Ehrensache (i.e., "Point of Honour")

“A murder has been committed. And yet the day had begun so well: two boys, 19 and 17 years old, get to know two girls aged 15 and 16. It is the weekend, and they arrange to meet up for an excursion to Cologne, the big city. They want to make a proper day of it, do some shopping, carry on to a club in the evening and then see how things go.
And things go well: Cem is 19, he has a car and a bit of money to take the girls out with: getting them away from their daily routine for once, to have a bit of fun. And the girls are happy they have something different to do for a change. The two boys are nice, it could be a perfect day. But by the end of the evening one of the girls, the 16-year-old Elena, lies dead at a roadside picnic area in the Bergisches Land. Butchered mercilessly with more than 30 knife wounds, while her friend Ulli, who is two years younger, only survives with severe injuries because the murderers think she is dead. The two criminals are caught soon enough, but it remains unclear what exactly happened in the course of the day: Depending on their points of view, those involved put forward very different versions of the events and ideas about what led to such an excess of violence. What did the boys want from Elena that she did not wish to give them? What was the source of the brutality with which the two boys from Turkish families, who had always been regarded as friendly and well adjusted, stabbed their victims? What influence did ideas about the different roles of women and men, injured honour and completely different cultural backgrounds have on this episode? Does the story reveal the truth about life in one of Germany’s immigrant communities? Or is it a more personal drama of frustration, humiliation and emotional hurt, which became the catalysts of an explosion that had already been waiting to happen for a long time in all four of the young people?

In Ehrensache, Lutz Hübner draws on an authentic case and shows that individuals may come from the same town, yet live in very different worlds. Creating a psychological game played out by four young people and a court expert, he seeks to analyse the mechanisms that swung into action: insulted honour, the friendship between two young men and a simple hunger for life lend the dimensions of tragedy to what is actually the uncomplicated story of a daytrip.”

(Hartmann und Stauffacher, Verlag für Bühne, Film, Funk und Fernsehen)

Responses to the Play:

“Cem is an apprentice of Turkish origin who distinguishes between honourable women and whores. For him, Elena is a slut because the half-Turkish girl is self-confident and does not let Cem push her around. On the contrary: She even shows him up in front of the others. The conflict escalates when he fears he could have got Elena pregnant. Honour, a patriarchal worldview, friendship, love and loss of control are the central issues Hübner mixes into a gripping plot in this piece. He forces his audience to enter into the psyche of Cem, a young man whose dignity has been wounded. From this perspective, the crime becomes the unavoidable ending to a day charged with aggression.”

(Sörre Wieck, taz, 8 October 2006)

“Lutz Hübner, a productive author of plays for young people with an instinct for social criticism and a knack of identifying pressing discussions and issues, has based Ehrensache on what came to be known as the “Hagen girls’ murder” of 2004.

He takes the conflicts between his characters, the confrontation of cultural differences, reactionary male self-images and gender paradigms and uses them to assemble a straightforwardly constructed drama that moves thrillingly towards its finale and does not have much positive to say about Turkish integration in Germany. Although the author appears to shrink back a little from his own prophesy and its implications and consequently seeks refuge in the uniqueness of the specific case. In particular, his decision to briefly illuminate the 19-year-old apprentice’s respectable family background turns Cem’s murderous energy into an almost determined form of behaviour unrelated to his upbringing and learned social attitudes.”

(Andreas Wilink, Theater Heute, 3/2006)


Technical Data:


10 December 2005, Theater Essen


Stephanie Sewella


2 F, 3 M

Rights NavigationssymbolHartmann und Stauffacher, Verlag für Bühne, Film, Funk und Fernsehen
Bismarckstrasse 36, D-50672 Köln
Tel.: 0221-485386, Fax: 0221-515402
Translations Theatre Library