How did Andorra get its name

Max Frisch, Andorra

The fable

The piece is set in Andorra at an unspecified time - "Of course, this does not mean the real small state of this name (...). Andorra is the name for a model" (Max Frisch). Here the viewer meets the young Andri, the foster son of the teacher Can. After his portrayal of the child of Jews, the teacher rescued him from the neighboring country, the land of the "blacks", where he would have been exposed to life-threatening persecution by this people.

Andri is actually the biological son of Cans and Senora, a black woman from over there, which nobody knows, including Andri. The Andorrans see him as the typical Jew and treat him according to this preconceived idea. Under the compulsion of the prejudices brought against him, Andri gradually adopts this image of the Jew and finally sees himself confirmed in his otherness when Can refuses to marry his daughter Barblin.

He no longer deviates from this identity that has been forced upon him when he is told his true origin after a visit from the Senora. The senora is killed by a stone's throw before she leaves. That is why the blacks move into Andorra, which causes the Andorrans to blame Andri for the murder of Senora.

In a spectacular "show", Andri is "identified" as a Jew by the blacks and is finally murdered. The teacher publicly testifies to the truth; but nobody believes him. He hangs himself in a classroom, his daughter Barblin falls into mental derangement.

Course of action

1st picture (street, pint)

Barblin whitens her house, while Peider gazes at her. The soldier ignores Barblin's protest that she is engaged with mockery. The Father is delighted with her whitewash work, "we will have a snow-white Andorra, your virgin, a snow-white Andorra, if only there is no downpour overnight" (p. 9). Peider acknowledges this with sheer mockery, "... his church is not as white as it is ... and when a downpour comes, it sows the whitewash down every time as if a sow had been slaughtered on it" (p. 9 ).

Barblin wants to know from the father whether it is true that the blacks, Andorra's neighbors, are going to attack her. The father evades by criticizing Barblin's father, referring to the poverty and finally, surprisingly, asserts: "No one is persecuting your Andri" (p. 10).

In the second part of the picture, the teacher is negotiating with the carpenter about an apprenticeship for his foster son Andri. The carpenter charges fifty pounds on the grounds, "Becoming a carpenter is not easy if someone doesn't have it in his blood. And where should he get it in his blood from?" (P. 13). A stake, which the carpenter does not seem to see, causes the teacher to be extremely excited during the conversation. The carpenter finally leaves without giving up his demands. The landlord intervenes and points out that when it comes to money, the Andorran is "like the Jew". But he himself only offers fifty pounds for the teacher to offer a piece of land, to be more precise, to have to sell it in order to be able to pay for the carpenter's apprenticeship.

2nd picture (in front of Barblin's chamber)

Andri talks to his fiancée Barblin about what others say of him. He wants to know if he really has no feeling, if he is horny. He compares himself to the others and has no answer as to why he is different from everyone. Barblin wants to reassure him, but his self-doubts culminate in the vision: "There are people who are cursed, and you can do whatever you want with them, one look is enough, suddenly you are just as they say" (p. 28 ).

3rd picture (carpenter's workshop)

Andri discusses the possibility of playing in his soccer team with the journeyman carpenter. The journeyman Andris checks the finished chair for the first time. It can withstand any load, because it is mortised and glued, as it should be. When the foreman comes and checks a chair that immediately goes out of business, he only says that nothing else can be expected from Andri, "if someone doesn't have it in his blood". Andri's suggestion that the carpenter is sitting on the chair he has made has no effect, because the journeyman does not admit that he made the chair that had run out of glue.
The carpenter ignores Andri's violent protest, "Why do I have no rights in front of you? (...) You don't care about evidence. You are sitting on my chair. You don't care? I can do what I want, you always turns it against me, and the scorn never ends. (...) They don't want me to be good "(p. 34). Instead, the master offers to bring in orders with his "scrounging", a pound for three orders, "That's what your kind has in their blood" (p. 35).

