Visit the Museum

Exhibitions

Learn

Teach

Collections

Academic Research

Remember Survivors and Victims

Genocide Prevention

Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial

Other Museum Websites

Share
Violinists perform in the Kovno ghetto orchestra.

Violinists perform in the Kovno ghetto orchestra. ——US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of George Kadish/Zvi Kadushin

Introduction

Music has been essential to German culture and national identity for centuries. For the Nazis, music was seen not only as a source of national pride but also a tool that could be used to reshape German society to reflect the racial and cultural ideology of the Third Reich. Shortly after taking power in 1933 Nazi officials sought to “coordinate” German music by establishing the Reich Chamber of Music to supervise all musical activities in Germany and encourage music that upheld “Aryan” values. Orchestras and conservatories were nationalized and subsidized by the state, while popular performers were recruited to serve as propaganda outlets for the Reich. Jewish musicians were stripped of their positions, and those who chose or were forced to remain in Germany formed the Jewish Culture Association (“Jüdischer Kulturbund”) to operate an orchestra, theater, and opera company composed of Jewish performers. The Nazis also ascribed a racial element to music, denouncing popular music like jazz as well as modern, avant-garde orchestral compositions as corrupting influences on traditional German values. A 1938 exhibition in Düsseldorf entitled “Entartete Musik” condemned this so-called “degenerate” music and the artists who performed it.

In the ghettos and concentration camps, music was used as a form of spiritual and cultural resistance against the Nazis. Orchestras, choirs, and other musical groups were formed in many ghettos to give clandestine performances for fellow residents. The ghetto at Terezín (Theresienstadt in German), which the Nazis used for propaganda purposes as a “model ghetto,” held many of the most prominent Jewish musicians and composers from across Europe, including Gideon Klein, Hans Krása, Pavel Haas, and Viktor Ullmann. Music composed and performed in Theresienstadt and other ghettos reflect the dire living conditions under the Nazis and longing for what was being destroyed. Several concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, and Buchenwald, had prisoner orchestras that were forced to give performances for SS officers and visiting dignitaries. For these performers, music became a form of “useful work” that could help guarantee survival.

The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to selected materials on music in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.

Music in the Third Reich

  • Bergen, Doris L. “Hosanna or ‘Hilk, O Herr Uns’: National Identity, the German Christian Movement, and the ‘Dejudaization’ of Sacred Music in the Third Reich.” In Music and German National Identity, edited by Celia Applegate and Pamela Potter, 140-154. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. (ML 275 .M933 2002) [Find in a library near you]

    Outlines the efforts of government officials to “Germanize” and “dejudaize” the texts of sacred choral works, such as Christmas carols and traditional hymns, by modifying the verses to reflect Nazi ideals. Includes a suggested reading list on the subject.

  • Bergmeier, Horst J. P., and Rainer E. Lotz. “Propaganda Swing.” In Hitler’s Airwaves: The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing, 136-177. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. (D 810 .P7 G318 1997) [Find in a library near you]

    Describes the use of music broadcasts and recordings as propaganda tools in the Third Reich. Traces the history of Charlie and His Orchestra, a swing group formed by the Nazi propaganda ministry to influence the general public in England and the United States. Includes a CD of propaganda broadcasts and music.

  • Brinkman, Reinhold, and Christoph Wolff, editors. Driven into Paradise: The Musical Migration from Nazi Germany to the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. (ML 198.5 .D75 1999) [Find in a library near you]

    Essays chronicling the experiences of musicians forced to leave Nazi Germany for racial, political, or professional reasons. Presents case studies of well-known performers and composers who attempted to reclaim their musical careers in the United States. Includes an appendix listing musicologists who fled Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.

  • Currid, Brian. A National Acoustics: Music and Mass Publicity in Weimar and Nazi Germany. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006. (ML 3917 .G3 C87 2006) [Find in a library near you]

    Analyzes how radio programming, film music, and popular songs were used to shape the “soundtrack” of cultural life in Nazi Germany. Includes an extensive bibliography, endnotes, and an index.

  • Dümling, Albrecht. “The Target of Racial Purity: The ‘Degenerate Music’ Exhibition in Düsseldorf, 1938.” In Art, Culture, and Media Under the Third Reich, edited by Richard A. Etlin, 43-72. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. (NX 550 .A1 A778 2002) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents an overview of the history of German music from the end of World War I through the rise of Nazism, culminating in the “degenerate music” exhibit of 1938.

