Music of the Camps & Ghettos

musicFrom Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 until the liberation in 1945, music played an integral role in daily life under Nazism.

The sufferings of Jews under the Nazi regime were reflected in their music and musical life. Music offered Jews a way to express their humanity in inhuman conditions, to escape from reality and give voice to their yearning for freedom, and to find comfort and hope. Professional musical performance was censored and controlled by the authorities—but the freedom to sing and compose music could not be totally censored or controlled. Thus, music became a symbol of freedom.
A prolific cultural life was organized by prisoners in the ghettos. In the Warsaw ghetto, concerts were given by a symphony orchestra of up to 80 musicians. There were also chamber music evenings, entertainment and variety shows, choir performances, performances in cafés, musical comedies and religious concerts. Similar performances could be found in the Łódź and Vilna ghettos.

Even in the death camps, music played an important role in daily life. In most camps and killing centers, the Germans formed orchestras from among the prisoners and forced them to play when Jews arrived, as they marched to work, and on their way to the gas chambers. The orchestras also played for the pleasure of German camp personnel. At one point, Auschwitz had six orchestras. Official orchestras were established that performed at the camp gates in the mornings and evenings, and at weekly concerts. Prisoners also continued their own secret music-making away from the watchful eyes of the SS.

Music and the Holocaust
Extensive site, with articles, recording and links

Music in Response to the Holocaust
A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust

Music in Auschwitz
Guido Fackler
Art and Auschwitz
Northwestern University

Music in Concentration Camps 1933–1945
GUIDO FACKLER
Music & Politics
A detailed article, with photos and artwork

Music of the Holocaust
A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust
Florida Center for Instructional Technology

Aktion Reinhard Songs and Music
Aktion Reinhard Camps

Music in the Nazi Ghettos and Camps
Music and the Holocaust

The Concentration and Death Camps
Music and the Holocaust

Concentration Camp Anthems
Music and the Holocaust

The Early Concentration Camps
Music and the Holocaust

Auschwitz
Music and the Holocaust

Official Camp Orchestras in Auschwitz
Music and the Holocaust

Birkenau
Music and the Holocaust

Exhibition:
Heartstrings – Music of the Holocaust
Yad Vashem

Warsaw
Music and the Holocaust

Theresienstadt
Music and the Holocaust

Lodz Ghetto
Heartstrings – Music of the Holocaust
Yad Vashem

Vilna Ghetto
Heartstrings – Music of the Holocaust
Yad Vashem

Vilna Ghetto – Partisan Music
Heartstrings – Music of the Holocaust
Yad Vashem

Kovno Ghetto and Lithuania
Heartstrings – Music of the Holocaust
Yad Vashem

Aktion Reinhard Songs and Music
Aktion Reinhard Camps

KURT WEILL AND WE WILL NEVER DIE
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Holocaust Music – YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe

Music of the Holocaust: Highlights of the Collection
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Resources
Music of the Holocaust: Highlights of the Collection
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Music
A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust

Terezin Music Foundation

Listen – Links to recordings
Terezin Music Foundation

Music of the Ghettos and Camps
A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust

Photos:
Camp Orchestras
A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust

Music & the Holocaust Web Sites
Princeton University Library

Music of Remembrance

Philadelphia Orchestra Performs Music Composed at Terezin
“Against All Odds”
Literature of the Holocaust

Exhibit:
Heartstrings
Music of the Holocaust
Yad Vashem

Songs of the Lodz Ghetto
Heartstrings
Music of the Holocaust
Yad Vashem

Music and the Holocaust

Interactive Map
Music and the Holocaust
Explore musical life in ghettos and camps across Europe

The Second World War in Music
Focuses on the meaning of music in the Kingdom of the Netherlands during WWII. Banned music, music from camps, propaganda songs, and other works dating from WWII can be heard again on this site.

Music of the Holocaust: Highlights of the Collection
United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial

Elena Makarova Initiatives Group
Extensive Research and Documentation of the Cultural Life of Theresienstadt

The Kovno Ghetto Orchestra

Theatrical Performance at Auschwitz-Birkenau
Rebecca Rovit
Art and Auschwitz
Northwestern University

Website explores history of music that flourished in Nazi concentration camps
Ham & High

Surviving As a Musician In Birkenau
I survived

Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz
Wikipedia

Music as a Means of Survival: The Women’s Orchestra in Auschwitz
Gabriele Knapp Feministische Studien

Orchestras
The Holocaust – Lest we Forget

Translated Lyrics
The Musical Geography of Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Melissa Kagan

Podcast: KZ Music
Encyclopedia of Music Composed in Concentration Camps
Naxos Blog
24 minute sound clip
When completed, this 24 CD project will be the most comprehensive collection ever made of music composed in World War II concentration camps.

Music of the Holocaust:
Highlights from the collection
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Links to recordings from various camps and ghettos

Resources
Music of the Holocaust:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
List of articles, books and recordings

Music in the Holocaust bibliography
Music in the Holocaust


YouTube Video:
Ballad of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto/music by Grzegorz Miśkiewicz


YouTube Videos:
Dos Geto Lid – Songs from the Ghetto & Holocaust Days
31 Tracks of music from the Holocaust

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