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In the spring of 1933, more than 8,000 Jewish musicians, actors, and other artists were expelled from their positions with German orchestras, opera companies, and theater groups. Later that year, the Jdische Kulturbund, or Jewish Cultural Association, was created to allow Jewish artists to perform for Jewish audiences. Here is the riveting and emotional story of Gunther Go In the spring of 1933, more than 8,000 Jewish musicians, actors, and other artists were expelled from their positions with German orchestras, opera companies, and theater groups. Later that year, the Jdische Kulturbund, or Jewish Cultural Association, was created to allow Jewish artists to perform for Jewish audiences. Here is the riveting and emotional story of Gunther Goldschmidt and Rosemarie Gumpert, two courageous Jewish musicians who struggled to perform under unimaginable circumstances and found themselves falling in love in a country bent on destroying them.


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In the spring of 1933, more than 8,000 Jewish musicians, actors, and other artists were expelled from their positions with German orchestras, opera companies, and theater groups. Later that year, the Jdische Kulturbund, or Jewish Cultural Association, was created to allow Jewish artists to perform for Jewish audiences. Here is the riveting and emotional story of Gunther Go In the spring of 1933, more than 8,000 Jewish musicians, actors, and other artists were expelled from their positions with German orchestras, opera companies, and theater groups. Later that year, the Jdische Kulturbund, or Jewish Cultural Association, was created to allow Jewish artists to perform for Jewish audiences. Here is the riveting and emotional story of Gunther Goldschmidt and Rosemarie Gumpert, two courageous Jewish musicians who struggled to perform under unimaginable circumstances and found themselves falling in love in a country bent on destroying them.

30 review for The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    5 stars, not so much for the writing, though it was good, but for the sheer persistence of the author, Martin Goldsmith to bare the roots and expose the branches of the tree that grew in his living room. This tree, which Goldsmith used metaphorically like families of alcoholics use the elephant plagued his childhood. I understand it. My mother lost her first husband in World War II. She married my father and never spoke much about her first love but I knew, just like Goldsmith knew, there was a 5 stars, not so much for the writing, though it was good, but for the sheer persistence of the author, Martin Goldsmith to bare the roots and expose the branches of the tree that grew in his living room. This tree, which Goldsmith used metaphorically like families of alcoholics use the elephant plagued his childhood. I understand it. My mother lost her first husband in World War II. She married my father and never spoke much about her first love but I knew, just like Goldsmith knew, there was a story, one not told, that grew and grew and grew until it almost burst through the roof spewing its secrets over all. Martin's father and mother, Gunther and Rosemarie were Jews living in Hitler's Germany in the 30's. Their story of survival was one that Martin longed to know but was not talked about. He wondered how his parents came to America and he wondered about the families they left behind. Happenstance brought both he and his father to Germany in 1992. His father seemed proud to show Martin where he grew up, where his own father's store had been, etc. This small start was the beginning of Martin asking questions and his father telling the story. Inextinguishable Symphony is really three stories, three protagonists you might say. The first is the story of The Kulturbund, a cultural association that began in 1933 when Hitler was first Canceler; a ploy schemed to segregate the Jews but convince the world that these Jewish Germans were being treated well. Martin's father and mother, both fine musicians were chosen to play in this orchestra. Rosemarie was an accomplished violist and Gunther played the flute. The second story is the their love story; from their beginnings getting to know each other, then their marriage and early years as members of The Kulturbund, trying to take care of each other with the happenings around them and finally at last, their fortune to procure passports and passage to America. America, where Rosemarie would continue as a musician, where Gunther would give up his flute to support his family. America, free but not free from guilt as family members are not able to join them in their new homeland. The third character, one that cannot be ignored, is the music. The music that kept his parents and their friends alive throughout the Hitler regime. I know little about classical music but I found myself seeking out the pieces and composers mentioned. In the beginning days of The Kulturbund the assembly was only allowed to play for Jews and certain composers were forbidden As time went on, the list of composers they could not play grew and grew. Imagine being denied the right to play Beethoven, Bach, Schumann, Wagner, Brahms. And the list continued to grow. I have yet to hear the work that prompted the title of the book "THE INEXTINGUISHABLE SYMPHONY" which prominent piece, Resurrection Symphony #2, Mahler. Exquisite. Each story comes together to create the whole and though heart wrenching, there is beauty, peace and hope. The Inextinguishable Symphony lends itself well to book discussion. Questions arise as to paths taken, decisions made or those where there was little choice. One debatable point is the question of whether The Kulturbund was a blessing or a curse? Was it what kept many Jews alive or the vehicle that kept them from leaving Germany? For Goldsmith's parents it seemed what kept them alive. Some would disagree. Martin Goldsmith gives us yet another story from the Holocaust, an important one, worth reading and more important, worth remembering.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    A man's journey to uncover his parent's journey from Nazi Germany to the United States. A man's journey to uncover his parent's journey from Nazi Germany to the United States.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steve Kettmann

