Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz

By Richard Newman; Karen Kirtley | Go to book overview

8

Black Wednesday

The dignity of man is in your hands. Preserve it, Alma Rosé. -- Wilhelm Backhaus

Arnold was devastated by Justine's death and his expulsion from the orchestras he had served so faithfully. He had a crushing sense of isolation as many of his old friends fled the city and others he had considered friends kept their distance ( Richard Strauss, for one, no longer came to Pyrkergasse to play skat). Arnold despaired at the thought that fellow musicians were prevented from playing music with him in his own home. Now his "deep brown" moods were black, and Alma became alarmed at his despondency.

She confided her worries in a letter to the Walters. Bruno Walter promptly wrote to Arnold from Montecatini, trying to boost his old friend's spirits:

In my mind I am with you. What is binding us together, the love towards Gustav, all the things we did together, the decades of this wonderful music-making with you, dear Arnold -- everything that is good has a connection with you. Many evenings at the opera and middays at the Musikverein! Your quartet! Our sonata evenings!

And the decades of personal friendship. That is, and remains, and cannot be erased. 1

Elsa added that her husband had written on Alma's behalf to Monte Carlo and on Alfred's behalf to conductors Artur Bodanzky and Walter Damrosch in New York.

After the Anschluss, non-German Europeans were shocked at the wave of terror in Viennese streets. Police ignored even the most sadistic displays of antiSemitism. Brown-shirt rowdies could pluck Jews from the streets and force them to clean gutters or scrub SS toilets or public latrines. Jewish businesses were confiscated and homes looted. Thousands were incarcerated at Dachau,

-102-

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