Jewish Theatre

Advertentie van het Joodsch Symphonie Orkest uit het Joodsche Weekblad, 7 november 1941.On 15 September 1941 the German occupier in the Netherlands issued the following order:

Article 1. Jews are forbidden to take part in public gatherings and to frequent public establishments such as are intended for the recreation, relaxation and education of the general public.

Jews were no longer allowed to go to restaurants, parks, cafes or theatres. Nor were they permitted to perform in public. One month after this decree the Nazis changed the name of the Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theatre) into Joodsche Schouwburg (Jewish Theatre). Jewish performers, no longer permitted to appear before a non-Jewish public, now acted and played for an exclusively Jewish audience in the Jewish Theatre .

Scenefoto van de finale van de voorstelling 'Hand in Hand' door de Nelson revue, 1941 (collectie Silvia Grohs).Jewish musicians who had been dismissed from the major Netherlands' orchestras organized themselves into Jewish orchestras. They created the Joods Symfonieorkest (Jewish Symphony Orchestra) from 75 top musicians. At the first concert given by this new orchestra, on 16 November 1941 in the Hollandsche Schouwburg, the programme consisted of music by Mendelssohn. Much of the music played by the Jewish orchestras was by Jewish composers. Other groups to perform in the Joodsche Schouwburg were the Joods Kamerorkest (Jewish Chamber Orchestra), the Joods Amusementsorkest (Jewish Light Music Orchestra) and several theatre and cabaret companies. The Nelson Revue, led by Rudolf Nelson with the star actress Henriëtte Davids, and other great artistes such as Silvia Grohs and Kurt Lilien performed to great acclaim.

The only Jewish publication permitted by the authorities, the weekly paper Joodsche Weekblad (which was published by Jewish Council) would describe the huge popularity of the concerts and theatrical performances in the Jewish Theatre. 'Generally all the seats are completely sold out,' it reported.

Huwelijkspartij voor de Hollandsche Schouwburg (foto A.Stein, collectie JHM).Besides being a theatre, the Joodsche Schouwburg was also for a short period a designated location for marriages. Jews were no longer allowed to hold their civil marriage ceremony in the city hall. So in July 1942, for instance, Jonas Romijn and Deborah Lange were married in the Hollandsche Schouwburg. The bride and groom were working at that time in the Dutch Israelite Hospital; they both survived the war. In the background of their wedding photograph below you can see the façade of the Hollandsche Schouwburg with an announcement about the comedy Wiegelied (Lullaby) by Ladislaus Fodor.  

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