Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Contact from Granddaughter of Westerbork Singer

Sarah Gabriella Waisvisz is a directing student in the fine arts program at the University of Ottawa. She is also the granddaughter of the widow of Max Kannewaser aka. Jones (right in picture) of the Dutch singing duo Johnny and Jones.
Johnny and Jones were in some revues at Lager Westerbork and they are characters in The Westerbork Serenade.

"Of course he never knew me" says Waisviz."
Kannewaser's wife Suzanne (nee Koster) survived the war. They did not have children together. After the war Suzanne married Sarah's grandfather, her childhood friend, Gabriel Waisvisz, and helped raise Gabriel's son, Sarah's father Jacques Waisvisz.

"My family's history has always been one of my major preoccupations," says Waisvisz. "Especially for my writing and for the theatre I make.

Sarah is currently directing selections from Waiting for Godot and she decided to contextualize the scenes so that Vladimir and Estragon are Yiddish actors fleeing persecution in WWII. She found while researching Johnny and Jones music to use in her scenes.

Sarah laments that her grandmother was not more open about her time in captivity.

"But she has completely blocked it. Once she immigrated to San Francisco she and my grandfather (who had been in hiding) claimed that they were Christian and not Jewish, etc etc. After Westerbork she was sent to Auschwitz and she suffered terribly there. Just how much she suffered was never explained, but I know of a few atrocities. Everything is more or less a secret, other than a few things that have slipped out here and there."

Her grandmother lived through Auschwitz, came back to Holland, looked up old friends to see who was still alive, found my grandfather, and stayed.

"That is what we know," says Sarah.

"She has held onto things that belonged to her first husband, and she has original records of their music, I think, and I think she probably loved him very much...that was her youth and her first love and it was all taken is tragic. Now she doesn't talk about anything at all, and doesn't want to. History is a funny thing.
And also, the world is so small."

for more info on Johnny and Jones:

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