4th picture (room with the teacher)

The doctor examines Andri. He says that he knew Andri's father as a young teacher. "Always with his head against the wall. He made a name for himself back then, a young teacher who tears up school books, he wanted to have others" (p. 37f). He himself is a professor, but doesn't care about titles. He had traveled around the world and had to find out that wherever one was going, the Jew was already sitting in all the professorships in all countries of the world. He has nothing against the Jew, he is not for atrocities. He also saved Jews, although he could not smell them. When Andri reacts negatively, he only learns that Andri is Jewish.
The teacher appears, he throws the doctor out of the house and describes him as a "mad academic". Then the family sits at the table and Andri tells his foster father that he wants to marry Barblin. You saw it coming, says the mother, but Can reacts horrified. "It's the first no, Andri, that I have to tell you" (p. 46). Barblin runs away, and there is only one explanation for Andri: "Because I am a Jew" (p. 47). The teacher leaves the house to get drunk, as the mother fears.

5th picture (pint)

Can drink liquor. He implies that he lied and Andri wants to marry his sister. Someone does not understand him and refers to the threats from the neighboring country.

6.Picture (in front of Barblin's chamber)

The soldier sneaks over the sleeping Andri into Barblin's room. Andri wakes up and is amazed at the locked chamber door. He freely expresses his hatred. That makes him feel more comfortable, and it allows him to make plans, plans for himself and for Barblin. Enter the drunken Can. He wants to tell the truth, but Andri only sees his drunkenness and hurls his contempt at him: "I owe you my life. I know. If you value it, I can say it once a day: I owe you my life (. ..) You disgust me (...) Go piss (...) Don't cry your schnapps out of your eyes if you can't hold it, I say, go "(p. 54ff). After the teacher leaves, the shirtless soldier steps out of Barblin's room and chases him away. Andri can't believe it.

7th picture (sacristy)

At the request of the foster mother, the priest has a conversation with Andri, who is very concerned about him. Andri repeated to the priest everything that the Andorrans said he was cheeky, kept thinking about money, nobody liked him, he was ambitious, his kind had no mind, he was cowardly. Finally he collapses and cries for his barblin. She could not love him, no one could do that, nor could he himself. The priest replies: "Love your neighbor as yourself. He says: as yourself" (p. 63). He must accept his Jewishness and refers to Andri's outstanding qualities. "No one, Andri, can come out of his skin (...) God wants us to be as he created us. (...) You are different from us" (p. 64).

8th picture (square in front of Andorra)

The Andorrans are talking about the tense political situation because the black troops have concentrated on the border. A senora from over there rents a room from the landlord, which prompts him to swear to the other Andorrans the hospitality. The doctor utters phrases about the popularity of Andorrans around the world because "every child in the world knows that Andorra is a refuge, a refuge of peace and freedom and human rights" (p. 68). So he is convinced that those from over there will not dare to attack Andorra because Andorra can appeal to the conscience of the world. However, this apparent certainty and righteousness does not prevent the Andorrans from seeing the Senora as a "spy", with the soldier and the journeyman carpenter in particular openly expressing their rejection of strangers. The senora enters, sits down at an empty table, which causes the Andorrans, besides Peider and Fedri, to leave. Peider openly gazes at the stranger, then Andri appears. He starts an argument with the soldier, so he is beaten up by the soldiers. The senora intervenes, helps him and asks for a doctor. Finally she lets Andri lead her to his father.


The following scene finally reveals what has been known since the first foreground scene: Andri is Can’s biological son and Senora. In the conversation between the two of them, the fears that led both of them to deny their child to their own people: "You hated me because I was a coward when the child came. Because I was afraid of mine When you got to the border, you said it was a child of Jews whom you saved from us. Why? Because you too were a coward when you came back home. Because you too were afraid of your people "(p . 77f).

9th picture (room with the teacher)

The senora says goodbye to Andri and indicates that his life will change. Andri is attracted to her. At first he accompanies each other. In the meantime, Can and the mother instruct the priest to tell Andri the truth. Andri comes back early, the senora wants to go alone. She gave him her ring with a topaz. The teacher sets out to accompany the senora.