    Here is my review of this wonderful book from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001: The Night Jewish Musicians Played Mahler Amid Nazi Terror Reviewed by Steve Kettmann -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE INEXTINGUISHABLE SYMPHONY A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany By Martin Goldsmith John Wiley & Sons; 352 pages; $24.95 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Holocaust has hovered on the periphery Here is my review of this wonderful book from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001: The Night Jewish Musicians Played Mahler Amid Nazi Terror Reviewed by Steve Kettmann -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE INEXTINGUISHABLE SYMPHONY A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany By Martin Goldsmith John Wiley & Sons; 352 pages; $24.95 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Holocaust has hovered on the periphery of the American imagination for so many decades now, it's hard to believe a book could come along at this point to burn a whole new perspective into our consciousness. But that's just what National Public Radio commentator Martin Goldsmith has done with this astonishing work, "The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany." For many, the single most important date to remember from the nightmare years of the Third Reich will always be Nov. 9, 1938, dubbed Kristallnacht by the Nazis, or the Night of Broken Glass, and called simply the November Pogrom by the Jews of Berlin. But anyone who surrenders to the narrative pull of Goldsmith's masterly work may be tempted to turn instead to Feb. 27, 1941. That was the night, deep into the Nazi terror, when a group of Jewish musicians -- including Goldsmith's parents, Rosemarie and Guenther -- came together in Berlin and offered the city's Jewish community a spine-tingling performance of Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony. Their son, normally understated to a fault, calls the night a "miracle," and who are we to argue? "For the next hour and twenty-five minutes, Gustav Mahler's Resurrection Symphony took possession of the theater, of the musicians, of the audience," Goldsmith writes. "No one, either on stage or in the hall, was conscious of time passing, just of an immense sound and an equally immense spirit moving among them. Rosemarie, whose practical mind did not usually acknowledge such phenomena, was dimly aware of someone or something in addition to (conductor) Rudolf Schwarz directing the proceedings. "There were virtually no sounds -- coughs or sneezes or rustling with coats or hats -- coming from the crowd. More than a thousand people, men and women who had come to know danger and pain and hurt and humiliation on an almost daily basis for more than eight years, heard from a valiant ensemble of artists who had struggled along with them a vibrant musical account of their difficulties and then the infinitely hopeful message that they had not lived and suffered in vain and that from their depths they would rise again." It sounds unbelievable. Preposterous, almost. And yet there does in fact exist in Berlin a monument to the so-called Kulturbund, which came about only because the Nazis thought it was useful first to segregate all Jewish cultural activities before opting for the Final Solution. Many fine musicians and other artists did in fact offer their talents to the Kulturbund in hope that the best defense against ugliness was creating beauty. The hopefulness of that belief may have been tainted by the horrors of what Hitler and his henchmen unleashed on the world, but the bravery and grace of this small band of Jewish artists cannot and should not be overlooked. As Schwarz, the conductor, told his musicians in May 1941 in what ended up as a final meeting: "All of us -- musicians, electricians, tailors, grocers, mothers and fathers -- need to be reminded that life is paramount. Even when it is stamped out, it eventually returns. Where there is life, there is spirit. And where there is spirit, where there is even one human soul, there is music. We are proof of that: We have suffered, yet we have endured. And we have made music." Such sentiments might sound cloying delivered by voices who had not endured so much. Given the backdrop that Goldsmith lays out with such modesty, restraint and skill, the small triumph of these musicians feels like a triumph against the malignancy of spirit that colored wartime Europe -- and the entire 20th century. Any such triumph has to be put in context, of course. Most of the musicians who performed Mahler's Resurrection Symphony that magical night in Berlin ended up dying in the camps. Goldsmith's parents were lucky enough to escape to America, but many other family members did not -- including, most hauntingly, his grandfather and uncle, who sailed to Cuba on the ill-fated St. Louis but ended up back in Europe because Cuba and the United States denied them entry. Also, the legacy of the Kulturbund remains clouded. They were undeniably tools of the Nazis. The organization's fiery founder, Kurt Singer, went so far as to berate any musicians who were considering emigration, though he himself returned to Europe from a fund-raising trip to the United States and paid the ultimate price for his devil's bargain, dying at Theresienstadt in January 1944. Still, at its heart, Goldsmith's tale is about people and their stories. He gives us a full, rich account of his parents' own love story, including his father's decision to return from Sweden, risking death, to play music, and yet never strays into self-indulgence or sentimentality. The deep love and understanding of music that come through on every page are a true delight, and, if nothing else, this labor of love ensures that no one who has read it can ever listen to Mahler again with quite the same ear. Steve Kettmann lives in Berlin. His work has appeared in the New Republic and Salon. This article appeared on page RV - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen Mosley