  • Frühauf, Tina. “The Destruction of a Cultural Tradition in Germany: Organs and Organ Music in the Synagogue.” In Remembering for the Future: The Holocaust in an Age of Genocide, Volume 1, edited by Margot Levy, 410-421. New York: Palgrave, 2001. (D 804.18 .R46 2001) [Find in a library near you]

    Describes the fate of Jewish organists and organ music under the Nazis, culminating in the destruction of over 200 synagogue organs on Kristallnacht. Includes brief obituaries for 22 organists and composers who died in the Holocaust.

  • Goldsmith, Martin. The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2000. (ML 395 .G65 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Tells the story of the author’s parents, who met as performers in the Jewish Culture Association (“Jüdischer Kulturbund”) orchestra in Frankfurt. Describes the activities of the Kulturbund in the face of rising Nazi antagonism throughout the 1930s, and the decision by the author’s father to return from Sweden to Germany in 1936 to be with the woman who would later be his wife.

  • Kant, Marion. “The Nazi Attempt to Suppress Jazz and Swing: A Case Study.” In Hitler’s Dancers: German Modern Dance and the Third Reich, 165-189. New York: Berghahn Books, 2003. (GV 1651 .K3713 2003) [Find in a library near you]

    Summarizes the efforts by the Reich Culture Chamber to suppress the performance of jazz music and its popular accompaniment, swing dance, as threats to the Nazi claim for “total authority over its citizens, their minds and their bodies.” Includes extensive notes.

  • Kater, Michael H. Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. (ML 390 .K198 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Provides biographical sketches of 8 leading composers who worked during the Third Reich: Werner Egk, Paul Hindemith, Kurt Weill, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Carl Orff, Hans Pfitzner, Arnold Schoenberg, and Richard Strauss. Explores the complex issues surrounding the roles of music and musicians as victims, émigrés, perpetrators, and collaborators in Nazi Germany.

  • Kater, Michael H. Different Drummers: Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. (ML 3509 .G3 K37 1992) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents a portrait of popular music in the Third Reich. Outlines the ways jazz and swing music, which were denounced as “undesirable” by the Nazis, became a form of expression and cultural resistance.

  • Kater, Michael H., and Albrecht Reithmüller, editors. Music and Nazism: Art under Tyranny, 1933-1945. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 2003. (ML 275.5 .M964 2003) [Find in a library near you]

    Collection of essays mapping the landscape of musical culture in Nazi Germany. Explores the ideological underpinnings of the Nazi approach to music and the implications of these ideas for musicians in the Third Reich. Includes endnotes for each essay, biographical entries for all contributors, and an index.

  • Kater, Michael H. The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. (ML 275.5 .K38 1997) [Find in a library near you]

    Illustrates the effect of Nazi policies on German musical culture by exploring the lives of musicians in the Third Reich, from little-known musicians in local orchestras to major composers and performers. Reviews the use of music as a propaganda tool in schools and civic organizations. Includes extensive endnotes and an index.

  • Lawford-Hinrichsen, Irene. Music Publishing and Patronage: C. F. Peters, 1800 to the Holocaust. Kenton: Edition Press, 2000. (ML 427 .P45 L38 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    History of C. F. Peters, one of the oldest and largest music publishing houses in the world. Includes chapters covering the implications of Nazi racial and cultural policies on the German music publishing industry in general and the company itself, which was taken over, or “aryanized,” by the Nazis after Kristallnacht.

  • Levi, Erik. “The Aryanization of Music in Nazi Germany.” The Musical Times, 131, No. 1763 (1990): 19-23. (Subject Files) [Find in a library near you]

    Overview of the tactics Nazi party officials used to purge German music of “non-Aryan” influences and reshape the repertoire to reflect Nazi ideology.

  • Levi, Erik. “Atonality, 12-Tone Music and the Third Reich.” Tempo 178 (1991): 17-21. (Subject Files) [Find in a library near you]

    Analyzes the Nazi treatment of modern, atonal compositions, which were condemned as “degenerate” and were considered part of a perceived “Jewish world conspiracy.”

