Monday, March 28, 2011

The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany by Martin Goldsmith 2000

"An intensely moving memoir of personal discovery of family history, and a chilling story of increasing repression, persecution, and eventual mass-murder in Nazi Germany." from a review by Fred Child for National Public Radio.

Martin Goldsmith, the former National Public Radio’s host of Performance Today, recreates in this memoir the life his parents led growing up in Nazi Germany and the fascinating story of the Judische Kulturbund Orchestra where his father played the flute, his mother the violin. Having escaped in 1941 and settled in the United States, his parents rarely talked about their lives in Germany, but finally the author prevailed upon his 79-year-old widowed father to tell him the details of his experiences. Fascinated by all that his father had to say, Goldsmith fleshed out his father’s story with research about Nazi Germany and the Judische Kulturbund, The Jewish Cultural Society, an entity founded by Jewish artists.

Goldsmith tells many engrossing stories. He starts with his father Gunther’s family in Oldenburg, Germany where his grandfather Alex owned a prominent department store. Then he moves on to introduce his mother Rosemarie’s family who lived in Dusseldorf where his grandfather Julian Gumpert was a violinist who ran a well-respected music academy. These two threads merged when the children in these two families, Gunther and Rosemarie, met in Frankfurt where they both were asked to join the Kulturbund orchestra. They fell in love and married.

Goldsmith tells us a great deal about the Judische Kulturbund, about its formation in 1933, the importance of its leader and spokesperson - the charismatic Kurt Singer, its programs, its greatest triumphs, its faltering, and its demise in 1941. The formation of the Judische Kulturbund was initiated with the permission of the Nazis by Jewish artists in Berlin to provide work for unemployed Jewish artists. The proposal was that these artists would entertain the Berlin Jewish community whose members faced increasing restrictions in their daily lives. At its peak in 1936, there were branches of the Judische Kulturbund in 49 cities across Germany.

But despite the triumphs, there were many stresses. After 1936 more and more German Jews, artists included, emigrated. Others “disappeared,” or were sent to labor camps or prison. Morale eroded. In addition, the Nazis kept placing more and more restrictions on performances. Brownshirts attended performances and sat in the front row. Eventually the lecture series offered by the Judische Kulturbund was cancelled. Finally, the groups outside of Berlin were shut down and only the Berlin group was functioning when the Nazis shut it down in 1941. As Goldsmith notes: In 1941 the Germans no longer had a need to divert or placate the Jews. They had decided to implement the final solution.

Goldsmith spends some time toward the end of the memoir discussing some of the interesting controversies surrounding the existence of the Judische Kulterbund. Some of the questions that have been raised are: Were the Jewish leaders of the Kulturbund na├»ve in thinking there was an advantage to working with the Nazis? Was the existence of the Kulturbund worth the cover it provided the Nazis?  Did the existence of the Kulturbund and its successes make it easier for some who could have emigrated pass up emigration opportunities? Goldsmith seeks answers to these questions from his father, other survivors, and scholars.

All along he narrates events in his family’s life – how his parents thrived as members of the Kulturbund Orchestra and how they miraculously escaped Germany through the offer of sponsorship from a former pupil of Rosemarie’s father who had already immigrated to the United States. And he traces the tragic stories of both sets of grandparents, none of whom ultimately were able to escape the Nazis’ clutches.

This memoir includes family photos and reproductions of documents.

People
Goldsmith's father's family
Moses Goldschmidt – married Auguste Philipssohn
    Alex  Goldschmidt – son of Moses and Auguste; married Toni Behrens, daughter of Ludwig Behrens and Jeannette
        Bertha Goldschmidt – daughter of Alex and Toni
        Gunther Ludwig Goldschmidt – son of Alex and Toni; married Rosemarie Gompert
            Peter Goldsmith – son of Gunther and Rosemary
            Martin Goldsmith – son of Gunther and Rosemary; author
        Eva Goldschmidt – daughter of Alex and Toni
        Helmut Goldschmidt – son of Alex and Toni

Goldsmith's mother’s family
Julian Gumpert – married Else Hayn
    Rosemarie – daughter of Julian and Else; married Gunter Goldschmidt (see above)
       
Friends, Acquaintances and Contemporaries
Ruth Anselm
Julius Bab
Leo Baeck
Hans Bassermann
Kurt Baumann
Lawrence Berenson
Bert Bernd
Henry Bloch
Martin Brandt
Martin Brasch
Lotte Breger
    Nina Breger – Lotte’s daughter
Wolfgang Brettschneider
Franz Calvelli- Adorno
Adolf Cohen
Arthur Cohn
Heinz Condell
Richard Dresdner
Ernst Drucker
    Eugene Drucker – his son
Nathan Ehrenreich
Manfred Epstein
Albert Ettlinger
Emanuel Feuermann
Herbert Fischer
Werner Golde
Milton Goldsmith
Max Greenbaum
Herschel Grysszpan
Igo Guttmann
Willhelm Guttmann
Mauritz Henschel
Heinrich Hirschberg
Otto Hoffmann
Jascha Horenstein
Fritzi Jokl
Hilda Klestadt Jonas
Liesl Joseph
Walter Kapell
Richard Karp
Kurt Katsch
Alexander Kipnis
Alena Klein
Otto Klemperer
Max Kowalski
Leo Kreindler
Hannah Kroner
Max Lehrmann
Werner Levie
Walter Liebling
Arthur Lilienthal
Paula Salomon-Lindberg
Erich Liepmann
Max Loewe
Fritzi Merley
Henry Meyer
Fred Michaelis
Walter Olitzki
Joachim Prinz
Julius Pruwer
Joseph Rosenstock
Dolly Salkind
Georg Salzburger
Arnold Schoenberg
Franz Schreker
Rudolf Schwarz
Rudolf Serkin
Moritz Singer
    Kurt Singer - his son
Nellie Solms
    Sigfried Solms - her son
Martha Sommer
Kurt Sommerfeld
Heinrich Stahl
Hans Wilhelm Steinberg
Margot Stern
Walter Sulzbach
Bruno Walter (Schlesinger)
Michael Taube
Gerti Totschek Colbert
Leo Trepp
Morris Troper
Fritz Wisten
Hans Zander

Places
Sachsenhagen, Germany
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Oldenburg, Germany
Bremen, Germany
Deutsch-Eylau, West Prussia
Dusseldorf, Germany
Gumpert Conservatory of Music, Dusseldorf, Germany
Berlin, Germany
Hosel, Germany

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