BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Martin Goldsmith, author of "The Inextinguishable Symphony," where'd you get that title?
Mr. MARTIN GOLDSMITH, AUTHOR, "THE INEXTINGUISHABLE SYMPHONY": It comes from the fourth symphony by a Danish composer named Carl Nielsen. Nielsen wrote his fourth symphony in the midst of the First World War, and he was just devastated by all the destruction he saw around him, and yet buoyed up by his essential optimism and wrote, at the head of the score, `Music is life and, like life, indistinguishable.' And, therefore, his fourth symphony has come to be known as `the indistinguishable symphony,' which seemed to me a—a perfect metaphor for this organization that is at the center of—of the book, the Kulturbund.
LAMB: We have a photograph that you've seen before, because it's in your book. I want you to tell me who this is.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:This is my mom. This is Rosemarie Goldsmith. This is her last professional photograph after she had come to this country and had played with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for 21 years and then the Cleveland Orchestra for 14 years. She retired to Tucson, Arizona, and formed a string quartet there, and this is her--her last publicity photograph for that string quartet recital in 1982.
LAMB: When'd she die?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Two years later, 1984.
LAMB: How old was she?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:She was 67 years old.
LAMB: We have another photograph of your father. Tell us about him.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:He was born in Oldenburg, Germany, in 1913. He started to play the flute when he was in his teens and played the flute throughout his--his time in--in Germany. He began playing a—a wooden flute. That was sort of the style of the time and what he could more or less afford. When he came to this country, he needed to get a metal flute; Americans played metal flutes and have this more brilliant sound. He couldn't afford one right away, but was able to get $10 towards the purchase of a metal flute from, of all people, Albert Einstein, who was a friend of an acquaintance of my father from Berlin days. And Einstein wrote him a very nice letter and included a check for $10.
LAMB: Is he still alive?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:My father is 87 years old, yes. Still living in Tucson.
LAMB: What's he like?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:What's he like? He is--he is a self-professed shy man, but very intelligent, very romantic. I like to think I got at least one of those attributes from him, the--the romanticism at any rate. And he's--he's, obviously, the--the source of--of much of the family material I got from--from the book.
LAMB: We also have a picture of your mother and father together.
LAMB: What was your mother like?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:She was--she had a great sense of humor. This photograph was taken in our back yard in Cleveland, just before my mom retired from the orchestra and they moved to Tucson. She--you can probably notice, if you look closely, some flowers in the foreground. That's a result of--of her gardening expertise. She was not only a—a wonderful violist, but a crack gardener as well.
LAMB: Mark Crispin Miller--who is he, and why did he have something to do with this book?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Mark Crispin Miller--I'm sure viewers of C-SPAN have read his columns in The New York Review of Books and--and elsewhere. He--I believe right now he teaches at NYU, but three years ago he ran a film series at the Baltimore Museum of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. He was teaching at Johns Hopkins University. And he invited me up to Baltimore to introduce a film, a wonderful film, called "Thirty-Two Short Films about Glen Gould," the fabulous Canadian pianist.
And Professor Miller asked me to come up a few minutes early so he could talk to me, so he--he could introduce me, so I could introduce the film, and he asked me about my musical background. And I said, `Well, I really don't have so much, but certainly my parents do.' `Tell me about my--tell me about your parents,' he said. And I said, `Well, my mom was in the Cleveland Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony. Before that, both my parents were in this orchestra in Germany, an all-Jewish orchestra in Nazi Germany, and my father had immigrated to Sweden and moved back to Germany to be with this woman, who had become his wife. And they managed to get out of Germany, just in time, in--in 1941.' And Professor Miller looked at me and said, `That's some story. You know, you ought to write a book.' And that's sort of where the initial impetus came from.
LAMB: You--you say--you quote your father as saying in the book that he did not--he does not consider himself is--to be Jewish.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:That's right. It's an interesting story in that my brother and I were not raised Jewish. We were not bar mitzvahed when we turned 13. On Sunday mornings, we would climb into the car, all four of us, and drive down to the Ethical Society in St. Louis, where my parents would listen to earnest talks about nuclear disarmament and civil rights, and my brother and I would be upstairs singing songs about (German spoken), `Thoughts are free,' and stuff like that. I didn't attend my first seder until I was 16 or 17 years old. My father would refer to us as being `of Jewish background.'
And imagine my surprise when, during my second trip to Germany to do research for the book, I was in his hometown and went to the archives of Oldenburg, and the archivists began bringing out all kinds of information. And one of them said, `Oh, look, here are the rabbinical records from 1926,' the year my father turned 13, and there was a record of my father's bar mitzvah. And as soon as I could, I gave him a call and said, `You never told me about your bar mitzvah.' He says, `I don't remember being bar mitzvahed,' which I found interesting because, so far as I know, you spent a lot of time preparing for—for your bar mitzvah. So it seems to me it would be hard to forget something like that.
But it has always occurred to me that growing up in Nazi Germany, to be Jewish was a bad thing, and perhaps my father thrust that as far away from him as--as he could. And whereas the events of the Third Reich strengthened a number of people's faiths, it also destroyed a number of people's faiths. And perhaps my father falls into the second category.
