Category Archives: Holocaust in the news

Son of Saul review: an outstanding, excoriating look at evil in Auschwitz

[From The Guardian]

This astonishing debut film, about a prisoner in the concentration camp employed in the industrial processes of body-disposal, is a horror movie of extraordinary focus and courage

7b8119d2-4e02-4a5a-9ccb-be7e9bc73301-620x372A season in hell is what this devastating and terrifying film offers — as well an occasion for meditating on representations of the Holocaust, on Wittgenstein’s dictum about matters whereof we cannot speak, and on whether these unimaginable and unthinkable horrors can or even should be made imaginable and thinkable in a fictional drama. There is an argument that any such drama, however serious its moral intentions, risks looking obtuse or diminishing its subject, although this is not a charge that can be ultimately levelled at Son of Saul.

By any standards, this would be an outstanding film, but for a debut it is really remarkable, a film with the power of Elem Klimov’s Come and See — which has surely inspired the film’s final sequence — and perhaps also Lajos Koltai’s Hungarian film Fateless. It also has the severity of Béla Tarr, to whom director Làszlò Nemes was for two years an assistant, but notably without Tarr’s glacial pace: Nemes is clearly concerned at some level to exert the conventional sort of narrative grip which does not interest Tarr.

Son of Saul is set in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944, and one Hungarian Jewish prisoner named Saul (played by Geza Röhrig) is a member of the Sonderkommando, a group of prisoners given humiliating and illusory privileges as trusties, with minor increases of food ration in return for the task of carrying the bodies from the gas chambers to pyres to be burnt and then carting the ashes away to be dumped: a task carried out at a frantic, ever-accelerating 24/7 rate, as the Allies close in. Among the dead, Saul discovers the body of his young son, and sets out to find a rabbi among the prisoners to give this boy a proper burial in secret: an objective requiring the deployment of pleas, threats, blackmail and the offerings of bribes using jewellery (called the “shiny”) stolen from the bodies. Saul’s desperate mission is carried out with the same urgent, hoarse whispers and mutterings as another plot in progress: a planned uprising, which Saul’s intentions may in fact upset. And all the time, the Sonderkommandoare aware, through this network of whispers, that they themselves will be executed in due course by their Nazi captors.

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Northumbria University academic to stage special performance of The Tin Ring in Czech town

Jane Arnfield is to perform stage show The Tin Ring in Terezin where its subject, Zdenka Fantlova, was held by the Nazis

The Tin Ring is a story that has moved many to tears and it is likely to do so again this week in the Czech Republic.

Jane Arnfield, actress and arts academic at Northumbria University, is to stage her one-woman play about Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova in Terezín, the Czech town where thousands died in a concentration camp (called Theresienstadt by the Germans) during the Second World War.

Zdenka, a Jew from former Czechoslovakia, grew up with a love of music, learning to play the piano and being taken to concerts and the theatre.

In 1942, aged 18, she was transported to Terezín where her boyfriend, Arno, gave her the tin ring that would, many years later, provide the title for her moving memoir.

In The Tin Ring she relates matter-of-factly the horrors she had to endure – in Terezín, Auschwitz and finally Bergen-Belsen.

Many times she came close to death but she survived the war, being plucked to safety from among the dead and dying by an unknown British solider after the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. She never saw Arno again.

Jane Arnfield, reader in arts at Northumbria, adapted The Tin Ring into a stage show with the help of director Mike Alfreds.

Since its 2012 premiere, it has been performed to acclaim around the world, including at Newcastle’s Lit & Phil, where Zdenka was in the audiuence and afterwards signed copies of her book.

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‘Accountant of Auschwitz’: I am morally complicit in the murder of Jews

[From The Guardian]

Oskar Gröning, charged with complicity in the murder of 300,000 Holocaust victims, expresses remorse during trial in Germany.

A former SS guard expressed remorse for the role he played in the Holocaustwhen he went on trial charged with complicity in the murder of 300,000 Jews.

In a lengthy speech, Oskar Gröning, 93, referred to as the “accountant of Auschwitz”, recounted the two years he had spent at the extermination camp after volunteering for the SS, the Nazi party’s protection squadron.

Former SS guard Oskar Gröning sits outside court in Lueneburg
 Former SS guard Oskar Gröning sits outside court in Lueneburg. Photograph: Markus Schreiber/AP

Survivors of the Holocaust, many of whom have travelled from the US, Canada and Hungary in the hope of seeing justice done for their relatives who were murdered after a wait of 70 years, listened intently as Gröning spoke in court in Lüneburg, northern Germany.

“It is without question that I am morally complicit in the murder of millions of Jews through my activities at Auschwitz,” the retired bank clerk said, clutching his notes and looking directly at the bench. “Before the victims, I also admit to this moral guilt here, with regret and humility. To the question as to whether I am criminally culpable, that’s for you to decide.”

His statement came at the end of a detailed 50-minute account of his time at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which included how he was initially sent there and his attempts to get transferred elsewhere because of the atrocities he had seen, including seeing an SS colleague bashing a baby to death against the side of a lorry.

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Poland demands apology for FBI chief’s comment on Holocaust

[From The Guardian]

  • US ambassador meets deputy PM to discuss James Comey’s remark
  • FBI chief ‘wrong, harmful, offensive’; presidential aide calls him a ‘blockhead’

Poland’s foreign ministry urgently summoned US ambassador Stephen Mull on Sunday, to “protest and demand an apology”, saying the head of the FBI had suggested that Poles were accomplices in the Holocaust.

After meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Leszek Soczewica on Sunday, Mull said he would urgently contact the FBI and Washington about the matter. Earlier in the day, Mull said in Polish that Comey’s words were “wrong, harmful and offensive”, and didn’t reflect the US administration’s views.

FBI director James Comey made the remarks in an article about the need to educate about the Holocaust that was published by the Washington Post on Thursday. It was adapted from a speech he gave on Wednesday at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In the article, Comey said: “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.”

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Holocaust documentary whose horrors remained unseen reaches cinemas – after 70 years

[From The Guardian]

In 1945, Alfred Hitchcock advised on a film that would catalogue the atrocities uncovered in concentration camps by Allied troops. Now the Imperial War Museum has completed the film with previously unseen footage.

Skeletal figures, too weak to move, wait limply for help. At gunpoint, blank-faced SS officers manhandle the twisted bodies of the prisoners they starved to death, slinging them into gigantic burial pits that will eventually be filled with thousands of corpses. Bullet-riddled bodies and skulls smashed into grotesque shapes line country roads. Having frantically tried to dig his way out of a barn where hundreds were being burned to death, a man’s body lies wedged under a wall where he was shot by German troops.

