Bei Mir Bistu Shein- The Ghetto swingers.

 

Ghetto

Music soothes the savage beast, that is what Eric Vogel  must have thought when he send a petition to the Commander of the Theresienstadt camp on January 8, 1943  , to start a Jazz band, named the Ghetto Swingers. The band would include the following members he noted.

Dr. Brammer (piano), Dr. Kurt Bauer (percussion), Fr. Goldschmidt (guitar), Fasal (bass), Ing. Vogel (trumpet), Langer (tenor sax and clarinet), and Fr. Mautner (trombone)

pettition

As crazy as it may seem the request was granted and the band was formed.The Jewish prisoners organized in the ghetto a lively cultural scene including jazz music.

The Jazz classic “„I Got Rhythm“ by George Gershwin became the theme tune of the band. One of the prisoners favourite song was the 1932 song Bei Mir Bistu Shein composed  by  Sholom Secunda. The song is better known as Bei mir bist du schön , The Andrew Sisters had a hit with the song in 1936.

The Ghetto Singers also included guitarist Coco Schumann  Kurt Gerron and clarinetist Bedřich “Fritz” Weiss, who had joined later.

After being pressurized following the deportation of Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Germans permitted representatives from the Danish Red Cross and the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944

After the Red Cross inspection, Commandant Rahm instructed Gerron to make a propaganda film.  Filming took place over eleven days between 16 August and 11 September 194.The Ghetto Swingers participated in this Nazi propaganda film “Theresienstadt: A Documentary Film from the Jewish Settlement Area” which is also known as albeit with the  erroneous name “The Fuehrer gave the Jews a city.”

After the camp closed, the members of the jazz band were sent to Auschwitz.

In Auschwitz Coco Schumann had to play for the SS hangmen, “for hours and hours every day, especially when they tattooed the new arrivals, because they considered it such boring work. Four members survived among those 4 were Vogel, Schumann and Roman

Ending this blog with the aforementioned ‘Bei Mir Bistu Shein’ played by the Ghetto Swingers.

 

 

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Sources

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Heinz Sommerfeld-Transport Ek no. 1458 (28. 09. 1944, Terezín -> Auschwitz)

Heinz

Around this time of year many 17 year old kids are getting ready for school exams. And although they may think it is unfair that they have to sit for hours and hours, to do their exams(I know I thought it was unfair). They don’t actually realize how lucky they are.

Education, even though it is a basic human right.it is not a certainty and it should be seen as a privilege when it is given to you.

I am sure Heinz Sommerfeld would have loved to have done his exams when he was 17, but he never got the chance. His biggest worry was staying alive, and because of an evil regime he did not succeed in that either.

He was born in Berlin on March 26th, 1927. On January 5th, 1939, aged 11, he  came to the Netherlands as a refugee without his parents on a  Kindertransport. (children’s transport)

Kinder

When he arrived in the Netherlands he was first in an orphanage in Amsterdam, but in November 1939 he was put in foster care with the Lipschits family in Maastricht . However a few months after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands he was moved again to an orphanage, this time in Utrecht.

In February 1942 he was deported to Westerbork. On January 20th, 1944 he was put on the train to Theresienstadt, from where he was deported to Auschwitz on September 28th, 1944 on transport 1458. A total of 2499 persons were registered on that transport. Heinz was one of them.

The train arrived in Auschwitz on September 29th,1944. What happened to the other 2498 I don’t know, but Heinz was murdered in the gas chambers upon arrival.

He was murdered not because he was bad but because he was perceived to be different, He was Jewish that was enough for the Nazis to kill him.

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Painting for Mengele.

Painting

When you look at some bizarre connections in History, you cannot escape the fact that life sometimes has a ironic way of weaving a tapestry of coincidences.

One of Hitler’s favourite movies was the Walt Disney classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” released in 1937.

Disney

One of the main animators of the movie was Art Babbitt. an animator who joined the Disney studio in 1932. He  was born to a Jewish family in Omaha, Nebraska.

But that’s not where this tapestry of coincidences,or even fate, stops.

Dina Gottliebová was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia on January 21, 1923 .She was raised by her Mother, Johanna Schawl, a lone parent . Her mother had left Dina’s father when she was only 4 months old.

When Snow white and the Seven dwarfs was released, Dina must have seen the movie at least 7 times.

In 1939, when the Germans invaded her homeland, Dina was living in Prague, where she had enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1942  Dina’s mother received a summons that the Jews were being moved. Dina  left school and volunteered to be shipped out with her mother to , Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia.

