Play title:  Intelligence-Slave

Author (s):  Kenneth Lin

Agency: Creative Artists Agency

Contact Chris Till,

Publication Date: May 15th, 2015

Funder: Alley All New, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

‘Alley All New is comprised of a variety of public and in-house programs designed to support playwrights and cater to the needs of each new project. Through this initiative, the Alley produces world premieres, commissions new plays, and supports playwrights year-round.’

Genre: Drama

Primary Discipline: Math

Secondary Discipline: Technology

Scientist (s):

Curt Herzstark – Austrian Jewish engineer who during World War 2 was imprisoned at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. He worked as an ‘intelligence-slave’ and designed the first pocket calculator.

Character Breakdown:

CURT Herzstark (30’s) a quiet, composed man. Average sized. Decently fed.

FINN Frey (14) a lean, slight Hitler Youth. Bright. Battle- tested. Poorly fed.

Hermann PISTER (40’s) Commandant of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Powerful. Well fed.

BRUNO Clemens (30’s) a very tall, very thin man. Very malnourished.

Fritz ENGELHARDT (late 50’s) a wealthy industrialist. Well fed.

(Character Breakdown provided by play text)

Setting: Billroda, Germany. An abandoned salt mine, converted into a munitions factory

(Setting provided by play text)

Time Period: Winter. Towards the end of the war.

(Time Period provided by play text)

Synopsis of Play: Inspired by a true story, Intelligence-Slave takes place underground in an abandoned salt mine where the Nazis have moved the Buchenwald machine factory at the end of World War II to avoid Allied bombing. In this salt mine, the Austrian industrialist and concentration camp prisoner, Curt Herzstark tinkers with an amazing device. A small, black metal cylinder, no bigger than the palm of his hand, the device is a technical marvel… it’s also what’s keeping Curt alive; the device is the world’s first handheld four function calculator and the Nazis have designated Curt an “intelligence-slave” and are keeping him alive to present it as a gift to Adolf Hitler.

(Synopsis provided by playwrights website,

First Performance Date: May, 23rd 2010

First Producer: Alley All New

Performance History: After it’s World premiere at the Houston’s Alley Theater, Intelligence-Slave has been produced and performed through L.A. Theatre Works ‘Relativity’ series, an audio theatre experience. This audio performance can be listened to for free through the L.A. Theatre Works Relativity site (

Link to Play Script:


Entered by: Anna Galanides

Photo/Visual Research with citations
Photo by T Charles Erickson
Photo by T Charles Erickson
Photo by T Charles Erickson
Photo by T Charles Erickson

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