The catalogue of horrors uncovered by the film German Concentration Camps Factual Survey is unremitting, but they remained unseen for decades.

After production got under way in 1945, it was never completed and simply shelved. Only extracts have previously emerged, notably in the 1985 TV film A Painful Reminder. The story of the film, perhaps best known for the involvement of Alfred Hitchcock, was recently told in the documentary Night Will Fall, released in cinemas last September and screened on Channel 4 in January. Now, however, German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, restored and completed to the film-makers’ original specifications, has gone on public release for the first time, with a two-week run at the BFI Southbank in London, and further screenings in May through the Picturehouse chain of cinemas.

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My Nazi grandfather would have murdered me

[from The Telegraph]
Jennifer Teege was sent to an orphanage at four weeks old and for 38 years knew little about her real family. Then, after a chance discovery in a library, she uncovered the horrifying truth – now documented in a new book. Etan Smallman reports.

Jennifer Teege had been asking questions her entire life.

Born in 1970 to a German mother, after she had a brief affair with a Nigerian man, Teege was sent to an orphanage at just four weeks old. She had limited contact with her mother and grandmother, until being formally adopted by a couple at the age of seven.

Growing-up, Teege couldn’t help but wonder about the biological family she’d lost contact with. There were so many unanswered questions about them.

Then, seven years ago at the age of 38, the answers came in a terrifying deluge – along with a bombshell revelation about the grandmother she loved as a small child, and the grandfather she had never met.

Idly perusing the shelves of Hamburg central library, Teege happened across one of the collection’s 350,000 books, a tome with a red cover.

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Do We Focus Too Much on Auschwitz? – The Arty Semite

Do We Focus Too Much on Auschwitz? – The Arty Semite.

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Soren Kam: Most-wanted Nazi dies aged 93 a free man

[from The Independent]

One of the most-wanted Nazis in the world has died aged 93 without having been punished for a murder conviction.

Danish former volunteer officer Søren Kam died on 23 March, just a little more than a fortnight after his wife passed away – according to the German newspaper Allgauer Zeitung as reported by Reuters.

Kam was the fifth-most wanted war criminal by Jewish rights organisation Simon Wiesenthal Center, that seeks to bring former Nazis to justice and educate about the Holocaust.

The Dane had been a volunteer officer in the Schalburg Corps, a SS-Viking division, and was one of three men who killed Danish anti-Nazi newspaper editor Carl Henrik Clemmensen in 1943.

A Danish court convicted him in absentia of the murder after the war. Another man was executed for the same crime.

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Opera sings of gay lovers brutalized by Holocaust | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California

Opera sings of gay lovers brutalized by Holocaust | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California.

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Major UK Grant Will Unearth Forgotten Music – The Arty Semite

Major UK Grant Will Unearth Forgotten Music – The Arty Semite.

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Greta Klingsberg, child opera star of the Nazi death camp

[fromThe Guardian]

The children’s opera Brundibár is a fairytale with a fairly familiar message: good triumphs over evil. But place the work in the context of Theresienstadt, the Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia where it was performed between 1943 and 1944, and that message is thrown into much sharper relief. The resemblance to Hitler of Brundibár, the evil organ-grinder who claims the town square as his own, was obvious to adult audiences. But not, insists its lead singer, to its cast.

“The grownups interpreted it as this bad man who bullies everyone,” says Greta Klingsberg, who played lead character Aninka. “But the children never did. To us, Brundibár was the most popular character. He wore a moustache and, when he sang, it went up and down. We found him very funny.”

The opera, by the Jewish-Czech composer Hans Krása who was an inmate at Theresienstadt, tells the story of a brother and sister who try their hand at busking in the square, only to be chased away by the garishly dressed and talentless musician Brundibár (colloquial Czech for a bumblebee). So the siblings hatch a plot to turn him out. “At the end, when he’s thrown out, we welcomed him back on stage with open arms. He was one of us, our lovable Brundibár. It was not for us to see a political message.”

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Martin Freeman: exposing Adolf Eichmann

[From The Guardian]

It’s dawn and it’s sub-zero and it’s a potholed car park in Vilnius, eastern Lithuania, and a hobbit is preparing to tell the world about the Holocaust. A dark-suited Martin Freeman, breath steaming, pauses to greet us on his hurried way from trailer to set, and already he’s in character, with a soft New York accent which he will insist on retaining even off set. Nothing is as it seems. Far less so than is normal even in the kooky looking-glass world of film. Vilnius is playing Jerusalem in the broiling summer. The year is 1961.

A television programme is being made about the making of a television programme. It was a big television programme. In May 1960 Adolf Eichmann was captured by Mossad and Shin Bet agents on the streets of Buenos Aires, where he had been living under the name of Ricardo Klement since 1952. He was smuggled back to Israel and put on trial for genocide, for his leading part as architect of the Final Solution. The decision was made to film the trial for a worldwide TV audience.

Hence, today, Viesoji Istaiga Vilniaus Kulturos Pramogu Ir Sporto Rumai, or the Vilnius Cultural, Entertainment and Sports Palace, a Stalin-era delight of neo-brutalist fearful symmetry, and thus in a way appropriate, encapsulating the last century’s other wave of optimistic totalitarianism. It is rather beautiful, in its ugliness, but it is primarily useful today for the existence of 1961-era microphones and cameras, an auditorium wholly available for conversion to a courtroom, several severely talented Vilnius craftsmen and a handful of local mensches doubling as Israeli guards and possibly wishing it was actually 1961 and, maybe, Jerusalem and actually warm.

The decision to film Eichmann’s trial was taken in 1960 by David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel, partly because he had been befriended by a young US producer by the name of Milton Fruchtman. Martin Freeman, who plays him, explains in Fruchtman’s accent (he’s wary of dropping out of dialect even for a lunchtime chat): “I’ve read up on Milton – he’d been filming some neo-Nazis in the 50s, in some bierkeller – and at the end they stood and chanted ‘Heil Hitler’, 15 years after the fucking war, and that led him indirectly to Ben-Gurion, whom he essentially schmoozed. Milton was charming, and fluent in both Hebrew and German, and he persuaded the Israeli authorities to allow him to film proceedings.”

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70 years after the Holocaust, new app brings its voices to modern devices

[From The Guardian]

4e2938ce-0c7b-45c1-a719-6c1660ad2935-620x372Seventy years after the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, an Android and iOS application is aiming to provide new insights into the Holocaust for modern-day smartphone and tablet users.

