Monday, December 20, 2010

Where Stood the Netherlands?

ANTIPHOLUS of S: Where stood Belgia,The Netherlands?
DROMIO of S: O sir, I did not look so low.

Comedy of Errors; III, ii

Where Stood the Netherlands ? by westerborkserenade-1

THE FINAL SHOWS 11-20 and 11-30

Pictures: Top: From the stage at the Pepijn Theatre (The Hague)
Middle: Outside the VanOstade Theatre (Amsterdam)
Bottom R: Performing at the VanO.

The Final Performances 11-28 and 29 2010 by westerborkserenade-1

Monday, November 22, 2010

Schreeuwt om Cultuur

Schreeuwt om Cultuur by westerborkserenade-1

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Amsterdam Nov 13-17

PICTURES: top: performing at "Salon Luniere" 11-15
bottom: Joods Historisch Museum

Nov 13 to 17 2010 by westerborkserenade-1

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kamp Westerbork

PHOTOS (Top) David at a guard tower
(Middle) Commandant Gemmeker's house
(Bottom) On the grounds of Kamp Westerbork
see the radio telescopes?

11-12 by westerborkserenade-1

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drenthe TV interview

Hit the title or cut and paste below to check out this interview we had today on Drenthe TV, after an emotional visit to Kamp Westerbork.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Our pod-cast introductions

Please tune in to our pob-casts covering out tour of the Netherlands with "The Westerbork Serenade"

Rik and Dave 11-5-10 by westerborkserenade-1

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Total verückt

Here are a couple shows that are going on in the Netherlands while we are there:

(Pictured left: Abke Bruins as Anne Frank (ANP), Right: the add for "Shoah" a musical)

01-11-10 06:33 uur HOORN - In theater het Park in Hoorn gaat maandagavond de Nederlandse versie van de musical Je Anne in première. De muzikale theatervoorstelling is gebaseerd op het Dagboek van Anne Frank. Abke Bruins (24) speelt de hoofdrol. Ze is pas afgestudeerd aan de Fontys Academie in Tilburg en maakt hiermee haar debuut.

Thom Hoffman speelt Otto Frank en Levi van Kempen kruipt in de huid van Peter van Pels. De regie is in handen van de Vlaming Frank van Laecke (Rembrandt, Anatevka), die in 1994 al tekende voor een eerdere bewerking van Je Anne.

De van oorsprong Amerikaanse muzikale voorstelling speelt zich af in het Achterhuis in de periode 1942-1944. De voorstelling onderscheidt zich volgens producent Mark Vijn van andere toneelproducties en films over Anne Frank door het verhaal van de onderduikers nergens te dramatiseren en vast te houden aan de dagboekfragmenten

Je Anne reist langs tachtig Nederlandse theaters. Met de voorstelling reist een tentoonstelling mee die te zien zal zijn in de theaterfoyers. (ANP)


11/01/1910 6:33 hours HORN - In the Park Theatre on Monday evening in Hoorn is the Dutch version of the musical premiered Yours, Anne. The musical theater is based on the diary of Anne Frank. Abke Bruins (24) plays the lead role. She just graduated from the Fontys Academy in Tilburg and this makes her debut.

Thom Hoffman plays Otto Frank and Levi van Kempen step into the shoes of Peter van Pels. Governance is owned by the Fleming Frank Laecke (Rembrandt, Anatevka) in 1994 already signed for an earlier treatment of Yours, Anne.

The origins of American musical performance takes place in the Secret in the period 1942-1944. The presentation differs according to producer Mark Vijn other stage productions and films about Anne Frank by the story of the hiding nowhere to dramatize and to maintain the diary

Yours, Anne travels to eighty Dutch theaters. The show travels with an exhibition that will be shown in the theater lobbies. (Reuters)

And then there is this one: Life interrupted: Shoah a Musical

I think Xaviera is taking me to this one.
check out the trailer: (cut and paste the link below)

