cover image The Inextinguishable Symphony: The True Story of Love and Music in Nazi Germany

The Inextinguishable Symphony: The True Story of Love and Music in Nazi Germany

Martin Goldsmith. John Wiley & Sons, $32.5 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-471-35097-2

As much a tribute to the power of music as it is a Holocaust memoir, this book--written by Goldsmith, the former host of NPR's Performance Today--tells a deeply affecting story of a love that survived the terrors of WWII. The lovers in question are Goldsmith's parents: G nther, a flutist, and Rosalie, a violist, were German Jews who met in 1936 when they were both playing in the Kulturbund's orchestra in Frankfurt. An organization that performed at the pleasure of Joseph Goebbels's Ministry of Information and Propaganda, the Kulturbund hired Jewish artists (forbidden to play in German orchestras) to present concerts, plays and lectures for solely Jewish audiences from 1933 to 1941. Drawing creatively from historical documents and family memories, Goldsmith's story suggests that the Kulturbund was both a lifesaver and a cultural refuge for Jews--but it was also a Nazi smokescreen that gave German Jews a false sense of security. In engagingly reflective prose, Goldsmith tells the story of this institution and recounts how his father jeopardized his life by returning from Sweden, where he had fled, to be with Rosalie in Germany. The two married and finally migrated together to the U.S. in 1941. But other family members did not fare as well. Goldsmith's paternal grandfather and uncle were passengers on the St. Louis, the ship that sailed from Germany to Cuba only to be turned away; both died in concentration camps. Dealing perceptively with the complex emotions aroused in him by his parents' lifelong refusal to discuss their past and with their passion for each other and for the music that may have saved their lives, Goldsmith's account offers an excellent contribution to Holocaust studies. B&w photos. (Sept.)