Willy Rosen "Der Text und die Musik ist von mir!"
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It is difficult to maintain the joy and charm towards life when things are not going well. However, surviving the persecution, hiding, putting together the same theater company several times and continuing to sing and make jokes requires greater force. This is the story of Willy Rosen the most famous cabaret singer in Germany who did not stop singing, playing and dancing until the Nazis killed him in Auschwitz. Next we tell you his story.
Few things were so simple for Willy Rosen to organize successful evenings in cabarets. What was his secret?
Two comedians, one fat, another skinny. Five kilos of charm, a couple of sticky songs. A little old jokes and a lot of new jokes. Three or four different scenarios, red, green and white lights. It must seem improvised, so it needs a lot of practice and above all ... No politics!
This recipe made Rosen one of the most famous cabarets in the Weimar Republic, before Nazi Germany. And it was also painfully put into practice in the Dutch work camp of Westerbork, where Rosen was one of the leaders who impelled the theatrical life. Like many of his colleagues, he believed that his art would also save him from being transported to certain death. However, like many, his talent was not enough to save his life.
He was born with the name of Willy Rosenbaum in 1894 in Magdeburg. He learned to play the piano since he was a child, but he began his working life working in textiles. It was until the First World War, after contracting a wound, that he began to work as a pianist and entertainer of the German troops.
However, his first big success was working at the Weimar in Berlin, where he served as a song writer, pianist and animator; sometimes even making ambient music for movies. He became famous with the title of "complete artist" and when he sat down at the piano he would announce his songs with the logo "text and music, made by me."
When the Nazis came to power Rosen was forbidden to continue acting, which is why he emigrated to Holland crossing Switzerland and Austria. Already on Dutch land he settled in the town of Scheveningen and created the "Celebrity Theater," one of the most famous cabarets of the time.
It was an artistic space created by famous actors and actresses with whom the Dutch audience was familiar through Weimar films. It was a resounding success, so much so that the cabaret organized several tours around the non-Nazi Europe, without losing the ties that the artists maintained in Berlin. Just one example of the relationships that Rosen knew how to handle is that of his continued friendship with the comedian Max Ehrlich, and the artists who formed the Kulturbund. In 1937, the company finally returned to Holland, where Rosen continued his strict law to avoid touching political issues. Part of the marketing he used is based heavily on this point he constantly delivered programs and made songs where he said: "When you want to forget your worries come with us, to the theater without politics. As he heard it: no politics! For three years we have clung to it and we plan to continue it."
In 1941, Rosen and many of his actors joined the "Cabaret Ensemble for Emigrants" that accepted only Jews.(He founded The Prominenten) A friend of his, exiled from Berlin, had been trying to take him safely to the United States. With funds from several successful concerts, Rosen had obtained a visa to Cuba and was in the process of receiving one from the United States. However, this plan was not successful: As soon as the United States entered the war, all visas issued to German refugees were blocked, and the Nazis moved quickly over the Netherlands. The fate of Rosen ended in 1943, where the few remaining Jewish artists in the city were imprisoned and transported to Westerbork, a labor camp.
In this place, for the last time in his life, Rosen organized "the best cabaret in the Netherlands". With his friends and collaborators Max Ehrlich and Erich Ziegler, who were in the same situation and in the same place, he wrote several songs and works that still managed to sneak into German stages, obtaining success when being represented. Some of his verses during this time are: "If you are unlucky, then life has no meaning; if you are unlucky, then you slip and fall; that's why I beg you fortune, do not abandon me."
Before being taken on a train to Theresienstadt, Rosen wrote a farewell poem. He died together with his mother in Auschwitz in the winter of 1944.
Source: Muic and the Holocaust
Translated by Aranza Gleason
Israeli Schoolkids Perform Lost Music Written by Jews During Holocaust
A better article describing the Concert held in Jerusalem.
"The orchestra will play pieces like “Tatata,” a cabaret song written in Westerbork – a transit camp in the Netherlands – by German composer Willy Rosen, who was later gassed at Auschwitz. "
" Willy Rosen, the German composer who wrote several cabaret songs in the Westerbork transit camp, the Netherlands, before being transported to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland."
Deutschlandfunk gets it wrong!
In July 2021 Deutschlandfunk ran a Radio Programme about Willy Rosen and his life. They posted an article on the Web but used an unknown photograph that definitely is not Willy Rosen.
Here is the link to the article:
The page has a link to the radio programme.
Extract from Berlin Cabaret P263
Westerbork holds a troubled place in the history of cabaret because six revues were staged there between July 1943 and June 1944. The numbers were written and composed by Rosen and Erich Ziegler, a musician who had been a long-time member of the Prominents. The stars of the show were Max Ehrlich and Camilla Spira.....