At the moment, I am thinking of a book called After Dachau by Daniel Quinn (2001). The story is set in 4000 AD (AD being the time After the pivotal battle in the Dachau concentration camp where the evil Jews were finally defeated thus opening the new era of an all Arian world ) The hero who studies reincarnation meets a person who was once born as a black artist centuries ago. She points him to some relics of ancient "modern" art,made by Jews; as well as a strange old diary, written in that dead language, Dutch. the diary tells of a Jewish girl's time in hiding.
History-who writes it? What is left when all the players are gone?
Are we cheapening it?
should I wear a yamika?
I wonder what Native Americans feel when tourists point out their regalia? "Oh look Jr. a real live Indian chief"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time Out Amsterdam

We are listed in the November issue. Hit the title to go there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sources for the Westerbork Serenade

Books: Boulevard Des Miseres by Jacob Boas,
An Interrupted Life, the Diaries of Etty Hillesum, Letters From Westerbork by Etty Hillesum,
Berlin Cabaret by Peter Jelavich,
Year of Fear, A Jewish Prisoner Waits For Auschwitz by Philip Mechanicus,
Cabaret Performance Volume Two, Europe 1920-1940by Laurence Senelick, Special thanks to Prof. Senelick of Tufts University for permission to use his translations.

Interviews with Westerbork survivors: Louis Dewijze, Jack Polak, Hans Margules and Hannelore Cahn,

Other sources: A’Dam Berlijn, Denk Vandaag Niet Aan Morgen
Recording from the Neederlands Theater Instituut,

Johnny and Jones, Maak Het Donker In Het Donker, Opnamen uit de period 1938-’44, Nederlands Jazz Archief, recording. And Two Kids and a Guitar, Panachord DH2051

Willy Rosen, Text und Musik Von Mir! And Wenn Ich Den Text Nicht Weiter Kann, Musik Antik am Weidenstieg, recording

Prisoner of Paradise, (A documentary about Kurt Gerron), by Malcom Clarke and Stuart Sender

The United States Memorial Holocaust Museum Picture Archive
The Internet

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Songs of Westerbork

Hello folks, as I promised in the program, here are the songs in "The Westerbork Serenade" with their translations and some historical info:

1) Die Westerbork Serenade, by Johnny and Jones (1944), Translated by Meiti Opie, adapted by David Natale
Johnny & Jones 1944

Hallo We zijn niet helemaal in orde,
Ben met mijn gedachten er niet bij,
Opeens ben ik ‘n ander mens geworden,
M’n hart klopt als de vliegtuigsloperij.
Ik zing mijn Westerbork serenade,
Langs‘t sporebaantje schijnt‘t zilvermaantje
Op de heide.
Ik sing mijn Westerbork serenade,
Mit einer shone dame wandelend tezamen
Zij aan zijde.
En m’n hart brandt als de ketel in’t ketelhuis,
Zo had Ik ‘t nooit te pakken bij m’n moeder thuis.
Ik zing mijn Westerbork serenade,
Tussen de barakken kreeg Ik haar te pakken
Op de hei
Diese Westerbork liebelei.
Daar ging ik naar se Sanitaten,
Die vent zei:”Der is heus niets aan te doen;
Maar je voelt je heel wat stukken beter
Na ‘t geven van de allereerste zoen.
(endat moet je niet doen…)
Westerbork Serenade
Hello we feel a little out of order,
To pull myself together is quite hard,
Suddenly I’m a different person,
My heart beats like the airplane wrecking yard.

I sing my Westerbork serenade,
Along the little rail-way the tiny silver moon shines
On the heath.
I sing my Westerbork serenade
With a pretty lady walking there together,
Cheek to cheek.
And my heart burns like the boiler in the boiler house,
Oh it never hit me quite like this at Mother’s place
I sing my Westerbork serenade,
In between the barracks I threw my arms around her
Over there
This Westerbork love affair.
And so I went over to the medic,
The guy says: “there is nothing you can do;
Oh but you will feel a whole lot better
After you give her a kiss or two
(But that you mustn’t do…)

This is it! The song that hooked me into the whole story. You can find it on Maak Het Donker In Het Donker, Opnamen uit de period 1938-’44, Nederlands Jazz Archief, recording (track 21). In August of '44 Johnny and Jones went to Amsterdam and ,either secretly or with the tacit approval of Commandant Gemmiker, they recorded a series of songs they had writen and/or performed in Westerbork. This was not as unusual as it seems. J&J had connections all over the Netherlands and, according to Louis Dewijze, they had been sent out on several occasions to buy props,canvas, paints and costumes for the shows. Their wives were hostages in camp, and they know from other incidents that if they didn't come back, others would suffer. they were transported to Auschwitz only a few weeks later in early September'44.

