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World War II German History: Holocaust and Music

A guide to assist students in navigating German history during World War II

Music During the Holocaust

For many, music is not the first thing to come to mind when thinking of the Holocaust, but as you will learn, the two are very much connected. For the Germans, music served as a form of control, a way with which to section off the Jews from the larger German community as well as a form of propaganda to convince the rest of the world that the Jews are not treated as poorly as they truly were. For the Jews, music served many purposes. It was a reminder of better days, a small reprieve from harsh reality to get them through the day, or even a small glimmer of hope for the future, a future where they can spend every day, listening to music and free from persecution. Of course, not all Jewish people found the same happiness in music, but for those that did, it was an integral part of their lives during the Holocaust.

In the Camps

The J├╝discher Kulturbund

"How did such a phenomenon as the Kulturbund come to pass? And why did the Nazis permit such an organization and even protect it, while at the same time engage themselves in anti-Semitic agitation and propaganda? These questions can be only partially answered for the complexity and indefinite nature of Nazi policy, continually shifting above undercurrents of internal factionalism, defy complete and rational understanding. The Jewish Question itself was constantly in a half state of resolution and dissolution. After the Nazis seized power, the sentiments of their constituency compelled them to act on the Question. Having at that time a regard for international disapproval of their racial policy, and economically unprepared to expel their German Jewish citizens, they adopted the temporary resolution of placing them in forced isolation and allowing them their own community organizations until a new resolution could be formulated. In Berlin, which had the largest Jewish population in Germany, and in other urban areas throughout the country, the Nazis built cordons sanitaires around these new communities not only to prevent them from contaminating German communities but to prevent the German communities from contaminating them. The situation was mutually protective."


Zortman, B. Theatre of Isolation: The "Jüdischer Kulturbund" of Nazi Germany. Educational Theatre Journal, 24(2), 159-168. Retrieved from