Born in Austria, Wolfgang Suschitzky trained as a photographer and became one of the first in his field to take portraits of animals. After coming to England he worked with Paul Rotha as the cameraman on various documentaries and films such as “No Resting Place”, “Ulysses” and “Get Carter”.
The situation in Austria was very bad indeed. It was full of Nazis, especially in the provinces. A town like Graz was almost taken over by national socialists who were forbidden at the time, but they were tolerated by the authorities, not the left, and in 1934, there was a small — not so small — civil war, about 2000 people died, the army shot with artillery into working class flats. So, my Dutch friend and I decided to leave in 1934 after this civil war. My father was desperate by then, being known as of Jewish origin and a socialist. After I had left he committed suici... suicide in 1934 still, and both his children were away, and anyway, he had suffered from depressions as well. That was a very, very sad thing for me. Of course, he was a great man. I realised that later on in life, not so much when I saw him every day. But, I met interesting people, some of his authors who came and had lunch with us or met people who came to his shop. I spent quite some time there, and at Christmas I helped wrapping books. We had quite a good trade every Christmas because books were a popular present to give. My mother stayed on and my uncle, with whom my father had started this bookshop and publishing firm, stayed on with his sons, until 1938 when the Germans, took over with great applause from the Viennese and Austrians, and my uncle and his wife, had to flee. They fled to Paris where they had a sister... where they had a daughter, who had lived in France for quite a long time, but the Germans caught them and they ended up in Auschwitz. My mother was... still there and she was a partner in the bookshop after my father’s death, and we managed to get her out in 1939, I believe. Edith — my sister — was instrumental in getting her out, and she ended her days in England in a home for Jewish... for Jewish people.
Title: The situation in Austria and my father's suicide
Misha Donat is the son of Wolfgang Suschitzky. He has composed music for the theatre and the cinema (including films directed by Lindsay Anderson, and by Albert Finney). For more than 25 years he was a senior music producer for BBC Radio 3, where he planned and produced the prestigious lunchtime concerts at St John’s, Smith Square, at which many of the world’s leading artists appeared on a regular basis, and also instigated a Young Artists’ Forum as a showcase for musicians of the coming generation. As a broadcaster himself, he has given many radio talks.
Misha Donat has contributed a large number of programme notes to the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, South Bank, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Brighton Festival and other venues, and he has written CD booklets for such labels as Decca, DG, RCA, Philips and Hyperion. He has been a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine since its inception more than 10 years ago, and has written articles for The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Musical Times, The Listener, Opera, and other publications. He has taught at the University of California in Los Angeles, and has given lectures and seminars at Vassar College and Bard College in New York State, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), and in the UK at Durham University, the Barbican Centre, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Norwich Music festival. He is currently working as a producer for the Philharmonia Orchestra.