The Story behind the Tuschinski Cinema

Abram Icek Tuschinski intended to go to America when he fled the Polish pogroms (organized massacres of Jewish people). But fate detained him en route in Rotterdam, and he caught the bug of the movies. It was the latest craze, but he must have felt it would last. He somehow developed four cinema businesses, as well as a hotel for immigrants. One site says that he felt that everyone had a right to relaxation.

Abram Tuschinski 1886-1942

In 1917, Tuschinski and other family members moved to Amsterdam, probably sensing greener pastures to build their enterprise. His two brothers-in-law joined in the business. They chose a cheap part of the inner city, the so-called Devil’s End, to build a real palace for the cinema. Many quarrels with various architects and decorators produced the variety of styles in the final building, but it opened with great fanfare in 1921.  Unfortunately, even before the Nazi invasion, the business fell into German hands in the late 1930s because of financial problems, and Tuschinski was bankrupt by 1940. Under the Nazis, the recognizably Jewish name Tuschinski Cinema was changed to Tivoli Cinema, and pro-Nazi propaganda films were shown there.

Abram Icek Tuschinski and most of his family members were deported to the Westerbork Transit Camp in July 1942. He was murdered at Auschwitz on September 17, 1942. A plaque in his memory hangs in the foyer.  The photograph above comes from the Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands.  Click on it when you have real time to explore it.

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