When the UK two years ago announced its withdrawal from the European Union, Simon Wallfisch was so furious that he decided to go to Westminster to sing “Ode to joy”.
To turn anger into joy
Cellist and Opera singer sat down at the computer to write in a Facebook message about their single stock. Then set up the instrument, put on a black suit, a wig of curly white hair and went to the building of the British Parliament. Approaching Westminster Palace, he saw coming to meet him people. They were smiling and waving at him, holding the sheet music of Beethoven.
“I was very surprised. I thought I’d be one. We started singing together, walking along the walls of the Parliament,” recalls Simon Wallfisch. Since then, once a month, he along with his supporters comes out to “March of the musicians for freedom”, singing the anthem of Europe near the Palace of Westminster, the building of the Ministry of foreign Affairs and Downing street. Held in January twentieth musical action against Brekzita.
Simon Wallfisch does not hide his anger, but he is glad that through music he manages to turn that feeling into something positive. “It is impossible in anger to play music. For me this is the only opportunity to affect people’s feelings, and therefore their thoughts. Today in the UK are heated debate around Brekzita. Before the Parliament regularly rallies of supporters and opponents of withdrawal from the EU. People often shout at each other, and nobody listens to anybody. But when music sounds, all calm down,” says Wallfisch.
“You sing in German. You Nazi!”
A year ago, during another protest to the musician, a man came up and said, “What are you doing? You sing in German. You Nazi!” In response to accusations Simon smiled and reminded the passerby that Friedrich Schiller wrote the words to this work in 1785. The musician handed him the sheet with the translation of the words “Ode to joy” in English: “…People are brothers among themselves. Be embraced, millions! Merge in joy!” The angry man without even looking, pulled the sheet from the hands of the musician and tore right in front of him.
“This man thinks world war II is not over yet and that the EU operates a German dictatorship. For him to be a patriot of great Britain means to hate all European. But opponents of the EU do not understand that the unification of Europe became the most successful process of saving the world. Today we see that in the background Brekzita growing nationalism. This is very dangerous, because nationalism is the first step to war. The history we have presented the bitter lessons of what happens when nationalism rears its head,” notes Simon Wallfisch.
The musician often travels to Germany and France. He says that everywhere feels like home, has always considered himself a European and doesn’t want to lose the right to be and after Brekzita. Not long thinking, Wallfisch asked the German citizenship. It was a tough decision.
Music of death saved her life
Simon Wallfisch — comes from a Jewish family which during the Second world war fled from the Nazi regime from Germany to the UK. His grandmother Anita Lasker-Wallfisch is one of the last surviving members of the women’s orchestra of Auschwitz. In the camp she came in 1942, when he tried to flee to Paris. She was arrested right at the train station of her native Wroclaw.
Upon learning that Anita plays the cello, she was placed in barracks for musicians. Every morning the camp orchestra led by Alma rosé played marches, escorted groups of prisoners to hard labor. Music met new prisoners. The music shot and sent to the gas chambers. Those who have performed the marches in the morning at the pits filled with corpses, they played at parties of the Nazis. “It was an abuse of music,” said Anita. To the surprise of the band, some even cried listening to the works of Schumann, Wagner or Strauss. Mourned the SS and the death of Alma rosé, who was suffering from botulism.
“The Nazis, weeping over the body of a Jewish woman is a sight we will remember for a lifetime. It was then that I realized how thin the line between unjustified brutality and warm affection,” — wrote in his book “inherit the truth” Anita.
Become a German with a sense of triumph and betrayal
These lines Simon Wallfisch knows by heart and have heard memories from the mouth of the grandmother, with whom he is very close. Surviving through music, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch vowed never again to set foot on German soil. Last year in day of memory of victims of the Holocaust she came to Berlin and spoke at the Bundestag.
“My hatred of all things German people was boundless. As you can see, I broke my vow. Already many years ago. I don’t regret it. After all, hatred is a poison. And in the end, the man sends himself… After the disaster Germany was a model country. She didn’t deny his actions. Anti-Semitism went out of fashion. Today other times,” said 92-year-old Anita Lasker-Wallfisch from the rostrum of the German Parliament.
The entire Bundestag and Angela Merkel in the front row gave a standing ovation to an elderly woman with applause. After speaking of Anita, her son, cellist Raphael Wallfisch have performed “the Prayer” by Ernest Bloch. All three generations of Wulfila regularly travel to Germany. Anita often meets with students and shares memories of life in a concentration camp, and her son and grandson come.
“When I speak with Germans, I understand that they too have inherited the trauma and pain of the Holocaust, like the Jews. Today, for me, to be German means to be European. I’m happy to be them,” says Simon Wallfisch.
After receiving German citizenship, the musician had mixed feelings: on the one hand, it seemed to him that he betrayed his ancestors, and on the other there was “a sense of triumph for himself and for Germany.”
When the grandson told his grandmother the news that I became a German, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, didn’t even seem surprised. “As a musician, she understood me, because music need freedom,” recalls Simon Wallfisch.
From British citizenship the musician refused and not going to give up. He assured that before Brekzita there are two and a half months, and while there is time, it is hoped that this can be avoided. And while there’s still hope, he will sing “Ode to joy”. Singing till the last chord of the European life of the United Kingdom.