PipeChat Digest #4114 - Sunday, November 16, 2003
 
Concert commemorating "Kristallnacht".
  by <Gamelpt@aol.com>
 

(back) Subject: Concert commemorating "Kristallnacht". From: <Gamelpt@aol.com> Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003 23:20:41 EST   Ladies & Gentlemen, We have gathered here for a concert that commemorates "Kristallnacht", an episode that belongs to the dark Nazi period in Germany. The concert = today recalls one of the most shameful periods in human history when a brutal = regime attempted to impose an unscientific and barbarous form of racism on = individuals as well as their cultural products. We are gathered together to remember = the artists and musicians whom the Nazis persecuted, declared degenerate and expelled from so-called People's Community or Volksgemeinschaft, first in = Germany and then in all the territories occupied by the Wehrmacht, the German = Army, during W.W.II. "Kristallnacht", the "Night of Crystal Glass or Broken Glass" as it was euphemistically called, became infamous as a series of violent = anti-Semitic attacks organized by the Nazi Party in the night of November 9 to November 10, = 1938. The attacks on Jews, their synagogues and property, were supposed to be a popular outburst of German anger at the murder of a German diplomat in = Paris. It soon became clear that the state had perpetrated the crimes, an early = example of greater crimes to come. Let us hear what one of the officials at the British Embassy reported back = to London: [Report by the British Embassy, Berlin about the events of the Crystal = Night. Source: E. L. Woodward. Documents on British Foreign Policy, Third = Series, Vol. III, (London 1956), p. 275-277. Sir G. Ogilvie-Forbes (Berlin) to Viscount Halifax (Received November 18). No. 1224 [C14108/1667/62] Berlin, = 16 November 1938] My Lord, On the 7th November Herschel Grynszpan, a young Polish Jew, was admitted to the German Embassy in Paris and fired a revolver at the first = member of the staff whom he chanced to meet... On the 8th November, Herr von = Rath, who was attended by Herr Hitler's own personal doctor and a surgeon = specially sent to Paris by the Chancellor, died of his wounds. This was the signal = for a national persecution of the Jews in Germany on a scale and of a severity unprecedented in modern times. Before the victim died certain punitive = measures, such as the suspension of Jewish Newspapers and a ban on the possession of =   firearms had been taken, and plans no doubt were laid for further action = should the worst occur. This unfortunately, was the case, and on the "Fackelzug = ohne Fackel" [Torch precession without Torches] the attack was launched in the = early hours the morning of Thursday, the 10th November. Until midnight on the = 9th life in the capital was normal. On the morning of the 10th the general = public awoke to witness an orgy of destruction and terror. All over Germany synagogues were burnt or damaged, and Jewish shops and business offices = were broken into, their stocks in many cases looted, their furniture and fittings smashed.[...] Gangs of youths in plain clothes and armed with poles, = hammers, and other appropriate weapons were visiting the Jewish shops and completing the work = of destruction, done in the early morning. In some cases the premises had = been entirely looted, in others the stock in trade was only mishandled and scattered. And at one or two places a crowd was gaping in silent = curiosity at the efforts of the owners to tidy up the debris. I especially noted the = demeanor of the groups, which followed each band of marauders. I heard no expression = of shame or disgust, but, in spite of the complete passiveness of many of the =   onlookers, I did notice the inane grin, which often inadvertently betrays = the guilty conscience. All the time, with one exception, [...] no police were = in evidence, and the fire brigades were turned out only to prevent the flames = of burning synagogues and other buildings from damaging Aryan property. Nevertheless, the police were near enough at hand to arrest would-be = photographers of the wreckage... In the evening of the 10th Dr. Goebbels issued a proclamation expressing sympathy with the people's indignation against the Jews, but = enjoining that these demonstrations should cease as the answer to the Paris murder = would take the form of legislation or decree. This order was gradually complied =   with and thus ended a day of controlled [sic] mob violence which not only involved the sacrifice in some cases of innocent life, but caused immense = damage to private property, the amount of which cannot yet be estimated. [...] = Terror stricken Jews, fearful of capture, have abandoned their homes and are = wandering about the streets or hiding in the woods around Berlin. I