The priest now tries hard to get into a conversation with Andri, while the latter appears relaxed and cheerful and confides to the priest that he wants to emigrate, the ring gives him the opportunity to do so. When the father finally speaks the truth, Andri doesn't want to know anything about it.And he tells how, since he could hear, he was told how he was and how he finally realized that he really was, as people say: "Your Reverend said you have to accept it, and I've got it accepted. Now it is up to you to accept your Jew ”(p. 86). The teacher comes back and reports that the senora had been killed with a stone and that it was said that Andri had thrown the stone. He appeals to the priest to witness that Andri was with him.

10th picture (square of Andorra)

Andri is alone. Since the early hours of the morning, as he says, he has strolled through the alleys and no one has been seen. he didn't throw the stone, he didn't need to hide. A voice whispers something to him. Enter the teacher with a rifle. He tries to get Andri to leave, the blacks are there. Andri doesn't listen to him. Loudspeakers can be heard that no Andorran has anything to fear. He mocks the Andorrans who capitulate and makes it clear to his father that he is not the first to be lost. "It is no use what you say. I know who my ancestors are. Thousands and hundreds of thousands have died on the stake. Their fate is my fate" (p. 95). He throws a coin into the orchestrion and leaves. Then soldiers (in the foreground) patrol in black uniforms with submachine guns.

11th picture (in front of Barblin's chamber)

Barblin is desperate, while Andri, apparently callous, asks how often she slept with the soldier. As a result, his accusations become more and more crude until he finally asks her to undress and kiss him. "Can't you do what you can do with everyone, happy and naked. (...) What is different with the others? Say it. What is different? I kiss you, soldier's bride! One more or less, don't be shy" (P. 101). Barblin begs him to hide in vain. A soldier finally leads Andri to the Jewish show.

12th picture (Square of Andorra)

The Andorrans silently await what will happen next. Barblin tries in vain to influence them. The doctor says one shouldn't offer any resistance, while the landlord emphasizes several times that Andri threw the stone, at least he didn't. Enter soldiers and the Jews' shower. The Andorrans have to pull black scarves over their heads and take off their shoes. The fear that the Jew watcher might be wrong is suppressed with the note: "He smells it. He sees it in the walk" (p. 109). The teacher tries to talk the Andorrans into conscience. Andri is his son. "Who among them is the murderer, they do not examine it. Cover it with a cloth! They don't want to know. Cover it with a cloth! That someone entertains you with murderer's hands from now on doesn't bother you" (p. 113). The collaborating Peider gives final instructions. Barblin tries again to persuade the Andorrans to passive resistance, she is dragged away by the soldiers. The Andorrans finally walk across the square one after the other under the critical eyes of the Jewish spectator. The someone is the first to be inspected more closely, but is then allowed to move on - with Peider's help. Finally Andri has to take off his handkerchief. To prove that he had made the right choice, the Jewish hawker turned Andris' pockets upside down, and coins fell out. "Jewish money," comments the soldier. The teacher's and mother's invocations that Andri was Can's son no longer help. Andri is led away, his finger is torn off because he does not want to give the ring to the Senora, and he is killed. The scene ends in a similar way to how the piece began. Barblin, now shorn, whitewashed her father's house. "I know, I know that we have a white Andorra, you murderers, a snow-white Andorra, I know you all - all" (p. 125). Can hanged himself in the classroom. The father tries in vain to talk to Barblin while the Andris guarded shoes, which have stopped. "Don't touch her! When he comes back, these will be his shoes."

The witness barrier

After the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th and 11th picture, the Andorrans step in front of the stage in front of a witness barrier. These intermediate scenes take place long after the actual events on the stage. With the exception of the Father, all Andorrans affirm their innocence at the end of the story. Only the soldier admits that he didn't like Andri and that he still believes he was a Jew. The doctor, who pretends to be brief, gives the longest speech of justification. The priest - not in the witness cabinet, but kneeling in the foreground - says: "I too made a portrait of him, I also tied him up, I also brought him to the stake" (p. 65). With this "also" he expresses the collective guilt of the Andorrans in addition to his own guilt.