LAMB: By the way, what do you do full time?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:I, for a long time, worked at National Public Radio. I continue to do commentaries for NPR, although recently I've signed on with a new satellite radio company called XM.
LAMB: To do what?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:To be the head of their classical music channel; to program the--the channel and to come up with and--and voice and host a number of specials for--for that channel.
LAMB: When does that start?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:It goes into operation, as far as everybody knows, about the 1st of June of the new year.
LAMB: And how do you get it?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Well, at first, you need to get it in your cars. The people at--at XM figure that most radio listening is done in cars, and for the first year or so of operation, you're going to need a special little receiver in your car and a special satellite s--dish on your car, a small one. But after the first year of operation, you'll be able to get all of the channels right inside your--your very own home.
LAMB: There's a--this is an out-of-context question. A fellow named Henry--Is it Meyer (pronounced MAYer) or Meyer (pronounced MIer)?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Henry Meyer (pronounced MIer).
LAMB: You tell a story about him. Is he still alive?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Yes, he is. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is about 76 years old.
LAMB: How did he get to Cincinnati, Ohio?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Well, he was one of the very youngest members of this organization, the Yiddish or Kulturbund, the Jewish Culture Association. He joined the orchestra in Berlin when he was only 17 years old and played with the orchestra, played chamber music with my parents in Berlin. In September of 1941, when the Kulturbund was shut down, he was still a member of the organization. So--in fact, there's--there's a photograph of--of Henry Meyer.
LAMB: Which one is he?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:He's on the right, my mom's on the left, my father in the middle. They're playing a Beethoven serenade in--in Berlin in 1940. When the Kulturbund was shut down, Henry Meyer was still in the organization, and he and his brother were sent, first, to a munitions factory and eventually to Auschwitz. His brother perished within a few weeks of arriving in Auschwitz, but Henrin--Henry Meyer managed to survive. He was incredibly fortunate.
He, first, was on the brink of--of death after being there for some time, and a doctor--a Nazi doctor happened to be walking through the barracks. Henry Meyer said to him, `Look, I know what's happening tomorrow.' He knew that there was going to be a selection the next day, and he assumed that he would not survive that process. And the doctor sat down and said, `What were you before you came here?' And Henry Meyer said, `I was a musician. What were you?' The doctor said, `I was a doctor as well, practicing in Breslau.' Henry Meyer said, `In Breslau, I--I played the Tartini concerto there.'
And the doctor paused for a moment and said, `I was at that concert.' And after a few more moments, the doctor got up, walked out of Henry Meyer's barracks, came back a few minutes later bearing a corpse over his shoulder. He plunked the corpse down on the cot next to Henry Meyer, picked Henry Meyer up, slung him over his shoulder, walked over to the next barracks, where he gave Henry Meyer a new name and a new identity. And Henry was able to survive long enough to be asked then to join the band in Birkenau that would play while prisoners were marched out in the morning and back into the barracks in the evening, before and after their work detail.
He was told, `Well, since you're a musician, what instrument do you play?' Henry Meyer did not play a band instrument; he had played the violin, but, luckily, noticed a pair of cymbals leaning up against the wall and said, `Oh, I'm a real virtuoso on the cymbals.' So he survived his last months in Birkenau playing the cymbals in that band. And he said that he became a great favorite of the Nazi guards because they would often throw pebbles at him, and he would catch the pebbles with his cymbals. It made a loud noise, he said, which the Germans loved.
LAMB: Go back to Kulturbund. Spell that and then define it.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:K-U-L-T-U-R-B-U-N-D, Kulturbund. Basically, it means Culture Association, the Yiddish or Kulturbund Jewish Culture Association. It came out of what the Nazis were doing the first few weeks and months after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany on January 30th, 1933. The Nazis had many things on their plate, many things they hoped to accomplish. But one of the first things they did was to kick Jews out of German orchestras, German opera companies, German theater companies to--to cleanse German art of the--the bad Jewish influence, they said.
And so by April of 1933, there were upwards of 8,000 unemployed Jewish artists in Germany. Some of them decided to come together to form their own organization, Jews performing for other Jews. They quickly realized that it wouldn't get anywhere unless they had full Nazi backing. They nominated, as the artistic director of the organization, a remarkable man named Kurt Singer. He, in turn, found a fellow in the Nazi hierarchy named Hans Henkel, who eventually rose to become the number-two man behind Josef Goebbels in the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, as it was called.
And Henkel and Singer worked out this--this plan for this organization. Only Jews could be a member of the Kulturbund; that meant whether you were a violinist or a flutist or an actor or you built sets or costumes or worked in the--the box office, you had to be Jewish. You could only attend performances of the Kulturbund if you were Jewish. And the Kulturbund put on plays and operas and orchestra concerts, chamber concerts. They showed films, they sponsored lectures, all for the Jews of Germany. It became the--the only venue for Jews to attend cultural performances.
