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The Vanished Musicians

Jewish Refugees in Australia


Albrecht Dümling

About 9,000 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany settled in Australia between 1933 and 1945, a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands who fled. Although initially greeted with a mixed reception as «enemy aliens», some of these refugees remained and made a significant impact on multicultural Australia. This book traces the difficult journey of the orchestral performers, virtuoso soloists, singers, conductors and composers who sought refuge on a distant continent. A few were famous artists who toured Australia and stayed, most notably the piano virtuoso Jascha Spivakovsky and the members of the Weintraubs Syncopators, one of the most successful jazz bands of the Weimar Republic. Drawing on extensive primary sources – including correspondence, travel documents and interviews with the refugees themselves or their descendants – the author depicts in vivid detail the lives of nearly a hundred displaced musicians. Available for the first time in English, this volume brings to light a wealth of Jewish, exilic and musical history that was hitherto unknown.
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Chapter 6 : ‘Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus?’: Persecution and Flight


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‘Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus?’: Persecution and Flight

Berlin 1938

In 1938, as one of three Jews in a class of nineteen students, Klaus Loewald had completed his matriculation without any problems in Berlin, his home city.1 In school he was treated fairly. ‘Perhaps the Herder Gymnasium in Westend was an exception, but in my time no Jewish student was ever expelled – whether his father was a Frontkämpfer [Front Soldier] or not. My father did not serve at the front.’ Loewald ascribed this tolerant atmosphere to the director who, like most of the teachers at the school, was a decent man. He remembered ‘only one remark, made only once and with some justification by one teacher: “There is too much chatting in class, especially among the Jewish students.” He was quite right. Otherwise there was never the slightest hint of any real discrimination.’ The literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki’s experience at the Fichte Gymnasium in Wilmersdorf was similar. Even classmates who belonged to the Hitler Youth did not express any antisemitism, but Reich-Ranicki put this down to their good, middle-class upbringing as well as to the unrealistic propaganda. ‘The official propaganda against the Jews referred to an abstract concept (such as “World Jewry”) and I presume that they [the fellow students] did not necessarily associate it with their classmates, whom they had known and respected for years.’2 A large percentage of Jewish girls...

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