70 Voices: Victims, Perpetrators and Bystanders is the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust, which has made it available as a free download through Google, Amazon and Apple’s app stores.

The app will offer 70 different perspectives on the Holocaust from people who were alive at the time, at a time when the number of people able to give firsthand accounts continues to dwindle.

The app will provide a different “voice” each day for the next 70 days, with a weekly podcast also exploring the material’s themes and implications. The app’s content will also be published on the 70 Voices website.

“In this significant anniversary year, we want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to take a moment to learn something new about the Holocaust,” said Karen Pollock, the trust’s chief executive.

“We are always looking for new ways to reach people and this app puts that opportunity in the palm of their hands.”

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An unlikely tribute: How cult U.K. band Joy Division found inspiration in Auschwitz

[From Haaretz]

They were the darkest of the late-1970s U.K. bands, skyrocketing to fame after their lead singer hanged himself in 1980 to become one of the most bootlegged bands ever. But Joy Division’s greatest enigma may have been its name — a reference to the brothel at Auschwitz as depicted in the book “House of Dolls” by Ka-Tzetnik 135633 (Yehiel De-Nur).

That sinister fact, while lost on the new kids sporting their ubiquitous “Unknown Pleasures” T-shirts — among them Iggy Azalea, Kristen Stewart and the members of One Direction — has only added to the band’s mystique. Other doom-and-gloom acts from the period may have spouted nihilistic lyrics and quoted Existentialists such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, but no one else compared their sense of despair, isolation and self-loathing with that of a Nazi sex slave, as Joy Division did in its first single, “No Love Lost.” Its cover depicted a Hitler youth member beating a drum. The B-side, “Warsaw,” recounted the story of Nazi deserter Rudolf Hess, who fled to Scotland.

So, how did a this handful of young non-Jews from Manchester, England, become obsessed with the Holocaust? Thirty-five years after the band’s breakup, two new books shed light on the odd connection.

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The Last of the Unjust review – documentary about a divisive Holocaust survivor

[From The Guardian]

At 87, Claude Lanzmann is still capable of enforcing his film-making personality on European cinema: he is a landmark in the shadow of his great subject, the Holocaust. His film, Shoah, is now best seen not merely as an incomparable record, but as an intervention in history, an insistence on eyewitness testimony and compelling truth. This new film is a remarkable companion to his masterpiece Shoah: a fascinating encounter, recorded in Rome in the 1970s, while working on his great film but not used at the time, for reasons that Lanzmann leaves us to ponder.

It is an interview with Benjamin Murmelstein, an Austrian Jew and last surviving “chairman” of the Theresienstadt ghetto, near Prague, a supposedly comfortable Potemkin-style arrangement that was part of a sickening pantomime of ostensible good faith after the Anschluss. Murmelstein explains that their inhabitants, and the world, were distracted with the fatuous fantasy of being shipped over to Madagascar: a cynical euphemism for the death marches and extermination, in which Murmelstein was held to be complicit. The Nazis coerced leading Jews to be their administrative “elders” there, a queasy use of Judeophobe-propagandist terminology, and Murmelstein was the last surviving example (his predecessors were murdered by the Nazis).

He was a man hated after the war for being a collaborator. But he was someone who perhaps saved lives due to his endless and often terrifying negotiations with Adolf Eichmann on the subject of emigration, when the Nazi authorities still believed that allowing Jews to depart without their money might be practicable and profitable.

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The Nazi war criminal, the Nuremberg prosecution expert… and a shared love of Bach

[from The Guardian]

A new collaboration between human rights lawyer Philippe Sands and opera director Nina Brazier sheds light on the parallels between Hans Frank, a key player in the Holocaust, and Hersch Lauterpacht, one of the prosecution team at his trial.

In the dock at the Nuremberg trials of 1945 and 1946: Hans Frank, born in Karlsruhe; once Adolf Hitler’s lawyer and governor general of Poland for the Third Reich, now charged with crimes against humanity for his part in the murder of three million people, including those in the death camps at Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec and Majdanek.

For the prosecution: Hersch Lauterpacht, who grew up in the Austro-Hungarian empire, near the city now known as Lviv in Ukraine, and who, after studying law in Vienna and London, went on to teach at Cambridge. He was a key figure in developing the idea of “crimes against humanity”, laying the foundation stones for international law and the modern laws of war. In his 40s, he was part of the British prosecution team at the trials of Frank and others.

There were strange connections between the two men, on opposite sides in the courtroom. The area in which Lauterpacht had grown up had been invaded by the Germans in June 1941. Lauterpacht was in England during this period and had been unaware that most of his family had been among the three million exterminated on Frank’s orders.

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A small miracle in the tortured history of Polish-Jewish relations

[from The Guardian]

Mir zaynen do!” (“We are here!”) The defiant Yiddish refrain of a Polish Jewish partisan song, written in the darkest days of the second world war, rings out in the winter sunlight, echoing between a sombre monument to the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto rising and the shining, brand-new Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The words are spoken, with passion, by a Polish Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, Marian Turski, who remained in Poland after the war. Here, still here, or here again, where so much of European Jewish life was lived for so many centuries. If an electric tingle does not go up your spine at such a moment, there is something wrong with your spine.

Then we pass into the museum, through a giant twisting canyon of sand-like stone, conceived by the architect to recall Moses’s parting of the Red Sea. Down a curling marble staircase we find a multimedia exhibition that documents 1,000 years of Polish Jewish history. The Holocaust is there, of course, but the story does not begin or end with the Holocaust. “It is not a museum of the Shoah,” says the president of Israel, at this opening ceremony. “It is a museum of life.”