2)Man without a Passport /Mensch ohne Pass,

In the play, this is a cut-and-paste/mix I put together. The words are by Max Werner Lenz (1935).The poem can be found in: Cabaret Performance Volume Two, Europe 1920-1940 by Laurence Senelick.
The music is from: Was nützen mir die schönsten Nelken (1928); track 17 on Text und Musik Von Mir, Musik Antik am Weidenstieg, recording.

3)Oyfn Pripetshik /At the Fireplace,by Mark M. Warshawsky (1901)

Oyfn pripetchik brent a fayerl
Un in shtub is heys.
Un der rebbe lernt kleyne kinderlekh
Dem alef-beyz.
Gedenkt'zhe, kinderlekh,
Gedenkt'zhe, tayere,
Vos ir lernt do.
Zogt'zhe nokhamol un take nokhamol,
Komets alef-o.
Lernt, kinderlekh, hot nit moyre.
Yeder onheyb iz shver.
Gliklekh iz der yid vos lernt toyre,
Vos darfn mir nokh mer?
Az ir vet, kinderlekh, elter vern,
Vet ir aleyn farshteyn,
Vifil in di oysyes lign trern
Un vifil geveyn.
Lernt, kinderlekh, mit groys kheyshik,
Azoy zog ikh aykh on.
Ver s'vet beser vun aykh kenen ivri,
Der bakumt a fon.
A fire burns on the hearth
And it is warm in the little house.
And the rabbi is teaching little children
The alphabet.
Remember, children,
Remember, dear ones,
What you learn here.
Repeat and repeat yet again,
Komets alef-o.
Learn, children, don't be afraid.
Every beginning is hard.
Lucky is the Jew who studies Torah.
What more do we need?
When, children, you will grow older
You will understand,
How many tears lie in these letters
And how much crying.
Learn, children, with enthusiasm,
As I instruct you.
The one who learns Hebrew better
Will receive a flag.

I includded this Yiddish classic because I wanted to have a taste of the culture that was mostly wiped out by the Holocaust. I have Willy Rosen sing an excerpt of it to Kids in a Westerbork school after he realizes that they do not know him as an entertainer, and that his songs-now banned as "Degenerate" may very well dissapear from the world as well.
Mark M. Warshawsky (1840-1907) is known as the Yiddish Robert Burns or Woody Guthrie. He is considered a true folk poet. Warshawsky was first an unsuccessful lawyer in Kiev. He originally called this song, ‘Der Alef-Beyz”. Warshawsky was discovered by the great Yiddish writer, Sholom Aleichem who helped publish his works, most notably; Yidishe Folkslider /Yiddish folk songs (1900). They also frequently performed together.
During the Holocaust it was used as a ghetto song: “At the ghetto wall, a fire burns, the surveillance is keen.” In the Soviet Union in the early 1960’s a clandestine version went as follows: “Even should they beat you or throw you on the pyre, repeat komets-alef-o."

4) Magdeline/Little girl, by Willy Rosen (1943)
translation: Louis Dewijze & Annatina Luck; adaptation: Natale
click the link to hear an interview with Louis Dewijze. Louis sings this song.He also sings; Eine Walze (see picture top), the V and the OD (see pictures for July 10 2008 entry). Dewijze also mentions Chaja Goldstein (see entry Nov 22 2008).

louisdewijzeinterview by westerborkserenade-1

5) Wenn Ein Paketchen Kommt /When a Small Package Comes by Willy Rosen (1943), translation: Dewijze & Jerry Silverman; adaptation: Natale

Wenn ein paketchem kommt, Dann freut sich gross und klein.
Wenn ein paketchen kommt, ist auch beim Regen Sonnenschein.
Ein Pakchen gut verschnurt, Ganz ohne Spesen,
Mann kann nicht schnell genug den knoten losen
Wenn ein paketchen kommt ist auch der kranke nicht mir krank
Und mann schreipt sofort ein kartchen “Besten Dank!”
When a small package comes, there’s joy for old and young.
When a small package comes, a rainy day is bright with sun.
And if it is well stocked, and you keep all you got,
Then you can hardly wait as you untie the knot.
When a small package comes, the sick are healed on the spot
And you send a little card says, “Thanks a lot.”

