World’s Leading Holocaust Music Website to be Launched in Berlin

"Dort in dem lager" from the David Boder archival collection, courtesy of the USHMM

The formal launch of the world’s leading website on music in the Holocaust is to be a key event at this week’s historic meeting of World ORT’s Board of Representatives in Berlin. The meeting marks World ORT’s first function in the city where it became established as an international organization since the war.

The website, which features more than 100 recordings and more than 300 articles written by a team of 20 academics, researchers and Survivors, fills what was perhaps the largest single gap in understanding the Holocaust.

The need for this website is evident when one considers that I have found so little information devoted to music during the Holocaust in the 27,000 pages – 29 volumes – of the 2001 edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians,” said Mr Marks, a former chairman of the London College of Music.

History lecturer at the University of Southampton and author of the critically acclaimed book Music in the Holocaust: Confronting Life in the Nazi Ghettos and Camps, Dr Shirli Gilbert, supervised the website’s content.

“The music and songs offer a unique insight into how people – including those who did not survive – understood what was happening to them at the time of the persecution and so offer a valuable addition to the testimonies of Survivors after the fact,” Dr Gilbert said.

The website already attracts 10,000 visitors a month but that figure is set to grow as the website itself expands.

“We have much material to which we want to add, including manuscripts which have never been recorded. We want to record excerpts,” said Marks. “TV films and documentaries are constrained by time, books are limited by length, but an internet resource like this has the potential to grow indefinitely as long as we continue to attract sufficient funding.”

Support for the project has come from the Lord Ashdown Charitable Settlement, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims conference), the Samuel Sebba Charitable Trust, the Ruth Berkowitz Charitable Trust and the Maurice Marks Charitable Trust, among others.