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ייִדישע מוזיק פֿון בעלגיע, דײַטשלאַנד און פֿינלאַנד

[from פֿאָרװערטס]

זײַענדיק אַ טוריסט אין בריסל, האָב איך זיך באַקענט מיט דער טאָכטער פֿון אַן אַמאָליקן חזן און זינגער אין לאַנד, און זי האָט מיר געשאָנקען אַ קאָמפּאַקטל פֿון איר טאַטן, אַ קאָפּיע פֿון אַ פּלאַטע, וואָס איז אַרויס אין די 1960ער יאָרן. ווי אַ געטרײַע טאָכטער, האָט זי זיך געזאָרגט, אַז דעם גוטן שם פֿון איר טאַטן וועט די וועלט צו גיך פֿאַרגעסן. צוהערנדיק זיך צו דער רעקאָרדירונג, האָב איך געטראַכט: יאָ, זאָל מען וויסן און געדענקען, אַז ס’איז אַמאָל געווען אַזאַ פֿײַנער ייִדישער זינגער אין בעלגיע ווי בערנאַרד פֿריילעך

געבוירן אין 1922 אינעם פּוילישן שטעטל אָלקוש, לעבן קראָקע, איז בערנאַרד (בערעק) פֿריילעך געקומען מיט זײַן משפּחה קיין ליעזש, בעלגיע אין 1926. דאָרטן איז ער געוואָרן אַ שנײַדער צוזאַמען מיט זײַן ברודער, אָבער אין דער זעלבער צײַט האָט ער שטודירט אין דער „מלוכישער קאָנסערוואַטאָריע‟. אַ דאַנק דעם דירעקטאָר פֿונעם אינסטיטוט, האָט ער שטודירט אַפֿילו בעת דער אָקופּאַציע פֿון דער שטאָט, ווען מע האָט געשטעמפּלט „ייִד‟ אויף זײַן אידענטיפֿיציר־קאַרטל. אין 1942 האָט ער באַקומען די העכסטע אויסצייכענונג פֿון דער קאָנסערוואַטאָריע, אָבער די אויסטיילונג האָט מען אָפּגעהאַלטן בסוד, די נאַציס זאָלן זיך נישט דערוויסן וועגן דעם

נאָך דער מלחמה האָט ער ווײַטער פֿאַרדינט ווי אַ שנײַדער, אָבער יעדן פֿרײַטיק־צו־נאַכטס געזונגען ווי אַ חזן אין דער ליעזשער סינאַגאָגע פֿון 1947 ביז 1970. אין די 1950ער יאָרן איז ער אָפֿט אויפֿגעטראָטן אין פּאַריז, וווּ ער האָט געזונגען פּאָפּולערע לידער אויף פֿראַנצייזיש. אין ליעזש און אַנטווערפּן האָט ער געזונגען אויף ייִדישע חתונות און בר־מיצוות ביז זײַן טויט אין 1973. זײַנע חסידים אין ליעזש האָבן געשאַפֿן אַ קלוב לכּבֿוד זײַן געזאַנג. אַ פֿילם פֿון זײַנס אַ פֿאָרשטעלונג אויף פֿראַנצייזיש אין 1960 אין ליעזש, קען מען זען בײַ דער פֿאַרבינדונג

 

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Documentaries and experimental films lead home video releases this week

[from Deseret News]

“The Last of the Unjust” (Cohen/Blu-ray/DVD, 2013, PG-13, in French and German with English subtitles, featurette, photo gallery, trailer). In my 1986 review of French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann’s brilliant Holocaust documentary “Shoah” (also recently released on DVD/Blu-ray), I wrote that the ingratiating filmmaker has a remarkable affinity for getting his sometimes reluctant subjects to recall vividly their experiences even when it’s clear they’d rather not.

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The Death Factory: Martin Amis’s “The Zone of Interest.”

[from The New Yorker]

When Theodor Adorno declared, in 1949, that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” he could hardly have anticipated the ensuing quantity of poetry and prose that actually concerned itself with the Holocaust, still less its astonishing range and depth. The category now encompasses the densely narrated psychological-historical realism of André Schwarz-Bart and Imre Kertész, the Kafka-inspired dreamscapes of Aharon Appelfeld, and, later, the elliptical, deeply original fictions of W. G. Sebald. As the generations of firsthand witnesses give way to younger generations, literary works that confront the subject have often been more circumspect; recent novels by Susanna Moore and Ayelet Waldman achieve their emotional power by focussing upon characters peripheral to the terrible European history that has nonetheless altered their lives. The conflagration must be glimpsed indirectly, following Appelfeld’s admonition that “one does not look directly into the sun.”

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Film Review: ‘Night Will Fall’

Interesting film review, including useful contextualisation of the Allies’ knowledge of concentration camps in 1944-45. Well worth a close read.

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Opera from WWII Jewish ghetto performed for first time in Sydney

[from the Sydney Morning Herald]

Brundibar is a short, light-hearted opera written for children. But for Jerry Rind, who was involved in one of the first performances in 1943, it was anything but light-hearted. For Rind, now 90, it was a matter of life and death – literally.
Rind was one of tens of thousands of Jews interned in the town of Terezin, in the north of Czechoslovakia, which was used by the Nazis as a collection camp for victims who were to be sent to Auschwitz. With room for 7000 people or so, at its height there were 55,000 crammed into the ghetto. Some 30,000 died of disease and malnutrition.

Rind laboured in a workshop making bunks and coffins, and it was from there that he stole the wood used to build the set for an illicit performance of Brundibar.

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Holocaust Grafted to Beethoven

[from the New York Times]

by Corinna da Fonseca Wollheim

FIDELIO-master675Santa Fe Opera Sets ‘Fidelio’ in a Concentration Camp

No audience members staggered out of the Santa Fe Opera House in search of assistance on Thursday evening after Stephen Wadsworth’s production of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” inspired by Bergen-Belsen. This wasn’t Burkhard C. Kosminski’s staging of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” which last year upset audience members in Düsseldorf, Germany, so much with its graphic depiction of gassings and shootings that some required medical attention. Mr. Wadsworth’s concentration-camp spin on the tale of a political prisoner who is liberated by his wife after she has disguised herself as a man and apprenticed with the prison warden was perfectly tasteful.

As such, I found it especially offensive.

To be sure, Mr. Wadsworth is only the latest director to set Beethoven’s liberation opera in a recent political context. This summer, a former East German prison in Cottbus, which had once housed political dissidents, became the backdrop to a production of “Fidelio” that included former inmates in the chorus. There was a site-specific “Fidelio” at the former Soviet prison camp PERM-36 in 2010. Guantánamo has been a point of reference in “Fidelio” productions by opera houses in Seattle; London; and Melbourne, Australia.

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Lincoln Center Presents an Opera Without Jews, Set in Auschwitz

[from Tablet Magazine]

‘The Passenger’ is a moving Polish Jewish-Catholic Soviet hybrid with a glaring omission. But is it a ‘Holocaust opera’?

The Lincoln Center Festival’s publicity for an opera titled The Passenger, aimed at New Yorkers eager for an unusual musical experience, is magnetic: a “forgotten Holocaust opera,” as the copy calls it, adding that Dmitri Shostakovich hailed it “a perfect masterpiece.” Completed by the Polish-Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg in 1968, much of the opera is set in Auschwitz. But beyond a few lines given to a Jewish character, there’s no explicit Jewish presence in this concentration camp. Seeing the work, it’s hard to believe: An opera set in the killing factory known for subtracting Jews from the world, and it subtracts Jews.