LAMB: How long was it in business?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:It raised its curtain for the first time on the 1st of October, 1933, during the High Holidays that year, and was in business for eight years. It--it began in Berlin. By the end of 1933, there were--there was already the first branch organization, which opened its doors in Cologne. And by the high-water mark of the Kulturbund, 1936, 1937, there were these organizations in 49 cities across Germany, and 70,000 people were--were members of the Kulturbund.
LAMB: Did the Nazi government underwrite it at all?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Yes. And they--they not only allowed the Kulturbund to happen, but encouraged it for two important reasons: On the one hand, it was instrumental in the Nazis' desire to segregate Jews from mainstream German activities; and on the other, perhaps more important, hand, it--it aided in their propaganda efforts. They saw the Kulturbund as a wonderful propaganda tool.
When there began to be complaints about reported German anti-Semitism, the Nazis could shrug their shoulders and say, `How bad can it be for the Jews? Look, they--they have their own orchestra, their own opera company. We're treating them just fine.' So the--the Nazis were very en--encouraging of this organization, and they did subsidize it. The bulk of the funds for the Kulturbund came from subscriptions; people had to be monthly subscribers to the Kulturbund. There was no walk-up sales allowed. But the Nazis also saw to it that certain monies from the Reich came to support their organization.
LAMB: There's a note that, at some point, you--the--the Kulturbund was not allowed to play orchestra pieces of composers who were either from Germany or Austria.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Right. At the--the very beginning, the members of the Kulturbund were savvy enough to realize it probably was not a good idea to play music from Richard Wagner or Richard Strauss, German composers that the--the Nazis held in particular high regard. But at the--the outset, they could play other German composers: Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann. But eventually, again, the Nazis thought that for a Jew to perform German music or for a Jewish actor to speak the words of Gerta or Schiller or other German playwrights, that was somehow to defile German music or German drama.
So the order came down that the Kulturbund was no longer permitted to play German composers, with one somewhat amusing exception. For a while, the Kulturbund was allowed to play music by George Frideric Handel, who was born Georg Friederich Handel in Germany. But the Nazis apparently thought because Handl had composed such Old Testament oratorios as "Judas Maccabaeus" and "Israel in Egypt," that he must be Jewish. So he was still allowed, the Kulturbund, until somebody pointed out to the Nazis that, well, yes, Handl is just as German as Brahms or--or Beethoven. So he was added to the verboten list.
And then in March, 1938, when the Anschloss took place, the forcible takeover of Austria by the Germans, Austrian composers--Schubert, Haydn, Mozart--were added to the--banned list.
LAMB: Your parents played for this band for how long?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:My mother was the first to join. She joined the Kulturbund orchestra in Frankfurt when she was 18 in the fall of 1935, and a few weeks thereafter, after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws, which essentially stripped Jews of their citizenship, my father, who was studying the flute in the town of Karlsruhe, was kicked out of—of the music academy there. So he made arrangements to emigrate to Sweden. Like many a German Jew, he saw what was going on and decided he no longer wanted to live there.
So for the next weeks and months, he made arrangements to move to Sweden. In fact, got himself an apartment over a milk bar in Stockholm. And he was all set to leave when, in March, 1936, the phone rang, and somebody on the other end of the phone said, `There's this orchestra called the Kulturbund. Its principal flutist has a very bad cold. They--they need somebody to fill in. Can you--can you play a couple of concerts?' My father at first said, `No, I--I really can't. I'm--I'm about to move. There are boxes all over the apartment,' but the other fellow was persistent.
My father eventually agreed to play these two concerts with the Kulturbund orchestra, one in Frankfurt and one in Hamburg. He played those concerts and then duly moved to Sweden, but he couldn't forget the lovely, young violist he had met during those two concerts. A correspondence ensued between Frankfurt and Stockholm. And when the same flutist, who had gotten sick in March, emigrated to Palestine in August, my father moved back to Nazi Germany to be with the woman, who would become his wife and my mother. And they played in the Kulturbund orchestra of Frankfurt together for the next several years, until 1938 when they joined the orchestra in Berlin.
LAMB: You say in your book that your mother's father was a rat.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:He was. He was also--human nature being what it is, he was also a wonderful violinist and a wonderful teacher. He was my mother's first teacher, and she remembered him as her finest teacher. He ran a music conservatory in their hometown of Dusseldorf, and his first rat-like, rodent-like behavior came as a--a result of his bringing home what he termed promising, young, female students—home from the conservatory for what were termed, with raised eyebrows, `private lessons.' He was not a faithful man to my grandmother. And then later on, in--in 1939, he one day, without saying anything to his wife, my grandmother, put his Stradivarius violin under his arm, and with a woman not his wife, emigrated to Ecuador and left his--his wife to her fate in--in Germany.
LAMB: Did you ever talk to your mother about him?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:I did, but, alas, my--my mother died in 1984, and this is another aspect of--of the story in that we didn't, as a family, talk about what had happened to my parents in Germany, about what had happened to their families. So there wasn't a great deal of--of, certainly, insightful talk. I do remember her mentioning that her--her father was a wonderful teacher and--and a very--a very fine violinist. I did get the sense that they--they weren't terribly close personally, but professionally, musically, they had a very, very important relationship.
