Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What a difference a letter or two make

The German newspaper 'Die Zeit' has an article on an Austrian lady who was a guard in one or two concentration camps, and who may have contributed to quite a number of deaths, beatings and so on. She had been interviewed twice by Austrian and German police after the war, but got off scot-free. Recently, however, she was within inches of being taken to court. She died before this happened.

Her name is Erna Wallisch.

Which reminds me of Ernst Wallfisch, the fabulous viola player.

And of the delightful Raphael Wallfisch, the cellist, his mother who played the cello in Auschwitz, for her life, and the rest of that talented family. (Not sure if they are related to Ernst).

Isn't it creepy what difference a little letter or two can make to a name? Like put you on different sides in the camps?

Incidentally, I see that Raphael is playing in the Berlin Konzerthaus on 8 May, to celebrate the end of WWII on that day 63 years ago, and also the founding of the state of Israel 60 years ago. Not sure that I would want to push the latter quite so much, given the more recent history. For that I would be very happy to chuck eggs at Mr Wallfisch, even in Germany. (Nothing more than eggs, mind, and making sure they'd miss the cello). They will be playing Schelomo by Bloch, something by Pavel Haas (who perished in Auschwitz) and some other pieces, all Jewish music. It would have been nice to add Kol Nidre to that - would he play it like Misha Maisky in that memorable Vilnius concert in 2004?