Beda

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BEDA

BEDA (Fritz Loehner ; Fritz Loewy ; 1883–1942), Viennese journalist, satirist, and operetta librettist. Born in Wildenschwert, now Usti nad Orlici in the Czech Republic, the Loewy family changed its name to Loehner soon after moving to Vienna. There Beda, whose name is short for Bedrich, Czech for Friedrich, studied law, though already during his school days he had begun to write satirical verse, including some which ridiculed Jews who were attempting to assimilate into Austrian society. In the 1920s Beda became one of the most popular librettists in Vienna. Several of his works provoked scandals, and quotations from them became household words. The satires were published in contemporary Zionist periodicals, and subsequently collected in Getaufte und Baldgetaufte ("Baptized and Newly Baptized," 1908); and in Israeliten und andere Anti-semiten ("Israelites and Other Anti-Semites," 1909). A collection of personal lyrics is Ecce ego (1920). His best-known libretti (with co-authors) were for Franz Lehar's Land of Smiles (1929) and Paul Abraham's Ball in Savoy (1932); he also collaborated with Fritz Gruenbaum. He was active in the Zionist student organization *Kadimah, and president of the *Hakoah sports club, for whose benefit he organized the "Beda-Abende," one of the highlights of the Vienna season. In 1925 he married Helene Jellinek, with whom he had two daughters. In 1938 Beda was arrested and sent to Dachau, and subsequently deported to the *Buchenwald concentration camp. There he organized cultural activities and in a competition initiated by the camp commandant for a "camp song," Beda's entry (submitted in a "kapo's" name), the "Buchenwaldlied," was chosen as the winner and later became widely known as a reaffirmation that "whatever our fate we still say 'yes' to life." Beda's wife, her mother, and both their daughters were deported to Minsk in 1942. Beda himself died in *Auschwitz that same year.

bibliography:

A. Baar (ed.), 50 Jahre Hakoah (1959), 27, 227–8, 258–60; W. Barrel et al., Buchenwald (Ger. 1960), index; S. Czech, Schoen ist die Welt (1957), 34, 258–86, 292; mgg; G. Schwarberg, Dein ist mein ganzes Herz. Die Geschichte von Fritz Löhner-Beda (2000); B. Denscher and H. Peschina, Kein Land des Laechelns. Fritz Löhner-Beda 1883–1942 (2002).

[Lisa Silverman (2nd ed.)]

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