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1943 – 1945, Landestheater [Provincial Theatre] Linz

Franz Léhar’s “The Land of Smiles” is a box office success. The Jewish librettist of the piece, Fritz Beda-Löhner, remains uncredited. He was murdered in Auschwitz on the 4th of December 1942.

On the 12th of February 1943 Franz Lehár’s operetta “The Land of Smiles” had its opening night at the Landestheater in Linz. In a letter to its enlisted “loyal followers” the Reichsstatthalter’s [governor’s] administrative staff boasted that the production “could not have been done better in any large city” and expressed the hope that many “comrades from the front would have the opportunity to see this exceptional achievement by the Landestheater when home on leave”.

The programmes of German theatres at the time followed Nazi ideological guidelines. There was a prohibition on Jewish authors whilst others were undesirables for political reasons.

The librettist of the acclaimed work, “The Land of Smiles”, Fritz Beda-Löhner, was not mentioned in the theatre programme. He had been arrested because of his Jewish descent as early as March 1938 and deported that autumn to Buchenwald where he wrote the “Buchenwald Song” together with Hermann Leopoldi. Fritz Beda-Löhner was murdered in 1942 in Auschwitz. His wife and their two daughters were murdered in Maly Trostinec.