Police Guarded Stage, Theatre to Prevent Demonstration at Schildkraut Performance
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Police Guarded Stage, Theatre to Prevent Demonstration at Schildkraut Performance

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An eye-witness description of anti-Semitism in Austria was given by Joseph Schildkraut, the actor, member of the famous Schildkraut theatrical family, and himself a native of Vienna, in an address delivered here at a luncheon meeting in connection with the current campaign of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies.

“America is a paradise for the Jews and no mistake about it,” Mr. Schildkraut said. “After what happened to me in ‘cultured’ Vienna, this country is the haven of the world as far as I am concerned. Returning to Vienna after an absence of ten years to appear in a German version of the ‘American Tragedy,’ I arrived in time for the unveiling of a statue in memory of my father.

“On the evening of my fourth performance, my manager telephoned me not to appear on the stage as there was likely to be an anti-Semitic demonstration because it was election day. I refused to do so and said I was going on regardless of the consequences. I called the Commissioner of Police, a friend of mine, and had to play with policemen stationed backstage, guarding my dressing room, and mounted police at the back door.

“Another day I was in the office of a theatrical manager who was interviewing and engaging talent for the coming season. With my own ears I heard this man, Known for his artistic achievement, ask not ‘what is your record?’, not ‘what were your engagements?’, but ‘show me your passport; if you are a Jew I cannot engage you.’

“One evening after my performance I went to a cafe with some friends. There we met the eminent Prof. Mauritz Oppenheim, the leading dermatologist. A few days before it had been announced that Prof. Oppenheim would be honored with the chair of dematology in the University of Vienna. While we were seated there, a group of young Hitlerites, boys from 16 to 18, in their brown uniforms, rushed in. Recognizing the professor, they grabbed him by the coat and shouted: ‘If you accept the chair at the university, you will be killed the next day.’ He did not accept.

“I also witnessed a demonstration in which Hitlerites in full uniform invaded the thickly populated Jewish section. They broke open the doors; pulled the beards of men; beat up women and children and flung them into the street. The newspapers made no mention of this atrocity and the government just laughed it off. That is Vienna today.”

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