maggie Smith, alone on stage, plays Brunhilde Pomsel.

Christopher Hampton’s play is drawn from the testimony Pomsel gave when she finally broke her silence shortly before she died to a group of Austrian filmmakers, and from their documentary A German Life (Christian Krönes, Olaf Müller, Roland Schrotthofer and Florian Weigensamer, produced by Blackbox Film & Media Productions).

Tell Me More

Over the course of the 100-minute play, Brunhilde Pomsel reveals her experience working as the secretary to Joseph Goebbles, head of propaganda during the Nazi regime in the 1940s, and she endures complicated emotions while looking back on these fraught days. Was she really complicit in the events during this time? Was, or is, she in denial? Should she be held accountable for her part? “A German Life” shines a spotlight on a time in history often too painful to bring to the stage and asks how the few remaining survivors of this period should be judged today.

Considered one of the greatest actors of all time, Maggie Smith makes a return to the London stage to play the aging Pomsel in a performance that The Times called a “quiet tour-de-force… simply unforgettable.” Adapted by Tony Award winner Christopher Hampton, “A German Life” has Pomsel alone on stage while she addresses themes of denial, aging, and culpability. This is a rare chance to catch acting legend Maggie Smith onstage in a new play that will leave you questioning whether the central character is all she seems to be.

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What To Watch For

  • The play is based on a documentary, which captured 30 hours of conversation with Brunhilde Pomsel, who was 102 at the time, and was shown at the 2016 Munich Film Festival.
  • Often regarded as one of the last surviving eyewitnesses to the Nazi regime, Brunhilde Pomsel wrote a memoir entitled “The Work I Did,” which was posthumously released in February 2018.
  • “A German Life” marks Maggie Smith’s return to the stage for the first time in 12 years. She was last seen in “The Lady from Dubuque” at the Haymarket theatre in 2007.
  • Maggie Smith is one of just 24 actors who have won the Triple Crown of Acting by achieving an Oscar, Emmy, and a Tony Award for performances in film, television, and onstage.

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Run Time

1hr 40mins

Start Date

End Date

Bridge Theatre

3 Potters Fields Park, London, SE1 2SG

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Maggie Smith stars in a new play by Christopher Hampton at the Bridge Theatre.

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