(See bottom picture) Camilla Spira lead this song with the Westerbork Girlsin the revue: Humor und Melodie, September 1943( see: ). They thank the commandant for allowing food, packages and letters to be sent into the camp. The writing under the picture tells of Spira's almost Aryan status. She was eventually "Arianized" and released.

6)Scrappin to Music /Wij Sloopen Met Muziek, by Johnny and Jones (1944), translated by Else Cobb, adaptation: Natale.

Mijn baas heet Bayer en ik werk me naar
Wij halen stukken vliegtuig uit elkaar
Maar wij zijn heel gauw met het werken klaar
Want we slopen met muziek, begrijp je?

M’n Gruppenliter Katz die vindt het fijn
Om Gruppenleiter over ons te zijn.
De productie gaat in stijgende lijn
Want we slopen met muziek

Beyer, Brauner, Hoffman en Tas
Zitten heel vaak in de rats
Met moeilijke mechaniek.
Maar wij slopen met muziek
Stuk geroest of vast gesoldeerd
Wordt door ons gedemonteerd.
Wij beheersen de techniek
Want wij slopen met muziek!
Als wij beginnen te zingen

Gaan de schroeven en bouten swingen
De propellers en de motoren vallen zomaar uit elkaar
Als zij ons horen,
Bayer Hoffman Brauner en Tas
Zitten nu niet meer in de rats
Want wij slopen reuze sjiek
Met muziek, met muziek, met muziek

‘nKehrsvertrauner es geht furchbar schnell
“Jawohl” zei Hoffman, “heus dat weet ik wel.”
Dat komt alleen maar door dat gekke stel
Sie zerlegen mit Muzik, versteht sie

Maar op een keer deden ze niet zoveel
Van honderd kilo slechts het tiende deel
Die dag hadden we pijn in onze keel,
Want we slopen met muziek!

En de hamers en de tangen
Wisten wij mooi te vervangen
Door muziek, door muziek, door muziek

Bayer my boss works me ‘til I’m insane,
scrapping the pieces of the aeroplanes.
We do our work and we sure do it quick,
‘cause we’re scrapping to music-you get me?

Group leader Katz he doesn’t give no fuss.
He’s really happy being boss of us.
Production’s up and he knows that’s because
We are scrapping to music.

Bayer, Brauner, Hoffman and Tats
Problems they got lots and lots
With mediocre mechanics
But we’re scrapping to music.
Welded stuck encrusted with rust
Easy stuff for us to bust
‘Cause we’ve mastered the technique
We’re scrapping to music.

When we start our singing
Nuts and bolts start swinging
Propellers and the motors start
To crumble to pieces and fall apart.
Bayer, Brauner Hoffman and Tats
Aint got any problems with us
‘Cause we’re scrapping oh so chic
To music, to music, to music

Said Kehrsvertrauner,“ fastest that I’ve seen.”
“Jawohl” said Hoffman, “I know what you mean.”
“It’s all because we got that crazy team
Who are scrapping to music-you get me”?

But then one day we didn’t make the quote.
One hundred kilos only tenth the load.
I couldn’t sing that day I had a sore throat
‘Cause we’re scrapping to music.
And the hammers and the cutters
We turn one thing and the others
To music, to music, to music

This great little number can be found on track 24 on Maak Het Donker In Het Donker, Opnamen uit de period 1938-’44, Nederlands Jazz Archief, recording.
it starts with a standard blues riff moving into swing on the chorus. J&J manage to describe their work and name their German Jewish supervisors. Many of them are referred to in Year of Fear, A Jewish Prisoner Waits For Auschwitz by Philip Mechanicus. Brauner was considered a particularly nasty customer.

7)The Best Bloom In the LAWA /De Mooiste Bloem Uit De LAWA, (1944 )by Johnny and Jones, translation: Else Cobb, adaptation: Natale

kHad vroeger en tuintje
Gewoonweg een droom
Met gras en met wurmen,
En een appelen boom.
De sla en andijvie, die deden het best,
Dat heb ik hier weer aan mijn groenten attest.
Ook op bloemen ben ik dol,
En had steeds mijn kamer vol.