    "Where there is life, there is spirit. And where there is spirit, where there is even one human soul, there is music." P. 282 "And I am so proud of them [his parents] and so grateful to them for showing me what is truly important, for showing me that you must love the people and things that are important to you and that you must sometimes risk everything for that love. There is no finer lesson for parents to teach their children." P. 248 "Silence in the face of crimes committed may be regarded a "Where there is life, there is spirit. And where there is spirit, where there is even one human soul, there is music." P. 282 "And I am so proud of them [his parents] and so grateful to them for showing me what is truly important, for showing me that you must love the people and things that are important to you and that you must sometimes risk everything for that love. There is no finer lesson for parents to teach their children." P. 248 "Silence in the face of crimes committed may be regarded as a form of participation therein—equally punishable whether committed by individuals or by nations." P. 181 Martin Goldsmith tells the history of his parents and their escape from Nazi Germany. They belonged to the Judische Kulturbund, a cultural arts group for Jews, by Jews, tolerated (and controlled) by the Nazis so they could show the rest of the world they were treating the Jews well. I have read many 'holocaust' books, but this one taught me something new. This lovely family, never suspecting what was to come, lived life as best they could under the circumstances, ever believing that things could not possibly get any worse. You will especially enjoy this book if you have been transcended by beautiful music, either as a participant or a spectator/audience.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This book is well-researched and expertly written by Martin Goldsmith, one of the voices for NPR, about the lives of his parents. Both musicians, they were a part of the Kulturbund, which provided a creative outlet for the Jews in Hitler's Germany both as performers and as spectators. Fortunately, the Goldsmiths were able to emigrate to the United States right before Jews were taken to concentration camps. Even though they tried to sponsor other family members to come to America, the Goldsmiths This book is well-researched and expertly written by Martin Goldsmith, one of the voices for NPR, about the lives of his parents. Both musicians, they were a part of the Kulturbund, which provided a creative outlet for the Jews in Hitler's Germany both as performers and as spectators. Fortunately, the Goldsmiths were able to emigrate to the United States right before Jews were taken to concentration camps. Even though they tried to sponsor other family members to come to America, the Goldsmiths were unsuccessful. They experienced survivor's guilt after finding out they were too late. This book, recommended to me by a friend who is an extensive reader, says it is one of his favorite books.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Because this book was written from the perspective of a son researching his Jewish parents' lives in Nazi Germany, I learned many things I'd not known about German Jews, even through my extensive reading on this period of history. This is well worth the read because of the accounts of personal day-to-day occurrences that shaped the lives of Jews who had not (yet) been deported to the camps and ghettos. The book is generally about hope, but my stomach turned several times as I read about the horr Because this book was written from the perspective of a son researching his Jewish parents' lives in Nazi Germany, I learned many things I'd not known about German Jews, even through my extensive reading on this period of history. This is well worth the read because of the accounts of personal day-to-day occurrences that shaped the lives of Jews who had not (yet) been deported to the camps and ghettos. The book is generally about hope, but my stomach turned several times as I read about the horrors inflicted on his family. And being a musician myself, I empathized deeply with the flutist and violist who fell in love and survived the Holocaust because of their talents.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tonya

