5) Flight and Emigration

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. From 11 April 1933 Jews in Germany were forbidden by law to work in the civil service. The same month the Traunecks moved to Berlin where they prepared for their emigration.

Many of Trauneck's Jewish friends from the Schoenberg seminar had already emigrated. Most of them, like Schoenberg himself, Eduard Steuermann, Heinrich Jalowetz, and Rudolf Kolisch went to the United States. In 1938, Alexander Zemlinsky, Felix Greissle, and Hanns Eisler followed, escaping the persecution at the last minute. Others like Karl Rankl and Egon Wellesz found refuge in England. Knowing that most of his friends were there, he preferred either the USA or England as his place of exile, and attended an English-language course at the Berlitz School in Berlin. Trauneck was actually offered work in the USA but was forced to decline it, because he was unable to afford the required deposit, which was between 5,000 and 6,000 dollars.1

In all, the couple applied to immigrate to the following countries: Poland, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Norway, the Baltic States, Finland, Britain, the USA, Chile, Australia, and Japan. When all their approaches met with refusals, they then concentrated their efforts on South Africa, where Lisbeth had private connections in the committees charged with Jewish refugee immigration.2 South Africa, unlike other countries, did not at this time have a rigid immigration policy; a small monetary deposit was required in advance. Nevertheless, even this small amount was not available, as the Traunecks were by now destitute. Friends (most probably Mrs Hanne Stroh from Rudolstadt) from Rudolstadt came to their help.3 Lisbeth was able to find guarantors in South Africa and the couple left Germany on 28 December 1933.

Their train journey to London proved perilous, and included interrogation by the SS at the German-Dutch border and a dash across Holland by taxi. They departed from Southampton and were welcomed in Cape Town by the German Refugee Committee on 26 January 1934. From her previous marriage, Lisbeth took only her daughter, Ruth. Her son remained with her ex-husband in Germany and both survived the Holocaust.4


  1. Csipak interview
  2. Ibid.
  3. Information given by Peter Gülke. Hannes Stroh was living in Rudolstadt and a very close friend to the Trauneck couple. Trauneck visited her regularly from Vienna after he had left the GDR.
  4. All the information about the emigration and flight from Germany was given to me by Csipak.