A year before Kristallnacht, the well-known Jewish theater sent a telegram to Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, requesting permission to perform in Berlin. The telegram was revealed ahead of next week’s Habima Theater centennial exhibit.

Habima Theater

Habima Theater Photo Credit: Miriam Alster, Flash 90

A rare telegram from 1937, which was discovered by the Israeli Center for Documentation of the Performing Arts, has revealed that the Habima Theater contacted the Nazi propaganda minister. About a year before Kristallnacht and two years before the beginning of the Second World War, the Habima Theater directors sent Joseph Goebbels the telegram in which they requested to perform in Germany. The news about the telegram was revealed ahead of next week’s exhibit marking the centennial of the Habima Theater at Tel Aviv University. 

The telegram was sent after Goebbels wrote an article in a German newspaper a decade before the Nazi regime came to power, praising the Hebrew theater. “Dear Minister Goebbels,” the Habima Theater telegram read, “the Hebrew national theater Habima from Palestine will travel in October to the national fair in Paris and is requesting permission to stay at the Culture Society in Berlin for two weeks from November 3.”

Goebbels approved the Habima Theater’s request, granting the Jewish actors permission to perform in Germany. Hanna Rovina, Aharon Meskin and Shimon Finkel were among the actors who were already on the train to Berlin when they were informed that Hermann Göring, another senior Nazi officer, had canceled their performance at the last minute. The actors did not get off the train at the Berlin stop and continued to a different destination.