Photo Fred Ernst

New artwork as an ode to Abraham Tuschinski

On September 5, Rotterdam will receive a memorial for Abraham Tuschinski. The cinema magnate opened his first cinema in Rotterdam in 1911 and in the years that followed he played an important role in the city's cultural life. Ode to Tuschinski – Ode to the city is an initiative of visual artist Anne-Mercedes Langhorst and was created in collaboration with visual artist Han Goan Lim. The artwork, which was executed by the Zuliani company, will be placed on the square of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, which borders the new Little C district.

The Jewish-Polish Abraham Tuschinski (1886, Brzeziny, Poland – 1942, Auschwitz, Poland) was an important figure in pre-war Rotterdam. Although, as an Eastern European emigrant, he initially planned to leave for the United States via Rotterdam, he started working as a vest maker in the port city. In 1911 he opened the first of his four cinemas: Thalia. Two years later he took over Cinema Royal from Jean Desmet, followed by Scala and Olympia. In 1921 he opened the world famous Theater Tuschinski in Amsterdam. In 1923, a Rotterdam cinema was added, the Grand Theater on Pompenburgsingel. During the bombing on May 14, 1940, he lost his cinemas in Rotterdam. On 1 July 1942 he and his wife Mariem Ehrlich were arrested and taken to Westerbork, after which he was deported to Auschwitz and murdered by the Nazis that same year.

Still from 'The Greatest of the Greatest – The Life of Abraham Tuschinski' by Ger Poppelaars

The artwork is based on the interior of the Grand Theater and is shaped like a stage. This makes the work not only a memorial, but also an invitation to use as a place for creativity and inspiration. On the edge of the stage is the text 'Nothing is impossible!' applied, Tuschinski's life motto with which he urged to keep dreaming big. The text also carries awareness about the Second World War; that what was not thought possible happened. In the context of the present, recent history can be a commemoration of World War II. Ode to Tuschinski – Ode to the city is placed near the new housing estate Little C, a number of streets of which are named after Jewish film entrepreneurs, and close to the Rochussenstraat, where many traces of his life can be found.

Ode to Tuschinski – Ode to the city came about thanks to a private initiative by visual artist Anne-Mercedes Langhorst, which is supported by the Tuschinski Rotterdam Foundation. Langhorst found it incomprehensible that virtually nothing in Rotterdam still reminded of Abraham Tuschinski and decided to design a work of art for him. Her sketches and preliminary research were developed into a memorial based on a collaboration with visual artist Han Goan Lim. BKOR, program of CBK Rotterdam, acted as an advisor and contributes financially to the artists' fees.

Tuschinski Festival

The Tuschinski Festival will take place from Wednesday 6 to Sunday 10 September in Little C, Coolhaven and the Tuschinski Park. The program includes walks, live music, lectures and exhibitions; all activities are free of charge. More information:

Photos Fred Ernst

Publication date: 30 / 08 / 2023