Winter Journey: A Story of Music and Resilience in Nazi Germany

Winter Journey, the 90-minute film brought to viewers by author, classical music radio personality, and long-time WETA contributor Martin Goldsmith, airs on WETA PBS on Sunday, September 18 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 25 at 9:30 a.m., with additional airings on WETA Metro on Saturday, September 17 at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 18 at 6:30 p.m.

The film recounts the story of Martin Goldsmith’s parents and their experience as young musicians in Nazi Germany, told through a series of flashbacks and present-day reenactments of conversations between Martin Goldsmith and his father. Over the course of the film, the two confront the previously untold past, leading the viewer on a journey from Nazi Germany to the Goldsmiths’ life in the United States.

About the Film

Martin Goldsmith spent most of his life not knowing what his parents had experienced in Nazi Germany. The Goldsmiths escaped Nazi Germany in 1941, heading towards a new life in the United States — and leaving the turbulent past behind.  

Winter Journey details the incredible true story of George Goldsmith, formerly Guenther Ludwig Goldschmidt, and his wife, Rosemarie Gumpert. The pair met as young musicians in the Judische Kulturbund, or the Jewish Cultural Association, a talented company of Jewish musicians, actors, and dancers. The Kulturbund was also an instrument of propaganda maintained by the Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels. With a combination of real archival footage, recreations of George and Rosemarie’s young lives in the Judische Kulturbund, and reenactments of conversations between Martin Goldsmith and his father, this film presents a personalized, remarkable account of love and survival in the midst of unspeakable tribulation.

In the present, Martin Goldsmith sits down with his father, George, at their home in Tucson, Arizona to discuss the years before 1941. Those years were held silently in the memory of the elder Goldsmith, but now, with pressure from Martin, they are slowly revealed. Throughout the conversation, the viewer is transported back to 1930s Germany through George’s spectacular storytelling, allowing the viewer to visualize this complex era and bear witness to his tumultuous journey.

“My parents were extraordinarily lucky — in many ways their membership in the Kulturbund saved their lives. Growing up, there was always an immense presence of what they tried to leave behind in Germany but couldn’t completely,” said Martin Goldsmith. “It’s an honor to tell their story, which is both deeply personal and also speaks to the broader experiences of Jews who immigrated to the U.S. during World War II.

Winter Journey was the very last film in the storied career of the great Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, best known for his roles as Damiel the Angel in Wings of Desire and Adolf Hitler in Downfall.  His performance in Winter Journey was called "exhilarating," "sublime," and "a fitting epilogue to the actor's distinguished career" by critics in Europe and the U.S.

About the Author

Martin Goldsmith, known to many American radio listeners as the long-time host of NPR’s “Performance Today,” as well as for his time on Sirius XM Satellite Radio introducing classical music, is the author of the acclaimed book The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany, which served as the inspiration for Winter Journey.

Martin is the author of two other books: Alex's Wake, the story of his pursuit of his doomed grandfather and uncle, who were two of the more than 900 Jewish refugees on board the infamous SS St. Louis; and The Beatles Come to America.  He also wrote and narrated six Composer Portraits with conductor Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center.