In Rotterdam-West, a new park will be built on the water. The green space will be called Tuschinski Park, named after the famous cinema entrepreneur Abraham Tuschinski.
The new Tuschinski Park will have an area of 12,000 square meters and will be located in Coolhaven, near the new residential district Little C. It is the link between the Heemraadsingel, the Museum Park and the Het Park. In addition to a park, there is also a street named after Tuschinski and two other Jewish film entrepreneurs: Karl Weisbard and Samuel Soesman.
Who was he and why does a Rotterdam park get its name? Tuschinski, isn’t that an Amsterdammer? A lot of people think so, but wrongly. Abraham Tuschinski was born in 1886 in present-day Poland. In 1904, actually on his way to the United States, he found himself in Rotterdam. He first worked as a tailor, then he founded the Hotel Polski, a pension for emigrants.
In 1911, he opened his first cinema: Thalia, in a demolished building in the center. Tuschinski responded well to the latest trend: the “long” feature film. Until then, ten films with a maximum duration of ten minutes had generally been shown. The public wanted the “long” films (about half an hour) but the film entrepreneurs were hesitant because their rent was much higher. Tuschinski dared it and Thalia became a success.
According to the Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad at the time, the cinema gave a “pleasant impression” with seats “furnished very easily and efficiently”. The program was “a rich variety of comedic and dramatic performances, which in turn make him laugh and cry”. In 1912 the cinema building was demolished to make way for the new (current) Rotterdam Town Hall. Thalia moved to Hoogstraat and Tuschinski took over a few more cinemas: Scala on Hoogstraat, Olympia on Binnenweg and Cinéma Royal on Coolsingel.
In 1923, Tuschinski converted the Pompeenburg Theater into the Grand Theater. A “cinema palace” with a luxurious appearance and an Art Deco design that resembled that of the Tuschinski Theater in Amsterdam, a cinema he had opened in 1921. But where the latter theater still exists, all the cinemas in Rotterdam from Tuschinski were lost due to the bombardment. Tuschinski himself was deported via Westerbork to Auschwitz in 1942, where he was assassinated the same year.
Photo: artist’s impression of Juurlink and Geluk
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