At the time of German occupation during the Second World War, in the building at 35 Leszno Street (now 115 Solidarności Avenue) was the Femina Theatre, one of the most popular entertainment venues in the Warsaw ghetto. The owner of the theatre was a German, and the management and the group were made up of Jews. The post of the director was held in turn by: Josef Hirszfeld, Symcha Ryba and Meir Winder. The artistic director was Jerzy Jurandot, and the musical director was Iwo Wesby.

The opening of Femina took place at the end of June 1941. The first performance was Batalion humoru (Battalion of humour) – a revue in Polish and Yiddish, written by Jurandot. In July, the premiere of another revue entitled Szafa gra (It’s all good; literally Wardrobe plays) which consisted of a series of skits, songs and dances. The performers were, among others singer Diana Blumenfeld and dancer Franciszka Mannnówna. In September, a new version of the operetta Księżniczka czardasza (The Gipsy Princess) was staged, in which the plot of the piece was transferred to the ghetto and presented under a slightly changed title Księżniczka czardaszka. In January 1942, the viewers had the opportunity to see the play Miłość szuka mieszkania (Love looks for a flat), the plot of which was based around the tribulations of two married couples staying in one apartment. The text of the work by Jurandot has been preserved to this day in the Ringelblum Archive..

In addition to comedies and revue shows, Femina also presented a more serious repertoire. In March 1942 was the premiere of Matura (Graduation), directed by Jonasz Turkow, with Diana Blumenfeld in the leading role. The last performance in “Femina” was the operetta Bajadera in June 1942.

Many artists performing in the Femina theatre (including the famous Miriam-Marysia Ajzensztadt, known as the “Nightingale of the Warsaw Ghetto”) were murdered by the Germans in the Warsaw ghetto or in extermination camps. Their tragic fate is commemorated by a plaque placed in the hall of the present-day cinema with the inscription: “In memory of the murdered actors and musicians of the Warsaw ghetto. On the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Femina theatre and concert hall. Museum Umschlagplatz Foundation. June 20, 1941– June 20, 1991 ".

Jonasz Turkow and his wife Diana Blumenfeld survived the war and immigrated from Poland to the United States, and then to Israel. Jerzy Jurandot also survived the Holocaust. After the war, he stayed in Poland. He was the founder and manager of the Syrena Satirical Theatre.

Bibliography

  • Engelking B., Leociak J., Getto Warszawskie. Przewodnik po nieistniejącym mieście, Warsaw 2001, pp. 547–551.

 

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