Religion: Passion in 1946?

The little Bavarian Alpine village where the U.S. 10th Armored Division is stationed buzzed with rumors. The town of ornately painted, deep-eaved houses where G.I.s stroll, lounge and (officially) do not fraternize is Oberammergau, world-famed for its 300-year-old Passion Play. Of Oberammergau's 2,300 inhabitants, 700 are the saints, angels and Nazarenes of the awesome drama. Gossip wondered whether there would be a presentation of the Passion next year. Ticking off the names of former Pharisees and Apostles, citizens canvassed the possibilities the war had left.

Since 1634, when Oberammergau's elders pledged perpetual production of the play at ten-year intervals (if God would...