A production of Papers Please Inc.


                               playing for life

                      1934 Concert Notice -- Leipzig Jewish Community newspaper

#34. Anna Bieler-Suwalski: 1936 Leipzig Jüdischer Kulturbund Paid Membership Event tri-fold card (with Contribution Event stamps inside). Dimensions: 3 7/8″ x 10 1/4” [fully open with used and unused event ticket stubs – 3 7/8″ x 15”].


(for Exhibit details click here)

Anna Burstein (b. 1908 Kishinev Romania) and Halina Neuman (b. 1908 Lodz Poland) met in 1926 at the famed Leipzig Conservatory. After graduating they began concert careers and married emigré “East Jews” who had settled in Leipzig.  Their lives changed when Adolf Hitler came to power in January 1933. After that the young mothers fought to balance careers and threats to family livelihoods while the Nazi net tightened.

From its start Hitler’s regime moved to exclude Jews from “Aryan” contact. Within three years Jews would be legally barred from nearly all German economic, political and social life. 

The Judischer Kulturbund

The Kulturbund was formed by dismissed Jewish performers to allow Jewish artists to keep performing -- before segregated all-Jewish audiences.  It was approved by the Nazis July 1933. In 1934 and 1936 Anna and Halina performed two-piano concerts at the Kulturbund’s Leipzig branch. Tanya was on the branch's Board and also performed.

After Leipzig

Two Pianos follows these talented women before, through and past World War II as they transcend crises and borders to forge new careers and lives.

By 1938 Anna was in Tel Aviv performing on the Palestine Broadcasting System.  Halina was in Salzburg Austria playing Mozart at the famed Mozarteum—months before she was forcibly deported from Germany to Poland with thousands of other legally-resident Polish-born Jews.

In July 1938 Anna arrived in Philadelphia, among thousands of exiles who fled the Third Reich to enrich their new American home.  For 15 years she performed at local venues, receiving strong reviews. In 1945 she also joined the Settlement Music School piano faculty, where she taught for nearly four decades.

Halina did not reach America until 1951. Three months later she gave her first American concert.  She retired as a piano professor at Rutgers University.

Anna, age 84, playing Mozart with a chamber music program for seniors started by her daughter Tania, filmed by her granddaughter Stephanie.