LAMB: When did you start finding out all of this that's in this book?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:The most--I guess I would probably have to say 1992, which was the year I--I turned 40. I happened to be in Germany, and my father was in Germany at the time as well, and we arranged to meet in his hometown of Oldenburg. And he showed me a few places of—of great interest to him: the--the house where he was born, the house where he grew up, the store where his father sold women's clothing and--and women's accessories. And that certainly caused me to ask him a few questions: `Well, where--where did you--where did you go to school? What--what was it like here?' And that began the process of--of asking him more questions.
And after a couple of years, he came to Washington, right after the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened, and we toured the Holocaust museum together. And that was quite a significant moment in--in our relationship. And he--he began to open up more and to talk more about what was, obviously, a very deep well of--of difficult memories.
LAMB: Now there are--th--outside of the bad stuff in this book about the Nazis, there's a lot of poignant moments, romantic moments, between your mother and father, including the times when your father would stay with your mother under her father and mother's roof and some very--you know, details about their--their lovemaking or love life. Did that come from your dad?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:It did, yes. He--he says that...
LAMB: What was it like ta--talking to him about it?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Well, as you might imagine, I--there—there were--there were times when I said, `You know, Dad, that's--that's about as much detail as--as I need.' But it was certainly--it's--it is important to remember that these were two young people, and I—two young people in love. And...
LAMB: How old were they?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:When they met, my mom was 19, my father was 22. They got married in 1938; my mother was 21, and my father was going on 25. I, so many times, would say, `Dad, what--what was it like? What was it like to be a Jew in Nazi Germany?' And he said, `Well, we were Jews in Nazi Germany. We were also young lovers in Nazi Germany.' And they took time out, as often as they could, to go on the streetgar--streetcar to the farthest reaches of Frankfurt and there to--to walk out into the--into the hills, the Taunus Hills outside Frankfurt, where they would--like any 25- or 22-year-old people, would pack a picnic lunch and--and go walking in the woods and try to have as--as good a time as--as they could under the circumstances.
Not too long ago, there was a party when--when the book came out, and my father flew back to--to Washington to--to visit me and be--be a part of this party. And a friend of mine said to him, `Reading this book, do you feel more frightened in--in retrospect, looking back on what--on what happened, or were you more frightened when these things actually happened?' And he said, `Well, I'm more frightened now looking back and realizing the danger we were in. But at the time, certainly we knew there were things we couldn't do, things that were forbidden to us. We knew about dangers, but we were--we were young, perhaps we were foolish, but we had music and we had each other and we were--we were happy, in some strange way.'
LAMB: Well, in--in 109--page 109, you--it's the first day of 1938. You say, `When they awoke, it was nearly noon'--by the way, they were married by then?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:No, they were not.
LAMB: They were not.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:They were not married till December of '38.
LAMB: It says that, `When they awoke, it was nearly noon. Gunther'--and how do you pronounce the German part?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Gunther (pronounced GEUNTer).
LAMB: `Gunther dressed and made his way downstair, where he convinced the landlord, with a few winks and expressions of, quote, "You know how it is to let him take a basket of rolls and fruitcake up to his wife." After they'd eaten, they made love again and then slept until dark.' How could he remember things like that all the way back to 1938?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:He--he says that he will never forget. I mean, he's--he's 87 now, and he says if he lived to be 1,000, he will never forget that New Year's Eve, 1937-'38. It was--he says he remembers so many details: how they took a streetcar, and then they met a--a--a—a horse-drawn carriage and took them up to this little inn up in the Taunus Mountains; a New Year's Eve that was--he said it was snowing, and there was no electricity in the rooms, and everything was--was lit by candlelight. And there were big, quilt, feather comforters. And he just--he says this--this--that is--`That was the first night,' he said, `that your mother and I made love.' And after averting my eyes a little bit, I said, `That must have been--been wonderful.' And—and he--he remembers it very, very clearly. There are--there are things that he does not remember whatsoever, but that New Year's Eve, that first night, he remembers quite well.
LAMB: How many hours did you talk to your father ab--for this book, and did you record it?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:I di--I recorded much of it. Exactly how many hours, I--I couldn't say, but I--I had a little DAT tape recorder, and we would sit in these adjoining reclining chairs in my father's house in Tucson, and he would talk for a long--a long time. And I would ask him questions and...
LAMB: Did it ever become emotional?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:It often became emotional, and there were--there were times when we both sort of stopped and--you know, stopped the tape recorder. There were times when it--when I could tell it became emotional, and my father would say, `I--I really can't remember,' and that would be sort of a signal for that session to be--to be ending.
LAMB: What would bring on the emotion more than anything else?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:I think his memories of his parents and what happened and how he--he and my mother managed to get out and his--his parents did not.
