She Sang Opera in a Concentration Camp
The Fellowship | January 14, 2019
One of the too many heartwrenching stories from the Holocaust we have heard is the forcing of Jewish children to perform the opera “Brundibar” at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. One of these children, Ela Weissberger, survived, and now Annie Cohen writes at The Times of Israel about meeting this amazing survivor of such a dark chapter in history:
Ela Weissberger, though tiny and elderly when I met her, was the strongest woman I have ever known.
Her energy was indefatigable, her personality vibrant and sunny, her wit sharp and charming. Her magical rapport with children was undeniable.
Ela was a Holocaust survivor, sent at age 11 to Theresienstadt, or Terezin, in Czechoslovakia, from her home in Prague. At the concentration camp, Ela performed in the children’s opera “Brundibar,” written for the Prague Children’s Opera by Hans Krasa and later smuggled into Theresienstadt.
The Nazi guards there paraded the children to perform “Brundibar” in front of the Red Cross for propaganda purposes, hoping to convince the world that Jews under Nazi control were well treated. Ela was made to perform the role of the Cat 55 times. On the night of the last performance, most of the children in the cast were sent to Auschwitz, where they perished.
“Brundibar” also survived the Holocaust and is now performed to memorialize the children who were murdered. And Ela became its most loyal champion…