    Excellent book that is very well written. For anyone with more of a musical background than I, it would be even more meaningful. The book begins early in the Nazi years and for that reason is a very good study in the insidious, gradual erosion of rights and humanity endured by the Jewish people. Just like 9/11, we must never forget the Holocaust. "I wonder if, as he lay dying in the cold of Terezin, he ever awoke from his dream to face the bitter truth that beauty outlasts, but doesn't always win Excellent book that is very well written. For anyone with more of a musical background than I, it would be even more meaningful. The book begins early in the Nazi years and for that reason is a very good study in the insidious, gradual erosion of rights and humanity endured by the Jewish people. Just like 9/11, we must never forget the Holocaust. "I wonder if, as he lay dying in the cold of Terezin, he ever awoke from his dream to face the bitter truth that beauty outlasts, but doesn't always win."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Martin Goldsmith's "The Inextinguishable Symphony is alternately inspiring, horrifying, very moving, and terribly sad. Goldsmith's book is both a biography of his parents, Jewish musicians who performed in Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s and a history of an organization called the Judische Kulturbund, a cultural organization created by German Jews and sanctioned by the Nazis as a way to keep German cultural activities "pure" while reaping the propaganda benefits of allowing German Jews to h Martin Goldsmith's "The Inextinguishable Symphony is alternately inspiring, horrifying, very moving, and terribly sad. Goldsmith's book is both a biography of his parents, Jewish musicians who performed in Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s and a history of an organization called the Judische Kulturbund, a cultural organization created by German Jews and sanctioned by the Nazis as a way to keep German cultural activities "pure" while reaping the propaganda benefits of allowing German Jews to have a cultural life. More than 200 Jewish musicians, actors, writers, and other artists were employed and protected by their participation in the Kulturbund. (Goldsmith credits his parents' participation with providing them with the connections to get them out of Germany and saving their lives.) Goldsmith also provides, through his father's voice, a horrifying tale of what it meant to be Jewish in Germany in the early days of Hitler's reign. This material was not unfamiliar to me, but the level of detail the author provides and the picture he paints is particularly chilling. The saddest parts of the story deal with the family members who were not musicians, and did not get out. Goldsmith's grandfather and uncle were in fact passengers on the German refugee ship St. Louis, which was turned away from Cuba and had to return to Europe. The Goldschmidts ended up in France, and ultimately back in Germany in a concentration camp. The "survivor's guilt" felt in particular by Martin Goldsmith's father was life changing for the family. It's also worth noting that Goldsmith, an NPR commentator with a background as a music critic, takes great pains to discuss the importance of the music his parents and the Kulturbund orchestras played, and the impact that music had an its exclusively Jewish audience. Some of the sections read like program notes at the symphony, and they are excellent. This book is hard to read and at the same time hard to put down. To say it is powerful seems an understatement.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Wow! This book was so interesting. The author tells the story of his parents and their participation as musicians in the Jewish Culture Association during the time of Nazi Germany leading up to WWII, and how their participation in the Association most-likely saved their lives. The book is interesting because it is so many different types of books at once. A little bit of it is like this man's personal memoirs. Part of it is tracing his family history back a few generations. Some of it talks abou Wow! This book was so interesting. The author tells the story of his parents and their participation as musicians in the Jewish Culture Association during the time of Nazi Germany leading up to WWII, and how their participation in the Association most-likely saved their lives. The book is interesting because it is so many different types of books at once. A little bit of it is like this man's personal memoirs. Part of it is tracing his family history back a few generations. Some of it talks about the general world history of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party coming to power. And some of it was very specific history about an organization that I'd never even heard of before. The Association was actually sponsored by the Nazis to use as propaganda showing the world that the Jews' situation was not all that bad in Germany. Similar, in a way, to our own country's past "separate but equal" treatment of African Americans. The difference is that African Americans position was "progressing" in society up from slavery to being equal citizens, but Jews' position was degrading from equal treatment into slavery. I never realized the steps of how that occurred in the German society at that time. I definitely learned a lot of history reading this book, and yet it had the very personal touch that kept it from feeling anything like a college textbook. I definitely would recommend this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    This incredible story underscores the importance of happenstance in our lives. Martin Goldsmith tells the story of his parents, and grandparents and how music saved some of them. But in doing so he tells the more insidious story of how that same music may have doomed other Jews. By giving an air of normalcy to Nazi decrees, by continuing to put on the Kulturebund, did those artists unknowingly give a degree of consent to what was happening around them? Nowhere does Mr. Goldsmith suggest that the This incredible story underscores the importance of happenstance in our lives. Martin Goldsmith tells the story of his parents, and grandparents and how music saved some of them. But in doing so he tells the more insidious story of how that same music may have doomed other Jews. By giving an air of normalcy to Nazi decrees, by continuing to put on the Kulturebund, did those artists unknowingly give a degree of consent to what was happening around them? Nowhere does Mr. Goldsmith suggest that the German Jews used the arts as a conduit to freedom, or protest. And when reading this book it is hard to believe, with my near perfect hindsight, that with each new edict the Jews would just sit back, and think that it could not get any worse. We who look back, know that it did get worse, becoming a stain on humanity that can never be erased. Can any perfectly rendered Mahler symphony serve as a fitting backdrop for trains heading East?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A different take on the Jewish experience prior to WWII from a man whose parents belonged to the Kulturbund, a cultural refuge of sorts. Goldman intersperses a history of his family (and what he can piece together of the missing parts) with the history of the Kulturbund, resulting in a slower-paced, but still fascinating look at an aspect of Nazi Germany that I hadn't encountered before. The view into the machinations and propaganda that actually supported the artists (including musicians, dance A different take on the Jewish experience prior to WWII from a man whose parents belonged to the Kulturbund, a cultural refuge of sorts. Goldman intersperses a history of his family (and what he can piece together of the missing parts) with the history of the Kulturbund, resulting in a slower-paced, but still fascinating look at an aspect of Nazi Germany that I hadn't encountered before. The view into the machinations and propaganda that actually supported the artists (including musicians, dancers, actors, and singers), as well as a description of what happened with the St. Louis (the ship of Jewish refugees that was refused landing by Cuba and the U.S.), was worth the time spent.

