Richard Fuchs

Karlsruhe, 1887–1947, Wellington, New Zealand

Fuchs was trained both as an architect and as a musician in his hometown of Karlsruhe. Although he was very successful as an architect, only a few buildings have survived; his synagogue in Gernsbach was destroyed during the “Kristallnacht” pogroms in November 1938. Following Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor, Fuchs was no longer allowed to work as an architect. Through his commitment to the Jüdischer Kulturbund (Jewish Cultural Association) as a composer, however, he was able to realize his idea of “German music,” regardless of the premise given by those in power as to what had to be “German” and “pure.” His large-scale oratorio “Vom jüdischen Schicksal,” based on a text by Karl Wolfskehl, attempted the dialectic of symbiotically combining a genuinely Jewish text with genuinely German music; the Nazis would never allow its performance. Fuchs was released from Dachau concentration camp after receiving his visa for New Zealand in late 1938. Arriving in Wellington at the outbreak of war, he was interned as an “enemy alien” — after persecution as a Jew in Germany, he was now being persecuted as a German in New Zealand. Following the release, he would try and come to terms with his new homeland, composing further works inspired by the local landscape.

Further links:

Richard Fuchs Archive Trust

Michael Haas: “Jewish Destiny” and the defiance of Richard Fuchs