This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me,” the announcer quotes in the introduction, referring to the title of the program—the Golden Door. He introduces the cast: Edith Atwater and Harold Huber star in this docudrama, which is written by Milton Robinson. Atwater plays Charlotte Winters, a caseworker for the United Service for New Americans, and Huber is Carl Shartok, a Jewish orchestra conductor who came to America after five years in a concentration camp.
Charlotte Winters begin with a short monolog on her role as a social worker, which means that she must “help to create order where there is disorder, to establish assurance where there is dread, and to aid in adjustment where there is loss.” She says that, in the interest of good radio, she will stray outside the bounds of objectivity to give “the type of comment that rarely slips into a case report.”
The play begins with Charlotte’s narration of Carl Shartok’s case, occasionally interrupted by recreations of their therapy sessions. She describes him, “I felt Carl’s unhappiness when he sat down. There was a heaviness in the way he moved. A sullen shadow that rested over his eyes. He was a tall man. Well built, with blond hair. His fingers as restless as little animals.“
Charlotte tells the listener that the United Service Office found Carl housing, but he was eventually removed from his furnished room because he broke the landlady’s radio in a fit of rage. She was playing “The Blue Danube,” and it bothered him.
Charlotte cannot figure out what exactly about the piece enrages Carl. Finally, she asks her supervisor for permission to talk to him outside of an office context. They go to a restaurant, when she arranges for violinists to play the song. Carl runs from the place, and Charlotte demands an explanation.
He tells his story, and we flash back to his time at the camp. A German asks him to start an orchestra. At first, he is excited, but during their first concert, he realizes that their music is being used to cover the sounds of the dying as they are killed.
He eventually refuses to conduct, but recordings of their concerts are piped through the camp all the same.
Carl is convinced that his fellow survivors blame him for his role in the camp.
“Carl,” Charlotte says, “You’ve got to understand that there was never any fault in what you did. You’ve put yourself in a completely false position. Assuming guilt that’s not yours. It must be obvious that you had nothing to do with their deaths.”
Carl does not believe her, though, so she organizes a party for him. His fellow survivors play the Blue Danube in order to prove to him that they do not blame him. He is rehabilitated.
The play ends, and Edwin Rosenberg, president of the United Service for New Americans, cuts in. He explains the material help that the organization provides for Jewish refugees—meeting them at the boat, economic assistance, job training, housing, and education.
But Carl, he says, is “the living evidence of the tremendous task of human restoration for which the United Jewish Appeal must raise 170 million dollars in 1947.” The psychological restoration, he argues, is perhaps the most critical component in the process.
“Happily, we know that the task can be successfully accomplished. That the newcomers, properly assisted, can overcome their psychological as well as their material difficulties and can adjust speedily and thoroughly to American life. The splendid record of refugees who have come in the past is the best evidence of this.”
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 2301
Municipal archives id: LT934
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
I am a welfare worker my life is surrounded on all sides by the facts of life others live I particular job to delve into these facts and help to achieve order where there is disorder to establish surety where there is dread and to aid in an adjustment where there is love this is my last case history. W N Y C cooperation with the United Service for new Americans presents case history. Center of the US the homeless tempest tossed to me I lift my lamp beside the golden door. Tonight story written by Mildred Robertson and directed by radio Vine is the sixth program in the Golden Door series which tell of the making of new Americans of all races and creeds it is that water star of deeper the roots and many other top stage shows is heard in the role of the welfare worker the role of the refugee will be portrayed by Harold Huber star of screen and radio's virtual Quattro or in the supporting roles will be Tom Adams and Jane Harman. One of the cardinal principles of a social worker is to remain objective that is to remain outside the emotional conflicts that are bound to arise with in any case when I undertook to work for the United Service I of course understood this well but now in the telling I allow myself the privilege of making comment the type of comment that rarely slips into a case report. Comment quite absent I began to work with college shop that is six years old born Vienna lived and worked. Occupation pianist and conductor history five years in Belsen concentration camp Go on Mr shoptalk this is your case history once in the concentration camp but I was allowed to conduct an orchestra now I no longer play I was liberated from that sent to a displaced persons camp and now I am here in America. When I first met it was at the United Service office in New York he was staying at a temporary shelter maintained by the service for incoming refugees awaiting community placement throughout the country I was sitting in my office when he came in for his appointment with me. I am sure I felt calls on