"Brundibar" - An Opera For Children

Aninka and her brother Pepicek urgently need milk for their sick mother, but they don't have any money. At the market, no one wants to give them anything. As they try to earn money with their singing, they are driven away by the evil hurdy-gurdy man Brundibár who is afraid that they might ruin his business. But with the help of three animals - a sparrow, a cat and a dog, Aninka and Pepicek manage to chase Brundibár off. When they sing their song again, they collect enough money for the milk. Brundibár doesn't stand a chance against the children and animals and the mother is saved.
The opera ends in a thriumphant march about friendship and solidarity.

The children's opera "Brundibár" was composed in 1938 by Hans Krása (1899-1944) and premiered secretly in a Jewish orphanage in Prag in 1941. After his deportation to Theresienstadt in 1942, Hans Krása wrote the opera again from scratch. In Theresienstadt, "Brundibár" was performed fifty five times. The opera gave the young cast something to be proud of, a little normality and joy. 

The Nazis who advertised Theresienstadt as an exemplary concentration camp, used the opera for their purposes. A delegation of the Red Cross who visited the camp in June 1944 was cheated into believing that everything was quite idyllic there. Excerpts from "Brundibár" performances were used in the propaganda film "Terezin: A Documentary Film from the Jewish Settlement Area" and in the news.

Many of the young protagonists knew that they could die after each performance as the deportations were going on all the time. The cultural life of Theresienstadt that had lasted for about two and a half years was ended with the transports in autumn 1944. On October 16th, composer Hans Krása and 192 children, almost all of them part of the "Brundibár" cast, were deported to Auschwitz. After that, the opera has never been performed again in Theresienstadt.

16.10. 1944 – 16.10.2014: 70. Jahrestag des Aufführungsendes von "Brundibár" im Konzentrationslager Theresienstadt

Die Aufführung der Oper „Brundibár“ in Theresienstadt ist untrennbar mit dem Namen Greta Klingsberg verbunden. Sie wurde mit 13 Jahren zusammen mit ihrer Schwester Trude in das Lager deportiert und sang die weibliche Hauptrolle der Aninka in nahezu allen 55 Aufführungen von 1942-1944.

Doch mit dem Beginn der Herbsttransporte nach Auschwitz ab Ende September 1944 kam das Kulturleben in Theresienstadt zum Erliegen und auch die Oper „Brundibár“ hatte für die Nazis ihren Propagandazweck erfüllt.

Am 16. Oktober 2014 jährt sich zum 70. Mal das Ende der Aufführungen von "Brundibar" in Theresienstadt. In dem 1.000 Personen umfassenden Transport vom 16. Oktober 1944 befanden sich neben dem Komponisten Hans Krása auch der Darsteller des Brundibár, Jan Treichlinger (1928-1944) und mit 192 Kindern nahezu alle Darsteller, die an Brundibár mitgewirkt hatten. Nach diesem Tag ist "Brundibár" im Konzentrationslager und Ghetto Theresienstadt nicht mehr aufgeführt worden.

Greta Klingsberg gilt als einzige Überlebende.