Holocaust: A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz

Holocaust: A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz (2005)

Auschwitz Museum presents this Award-Winning Musical Film on DVD. The program marked the 60th anniversary, on January 27, 2005, of the liberation of Auschwitz. In homage to the millions of victims of Nazi terror, the Museum agreed for the first time to the filming at the Auschwitz site of performances by internationally renowned musicians.

The music, all connected to one degree or another with the Holocaust or the World War II period, was accompanied by the reminiscences of former prisoners, including some who played in the camp orchestra. As Primo Levi noted, music was “an audible expression of the madness of the camp” for the prisoners who listened to it. For the members of the camp orchestra who survived, music was their salvation.

Their voices bear witness to the way the depraved Nazi regime misused music, but also to music’s universal role as consolation. The fascinating blending of music and words takes the viewer on a fascinating voyage that is a reflection on those horrendous times and their significance in the 21st century.

The film features music by W.A. Mozart, J.S. Bach, Chopin, Schubert, Górecki, Victor Ullmann, Osvaldo Golijov, Steve Reich, and Olivier Messiaen.

Performers included such international standouts as Emanuel Ax, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Iva Bittová, Deidre Cooper, Tove Dahlberg, Sinfonietta Cracovia/Camerata Silesia conducted by John Axelrod, Gerald Finley, Iwona Hossa, Ian Humphries, David Krakauer, Edgaras Montvidas, Martin Roscoe, The Smith Quartet, Michael Ward-Bergeman, and Maxim Vengerov.

The 90-minute documentary was produced by the BBC, with the collaboration of Polish television, ZDF, and the CBC.

Joe Fitzgerald