Clara "Claire" Volbach

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Clara "Claire" Volbach (Neufeld)

Birthdate: (98)
Birthplace: Wien, IKG Geburtenbuch 2529
Death: December 15, 1993 (98)
Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ludwig Neufeld and Rosa Neufeld
Wife of Dr. Walter / Walther Volbach
Sister of Friedrich "Fritz" Neufeld; Otto Neufeld; Wilhelm Neufeld; Ada "Adele" Neufeld; Felix Neufeld and 1 other

Managed by: Debra Lavender
Last Updated:

About Clara "Claire" Volbach

Birth in 1895 per genteam.at: 1895, #2529 Wien Neufeld, Clara [to] Ludwig/

Married Walther Volbach; no children.

In an interview published in Massachusetts Review (Spring 1983; accessible via JStor if you have a university affiliation), Clara Volbach described her family:

"I was born in Vienna in 1895. My father was a business man who traveled a lot Both sides of my family were non-practicing, assimilated Jews. My mother {Rosa Neufeld geb. Stricker} was from a well-to-do family, manufacturers. They owned a leather factory. She was one of twelve children. Her brothers were educated for the professions. My mother was the oldest of three girls in the family and was married off at the age of nineteen to provide an opportunity of a suitor for the younger ones.

My mother greatly resented the fact that girls were not supposed to sit down and read; so she sometimes locked herself in the bathroom with one of her brother's books (he was a medical student). I am sure that her own experiences made her determined to have all her children well educated. With seven of them -- four boys, then an interval of seven years followed by my three-years-older sister, me, and my brother -- this was not an easy task. As it happens sometimes in large families, there were two sets of children. The three younger ones were close. All of us learned to play the piano, and my little brother played the violin. To be Viennese is to be musical.

I went to a private school . . . From time to time the Burgtheater offered the upperclass students tickets on the balcony for a nominal price. Whenever I could, I grabbed one. Also my family had a season ticket for the opera . . . We went to the theatre, the opera, or concerts, all the time. It was a Viennese habit. Vienna was a city of theatre and music.

When the war broke out in the Fall of 1914, the easy-going life in Vienna gradually changed -- especially for us teenagers. We girls had been trained to become housewives. We suddenly realized that we had better prepare to make a living, to become independent, though brought up to be at home.

My sister had no trouble. She was musical, very gifted at the piano, and soon became a successful piano teacher. She also took up voice lessons, and proved very gifted once again . . . the voice teacher had a sister who was an actress. She suggested that some of us, who seemed to her talented, take dramatic lessons."

Eventually Clara Neufeld went to study drama in Berlin, and there followed a successful career on the stage in Germany. In 1922 the company she was with in Berlin -- Schiller Theater -- went bankrupt, and Clara returned to Vienna to continue her career.

"In 1923-24 I was acting at the Municipal Theater of Bamberg, and there I met Walther Volbach. I was Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Walther was to play Oberon. He was an opera director, only substituting for an ailing actor. Then he himself fell ill at dress rehearsal! I played there that season and married Walther on December 27, 1924. I was ready to marry and have never regretted it. . . . In the Fall of 1925 we went to Switzerland, where Walther was the leading stage director at the Zurich Opera House. From Zurich we moved to Danzig, then a free city between Poland and Germany. . . . Then Hitler caught up with us [1933] and we determined to leave Germany.

I had always known insecurity, financial insecurity. Little Austria lost World War I. So did Germany, but it was a bigger country, and there I was happier. But Hitler came, and everything went wrong. . . . We were in Vienna from 1933 to 1936, when Walther went to England to improve his English. [Emigrated to America in 1937]."

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Clara "Claire" Volbach's Timeline

1895
October 10, 1895
Wien, IKG Geburtenbuch 2529
1993
December 15, 1993
Age 98
Amherst, Massachusetts, United States