  • Levi, Erik. “Music and National Socialism: The Politicisation of Criticism, Composition and Performance.” In The Nazification of Art: Art, Design, Music, Architecture, and Film in the Third Reich, edited by Brandon Taylor and Wilfried van der Will, 158-182. Winchester, Hampshire: Winchester Press, Winchester School of Art, 1990. (NX 550 .A1 N37 1990) [Find in a library near you]

    Documents the Nazi use of music and musicology for political and nationalistic purposes, including propaganda. Includes a chronology of German music from 1933 to 1945.

  • Levi, Erik. Music in the Third Reich. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994. (ML 275.5 .L49 1994) [Find in a library near you]

    Provides an overview of music culture in the Third Reich by tracing the careers of composers, musicians, critics, and others who contributed to the musical landscape of the times. Includes chapters on the use of new technologies such as radio and recordings as well as the music publishing industry to promote Nazi ideals.

  • Levi, Erik. “Opera in the Nazi Period.” In Theatre under the Nazis, edited by John London, 136-186. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2000. (PN 2654 .T53 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Details the efforts to recreate the German opera repertoire to reflect Nazi political and cultural ideology. Includes an appendix listing the first performances of all contemporary operas performed in Nazi-controlled areas of Central Europe.

  • Meyer, Michael. “A Musical Facade for the Third Reich.” In Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-garde in Nazi Germany, edited by Stephanie Barron, 170-183. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1991. (N 6868 .D3388 1991) [Find in a library near you]

    Details Nazi attempts to purge German music of “degenerate” influences like jazz. Includes a discussion of the 1938 Entartete Musik (“Degenerate Music”) exhibition in Düsseldorf.

  • Meyer, Michael. The Politics of Music in the Third Reich. New York: Peter Lang, 1991. (ML 275.5 .M49 1991) [Find in a library near you]

    Explores the affect of Nazism on German music in the 1930s and 1940s, including propaganda, the influence of National Socialist concepts of race on classical music and opera, and a discussion of the relationship between composer Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Nazi Party. Includes illustrations and an index.

  • Meyer, Michael. “The Nazi Musicologist as Myth Maker in the Third Reich.” Journal of Contemporary History 10, no. 4 (1975): 649-665. (Subject File) [Find in a library near you]

    Traces the role of musicologists in the reshaping of the German cultural past to reflect Nazi preoccupations and viewpoints.

  • Potter, Pamela M. Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitler’s Reich. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998. (ML 3797 .P67 1998) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents an overview of the role musicologists and music scholarship played in Nazi efforts to reshape German society. Outlines the efforts of scholars to reinterpret German music history to support Nazi ideology and discusses the denazification of musicologists after the war. Includes an extensive bibliography and an index.

  • Potter, Pamela M. “Music in the Third Reich: The Complex Task of Germanization.” In The Arts in Nazi Germany: Continuity, Conformity, Change, edited by Jonathan Huener and Francis R. Nicosia, 85-110. New York: Berghahn Books, 2006. (NX 550 .A1 A85 2006) [Find in a library near you]

    Deconstructs recurring myths about the Nazi use of music as an agent of social control, then examines how German music was stripped of non-“Aryan” influences through a process of “Germanization” in the Third Reich. Includes photographs of musical productions in Nazi Germany.

  • Prieberg, Fred K. Musik im NS-Staat. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1982. (ML 275.5 .P75 1982) [Find in a library near you]

    Detailed survey of the history of music in the Third Reich, reviewing how Nazism permeated the musical culture of Germany and occupied countries.

  • Prieberg, Fred K. Trial of Strength: Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994. (ML 422 .F92 P7513 1994) [Find in a library near you]

    Documents the controversial career of conductor and composer Wilhelm Furtwängler, who chose to remain in Germany and work with the Nazi Party throughout the war despite his open criticism of the regime. Details his complex relationship with Jewish musicians. Includes photographs and important documents from his life.

  • Steinweis, Alan E. Art, Ideology & Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993. (NX 550 .A1 S75 1993) [Find in a library near you]

    Illustrates how Nazi officials used economic and professional incentives to persuade artists—including musicians, composers, and conductors—to support the regime. Includes an extensive bibliography and an index.