Shape and structure

In the tradition of Bertolt Brecht, Frisch calls his scenes "pictures". The story of the piece takes place in twelve pictures of very different lengths and structures. The first picture actually consists of four scenes, the exposition of the piece:

  1. Barblin, Father
  2. Teacher, carpenter; Teacher, host
  3. Andri, barblin
  4. Landlord, soldier; Andri, soldier

In the course of these four scenes of the first picture, the viewer is confronted with the entire subject matter and the most important characters:

  • the snow-white Andorra, which in reality is blood-red, whereby the symbolism of the colors becomes obvious to the viewer;
  • the threat from the neighboring country;
  • Death, execution (stake), or reference to the catastrophic end;
  • the disdain for the Jews due to unfounded prejudices;
  • the lovers Andri and Barblin.

The second picture completes the thematic dance: the search for the self or for one's own identity.

Some of these pictures seem sketchy, e.g. the 5th picture in which the drunken teacher indicates his dilemma, or the 11th picture in which the dilemma of sibling love is revealed again. Other pictures live from their dramatic arc of tension. Above all, these are the 4th, 6th and 7th images that develop Andri's change in behavior to become a martyr.
Between the pictures are the foreground scenes, usually the scenes of the Andorrans in front of the witness barrier. The sequence of images 5/6 (no foreground scene), 8/9 (senora, teacher) and 10/11 (soldiers on patrol) are excluded from this schematic.
The piece is based on Frisch's parable in the first diary: "The Andorran Jew". It is obvious, due to the reporting and enumerative character of this parable, to draw up a list of prejudices, to relate them to the alleged Jew who turns out to be Andorran, whereby these prejudices fall back on the Andorrans (Spiegel). A list of the meaningful verbs can be used for this purpose:

The Andorrans

mistrust (mistrust of)
know exactly


have the suspicion
do nothing to him (the Jew)
indignant at the manner of his death

The key statement is "do nothing to him", which Frisch commented by return of post: "also nothing good". The actions of the Andorrans, the result of which is the finished portrait of the Jew, is not "action", that is, acting in the true sense, but thinking, saying, mindset. That's why you can't blame the Andorrans directly if you ignore strictly moral categories.
The reaction is basically nothing more than the search for his identity, which ends with his adopting the image that the Andorrans take to be the image of the Jew. That this image logically has to act as a mirror, namely when the Jew turns out to be Andorran, does not really need any explanation. Much more significant is that Frisch himself succumbs to cliché thinking when he lets the Andorrans recognize the features of "Judas".

The sequence of twelve images can be divided into two sequences:
In the course of the first six pictures, Andri tries to realize his life story. Create a livelihood (carpenter apprenticeship) and start a family (marriage to Barblin). The idea of ​​this future, which differs in no way from what is commonly referred to as normal, puts Andri in the highest feelings of happiness. The Andorrans prevent this happiness, including his father. The first six pictures demonstrate this process. They show how the Jew Andri is confronted with the prejudices that the Andorrans encounter him. The 5th picture is sure to fall out, because here the teacher indicates what you already know: Andri is his son.

The Andorrans determine the encounters between Andri and the Andorrans with both subtle and open violence. They shamelessly abuse their position of power, because most of them have a personal interest in seeing this encounter work out in their favor:

  • The soldier wants Barblin.
  • The carpenter expects more sales with Andri in sales.
  • The landlord buys land cheaply and is scapegoated for his crime.
  • Someone wants to have his peace and quiet and stands for all those who tolerate this violence or do not want to see it, play stupid or are simply too indifferent.

The wall that the Andorrans are building is becoming more and more insurmountable for Andri. These encounters lead to Andri feeling observed and suspiciously reflecting on the extent to which the properties and behaviors said to him apply.