The main characters of The Passenger are two Polish gentiles and a German camp officer, surrounded by an international array of women packed into a barracks. They come from Warsaw, Zagreb, and other cities—and then there’s one Greek Jew. Her name is Hannah and she has so little to sing—“This star they pinned on me, this star I have to wear is the fatal mark of my death,” is most of it—that she’s easy to miss.

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Amid the Rap Music, Echoes of an Orchestra Playing in a Dark Past

[from The New York Times]

BERLIN — AT various points during shows, the German rapper Kutlu Yurtseven gestures to a bandmate sitting demurely off to the side. That’s the cue for 89-year-old Esther Bejarano, a diminutive woman with a snow-white pixie cut, to jump in with a song. “When will the heavens open up, again, for me?” is one favorite, the refrain of a local carnival tune. “When will they open up?”

It is an unusual pairing. Ms. Bejarano is one of the last surviving members of the Auschwitz Girls’ Orchestra, the only all-female ensemble among the many Nazi-run prisoner musical groups in the camp system. Among other duties, the Girls’ Orchestra was responsible for playing the marches that imprisoned women had to keep step to as they went out to work in the morning and, even more cruelly, as they returned, half-dead, at the end of the day.

Five years ago, hoping to reach more young people with her story and her message of tolerance and anti-fascism, Ms. Bejarano teamed up with Microphone Mafia, a German hip-hop duo with Turkish and Italian roots. They have released their first album, and have been playing concerts throughout Germany and Europe ever since.

The music combines songs like the poignant Yiddish resistance song, “We’ll Live Forever,” composed in the Nazi-run Jewish ghetto in Vilna just before it was liquidated, with rap passages about current problems like racism that, in Ms. Bejarano’s view, show that the lessons of the Holocaust still need to be learned.

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SHATTERED PASSAGE: The challenge of presenting the Holocaust onstage

[from The New Yorker]

The idea that the Holocaust defeats attempts at artistic dramatization—that it constitutes, in Andreas Huyssen’s words, “unimaginable, unspeakable, and unrepresentable horror”—has a particular force in the world of music. While there are any number of symphonic and choral meditations on the Holocaust, operas on the subject are rather rare, not least because the larger-than-life gestures native to the genre can seem inapt. Furthermore, because of associations between Wagner and the Nazi regime, the very vocabulary of post-Wagnerian opera may appear to be implicated in the genocide.

Mieczysław Weinberg’s 1968 opera “The Passenger,” which the Lincoln Center Festival is set to present at the Park Avenue Armory, is not a flawless work, but it comes closer than any other extant opera to overcoming the challenge of placing the Holocaust onstage. For one thing, Weinberg, who came from a Polish-Jewish family, knew whereof he wrote; he fled from Poland to the Soviet Union in 1939, and his father, mother, and sister were all murdered by the Nazis. When the orchestra in “The Passenger,” heavily influenced by Shostakovich, presents an ironclad, destructive edge, one senses that Weinberg is working from firsthand impressions. At the same time, the libretto, which Alexander Medvedev adapted from a story by Zofia Posmysz, is not so much a direct dramatization of the Holocaust as a study in trauma and memory: on an ocean liner, a former Auschwitz overseer thinks she sees a survivor from the camp, and experiences a series of flashbacks. Finally, the question of music’s own role in the catastrophe is incorporated into the action. A wrenching scene toward the end, depicting a concert at the camp, pits Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor, for solo violin, against an overpowering orchestral mass. The lonely, lamenting notes of the Bach are snuffed out one by one.

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My Name Is Truda Vitz review: Terrors echo long after escaping Nazi Austria

[from the Sydney Morning Herald]

Writer-performer Olivia Satchell flits between the branches of her family tree in this fiction-streaked biographical work inspired by the life of the grandmother she never met.
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In 1938 Truda Vitz, a 17-year-old Viennese Jew, escaped Nazi Austria and, we can assume, almost-certain death. Arriving in England she was registered as an Enemy Alien and very much alone. Her mother had died earlier that year. Her father, who insisted on her leaving Vienna, fled to Cuba with a mistress.

All that stood between the teenage Truda and destitution was the grudging hospitality of wartime Britain and the jewellery she had smuggled from Vienna under her fur coat.

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Only a great writer can share the suffering of Auschwitz

[From The Guardian]

Like Primo Levi, Otto Dov Kulka has the unusual ability to communicate what it meant to be a Nazi death camp inmate.

One of the mysteries of great suffering is how hard it is to penetrate from the outside. Otto Dov Kulka‘s account of his time as a child in Auschwitz tells us almost nothing of the history of the place and how it came to be. That is for the reader, as it was for the child Kulka, something given. The only concessions to conventional history come in digressions, as in the account of his mother’s departure and death, when the ramifications of the system and its long ghastly tentacles are explored.

As an adult, Kulka became a historian of the causes of the Holocaust. But one of the subjects of his book is the absolute disconnect between his studies and his experiences. In his work as a historian he stopped short of the camp gates: “in all my research I never had to deal with the stage, the dimension, of the violent end, the murder, the humiliation and the torture of those human beings.”

He avoided, also, a great deal that had been written and filmed about the Holocaust. He did not read camp memoirs, and he did not watch Claud Lanzmann‘s film Shoah. At last he was invited at a conference to attend a lecture on the subject of the Holocaust in literature, and felt that politeness compelled him to accept. He listened, and felt an extraordinary disconnection: that the language in which the Holocaust might be described by outsiders was one he could not understand himself, while the language with which he could make sense of it himself, his mythology as he elsewhere calls it, was entirely different.

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Break a leg – or get shot: the Jewish actors who braved Stalin’s terror

[From The Guardian]

Not precisely about the Holocaust, but Yiddish-related news

The Moscow State Yiddish Theatre had to please Stalin and his henchmen or face dreadful consequences. How did it manage to thrive for so long?

I first came across Solomon Mikhoels and the Moscow State Yiddish Theatre in the 1980s, as I researched a PhD in Yiddish. (I say “researched” as I didn’t quite finish it and that way it sounds as if I might have done.) Yiddish, the language of east European Jewry, was spoken by 11 million people before the second world war. Though the Holocaust and assimilation threatened it with extinction, its future is now safe in the hands of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community. You’ll often find me subtly eavesdropping on orthodox Jews in Clissold Park in London, trying to glean what words like the Yiddish for email might be (blitspost, in case you were wondering).

