Sesenta años después

Fuente: Alexander Knapp: 'The holocaust"', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (último acceso: 30 de Janeiro de 2005), http://www.grovemusic.com

«In 1933 the persecution of Jews intensified with the coming to power of National Socialism in Germany and became the norm following the Nuremberg racial laws in 1935. Along with the confiscation of Jewish businesses, assets and property, came the gradual exclusion of Jews from cultural life. Under the Nazi concept of entartete Musik (‘degenerate music’), all works by Jewish composers, and works by non-Jewish composers whose style was perceived as tainted by ‘non-Aryan’ influences, were banned. Jewish musicians remaining in Germany were permitted to establish all-Jewish performance societies (Jüdische Kulturbunde) for exclusively Jewish audiences, but by 1939 these gradually dissolved with the mass deportations of Jews from Germany and the occupied nations to ghettos and concentration camps.

In the ghettos of Łódz, Warsaw and Kraków, and in the fashionable apartments of Vienna, Berlin and Prague, some preservation of human values through art was treasured. Of particular significance is the repertory of original songs created in the ghettos and partisan outposts of occupied Europe. Written mostly to Yiddish texts, and often employing Polish and Russian popular melodies, there were songs documenting ghetto life, satirical songs and ballads, work songs and prayer songs. They served to remind singers and their listeners of a less troubled past, encouraged the toleration of present conditions and expressed hope for freedom. In the Vilna ghetto, the poet and partisan Hirsh Glik wrote songs with heroic messages of survival of the spirit. His marching song ‘Zog nit keynmol az du geyst dem letstn veg’ (‘Never say that you have reached the final road’) became the anthem for Jewish resistance fighters and has since been adopted by some denominations for use within the Jewish High Holy Day service. An important figure in the music folklore of the Holocaust is Shmerke Kaczerginski (1908–54), a poet and political activist who in 1943 escaped the Vilna ghetto to join the Jewish underground. He wrote and collected songs both during and after the war, and his anthology Lider fun di getos un lagern (‘Songs of the Ghettos and Camps’, 1948) is the most comprehensive collection of Yiddish songs from the Holocaust period.

Musical activity continued in the concentration and extermination camps, initiated officially by the Nazis and clandestinely by the prisoners. The Nazis used music as an additional instrument in their machinery of destruction, to deceive, pacify, humiliate and dehumanize their victims. They formed orchestras and bands from the prisoners and forced them to play. Auschwitz, for example, boasted six orchestras and Treblinka had a rich musical life with an orchestra, conducted for a while by Artur Gold (1897–1943). Camp orchestras played cheerful tunes to ‘welcome’ new arrivals, to anaesthetize musically victims being marched to the ‘bath house’, and to help to marshal the prisoners, accompanying them as they marched to and from work. This music may have given sustenance to otherwise tortured, starved and enslaved people and perhaps brought courage and calmed their last moments, but it was also regarded by prisoners as an insult and a deception. For the Jews playing in the orchestras, however, music was a lifeline, protecting them from the immediate death sentence imposed on all Jews under Nazism. The orchestra was a relative haven, with privileges and benefits, but survival was not guaranteed and the members had to stay in favour: they were kept alive only because they could provide a service to Nazism. Another characteristic of the camps was compulsory singing. Each camp had its special anthem; ironically two Austrian Jews composed the official Buchenwald hymn, unknown to the camp administration. Prisoners were forced to stand and sing for hours in all weathers, and anti-Semitic songs were specially composed for Jews, for example, ‘O Du mein Jerusalem’. In Auschwitz, Jews had no choice but to sing this song again and again during roll calls, during exercises or whenever the Nazis fancied.

Cultural activity among the prisoners was forbidden and punishable by death. However, despite the risks, prisoners strove to preserve some small part of humanity. They formed clandestine chamber groups, sang and composed songs and arranged secret concerts in prisoner barracks. The women in Ravensbrück organized a cultural life for themselves and in Dachau concerts were performed in a disused latrine. In Buchenwald the German Communist Rudi Arndt, who was the senior block inmate despite his yellow star, encouraged gifted inmates to write poems and songs and succeeded in forming a string quartet that played Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. Martin Rosenberg (d 1942), a professional conductor before the war, organized a secret chorus of Jewish prisoners while he was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen. According to Aleksander Kulisiewicz (also a prisoner at Sachsenhausen), in 1942 Rosenberg also wrote a parody of the old Yiddish folksong ‘Tsen brider’ (‘Ten brothers’), in which the brothers are murdered in the gas chambers (Kulisiewicz, Polskie piešni obozowe, 1939–1945, unpublished). In Majdanek, a simple song by an unknown Polish poet became the inmates’ unofficial anthem, full of yearning and with the unspoken message of freedom. Making music encouraged solidarity among the prisoners, was a means of escaping reality and, most significantly, was a form of resistance.

