Where’s the orchestra?

orchestra

Some people might recognize the title of this piece as the title of a Billy Joel song, and you would be right. It is a beautiful song which has a sad intonation, in a way it is a haunting piece of music, a story of something that is no longer there.

Billy Joel’s grandfather Karl Amson Joel, a German Jewish business man escaped the Holocaust, in the 1930’s he escaped to the US via Switzerland and Cuba.

This blog however is not about the Joel family but about  the  Orchestras in the concentration camps.

orchestra 2

Music has so much power and can evoke so many emotions and also a sense of comfort and hope. In the twisted mindset of the Nazi regime something beautiful as music was turned into an instrument of evil.

Although it saved many  musicians from hard labour it also caused controversy,because the aim of the orchestras was not to please the inmates, even though the sounds would have been pleasing, The purpose of the orchestra was much more cynical.

The purpose humiliation and terror, especially upon return of the commandos from work, when the totally exhausted victims  had to enter the camp in the rhythm of military marches or other up beat melodies.

march

It also created the perception to people who arrived in the camps ,that maybe things weren’t as bad as they had expected. Not knowing that many of them were led straight to the gas chambers after arrival,while the orchestra was playing.

It must have been such a torture for the musicians because they knew what was happening, but yet in order to survive themselves they had to conform. Sometimes they would play to entertain the SS troops in the camps, knowing that these people they were entertaining were responsible for the deaths of their friends and families. They also knew that if they didn’t play or if the music didn’t please the commanders they easily could be killed on the spot.

orche

 

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Sources

Music and Politics

Auschwitz.org

 

 

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