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Songs from the Depths of Hell

Recorded Sound | Digitized | RG Number: RG-91.2334

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    Songs from the Depths of Hell


    Remember: Songs of the Holocaust. Performed by Sidor Belarsky.
    A1 Josef Rosensaft; A2 Moyshelech Shloimelech; A3 Es Brent; A4 Erev Yom Kippur; A5 Brig. Gen. Glyn Hughes; A6 Zog Nit Keinmol
    B1 Dr. Nahum Goldmann; B2 Shtiler, Shtiler; B3 Dos Yiddish Kind; B4 Dr. Gideon Hausner; B5 Nizkor
    Conductor – Vladimir Heifetz; Narrator – Brigadier-General H. L. Glyn Hughes, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Dr. Gideon Hausner*, Josef Rosensaft
    Performer: Aleksander T. Kulisiewicz
    Aleksander (Alexander) Kulisiewicz (1918-1982) was born in Kraków, Poland in 1918. He was a law student in German-occupied Poland when, in October 1939, he was denounced for antifascist writings, arrested by the Gestapo, and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, near Berlin. An amateur singer and songwriter, Kulisiewicz composed 54 songs during more than five years of imprisonment at Sachsenhausen. After Russian troops liberated the camp on May 2, 1945, he remembered his songs, as well as those learned from fellow prisoners, dictating hundreds of pages of text to his attending nurse at a Polish infirmary. The majority of Kulisiewicz’s songs are darkly humorous ballads concerning the sadistic treatment of prisoners. Performed at secret gatherings, imbued with biting wit and subversive attitude, these songs helped inmates cope with their hunger and despair, raised morale, and offered hope of survival. Beyond this spiritual and psychological purport, Kulisiewicz also considered the camp song to be a form of documentation. “In the camp,” he wrote, “I tried under all circumstances to create verses that would serve as direct poetical reportage. I used my memory as a living archive. Friends came to me and dictated their songs.” In the 1950s, Kulisiewicz began amassing a private collection of music, poetry, and artwork created by camp prisoners, gathering this material through correspondence and hundreds of hours of recorded interviews. In the 1960s, he inaugurated a series of public recitals of his repertoire of camp songs, and issued several recordings. Kulisiewicz’s major project, a monumental study of the cultural life of the camps and the vital role music played as a means of survival for many prisoners, remained unpublished at the time of his death. He toured both Europe and the United States performing concerts of his works and the works of other Holocaust survivors until about 1980. He died in Kraków, Poland, on March 12, 1982. His archive is the largest extant collection of music composed in the camps.
    Phonograph record
    Phonograph record

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    Owner of copyright, if any, is undetermined. It is possible this is an orphan work. It is the responsibility of anyone interested in reproducing, broadcasting, or publishing content to determine copyright holder and secure permission, or perform a diligent Fair Use analysis.

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    Administrative Notes

    Recorded Sound Provenance
    Since 1992, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's music historian has collected historic sound recordings, published materials, interviews, and music related to the Holocaust and World War II.
    Recorded Sound Source
    Bret Werb
    File Number
    Musicology Tape Number: 17
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:29:45
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