  12. 5 out of 5

    William

    This is quite a moving story of the author's family escaping (in some cases not escaping) from the Nazis, of love of music, and many other great elements. So it really has no excuse for being SO BORING! I'm talking about the audiobook here, which was read by the author, who reads in a very soothing way that makes you just want to sleep. He's an NPR contributor, so you know the kind of voice. But the story itself is so slow-paced. Maybe the author was too close to the material, since it's about h This is quite a moving story of the author's family escaping (in some cases not escaping) from the Nazis, of love of music, and many other great elements. So it really has no excuse for being SO BORING! I'm talking about the audiobook here, which was read by the author, who reads in a very soothing way that makes you just want to sleep. He's an NPR contributor, so you know the kind of voice. But the story itself is so slow-paced. Maybe the author was too close to the material, since it's about his own family and how it was possible for him even to be born, but still, some editor needed to cut this down and make it a lot more punchy. It is moving at times, and it's a good story to have read, so still maybe worth it, but a bit of a slog while reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Beautifully written, this is a true story written by a son (NPR music expert) about his parents and their experience as Jewish musicians in Nazi Germany. The book starts with Gunther and Rosemarie as budding musicians in Germany during the very beginnings of the Nazi rule, and their involvement in the Nazi approved Jewish Orchestra which kept them alive. This book gives new insight into how Hitler's rule slowly and steadily crept into the lives of German Jews, against the background of timeless Beautifully written, this is a true story written by a son (NPR music expert) about his parents and their experience as Jewish musicians in Nazi Germany. The book starts with Gunther and Rosemarie as budding musicians in Germany during the very beginnings of the Nazi rule, and their involvement in the Nazi approved Jewish Orchestra which kept them alive. This book gives new insight into how Hitler's rule slowly and steadily crept into the lives of German Jews, against the background of timeless music which makes the telling all the more intimate and real.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dolores

    A beautiful love story, a testimony to the power and solace of music, and a beautiful tribute to Martin Goldsmith's parents. This book could open up meaningful discussions about the power of unbridled hate, the importance of love, and the need for each person to have something bigger than himself to hang on in the face of fear and hardship. It illuminated a chapter in the story of the Holocaust that is not well-known. A beautiful love story, a testimony to the power and solace of music, and a beautiful tribute to Martin Goldsmith's parents. This book could open up meaningful discussions about the power of unbridled hate, the importance of love, and the need for each person to have something bigger than himself to hang on in the face of fear and hardship. It illuminated a chapter in the story of the Holocaust that is not well-known.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Judith Shadford

