Gisela Kallenbach, Introductory remarks at Grieg Haus (English translation by Doris Benner, excerpted)
I would like to extend a very warm welcome to tonight's protagonists:
the descendants of Anna and Halina, Anna's daughter Nora Jean Levin and
her husband Michael, and Halina's grandson Ken Hoffman and
his wife Ann from the USA. . . .
Another special greeting goes to Diana Shapiro and Stanislava Varshavski, our pianists, who have been honored with many international awards.
These concerts would not have been possible if we had not received such great support. Therefore a big thank you to the following companies and institutions: Europaische Stiftung der Rahn Dittrich Group; KSW GmbH; the City of Leipzig’s departments of international affairs and of cultural matters; Reinwald GmbH; Marriott Leipzig; Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Leipzig Conservatory); Leipziger Notenspur (Leipzig Music Trail). A warm welcome to all of you.
Today, together with piano music, you will learn a lot about Jewish musicians; their musical roots at the world-renowned Leipzig Conservatory; their personal happiness; and their cruel fate of expulsion, internment and escape. And their new beginnings in the US, their lifelong friendship, and the power of the music that accompanied them.
Nora Jean, Michael and Ken will take us back to the 1930s in
Nazi Germany when the Jewish Cultural Union offered the only opportunity for Jewish
artists to perform. Michael will impersonate the role of Anna's husband Hirsch;
Nora and Ken will tell the story.
But you, dear guests -- we ask you to tell others about what we are learning today - in particular because cooperation with the Henriette-Goldschmidt School through the Verein Notenspur (Leipzig Music Trail) has succeeded in attracting a very young generation to research the lives of former Jewish Leipzig musicians. Originally the students planned to research only the lives of Tanja and Mirjam Zunser. Then it turned out Tanja and Mirjam had been friends of our Anna and Halina -- so it became a project about four former Leipzig women! Who would believe in such pure chance happening?
You will learn more about the result of these works. You can see original documents from the lives of Anna and Halina in the exhibit cases. You have an exhibit brochure and a program summary in German, so that even with limited English you can read and understand. Experience shows that personal fates have a much more powerful impact on one's memory than any theoretical education.
In view of our present societal situation, not only in Germany but worldwide -- both the renewed growth of nationalism and right-wing radicalism but unfortunately also anti-Semitism -- it is of paramount importance that we take an unambiguous stand.
Our today's event is to show
this stand -- so thank you all for coming.. . .