4) Rudolstadt and Nazi power in Thuringia

After the couple left Saarbrücken, Trauneck had difficulty in securing a position as a 'Kapellmeister'. He was employed for part of the 1926/27 season in Mainz, followed by a short period in Oldenburg, a town in Lower Saxony, and for the season 1927/28 at the theatre in Reichenberg which was at the time the capital of the Sudetenland. In summer 1928 he returned to Vienna. The scandal of Saarbrücken was most likely the reason why Trauneck decided to formally change his name from Travnicek to the more Germanic Trauneck. The name change was undertaken before a Viennese magistrate on 25 July 1928.1

If Trauneck had thus attempted to disguise the scandal, the strategy seems to have worked: the same year he was appointed musical director of the State Theatre in Rudolstadt. In 1929 he married Lisbeth. Exactly when he was divorced from Hilde Horner is not known; possibly it was at the same time as he changed his name.

The small town of Rudolstadt in Thuringia, with 260 years of theatre history, provided a job with good prospects for Trauneck.2 The 24-member orchestra, although small, enjoyed a reputation as an excellent ensemble with first-class musicians. The repertoire between 1928 and 1930 reflects productions which were among Trauneck's favourites as a conductor: Così fan tutte, Lortzing's Zar und Zimmermann, Tannhäuser, Der Rosenkavalier, Il Barbiere di Seviglia and in particular Jenufa by Janáček.3 In autumn 1929, Trauneck mentioned anti-Semitic social currents for the first time. He described the everyday animosity in a letter to Eduard Steuermann:

'Also I do hope that you are well, much better. However I'm not well. This is not because I do not have a Seipel4, but! . . . They always say: 'The Jews, let me tell you' . . . even if I don't want to be in Palestine now, to be in Rudolstadt is not that great either.'5

After elections on 23 January 1930, Thuringia became the first German province in which the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) was represented in the Government. Wilhelm Frick became Minister of the Interior and of Education in the Thuringian government [Thüringische Landesregierung].6 He was thus the first elected National-Socialist minister in a German provincial government.7 When it became publicly known that Trauneck was of Jewish descent and married to a Jewish wife, he was suspended from his position as music director in 1932, a full year before the Nazis came to power. During his last year in Rudolstadt, he had started to ask some of his friends and colleagues such as Steuermann to assist him in leaving Germany:

'If it is nowadays best not to be too demanding, all the same I have to say that what I was forced to experience over the past months was more than a person could bear. I have finally to face reality and pack my bags, and look for another, more prosperous, future. . . . I ask you, please, dear Mr. Steuermann, if you have some spare time to consider how you could help me. . . . I really don't know how I should go about it and I'm pretty much at my wits' end.'8

After he had left Rudolstadt he spent one summer season in Kolberg on the Baltic Sea, and his last theatre season (1932-33) in Germany was in Stralsund, where some of the orchestra members were already performing in SA (Sturm-Abwehr) uniforms.

  1. 1. This date was mentioned by Trauneck in a letter to Stuckenschmidt, 5 September 1973. (ISG)
  2. 2. Italian operas performed in Rudolstadt as early as 1665 were known as 'Rudolstädter Festspiele'. They were given at the Heidecksburg castle. The theatre in Rudolstadt was established in 1793 and Goethe was its di¬rector from 1794 until 1803. Wagner visited Rudolstadt in the summer of 1834 as conductor of the 'Bethmann' touring company from Magdeburg. See 200 Jahre Theater 1793-1993, edited by Eckart Kröplin & Peter P. Pachl, Rudolstadt: Thüringer Landestheater, 1994, p. 37-61.
  3. 3. Ibid. 'Auszüge aus dem Repertoire', p. 196-198.
  4. 4. Trauneck is referring to the Austrian chancellor Ignaz Seipel who was called 'a puppet of the Jews'; an article with that headline appeared in the Viennese Arbeiter Zeitung in 1922. Seipel, a Catholic priest, first became Austrian chancellor from 1922 to 1924, and again from 1926 to 1929. He was a contradictory figure: he op¬posed the Austrian social democrats and supported anti-democratic movements, in particular the fascist organi¬sation 'Heimwehr'. Yet in 1924 he denied Adolf Hitler's Austrian citizenship to prevent his deportation to Austria after the putsch in Munich in November 1923. See webpage: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Seipel, viewed 29 January 2009.
  5. 5. Letter from Trauneck to Steuermann, 17 September 1929 (ISG): 'Auch ausserdem hoffe ich dass es ‚Ihnen gut geht. Noch besser. Mir hingegen geht es nicht gut. Das kommt nun nicht daher, dass ich keinen Seipel hab, sondern! . . . Da sagt man immer: die Juden na ik saje Sie, wenn ich auch nicht ausgerechnet jetzt in Palästina sein möchte, in Rudolstadt ist auch nicht das Wahre.'
  6. 6. Frick took part in Hitler's Beer-Hall Putsch in November 1923. When Hitler came to power in January 1933 he was appointed the German Minister of the Interior and was later responsible for most of the race laws against Jews (Nürnberger Rassegesetze). In 1943 he succeeded the assassinated Josef Heydrich, 'Reich protector' of Bohemia and Moravia. After the surrender of Germany he fled Bohemia, but was arrested and executed after a Nuremberg trial on 16 October 1946. See Exhibition Catalogue from the Münchner Stadtmuseum: München: Hauptstadt der Bewegung, edited by Richard Bauer, Hans Günther Hockerts, Brigitte Schütz, Wolfgang Till, and Walter Ziegler. München: Münchner Stadtmuseum, 1993, p. 222-223.
  7. 7. See Thüringer Handbuch 1920-1955, edited by Bernhard Post & Volker Wahl, published by 'Thüringischen Staatsarchiven', Rudolstadt, City archive, p. 32-34.
  8. 8. Letter from Trauneck to Steuermann, 23 January 1932 (ISG): 'Wenn man heutzutage am besten gar nicht anspruchsvoll ist, so muß ich doch sagen, dass das was ich im Laufe der letzten Monate über mich habe ergehen lassen müssen denn doch des Guten etwas zu viel war. . . . So sehe ich mich definitiv vor die traurige Aufgabe gestellt, meine Zelte hier abzubrechen und mir ein anderes, hoffentlich erspriesslicheres Fortkommen zu suchen. . . . Ich bitte Sie also, lieber Herr Steuermann wenn Sie dafür etwas Zeit erübrigen können, sich et-was auszudenken, wie Sie mir helfen könnten... Ich weiß wirklich nicht wie ich es anfangen soll und bin darüber nicht wenig verzweifelt.'