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June 05, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-06-05

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PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Huberman In Limelight Belatedly As Israel Symphony Creator

How quickly people and their ac-
complishments are forgotten! They can be
of great fame with sparks of genius.
Sometimes it is too much to expect being
remembered.
The proof is in a front-paged New York
Times story about a stolen Stradivarius
that has been retrieved and the insurance
refunded with profit. It happened more
than half-a-century ago when the
Stradivarius was stolen from Bronislaw
Huberman. The story about the retriev-
ing of the rare violin merely mentions
Huberman. What a great opportunity
thus was lost to recall the historic role of
Bronislaw Huberman who was the creator
of the Israel Symphony! Let the story
speak for itself.
The dramatically revealed facts are
related in the front-paged NYTimes ac-
count, "A Stolen Stradivarius and a Five-
Decade Secret," in which Richard L. Nad-
den writes from Beth El, Conn. that as
Julian Altman lay dying in a Connecticut
hospital he told his wife about his violin.
She found in the violin case a faded
newspaper article that described a violin
that had been stolen in 1936 from
Carnegie Hall:
Ms. Hall said that after years
of what she described as a tur-
bulent relationship with Mr.
Altman — who was jailed for
molesting her granddaughter —
her story now has a happy ending.
"The whole reward to me," she
said, "is to bring this beautiful in-
strument back to the world."
It is also, of course, a happy en-

ding for Lloyd's, which paid
Bronislaw Huberman, the Polish
virtuoso, $30,000 for the loss of his
violin in 1936, and whose under-
writers are to pay Mrs. Hall a
reward of an undisclosed amount.
The Stradivarius is now insured
for $800,000.
Bronislaw Huberman is identified
here with the Stradivarius theft incident.
What a marvelous tale could have been
shared with the readers had the entire
Huberman historical role been recounted!
In an important biographical sketch,
the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia gives
a good account of Huberman, his musical
genius, his acceptance as a musician in-
ternationally. It also lists his writings.
A shorter yet fairly good biographical
story is in the Encyclopedia Judaica,
where he is identified as follows:
Bronislaw
Huberman,
(1882-1947), violinist and founder
of the Israel Philharmonic Or-
chestra. Born in Czestochowa,
Poland, Huberman was a child
prodigy in Warsaw. At the age of
ten, he played before the emperor
Francis Joseph in Vienna and for
the violinist Joseph Joachim in
Berlin. In 1893 he began playing
in the main cities of Europe. An
appearance with the famous
soprano Adelina Patti led to many
other engagements, and in 1896 he
played the Brahms violin concer-
to in the presence of the composer.
From then on Huberman was a

Bronislaw Huberman

celebrity.
He played on Paganini's violin
in Geneva in 1908 and was a fre-
quent soloist in the concert halls
of Germany. When the Nazis in-
troduced their measures against
Jews in 1933, the German conduc-
tor Furtwaengler nevertheless in-
vited Huberman to appear with
him. Huberman refused and later
gave his reasons in the English
newspaper The Manchester Guar-
dian, accusing the German in-

tellectuals of having silently ac-
quiesced in the actions of the
Nazis.
Huberman made several ap-
pearances in Palestine and in 1936
assembled in Tel Aviv a number of
experienced refugee musicians,
raised the financial backing, and
founded the Palestine Orchestra
(later the Israel Philharmonic Or-
chestra). He thus created the basis
for a full-fledged concert life in
Israel. Arturo Toscanini agreed to
conduct the opening concerts in
December 1936, and the orchestra
immediately acquired interna-
tional standing.
In October 1937, Huberman suf-
fered a serious hand injury in a
plane accident over Sumatra. It
was not until late 1938 that he was
able to play with his orchestra,
and he saw it for the last time in
1940. War and travel difficulties
prevented him from visiting
Palestine again. In 1946 he sus-
tained a fall which necessitated a
delicate operation. He died in
Switzerland while preparing for
further concert appearances.
Huberman used his great
technique not merely for display.
He made it the means of evoking
musical significance through per-
sonal expression. He wrote on
problems of the violin virtuoso,
and also on political matters. Bet-
ween the two world wars he was

