Israeli theater almost performed in Nazi Germany

Recently discovered documents show communications between Habima and Goebbels from 1937.

November 7, 2017 15:23
1 minute read.
Joseph Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels . (photo credit: BUNDESARCHIV BILD 183-1989-0821-502 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)


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Tel Aviv’s Habimah Theater was extremely close to performing in Nazi Germany in 1937, according to documents unearthed by Tel Aviv University’s Israeli Center for the Documentation of the Performing Arts.

According to Channel 2 News, which first published the documents on Monday night, the theater communicated with Josef Goebbels in the 1930s.

Members of the theater at the time had reportedly seen an article written a decade earlier by Goebbels – Hitler’s propaganda minister – praising their work. Since they were already planning a trip to Paris that October to an international fair, the theater sent a telegram to Goebbels requesting to also perform in Berlin. Goebbels responded affirmatively to the request to arrive there in November 1937. The theater’s delegation was already on a train to Germany when Nazi leader Hermann Goring ordered the performance canceled.

According to Channel 2, the actors didn’t even get off the train in Berlin after they were informed of the cancellation.

The documents will be put on display as part of the upcoming celebrations of Habimah’s 100th anniversary. The theater first began in Moscow in 1918, and then made aliya to Tel Aviv in 1928. It was established as Israel’s national theater in 1958.

While the theater may not have performed in Berlin in 1937, it was there in 2017, just a few weeks ago in fact, staging its show Alone in Berlin at the ID Festival Berlin at the end of October. The play, which Habimah first staged last year, is based on the German novel by Hans Fallada and features a couple living in Berlin during World War II.

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