Auschwitz survivor who fought racism with music dies at 96 – News Vibe24

    Auschwitz survivor who fought racism with music dies at 96 - Times of India
    BERLIN: Esther Bejarano, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp who used the power of music to fight anti-Semitism and racism in Germany, has died. He was 96 years old.
    Bejarano died peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning at the Jewish Hospital in Hamburg, according to the German news agency dpa, said Helga Obens, a member of the board of the Auschwitz Commission in Germany.
    No cause of death was reported.
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pays tribute to Bejarano, calling her “an important voice in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism”.
    Born in 1924 to the daughter of the Jewish cantor Rudolf Lowe at the time of the French occupation of Saarlouis, the family later moved to Saarbruecken, where Bejarano enjoyed a musical and sheltered upbringing until the Nazis came to power and the city returned to Germany. 1935.
    Ruth’s parents and sister were eventually deported and killed, and Bejarano was forced to work before being sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943.
    There, she voluntarily joined the girls’ orchestra, playing the accordion whenever trains full of Jews from all over Europe arrived.
    Bejarano would later say that the music helped keep her alive in the famous German Nazi death army in occupied Poland and the years after the Holocaust.
    “We played with tears in our eyes,” he recalled in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press.
    “The new arrivals came to wave and applaud us, but we knew they would be transported directly to the gas chambers.”
    Because her grandmother was a Christian, Bejarano was later transferred to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp and survived a death march at the end of the war.
    In a memo, Bejarano recalled her rescue by US troops given her an accordion, which she played the day American soldiers and concentration camp dancers danced around a burning portrait of Adolf Hitler’s son for of the Nazis.
    Bejarano immigrated to Israel after the war and married Nissim Bejarano. The couple had two children, Edna and Joram, before returning to Germany in 1960.
    Faced with open anti-Semitism once again, Bejarano decided to become politically active, co-founding the Auschwitz Commission in 1986 to give survivors a platform for their stories.
    She collaborated with her children to play Yiddish tunes and Jewish resistance songs in a Hamburg-based band called Coincidence, and also with the hip-hop group Microphone Mafia to spread an anti-racism message to German youth.
    “We all love music and share a common goal: We fight racism and discrimination,” she told the AP about her collaborations across cultures and generations.
    Bejarano has received numerous awards, including the German Order of Merit, for her activism against what she called “old and new Nazis,” citing warning from Holocaust survivor partner Primo Levi that “it has happened, so it can happen again.”
    Speaking to young people in Germany and beyond, Bejarano would say: “You are not guilty of what happened then. “But you become guilty if you refuse to listen to what happened.”


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