Continued on Page 38

The Summarized Guilt And The Atonement

It was said and recorded before and it
needs constant repetition. The New York
Times summarized it well and neared
perfection in the May 20 editorial "The
Nazis and Other People's Guilt." It might
have added a word about an atonement
with an appended question: whose atone-
ment?"
We were all guilty and some of us are
continuing the guilt. Therefore the puz-
zle: are all Germans atoning, and is there
an atoning by the compilers of the
American record of the war and its
bestialities?
First the summary, as the Times
editorial compiled it under the heading
"The Nazis and Other People's Guilt":
Americans too young to
remember World War II have
recently been offered highly
simplified reruns of Good and
Evil. The question of Germany's
war guilt was revived two years
ago by President Reagan's stub-
bornly insensitive visit to the
cemetery in Bitburg. What Kurt
Waldheim really did during the
war ignited angry argument
before and after his election as
President of Austria. Now the trial
of Klaus Barbie in France in-
flames old questions about the
guilt of French collaborators as
well as of Gestapo torturers.
The implication is that Euro-
peans have reason for soul-
searching, whereas Americans,
detached, can congratulate
themselves on military valor dur-
ing the war and Marshall Plan vir-

2

Friday, June 5, 1987

tue afterward. In truth, there's
reason for everyone to do some
soul-searching, Americans includ-
ed . . .
How little was done to resist
the slaughter and rescue the vic-
tims has been recounted by Walter
Laqueur and others. In a
devastating 1984 book, "The
Abandonment of the Jews," David
Wyman, a historian and grandson
of two Protestant ministers, con-
cludes that all segments of
American society, including chur-
ches and the Jewish community,
failed to take even minimum steps
to help.
Only 21,000 refugees were
allowed to enter the United States
during the war with Germany —
just 10 percent of the total that
could normally have entered. The
State Department, yielding to fear
of a diplomatic backlash and
domestic nativism, resisted pleas
for saving large numbers of
refugees. Only in 1945, with the
war almost over, did Franklin
Roosevelt establish a War Refugee
Board.
A conference was held in Ber-
muda in April, yielding these
headlines on successive days:
"Refugees Are Warned to Wait";
"Conference Says Large Scale
Rescue Not Possible Now"; "Scant
Hope Seen for Axis Victims";
"Refugee Removal Called Im-
possible." In Mr. Wyman's judg-
ment, Franklin Roosevelt's lack of

THE DE TROIT JEWISH NEWS

response to the extermination of
European Jewry was his worst
failure.
Much has been said about
Pope Pius XII's silence about Nazi
war crimes. Austria's reluctance to
confront its embrace of Hitlerism
has magnified the controversy
over President Waldheim's Nazi
past. As for Poland, the failure of
so many to lift a finger for imperil-
ed Jews is examined at length in
Shoah, the French documentary
film.
What question should
Americans ask themselves? Mr.
Wyman puts the matter justly:
"The Holocaust was certainly a
Jewish tragedy. But it was not on-
ly a Jewish tragedy . . . The killing
was done by people, to other peo-
ple, while still other people stood
by . . . Would the reaction be dif-
ferent today? Would Americans be
more sensitive, less self-centered,
more willing to make sacrifices,
less afraid of differences now than
they were then?"
To judge by American recep-
tivity to the boat people, the
answer is probably yes. What
counts as much is that silence is
no longer acceptable.
Our own guilt cannot be hidden. There
were many in our ranks — in the Jewish
as well as Christian sectors — who suf-
fered the ignorance, as late as 1942, of sub-
mitting to a defensive blindness that what
was reported was "war propaganda?' Even
now there are the blinded-to-realities who

would like a submission to an unconcern-
ed indifference which would compel an
erasing of the "Zahor — Remember"
because "it is too late on the calendar?' Too
late to act against tortured memories? lbo
late to act against recurrence, which is
always possible? Too late to punish, even
if you call it vengeance?
It is not too late but just on time: to
admit our own guilt, to endorse the above-
quoted summary, to atone and to demand
atonement from mankind.

American 'No'-Sayers
On Soviet Union
Peace Sharing

Addressing the conference of AIPAC
(American Israel Public Affairs Commit-
tee) in Washington, May 19, Secretary of
State George P. Shultz posed some ques-
tions, including: "Whether Russia was
qualified to play a role in the peace pro-
cess?" and "Could it be a constructive
presence?"
The audience response to the first
question was a resounding "No," and for
the second there was a "Hell No!"
All of which was in a friendly spirit.
Yet, the exchange was a differing set of ex-
pressions echoing the internal Israeli
political confrontation over proposals for
meeting with representatives of neighbor-
ing Arab states on an international basis.
A share proposed for the Soviet Union, in
such an international setting, the cause
for political rifts in Israel, thus was
transferred into an American battle zone.
The No-Sayers at a public assembly

Continued on Page 38

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