While musical activity – including opera, symphonic, and choral concerts – took place and in some instances flourished for a time in the larger Polish and Lithuanian ghettos (e.g. Warsaw, Łódz, Kraków, Vilna and Kovno), few original art compositions created during this period have survived. Today one can only read contemporaneous accounts of works performed in their respective ghettos by composers such as Dawid Beigelman (1887–1945) of Łódz, or Vladimir (Wolf) Durmashkin (1914–44) of Vilna. The losses to Jewish music and to Polish music brought about by the German occupation and Nazi genocidal policies are of course incalculable. Of composers, the briefest necrology might mention (in addition to Beigelman and Durmashkin): Dawid Ajzensztadt (1890–1942); Zygmunt Bia‘ostocki (d 1942); Mordecai Gebirtig (1877–1942); Israel Glatstein (1894–1942); Jakub Glatstein (1895–1942); Jósef Koffler (1896–1943); Joachim Mendelson (1897–1943); Marian Neuteich (1906–43); Nochem Shternheim (1879–1942); Izrael Szajewicz (1910–41), each of whom had made their mark in the realm of classical, popular, choral, theatre, film, or folk music. Signs that these and other once prominent figures are being reclaimed by scholars and the public include the recent (1997) appearance in Polish translation of Isachar Fater's 1970 study in Yiddish, Maciej Golab's full-scale study of Koffler (Jósef Koffler, Kraków, 1995), and the thriving market for ‘nostalgia music’ in post-communist Poland.

The most valuable case study of music inspired, performed and composed by Jews was in Terezín (Theresienstadt). This north-west Bohemian garrison town was used as a transit camp, where Jews were sent by the thousands between 1941 and 1944 before being transported east to extermination camps. Although it was a concentration camp, the Germans allowed the Jews to administrate autonomously everything connected with life there. Terezín was unique in that its inhabitants enjoyed a freedom of cultural life denied to other Jews throughout occupied Europe. Initially, music was forbidden and remained an underground activity, but in 1942 when the Germans realized its potential propaganda value they not only sanctioned it with the establishment of ‘Freizeitgestaltung’ (the administration of free time activities) but also encouraged it. Terezín was presented officially to a delegation of the International Red Cross in 1944 as a paradise ghetto sheltering its inhabitants from the ravages of the war, thus camouflaging the extermination of European Jewry from world awareness. Soloists, chamber music ensembles (especially string quartets), orchestras and choruses flourished, with performances of recitals, concerts, light music, cabarets, oratorios and even operas. Two particularly ambitious undertakings by the conductor Raphael Schächter were Smetana's The Bartered Bride and Verdi's Requiem, demonstrating the determination of the human spirit to triumph over adversity. Although not everyone was psychologically or physically in a position to care about these activities, the performances were still popular and programmes were often repeated up to a dozen times.

Among the composers who spent time in Terezín, five significantly active ones were Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas, Hans Krása, Karel Ancerl and Gideon Klein. Ullmann in particular produced a rich collection of works; with administrative permission, he was able to devote himself entirely to music, organizing concerts, writing reviews and articles, lecturing and composing. Especially noteworthy works composed in Terezín were Ullmann's last three piano sonatas, his third quartet and the opera allegory of the Third Reich Der Kaiser von Atlantis; Haas's Study for strings and Four Songs on Texts of Chinese Poetry; Krása's several pieces for string trio and the Terezín version of his children's opera Brundibar, performed more than 50 times and one of the most popular works in the ghetto; and Klein's piano sonata and string trio.

These men also wrote original and/or arrangements of folksongs in Hebrew, Yiddish, Czech, Slovak and other languages for the many amateur choirs. Cabarets in Czech by Karel Švenk and in German by Martin Roman were appreciated and light music was performed in various venues, among them the ghetto coffeehouse, including quartet pieces by Egon Ledeč and František Domažlický and a Serenade by Robert Dauber for violin and piano. A number of specifically Jewish works were written, including settings of liturgical Hebrew texts, especially by Zikmund Schul (1916–44). Terezín was also teeming with professional musicians, many of whom survived to resume active careers, including the bass Karel Berman and the pianist Edith Kraus.

The rich and abundant musical life in Terezín, together with the other arts, maintained a level of spirituality, culture and human value in the ghetto, despite rampant disease, hunger, death and social tensions. The quality of the music composed in Terezín has often been questioned and, while it cannot be said that there was a ‘Terezín style’, certain elements clearly indicate the abnormal environment in which this music was created. There are musical quotations with clearly symbolic significance for listeners familiar with their original contexts, and vocal texts from both general literature and ghetto poets full of meanings relating to the realities of ghetto life. The music and musical life at Terezín for all its physical and informational isolation during its four years of existence, cannot wholly be viewed as separate from the previous worlds in which its prisoners lived. Whether considering the Schoenbergian-Stravinskian-Janáčekian compositional influences of its composers, the diversified tastes of its audiences and the often highly developed accomplishments of many of its artists, Terezín was an incredibly horrible, often intriguing and always intense experience, painful in the extreme and yet, for some, enriching and memorable. Ullmann summed it up, both practically and philosophically when he proclaimed ‘it must be emphasized that Theresienstadt has served to enhance, not to impede, my musical activities, that by no means did we sit weeping on the banks of the waters of Babylon, and that our endeavour with respect to Arts was commensurate with our will to live’.

In the 1980s and 90s, the music of Terezín, along with pre-war compositions by Ullmann, Haas, Krása and Klein and works by other composers, not in the ghetto but equally ostracized by National Socialist policies (including Erwin Schulhoff), has not only become well-known from scholarly research and publications of the music, but has also been justly reintegrated into international concert repertory. Without this activity, an important part of 20th-century music (especially Czech music), whose authors were brutally eradicated, might have been lost altogether.»