    Martin Goldsmith, NPR, first host of Performance Today, tells his parents' story, growing up, meeting, enduring the early days of the Nazi takeover of Germany, including Kristallnacht. Gunther, his father, was raised in a family who happened to be Jewish, but totally non-observant. It is also the story of the Judische Kulterbund (Kubu) that I knew nothing about. Jewish musicians and artists were "invited" under Joseph Goebbels' supervision, to form their own orchestras, theater groups, lecture s Martin Goldsmith, NPR, first host of Performance Today, tells his parents' story, growing up, meeting, enduring the early days of the Nazi takeover of Germany, including Kristallnacht. Gunther, his father, was raised in a family who happened to be Jewish, but totally non-observant. It is also the story of the Judische Kulterbund (Kubu) that I knew nothing about. Jewish musicians and artists were "invited" under Joseph Goebbels' supervision, to form their own orchestras, theater groups, lecture societies, beginning in 1933. Since Jews were being dismissed from all these German organizations, it allowed careers, (though forcing them into cultural ghettos) that "proved" how the Nazis were providing for the culture and protection of Jews. It's a harrowing story, made almost magic because Goldsmith knows how to describe rehearsals and performances. There are names, now almost forgotten, of performers and conductors. My only reservation is Martin's details of his parents' courtship: we know that Gunther told Martin his story late in life, then having to do with the music, the fear, the journey to America. How he and Rosemarie fell in love...well, it's a little purple-prosed, though forgiveable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    William Rham

    This is an excellent book. Well and thoroughly researched, and beautifully written, The Inextinguishable Symphony tells the true story of a family of Jewish classical musicians living in Nazi Germany during the 1930’s-40’s. Detailing the Nazis' ever-increasing restrictions on Jews in society—including the devastating “Night of Broken Glass” (Kristallnacht)—it relates the eight year history of the Jüdischer Kulturbund, the only organization the Nazis allowed to provide cultural entertainment (e.g This is an excellent book. Well and thoroughly researched, and beautifully written, The Inextinguishable Symphony tells the true story of a family of Jewish classical musicians living in Nazi Germany during the 1930’s-40’s. Detailing the Nazis' ever-increasing restrictions on Jews in society—including the devastating “Night of Broken Glass” (Kristallnacht)—it relates the eight year history of the Jüdischer Kulturbund, the only organization the Nazis allowed to provide cultural entertainment (e.g., opera, symphony, theater, and film) to the Jews of Germany. We get to know two generations of the author’s family, his grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, as they play with various orchestras, all the while deciding whether, and then attempting, to emigrate from Germany. In particular, we get to know the author’s parents and their story of love and artistic fulfillment during very dark and terrifying times. A must read for anyone interested in European history, day-to-day life in Nazi Germany before the war, and/or classical music.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Roz

