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Nazi takeover begins


The music of change
Uri Avnery Social activist
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My father was crazy about music; he played the cello when he was a youngster and he knew all the classical compositions by heart. In the center of our apartment was what we called 'ponola'. I think it is called a pianola. It is an automatic piano where you sit – it is also possible to play but if not, there are scrolls, like in the Torah, that you put in at the top and then you tread on the pedals which operate it. Before the age of five, I think, I heard all the classical works of music in Europe; sometimes I even played myself. I remember once we fooled our guests and we turned on the pianola and they did not know what a 'pianola' was, and I played as if I was doing it by myself, and they said, 'The child is a genius! Listen to him playing Beethoven!'. Then, the house was always filled with music and, of course, opera and literature. We were a family who always had orderly family meals. At noon the whole family sat around the table, each one in his own place. The housekeeper served what she had cooked. My mother also cooked very well and she loved to cook. The conversation was about opera, about the most recent books, about this and that. I also started reading real literature from an early age… I think I stopped reading children's books at the age of six or seven and started reading serious books – history, things like that.  Very slowly it changed; it was so slow I do not think I even realized that it was happening, but the conversation had moved from all of these different subjects to politics. Until, over a two or three year period, politics became the central conversation around the lunch and dinner table. And in the street too, the appearance of things in the street was changing, slowly. 

Everyone was wearing uniform, every major party. The Social Democrats, which was the leading party, and the nationalists, who were called the Steel Helmets, and in that way they imitated the German army of World War I with the gray uniform and the steel helmets.  And there was the Red Front of the Communists who imitated the Bolsheviks, of course, with boots and Russian-style trousers.  Slowly, more and more people appeared wearing the brown uniform of the Nazis.

אבא שלי היה משוגע למוסיקה, בנעוריו הוא ניגן בצ’לו. אבל הוא ידע בעל-פה את כל היצירות הקלאסיות. במרכז הדירה שלנו היה דבר שקראנו לו פונולה. אני חושב שקוראים לזה פיאנולה. זה פסנתר אוטומטי שיושבים, אפשר גם לנגן, אבל אם לא, יש מגילות כמו ספר תורה, שמכניסים למעלה ודורכים. בדריכה מפעילים את זה. לפני גיל חמש, אני חושב, שמעתי את כל היצירות של הקלאסיקה, המוסיקה שיש באירופה, לפעמים גם ניגנתי בעצמי. אני זוכר שפעם מתחנו אורחים ופתחנו את הזה (הפיאנולה) והם לא ידעו מה זה פונולה ואני ניגנתי וכאילו עשיתי ככה והם אמרו: "גאון הילד! איך הוא מנגן בטהובן!" וכוליי. אז הבית היה מלא מוסיקה תמיד. וכמובן אופרה וספרות. היינו משפחה שהקפידה על ארוחות משפחתיות מסודרות. בצהריים כל המשפחה ישבה מסביב לשולחן, איש איש במקומו. העוזרת הגישה מה שבישלה. גם אמא שלי הייתה מבשלת טובה מאוד ואהבה לבשל. והשיחה הייתה על אופרה, על הספר אחרון ועל הא ועל דא. גם אני התחלתי לקרוא ספרות אמיתית מגיל… אני חושב שהפסקתי לקרוא ספרי ילדים בגיל שש-שבע והתחלתי לקרוא ספרים רציניים, היסטוריה, דברים כאלה. ולאט לאט זה השתנה. אני לא חושב שהרגשתי בזה אפילו, זה כל כך לאט היה, אבל השיחה עברה מכל הנושאים האלה לפוליטיקה. עד שפוליטיקה הייתה, משך שנתיים-שלוש פוליטיקה הייתה השיחה המרכזית ליד השולחן בצהריים ובערב.  והרחוב, החזות, הרחוב השתנה, לאט-לאט. פתאום כולם לבשו מדים. כולם. כל מפלגה גדולה. סוציאל דמוקרטים, שהם היו המפלגה, והלאומנים, שנקראו "כובע הפלדה”, וככה חיקו את הצבא הגרמני של מלחמת העולם הראשונה עם המדים האפורים וכובע פלדה. והייתה "חזית אדומה" של הקומוניסטים שחיקו את הבולשביקים כמובן עם מגפיים וכאלה מכנסיים רוסיים. ולאט-לאט יותר ויותר הופיעו המדים החומים של הנאצים.‏

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Communists

Duration: 3 minutes, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017