  • Wicke, Peter, and Richard Deveson. “Sentimentality and High Pathos: Popular Music in Fascist Germany.” Popular Music, 5 (1985): 149-158. (Subject File) [Find in a library near you]

    Explores the ways popular music was used as a social and political tool by the Reich Chamber of Music to shape the German public image of the Nazis. Provides analysis of Nazi radio transmissions of the 1930s to trace the increasing use of music as a propaganda tool.

Music in the Ghettos and Camps

  • Adler, Eliyana R. “No Raisins, No Almonds: Singing as Spiritual Resistance to the Holocaust.” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 24, no. 4 (2006): 50-66. [Find in a library near you]

    Examines the various ways Jewish composers and songwriters re-worked popular songs from the pre-war period to reflect Nazi persecution. Characterizes songwriting and performing as a “quintessential example” of spiritual resistance against oppression.

  • Beker, Sonia Pauline. Symphony on Fire: A Story of Music and Spiritual Resistance During the Holocaust. New Milford, NJ: Wordsmithy, 2007. (DS 135 .L52 V52435 2007) [Find in a library near you]

    Relates the story of Max Beker and Fania Durmashkin, accomplished Lithuanian musicians who performed in the orchestras of the Vilna ghetto and the St. Ottilien Displaced Persons Camp. Includes notes and a list of sources.

  • Bergen, Doris L. “Music and the Holocaust.” In The Holocaust: Introductory Essays, edited by David Scrase and Wolfgang Mieder, 133-147. Burlington, VT: The Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont, 1996. (D 804.3 .H645 1996) [Find in a library near you]

    Overview essay identifying the major topics and personalities in the history of music during the Holocaust. Includes a suggested reading list for further study.

  • Bor, Josef. The Terezín Requiem. New York: Knopf, 1963. (PG 5039.12 .O673 T4713 1963) [Find in a library near you]

    Fictionalized account of the actual performance of Verdi’s Requiem in the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1944, under the baton of conductor Raphael Schächter. All of the performers were later deported en masse to Auschwitz.

  • Cummins, Paul. Dachau Song: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper. New York: Peter Lang, 1992. (ML 422 .Z56 C8 1992) [Find in a library near you]

    Traces the life of Herbert Zipper, a Viennese conductor and composer sent to Dachau in 1938. Describes his efforts to create a secret orchestra in the camp, his transfer to Buchenwald, and his eventual release in 1939.

  • Fénelon, Fania. Playing for Time. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997. (ML 429 .F436 A313 1997) [Find in a library near you]

    Memoir of a French singer who spent two years in the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she was a featured performer in the women’s orchestra. Includes detailed descriptions of life in the orchestra under the direction of Alma Rosé.

  • Flam, Gila. “The Role of Singing in the Ghettos: Between Entertainment and Witnessing.” In Holocaust Chronicles: Individualizing the Holocaust through Diaries and Other Contemporaneous Personal Accounts, edited by Robert Moses Shapiro, 141-153. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1999. (D 804.18 .H67 1999) [Find in a library near you]

    Analyzes two songs recorded shortly after the war by survivors of the camps, using clues from the lyrics to determine when, where, and under what conditions the songs were originally composed and performed. Includes a list of references for further reading.

  • Flam, Gila. Singing for Survival: Songs of the Lodz Ghetto, 1940-45. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992. (ML 3776 .F62 1992) [Find in a library near you]

    Explores the repertoire of songs created or performed by prisoners in the Lodz ghetto. Provides a brief history and overview of the ghetto and its music culture as well as analysis, lyrics, and music of dozens of compositions from the ghetto.

  • Gilbert, Shirli. Music in the Holocaust: Confronting Life in the Nazi Ghettos and Camps. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. (ML 3776 .G54 2005) [Find in a library near you]

    Social history documenting musical life in the Warsaw and Vilna ghettos as well as prisoner choirs and orchestras in the Sachsenhausen and Auschwitz concentration camps. Includes a glossary, bibliography, index, and an appendix listing songs created or performed by Jewish prisoners.

  • Graham, Lisa. “Musik Macht Frei: Choral Music Composed and Performed in the Nazi Concentration Camps, 1938-44.” DMA diss., University of Southern California, 2001. (ML 1620.5 .G73 2001) [Find in a library near you]

    Documents the formation and use of prisoner choirs in concentration camps and ghettos, with particular focus on the singers in Theresienstadt. Includes transcriptions of several songs composed in the camps.

