Ein Koffer Spricht
A Suitcase Talks by Prof. Dr. Hedda J. Herwig Nizza Thobi already mentions the motif of a suitcase as an enthrallment for her in an interview that Martina Weibel conducted with her in September 2007 for the Goethe-Institute-online, while she was recalling Yehuda Amichai, an Israeli author with German origins. Now she resumes this motif as the title of her new CD, as a recollection again, but this time in a linguistic rapprochement to Ilse Weber, who died at Auschwitz in 1944, and who composed before, in Terezín - among other songs-one that is entitled: A Suitcase Talks. Nizza Thobi composes interprets and publishes this very song with her new CD, but also includes songs from other authors, all compiled under the picture of talking suitcases - therefore the question of a connecting meaning of the chosen motif arises: What does someone think of when hearing the word suitcase? On a trivial level one thinks of travelling, of a suitcase as a part of one's luggage that contains the fundamental things needed if one is faraway, but not at home. The suitcase in this sense is nothing special, but it is important, and the thought can cross your mind, it could get lost. This could be extremely inconvenient; you may become a beggar in a strange country. A suitcase that gets lost during the return trip is bad luck, too. It probably contained valuable souvenirs linked to the voyage, whose loss is painful, for with them you wanted to keep your experiences that made your heart beat faster. The latter aspect in particular, demonstrates that suitcases can gain an utmost mythical meaning, more than a first thought of a suitcase might suggest. Moreover, a child's soul is especially attracted by a suitcase even now, as the success of the Siebenstein children's film series 'The most beautiful suitcase stories' still shows. Regarding children, the suitcase reflects the motif of a lost and retrieved treasure chest, which does not just contain magical items, but could also possibly tell tales of a magical nature, which miraculously touch the soul of a child. In this context also appears the idea that a suitcase could talk as a replacement: Already in Richard v. Volkmann-Leanders' famous Musings at French Fireplaces, not accidentally written in 1871 during the war in a strange country, a suitcase is able to speak. But under it's acerb disguise it embeds a chest in which a princess lives telling fairy-tales. The author uses her as a substitute by transferring the intrinsic authorship of his tales to her and her childlike soul that he, as a grown-up, does not fully embrace. But here also, the idea is confirmed that a child's soul preserves secrets that have to be passed on for the sake of humanity if mankind is not to vanish from the world for good. Within three tunes of the whole CD a suitcase appears overtly in a replacement position similar to this. It's turned into the sarcastic in a song that was written in Prague by Petr Ginz, who also died in Auschwitz like Ilse Weber. The interdiction for Jewish civilians under the Nazi regime regarding possession of a suitcase in which the long list of d e h u m a n i z i n g interdictions culminates substitutionally. In Little Ruth by Yehuda Amichai an ownerless suitcase disappears and reappears on an airport conveyer belt again and again, replacing the silent appearance of the beloved childhood girlfriend who was murdered in Sobibor, and in this way the author painfully remembers her. In it's most tragic way the suitcase serves as a substitute in Ilse Weber's song A Suitcase Talks, which Nizza Thobi declared as the leitmotif of her latest song collection; Here the suitcase suffers because of the loss of it's master, it also suffers as a substitute and tells what it's master has to suffer as a deported Jew in the concentration camp, but what he's apparently not able to verbalize any longer: 'Oh God, why have you abandoned me?' Replacing it's master, the suitcase also claims with childlike faith that his master may find him again, though he is blind. Ilse Weber used the suitcase as a replacement in this way again, for only in this position of a substitute child's soul the unbearable pain can be expressed - in the appeal to a child's soul within us, which never loses the courage, despite all cruelties men do to men. This is the connecting meaning of the talking suitcase, for together with her carefully chosen songs, Nizza Thobi opens a treasure chest that is full of reports of suffering and pain, but they all tell about them in a way that does not just reflect harm, but also show the great courage of their authors. And by compiling and singing such tunes passionately, Nizza Thobi is also replacing the secrets of a child's soul and reveals them in an enchanting way.
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