Two Pianos: Playing for Life — The Performance


“I confirm . . . I am a Jew”

— Kulturbund National Membership Card

“As if on an island and under permanent police surveillance, [the Leipzig Kulturbund] managed to cultivate humanist culture between 1934 and 1938. For the people, who were totally isolated from cultural life, this organization was among the most important they had.”

— Juden in Leipzig (East German exhibit catalogue published 1989)

[All translations on this page by Barbara Ann Schmutzler]

The pop-up exhibit accompanying Two Pianos features background history and unique memorabilia from the Leipzig Kulturbund and member-performers Anna, Halina and Tanya.   It includes original travel documents, concert reviews in Jewish newspapers, and objects now held by their descendants.

The Exhibit‘s lead items are Anna’s Kulturbund photo-ID cards. The cards indicate further restrictions on Jews already barred from participating in “German culture.” Kulturbund members had to display them to be admitted to any “Kubu” program, even though staffed and funded by Jews. There were no exceptions. Gestapo and local police patrolled entrances to stop unauthorized entry and ensure “pure Germans” would not be contaminated. Police gauntlets also were meant to intimidate.

A community-newspaper notice records both government-forced changes from “German Jews” to “Jews” (not-Germans) in the titles of Jewish organizations, and the need to carry these cards.

Undated unattributed newspaper article (c. late 1935), from "Juden in Leipzig: Eine Dokumentation" (Hermann Duncker, Leipzig, 1989)

Our Community

The Association of German-Jewish Youth has changed its name to The Association of Jewish Youth.

Events of the Reich Association of Jewish Culture Leagues in Germany

The Leipzig branch requests: We once again call attention to the fact that association events can be attended only if either the Kulturbundkarte, which is valid only for the persons to whom it is issued, or the Reichsverbandkarte, is personally presented. By order of the Gestapo, cards are valid only when used in person. Violators are liable to prosecution and risk unpleasantness. We are obliged to see to the strictest adherence to the regulations. Without these personal identification cards which are not transferable, access will be denied, even if we know that the respective patrons are in possession of a card but have forgotten to bring it.

Kulturbund Membership Identification Cards and Rules

Two types of ID cards were issued to members: one for the National League and one with detachable subscription tickets for the local Leipzig branch.

National Membership ID #845 Dimensions (folded outside), L: 3 3/4 " x W: 2 3/8"; (open inside) L: 3 3/4" x W: 4 3/4"

In 1935/36 the national card was pink (above) and the Leipzig card was green (below).

Leipzig Membership ID #34 Leipzig Jüdischer Kulturbund Paid Membership Event tri-fold card (with contribution event stamps inside) Dimensions: (open inside with used and unused event ticket stubs): 3 7/8″ x 10 1/4”; (open outside with ticket stubs): 3 7/8″ x 15”.

The pink national card was titled “Cultural Association of German Jews,” the Kulturbund’s original name.  Later in 1935, the Nazis instructed the Kulturbund to drop "German" from its title.  The name was changed to “The Jewish Kulturbund” as shown on the green card.

These cards repeated the restrictive rules that Kulturbund founders had negotiated with Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment in 1933.

[KULTURBUND RULES — National Membership Card]

 This ID conveys the right to participate in Jewish events.

 The holder is authorized to work, but the Association does not guarantee employment.

I confirm by means of my accompanying signature that I am a Jew, that I recognize the Association’s conditions for my membership and that the latter can be rescinded for compelling reasons.

Anna’s Leipzig Kulturbund card (above, jointly issued to her husband Hirsch) contains further details:

Jewish Cultural Association Leipzig

Paragraph 1: The Kulturbund’s goal is to foster the artistic and scientific interests of the Jewish population and make them utilizable for the benefit of Jewish artists and scientists. To this end, it will organize for its members especially theater performances and concerts, lectures and art exhibits, the artistic and scientific part of which will as a matter of principle be provided for by Jews. Any gainful purposes are precluded. Surplus income must be used for the Kulturbund’s purposes only.

Paragraph 4: Any Jew and any Jewess can become a member of the Kulturbund.

Paragraph 5: Membership is acquired by means of a written declaration to the board of the Kulturbund. Resignation . . . can be declared only by giving three months’ notice, which takes effect December 31 of any given year.

Paragraph 7: Every member must pay dues as established by the board.

Member no. 34

This ID is valid only for the months for which a contribution stamp has been pasted in the adjoining section. Without a contribution stamp access to events is blocked. The ID must be shown to the controller unprompted.