Music of the Holocaust: Highlights from the Collection
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum





Hoch, Moshe, et al. 1990. “Music, the Holocaust in.” In Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. New York: Macmillan.

Rubin, Ruth. 1979. Voices of a People. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society. Chapter 16, “The Struggle to Survive,” surveys ghetto and partisan songs.

Memoirs and Biographies

Braun, Shony Alex. 1985. From Concentration Camp to Concert Hall. Los Angeles: S.A. Braun. Memoir by the popular violinist.

Cummins, Paul. 1992. Dachau Song. New York: Peter Lang. Biography of Herbert Zipper, composer of the Dachau camp “anthem.”

Fénelon, Fania, with Marcelle Routier. 1997. Playing For Time. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Memoir of the author's experiences as a performer with the Auschwitz-Birkenau female orchestra. First published (as Sursis pour l'orchestre) in 1976.

Laks, Szymon. 1989. Music of Another World. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Memoir of a composer who became director of the male prisoners' orchestra in Auschwitz. First published (as Musiques d'un autre monde) in 1948.

Songs from the Ghettos and Camps

Hurvitz, Ernst, ed. 1987. Min HaMitzar. Tel-Aviv: Ghetto Fighters' House. Songbook with texts in Hebrew translation (Yiddish originals appended.)

Kalisch, Shoshana. 1985. Yes, We Sang!: Songs of the Ghettos and Concentration Camps. New York: Harper & Row. Songbook with commentaries and English translations.

Mlotek, Eleanor and Malke Gottlieb. 1983. We Are Here: Songs of the Holocaust. New York: Workmen's Circle. Songbook with commentaries and English translations.

Silverman, Jerry. 2001. The Undying Flame: Ballads And Songs Of The Holocaust. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Songbook, includes singable English translations, CD.

Vinkovetsky, Aharon, et al., eds. 1995. Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs. Volume 4 (Ghetto and Partisan songs). Jerusalem: Magnes Press of the Hebrew University.

Music in Theresienstadt (Terezin)

Bloch, David. 1989. “Terezin, Music in”. In The Blackwell Companion To Jewish Culture. Oxford: Blackwell Reference.

Bor, Josef. 1963. The Terezin Requiem. New York: Knopf. Novel about Verdi's Requiem Performance at Theresienstadt ghetto.

Karas, Joza. 1985. Music in Terezín 1941-1945. New York: Beaufort Books.

Jazz and popular music under the Nazis

Kater, Michael H. 1992. Different Drummers: Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Zwerin, Mike. 1985. La Tristesse de Saint Louis: Jazz Under the Nazis. New York: Beech Tree Books. (In English.)

Classical music under the Nazis

Kater, Michael H. 1997. The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kater, Michael H. 2000. Composers of the Nazi era: Eight Portraits. New York: Oxford University Press.

Levi, Erik. 1994. Music in the Third Reich. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Preiberg, Fred K. 1991. Trial of Strength: Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Third Reich. London: Quartet Books. Study of the world famous conductor who elected to remain in Nazi Germany.

Wagner, Gottfried. 1999. Twilight of the Wagners. New York: Picador. A memoir by Richard Wagner's grandson about his family's relationship with the Nazi regime.


An Introduction to Entartete Musik. London/Decca 2LH 452664. Anthology of works by composers whose music was banned by the Nazis as “degenerate.”

Ghetto Tango: Wartime Yiddish Theater. Traditional Crossroads 4297. Anthology of 18 songs created in ghettos and elsewhere. Features Adrienne Cooper and Zalmen Mlotek.

Hidden History: Songs of the Kovno Ghetto. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum USHMM-03. 17 topical songs, primarily in Yiddish.

Mordecai Gebirtig: Krakow Ghetto Notebook. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum/Koch International Classics CD 372 952. 18 songs in Yiddish by the martyred folk poet and songwriter.

Music from Terezin: Brundibar. Arabesque CD Z 6680. English-language production of Hans Krasa's opera for children.

Remember the Children: Songs for and by Children of the Holocaust. United States Holocaust Memorial Council HMCD 1901.

Rise Up and Fight! Songs of Jewish Partisans. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum USHMM-02. Featuring Theodore Bikel; sung in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian.

Songs from the Depths of Hell. Folkways FSS 37700. Performed by Polish concentration camp survivor Aleksander Kulisiewicz.

The Terezin Music Anthology. Koch International Classics. Several volumes in series featuring various composers and artists.

Yiddish Songs of the Holocaust. Global Village CD 150. Lecture-recital narrated and performed by Ruth Rubin.

Web links

Web page of Boston's Zamir Chorale. Includes a detailed “Music in the Holocaust: A Select Bibliography of Books and Articles.”

Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum shop. Includes section of Holocaust-related music available for purchase.

Transcontinental Music Publications, New York. Commercial site includes section of Holocaust-related music available for purchase.




Sheet music for Soldiers of the Moor, 1933.
— From Guido Fackler, Des Lagers Stimme—Musik im KZ, Bremen, 2000. All rights reserved.

“Soldiers of the Moor”

Former prisoner Jean Kralik's drawing depicting forced labor by 'soldiers of the moor.'
— From Wolfgang Langhoff, Die Moorsoldaten, Zürich, 1935.

Early choral arrangement of Soldiers of the Moor.
— From Wolfgang Langhoff, Die Moorsoldaten, Zürich, 1935.