As a lover of Yiddish, I found myself constantly fighting stereotypes such as the charge that Yiddish is just a bastardised German. It isn’t. Or if it is, then so is English which, like Yiddish, is a fusion language or (to use a Yiddish term) a mish-mash of Germanic and Norman. I’d find myself kvetching (another Yiddish word) against those nebbishes (ditto) who have the chutzpah (ditto again) to say Yiddish is little more than a repository of admittedly brilliant curses, like my favourite: “May all your teeth fall out except for one, and from that may you have eternal toothache!”

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ידיעות פֿון וואַרשע

פֿון קאָבי ווײַצנער

[from Forverts]

דער עלטסטער ייִדישער מוזיקער לעאָפּאָלד קאָזלאָווסקי

דאָס לעבן פֿון לעאָפּאָלד קאָזלאָווסקי שפּיגלט אָפּ די געשיכטע פֿון פּוילישע ייִדן אין אונדזער צײַט. קאָזלאָווסקי, געבוירן ווי קלײַנמאַן, איז געוואָרן אַן ערן־בירגער פֿון קראָקע. ער איז 96 יאָר אַלט און איז דער אַזויגערופֿענער לעצטער גאַליציאַנער כּלי-זמר. „אַ דאַנק אים — האָט דער בירגערמײַסטער פֿון קראָקע געזאָגט — האָבן מיר דערלעבט צו אַ רענענסאַנס פֿון כּלי-זמר־מוזיק אין קאַזימיר, די ייִדישע געגנט פֿון קראָקע.‟ קאָזלאָווסקי איז באַקאַנט איבער גאַנץ פּוילן. זײַנע פּליטן און טאַשמעס פֿון ייִדישער מוזיק זענען זייער פּאָפּולער אין לאַנד.

געבוירן איז ער אין 1918 אין פּשעמישלאַנע, לעבן לעמבעריק. די משפּחה איז געווען מוזיקאַליש פֿון תּמיד אָן. ווי אַ קינד, האָט ער שוין געשפּילט מיט כּלי־זמרים. ער האָט ממשיך געווען זײַן מוזיקאַלישע דערציִונג אין קאָנסערוואַטאָריום. בשעת דער צווייטער וועלט־מלחמה האָט ער פֿאַרלוירן זײַן גאַנצע משפּחה. ער איז געווען אין געטאָ, אין לאַגער, און שפּעטער האָט זיך אים אײַנגעגעבן צו אַנטלויפֿן.

ער איז צוריקגעקומען קיין פּוילן ווי אַ סאָלדאַט פֿון דער פּוילישער אַרמיי. נאָכן פֿאַרענדיקן די מוזיק־אַקאַדעמיע אין קראָקע, האָט קאָזלאָווסקי במשך פֿון לאַנגע יאָרן אָנגעפֿירט מיט אַ מיליטערישן אָרקעסטער. אין יאָר 1968 האָט מען אים אַרויסגעוואָרפֿן פֿון מיליטער אין איינעם מיט אַלע אַנדערע ייִדישע אָפֿיצירן. דעמאָלט איז ער געקומען צו אַרבעטן אינעם מלוכישן ייִדישן טעאַטער.

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2 Jewish Lawyers and Hitler’s ‘Butcher’ Share Stage

[From Forverts]

w-FrankandHimmler-060414.jpgThe improbable tale of three music-loving lawyers linked to Ukraine – two of them Jews and one a Hitler aide known as the “Butcher of Poland” – has made it to the stage in a work premiered at the Hay Festival.

“The Great Crimes” tells how the lives of Hersch Lauterpecht, who formulated the legal concept of crimes against humanity, Raphael Lemkin, who helped make genocide an international crime, and Hans Frank, World War Two governor of Nazi-occupied Poland, became entwined.

“It is about the origins of our modern systems of justice and the role that an individual can play,” Philippe Sands, professor of international law at University College, London, told Reuters.

Sands, baritone Laurent Naouri and pianist Guillaume de Chassy gave “The Great Crimes” its first public hearing at the Hay festival on May 25. Sands narrates the story, interspersed with music from Naouri and de Chassy.

It will performed at London’s Southbank Center in November.

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Review: ‘A Replacement Life’ by Boris Fishman

Fishman’s comic debut novel offers a glimpse of Soviet Brooklyn


This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email. Click here to learn about joining Printers Row.


The star of the show is Slava Gelman, a “junior employee of a midtown magazine,” who does daily battle with his psyche to protect his assimilationist, Upper East Side life from the tidal pull of his first-generation South Brooklyn relatives. “If Slava wanted to become an American, to strip from his writing the pollution that repossessed it every time he returned to the swamp broth of Soviet Brooklyn, … he would have to get away. Dialyze himself, like Grandmother’s kidneys.”

Shortly after we meet Slava, his grandmother dies, triggering his reluctant hero’s journey, via subway, to “the swamp broth.” “Here was a foreign city, if you were coming from Manhattan. … This was still a world in the making. … These American toddlers were only beginning to crawl. Some, however, had already found the big thumb of American largesse.”

Slava is surprised to find his grandparents’ door unlocked. “(I)n this part of Brooklyn, eyes still roamed with Soviet heights of desire.” In the entryway, he suffers the suffocating embrace of an obese home attendant. “Like a Soviet high-rise, each floor of Berta was stuffed beyond capacity.”

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A haunting account of the Holocaust (Otto Dov Kulka’s Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death)

[from The Guardian]
In Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death, Otto Dov Kulka describes how the transmission of fine music and literature in Auschwitz proved the existence of hope – and sarcasm.

I am writing about a very short book, which could take no more than a couple of hours to read and no more than a lifetime to digest. As its author, Otto Dov Kulka, says: “I am … aware that these texts, though anchored in concrete historical events, transcend the sphere of history.” It is a historian’s memoir of Auschwitz, without sentimentality and almost without outrage, since it is an examination of a place where all human reactions are inadequate.

Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death is told in vignettes. Here is one I take to be central: a boy sits playing a tune on a harmonica. Another child comes up to him and asks if he knows what he is playing. No, he replies, it was taught to me six months ago in a camp that no longer exists. Kulka, who was the harmonica player, continues: “He then explained to me what I was playing and what we sang there and the meaning of those words. I think he also tried to explain the terrible absurdity of it, the terrible wonder of it, that a song of praise to joy and to the brotherhood of man, Schiller’s Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s ninth symphony, was being played opposite the crematoriums of Auschwitz, a few hundred metres from the place of execution, where the greatest conflagration ever experienced by that same mankind that was being sung about was going on at the very moment we were talking and in all the months we were there.”

