Details of the Paechter emigration story after reading the Anneliese Landau biography

Details of the Paechter emigration story after reading the Anneliese Landau biography

I’ve now read Anneliese Landau’s Life in Music—Nazi Germany to Emigré California, by Lily E. Hirsch. It was very pricey online, even for the Kindle edition, so I hoofed it to the San Francisco Public Library, where I found a pristine copy in the music biographical section on the fourth floor.

It is a lovely book that I relished as I gained new information and a better understanding. I’ll have more to say in another post. For now, I want to correct some errors and omissions in my earlier narrative about the Paechter children in England.

* One of the key sources for the book is an unpublished memoir by Landau, Pictures You Wanted to See, People You Wanted to Meet, written specifically to the Paechter grandchildren with her memories of the family in Berlin. 

• There was a third child of Kurt and Grete Paechter, also named Kurt. He died in a tragic accident at age 13. His close friend later helped Anneliese in several ways.

• Just as Greta and Anneliese Landau grew up in a very musical household, the Paechter family hosted Hausmusik concerts and Curt Paechter sang in a prominent choir.. 

• Having blazed a trail by earning her doctorate in musicology and begun a career as a radio music presenter, Anneleise Landau was blocked from professional employment after 1933. Curt Paechter was also ousted from his position at Deutsche Bank.

• Invited by Kurt Singer, Landau became the musical director of the Jewish Kulturbund, presenting Jewish cultural content to an exclusively Jewish audience. Like the Jewish hospital and cemetery, it was allowed by the Nazis and exploited for PR purposes. However, it also served a vital role in sustaining the Jewish community.

• The Landau parents, Sami and Roesi, came from Halle to live with Anneliese in Charlottenburg, not far from the Paechter apartment in Wilmersdorf. The Paechter children went to an unnamed Jewish school, possibly Theodore Herzl.

• Because of the post-1919 date of her family’s German citizenship, Anneliese and the Landau parents lost their German citizenship under the denaturalization act of 1933. Anneliese was thereafter officially "stateless" and under increasing pressure to cease professional activities. The Kulturbund obtained a special exception for her to continue her work there. The denaturalization act did not apply to the Paechter family because of Curt's Prussian origin.

• Family members were making emigration plans by 1937. The Landau parents were set to go to Brazil but did not because Sami would not agree to an intention to baptize. 

• Planning for the children's’ emigration predated Kristallnacht, and also before the Kindertransport program was established. Through their friends the Salomons, who had left Berlin and were settled in Bath, England, they had been put in touch with a William Thomas, who was a patient of Salomon, a dentist. 

• Thomas was a community leader and Rotarian, looking to get involved helping refugee children. Forms sent to Paechters before Kristallnacht, when Curt wasn’t yet ready to send the children away. 

• Anneliese witnessed vandalism on bookstore on Kristallnacht then learned of the widespread pogrom the next morning. Curt was arrested at 6 pm on November 10, part of a roundup of Jewish lawyers.

• Grete filled out the children's emigration forms after Curt's arrest, noting their musical special talents. She needed Curt's signature, and would line up at the prison gate to visit but never was able to see him.

• Anneliese planned her own exit after a third Gestapo interview. She obtained a U.S. immigration affidavit from a childhood friend and an offer of employment from a musicologist in New York. Yet the quotas were full, so she still had to wait for admission. However, she now qualified for temporary residence in England, where she could stay with her school friend Kaethe.

• Curt suffered brutal treatment in prison but was released after three months. By then, the Kindertransport was underway with a long waiting list, but Thomas was able to get the Paechter children on a transport in June 1939, one of the last ones. Thomas would house Lisel and he convinced a physician, Dr. Hills, and his wife to take the boys. Both homes were in the same town of Stroud, near to Gloucester. 

• Anneliese shipped her possessions including a piano to storage in New York. She said goodbye to her family and left Tempelhof  Airport on April 19, 1939, ahead of the children. Kaethe's apartment in Finchley was a replica of her former Berlin apartment.

• The children’s transport arrived June 26 at Victoria Stn., The joyous greeting was followed by the two-hour drive to Stroud, where high tea was served. Liesl was welcomed warmly in the Thomas household but the boys situation was less comfortable. It was agreed that the children were to observe their hosts’ religious conventions when living in their home. 

• Gerd experienced behavioral problems and faced the most challenging adjustment. At 16, Hans was able to move out of the Hills household and move to London. Hans’s death is now explained as a motorcycle accident, but few details are given.

• I’ll write elsewhere about the education, careers and families of George and Lisel, For now, I’ll pass along that they both had four children, three sons and a daughter.

• While in England, Landau made arrangements for housing for Curt and Grete in London. She sent forms to them, but they were never returned. They could not bear to leave their parents.

• Also, through Leo Baeck she got her Landau parents on the list for a Jewish community in Brighton. They were set to come when war broke out on September 1 and the borders were closed.