Maar ik houd van hyacinthen,
Ook met rozen ben ik blij,
Maar de beste bloem uit de Lawa daar ben jij.
Ik houd van mooie planten, ik heb been hele rij,
Maar de mooiste plant uit de Lawa, daar ben jij

Er komen heel veel klanten, die dringen om je heen,
Ze komen voor de bloemen,
Maar ik voor jou alleen.
Maar dat zijn.mooie bloemen daar op de Drentse hei
Maar de beste bloem op de Lawa daar ben jij,
Maar de beste bloem op de Lawa daar ben jij.

Ik heb hier op het kamp ook een tuintje gemaakt.
Daarvan is iedereen in extase geraakt.
Plots kwam er zandstorm toen kwam ik weer tec
Na een half uur waaien m’n tuintje was weg.
Het gaat boven mijn verstand,
Waar vandaan komt al dat zand?

Ik vis soms olijven, zet de pitten tezij (aan mij?)
,Die zaai k dan uit in mijn tuin op de hei.
En gaan ze dan bloeien
Nou dat kan toch bestaan,
Misschien komen er dan “gesuise mallane”.
Ik hou veel van de natuur, daarom zing ik nu vol vuur:

I once had a garden,
‘twas a dream to see,
with grass and worms and an apple tree.
The endives or lettuce now which was the best? I had lots of veggies they all passed the test.
I love flowers all in bloom, and with them I filled my room.
Though I love the hyacinths and I like the roses too, But the best bloom in the LAWA oh it’s you. How I love the pretty plants and in a row I grow them too. But the greenest plant in the LAWA oh it’s you.
Well there are lots of shoppers, they’re crowding all around.
They come to pick the flowers, but I come for you alone.
Out on the heath at Drenthe the blooms are pretty too.
But the best bloom in the LAWA oh it’s you
But the best bloom in the LAWA oh it’s you

In camp here I just dug a small garden out, which everyone else is ecstatic about.
Along came a sand-storm, so I hit the deck, and when I looked up my poor garden was wrecked.
I just cannot understand from where comes all that sand?

I plant all the pits from the olives I eat in the plot of the garden I have on the heath.
And then when they bloom; it can happen you know; a (beautiful olive tree) surely will grow.
I love nature there’s no doubt, so I sing it now full out.

What a sweet song. So Dutch,so ascerbic, so sad. The LAWA is short for Lager Warrenhaus, where goods previously looted from Jews in Amsterdam were distributed amongst the Westerbork inmates. It is track 22 on Maak Het Donker In Het Donker, Opnamen uit de period 1938-’44, Nederlands Jazz Archief, recording

8)Die Dammenschue Von Zimmer No. 20 /The Ladies shoes from room #20, by Herbert and Rudolf Nelson (1939), translated by A.Luck, adaptation: Natale

When I awake each night, all other’s eyes shut tight.
Into the hall I flit with my shoe shining kit.
I stand before each door. Shoes lined along the floor.
And all the shoes I see I take along with me.

And then I start to polish and to rub them,
The men’s and ladies shoes from off the floor.
The men’s shoes, well now, I don’t care to scrub them.
But shinning women’s shoes is something I adore.

And then tonight I saw beside a bedroom door,
A pair of pumps apart that went straight to my heart.

I love the scintillating, titillating, succulent and captivating
Lady’s shoes from chamber Number twenty.
I think I have a thing for them. I simply have to sing for them
The lady’s shoes from chamber Number twenty.

It’s them I shine with ardor. I put them back in order.
The climax of it is when I hug them and I kiss them.
The scintillating, titillating succulent and sweet I’m into
Lady’s shoes from chamber number twenty.

And so when I alight, I can’t wait for the night.
Room 20’s shows I prize, the ones I idolize.
I clean the other shoes once over with a brush
So I have time to dream, and there’s no need to rush.

