Essay question five: discussion

Spiritual resistance is by now a common concept in secondary writing on [the Holocaust], defining music not only as a channel through which Nazism’s victims derived emotional comfort and support, but also as a life affirming survival mechanism through which they asserted solidarity in the face of persecution, the will to live, and the power of the human spirit. (Shirli Gilbert, Music in the Holocaust: Confronting Life in the Nazi Camps and Ghettos [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005], 2)

What does Gilbert mean by ‘spiritual resistance’ in this context? Outline some of the ways in which this notion, as used in Holocaust writing, can be critiqued in relation to music.

[please also check out this page  which has additional advice which you will find useful]

18 Comments

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18 responses to “Essay question five: discussion

  1. Ian Biddle

    Dear students: please feel free to leave any queries about this essay question here. I’ll answer as quickly as I can.

  2. Hannah Tattersfield

    [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

    Andy – it’s on Questia if you still have that? Or I have a PDF 🙂

    • Ian Biddle

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      Thanks Hannah 🙂

    • Ella

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      Hi Hannah,
      I can’t find ‘No raisin, No Almonds…’ anywhere and I don’t have a Questia acocunt. Could you send me the PDF if its not too much trouble? My emial’s e.el-salahi@ncl.ac.uk
      That would be amazing!

    • Laura Machin

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      Hannah, could you possibly send me the PDF if you get a chance? It would definitely be helpful – I’m finding it impossible to find it anywhere! I’m l.j.machin-at-newcastle.ac.uk 🙂

      Laura

  3. Ian Biddle

    [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

    A recent email form a student, with my reply:

    Hi Ian,

    I was just wondering whether you might be able to point me in the direction of some more reading relating to the spiritual resistance question?

    I’ve read quite a lot of Shirli Gilbert’s book and Gila Flam’s book on Lodz. Also Eliyana R Adler’s article ‘No Raisin, No Almonds…’ But I can’t find the Sonia Pauline Beker book anywhere though unfortunately.

    My reply:

    Hello

    The last source will probably not be that useful so don’t worry about tracking it down.

    I would look at some primary sources (translation is fine) in particular testimonies: how did music function for those living through this? Do they think it helped or hindered their chances of survival? Are there any mentions of music as ‘spiritual resistance’ (or something close to that)? You have to think laterally on this one to get something that will work.

    Have a look at some of the Boder testimonies.

    Remember at least one source you use should be in Yiddish.

    Does this help?

    Best wishes

  4. Hattie Amos

    [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

    Dear Ian,
    I also have a question regarding essay question 5. This may be a stupid query, but would it be appropriate to use some of the yiddish songs that Gilbert refers to in her article as our primary sources due to their relevance to the subject? Or would it be better to find other primary sources entirely separate and unsuggested by anything we have previously read for the module?
    Best wishes

    • Ian Biddle

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      Hello Hattie. Not a stupid question at all. I think the safest thing to do is use the Gilbert sources by all means, but not as your chosen source. The point here is for you to find something yourself and work with it yourself, as best you can. Does this make sense?

  5. Peter Wood

    [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

    Dear Ian,
    I am translating a song from kaczerginski’s collection called Aroyz iz in Vilne a Neyer Bafel and am having trouble with a few words. They are as follows:
    Oshmener – Verse 2, line 3
    Soler – Verse 2, line 4
    Aroysgefirt – Verse 3, line 1
    Areyngeshpart – Verse 3, line 2
    Sireges – Verse 4, line 2
    Stagsie – Verse 4, line 3
    Tshepet – Verse 4, line 4
    Tserbrokh – Verse 5, line 3
    Mabn – Verse 5, line 4
    Plith (LK) – Verse 5, line 4
    Gevorfn – Verse 6, line 1
    Tserisn – Verse 6, line 2
    Geblibn – Verse 6, line 3
    Etlekhe – Verse 6, line 4
    Tsebisn – Verse 6, line 4

    Thanks,
    Peter

    • Ian Biddle

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      Hello Peter

      Great choice of song this one

      I’ve gone through your queries and you can access a word document with my responses by clicking on this link:

      https://dl.dropbox.com/u/5325753/Aroyz%20iz%20in%20Vilne%20a%20Nayer%20Bafel.docx

      You’ve slightly mistransliterated one or two words and the others are a bit tricky

      let me know if you have problems accessing the file

      Best wishes

  6. Jonathan Shaw

    [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

    Hey Ian,

    I have been writing about the song ‘Zog Nit Keynmol’ by Glick, mentioned a few times in lectures, however I’m having serious trouble tracking down some form of useful primary source. I’ve found several YIVO transliterations, and have been using that for now, but can you reccomend any collections that would contain a transcription of the song closer to the the date of composition than 1982 (as this version obviously shouldn’t be cited in my essay)?

    Best wishes,
    Jonathan

    • Ian Biddle

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      Hello Jonathan

      Have you looked in the Katsherginski collection on blackboard?

  7. Jonathan Shaw

    [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

    It’s on Page 52, I’ve missed that several times.

    Cheers

    • Ian Biddle

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      Great! Let me know if you need any help making sense of it. Cheers

  8. Andrew Parr

    [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

    Hi Ian,

    I am having a little difficulty when trying to answer ‘What does Gilbert mean by ‘spiritual resistance’ in this context?’
    – I’m not really sure what I’m answering with this… because my understanding is that she ‘means’ is:

    ‘a channel through which Nazism’s victims derived emotional comfort and support, but also as a life affirming survival mechanism through which they asserted solidarity in the face of persecution, the will to live, and the power of the human spirit.’

    She doesn’t agree with this description of spiritual resistance in these terms, but is that ^^ not what she means by it?
    Because though she discussing faults with the description, she is not suggesting we change its meaning, but that the idea is more irrelevant.

    Or maybe I’ve misunderstood this?

    (Sorry if this is a ridiculous question put in a confusing way…)

    Thanks :),
    Andy

    • Ian Biddle

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      thanks for this Andy. I’m not sure I understand your question… could you try to rephrase it a little? I think there may be some typoes in it so I’m having trouible making sense of it

      sorry

      😦

  9. Andrew Parr

    [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

    Yeah, that was poorly written… sorry.

    So what I meant to ask was: Isn’t – ‘what does Shirli Gilbert mean in this context?’ sort of answered in the question??

    ‘a channel through which Nazism’s victims derived emotional comfort and support, but also as a life affirming survival mechanism through which they asserted solidarity in the face of persecution, the will to live, and the power of the human spirit.’

    Because though she disagrees with the concept of spiritual resistance, she is not suggesting that different definition, but that spiritual resistance is too simple a term and does not encompass the diversity of people’s musical experiences in internment.

    • Ian Biddle

      [please note: this comment is now out of date and was posted in relation to the 2012-13 delivery of this module; please check any advice given here against the latest version of the module documentation]

      Oh I see! Yes you’re right of course. I guess the ‘what does she mean’ part of the question invites you to expand what’s given in the quote.

      Beyond that your instincts are right: I would recommend trying to maintain a level of ambiguity about the right/wrong binarism. It’s not that she wants to belittle or undermine this element of survival strategy (so to speak) but that, in accounts of music in the Holocaust, it tends to overdominate.

      Does this answer your question?

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