Who were they?

The girls’ band at Auschwitz-Birkenau was, without any question, the most eclectic, the most unique, the most controversial, and the most zealously documented gathering of female musical talent the world has ever known.

By many regards, it was also the most inspiring.

Its members ranged in age from fourteen to fifty-eight, with four well into their fifties and a dozen still in their teens.

While two of the group had achieved European celebrity as leaders of their own ensembles, and a handful were accomplished professionals, many lacked serious training or had merely learned to play an instrument in school.

Thrown together by the most appalling nightmare in history, they were dragged off to Auschwitz from thirty different cities in twelve different countries.

At least half of the members were fluent in two languages, and several knew three or more, including Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Ladino, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Yiddish.

Politically, the ensemble ranged from communists and socialists to social democrats and conservatives. Religiously, it included fully assimilated Jews, ardent Zionists, devout Roman Catholics, traditional Russian Orthodox and unwavering atheists.

Such broad cultural persuasions at times gave rise to divisions. But despite every barrier, these women turned to one another for refuge from peril and hunger, and with remarkable consistency, they replied with comfort and nurture – not rarely at the risk of their own lives.

Through numerous published memoirs, extensive interviews, and several films, the life-stories of many band members are now fully preserved.

Nevertheless, every one of these women survived one of the world’s greatest crimes. That survival insisted that they witness what the world would be wise to remember.

This web-page lives in the hope that more of those accounts may be made part of history.

Cleveland photo of Alma in concert
Alma Rose, standing at left
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