Laughing in the face of death – cabaret in concentration camps and exile

**Podium discussion with Volker Kühn and Konstantin Kaiser** The year 1933 marked a break in entertainment culture in Vienna and Berlin. With Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Reich Chancellor, the relentless persecution of political opponents and dissenters began. High on the list were artists critical of the regime, particular those on stage and screen, because they had the greatest mass appeal. Many of them found refuge initially in Vienna, but only for a short time, because five years later Hitler’s troops also marched into Austria. Once again actors, cabaret artists, musicians, and writers had to flee for their lives. Those who did not recognize the danger in time and were unable to escape ended in concentration and extermination camps. Cabaret and music were played in transit camps like Westerbork in the Netherlands and in Theresienstadt by order of the Nazi regime so as to distract the tortured and enslaved inmates. ![/sites/default/files/old/2155.jpg:left]("" "")The émigrés also had a difficult time: the continuation of their artistic career abroad was not always easy, not least because of the language barrier. After passing through Prague, Paris, or Amsterdam many survived World War II and the Shoah in Britain, the USA, or elsewhere overseas. The Laterndl cabaret established itself in London, and in the USA there were many coffee houses and wine taverns with Viennese cuisine, where the artists could perform. Musicians and those who could speak some English could also hope for a career in Hollywood’s film industry or with the armed forces radio. **Volker Kühn,** who is known in Germany as an expert on cabaret and in 1991 made a TV documentary on the subject entitled “Totentanz: Kabaret hinter Stacheldraht – Humor und Satire im KZ” (available on a DVD published by Edition Mnemosyne), will discuss the subject with **Konstantin Kaiser**, the renowned Austrian émigré specialist and long-term president of the Österreichische Gesellschaft für Exilforschung. The discussion will be introduced by excerpts from Kühn’s TV documentary. The evening will be moderated by **Alfred Stalzer**, one of the two curators of the exhibition. Event accompanying the exhibition **“ALL MESHUGGE? Jewish wit and humor”**. Free admission _Jewish Museum Vienna Dorotheergasse 11 1010 Vienna_