Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz

By Richard Newman; Karen Kirtley | Go to book overview

15

Enter Alois Brunner

Woe is wondrously clinging: the clouds ride by. -- Anonymous

For almost a month after Alma's arrest, the record bears no trace of her existence. There is no evidence that she was tortured in the Dijon prison, but the practice was common. Word eventually reached Holland that she had suffered excruciatingly in Dijon and never fully recovered.

She and Martin were transported separately to an internment camp at Drancy, a satellite city still under construction on the Saint-Denis Road in the northeast suburbs of Paris. During the war years, seventy-six thousand Jews would be deported from Drancy, which the French memorialized as "the antechamber of the death camps." Most were sent to Auschwitz.

Drancy entry records of 12 January 1943 list Martin's and Alma's names. The latter is misspelled yet unmistakable: "Van Leeven Boomkamp, Alma (Rosé) -- Hol. -- 3.11.06 -- Vienne -- Utrecht (Hollande)." 1 Alma's birthdate, 3 November 1906, was given correctly, as were her birthplace ( Vienna) and last residence ( Utrecht). For the first time in her life, Alma Rosé became an anonymous cipher: at Drancy, she was 18,547.

It was a busy day at the camp. There were fifty admissions and three departures. A fifty-seven-year-old woman died, and two prisoners were freed.

The Drancy complex consisted of five tall concrete buildings surrounded by wire fencing. Internees were held in four buildings in the center, which French police guarded and administered for the Gestapo. In these stark surroundings, Martin observed his twenty-fourth birthday five days after his arrival.

Political events had diverted the complex from its original purpose of providing low-cost housing. The Third Republic used it to house Communist prisoners, then the Germans used it for French prisoners of war. Finally it became the stopping point for a helpless mass of men, women, and children -- Communists, Jews, and "friends of Jews" whose crime was to oppose Nazi policies.

-199-

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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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