LAMB: We have a photograph of Alex and of Helmut. Let's show the one of Alex and ask you to tell us about him.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Alex Goldsmith was my father's father. He came to Oldenburg in 1906. He was the son of Moses Goldsmith, who was a—a horse-trader. But--and--and Alex had four brothers, all of whom went into the horse trade, but he didn't. He decided to seek his fortune on his own. As I said, he entered into the woman's clothing game and came to Oldenburg in 1906, opened up a store in 1911.
In 1914, he marched off with his hometown regiment to fight in the First World War, and as a result, he didn't come home for any significant length of time, until after the Armistice. And he came home in--in January in 1919, by which time my father was five years old. And my father remembers this strange man coming up the stairs, and my father re--remembers turning to his mother and saying, `Who is that man?' and being told, `That's your father.' Alex ran the store in--in Oldenburg from 1911 until--until the mid-1930s, when things began closing in on him.
LAMB: How old is he in this picture?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:That is the picture that he had taken when he attempted to emigrate to the New World in 1939. That would have made him--he was born in 1879, so he was 60 years old.
LAMB: One of the things that you tell us in the book is that anyone who was Jewish in Germany during this period, if you're a man, you had to have--insert into your name the--the--the name Israel, and if you're a woman, Sara.
LAMB: Where did that come from?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:That was the result of a law that was passed a s of--the--the law was announced in 1938, late 1938. And the law stipulated that as of January 1st, 1939, all Jews had to have these names affixed to their name, as--as you said. If you were a man, you became Israel. So my father became Gunther Ludwig Israel Goldschmidt, and my mother was Rosemarie Sara Gumpert. To me, it was just one of the--of--of all the--the horrible laws that--and strictures and edicts and curfews that were handed down, it was one of the most intrusive, certainly before the advent of--of the final solution.
LAMB: Who blew up or destroyed the gravestone of his grandmothers to get the Sarah off it?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Goodness. The fellow who ran the--the--the SS--Wha t was his name?
LAMB: Doesn't matter how much--what his name--so much what his name was...
LAMB: ...but what were the circumstances?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Well, yes. It was considered horrible that you might have a--a Jew in--in your--in your background. Of course, there--there's the--the rumor that Adolf Hitler, who--whose name truly was Adolf Schicklgruber, may have been Jewish and he did everything he could to--to stamp out that rumor. But the man of whom you spoke, the head of the SS, his--his grandmother's name was Sarah, S-A-R-A-H, which is not S-A-R-A, the way it was depicted on--on the—the passports after the 1939 law. And he had his grandmother's headstone blown up to erase any hints that that may have been--may have been the case.
LAMB: M--mention Alex and then Helmut. Who was he?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Helmut was my father's younger brother, Alex's younger son. He--in--in this photograph, also taken when he and his father, Alex, hope to emigrate to the New World in 1939. He was born in 1921, so at the time, he was 18 years old. In 1938, right after the events of Kristallnacht, Jews were kicked out of German public schools. And Helmut was one of the very last students to be asked to leave his public school in Oldenburg. And I was gratified to learn when I made my--my last research trip to Germany a year ago, November in 1999, that the students in his (German spoken) and in his--in his public school have sort of adopted him as someone they--they want to memorialize, and they're apparently finding money to put up a plaque in his honor as the last Jew to be kicked out of--of the school in—in 1938.
LAMB: Quickly before I--I want you to tell the story about them trying to get out of the country. But quickly, the--the main dates: 1923 was what?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:1923 was the year that Adolf Hitler staged his Beer Hall Putsch in--in Munich and the--the National Socialist Movement began.
LAMB: I want to read because you--on page 40, you have some Hitler words, just so that if there's somebody watching this that never heard the intensity of his hate for Jews. Do you happen to remember where this was quoted from?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Yes. A--a book about Hitler published by the University of California Press. He was interviewed by a--a fellow named Joseph Hell, who was a--a German journalist at the time and interviewed Aloph--Adolf Hitler in 1922.
LAMB: Actually, rather than me read it, why don't I have you read it...
LAMB: ...just so that you can put that on the record.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:All right. All right. Yes, this fellow, Joseph Hell, was a German journalist in the 1920s and interviewed Aloph--Adolf Hitler in 1922. And he asked Hitler during this 1922 interview, `What do you want to do to the Jews once you have full discretionary powers?' And he apparently--Adolf Hitler, who had been speaking in a fairly calm and--and rational voice, his demeanor changed and he began speaking loudly, as if he were at some sort of outdoor rally. And he proclaimed, `Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example; as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately and they will remain hanging until they stink. They will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be hung up and so on down the line until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.'
LAMB: Did--and, you know, you've got a lot of quotes in the book about the way the Germans, the Aryans, felt about the Jews. Did you ever get any sense why they felt so strong?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Why have the Jews been treated like this throughout history? They have been scapegoats for centuries. This was just the latest manifestation of--of--of anti-Sem--Semitism, which raises its--its head throughout history, it seems.
