The infectious and martial music that the Buchenwald orchestra played morning and evenings on the central roll call plaza, and during the departure and arrival of the work commandos. And also the illegal music, by means of which our world was brought into contact with freedom: the classical music, that would sound some evenings in a basement of the Effektenkammer from a string quartet led by Maurice Hewitt; jazz music by a orchestra founded by Jiri Zak.
Although the vast majority of Buchenwald inmates were not exposed to much of this music, daily life at the camp over its eight years of existence saw an unusual amount of cultural activity. The most ubiquitous form was forced mass singing. As thousands of exhausted inmates gathered for evening roll call, the camp commander would insist that they all sing in unison, on key and loudly. One former inmate recalled,. We were a chorus of ten thousand men.
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Even in normal conditions, and if all singers had really known how to sing, it would have required several weeks of training. And how were we to get over the laws of acoustics? The mustering-ground measured three hundred paces or more across.
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This singing was also an opportunity for the guards to humiliate and arbitrarily punish prisoners. Early on, the camp leadership organised a competition for the best camp song.
Set to an energetic march, its rousing chorus focused on the inevitable freedom that awaited them beyond the camp walls. For many of the prisoners, singing the song felt like an act of resistance:. But the Buchenwald song also brought us a little pleasure, for it was our song. As was the case in most Nazi camps, the prisoners were treated differently according to their status in Nazism's racial hierarchy.
Jews were always at the bottom of the pile, and treated accordingly.
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This grotesque paean to antisemitism was written by a German prisoner who wanted to gain favour with the SS. After roll call the Jewish prisoners were occasionally told to remain behind and sing the song over and over again, for hours on end. When Buchenwald hosted important visitors, the camp prisoners were often required to sing, and the Jews in particular were commanded to perform songs about Jewish conspiracy and hooked noses. There were many other examples of punishments meted out to the Jewish prisoners.
In December , for example, several Jewish men were gathered in the main square. The band was forced to play music until the men fell; they were then forced to waltz on their knees, and when they were no longer able to move, they were whipped in time to the music. Not only Jews experienced these sorts of horrors. This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:.
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Theory and Practice of Hell : The German Concentration Camps and the System behind Them
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Scholarly accounts - Buchenwald Memorial
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Be the first to write a review About this product. Allied troops were sweeping through Nazi Germany and discovering the atrocities of SS concentration camps. The first to be reached intact was Buchenwald, in central Germany. American soldiers struggled to make sense of the shocking scenes they witnessed inside.