  • Heskes, Irene. “Music of the Holocaust.” In Holocaust Literature: A Handbook of Critical, Historical, and Literary Writings, edited by Saul S. Friedman, 591-603. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press,1993. (D 804.3 .H6475 1993) [Find in a library near you]

    Introduction and overview of music in the Third Reich and the Holocaust, from the Nazi attempts to “purify” music in the 1930s to the impact of the ghettos and camps on Jewish musical traditions of Eastern Europe. Includes a bibliography of secondary literature on the subject as well as listings of songbooks from the ghettos and music in commemoration of the Holocaust.

  • Hirsch, David H. “Camp Music and Camp Songs: Szymon Laks and Aleksander Kulisiewicz.” In Confronting the Holocaust: A Mandate for the 21st Century, edited by G. Jan Colijn and Marcia Sachs Littell, 157-168. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1997. (D 804.18 .C66 1997) [Find in a library near you]

    Discusses the role of music as a method of survival in the camps by focusing on the writings of two survivors who explored the subject in detail.

  • Jani, Emilio. My Voice Saved Me: Auschwitz 180046. Milano: Centauro Editrice, 1961. (D 804.196 .J36 A3 1961) [Find in a library near you]

    Memoir of an Italian Jewish tenor who was arrested and imprisoned in the Via Tasso, Regina Coeli, and Fossoli prisons in Italy, and who later performed with the prisoner orchestra in Auschwitz.

  • Jelavich, Peter. “Cabaret in Concentration Camps.” In Theatre and War 1933-1945: Performance in Extremis, edited by Michael Balfour, 137-163. New York: Berghahn Books, 2001. (PN 2570 .T389 2001) [Find in a library near you]

    Discusses the performance of cabaret-style musical revues in the Westerbork transit camp and the Theresienstadt ghetto, with an emphasis on the ways these performances served as a form of resistance.

  • Karas, Joža. Music in Terezín 1941-1945. New York: Beaufort Books, 1985. (ML 247.8 .T47 K43 1985) [Find in a library near you]

    Describes the musical culture that developed in the “model” ghetto, Theresienstadt, where many of Europe’s most prominent Jewish musicians and composers were detained. Reconstructs the musical repertoire performed in the ghetto. Extensively illustrated, with biographical sketches of persons featured in the text.

  • Karas, Joža. “Operatic Performances in Terezín: Krása’s Brundibar.” In Theatrical Performance During the Holocaust: Texts, Documents, Memories, edited by Rebecca Rovit and Alan Goldfarb, 190-200. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. (PN 3035 .T485 1999) [Find in a library near you]

    Chronicles the planning and production of the opera Brundibár, performed by a children’s company in Theresienstadt for representatives from the International Red Cross in 1944.

  • Kulisiewicz, Aleksander. “Polish Camp Songs, 1939-1945.” Modern Language Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Winter, 1986): 3-9. (Subject files) [Find in a library near you]

    Analyzes several songs composed in Nazi concentration camps, presenting them as a “testimony to the chaos and destructiveness of the camps.”

  • Laks, Szymon. Music of Another World. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1989. (D 805 .P7 L34313 1989) [Find in a library near you]

    Memoir by the music director of the prisoner orchestra in Auschwitz. Recounts the author’s daily existence including performances for SS officers of the camp.

  • Lasker-Wallfisch, Anita. Inherit the Truth, 1939-1945: The Documented Experiences of a Survivor of Auschwitz and Belsen. London: Giles de la Mare, 1996. (DS 135 .P63 L37 1996) [Find in a library near you]

    Memoir of a member of the women’s orchestra in Auschwitz. Includes a translated section from the book Elf Frauen: Leben in Wahrheit: eine Ärztin berichtet aus Auschwitz-Birkenau 1942-1945 by Margita Schwalbova that discusses Dr. Schwalbova’s experiences with Alma Rosé and the women’s orchestra.

  • Nathan-Davis, Sarah. “Music of the Holocaust.” In Remembering for the Future: The Holocaust in an Age of Genocide, Volume 3, edited by Margot Levy, 804-813. New York: Palgrave, 2001. (D 804.18 .R46 2001) [Find in a library near you]

    Review of the key events and individuals in the history of music in the ghettos and concentration camps.