LAMB: I think somewhere you had the figure of 80 million people lived in Germany back then. How many of them were Jews?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:No more than 3 percent or 4 percent or 5 percent. It was a very, very small percentage. And yet, the--the Nazis were able to convince the German citizens, apparently, that these small number of Jews presented a threat to them. My father does remember the—the April boycott in 1933. He was going on 20 at the time. And he remembers these storm troopers standing outside Jewish businesses with signs saying, `Germans defend yourselves. Don't purchase from Jews.' And my father remembers thinking, `Defend yourselves? I mean, there's--there's no threat.' And yet, I mean, Goebbels was the—I guess the inventor of the big lie, and if you repeat something over and over enough, you can convince a large group of people that a small--very small group of people somehow poses a threat.
LAMB: How many times have--did you go to Germany in--in preparing for this book?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Three times.
LAMB: And when you went to Oldenburg, what part of the st—the country is that in?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:It's in the very northwestern part of Germany.
LAMB: Where else did you go besides Oldenburg?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:I went to other places where my parents lived or, you know, were--made music. I went to Dusseldorf, which was my mother's home town. I went to Frankfurt, where they played in the Kulturbund Orchestra at first. I went to Berlin. I went to Hamburg, which is where my grandfather and uncle sailed off on their ill-fated journey to the New World.
LAMB: I'm going to ask you about that in a minute, but how many of your family perished?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:There was my two grandmothers, my grandfather, my uncle and an aunt, so five in all.
LAMB: All killed by the Germans.
LAMB: And were they sent to camps?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Yes. My grandfather and uncle ended up in Auschwitz. My mother's mother ended up in Trawniki in--in Poland and my mother's--my father's mother and my father's younger sister ended up in the ghetto in Riga.
LAMB: Did you go to those places?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:I did not to go t--I went to Auschwitz in--in 1992. I have not been to Riga or Trawniki.
LAMB: 1933: What happened in Germany?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:January 30th, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of--of Germany.
LAMB: When was the Anschluss?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Anschluss was in March of 1938. That was when, under the threat of an invasion, the Germans simply marched into—into Austria and there are stunning to this--newsreels that one can see to this day how the city of Vienna just fell all over itself to welcome der Fuhrer. He gave this triumphant speech overlooking the Heldenplatz, the--the Plaza of Heroes, in--in--in Vienna and re--he--he proudly said, `I--I proclaim to the world that the Austria has joined the German Reich.'
LAMB: What happened on November 9th, 1938?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:It is remembered in some circles as Kristallnacht; in other circles, simply as the November Pagrone. It was the night that supposedly in retaliation to a--in retaliation for the assassination of a German official in Paris by a young Jew named Greenspan, Herschel Greenspan, supposedly in reaction to--to that, Jewish businesses--excuse me--Jewish businesses and Jewish synagogues and Jewish people were targeted for destruction. Synagogues were set on fire, businesses were--had their windows broken, many, many Jews were killed, many were arrested. And because of the--the--the broken glass that lay in heaps throughout Germany, the Nazis actually came up with the name Kirstallnacht, Night of Crystal, Night of Broken Glass, seeking to minimize the damage. For that reason, the Jews of Germany sometimes remember it simply as the November Pagrone, but I think the Nazis were a bit more poetic than they perhaps intended to be, and Kristallnacht does have a certain power, that name, that image.
LAMB: You have a brother, Peter, and is he older or younger?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:He's three years older.
LAMB: Has he been involved in all this research you've done?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:He wasn't involved in the initial stages, but I asked him to come with me last November for the last trip that I made. On the night of November 9th, 1938, my grandfather was--my father's father was arrested, and the following morning, he and 42 other Jewish male citizens of Oldenburg were marched through the town, past the smoking remains of the synagogue, through the streets of Oldenburg. This is a--a picture of--of that march. And they--they wound through the streets of--of Oldenburg and eventually ended up at the Oldenburg prison, where they spent a night in--in jail and then were sent by train east to the concentration camp Eschenhausen. But because of this march, about 15 years ago or so, the citizens of Oldenburg decided to do something extraordinary, which is on every 10th of November, to re-create that march, to follow the exact route that the marchers took at the point of Nazi guns. And this last November 10th, my brother and I went back to Oldenburg to take part in this re-creation, and it was, as you might imagine, a--a very, very emotional and--and yet very, very uplifting and--and memorable
LAMB: Will your book be translated into any other language?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:I image it will be. My publisher, John Wiley & Sons, has offices overseas, and I imagine it will be translated into—into German and into Japanese, at least, because that's where--where Wiley has--has offices. And I certainly hope other languages as well.
LAMB: Go back to the story of Alex and Helmut. How long did they spend in prison, and how did they get out of the country?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:At the time of the march, Helmut was still only 17 years old, so he was arrested that night and brought to the pferdmarkt, the horse market in--in Oldenburg, where the march began. But at the beginning of the march, all women and children were dismissed, so Helmut didn't take part in the march and was not sent to prison that night and did not then spend the next three weeks in the concentration camp Eschenhausen, where my grandfather did spend that time.
After being in Eschenhausen for three weeks--this was a concentration camp just north of Berlin, a concentration camp I--I did visit during--during my--my trips to Germany--my grandfather was released with the understanding that he had six months to leave the country or he would face rearrest. So after being released and--and recovering from the ordeal, he set about trying to book passage out of the country, and, in fact, booked passage on a ship leaving for Havana, Cuba. And he made arrangements for his younger son, Helmut, to accompany him. The idea was that they would move to Cuba, set up a--a--a household and then send for the rest of the family.