happiness as he sat down there was a heaven it's in the way he moved a sullen shadow that rested over a guy he was a tall man well built with curly blond hair his fingers at rest this is little animals never stop drumming on the desk as we talked I have an appointment with you yes Mr Chalk Talk My name is Miss Winter Charlotte winter. How do you like your stay here it's fine Have you thought at all about what you'd like to do I would like to work I understand you're a fine pianist and conductor I was no longer. Naturally I I know you've been away from music but with a little while I'm no longer a musician now or ever so sorry I don't understand it is very simple I no longer play your conduct the one through I am no longer interested. I'm sorry I made you angry. What what work what you be interested in a work at doesn't bother any work I see have you had any training that is other than music no but I am strong I can do anything well suppose you let me look into the matter it may take a little time but I'm sure we'll be able to find something you want to do please I must have work I must prep hard work of course Carl as soon as possible we'll do our very best. That was my first talk was called a bitter little talk our following talks went much better and no matter how carefully I tried I I couldn't penetrate the barrier he directed between himself and music I discussed the matter with my supervisor we agreed that he should have worked as soon as possible preferably in the vicinity because we felt that he'd be in need of further observation our employment department found work for him in a little handbag factory his employer was a gentleman understanding men the agency found him a comfortably furnished room we awaited the future and the future soon entered my office honest I didn't know what to do I was sitting in my room calm like and the way you do at night just resting reading a little of course and what happened I thought it would be nice to have a little music so I turned the radio on Yes Go on please Zagat some very nice music on. And being as I'm a little hard of hearing I tuned up. The music you name I'm just settling back to enjoy it. Yeah I hear you come in. Here Well you tell the door off the hinges musical gracious I just don't think that in the musical that's all I certainly wouldn't you know how dare you come storming into my room like this telling me what to do I let you know. But don't you try to get by do you know. What we'll see who he thinks he is busting in and out of here like a maniac and turning off. Your body didn't have any right. To damage you like you. Really Miss winters I was afraid of my life but he just rushed out and well I locked the door of the house to make sure he couldn't get back yet and I just won't have him in my house anymore I'm sorry this had to happen we'll take care of the radio of course and please make sure he doesn't come back I run a respectable boarding house and knocked us and. Talking back to see me the next day the shadows with the result and the pain about him was almost palpable. I just couldn't help myself it was unfortunate but I think it will straighten out I'm sorry I cause so much trouble or where we'll find you a new place to live. I'm afraid the landlady in the old place is very much upset about the way you acted I know it was wrong call. You mind telling me why you did it for. I couldn't help myself I know many times one gets out of sorts irritated but card you know you can't go around smashing people's radios that's because. Because you don't like their musical taste I know I know and why I don't understand the music I just couldn't stand the moment I heard it so I went mad I can hear it now mixing so then I want to tell it as though the music was something I could touch I want to tear and rip the music and I know if I don't stop it I must tell myself if I don't stop it I'm a long time I can tell. That music what it's something you know it was the Blue Danube that's a very pretty wall. The end in the spring that the little coffee shop on the corner and the students laughing in the sense it was yesterday full of romance and light. Is that how you would describe it not quite that can you imagine it to be murder stark horrible murder can you imagine the violence like sharp whips cutting away at the naked flesh can you imagine the woodwinds shrieks the shrieks of agony again you hear the bass the drums like Hearts running away in an agony of thought your ten year old know why should you for you it is a pretty watch for me it is the end of the world call went to another furnished room went back to his job and there were no longer repetitions of his outbreak he seemed to be adjusting to his work with surroundings and when my supervisor disgusted progress with me I I couldn't tell him anything positive sure to tell me more about Carl shock when you seen his help and I hope to go back to his music but he hasn't shown any sign of interest even refuses to discuss the matter at our interview and I'm getting quite concerned about him. You've got to find out what's at the root of his job and I think if if I change the atmosphere a little got him away from the office I might be able to make more headway I was going to ring the possibility of a psychiatrist I've considered that same possibility but I have one last experiment in mind it might seem a little old fashioned but I feel it might be valuable May I try it by all means Charlotte but please keep me in touch with all developments. I invited call to have dinner with me to Hungary and restaurant at the end of the dinner the little orchestra played the Blue Danube I was able to observe how the music