Lisa Jura was born on April 21, 1924 in Vienna, Austria to Abraham and Malka Jura. Lisa and her two sisters, Rosie and Sonia, enjoyed a happy childhood enriched by their parents’ Jewish faith and love of music. From a young age, Lisa showed natural talent for playing the piano and dreamt of becoming a concert pianist.
In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria and the implementation of antisemitic and discriminatory legislation quickly followed. In November, Lisa’s piano lessons were halted by new ordinances that forbade Austrian-Jewish students from being taught by non-Jews. A few months later, during the violence of Kristallnacht, Jewish-owned businesses were damaged, synagogues were burned, and Jews, including Lisa’s father, were beaten openly in the street.
Desperate to save his children, Abraham secured a single ticket on the Kindertransport, a program to evacuate Jewish children from Nazi Europe to safety in the U.K. In August 1939, twelve-year-old Lisa boarded a train and said goodbye to her parents, not knowing that she would never see them again. Malka’s last words to her were “promise me that you will hold on to your music.”
In the U.K., Lisa was placed into a boarding house on Willesden Lane with 31 other Jewish child refugees. Mrs. Cohen, the matron of the home, and the children of Willesden Lane formed their own family and adapted to life as best they could. Lisa continued playing the piano, and often played during air raids to muffle the noise of the bombs and bring joy to the frightened children. Lisa’s younger sister Sonia secured a spot on the last Kindertransport from Vienna and was taken in by Quakers in the English countryside.
In March 1942, Lisa was accepted into the London Royal Academy of Music, the same year that troubling rumors began to circulate regarding the fate of European Jews. After the war, Lisa learned that her parents were murdered in Auschwitz, but her older sister Rosie had miraculously survived. The sisters were reunited in the U.K.
Lisa went on to become a professional pianist. In 1949, she married resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor Michel Golabek and the pair immigrated to the U.S. The couple had two daughters, Mona and Renee, who continued their mother’s legacy, becoming concert pianists and fulfilling Malka’s wish that they hold on to their music.
Through the generous support of Lisa’s daughter Mona Golabek, Holocaust Museum LA is proud to exhibit the Lisa Jura Collection. Mona, an internationally renowned concert pianist and the founder of the Hold On To Your Music Foundation, travels the world sharing her mother’s story.
To learn more visit Hold On To Your Music Foundation