I was watching a documentary last night about singers from the 78 era. One
of the singers discussed was Leo Slezak. We all know about Walter and the
book What Time is the Next Swan. However, there was one thing that intrigued
1) In his book, Walter talks about his parents coming over for a visit in the
middle thirties. The conditions in Germany were discussed and Leo's disgust
with the Nazis. He also mentioned that he had a brief visit to Germany in 37
I believe where upon the advice of the US Consul in Munich he left Germany
very quickly with the Gestapo--or like organization--in hot pursuit. Seems
that Germany still considered him a German citizen. After the war, he came
back in 46 to find what we all know about. The point that got me was this.
Slezak (Leo) was devoted to his wife. He was also very concerned for her
safety since she was Jewish. Is this true? If so, then technically, both Leo
AND his sister were also Jewish. How could Slezak have survived in Bavaria of
all places with a Jewish wife? Unless it was the same situation as with
Strauss and his Jewish daughter-in-law Alice. Also, I understood that Walter
Slezak's sister--who stayed in Germany--was a big supporter of the Nazi's and
was naturally estranged from her brother after the war. How could this be
unless the Nazi's did not do their homework. I find that very difficult to
believe. I have worked--and continue to work--in Germany. If there is
anything Germans are is thorough in that gathering of information. The opened
STASI files after the Wende is proof of that.
Walter Slezak's children studied piano with a colleague of mine by the name
of Bruce Hungerford. I remember him telling me that Slezak was buried in the
country and that he specifically said he did NOT want to be buried in
Tegernsee next to his father. Not because he was bitter against his father
and mother who are buried there but he was bitter against his sister.
I was wondering if this is really true or is it just conjecture.
Private replies please.
John Edward Niles
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