Chapter One introduces master potter Anton Lang, the most famous player of Christ and an exemplary Catholic whose lifestyle helped to promote the Bavarian People’s Party (BVP) and whose success as a hotelier contributed to Oberammergau’s growth as a tourism center. In Lang’s Alpine village, families survived as wood carvers marketing Catholic devotionalia to an international clientele. Locals joined pilgrimages and Corpus Christi processions, a statement of Catholic loyalism, developed charities, and venerated “charity” saints. Oberammergau’s Passion Play drew a growing audience, including English speakers, to stay with ethnically intriguing villagers and, later, in hotels and upgraded homes. The play’s text highlighted antagonism between “Jews” and “Christians” in the Crucifixion story, but elite visitors validated its anti-Semitic message. The community’s subsequent evolution as a tourism center created diverse social and political groups, while village insiders acquired an exclusive mentality as Passion players, creating a deep social rift with newcomers in Oberammergau.
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