European operetta repertoire
with Nadya Neroslavska.
Jonas Turkow writes:
"During the First World War,
in the year 1915, when the Germans had, after taking
Warsaw, not permitted any Yiddish theatre, Berman had,
together with the comic Shayele Rotshteyn and Fiszelewicz,
founded a vaudeville theatre in a dance hall on Twarda
Street Number 7 in Warsaw, where they played and sang in
the Polish language, which Adolf Berman had well
dominated. When Poland became independent and Yosef
Pilsudski returned from the German Magdeburg fortress
and triumphantly entered Warsaw, Adolf Berman utilized
the appropriate moment, ran to Prilutski and handed him
a written request with the words: 'Save me.' In the
request Adolf Berman invited Prilutski to enable him to
play Yiddish theatre. In around a few days Adolf Berman
received the first concession to play Yiddish theatre in
Poland. This case was then called a great sight (?).
Adolf Berman had, together
with his brother-in-law, the known singer Gustav
Shvartsbard, organized an 'itinerant troupe.' ... The
troupe traveled across the entire Polish province
year-round, and for a long time staying on the eastern
border areas of the Polish kingdom in the Berman-Shvartsbard
troupe, having put their first steps ahead of young
actors who Adolf Berman had come very close."
Jonas Turkow also recalls
that B. is, just like his older brother Herman, who was
a great jokester and used to love to play various
pranks, especially those that used to come behind the
curtain to close 'friendships' with actresses. Turkow
details in his book, "Extinguished Stars," some of the
pranks and episodes. he also explains curious episodes
about B.'s strong appetite for eating.
After the First World War B.
for a certain time played with Ester Rokhl Kaminska,
then in a revue theatre "Sambatyon," and toured with a
troupe for which he was the initiator. Here he also
directed under the name "Yiddish Blood," Lermontov's
tragedy, "Di shpanier' (translation of Nathan
B. also participated in the
films "Di farshtoysene tokhter," "Der vilder foter (The
Harsh Father)," by Z. Libin, and "Tkies khaf (The Vow)"
by Yehiel (Henryk) Bojm.
Remaining in Warsaw, B.
became older, later taking on small roles in various
Jonas Turkow, in his book,
"Extinguished Stars," characterizes him this way:
"Adolf Berman possessed all
the virtues that an actor should have: great stage
abilities, a beautiful appearance, tall, well-built, and
a good diction. Thereby he had a beautiful bass voice.
Berman played all the hero roles. ... He was very
beloved by the public. He specially excelled in the
European operettas, thanks to his imposing figure and
intelligent attitude. For a certain time he even played
in Polish theatre.
When Adolf Berman played in
Warsaw, one could always see him walking across the
streets with the role in hand and speaking the phrase in
his voice. He did not cease to study a well-known role,
whether at home or in the street. He had a rare
relationship to his work in theatre: He was always the
first to the rehearsals, always knowing his role from
the outside, and always created something new. It was a
big surprise to everyone, when Adolf Berman appeared in
the role of 'Litvak' in the operetta 'Di amerikanerin,'
with Clara Young (Warsaw, 1913). With that role he
created a great name [for himself]. True Litvaks who
were in the theatre said that he is a better 'Litvak'
than them ... "
But he was not only good in
comic roles. He was, in his period of splendor, one of
the best 'rezionorn" of the Yiddish stage in Poland. He
was a splendid 'father' role player, and one of the best
'intelligent' role players, Contrary to the 'private'
Adolf Berman -- the good-natured, always smiling, lovely
human being and friend, he always went his own way and
never fought with his fellow actors."
And about his last years and
tragic end, Jonas Turkow writes:
"At the outbreak of the
(Second) World War, Adolf Berman was found in Warsaw.
When almost everyone ran east, they were asked why he
was not leaving. Berman smiled and answered, 'In my
years I will not go far, and, moreover, what can the
German men do to me? I'll tell them a joke in good
German, they'll break up and leave me' ...
However, he made a mistake.
The Germans very often treated him with a blow before he
appeared to open his mouth. When he entered the artists'
kitchen (in the ghetto), after 'soup,' which the leader
of the kitchen, the actress Leah Levebrovski had
presented him, indeed, in a doubled variety, and he
finally got as much as he wanted (there wasn't more soup
by noon), they simply did not recognize him. 'Whom do
you play now, Arele,What made you think so?' -- The
Levebroski asked him with a smile. This time there
wasn't any smile from his side. The Germans had beaten
Berman so murderously, that he was barely alive in the
artists' kitchen on the second floor, holding on to the
swollen eye, that the Germans had not chopped his hair
off. He leaned down on one leg and looked at it with
laughter: "Well, how did the grim, what the
Krauts did to me ?!" -- he joked. But on the eve of the
fall, Berman did not come into the kitchen for the soup
(His wife, a little earlier, became paralyzed, and died
soon after.) The soup was sent home to him because he
was lying ill in bed. The love value of the artist
kitchen, Levebrovski, every one had their heads. Berman
no longer rose from bed. Sick for a period of time, our
darling, the lifelong lover Adolf Berman, died in the
ghetto, a 'natural' death."