H. Lewin

H. Lewin (Germany) / c. 1931

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Design: A plain, unadorned label that prominently (perhaps foolhardily, when Hitler's Nazi party was just coming into power, and making no secret of their hatred for Jews) features the Star of David. Above the spindle hole, the fonts used are a clean sans serif, which became widely used during the 1920s, while the imprinting (in Roman letters) is done in a 'Jugenstil' font (Korinna) that dates from the early years of the 20th century.

History: Label scan courtesy of music researcher and collector Bill Dean-Myatt of the U.K. Hirsch Lewin, a Lithuanian Jew, was born in Vilnius in 1892. Forcibly taken to Germany during WWI, he was put to work as a labourer in a railway locomotive factory. On being released after the war he decided to stay in Germany and in 1930 opened a Hebrew bookstore, which in November 1938 was trashed by Nazi rioters in the pogrom known as 'Kristallnacht,' or the Night of Broken Glass, his entire stock of books and records being burned in a huge bonfire in front of the store. After spending six months in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Lewin was given his release on condition that he leave the country immediately. He fled to Czechoslovakia, where he soon joined other Jews attempting to reach Palestine, but the ship carrying them sank off the coast of Italy. Lewin survived and was interned in Italy, being reunited with his whole family after the war in Palestine, where he began to produce records once again. After his death in 1958, his son carried the business forward.

The Yiddish folk-song title here, Lebka Fährt nach Amerika (Lybka Goes to America), sung by Pinkas Lavender, is about immigration to America -- a common experience for Jewish families from Eastern Europe in the 1880s and later. The song tells of Lybka, a husband and father, who forgets about his family in Europe after embarking on a new existence in America. The first and only sign of life from him is a letter in which he asks for a divorce because he wants to remarry (above information extracted from the web site of the Jewish Museum of Berlin).

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