And then I spend the evening fantasizing
Imagine how our life could be one day.
Going out and coming home together,
After we have danced the night away.
We stand before the door, her body next to mine.
“Shall we take off our shoes?”
Oh boy, that would be fine!
But then, my God, this evening, I simply have to curse,
By chamber No. 20, a man's shoes next to hers.
These shoes that were my bride-to be are dead
As far as I can see, i'll never shine those shoes in front of 20!

I found this song on: A’Dam Berlijn, Denk Vandaag Niet Aan Morgen
Recording from the Neederlands Theater Instituut(Discola-nelson productie-coll.kloters, Amsterdam). It wasn't done at Westerbork, but it so fits with the Commandant's shoe tirade (which is historically documented) that I had to put it in. On the recording we hear the character-baritone of Auto Aurich, who was in the Westerbork revues (see ). He and Lisl Frank were a popular song and dance team (see link: )

9)The Snag /Sek, by Conrad Tom (1931), translated by Senelick, adapted by Natale
you can find it in: Cabaret Performance Volume Two, Europe 1920-1940 by Laurence Senelick,

10) Das Bist Du /It is you, by Willy Rosen (1944), translated by Dewijze, adapted by Natale

Ich hab es heut Nacht den Sternen erzahlt,Ich liebe Dich.
Ich hab es heut fruh den blumen erzahlt,Ich liebe Dich.
Ich sing es hinaus in die Welt,
Dass eine mir nur nocht gefullt;
Das bist Du, das bist Du, nur Du.
Und hor ich Musik, dann singt jeder Ton,Ich liebe Dich.
Ich scwatze beim Tag, Ich pheiffe ja schon,Ich liebe Dich.
Mein Herz ist von sehnsucht erfullt,
Im Traume erscheint mir Dein bild,
Das bist Du, das bist Du, nur du.
I tell it at night to the stars in the sky, I love you
Today to the flowers I say with a sigh, I love you.
I said to the world how I’ve felt
There’s just one who makes my heart melt,
It is you, it is you, only you.
When I hear a song, each chord seems to ring, I love you.
As I fly along to the birdies I sing, I love you.
My heart overflows like a stream,
your picture appears in my dream.
It is you it is you-only you.

This song appeared in "Bunter Abend" a Westerbork review from March 1944. Jetty Cantor sang it there. It is listed as "Ich hab es heut nacht den sternen erzahlt"

11) Oh Boom by Johnny and Jones 1938
it is track #3 on Maak Het Donker In Het Donker, Opnamen uit de period 1938-’44, Nederlands Jazz Archief, recording. The song is in English and full of contemporary song references of which "Bei Mir bis du Shoen" is the only one I recognise.

12) Wenn Man Konnte Was Man Heimlich Wollte, If One Could Do What One Wanted, by Willy Rosen (1944), translated by Dewijze, adapted by Natale

Willy Rosen, 1944 (Trans. Annatina Luck, Adapt, D.N.)
Wenn man konnte, was man Heimlich wollte
Das verbotene dass man nicht denken sollte.
Wenn man konnte was man sich ertraumte
Und das man das einst bisher versaumte.
Vielleicht war dann das Tolle erstrebenswert.
Die Gedanken scheuen das Tageslicht,
Doch ich glaube oft ihr kennt guch selber nicht
If only you could do what you secretly wanted to
The nameless thing that is forbidden.
If only you could do just what you dream you could do,
The things now lost for which you’ve striven.
Perhaps then life might be worth living.
Maybe then those crazy things would be worth achieving.
But my thoughts, they cower from the light.
Poor things, I think they don’t know day from night.

This song was in the sketch "Opium" in the Humor und Melodie revue of September '43. you can look at the programs on www.westerborkserenade.con on the History page. (also third photo)

13) Ich Liebe Nur Die Heide/ I Love only the Heath, by Willy Rosen (1943 or 44)

Ich liebe nur die Heide.
Auf die Heide allein kann Ich gluklich sein.
Ja das ist meine wonne.
Meine seele erwacht wenn die sonne lacht
I only love the heath
Only on the heath can I be happy
Yes that is my delight,
My soul awakes when the sun laughs

Also from Humor und Melodie.(see second photo)

14) Immer Langsam /Take it slowly, by Willy Rosen (1943), translated by Dewijze, adapted by Natale

Immer langsam, immer langsam,Immer mit Gemtulichkeit
Wir haben noch lange zeit es ist noch nicht soweit...