struck me as if it were to turn pale as a proceed and for a moment I was afraid I think then he stood up and raced and I hurried after him and caught up with him in the middle of the street. Is listening to music so bad you don't understand how I know I don't I want to help you if you let me if you just help I can't tell you anybody if I did you couldn't help let's sit down here on the bench away all right but you couldn't help their car if you said that the music meant no did to you what did you mean that course it means something it means something important you wouldn't smash the radio or on that the restaurant the way you did it must've meant something different for you you'll know me for what I am something of something so terrible you would be ashamed to sit here with me I know it must be something terrible for you but no matter what it is called I won't judge. I just want to understand you in this and will that will it keep that hurt of the music out of my you will it keep the other sounds out of my you become at night when I lie down to music and the other sounds and then I think that I must go crazy. Yes car did you kill you and then you will hate me as I hate myself then you will understand they came to me in the concentration camp I understand you're not a well known musician yet. But you look so I'm like a Jew and you are so talented maybe I am a Jew So we will discuss this racial question some other time perhaps a little scientific investigation but in the meantime we will talk music I would like music here Joe I would like there to be music in the camp for you. So I think excited about music good and you will be interested in my plan I have decided that you will organize an orchestra from amongst the present there are seven hundred of you should be enough for an orchestra is this another clever thought your thoughts are on the contrary it is to alleviate your thoughts here. And that's a fine one you will leave your top chair. Better conductor always ready for our first performance will be ready in a few moments the men are tuning know and the men are pleased with their new job for this music making I'm happy to be playing time to see what a splendid campfire one what I can put a lot of Jews to form their own orchestra not a single one at all Germany. And my concert master who looks so are young but I am a Jew yet you know that you will it is only fitting that you should leave the office that you have a selection of ordered my favorite music I have and then I think we've had enough of this tuning business and I get the signal will begin signal I would blow upon this system and you will begin playing do you understand and. That would mean the hands that wrecked the drum. Was like fifteen and then the dream turned into the heart of. The first I wasn't. I thought some of that played along and listened again. With. Some of. The. Music that. Play each of us knew that with every note from every note. Another one of our comrades was being. One day. If used to play better that they killed us understand that. Right. And you think that they will be no music. But we are a little smarter than you we have just finished constructing a sound system as a matter of fact you know about to test it out this morning and to be interested in the choice of music. And now. For your comrades benefit. When. You see my leg day after day it's one of those very many minutes late I have. Let you. Know it's all over your FREE. And free but never will I be free enough I helped to kill them I played the accompaniment for their battle for their heart about. The music keeps following me everywhere I go it keeps following me I walk along this. Moves into that song at night as I lie awake the well and I'm back again with a bit down in my hand in the music to my ears like a ghost and that's. This. You got to understand that there was never any fault attached to what you did you're putting yourself in a completely false position assuming it's not. Obvious that you had nothing to do with it was my music making you know they would have killed you they used the music of the. Don't you understand. But they wanted you to feel guilty they wanted you to and your guilt is their victory do you hear their victory right the thing that I have tried so many times but when I am with the others afraid to look them in the eye I feel the shame of what I have done I must look away and I cannot play music because then that song comes always that same song and I understand let's not talk about it anymore and let's go it's getting late. Now I knew to see the horrible call of caring about the one thing that what they had cracked down to the harbor itself in torture that it outbreak had been limited to one radio round then suddenly and I was determined in some way we should enable call to remove the kid from his head to rape if this in fantasy that had been forced into the way they injected men with the virus called I worked on a plan it was a difficult plan that took a great deal of time and energy and much cooperation but at last I was able to put it into words it was a simple note on called case history received this invitation to come to the show that night and I laid no crowd just in time the others there at fairs waiting at the come you'll see. Color chart chart it's good to see you when the tour guide I I have been here for several months not. Here cause. You're looking fine sulfide I don't understand why we are here it's a meeting of friends you are so strange over there never talk to anybody we couldn't understand but knowledge here in America things must be different now you look better like a new man and and your I mean none of us is angry