!ברוכים־הבאים | Welcome!

Welcome to the blog for the module Music in the Holocaust (MUS3179).

If you have enrolled for this module for 2017/18, this site will form one of the key resources available to you. Other resources include materials on blackboard, the module handbook and the zamlung fun yidishe texte.

The module, taught by Ian Biddle, Newcastle University UK,  aims to familiarise students with the range of musical practices (including popular, folk music and art musics) engaged in by victims of the so-called “Holocaust” (the name is contentious: see the rather helpful Wikipedia article on this issue here) – that set of crimes (especially but not exclusively genocide) perpetrated by the Nazis and collaborators against Jews, Roma, Sinti, Polish and Russian civilians, political prisoners, homosexuals, members of certain religious groups, and those defined by the Nazis as ‘insane’, during the Second World War. The module aims to give students a clear sense of how the Holocaust intervened in and shaped musical culture, how victims responded musically to the Holocaust at the time and what kinds of musical responses victims and their families made to the Holocaust after 1945. The module concentrates mainly on Jewish music from this period and on the experience of the Ashkenazim (east European Jewry that spoke Yiddish) in particular. As part of the module, we will discuss musical practices in a number of Ghettos, especially Vilne [spelt like this using YIVO transliteration, but usually spelt Vilna], Łódź and Warsaw, music in the Theresienstadt camp/ghetto and in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, Nazi policy toward Jewish music, music in the resistance and music that deals thematically with Jewish experiences of the Holocaust, both during and in the immediate aftermath. The module also introduces students to the basics of the Yiddish language (alphabet, vocabulary and syntax) and this will be tested in two in-house language tests at the end of each semester.

  • The module is suitable for anyone at stage 3 or 4 of their undergraduate programme, regardless of their prior familiarity with this topic, and regardless of which programme they are taking
  • The module runs across both semesters
  • The two semesters will be lecture-based, with some structured time for student participation in seminars
  • The module is assessed by two Yiddish language tests (one in each semester: see below), and an essay (20%, 20%, 60%, respectively)
  • The Yiddish language component will be basic and will introduce students to some features of the language (it accounts for  40% of the module) and will be tested by a series of very simple tasks (transcription, basic comprehension and some very basic active use of the language in written form) in the tests at the end of each semester
  • The essay gives students the opportunity to explore a topic on their own