8) The 'second emigration' and work in East Germany

Through his friendship with Hanns Eisler, who held an influential cultural position in the German Democratic Republic, Trauneck found work again as a conductor in Thuringia, which was then part of the GDR. He was positive about his move in the beginning:

Admittedly it is a different country altogether from what I remember, an amazing country offering a most fascinating task for the artist, a most gratifying task. But at the same time, the grim memories - Buchenwald is just next door - lies [sic] over every place and people feel it as much as I do, sometimes it becomes unbearable. Again am I reminded of Schubert's 'Der Wegweiser'. . . 1

During his years in the socialist republic of East Germany as a conductor of small orchestras in Schleiz (1956-1957), Erfurt (1957-1960), Sonneberg (1960-1963), and Bad Salzungen (1963-1965), Trauneck's career was in constant decline. Although he received good reviews for his work on the operas Zar und Zimmermann,TieflandCosì fan tutte and Handel's Ezio during his time in Erfurt,2 he could not compete with the more popular conductors and was not accepted by the members of the orchestra there.3

As in South Africa, the political situation in East Germany worsened during his residence. In a letter to Steuermann he wrote:

'[I]t also may give you the impression that I'm unhappy. I have a wonderful wife, success in my work, many true friends, no financial worries. Still there are in-between-things.'4


  1. Letter from Trauneck to Eduard Steuermann (in English), 28 December 1957. (Why do I avoid the routes / Which the other travelers take, / To search out hidden paths / Through snowy cliff tops? . . .). (ISG)
  2. Theatre reviews in the Theater Erfurt archive, Erfurt. Largely unlabelled clippings
  3. Interview with Peter Gülke, 5 April 2008.
  4. Letter from Trauneck to Steuermann, 28 December 1957 (ISG)