#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)
(for SOURCE DOCUMENTS click here)
Anna Burstein (b. 1908, Kishinev, Romania) and
Halina Neuman (b. 1908, Lodz, Poland) met in 1926 as “alien student
residents” at the famed Leipzig Conservatory, each motivated to cross borders and change languages for the chance
to master performance craft under legendary professors. Tanya Zunser, a classmate whose
Russian parents had settled in Dresden, was a mutual friend.
Anna and Tanya were awarded multiple scholarships to support their
studies. Halina’s businessman father paid her way. After graduating they each began concert careers. Anna and
Halina married emigré
“East Jews” who settled and worked in Leipzig. Tanya married a
department-store magnate “born German” in Leipzig. Soon all three had small children.
Their lives changed when Adolf Hitler came to power 30 January 1933. After that the young mothers fought to balance careers and threats to family livelihoods while the Nazi net tightened. In the end the Reich treated them all the same.
From its start Hitler’s regime moved to exclude Jews from “Aryan” life -- first from government employment including universities and over 50 city orchestras, then from the professions, from retirement benefits, and from other spheres. Within three years Jews would be legally barred from nearly all German economic, political and social life. Soon Jewish-owned businesses began to be “Aryanized” (legally seized).
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 in July 1933. Branches quickly
spread from Berlin to over 60 German cities including Leipzig. By 1936
more than 2000 performers were appearing before 70,000 subscribers in these
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 British Mandate’s Palestine Broadcast System. Halina was in Salzburg Austria playing Mozart at the famed Mozarteum—a few months before she was forcibly deported from Germany to Poland with thousands of other legally-resident Polish-born Jews. Tanya was in Switzerland with her children while her husband remained in Leipzig navigating the forced transfer of his retail empire to the Reichskommisariat.
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 joined the Settlement Music School piano faculty, where she taught for nearly four decades.