a work in progress

The first published roster of the girls’ band at Auschwitz-Birkenau appeared in Fania Fénelon’s 1976 edition of Sursis pour l’orchestre (11-12). Fénelon’s roster was greatly expanded by Richard Newman in the 1980 edition of his biography, Alma Rosé: Vienna to Auschwitz (378-383), and then further revised in his 2003 edition. The crucial importance of Newman’s painstaking research into the history of the band cannot be overstated.

The 1996 publication of Gabrielle Knapp’s doctoral dissertation, Das Frauenorchester in Auschwitz (68-69 & 75), added a host of valuable data, and more recently the memoirs of Jean-Jacques Felstein, Dans l’orchestre d’Auschwitz: le secret de ma mère (2010: 203-205), and Helena Dunicz-Niwińska, Drogi mojego życia: wspomnienia skrzypaczki z Birkenau (2013: 171-176), reflect invaluable contributions to our knowledge of the band.

These five sources present, with some exceptions, equivalent or close data for each member’s name, nationality, role in the band, prisoner number, and dates of entry and departure. Nevertheless, some discrepancies persist. This only makes sense given the nightmarish complexity of the circumstances and the fragility of the memories they evoked. Hopefully, further digitization of the existing documents will clarify the record in many places.

An abundance of rosters has now appeared on the internet. A few may be consulted with caution. The majority are marred with numerous inaccuracies.

Records, both contemporary and subsequent, frequently offer variant spellings with many of these proper names, no doubt caused more by the numerous different languages and alphabets in use. In the interest of historical context, names at birth are here spelled to conform with the actual record of birth, i.e., in the language of the nation in which that birth occurred. Beyond that, an attempt has been made to utilize names to best suit the context of each table, but this is a daunting task that has certainly resulted in errors.

The same principle applies to place names, i.e., although the names of widely known cities here follow prevailing English conventions, e.g. Cracow is used instead of Kraków, and Munich instead of München, the names of lesser known cities are given in the respective language, e.g. Lwów is used instead of Lviv, and Poznań instead of Posen.

All names in non-Roman alphabets (Cyrillic, Hebrew or Solitreo) have been transliterated according to prevailing conventions.

In addition to the above publications, the data presented in this web-site are drawn from a host of sources. Nearly all final points of deportation and dates of arrival at Auschwitz come from Danuta Czech’s Auschwitz Chronicle (1997), with confirmation from publications and online databases of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, the Auschwitz Preservation Society, Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Museum, Das Bundesarchiv, Kasserne Dossin, Camp Westerbork, and the Paris Shoah Memorial.

Still further data are drawn from the published memoirs and biographies of respective band members (as listed in the “memoirs” tab), along with oral testimonies, interviews, and numerous online sources, including JewishGen.com, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, Geni.com, jri-poland.org, geneteka.genealodzy.pl, and others.

The double arrow >> indicates a member’s transfer from one place to another in the Nazi detention system – or a member’s changing role in the band.

The use of italics reflects a significant level of uncertainty in the accuracy of a given entry – which is nevertheless offered as an informed conjecture that awaits confirmation or correction.

It is the author’s hope to eventually provide extensive citations to support all data.

As stated, this is a work in progress.

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