At the time of the first stage production, in Stuttgart, Siegfried Melchinger, a West German critic, called it a "brilliant miscarriage", and complained that the play omitted the German people, echoing the complaint of the East German critic Lothar Kusche, who had read the play in manuscript. Brecht's answer was, in part
Ui is a parable play, written with the aim of destroying the dangerous respect commonly felt for great killers. The circle described has been deliberately restricted; it is confined to the plane of state, industrialists, Junkers and petty bourgeois. This is enough to achieve the desired objective. The play does not pretend to give a complete account of the historical situation in the 1930s.
In his 1992 study, Hitler: The Führer and the People, J. P. Stern, a professor of German literature, rejects both Arturo Ui and Chaplin's The Great Dictator, writing: "[T]he true nature of [Hitler] is trvialized and obscured rather then illuminated by the antics of Charles Chaplin and the deeply unfunny comedy of Bertolt Brecht."
The play was listed in 1999 as #54 on Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century.