Nizza Thobi - Ein Koffer spricht - A suitcase talks - Painting by Malva Schalek 1882-1944




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Published on Dec 19, 2008

You hear my new song 'Ein Koffer spricht' - A suitcase talks
Lyric by Ilse Weber 1903-1944; Music by Nizza Thobi; Piano Peter Wegele, Violin Dina Leini

Ilse Weber 11.1.1903-6.10.1944

Ilse Weber was a poet, writer of children's books and worked for the Czech Radio in Prague. She was married to Wilhelm Weber. Prior to WWII she lived in Witkowitz, Czechoslovakia. During the war she lived in Prague. The parents saved the life of their oldest son Hanuš, when they sent him to England on a children transport prior to their deportation to the Terezín concentration camp in 1942. At Terezín, Weber worked as a nurse in charge of the children's ward. When her husband, who survived the war, was summoned for transport to the East in the fall of 1944, she volunteered to accompany him with her young son Tommy. She was murdered in Auschwitz with him and a group of children, which were under her care.

You see painting of the artist Malva Schalek 1882-1944

The Austrian-Jewish painter, Malva Schalek was forcibly interned in the Theresienstadt Ghetto in 1942. Despite her failing health, she was able to draw and paint about 140 works in which she depicted scenes of life in Theresienstadt. These works, done in pencil, charcoal, and watercolours, were found after the liberation of the camp by the Red Army. They are an accurate testimony to various aspects of the living conditions in the The Ghetto.

The art curator Tom L. Freudenheim, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1978 and later deputy director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, has referred to them as "perhaps the finest and most complete artistic oeuvre to survive the Holocaust." Malva refused to paint a portrait of a fellow inmate, a doctor who collaborated with the Nazi commander of the camp. Facing the threat of being deported to Auschwitz if she continued to refuse, she did not yield. She was then put on a transport to the death camp. The date of her transport card, Eb-866 to Auschwitz-Birkenau is 18.5.1944.

Text about Malva Schalek by Catherine Stodolsky

Another music piece you hear is my composition 'In memory of the Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon' - 20.6.1954-1.2.2003

Performance Peter Wegele.

When the NASA space shuttle Columbia exploded on its return in the atmosphere on the 1st February, 2003, more than 30 pages from Ilan Ramon's diary which did not fall victim to the fire were found near the impact place of the space shuttle in Texas. They survived an explosion, 38 miles away from the earth and the damage of sun and rain. These pages were transcribed in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and were scanned and made accessible to the general public. On his sixth day in the space Ramon had written down: "Today was the first day on which I have felt that I really live in the space. I have become a person who lives in the space and works." One of the pages contained the handwritten Sabbath prayer of the wine - the Kiddush - which Ramon had written out in order to be the first Jew to recite the blessing in space.

Lyric in English


I am a small suitcase from Frankfurt am Main
And I search for my owner, where may he be now?
He carried a star and was old and blind
And he held me tight as if I were his child.

His travelling companion, he has called me often,
I still feel his caring hand.
I am made from real granite, one can read it still
And have formerly been shining and clean.

I have accompanied my owner year-by-year,
This time too, I went with him, now he is alone.
He was old and blind, where has he gone?
And why has someone taken me away from him?

Why have I remained in the barrack square?
Nevertheless, his name stands written on my lining.
Now I am dirty, my lock holds no more.
Someone has plundered me, I am almost empty.

Besides, only his armlet is still there, a small cup
And his small blind person's board, made of lead.
But everything else is gone, the medications, the bread,
He's searching for me indeed, maybe he's in need.

It must be hard for a blind person,
To find me in the pile of suitcases
Also I can hardly understand this
Why we're here useless, ruined.
I am a small suitcase from Frankfurt am Main,
I wish to be by my owner, he is so alone.


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