Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz

By Richard Newman; Karen Kirtley | Go to book overview

2

A Fine Musical Nursery

To those who give generously to art, art is generous in return. To little Alma. -- Selma Halban-Kurz

Little Alma -- "Almschi," as her family called her -- suited the role of celebrity child. With her huge dark eyes and kewpie doll beauty, her hair curled in perfect ringlets, she never failed to make an impression. Within the family she was known for her apple cheeks. Justine dressed her in lace-collared frocks with puffed sleeves and hand-sewn rosettes and taught her the traditional Austrian girl's "Knicks," or curtsy. Visitors to the Rosé home met Alma briefly. Her face aglow, she would make a graceful bow that drew a smile or a courtly kiss on the back of a dimpled hand, then a governess or nanny would whisk her away. Visitors remembered the willfulness on her small face, and perhaps the trace of a pout.

By 1909 Alfred was a vigorous seven-year-old; Alma, at three, was often in his shadow. Alfi did his best to be domineering, barking out orders and demanding to be heard. Using charm instead of bravura, Alma soon learned how to make her presence felt.

The Rosés lived within easy walking distance of Vienna's inner city in the fourth district, known as Wieden -- first at Taubstummengasse 4, then at Strohgasse 3. These were the neighborhoods favored by the dynasties of the Habsburgs' golden days, nobility and gentry from the far reaches of the empire who preferred cosmopolitan Vienna to their holdings in the provinces. Each year, after the autumn hunts at their splendid rural castles, the aristocracy returned to the capital.

Leila Doubleday (later Leila Pirani), a young Australian living in Vienna, recalled her first visit to the Rosés' comfortable apartment. 1 A violin and piano student, she had arranged an audition with the eminent Professor Rosé. Her heart pounding with excitement, she climbed past three levels of apartments belonging to counts and barons to the Rosés' on the fourth floor. A maid

-32-

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Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Editor's Note 15
  • Prologue: Alma Maria Rosé 17
  • 1 - Musical Royalty: the Background 19
  • 2 - A Fine Musical Nursery 32
  • 3 - War 42
  • 4 - Double-Edged Sword 53
  • 5 - Waltzing 69
  • 6 - Blood and Honor 84
  • 7 - Anschluss 90
  • 8 - Black Wednesday 102
  • 9 - Another Blow 115
  • 10 - The Need to Sacrifice 124
  • 11 - Rebirth 135
  • 12 - Musical Fortress 156
  • 13 - Council of War 174
  • 14 - Flight 188
  • 15 - Enter Alois Brunner 199
  • 16 - Instant Nightmare 211
  • 17 - Mandel's Mascots 226
  • 18 - The Music Block 249
  • 19 - Escape into Excellence 260
  • 20 - The Orchestra Girls 278
  • 21 - Frau Alma 287
  • 22 - Death in the Revier 298
  • 23 - Reverberations 310
  • Epilogue: Memories of Alma 325
  • Notes 329
  • Interviews and Major Sources 357
  • Bibliograpby 362
  • The Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau 378
  • Camp Glossary 384
  • Index 389
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