Unfortunately, it was their ill luck to book passage on the ship St. Louis, which left Hamburg on May 13th, 1938, bound for Havana. In fact, it made it to Havana Harbor, where it dropped anchor. But because of power plays at the highest reaches of the German--of—of the Cuban government, they were not allowed to disembark. None of the passengers was allowed to disembark into--into Havana. The ship then sailed north to the coast of Florida, and spent a couple of days treading water close enough so that the passengers could see the lights of Miami. They pleaded with the American government to be allowed to disembark in Miami, but for a number of reasons, President Roosevelt declined.
LAMB: What year again was this?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:This was 1939. This was late June 1939. And President Roosevelt was beginning, I presume, to make plans for his unprecedented run at a third term as president of the United States. And immigration issues perhaps could have been touchy in the upcoming election. He wanted none of it. So...
LAMB: And how many Jews were on that ship?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Over 900.
LAMB: And you said in the book that there were--there was a quota on Germans that could come into the country?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Yes. At this time, 1939, the United States was still under the strictures of their--of the 1924 immigration law, which said that a certain number of--of citizens from each country was allowed to come to--to America. And...
LAMB: Twenty-some thousand?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Yes. Something like that from--from Germany and from--from Austria. And so the argument went, `If we let in these nearly thousand Jews from Germany on this ship, that means that another thousand Jews who have been waiting patiently in line somewhere else will not be able to come in, so we have to adhere strictly to our immigration law.' And the--the ship was then turned away from Miami and sent back to Europe.
LAMB: What was known at the time in the United States about the way the Nazis were treating the Jews?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Certainly the events of Kristallnacht had been very, very well covered. There were headlines in major American newspapers across the country on page one in bold type about the horrors of Kristallnacht. It was--it was well-known what was going on. There were, in fact--while the ship, the St. Louis, was treading water in the Western Hemisphere between Cuba and Miami, there were editorial cartoons in American newspapers, there were editorials about the St. Louis, there were demonstrations in various American cities, there was a telegram sent to President Roosevelt from such Hollywood luminaries as Edward G. Robinson, pleading with the president to allow the St. Louis to land. But all that was to no avail.
LAMB: How do you feel about this?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:From a personal standpoint, outraged, terribly unhappy. I mean, my--my grandfather, my uncle was--were within miles of freedom, safety, in--in Miami, had they been allowed to land. They were not.
LAMB: And then what happened to them?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:They were--the ship sailed back to Europe. A deal was brokered because everybody did not want the ship to sail back to Germany. Everyone thought, `Well, we can't have this happen.' A deal was brokered whereby the over 900 Jewish refugees would be allowed to land in one of four countries: France, Belgium, Holland or England. And as it happens, the lucky ones disembarked in England. My grandfather and uncle disembarked in France. At the time, they must have thought, `Well, at least we're not in Germany.' So there they were in June of 19--late June 1939 as displaced persons in--in a camp near Le Mans. Within 10 weeks, however, the Second World War broke out, September 1st, 1939. They metamorphosed overnight from displaced persons to enemy aliens. They were, after all, carrying German passports. Germany and France were now at war with each other. They were then sent to two camps in succession in the south of France, Rivesaltes and then Le Milles, camps that were not exactly concentration camps, but were very, very awful places to be interred. And they spent the better part of the next three years in--in those camps before, with the approval of the Vichy government, shipped from Le Milles via Drancy to Auschwitz.
LAMB: And they both died when?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:My father--my grandfather was at the time 63 years old, and he was part of a transport that left Drancy in August—August 14th, 1942. When they arrived in Auschwitz, he was one of the Jews immediately gassed. My uncle was only 21 years old, deemed fit to work. He was assigned his number and managed to survive another two months before dying officially of typhoid fever in October of 1942.
LAMB: There's a fellow in here that all I could find on him was his name was Shapiro. Who was he?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Shapiro--Mr. Shapiro, again, my--my father only remembers him as Mr. Shapiro--he was the man who in--in many respects saved my parents' lives. My mother's father, as I said, ran this music conservatory in Dusseldorf, and one of his students had emigrated to America before Kristallnacht. On the occasion of Kristallnacht, he, realizing all the--the terrible things that he—he saw in the newspaper, wrote to my grandfather, Grandfather Julian, saying, `Gosh, things look really awful there. Is there anything I can do?' My grandfather wrote back, saying, `Well, my daughter and her husband need to--need to get out. Is there anything you can do?' And this fellow found this Mr. Shapiro, who was the--the man who agreed to sponsor my parents. At the time, if you wanted to emigrate to America, you had to find somebody who would stand up and say, in effect, `I will vouch for these people. They are fine, upstanding citizens. They will not end up on the public dole, and I will go on record as saying that.' So it was Mr. Shapiro who--who was my parents' sponsor.
