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Oberammergau

The location in upper Bavaria of the noted passion play. Such religious dramas were common in Bavaria, and legend holds that the Oberammergau villagers were spared from a plague in 1633 and in gratitude vowed to reenact the passion of Christ every ten years. From 1680 it was held on the decennial year, but was canceled in the war years 1870 and 1940. Originally it was staged in the church, then in the churchyard, and in 1830 the present site, a special theater, was occupied. Hitler admired the play for its alleged anti-Semitic qualities, and it was rewritten for the tricentennial performance in 1934 to make Jesus and the disciples appear as Aryan heroes. The text in current use, with some minor changes, was written by J.A. Daisenberger (1799-1883) in 1860. Performed by 700 villagers, the play lasts more than seven hours and is a lucrative community enterprise. In 1970 there were nearly 100 performances before a total audience of 500,000.