In one sense this terrible absurdity and wonder cannot by their nature be explained. Absurdity and wonder can be revealed and their ramifications expounded, but they cannot be made to make sense; they can’t be reduced to any explanation. The same is true of death – except that in Auschwitz death made all the sense there was. Death was, as Kulka says, “The sole certain perspective ruling the world.”

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Opus No 7 review – more like alchemy than theatre

[from The Guardian]

Medals pinned on chests suddenly resemble blood-splattered gunshot wounds in Dmitry Krymov’s vivid and visceral play.

Opus No 7There are times when Dmitry Krymov‘s production, which draws parallels between the fate of European Jewry with that of artists living under the oppressive Soviet regime, seems less like theatre and more like alchemy. Buckets of paint thrown against a white cardboard wall mysteriously come alive. Holes are cut in the cardboard and the shapeless blobs are transformed into human shapes: the lost Jews of Europe. The wall bursts open and the entire theatre is filled with a blizzard of newsprint, every tiny torn scrap fluttering in the wind an unbearably poignant reminder of all those lost in the Holocaust.

There is so much loss in this visually stunning two and a half hours. A procession of ghosts are raised – victims of fascism and communism. History always walks with a jackboot here: the sinister steps of an SS officer in the first half, Genealogy, are echoed in the second half, Shostakovich. The cardboard wall of Part One is glimpsed under a piano in Part Two as the composer tries desperately to escape his political collusion as the state turns on its artists. Medals pinned on chests suddenly resemble blood-splattered gunshot wounds; Shostakovich’s own medal pierces his back, turning him into a wind-up clockwork toy, dancing to the tune of Mother Russia, represented by a monstrous outsized puppet with hard eyes and trigger-ready fingers.

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Survivors descend on London to agree a British memorial to the Holocaust

[from The Independent]

17-Helfgott-AFP-GettyA Holocaust survivor who saw almost all his family wiped out in the death camps will today take part in an event which it is hoped will help to create a fitting national memorial.

Ben Helfgott, 84, forced to spend his childhood years in concentration camps, will join hundreds of survivors at an event staged by the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, which will discuss the creation of a new, permanent British commemoration.

When he created the commission in January, David Cameron warned that there was a real danger that the events of the Holocaust will become increasingly remote to younger generations.

The cross-party commission, whose members include actress Helena Bonham Carter, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Arts Council England chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette, will stage a unique conference in London today, to discuss new education initiatives and memorial proposals gathered from a nationwide public appeal.

The guests include concentration camp survivors, individuals who escaped to Britain on the Kindertransport and those who were hidden from the Nazis as children.

Discussions will include how best to capture digitally the testimony of Holocaust survivors such as Mr Helfgott, and the possible creation of a new permanent museum. The new memorial will focus on the role that Britain played through the Kindertransport, and the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen camp.

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Glaring witness: Film’s ongoing dilemma with the Holocaust

[from Ha’Aretz]

[Interesting position piece about Holocaust cinema]

Cinema is entertainment. This has been the thorny challenge for filmmakers who’ve chosen to grapple with the subject of the Holocaust, and the reason why, from ‘Kapò’ to ‘Schindler’s List,’ most of their attempts have failed.

The Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo is best remembered for two powerful films, “The Battle of Algiers” (1966) and the Marlon Brando-starring “Burn!” (1969). But in 1960 he directed another very important film, called “Kapò.” It was important for two reasons: It was the first prestigious European movie set in a concentration camp; and the criticism written about it had a formative influence on film criticism ever since.

Pontecorvo’s film told the story of a Jewish girl (the American actress Susan Strasberg, who a few years earlier played the lead role in the original Broadway production of “The Diary of Anne Frank”). The girl is sent to Auschwitz with her parents. After they are killed, she tries every possible way to survive, including becoming a kapo.

The movie aroused controversy as soon as it was released. The few feature films before it that had dealt with the memory of the Holocaust – such as Edward Dmytryk’s “The Juggler” (1953), filmed in Israel and starring Kirk Douglas as a Holocaust survivor struggling to overcome the aftereffects of the war, or “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959) – did not depict life in the camps.

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Misha Defonseca: Author who made up Holocaust memoir ordered to repay £13.3m

[from The Independent]

Holocaust-autobiography

The author of a bestselling Holocaust memoir has been ordered to pay back £13.3 million ($22.5 million) after she admitted much of her sensational story was pure fantasy.

Misha Defonseca, a Belgian writer now living in Massachusetts, claimed she was adopted by a pack of wolves and killed a Nazi soldier to survive after her Jewish parents were taken during the Second World War.

But it emerged that she was not Jewish, as claimed, her real name was Monica Ernestine Josephine De Wael and her tale of four years wandering through forests to escape the Holocaust was untrue.

Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Yearswas published in 1997 and was translated into 18 languages and made into a French film called Survivre Avec Les Loups before Defonseca, 76, admitted that much of it was a lie.

The book, which is still on sale on Amazon for up to £15, took her around the world telling her story to Jewish groups and at Holocaust memorial events.

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Steven Spielberg help sought to create new British Holocaust commemoration

[from The Independent]

Steven Spielberg will be asked to help create a permanent British memorial to the Holocaust which will capture the audio-visual testimonies of all the survivors of Nazi persecution who forged a new life in the UK.

The film director sent a message of support to 400 survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution who gathered at Wembley Stadium for a consultation staged by the cross-party Holocaust Commission, announced by David Cameron in January.

The Commission was set up to investigate what more needs to be done to ensure Britain has a fitting memorial to the Holocaust and the right resources to educate future generations about the genocide, in which an estimated six million Jews were killed.

Spielberg, whose USC Shoah Foundation has filmed about 52,000 two-hour eyewitness accounts in 34 languages and in 58 countries, told the gathering: “The singular perspective of those who were there is vital. You are teachers of the next generation. The power of your stories is an inspiration to me and people the world over.”

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Film Reviews: Ida, The German Doctor, The Lady in Number Six: Music Saved My Life echo the Holocaust’s repercussions

[From The National Post]

The Holocaust continues to cast a long and varied shadow over our cultural landscape. Seventy years on, with the number of actual survivors dwindling, the stories and lessons from that time continue to echo through generations, and across the planet. This week sees the opening in Toronto of three films dealing with the Holocaust and its repercussions.

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Learning about the Jewish Holocaust through arts at the UN

[from Women News Network]

United Nations, New York, U.S., NORTH AMERICA: From Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 until the 1945 liberation, music played an integral role in daily life under Nazism, as illustrated at a United Nations event which used the medium of the arts to communicate fragments of the lives of victims of the Holocaust.