LAMB: How'd they get out?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:They then--once you found yourself a sponsor, you could begin the process of--of trying to get a visa.
LAMB: What was the date that they began this process?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:It was in very early 1940 that they began to—or perhaps it was in--in--in late '39 where they began filling out their--their official papers. Because they had begun playing not only in the Kulturbund Orchestra, but also playing chamber music with—with friends, they were invited by one of their friends to take part in a chamber music gathering that took place in, of all places, the American Embassy in Berlin. And there, they met a woman whom my father remembers only as Mrs. Schneider. And Mrs. Schneider took an interest in these two young people, and without being terribly overt about it, made it known to them that if they wanted to emigrate, she would help them fill out the necessary papers. She did. She helped them fill out the papers. She also told them, `Look, you're probably going to have to wait a while.' This was, again, 1940. President Roosevelt beginning his--his run for a third term. And they waited for over a year, until late February 1941, before their visas arrived. And once they had their visas, they were able to get a--a passport and they then were able to book passage on what turned out to be the second to last boat to leave Lisbon carrying Jewish refugees. The boat left June 10th, 1941, arrived at Ellis Island June 21st, 1941.
LAMB: What--was it--was it the story about your father going into the SS man who screamed at him--what'd he call him? Crazed Jew or something like that?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Well (German spoken).
LAMB: Cursed Jew.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:(German spoken). Cursed Jew pig. Yes. At the—at the--the last thing my father had to do once he had all of his papers in order, once he had the--the sponsorship and the visa and the passport and the--and the--the--the--the tickets on the--on the—the ship Mugino, he had to have everything stamped. And just days before leaving Berlin, in May of--of 1941, he had to go to Gestapo headquarters. And he remembers it was a--a rainy day and he walked into this building and somehow found the right office to--to go to. And all he needed was for this man to, you know, stamp all of his papers. And the SS man screamed at him because he had tracked mud and--and rainwater all over his nicely washed floor. And my father remembers that for a moment, his heart stood still because all the Gestapo man would have had to do would be to say, `Get out of my office,' and that would have been it. But luckily, the man, after yelling at my father, did go ahead and stamp the papers, and my father got out of there tout de suite.
LAMB: When they got to the United States, where did they end up plopping down permanently?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Well, for a while, they--they lived in New York. They arrived in June of--of 1941. They were met on the--the mainland, once they left Ellis Island, by a woman my father remembers as their second mother, Mrs. Brager, who had arranged to meet them and to find a place for them to live. They were in New York for a while. They got work doing some menial tasks. My father polished zippers on a machine in a factory that was re--putting--putting together old pants for--for the war effort. My--my mother worked as a domestic for a while. But they also continued their--their musical activities and got a job with a rather wacky traveling orchestra that was overseen by a--a Czech-born musician named Buchamere Krill. And they traveled all over the--the Southern and then Central United States until December 7th of 1941 when the bus was stopped and my parents were—were arrested because they still had German passports with swastika stamps all over them, and now the United States was at war with Germany. They had to make their way back to--to New York City. They traveled in--in separate--they were in separate cities for a while. My father played in the Baltimore Symphony. My mother played in the—the Pittsburgh Symphony for a while. And eventually, they--they settled in--in St. Louis.
LAMB: Where were you born?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:I was born in St. Louis, yes.
LAMB: How long did you live there?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Until I was 15. And then my mother joined--she had been in the St. Louis Symphony for 21 years. In 1967, she joined the Cleveland Orchestra, so in 1967, when I turned 15, we moved to Cleveland.
LAMB: Where'd you go to college?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Went to Johns Hopkins University in--in Baltimore.
LAMB: What was this experience like, this book?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Well, as--as we used to say in the '60s, Brian, it was--it was a heavy experience to--to revisit all of--of this material. And I--I use the word revisit; in fact, it was in--in many instances, it was visiting it for the first time. I mean, these were--these were people, my--my grandparents, my--my uncle, my aunt, whom I had never known and I known very little about because, again, we didn't--we didn't talk about this growing up very, very much, if at all. So there were times when I would be doing research when I would learn a little fact. I remembered when I went to the—the concentration camp in Eschenhausen and learned that my grandfather was issued prisoner number 9961. And at that moment, my grandfather sort of came alive for me and then receded again just as quickly. And...
LAMB: We're out of time, but at the end, you thank your—your in-laws, Fred and Shirley Roach, for providing those cozy upstairs rooms for those final pages. But there's one line I have to ask you about at the end because I wanted you to explain it. `And thanks always and forever till salmon sing in the street, to my wife Amy.' What--where did you get, `Till salmon sing in the street'?
Mr. GOLDSMITH:When Amy and I were married, we fell in love with a--a wonderful poem by W.H. Arden, which says, in part, `I love you, dear. I will love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and salmon sing in the street.' And we incorporated that into our wedding vows.
LAMB: Our guest has been Martin Goldsmith. This is what the book looks like, the cover, "The Inextinguishable Symphony." Thank you very much for joining us.
Mr. GOLDSMITH:Thank you, Brian.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 2004. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.