Wolfgang Grajonca (AKA Bill Graham) and myself at the Auerbach Orphanage in Berlin, May, 1938. Photo compliments of Stephan Lewy.
Beginning in May, 2015 the exhibit about the life of Bill Graham opened at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. This will be a travelling tour for some years in the future all over the World.
Bill Graham is the legendary promoter who started so many world famous artists in the crucible of the 1960s San Francisco music pop culture.
Bill Graham was born Wolfgang Grajonza in 1931 in Berlin. I met Wolfgang at the Auerbach orphanage around 1936 or 37. We became best friends sharing, for the next few years, the hardships imposed by the German invasion of it’s surrounding countries. We were lucky enough to leave Berlin on July 3, 1939 on a Kindertransport to France. We were caught up in the German invasion of France bringing us back under the thumb of the invaders.
It was a well known secret in Jewish communities in Berlin that the Auerbach Orphanage was the most secure place for young Jewish children in the area. It also was planning to spirit some of the boys into France. Myself and many of the boys were placed by our parents in the orphanage for the sole purpose of a chance to escape the deadly scourge against us by the dreaded SS.
Wolfgang and I playing soccer at the Auerbach Orphanage around 1938. Photo compliments of Stephan Lewy.
At the invitation of the Skirball Cultural Center I gave some visual testimony about Bill’s early years as I knew them.
In this blog I want to share more detailed memories and research as footnotes (if you will) to flesh out the presentation I gave. I have chosen to refer to Bill as Wolfgang during his life in Europe. Since I have reconnected with Bill through the excellent exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center it became clear to me that Bill indeed was Wolfgang until the day he decided to become Bill Graham. I cannot imagine anyone calling him Bill at the Auerbach Kinderheim in Berlin anymore than I can imagine anyone calling him Wolfgang on the stage of the Fillmore in San Francisco. So don’t get confused while reading the biographical narrative when I talk about Wolfgang.
This blog is a work in progress and will eventually include our journey ending in New York City. Check back often.
The events presented to you in this narrative are based on my own recollections, discussions with other kids who shared portions of our journey, eyewitness accounts from two of our group who wrote about some moments shortly after they occurred and, articles that are relevant on the internet. Rather than just list facts I have tried to make this narrative palatable and interesting while retaining the true course of our years under the Nazi storm over Europe.