“It give us a deep, nuanced and complicated sense of who these human beings were who experienced these terrible things and how they responded,” said scholar Shirli Gilbert about music that survived the Holocaust.

“And helps us to see them not as a faceless mass of six million people but as individuals who came from different places, from different backgrounds, and understood what was happening in different ways.”

Working in partnership with Clive Marks, who spent most of his life studying European history and music, and who was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005 for his philanthropic efforts, Ms. Gilbert created an on-line resource for music associated with and played during the Holocaust. The website is part of the Organis  ation for Rehabilitation through Training (World ORT).

“In his second symphony, Arthur Honegger writes about the streets of Paris during the German occupation the streets on a wet Sunday afternoon, and you actually feel that you can see the greyness of it all,” Mr. Marks said in an interview alongside Ms. Gilbert ahead of the special event, Learning about the Holocaust through the Arts. Organized by the Holocaust and the UN Outreach Programme, the event was held in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations and the World Jewish Congress.

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900 of Earliest Holocaust Testimonials Available Online

[from The Jerusalem Post]

Imagine stumbling upon a three-decade-old interview of your grandmother’s Holocaust experiences on YouTube, and then listening to her retell her account of Jewish resistance against Nazis in Poland. Gal Nordlicht, who had never heard his grandmother’s story, before could only describe the experience as “incredible.”

The Nordlicht’s are just one of many families who have discovered a relatives’ Shoah testimony online through the Holocaust Oral History Collection website, created by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Oral History Division in the Institute of Contemporary Jewry. It was launched last Thursday to overlap with the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.

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Film Review: ‘Aftermath’

[from Variety website]

Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s controversial drama about the 1941 massacre of Jews in a Polish village frames Holocaust atrocities in problematic genre terms.

by Ronnie Scheib

Inspired by Jan Gross’ book “Neighbors,” about the 1941 massacre of a Polish village’s Jewish population by their Catholic neighbors,Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s “Aftermath” retools the material into a fast-paced “backwater burg with a dark secret” quasi-horror film, complete with spooky lighting, ominous music, unexplained phenomena and hostile townfolk. The idea of framing Holocaust atrocities in contemporary genre terms, although intriguing, is not without its perils, and the secret, when revealed, looms too large to fit within the plot’s parameters, creating strange disconnects between form and content. Having unleashed a firestorm of controversy in Poland, “Aftermath” will be received Stateside as simply another fictionalized Holocaust revisitation.

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New opera links Jewish, German legacies of Holocaust

[The Baltimore Sun]

Baltimore poet wrote libretto to ‘Lost Childhood;’ Wagner’s great-grandson was an inspiration.

On the night of Nov. 9, 1938, a well-orchestrated anti-Jewish pogrom erupted throughout Germany and Austria. Synagogues, businesses and homes were attacked, lives were lost. The vicious destruction continued into a second night.

The amount of broken glass afterward led to an infamous name for the incident — Kristallnacht. Through the shards could be detected the seeds of the Holocaust.

This Saturday, 75 years after Kristallnacht began, an opera about the legacy of the Nazi era will be performed in concert form at the Music Center at Strathmore.
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Holocaust survivor to make symphony debut with Yo-Yo Ma

[from Boston.com website]

The already remarkable life of Holocaust survivor George Horner is about to take another exceptional turn.

The 90-year-old pianist will make his orchestral debut with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Tuesday night at Boston’s Symphony Hall. And they’ll be playing music composed 70 years ago at the Nazi prison camp where Horner was incarcerated.

‘‘It’s an extraordinary link to the past,’’ said concert organizer Mark Ludwig.

The performance will benefit the Terezin Music Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the work of artists and musicians killed in the Holocaust.

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Alice Herz-Sommer, Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor And Pianist, Shares Music And Wisdom In New Film

[from the Huffington Post]

Alice Herz-Sommer is known for her grace and wisdom. The 109-year-old, who is the oldest living pianist and Holocaust survivor, is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational people in the world.

Now, a documentary called “The Lady In Number 6” is telling her incredible story from beginning to end — but just the 11-minute preview in itself is amazing enough.

“Every day in life is beautiful,” Herz-Sommer says in the video above. “Every day. It’s beautiful.”

The 38-minute-long documentary is directed by Malcolm Clarke and produced by Nicholas Reed and has already been shortlisted for the Academy Awards’ documentary short subject category, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Classical Review: Israel Sinfonietta – first non-Jewish German music director of the Sinfonietta, or of any Israeli orchestra since the Holocaust.

[From the Jerusalem Post]

Justus Franz is the first non-Jewish German music director of the Sinfonietta, or of any Israeli orchestra since the Holocaust.

Justus Franz – pianist, conductor, Schleswig-Holstein Festival founder, organizer, educator and new music director of Israel Sinfonietta – opened the Negev orchestra’s 2013-2014 season with a program of two 19th century German masterpieces.

He led both with authority, presence and engaging musicianship: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (commemorating the orchestra’s fifth decade); and Mendelssohn’s infrequently heard Symphony No.2, “Hymn of Praise” (1840), based on biblical verses (mostly from Psalms).

Notably, Justus Franz is the first non-Jewish German music director of the Sinfonietta, or in fact, of any Israeli orchestra since the Holocaust.

Mendelssohn’s magnificent hour-long Opus 52 (in the shadow of Beethoven’s “Choral” Ninth Symphony) was composed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first book ever printed on movable type – Gutenberg’s Bible. It strives to echo biblical ethos, giving testimony to its manifold aspects of faith.

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Germany may charge 30 Auschwitz Nazi guards

[From the BBC news website]

German justice officials have said 30 former Auschwitz death camp guards should face prosecution.

The Baden-Wuerttemberg state justice ministry, heading the investigation, said 49 guards had been investigated, of whom 30 should be prosecuted.

The 30 are spread across Germany, and another seven are living abroad. They are said to be aged up to 97.

Auschwitz was the biggest Nazi death camp. More than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered there.

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Erinnerung von unten: Stolpersteine in Mainz

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Imre Kertész: Music, Silence, Automation

[From The Quietus website]

Coinciding with the release of his first (and apparently only) memoir, Dossier K, earlier this year, Daniel Fraser considers the writing and the life of Hungarian Nobel Prize-winning author Imre Kertész.

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Holocaust-themed opera to be staged in Mexico

[From the Global Post website]

Mexico City, Aug 13 (EFE).- The opera The Emperor of Atlantis, composed in a Nazi concentration camp by Austria’s Viktor Ullmann, brought its satirical indictment of Nazism to Mexico for the first time, singer Jose Adan Perez said Tuesday.

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