Pictures eight to twelve show Andri's reaction and finally his end in the twelfth picture. The reaction is against the Andorrans, against Can and Barblin, but basically against themselves, and it is borne by hatred of those around him; against Can and against himself. This is the only way to understand his provocation in the 8th picture, including his refusal to take back the acceptance of his new identity or to seek his salvation in flight. The external reason for this reaction is Can's refusal to give him Barblin as his wife (4th picture) and then above all the scene in front of Barblin's room in the 6th picture when the soldier steps out of the door. The change in this development from introspection and rebellion against the image of the Jew provided for him to the assumption of the identity forced upon him takes place in the course of the 7th image: "I understand that nobody likes me. I don't like myself when I do think of myself "(p. 61).

The 9thThe picture brings a retarding moment, the meeting Andris with the Senora, the black woman from the neighboring country, his mother, who finally gives him a valuable ring. It seems that the mother could still hold back the impending catastrophe. This is also indicated by Andris' euphoric mood at the beginning of the second conversation with the priest. Ultimately, the appearance of the birth mother has the opposite effect: in the "hoard of freedom and human rights", where the "right of hospitality" is insisted, even with unpleasant foreigners, the guest is struck with a stone. Perhaps the triggering moment for this act was the willingness of the senora to speak out in public for the weaker party, the Jews, she, a black woman from over there, who is said to have committed atrocities against Jews in Andorra.

"He even bore his otherness with a kind of defiance, pride and lurking enmity behind it" (Diary 1946-1949, p. 29). This can also be seen in Andri, when the Father wants to convey his true identity to him: "Now it is up to you, Reverend, to accept your Jews" (p. 86). If we see him gradually becoming mute in the 7th picture, it is now the Father who falls silent while Andri speaks. But Andri not only accepts his otherness that is forced upon him, he also accepts his fate, his hopelessness, his end: "My grief lifts me up over you all, and so I will fall. My eyes are wide with sadness, my blood knows everything , and I want to be dead. But I dread dying. There is no mercy - "(p. 87). If we hear him say in the first picture in the exhilaration of his future prospects emerging for him: "The sun shines green in the trees today", he now has to resignedly state that this hope has become a meaningless picture for him: "Grace is an eternal rumor , the sun shines green in the trees, even if they come for me "(p. 88).

What follows now is only the consequence of what has already begun. The murder of the Senora, which calls the blacks onto the scene, is the trigger for the end that Andri prophesies, but which also stamps the Andorrans damned. In view of the blatant injustice of its end, they have nothing else in mind than to continue to play their prejudices, "Jewish money", in order to save their wretched skin.

Andris tragedy can be seen in the fact that in the search for his ego he has to assume an identity that strengthens his isolation, which becomes all the more hateful the more he is ready to accept it.

The basic structural element of this piece is therefore the above-analyzed encounter between the Andorrans and the alleged Jew Andri. An encounter which, on the Andorran side, is first and foremost characterized by their attitude of mind, by their saying and thinking, and also by their negation. Ultimately, the encounter is also determined by forms of subtle violence, through the most varied of forms of use of force, from playing out existing power structures to the use of brute force. This encounter, determined by the Andorrans, results in Andri's reaction, which makes a correction of the portrait no longer possible. "I wanted to talk to him afterwards, but he was already in such a way that you couldn't talk to him" (p. 36), says the journeyman carpenter in front of the witness cabinet, thus clarifying the facts already highlighted in connection with the father . The tragic consequence of the same culminates in the 9th picture, but at the same time shows how hopeless and far-reaching the guilt entanglement of the Andorrans has progressed: "And everyone, everyone, not just me. See the soldiers. All the damned. See yourself. ( ...) You will pray. For me and for yourself. Your prayer does not even help you, you will still be a traitor "(p. 88).

This shows parallels, but also serious differences between the template from the diary and the stage play. The Andorrans of the model are the actual actors. Andris action is reaction in the true sense of the word. What else is there to do? The basic structural feature of the fateful encounter is shaped by this action and reaction, although, tellingly, the actions of the Andorrans after the murder and the takeover of power by the blacks can hardly be made out. The action, the action, after their appearance, receives a mechanical dynamic of its own, which no longer allows external interventions.

