Vienna State Opera comes to terms with its purge of Jews 70 years ago

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A famed conductor, a lowly laundress, singers, dancers, musicians. Jews, part Jews, or married to Jews, they were all a valued part of Vienna's opera family — until the Nazis came.

First to go was ballet teacher Risa Dirtl.

She was a 14-year veteran of the Vienna State Opera. But her husband was Jewish — and so she was purged just three days after Austrians thronged a huge central square in their capital 70 years ago to accord a delirious welcome to Adolf Hitler.

"The directorate is obliged to inform you that you are relieved of your duties as ballet school teacher, effective immediately. Heil Hitler!" says Dirtl's yellowed notice note dated March 16, 1938.

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