Set at Carnival time in a Latin American country, unnamed, but resembling Brazil. A German refugee, Hans-Erik Franck, decides to attend the celebration that takes place annually in the home of his employer, Maribar. The people at the party have been curious for years about Hans-Erik's association with Nazi Germany. Tonight they plan to find out exactly what his association with the Third Reich was. As they find out more about Hans-Erik, they become more and more sadistic toward him, until ultimately they put him on trial, in an informal and improvised way. In mock justice they pretend to sentence him to death. Hans-Erik, who in the course of the evening has come to know the party-goers well, sees that in punishing him they are duplicating the slide into corruption that he experienced as a Nazi. He asks for a moment alone. In order to spare the masqueraders the same crimes of betrayal and murder he committed, Hans-Erik hangs himself. When the party-goers discover the corpse, they are horrified. It is a sad legend that every year on the morning after Carnival a corpse is found on the beach. Now they know the origins of this corpse. The play ends as the masqueraders, in mask and costume, bear the corpse of Hans-Erik to the beach, to be discovered according to custom, when the sun rises.
A powerful and engrossing play in which past, present and future blend imaginatively in a revealing study of an ex-Nazi who has fled to South America only to find that he cannot escape his guilt—or his fate.