of course we are angry at you on top of getting in touch with us before this we went through so much together in the concentration camp it isn't right that we should lose touch come I want you to meet some friends they've heard so much about just how talented you are and how you used to play and conduct in Berlin and Vienna you must meet these friends they admire your very much but you don't understand I am not all there waiting for you but this is the time when I come out here to show you. The platform is yours lead car ready for I don't understand I don't understand please leave because we're waiting for. I don't know if. I want to talk forgetting that a social worker must. Keep music well you've got. To. Get a. Good trend. In the orchestra for some of the. Concentration. And the good play. They were mine and then. As if we were moving in slow motion. And you moved in. A new music. What you. Call it well now I don't matter a fact is preparing for a constitution every so often I go to here and practice a little infrequently these days I have a job to do a job. We call them case but actually at that a name for them is New American. And I will bring you a message from the man whose leadership is largely responsible for writing a happy ending to the thousands of cases trees of new America Edwin Rosenberg president of the United Service for a new America just a rose for finding office a musician with the talents and can give joy to thousands yet that's still is going to waste because the man the psychologically crippled by his experiences at the hands of the Nazi Please do not think for one moment that our story today was fiction it is almost a literal report typifying many cases that we see every day at United save us for new Americans only the names and some of the details have been changed it is a highly educational experience to meet a group of concentration camp survivors just arriving in the United States. You see there the living evidence of the tremendous task of human restoration for which the United Jewish Appeal must raise one hundred and seventy million dollars in one thousand and forty seven it isn't just the physical scars and the tattooed concentration camps numbers though they are very much in evidence it isn't only the fact that they have all their way early good in a few bad suitcases all ragged bundles it is what you see in their eyes and in their whole bearing these people come to our shores eager for freedom and for an opportunity to build their lives a new in the traditional American way as a principal agency assisting the adjustment of newcomers to America united save us naturally must provide a great variety of David says we meet them at the boats we give them temporary shelter and maintenance for the for a few days after they arrive we direct them to communities throughout the country where they will find a neighborly welcome useful jobs and a place in American life we offer vocational guidance and training for employment and trades in industry where this country needs additional manpower we supply economic assistance where necessary to tides a new comer over until he is self-supporting in other ways we provide all the material things that are required to speed the progress of immigrants into American life and to forestall any need for public assistance to them but there is a far more delicate task which cannot be measured in terms of food clothing shelter or other material things so many newcomers like Karl in our story today are haunted by tragic memories for years they have been deprived of freedom so one of our biggest and most delicate task at United save its. It's to help these people live down the path to regain their sense of security and their confidence in themselves once a refugee has done that he has won more than half his battle for adjustment as a new American for that place the United States has a staff of skills caseworkers who give individual counsel and guidance to people with problems like those of Col Chalk Talk after early we know that the task can be successfully accomplished that the newcomers properly assisted can overcome their psychological as well as a material difficulty and can adjust legally and thoroughly to American life this splendid record of achievement by the refugees who have come in the past is the best evidence of this the late President Roosevelt once told us that the program of this agency was setting a pattern for the constructive adoption of immigrants in American life with the continued support of vast numbers of Americans through their contributions to the United do we should feel the weight will go on for all who may find haven in our country in the future it is the one best assurance that the United States will be able to continue to live up to its great for this bit of asylum for the oppressed of all nations and all faiths Thank you Mr Rosenberg case history was written by Milton Robertson radio director of United Huish appeal and directed by rail advisor you just add water was heard as the welfare worker Harold Huber as the refugee others in the cast were Tom Adams and Jane Harmon sound by Ray However in music by artist Golden Door series is presented by United Service for new Americans whose work is supported by the one hundred seventy million dollar campaign of the United Jewish Appeal. Won't you please send us a postcard and let us know how you like the show also for a copy of today's script right to Department of Public Information United Service for new Americans fifteen Park Row New York seven New York I repeat United Service for new Americans fifteen Park Row New York seven New York this is the municipal Broadcasting System.