On the morning of 21 March 1933, the composer Kurt Weill received a telephone call at the home of his stage designer Casper Neher, whom he was visiting with his wife, the actor-singer Lotte Lenya. A friend working at a local police station notified him that the SS were on their way to apprehend him at his apartment, charging him with “Jewish cultural bolshevism” and of being a “degenerate artist.”
Quickly, Weill gathered what he could into a small suitcase from his apartment before joining Lenya in Neher’s car, where together with Neher’s wife Erika they quickly made their escape towards the French border. On arriving, Lenya departed by train to Vienna, as she and Weill were in the middle of divorce proceedings (finalized on 18 September). Weill and the Nehers arrived in Paris safely on 23 March. It would become his home for the next two years, where he would compose some of his most memorable works.