"You shouldn't make an image"

It is no coincidence that Max Frisch made a note in his diary in 1948 about a scene in Dürrenmatt's "The Blind" in which a blind man did not notice the destruction of his duchy and therefore believed he was still living in his castle. In reality he is sitting in the middle of ruins, surrounded by evil people - mercenaries, robbers, pimps and prostitutes, who have fun with him and are welcomed by him as dukes, generals or abbesses. The ideas that people have or have of themselves or their environment runs thematically through Frisch's work like a red thread. This topic is closely linked to Frisch's ideas of reality as experienced and interpreted by humans:

  • "Real we do not name what happens, we really call what I experience in an event, and this experience, as we know, does not care about the time: it is possible that we experience an event again and again" (Diary ).

Considered more precisely, this thesis means nothing else than that our - or at least Frisch's - experiences first bring about the incidents from which they seem to follow. Or to put it another way: What we take to be reality can only become reality, truth, if it stands up to our ideas of it. Here and precisely here is the problem of the Andorrans, from Andri, from Andorra:
The Andorrans draw their conclusions from Andris Sosein not from their experiences and their encounter with Andri. Your ideas of reality determine this encounter. There is nothing else to explain the behavior of the carpenter in the third picture, for example. If it were otherwise, he would at some point have to be convinced by Andri's assurances or even evidence, because the journeyman never said a word that he hadn't made the chair that had run out of glue.

Even the playwright of a technical age, as Bertolt Brecht calls himself, who lets his Galileo believe in the power and the seducibility of evidence, in his play of the same name depicts a world in which there is nothing that cannot be, which is ultimately his title character forces to fail. If Dürrenmatt describes his works as the product of "invented stories" - as counterworlds to the real world, invented because, in contrast to Frisch, he did not experience anything - Frisch's works as the product of his experiences are metaphors of the real world. This can be proven with his statements in an interview with Horst Bienek (workshop talks):

  • "Apparently there is no other means of presenting experiences than telling stories: as if it were the stories from which our experiences emerged. It is the other way round. Experience invents its cause."

In the case of Andorra, this is a dramatic metaphor, which has not only been interpreted through experiences, but also rewritten, lifted from reality, into which it then falls back as a newly formed reality. In Frisch's novel "Stiller", "the story of a person (...) who wants to escape his existence" (Horst Bienek, workshop talks with writers) the young Jesuit says to Julika in the sanatorium of Davos:

  • "... That it is the sign of non-love, that is, a sin, to make a finished picture of one's neighbor or of a person in general, to say: So and so you are, and done", whereupon Julika, so instructed, Stiller can again accuse: "If you love a person, you leave every possibility open for him and, despite all memories, you are simply ready to be amazed, to be amazed again and again at how different he is, how diverse and not just like that, not a finished one Portrait of your Julika as you make it for yourself. "
    (Max Frisch: Stiller. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch 105. Frankfurt (M) 1974, p. 116 and p. 150)

If one interprets this passage with regard to the diary quotation mentioned at the beginning, it follows that the reality of a person cannot be seen at all. The restriction of the Jesuit or Julika can be found both in Frisch's submission to Andorra in the diary: "Except when we love", as well as in the essay on p. 26 of the diary "You shouldn't make a picture for yourself". Reality cannot be seen because there is a contradiction between the possible true and the actually lived existence of man. The problem lies above all in the change in human nature, a certainly gradual change, the result of which we are at most ready to perceive, but not the change itself, the process.

Andorra is the tragic metaphor of this basic experience of Max Frisch. She shows the more and more concerned viewer what image the individual makes of himself, then what image he makes of his fellow human beings, of his fatherland, of the neighbors and finally how the image of the individual is shaped by his contemporaries is and will. The reality, the truth, is struck by chance.