    I loved this book. It is in a category by itself. It is definitely about the holocaust but not like any of the many other holocaust books that i have read. It is a personal love story and a lovely homage from the author to his parents. He is very honest about their strengths and weaknesses and how they dealt with their situation in Germany and what happened to them and their family. Music is at the center of his life and during his book research he realized how central music was to their youth d I loved this book. It is in a category by itself. It is definitely about the holocaust but not like any of the many other holocaust books that i have read. It is a personal love story and a lovely homage from the author to his parents. He is very honest about their strengths and weaknesses and how they dealt with their situation in Germany and what happened to them and their family. Music is at the center of his life and during his book research he realized how central music was to their youth days and how music saved them. Don't start this book unless you have time to finish it, i have given up some sleep to get finished. I immediately went back to the very beginning which connects to the very end, as all wonderful books do. Enjoy!! Through your tears.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Frustrating to hear first-hand accounts of the rise of Nazism over many years, how so many didn't recognize the evil it represented or refused to stand up against it. But nice to hear how music sustained so many Jews. Only Jews were allowed to attend and they weren't allowed to play music from German (and eventually Austrian) composers in this Jewish Cultural Association, whose creation the Germans deceptively permitted. The rules imposed upon the cultural association by the government were laug Frustrating to hear first-hand accounts of the rise of Nazism over many years, how so many didn't recognize the evil it represented or refused to stand up against it. But nice to hear how music sustained so many Jews. Only Jews were allowed to attend and they weren't allowed to play music from German (and eventually Austrian) composers in this Jewish Cultural Association, whose creation the Germans deceptively permitted. The rules imposed upon the cultural association by the government were laughable and enraging. The tyranny of government, its control over the individual, and the complicit participation by businesses and society is astounding. I've never understood the motivation behind it, but that is because it is completely irrational.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Goldsmith has written a moving and revealing account of how his parents met in Nazi Germany and were saved by the Jewish Kulturbund, which I had not known about it. It is harrowing and painful to read of the ever-narrowing restrictions placed upon Jews and how this Jewish Cultural Association was used as a propaganda tool. And yet the ability to play music did save them and other Jewish musicians, on several levels, for some years. I am very glad I read the print version so I could see all of th Goldsmith has written a moving and revealing account of how his parents met in Nazi Germany and were saved by the Jewish Kulturbund, which I had not known about it. It is harrowing and painful to read of the ever-narrowing restrictions placed upon Jews and how this Jewish Cultural Association was used as a propaganda tool. And yet the ability to play music did save them and other Jewish musicians, on several levels, for some years. I am very glad I read the print version so I could see all of the wonderful photos. Goldsmith did exhaustive research to piece together this dramatic history of his parents' lives.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie Conner

    I always am drawn to Holocaust stories but this first hand story was truly eye opening. We’ve all seen the movies where talentedJewish musicians were conscripted to play for their Nazi oppressors, but this story of a small group of musicians that continued to organize and play to their fellow Jewish patrons was nothing less than a miracle. Music was their life and what ultimately saved many of their lives.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan Cosden

    I so enjoyed hearing Martin Goldsmith last fall talk about his family and researching this book. It is a shame it took me this long to finally get to it. I actually had the pleasure of experiencing it on Audibles while recovering from surgery and it was wonderfully read and so well written. As someone who has taught the Shoah for over 20 years, I so appreciated a new spin on it and as a lover of music what a lovely spin this was.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heather Speirs

    Fascinating and scarily relevant Although this author is no literary genius,and bits of the narrative verge on purple prose, the book is notable for giving the reader a sense of one family's experience and response to the rise of the third Reich. Music saves them, both literally and metaphorically. It's a fascinating read. Fascinating and scarily relevant Although this author is no literary genius,and bits of the narrative verge on purple prose, the book is notable for giving the reader a sense of one family's experience and response to the rise of the third Reich. Music saves them, both literally and metaphorically. It's a fascinating read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn Stevenson

    This book was heart wrenching and empowering at the same time. I never realized that this is the same Martin Goldsmith from Symphony Hall on Sirius XM. It is hard to believe the challenges and trials his family had to face but I’m glad they have never forgotten the family or the trials that happened there.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kacey Nielsen

    This is a true account about the authors jewish parents in nazi Germany. Their story is so interesting and the author did all his research and more. Because of all the research it's a little dry. And he goes into a lot of detail about classical music that i found tiresome. But i learned a lot of things and we had a great book club discussion. Would not suggest as an audio book. This is a true account about the authors jewish parents in nazi Germany. Their story is so interesting and the author did all his research and more. Because of all the research it's a little dry. And he goes into a lot of detail about classical music that i found tiresome. But i learned a lot of things and we had a great book club discussion. Would not suggest as an audio book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ramona McConkie

    Beautiful, true WWII story about the healing and uniting power of music, yet also a tragic tale of how the regime was able to use those powers to pacify Jews and create a feigned front. For all music lovers, this is a must-read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine Shelstad

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The true story of the author's parents who played in the Kulturbund Orchestra for Jews in Nazi era Germany. His parents were able to come to the US but many others in the family were not so "lucky". The true story of the author's parents who played in the Kulturbund Orchestra for Jews in Nazi era Germany. His parents were able to come to the US but many others in the family were not so "lucky".

  27. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    What a story! Beautifully written, most compelling in its detail and pathos.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Beautiful story, but a little long winded.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Giles

    An incredibly moving and well written book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    JW

    An excellent accounting of this author's parents time in Germany and all of the music and people which helped to shape their lives. An excellent accounting of this author's parents time in Germany and all of the music and people which helped to shape their lives.

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