Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz

By Richard Newman; Karen Kirtley | Go to book overview

14

Flight

We perish by that through which we thought we'd live.

-- Baudelaire

With the wisdom of hindsight, many considered Alma's decision to leave Britain for Holland in November 1939 foolish and headstrong. Now a chorus of Netherlanders, pleading with Alma to go into hiding, encountered the same firmness of mind. Despite knowledgeable advice to the contrary and many offers of shelter from Dutch friends, Alma decided to attempt escape.

Marie Anne Tellegen described Alma's deliberations:

I never understood why she did not try to leave Holland between the 10th and 14th of May 1940, as many people from Scheveningen did. When I asked her, she said friends had dissuaded her. . . .

It was autumn [ 1942] when her plan to get away ripened. At first we tried very much to convince her to drop the idea and advised her to go into hiding, as so many others did, if they did not feel safe any longer. Thousands of people had to "take a dive" [onderduiken or untertauchen -- literally, go below the surface]. But she always refused.

She said she would be unable to bear the strain of living concealed, with the continuous dread of being discovered. Perhaps she was right. Many, many people who tried it were discovered and taken to Germany afterwards.

It was a very hard time. We talked and talked, and at last she made her decision. 1

Alma's reasoning proceeded from the depths of her psyche. She did not want her Dutch friends to run risks on her account. As she told the Staerckes and others who offered help, she could not live with the possibility that her actions might endanger them. If the Nazis came again for her at the Staerckes, even the baby Hermeline, whom she adored, could be taken away. Moreover,

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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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