  • Newman, Richard. Alma Rosé: Vienna to Auschwitz. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 2000. (ML 418 .R76 N48 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Traces the life of violinist Alma Rosé, a niece of Gustav Mahler. Recounts her childhood and early musical career in Vienna, her experiences in occupied Holland, and her time as music master of the women’s orchestra in Auschwitz.

  • Vries, Willem de. Sonderstab Musik: Music Confiscations by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg under the Nazi Occupation of Western Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1996. (ML 275.5 .V75 1996) [Find in a library near you]

    Details the plunder of French, Belgian, and Dutch orchestras and music halls under the direction of Alfred Rosenberg, including the theft of instruments, rare sheet music, and recordings.

  • Wadler, Aleeza Nemirovsky. “Strings in the Shadows: A Portrait of Three Violinists at the Terezin Concentration Camp.” DMA diss., Boston University, 2003. (ML 398 .W33 2003) [Find in a library near you]

    Describes the day-to-day experiences of three musicians in the Theresienstadt: Paul Kling, Thomas Mandl, and Egon Ledec. Traces the recitals and concerts they performed in the ghetto. Based, in part, on interviews with Mandl and Kling.

Scores and Sheet Music

  • Kalisch, Shoshana, and Barbara Meister, editors. Yes, We Sang!: Songs of the Ghettos and Concentration Camps. New York: Harper & Row, 1985. (M 1852 .Y47 1985) [Find in a library near you]

    Compiles music and lyrics to twenty-five songs composed or performed in the ghettos and concentration camps, with introductory notes to each song. Includes a bibliography and a guide to Yiddish pronunciation.

  • Kon, Henech, arranger. Songs of the Ghettos. New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, 1972. (Oversize M 1852 .K65 S6 1972) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents arrangements for twenty songs originally performed in the ghettos.

  • Mlotek, Eleanor, and Malke Gottlieb, editors. We Are Here: Songs of the Holocaust. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1983. (Oversize M 1852 .M55 1983) [Find in a library near you]

    Melodies and lyrics for over forty Holocaust-era Jewish folk songs. Includes singable English translations for each song.

  • Pasternak, Velvel, arranger and editor. Songs Never Silenced. Baltimore: Tara Publications, 2003. (Oversize M 1852 .S66 2003) [Find in a library near you]

    Compilation of over 100 ghetto and camp songs presented in Hebrew, Yiddish and English. Includes a CD with recordings of 24 songs from the book.

  • Silverman, Jerry, arranger and editor. The Undying Flame: Ballads and Songs of the Holocaust. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002. (Oversize M 1850 .U53 2002) [Find in a library near you]

    Piano arrangements and guitar chords for 110 Holocaust-era songs in sixteen languages, with singable English translations. Includes introductory notes for each piece as well as a CD with fifteen songs performed by the editor.

Audio Recordings

  • Chamber music from Theresienstadt: 1941-1945. Englewood, NJ: Channel Classics, 1991. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents five pieces by Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullmann, all composed or performed in Theresienstadt.

  • Composers of the Holocaust. New York: Leonarda, 2000. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents eighteen songs composed in the ghettos and camps. Includes a booklet with English translations of the lyrics.

  • Entartete Musik: eine Tondokumentation zur Düsseldorfer Ausstellung von 1938. Berlin: POOL Musikproduktion, 1988. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Recordings produced to accompany a 1998 exhibition in Düsseldorf to commemorate the music declared “degenerate” by the Nazis in an exhibit of the same name fifty years earlier. Includes two booklets with detailed program notes.

  • Gebirtig, Mordecai. Krakow Ghetto Notebook. Port Washington, NY: Koch, 1994. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents nineteen songs drawn from the notebook Mordecai Gebirtig kept in the Krakow ghetto.

  • Hawthorne String Quartet. Chamber Music From Theresienstadt: 1941-1945. Amsterdam: Channel Classics, 1991. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents four works by Gideon Klein along with Viktor Ullmann’s “Quartett op. 46, no 3.” Produced by the Terezín Chamber Music Foundation.