hear that conditions are even worse elsewhere. ... The sufferings of the Jews are = aggravated by the fact that thousands are not only wandering and homeless, but also = their wives and families are denied the very necessities of life, as so many = people are terrorized against furnishing either supplies or funds to Jews. [...] I = also learn, though I have no present means of checking the numbers, that = hundreds of Jews are, in desperation, smuggling themselves across the frontier, and = that the Jewish suicide rate, never low in these times, has alarmingly = increased. [...] In spite of statements to the contrary, there can be no doubt that the deplorable excesses perpetrated on the 10th November were instigated and = organized by the Government. The attacking parties commenced operations at a given = hour and singled out with uncanny precision Jewish shops, buildings and places = of business, and it seems that not many mistakes were made. In the same way = as they had begun, the attackers ceased operations on the word being given by = Dr. Goebbels, who in his pubic utterances, condoned what had been done. Inarticulate though the mass of the people may have been, I have not met a = single German of whatever class who in varying measure does not, to say the least, disapprove of what has occurred. But I fear it does not follow that even = the outspoken condemnation of professed National Socialist or of senior = officers in the army will have any influence over the insensate gang in present control of = Nazi Germany. The present position of the Jews is indeed tragic. In spite of = Dr. Goebbels grudging admission to Reuters's agent on the 15th of November = that he had allowed certain Jewish cultural associations to be reopened, the = civilized world is confessions with a sight of over 500,000 people deliberately excluded from all trades and professions, and consequently unable to earn = a living. They dwell in the grip and at the mercy of a brutal oligarchy, which = fiercely resents all humanitarian foreign intervention. Misery and despair are = already there, and, when their resources are either denied to them or exhausted, = their end will be starvation. The Jews of Germany are, indeed, not a national = but a world problem, which, if neglected, contains the seed of a terrible vengeance. [...]" And now let us hear what the Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Dr. Joseph Goebbels said and proudly wrote in his diary:   10 November 1938 "I reported to the Fuehrer and he decides: the demonstrations should be allowed to continue. The police should retreat. = Let the Jews get a taste of popular anger. [...] Now the people should retreat. Let = the Jews get a taste of popular anger. [...] Now the people are going to = act... . I wish to return to my hotel, and see a glow as red as blood. The synagogue = is burning.... We only put out the fires when they endanger adjacent = buildings. If not, they should be burned to the ground.... Reports come from all = over the Reich. 50 synagogues, then 70 are on fire. The Fuehrer ordered 20-30 =   thousand Jews to be arrested.... Public anger is running wild.... They = have to be given the possibility to vent their rage .... Driving to the hotel, = windows are being smashed. Bravo, bravo. The synagogues burn like big old huts. = There is no danger to German property. For the time being there is nothing more = to be done." 13 November 1938 "Conference with Goering about the Jewish question. = Fierce battles about the solution. I represent a radical point of view. [...] Result: a contribution of one billion will be imposed on the Jews. They = will be pushed out of economic life shortly.... A series of other measures is = being planned. At any rate, it is going to be a tabula rasa from now on. = Goering and I work wonderfully well together. He also acts with determination. The radical view has won."   "Kristallnacht", the night of broken glass, the night in which the = synagogues in the German Reich were set ablaze and vandalized, the night in which the =   Jewish cemeteries were desecrated, the night Jewish shops and warehouses = were smashed and looted, the night Jews were chased down the streets, beaten, humiliated, often killed, was indeed the beginning of an even more radical = treatment of the Jews or anyone else who did not fit into that Nazi society. "Kristallnacht" is a reminder of what human beings are capable of once = fanaticism, intolerance and prejudice have poisoned their minds. "Kristallnacht" = hence can be seen as a summary of all the anti-Semitic actions of the early Nazi years. = The path to the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem", the Nazi term for extermination of the Jews of Germany and Europe, had begun as the = bureaucratic mechanisms for its implementation were set in place. The "twisted path to =   Auschwitz" (as the American historian Karl Schleuness has called it) and = the death of millions could now be glimpsed. The Nazis had destroyed the human relationships and the fragile balance on =   which Germany, in the Weimar Republic, had previously rested. Jews were = turned into a degenerate human deviation, a degenerative race. It became = impossible to be Jewish and German. A false biology replaced culture or choice in = the determination of nationality and religion. You were a Jew because Nazi = Racial Law said so -- whether you were a Catholic Nun or a Lutheran pastor!   