“Dachau Song”

Dr. Herbert Zipper conducts the 50th anniversary performance of Dachau Song at the Autumn Festival. Graz, Austria, September 23, 1988.
Paul Cummins

“Our Town is Burning”

Cover of S'Brent (It's Burning), first edition of Gebirtig's ghetto songs (Cracow, 1946).
— From Mordecai Gebirtig, S'Brent, Cracow, 1946.

Identification photograph of Mordecai Gebirtig. Cracow, Poland, August 8, 1940.
Zydowski Instytut Historyczny Instytut Naukowo-Badawczy

Mordecai Gebirtig, second from right, top row, with family and friends. Cracow, Poland, 1924.
Beth Hatefusoth

“A Child of Our Time”

The synagogue in Oberramstadt, Germany, burns during Kristallnacht. November 9–10, 1938.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A crowd watches as a synagogue burns during Kristallnacht. Graz, Austria, November 9–10, 1938.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“By the Ghetto Gate”

German and Lithuanian guards search Jewish women returning from forced labor outside the ghetto. Kovno, Lithuania, wartime.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

One page from the Kovno diary of Tamara Lazerson. In this entry, Lazerson has transcribed the lyrics of the song By the Ghetto Gate, one of several Yiddish ghetto songs which she recorded in her diary.
Tamara Lazerson-Rostovsky

“Lonely Child”

Sarah Krinski with her adoptive mother, Wiktoria Rodzewicz.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Shmerke Kaczerginski, Rakhele Pupko-Krinski (mother of the “Lonely Child”), and Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever. Vilna ghetto, ca. 1943.
— From Shmerke Kaczerginski Ondenk-Bukh, Buenos Aires, 1955. All rights reserved.

Sarah Krinski with her adoptive mother, Wiktoria Rodzewicz. Oszmiana, Lithuania.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


Chayela Rosenthal recreating her role as the ghetto street peddler “Yisrolik,” Paris, ca. 1948.
Naava Piatka/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“There Lies Treblinka”

Portrait of Frieda Bursztyn Radasky taken in Turkheim, Germany, 1946.
Toby Kornreich

“At the Edge of a Forest”

Three Jewish partisans in the Wyszkow Forest near Warsaw. Poland, between 1943 and 1944.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Jewish partisans Abba Kovner (left) and Shmerke Kaczerginski after the liberation of Vilna. 1945.
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

“Never Say That You Have Reached the Final Road”

Pencil drawing of Hirsh Glik by Y. Benn.
— From Mark Dvorzhetski, Hirshke Glik, Paris, 1966. All rights reserved.

Betty Segal in the Landsberg displaced persons camp. Germany, ca. 1946.
Shlomo and Rivka Baran Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“We Long for a Home”

We Long for a Home song lyric sheet, handed out at Happy Boys concerts.
H. Baigelman/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Happy Boys band played in displaced persons camps throughout Germany from 1945 to 1949.
H. Baigelman/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Aleksander Kulisiewicz

Aleksander Kulisiewicz.
Opowiesc Aleksandra Kulisiewicza (Krakow, 1984). All rights reserved.

Aleksander Kulisiewicz, standing in front of his collection, ca. 1970.
Konrad Strzelewicz, Zapis: Opowiesc Aleksandra Kulisiewicza (Krakow, 1984). All rights reserved.

“Heil Sachsenhausen”

Schuhfabrik (Zdzislaw Rudowski, ca. 1943). Kulisiewicz learned the Polish-Jewish song on which he based “Heil Sachsenhausen” from a prisoner working in the camp Schuhfabrik (shoe repair warehouse).
USHMM/Kulisiewicz Collection RG-55.011x06

“It's Cold, Sir!”

"It's cold, Sir. There's no bread." (Wiktor Siminski, ca. 1947). Artist Siminski had known Kulisiewicz at Sachsenhausen and, at his urging, sketched several scenes of camp life from memory soon after the war.
— Hachiro Sakanishi, Ecce Homo (Tokyo, 1972). All rights reserved.

“Mister C”

British prime minister Churchill (center) and foreign secretary Eden host the signing of a pact between the Soviet Union, represented by Soviet ambassador Maisky, and the Polish government-in-exile, represented by General Sikorski. London, Great Britain, July 30, 1941.
Imperial War Museum, Photograph Archive


Muselmänner supplementing their diet (Stefan Horski, 1945). Artist's comment: “candidates for the crematorium (Muselmänner), wanting to live, supplement their diet with refuse.”
USHMM/Kulisiewicz Collection RG-55.022

Stehkommando (Wiktor Siminski, 1947)
USHMM/Kulisiewicz Collection RG-55.011

Joseph Wulf

Joseph Wulf, identification photograph. Occupied Krakow, August 1940. Detail from registration form.
Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw

Joseph Wulf's registration form with the local authority in occupied Krakow, August 22, 1940. He lists his occupation as “agronomist.”
Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw

Joseph Wulf (left) in his study with Simon Wiesenthal. Berlin, July 1974.
Sachor Nicht vergessen. Erinnerung an Joseph Wulf (Berlin, 1989).

Yankl Hershkovitsh songs

Original translations by Henia and Nochem Reinhartz

Yankl Hershkovitsh, Lodz, ca 1965.
USHMM #59781/Joseph Wajsblat

Ghetto troubador Yankl Hershkovitsh (center) with violinist Karol Rozenczwajg, Lodz ghetto, ca 1941. Photo by Mendel Grossman.
USHMM #72093/Beit Lohamei Haghettaot

“Hunger March”

Jews stand in line for food in the Lodz ghetto.
USHMM #99777

Jewish council chairman Rumkowski delivers a speech. Lodz ghetto, Poland, between 1941 and 1943.
USHMM #86228/Beit Lohamei Haghettaot