December 10, 2017

Creative Nonfiction by Charles E.J. Moulton: "The Violinist"

CHARLES E.J. MOULTON has been a stage performer since age eleven. His trilingual, artistic upbringing, as the son of Gun Kronzell and Herbert Moulton, lead to a hundred stage productions, countless cross-over concerts, work as a bandleader and as an acting teacher. He is a regular contributor for Idea Gems, has written for Shadows Express, Cover of Darkness, Vocal Images and Pill Hill Press. He is a tourguide, a big-band-vocalist, a filmmaker, a painter, a voice-over-speaker, a translator, is married and has a daughter. Charles E.J. Moulton's passion is creative versatility. His short story collection, Aphrodite's Curse: 21 Tales of Love and Terror can be purchased by clicking the link. Homepages:


The Violinist

Once upon a time, there was a boy who, on his 5th birthday, received his great grandfather's Stradivarius violin as a gift. It was a lovely thing, elegant, bright shining wood, clear strings, a craftsmanship for the Gods.

He loved touching the instrument and playing it became a delight. The sound of it, the beauty and the feeling of holding it in his hand made him proud. He loved playing this instrument so much that he neglected his other studies for the benefit of beautiful music.

In effect, however, that didn't matter much. His high IQ gave him the ability to learn fast and therefore get good grades anyway.

Sascha, as he was called, a nickname for Alexander, played solos with the school orchestra on every festive occasion, school balls and campus receptions. There were many of them back then. At least seven or eight a year. This was a rich school in Berlin before the First World War, life was beautiful and no one thought it would ever end.

Alexander became a military man, playing in the Military Orchestra, touring the world, playing for Emperor Franz Josef in 1908, for King Edward VII in 1909 and, at age 12 in 1910, for the American president William Howard Taft. Sascha Löw, or Alexander Loewe, as he was called in the U.S. became a rising star, the pride and joy of the Prussian Military Music.

The First World War hit the royal houses of Europe with a devastating calibre, reserved for only the most grim of fates. Millions of dead and wounded turned Europe into a wasteland. Sascha managed to sail through this terror, playing with the army band here and there, while his brother Johannes won medals of excellence for his courage on the battlefield.

Sascha bought himself a tuxedo and became a Broadway and Hollywood celebrity, playing the Charlestone throughout the 1920s and even ending up touring Asia.

His brother became a banker in Munich, which led to a fertile collaboration with the opera there and made them hire Sascha as a musical director.

Sascha visited the temple regularly with his family and attended Jewish weddings from time to time, but he was a child of the old pe of Ruling Monarchies. Judaism was a faith to him. Not a genetic identity. His brother Johannes had received a medal in the First World War. Sascha was as German as the next man. Things were about to happen that would make Sascha understand other Germans felt differently.

By 1932, Sascha's love affairs with women had been extensive. He had slept with many and loved a few, but in all those amorous loves something had been missing. It was after a performance of Wagner's Rheingold that Sascha realized what that was.

On that night, Sascha Löw, the conductor, met a young army officer named Robert Humboldt. The two men ended up talking all night after the premiere, realizing that they had fallen in love. A Jewish musician and a German officer in love in Munich in 1932, it was doomed to fail. For one brief moment, life prospered and the secret affair became more passionate. On the outside, the two were best buddies. In Sascha's luxurious penthouse apartment in Munich's richest district, however, they became Bonnie and Clyde, Romeo and Juliet. Until the beginning of 1933, their lives were blissful.

Once Adolf Hitler became Reichskanzler on January 30th, 1933, however, Robert Humboldt grew nervous. His behaviour changed radically and this confused Sascha.

"I am getting a new set of orders," Robert could be heard saying. "We cannot meet as often as we have in the past."
"What orders?"
"I should only communicate with Germans."
Well, Sascha at first saw it as a joke.
"I am German, Robert," Sascha laughed.
"You're Jewish," Robert spat.
"That's just my faith, not my nationality," Sascha shrugged.
Robert exploded into nervous fits when Sascha talked about his Jewish faith.
"It's a genetic disorder," Robert claimed.

One month later, Robert was gone.

That was in March of 1933.
In July, the Gestapo knocked on Sascha's door and he was transported to the Ghetto in Krakow.

He lost his position as MD of the opera, trying to make a living as a violin teacher. He was back to courting women but remained startled as to Robert's betrayal.

It was a normal Monday morning, his parents and his brother meeting over at his apartment to eat and chat. Sascha had enough students to make a decent living, but with the change of pace in his life, everything had turned topsy-turvy. He hoped for a change of pace, a way to get out of this misery and getting out of Krakow seemed the only solution.

Sascha dreamily sat with his family, eating Kosher foods, his parents trying to keep their spirits up by chatting about small things, avoiding the obvious: that this was all wrong, living here, being treated as scum. Them. Rich heroes awarded military medals.

Sascha stammered something unintelligible, letting all these odd thoughts crossfire his neurons.
"I want to escape Krakow," he said.
His parents gazed at each other, worried looks exchanged between wondering eyes.
"Going to where?"
Sascha looked at his father, a turbulent man with wild black hair, one who had seen himself as German before Hitler had thrown him in the Krakow Ghetto.
"Back to America," Sascha spat.
"Son," his father growled, "we are here now. That bastard will be toppled soon enough and we will be back into normality ..."
"They're speaking of a death camp, Dad," Sascha interrupted.
"Who's they?" his mother whispered.
"Julius Ignaz and his friends," Sascha cried.
"Oh, Ignaz is a fool," his father answered.
"No, Dad," Sascha demanded, "the camp exists and if we don't escape this place, we will end up there."

Sascha Löw never escaped the Krakow Ghetto. He was transported to Auschwitz on January 31st, 1943, and thrown in a rusty old shed and forced to play the violin for German officers while other German Jews were shot in the head by German non-Jews.

Fate had it that Lieutenant Robert Humboldt received his commission to serve as a superior officer in Auschwitz on March 24th, 1944.

Accordingly, Robert met his old lover shortly before his planned execution in April 2nd that year.
Sascha Löw survived only because the gas chamber broke down that day. He kept himself going by becoming an invaluable worker.

When the Red Army freed the camp on January 27th, 1945, Sascha managed to walk all the way to Paris, France, alone and destitute after having lost his entire family to the Holocaust in Auschwitz.

Sascha moved to Hollywood, California, on June 23rd, 1950, where he worked as a conductor, orchestrator and composing violinist for M-G-M until his death of cancer in 1973.

Before he died, he gave his Stradivarius violin to a young musician in Los Angeles, who still uses it to this date, but wants to remain anonymous.

Sascha Löw is buried in Berlin, Germany.

We honor his memory.

Charles E.J. Moulton

Total Pageviews