Those who could flee fled. From January 1933, when Hitler and his Nazi = party seized power, political opponents, Jews and whoever else was threatened or =   simply disgusted with what was happening in Germany, left the country, = they emigrated. All the composers in today's program went into exile. Some = were children, like Ursula Mamlock or Raoul Pleskow, some students like EH = Meyer, some were famous composers like Arnold Schoenberg. They left their homes, = their families, their friends behind; they left their careers, their futures, = they escaped and entered the hostile unknown. Often they were pushed from one = country to another, most were not welcome even in the countries they settled in. = But not only were they pushed out of their counties, they were also pushed = into an identity that was meaningless; one which they did not understand, accept = or even comprehend - they were "refugees", " exiles", "stateless". The Jews who survived had to cope with a trauma from which none of them = ever recovered. They lost identity, country, income, possessions, the small = things that make us feel at home. They used various strategies to survive. Some plunged into left-wing politics. The Communist Party gave them a new = identity not as Jews but as comrades in the struggle against fascism, at least = during the period of the so-called "Popular Front" from 1934 to 1939, until the rude disillusionment when Hitler and Stalin suddenly became allies in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August, 1939. Others rediscovered their Jewishness either as secular nationalists or as observant practicing Jews. Some became Zionists. Some resurrected their = Yiddish roots. Others studied Jewish folklore or mysticism. If the Nazis had stripped them of their German identities, Judaism became the rescue. Some = managed to escape the Israel to rebuild their lives. Many among them, the writers in particular, succumbed to despair. Nazism = had taken their medium and polluted it. Hitler ranted in German, the language = in which they had written their works. They committed suicide like Walter Benjamin and Stefan Zweig. The great Austrian novelist Joseph Roth drank = and smoked himself to death, as his fellow exile Soma Morgenstern recorded in = his brilliant Joseph Roth. Seine Flucht und Ende, [Joseph Roth, His Flight = and End.) Music as high art provided a sphere which Nazism could not soil. It = offered the refugee composer an identity that they themselves, not Hitler and Goebbels, had chosen and defined. Music was "above" the battles of the = time. Thus for many refugee composers, purity and abstraction became a cult in = themselves. Music became beyond humanity, purged of evil, detached from a world in turmoil. Nobody could locate, corrupt or pervert it. W. H. Auden, the = English poet, in his great poem on the death of the Irish poet, William Butler = Yeats, expressed the idea perfectly. I have substituted the word music for = poetry in the first line: "For music makes nothing happen: it survives In the valley of its saying where executives Would never tamper; it flows south Fram ranches of isolation and the busy griefs, Raw towns that we believe and dir in; it survives, A way of happening, a mouth." For the composers whom we celebrate tonight, music became their way of happening, a mouth. M.K. Program   Three songs Without Words for alto saxophone and piano Arioso (Molto moderato) Ballard (Allegretto) Sephardic Melody (Largamente rubato e molto appassionato) Paul Ben-Haim (1897 - 1984)   November 10,1938 an incomplete fragment arr. for piano solo Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)   Concierto para saxofon tenor y orquesta sinfonica (1945) for tenor saxophone and piano Moderato Andante Con moto Hans Helfritz (1902 - 1997)   Soliloque et Dialogue (1998, rev. 2000) for soprano saxophone and piano Raoul Pleskow (b. 1931) [Present at the recital.]   Thema, Variationen, Chaconne und Fughetta (1934-35) for solo piano. Ernst Hermann Meyer (1905 - 1988)   Rueckblick (2002) (In Retrospect: November 9,1938) for alto saxophone and piano With fluctuating tension Elegy (Calm) With Energy Lament Ursula Mamlok (b, 1928)