Holocaust victims words set to music by the Life and Death Orchestra

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about the writers
This work contains writings by some of the greatest writers of the 20th Century. Tadeusz Borowski's Auschwitz stories are masterpieces of world literature. Although a survivor of Auschwitz, Borowski died by his own hand, by gas in 1951 in Warsaw. Elie Wiesel, another survivor of both Auschwitz and Buchenwald won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for his unforgettable work, Night, and one of the key passages is narrated on the album. Tadeusz Rozewicz is one of the most respected Eastern European poets and we have adapted two of his great poems, The Survivor and Pigtail. Micheline Maurel survived Ravensbruck concentration camp, and then wrote her book, Ravensbruck, in which she wrote as a plea to the outside world, "Be happy, millions of people envy you."

Two other great Eastern European poets are included, Zbigniew Herbert and Reiner Kunze, both of whose works were banned in their own countries. Zbigniew Herbert's first collection, A Chord of Light could not be published in Poland until after Stalin's death in 1956; and Reiner Kunze's work was first banned in East Germany in 1968 when he publicly protested against the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Herbert lived all over Europe and America, and Kunze later resettled in West Germany.

In the haunting poem, Us Two, Nina Cassian conveys the permanence and strength of love in just 5 lines. Paul Celan, has achieved worldwide renown with his six volumes of poetry published in his lifetime, and three more since his death in 1970. Celan was Jewish but his native language was German, and therefore language became a complex and involved part of his work, as can be read in Deathfugue. In the poem, Auschwitz, 1987, Adam Zych describes the enduring horrow of that place, in his depiction of a visit to Auschwitz over 40 years after the mass murders. Auschwitz remains a terrifying and chilling place.

For many years a schoolteacher, Yehuda Amichai teaches us all a salutary lesson about what is important, in his insightful poem, Tourists. Adrian Mitchell is one of the UK's most talented writers, writing in many different mediums, but most keenly, poetry. We include his poem, Victor Jara of Chile simply because it powerfully depicts the world betrayed, a gentle and heroic man destroyed by cruelty. The poem, Again, by the UK writer, Kevin Carey, echoes many of the questions raised by the above writers and widens the focus from the horrors of Dachau, to other acts of genocide in the 20th century.

In the CD booklet, we include excerpts from the works of Primo Levi, Ruth Altbeker Cyprys, Eva Fogelman, Gerda Weissmann Klein, Czeslaw Milosz and Judy Chicago. The Jewish-Italian writer, Primo Levi, wrote his famous prose work, If This is a Man, in 1958, about his experiences at Auschwitz, and this was one of the first books to be read by a worldwide readership. Eva Fogelman's book, is the definitive book on rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. Both Ruth Altbeker Cyprys and Gerda Weissmann Klein provide a unique view of this darkest period of history. As can be read from the excerpts included in the CD booklet, their accounts are memorable and heartbreaking testaments of courage. Czeslaw Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 and has written many poems on the Holocaust which are included in his Collected Poems.

Many of the poems and excerpts used have been translated into English. We are indebted to the translators of these works. The translators are Barbara Vedder for This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen; Hilda Schiff for Auschwitz, 1987; Adam Czerniawski for Pigtail and The Survivor; Margaret S Summers for Be Happy (excerpt from Ravensbruck); Czeslaw Milosz for Five Men; Ewald Osers for Hymn To A Woman Under Interrogation; John Felstiner for Deathfugue; Glenda Abramson & Tudor Parfitt for Tourists, and Margitt Lehbert for the profile of Zbigniew Herbert.

 



The icons and artwork at the top are based on the work by great UK artist, Ralph Freeman from the work, Rosina & Carlos IV (1940) - 1997 mixed media on canvas.

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