Take it slowly, ever slowly, there is plenty of time
So take it all in stride, the journey’s not so wide
Take it slowly, ever slowly, make lots of time for rest
There is no need for haste, it’s over much to fast
What is the meaning of our life? It’s a carousel of fate
And once the ride is finished, then too soon it is too late.

See photo second from bottom, also from Humor und Melodie: Max Ehrlich as coachman, Gunter Witepsky and Mara Rosen (I think) as the couple. This was a scene nostalgic of better days during the Biedermeier period (mid 1800's)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Be sure to see our web-site: WWW.WESTERBORKSERENADE.COM

"AUF DER HEIDE" ("on the heath")from Humor und Melodie at Westerbork 1943

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Westerbork Serenade Netherlands 2010: The Inside Scoop...

(Left)Film-makers: Erga Netz & Izzy Abrahami,
(Center)Producer: Xaviera Hollander,
Actor/Writer: David Natale (right)

David Natale collaborates with Happy Hooker and radical film-makers to bring show to Holland
-and we need your help!

That's right Westerbork Serenade will be in the Netherlands Nov 19th-29th! (see previous blog)

Nu,so how did this come about?

I look back on all the twists and turns this project has taken me along over the past years:

First it was my MFA thesis project at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego back in 1996. Then I did the show at the first New York City Fringe Fest in 1998. In '99 we did a version at my friends' theatre in Williansburgh Brooklyn. For the rest of the decade I continued to perform the piece at various venues throughout New York City and the East Coast.

At every performance and with every version, I have met survivors and historians. Each time I have learned a little bit more about Westerbork and have explored more deeply the vile subtlties of this particular story of the Shoah.

In 2006 I produced a reading of the piece with a full cast of actors in Seattle. In 2008, under the direction of Gin Hammond, we returned to the solo style and re-worked the show to eliminate props and costume changes.

The 2008 show, a co-production with Rik Deskin and the Eclectic Theatre Company in Seattle, won a Seattle Times Foot-Light Award (see 12/29/08 entry)

My web-site and blog were set up and I began to receive inquiries from relatives and descendants of performers from Westerbork. I also got a variety of queries from historians, film-makers, art dealers and con artists.

Sarah Waisvitz (see 11/12/08 entry)inquired about her Grandmother's husband, Max Kannewaser, who was Jones in the Dutch singing duo: Johnny and Jones.

Last fall Gin Hammond saw a Theatre Communications Guild grant emphasizing international collaboration.

Soon after, documentary film makers: Erga Netz and Izzy Abrahami ( ), who live in the Netherlands, contacted me because they are working on a film about Johnny and Jones and were coming to the U.S. to interview Ms. Waisvitz's Grandmother.

I agreed to join them in San Fransisco to help with their interview if they could help me with the TCG collaboration grant (see 10/15/09 entry).

In February. I went to SF and was interviewed by Netz and Abrahami. We also visited the assisted living facility where Jones' widow lives. There I performed the song, "The Westerbork Serenade," for Mrs. Waisvitz, her son and granddaughter, as well as other residents.

Abrahami and Netz had connected me to the famous Dutch writer and former madam: Xaviera Hollander. Some of you might remember her from your school days (or behind the school) when you read her 1971 best seller: The Happy Hooker.

Xaviera is still writing. She also runs bed and breakfasts in Amsterdam and Mirabella Spain and she produces small theatrical productions, often with Jewish themes ( ).
Xaviera agreed to produce my show.

Long story short: I did not get the TCG grant. But with the help of Fans and Angels in the Seattle area, the Netherlands shows will happen.

Xaviera has booked dates in Amsterdam and The Hague. Netz and Abrahammi will film the performances as well as a trip to the actual camp Westerbork. I will also appear on a talk show in Drenthe, a town near where Westerbork is located.

We still could use help.

There will be a benefit performance on October 13Th at the Odd Duck Studio in Seattle.

In the meantime feel free to donate at Just hit the "donate" tab which leads you to Pay-Pal where you can donate to .

We could also use technical support:
someone to help with sound and or lights in the Netherlands-as well as running interference for me.

I don't have much money, but you can stay with me there and there is a possibility of some help with a plane ticket.