Thersien

She was actually sent to Theresienstadt on Jan. 21, 1942, her 19th birthday. Dina and her mother stayed there until Sept. 7, 1943 when they were among 5,000 people transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.

In 1944, while in Auschwitz, Dina was chosen by Mengele to draw portraits of Roma Gypsy prisoners .Mengele wished to capture the Roma’s skin coloration better than he could with camera and film at that time. Dina agreed if her own mother’s life were spared as well,Mengele agreed.

One of the people she painted was called Celine. Dina says of painting her muse back in 1944.

“She was very sad and I said, ‘Are you sick?’”  “Celine  said, ‘My baby just died.’ It was a 2-month-old baby and she couldn’t get anything to feed the baby and didn’t have any milk. And Celine couldn’t eat anything. We had black bread with something in it—too much bran or something that made people sick—and I said, ‘Well, can I help with something?’ She said, ‘You can get some white bread.’”

Dina asked Mengele for some white bread. He delivered and Dina sneaked it to Celine, but unfortunately Celine did not survive the death camp. (I believe the portrait below is of Celine but I could not verify it, But it is definitely one of Dina’s paintings)

celine portarit

Both Dina and her Mother survived the Holocaust.Dina moved to the US after the war.

However this is not where this tapestry of life stops. There was to be one more twist to Dina’s life. On April 27,1949, Dina married Art Babbitt. The man who was the main animator of the movie she had watched so many times.

Their marriage didn’t last though. They got divorced in 1963. Dina died aged 86 on July 29,2009, in Santa Cruz California

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Sources

Goodtimes.sc

The Jewish News of Northern California

IMDb.

 

 

 

Brundibár- A Holocaust Opera.

Opera

On the 23rd of June , 1944,two delegates from the International Red Cross and one from the Danish Red Cross visited Theresienstadt  accompanied by the commandant SS First Lieutenant Karl Rahm and one of his deputies.

Rahm

During the visit the delegations were treated to an Opera by the Jewish composer Hans Krása. The children’s opera Brundibár was composed by composer Hans Krása and written by the writer Adolf Hoffmeister in 1938. for a government competition, which was  later cancelled because of  political developments.

In mid 1941 a production of the opera  was directed by Rafael Schächter, and several  of his friends,  it served as a fiftieth birthday present for the director of the orphanage at Hagibor. There had only been 2 performances of the production in Prague, both took place in secret for the Jews were banned of partaking in any cultural events.

By winter 1942 composer Krása and  the set designer František Zelenka had been transported to Theresienstadt.

By summer 1943, almost all of the children from  the original chorus and the orphanage staff had also been transported to Theresienstadt.

cast

This gave composer Krása the opportunity to reconstruct the full score of the opera, based on memory and the partial piano score that he had kept, the opera was adapted ait to suit the musical instruments which were available in the camp:guitar, clarinet, , flute, accordion, piano, percussion instruments, 4 violins, a double bass and a cello . A set was once again designed by František Zelenka, who had  formerly been  a stage manager at the Czech National Theatre.

In spring  time of 1944 the Theresienstadt ghetto was getting ready  for a visit from the  International Red Cross committee, whose aim it was to assess its function as a ‘model’ ghetto that was ‘given’ to the Jews, by Hitler. Brundibár was chosen as the opera that would be put on show  for the committee. It waswas moved to a large sports hall outside the ghetto, and Zelenka, was given the materials make improvements to  the set and costumes. This beautification of Brundibár had to happen overnight. The end scenes of Brundibár were then filmed on June 23  1944 for the propaganda  film Theresienstadt (better known under the title The Führer Has Given the Jews a Town).

film crew

The plot of the opera is about two children,Aninka and Pepíček, whose mother is very ill and needs milk to get better, but there is no money.An idea  of making money occurs to them when they see the organ-grinder Brundibár earning a living in the market. But Brundibár is an evil man , and shouts down the children. During the night,  animals from one of the posters  come to the aid of  the despairing children, and the following  day they help the children to sing louder than Brundibár. The children get  the money they need , but the evil Brundibár steals their earnings . In the end the children find him and are given back what belongs to them.

All of the cast who were involved in the Theresienstadt production were put on transport  sent to Auschwitz as soon as filming was finished. Most were gassed immediately when they arrived, including the children and also the composer Krása.

Krasa

What makes all of this worse is that the whole charade was believed by the Red Cross.

