A Musical Collaboration: the Orchestras of Auschwitz
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In the historiography of the Holocaust, the subject of music is often disregarded in favor of politics, and when it is mentioned it is done so in passing. This paper seeks to understand how Nazis used music as a tool to degrade prisoners and, focusing on Auschwitz, how in one case prisoners used that music as a source of renewed dignity. The research draws mainly on memoirs and interviews from musicians who survived Auschwitz, and includes an overview of the small amount of literature surrounding the topic. Using the voices of the musicians themselves, this project aims to shatter the common misconception that all instances of music in concentration camps were positive experiences for prisoners, while highlighting one instance of rebellion and survival through musical excellence. Due to the scant and misleading literature surrounding the topic, this project recommends further research into this “other side” of music in the Holocaust.