Hey if you will be over there anyway, let me know.

Westerbork Serenade is going to Holland! Nov 19th-29th 2010

American actor and playwright, David Natale brings home a seldom remembered story of the Holocaust in Holland with his award winning one-man show: The Westerbork Serenade.

Because of anxiety over increased immigration, in 1939 the Dutch government set up a camp near the town of Westerbork to hold the stream of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. After 1940, the Nazis turned Lager Westerbork into a transit camp which funneled more than 100,000 Jews to their doom in the eastern camps.

Westerbork was not a death camp.
It was crowded and food scarce, but one could survive there. Westerbork even had a hospital, schools and a shop offering goods previously looted from the Jews. Administration of the camp was run by the German speaking Jewish inmates.

The SS commandant’s pet project was a weekly cabaret show at Westerbork. It featured top Jewish entertainers from Germany and Holland. If one was in the show, one was “exempt” from transport-temporarily. By the end of the war, however, most of the performers from Westerbork were also sent to their deaths in eastern camps, joining the eventual six million who died.

Mr. Natale seamlessly portrays more than 15 characters; including German director, Max Ehrlich, actress Camilla Spira, Commandant Gemmeker and the beloved Dutch singing duo, Johnny and Jones.

Natale developed The Westerbork Serenade after much research as well as interviews with survivors. In English, he dynamically incorporates period sketches, songs and accounts to make the audience acutely feel what it is to perform for one’s life.

* * *

Amerikaanse acteur en toneel schrijver, David Natale, laat een voorstelling zien van een bijna vergeten gebeuren uit de oorlogstijd in Nederland met zijn bekroonde one-man toneelstuk : “The Westerbork Serenade”.

Zoals wellicht bekend, besloot de Nederlandse regering vanwege het snel toenemend aantal Joodse vluchtelingen uit Duitsland, in 1939 een opvang kamp voor hen te bouwen in de buurt van Westerbork.
Na de invasie in 1940 veranderden de Nazis “Lager Westerbork” tot een z.g. doorvoer kamp, van waar uit meer dan 100.000 Joden afgevoerd werden naar hun noodlottige bestemming in de Duitse vernietigings kampen.
Kamp Westerbork was geen concentratie kamp, het bleef een doorvoer kamp.
Het was er overvol, het eten was schaars, maar men kon er overleven.
Westerbork had zelfs een ziekenhuis, scholen en een winkel, met “koopwaar” (van eerder gestolen Joodse goederen). De administratie van het kamp was in de handen van Duits sprekende Joodse medegevangenen.

Het favoriete project van de SS commandant was het wekelijkse cabaret in kamp Westerbork met Joodse top artiesten, uit Duitsland zowel als Nederland, als cabaretiers. Zolang zij optraden in de show waren zij (tijdelijk) vrijgesteld van transport.
Tegen het einde van de oorlog werden echter de meesten van deze Westerbork artiesten toch ook nog de dood ingestuurd in de concentratie kampen in Oost Europa en deelden het lot met wat later zou blijken, 6 miljoen andere slachtoffers.

Mr Natale geeft een naadloze uitbeelding van meer dan 15 personen in Westerbork, zoals o.a. de Duitse regisseur Max Ehrlich, actrice Camilla Spira, Commandant Gemmeker en het populaire Nederlandse zang duo “Johnny and Jones”.
Natale baseerde “the Westerbork Serenade” op jaren van diepgaand onderzoek alsmede interviews met overlevenden.
Hoewel in het Engels, combineert hij de liedjes, sketches en beschrijvingen uit die tijd zo boeiend, dat ongetwijfeld ook het Nederlandse publiek zich direct zeer bewust wordt van wat het betekent om letterlijk te moeten spelen kiezen voor je leven.


Nov 13: New Liberal Jewish Center
Amsterdam, for tickets:

Nov 19th and 20th: Apollofirst Hotel theatre
Apollolaan 123-127
1077 AP Amsterdam

Nov 21st: Van Ostade Theater
Van Ostadestraat 233D
1073 TN Amsterdam

Nov 28th and 29th: Theater PePijn
Nieuwe Schoolstraat 21-23
2514 HT 's-Gravenhage