Happy birthday (31 July 2017)
The most popular entertainer in Luxembourg of the late 30s and early 40s would have celebrated his 102. anniversary today
René Breckler – the Mysterious Magical Act
He had his international breakthrough in 1940 at the variety theatre “Wintergarten” in Berlin and was the co-founder of the magician’s association MAGICA in Luxembourg.
Breckler was born on the 31th of July 1915 in Schifflange and like so many of this contemporaries, ordered his first magic tricks and magazines by mail as a little boy. It was not until 1934, when he met the famous German magician Kalanag (1903 – 1963), that he decided to become a professional magician after having finished an apprenticeship in upholstery. Apparently, Kalanag taught him some routines while he was in Luxembourg. Fact or fiction, it is true that Breckler was inspired by Kalanag and imitated his look.
René Breckler and partner (ca. 1940s), Collection V.Faber
Like Kalanag, Breckler certainly benefited from the high demand for local entertainers during the Second World War and it would be interesting to look into Breckler’s time in Germany more seriously. Was he an opportunist or was he a collaborator?
Due to the high competition from American magicians after the war, Breckler went back to his day job but stayed involved. He co-founded the national magic association in 1950.
Luxemburger Wort, 12. August 1950:
“Bestimmt wissen aber noch sehr wenige Luxemburger, daß wir seit wenigen Wochen bei uns eine Gesellschaft ohne Gewinnzweck haben, die sich unter dem Namen „Magica", Cercle des prestidigitateurs amateurs du Grand-Duché" gebildet hat. Präsident ist Herr René Breckler, der noch vor kurzem als „Berufszauberer" auf den Bühnen der Großstädte auftrat und der sich letztes Jahr, gelegentlich der grossen internationalen Zusammenkunft in Zürich, die goldene Medaille holte. Hauptzweck der Gesellschaft ist vor allem, alle Leute zusammen zu bringen, die Spaß an der „Zauberkunst" haben und es kann versichert werden, daß die Zahl bei uns größer Ist, als allgemein angenommen wurde.”
Breckler continued to perform in variety programmes and movie theatres.
Tageblatt, 23.11.1945 and 21.10.1949 (eluxemburgenisa.lu)
In the early 50s, he participated in a documentary about magicians and their tricks, called “Illusions” from the brothers Jean et Paul Pichonnier (1952, can be viewed in the Cinémathèque royale, Brussels, www.cinematek.be)
It took 20 years, before Breckler performed again on a more regular basis. He was asked to join the variety ensemble of the “Nationallotterie”, of which he remained a member until he died on 11th of October 1965 in Esch/Alzette.