Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The 1955 Pigeon Protest

Revisionist Youths Demonstrate Against Berlin Symphony Concert
March 2, 1955

More than 250 members of Betar, the Revisionist youth organization, demonstrated in front of Carnegie Hall tonight in protest against the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra which held its first New York concert there this evening.

While the pickets marched in front of Carnegie Hall, other Betar members distributed leaflets asking for a boycott of the orchestra’s concerts because it was led by Herbert von Karajan and managed by Gerhardt von Westerman, both former members of the Nazi Party.

Meanwhile, the State Department, in identical telegrams yesterday to the Jewish War Veterans and to James C. Petrillo, president of the American Federation of Musicians, whose New York Local 802 had protested the orchestra’s tour of the United States, declared that both von Karajan and von Westerman had been cleared by German denazification courts and therefore had fulfilled the legal requirements necessary under the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act to enter the U. S.

From the New York Times 1989 obituary:

After the war, Mr. Karajan was forbidden by the Allies to conduct for two years, and his first concerts in the United States in 1955 aroused picketing and protests.

In fact, several Betarim had purchased tickets and during the performance released pigeons which they had hidden upon their persons which caused a disturbance.  Rumor has it that one pigeon didn't survive to be released,  



Anonymous said...

I participated outside and was beaten up by NY's finest .
Steve A

Anonymous said...

Joe Churba was inside.