Business Swap to Upper Darby Saved Family, Piano from the Third Reich

David Bjorkgren
By
Image via Billy Penn.

A piano that journeyed from Nazi Germany to Upper Darby tells an amazing story of survival, writes Michaela Winberg for Billy Penn.

The baby grand was crafted by Germany’s Ibach Piano Company.

In 1936, the piano escaped the Third Reich, landing in Upper Darby.

It was owned by pianist Heidi Frank, sister of anti-Nazi lawyer Hans J. Frank.

Hans fled Germany in 1933. Heidi, still in Germany, married into the Brauer family.

Hans facilitated a business trade to help his sister and relatives escape.   

The Brauers owned a hat company. A German family in Upper Darby owned beauty salons. They switched places.

A pregnant Heidi, husband, son, and piano made it to America. Heidi managed the salons, a dress shop, and an apartment building.

The German family started manufacturing hats in Germany.

Heidi’s son, Sidney Brauer, now 84, lives in Warwick and has fond memories of the piano, which meant so much to his mother.

“They were very lucky that it didn’t get scratched,” Sidney said, his voice tinged with reverence. “It never did.”

For 30 years, the piano sat in Bucks County with Eric Brauer, Sidney’s son.

Now it’s in South Philadelphia, waiting to be restored.

Read more of the piano’s story at Billy Penn.

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