Encyclopedia

Orchestra

There were 6 orchestras at Auschwitz including a women's orchestra at Birkenau and a male orchestra at Auschwitz I which consisted of 100 musicians.

Their activities included playing music for the prisoners who were marching to work and for the arrival of important guests at the camp. In addition, they played at parties for the SS and gave formal concerts for the camp staff.

Various survivor memoirs mention the orchestra's playing for the arrival of deportees to give them a false sense of comfort. There were orchestras at most of the major concentration and extermination camps.


Sources: informal conversation with Bret Werb, Music Archivist at the USHMM; Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.



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