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Robert Desnos- the death of a poet

Robert_Desnos

Robert Desnos was born in Paris on 4 July 1900,the son of a successful café owner,He was a French surrealist poet who played a key role in the Surrealist movement.

When World War II broke out in 1939, he  was drafted as a sergeant. His wartime journalism appeared in magazines such as Europe, Commune, and Ce-Soir. In 1940, he started writing for the newspaper Aujourd’hui.

today

By the early 1940s, he was working for the French Resistance, provided information collected during his job at the paper Aujourd’hui and made false identity papers. As well as  publishing, articles critical of the Occupation, under pseudonyms.

The Nazis eventually discovered his role in the Resistance and was arrested by the Gestapo on 22 February 1944.

Desnos was first  sent to Auschwitz, but was later  transferred to Theresienstadt concentration camp via Buchenwald concentration camp.He died on June 8 1945 in “Malá pevnost”, which was an inner part of Terezín used only for political prisoners, from typhoid, a month after the camp had been liberated by the allies.

Robert_Desnos_au_camp_de_Terezin,_1945

Ending the blog with a translated version of  one of his poems

Epitaph

lived in those times. For a thousand years
I have been dead. Not fallen, but hunted;
When all human decency was imprisoned,
I was free amongst the masked slaves.

I lived in those times, yet I was free.
I watched the river, the earth, the sky,
Turning around me, keeping their balance,
The seasons provided their birds and their honey.

You who live, what have you made of your luck?
Do you regret the time when I struggled?
Have you cultivated for the common harvest?
Have you enriched the town I lived in?

Living men, think nothing of me. I am dead.
Nothing survives of my spirit or my body.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

Poetry foundation

Poem Hunter

Theresienstadt-The sickening propaganda film.

Shooting_'Film_Ghetto_Theresienstadt'

Theresienstadt was a 1944 Nazi propaganda film depicting  Theresienstadt concentration camp as a sort of idyllic rest stop, in an attempt to convince world opinion that there was no such thing as Nazi death camps.  The film intended to be viewed in “neutral” nations  showing how “humane” conditions were at Theresienstadt.

Nor only was it enough to have a false depiction of Theresienstadt, the Nazi also  coerced German-Jewish =Actor,Director Kurt Gerron into directing it.Kurt Gerron Gedrron had escaped Germany  after the Nazis got to power, and ended up in the Netherlands. Once filming was finished, Gerron and members of the Jazz pianist Martin Roman’s Ghetto Swingers were deported on the camp’s final train transport to Auschwitz. Gerron and his wife were gassed immediately upon arrival, along with the film’s entire performing entourage (except for Roman and guitarist Coco Schumann).The next day, Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler ordered the closure of the gas chambers.

After the Wehrmacht occupied the Netherlands, Gerron was first interned in the transit camp at Westerbork before being sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

The Nazis allowed representatives from the Danish Red Cross and the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944. It was all an elaborate hoax. The Germans intensified deportations from the ghetto shortly before the visit, and the ghetto itself was “beautified.” Gardens were planted, houses painted, and barracks renovated. The Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries. Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt, which did not end until October 1944.

73346b

As a result of preparations for the Red Cross visit, the summer of 1944 was, as one survivor later wrote, “the best time we had in Terezín. Nobody thought of new transports.”

The gimmick was so successful that SS commander Hans Günther tried and decided to expand on it by having Kurt Gerron,  make a short documentary  about the camp to assure audiences that the inmates kept there were not being abused. In return, the Nazis promised that he would live. Shooting took 11 days, starting September 1, 1944.

The idea behind the film was  to be shown in neutral countries,including Vatican City  to convince them that the Jews were treated fairly, to counter Allied news reports about the persecution of Jews.

1200px-Czech-2013-Terezin-Theresienstadt-Arbeit_macht_frei

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

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They did not like my smile

Peter Ginz

They did not like my smile, at least I don’t think they did, for why else do they hate me so much?

They did not like my smile, but I can’t help it, I’m a child and I am supposed to be happy and cheerful.

They didn’t like my kind, but I don’t understand I am not different then them.

They didn’t like me being kind. I am a teenager, it was what I do. My parents thought me to be kind and respect others.

They did not like my smile. Why am I so offensive to them?

They did not like my smile. Why?

They didn’t like me to be alive.

They killed me, I am Peter Ginz  I was born in 1928 in Prague , Czechoslovakia and was murdered  in Terezin in 1943.