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Munich hosts Jewish festival

An unusual collaboration has opened Munich’s 21st annual Jewish Festival.

A Jewish orchestra has combined forces with the Bavarian State Opera to perform a work written by a doomed composer.

Czech composer Victor Ullmann wrote the score of “The Emperor of Atlantis” while imprisoned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. He was subsequently deported to Auschwitz and murdered. His dark opera, a thinly veiled allegory of Hitler’s lust for power over life and death, was never performed in the concentration camp.

Markus Koch, director of the Bavarian State Opera, said he felt a sense of responsibility as a non-Jew to remember the past, and to “work actively against forgetting and for remembering.”

Performing Ullmann’s work is also a celebration of the achievements of a great Jewish composer, said Daniel Grossmann, 29-year-old conductor and co-founder of the two-year-old Jakobsplatz Orchestra, whose 50 members come from around the world.

Grossmann, whose parents came to Germany from Hungary, said he hopes the orchestra will become an attraction, bringing Jews and non-Jews together in Munich’s new Jewish community center. They need other points of communication aside from the Holocaust, he said. “It is very important, especially for young people.”

Munich’s 21st annual Jewish Cultural Festival closes Nov. 26.

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