Musik macht frei : choral music composed and performed in the Nazi concentration camps, 1938-44 / by Lisa Graham
Includes bibliographical references (p. 113-120)
- External Link
Electronic version from ProQuest
We have learned about the horrors of the Holocaust through history books, documentaries and feature films, through harrowing photographs, and most importantly, through the voices of those who survived. Confronting these horrifying statistics and the nightmare of this chapter of history leads us to one weighty and unanswerable question: How could human beings do this to other human beings? While this query will keep sociologists and historians engaged for centuries to come, another astonishing phenomenon emerges as a heartening insight into the complexities of human nature. Amidst the atrocities and unspeakable conditions of the concentration camps, Jews continued to make music together until either their last breath or their liberation. Everything from small choirs to fully staged operas were set against the unlikely backdrop of prison camps, performed either in secret or with the ironically sinister consent of Nazi officials. This study documents examples of choral activity from within the various prison camps of the Nazi Holocaust. Included are the historic accounts of the organization of choirs, prisoners who composed for choirs and significant performances of choral repertoire in the camps. Special attention is given to the transit camp of Terezin due to the unusually large amount of information that survived. Also included as a significant part of the study are the personal stories of some of those for whom the pursuance of musical activity, specifically choral singing, served as a coping method during captivity. These interviews and testimonials are vital to the survival and preservation of this unique musical history; these individual accounts are in some cases the only accessible records of what occurred within the tight security of the Nazis' prison camps. Finally, a study of the varied roles that singing played in concentration camps accentuates a unique communal characteristic of choral singing that extends beyond the music itself. Nowhere is this aspect of singing, the creation and intensification of community bonding, more dramatically realized than in the choral activities of inmates in the Nazi concentration camps.
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