  • Hidden History: Songs of the Kovno Ghetto. Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1997. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Compiles seventeen songs written and sung in the Kovno ghetto. Includes a booklet with a brief article about music in the ghetto as well as introductory notes and lyrics to each song.

  • Krása, Hans. Brundibár: A Children’s Opera in Two Acts. New York: Arabesque, 1996. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    New recording of the children’s opera performed for representatives of the Red Cross by prisoners in the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1943. Includes a booklet with the libretto in English, Czech, French, and German.

  • Lishner, Leon. Our Town is Burning: Cries from the Holocaust. [U.S.]: Centaur, 1994. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Twenty-seven songs from the ghettos and camps, many of which are drawn from the book We Are Here: Songs of the Holocaust. Sung in Yiddish and Czech.

  • Lotoro, Francesco. KZ Musik [sound recording]. Roma: Musikstrasse, 2006. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Part of a planned 24-CD set comprehensively compiling all songs, chamber music, orchestral compositions, and arrangements created in Nazi camps between 1933 and 1945 by musicians of all ethnic, religious, and national backgrounds. More information about this project can be found on the Musikstrasse Web site.

  • The Music Survives!: Degenerate Music. London: London Records, 1997. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Collection of music suppressed and labeled “degenerate” by the Nazis. Includes a VHS documentary exploring how and why these composers came to be viewed as corrupting influences on “Aryan” culture.

  • Rise Up and Fight! Songs of the Jewish Partisans. Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1996. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Eighteen songs, mostly in Yiddish, based on poetry written by Jewish partisans. Accompanying booklet includes an essay by Dov Levin about the music folklore of the partisans, as well as English translations of the lyrics.

  • Terezin: The Music 1941-1944. London: Romantic Robot, 1991. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents works composed and performed in Theresienstadt, including music by Viktor Ullman, Gideon Klein, and the children’s opera Brundibar by Hans Krása.

  • Totentanz: Kabarett im KZ. Neckargemünd, Germany: Edition Mnemosyne, 2000. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents recordings of songs and texts excerpted from revues and musicals composed by Fritz Grünbaum and other Jewish performers who perished in the camps. Also includes a DVD with a documentary about Jewish entertainers in concentration camps.

  • Zamir Chorale of Boston. Hear Our Voices: Songs of the Ghettos and Camps. Newton, MA: HaZamir Recordings, 1995. (Compact Disc) [Find in a library near you]

    Twenty-nine songs composed by Mordecai Gebirtig, Pavel Haas, Viktor Ullman, and others in the ghettos and concentration camps.

Holocaust Encyclopedia

Holocaust Encyclopedia

Explore our comprehensive entries on the events, people, and places of the Holocaust.

Learn More

Film and Video

  • Daeron, Michel. Bach in Auschwitz [videorecording]. New York: Winstar TV and Video, 2000. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]

    Eleven members of the prisoner orchestra in Auschwitz reunite in 1999 to share their experiences.

Web Resources

  • BBC Radio Woman’s Hour: Alice Herz Sommer, Surviving the Holocaust

    Presents an audio interview with Alice Herz Sommer, a concert pianist who performed in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

  • Music of Remembrance

    Web site of Music of Remembrance, a Seattle-based organization dedicated to honoring Holocaust musicians through performance, educational activities, musical recordings, and commissions of new works. Includes a schedule of upcoming events, information about recordings by the organization, and details about educational programs and partnerships.

  • Terezín Music Foundation

    Web site dedicated to the preservation, performance, and research of the music written by composers who perished during the Holocaust, with a special emphasis on those in Theresienstadt. Includes information about the foundation’s research activities, archives, and educational programs, as well as a calendar of upcoming musical performances.

  • USHMM: Music of the Holocaust: Highlights of the Collection

    Listen to online streaming versions of concentration camp songs, protest songs, ghetto music, and other compositions from the Holocaust. Requires RealPlayer to listen to excerpts.

Additional Resources

Subject Files

Ask at the reference desk to see the subject file labeled “Music” containing newspaper and periodical articles.

Subject Headings

To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on music in the Third Reich and the Holocaust, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:

  • Jews–Germany–Music–History and criticism
  • Music–Germany–20th century–History and criticism
  • Musicians–Germany
  • National socialism and music

See all Bibliographies