My Thoughts & Conclusions


 At first, an orchestra in a death camp seemed absurd and crazy. After exploring the subject, I came to learn the role and purpose behind the women's orchestra in Auschwitz-Birkenau. This knowledge somewhat altered my initial perspective. An orchestra in a death camp is not logical in one sense, but it is when one considers the Nazis' motives behind their actions. The SS wanted to deceive the new arrivals and calm their fears about Auschwitz. On the other hand, the orchestra also contributed to giving the SS a sense of normalcy. The orchestra fulfilled both of these desires and is logical in this sense. However, it is important to remember the impact of the orchestra on the musicians and other prisoners. The orchestra had a cruel design and caused further suffering to the musicians and other prisoners.  

While the women did have certain "privileges," they were still prisoners and were subjected to the constant danger involved in living in a concentration camp. Guido Fackler stated this nicely:

"We must always bear in mind that whatever music was produced in the Nazi camps was produced in spite of constant hunger, mental and physical violence, impending disease and pestilence, an uncertain future, random acts of terror, and that the prisoners' lives were always in jeopardy. It is also important to remember that it was only a very small segment of prisoners who had the chance to engage with music at all, for the simple reason that their physical decline was not yet so far advanced that hunger dominated all their thoughts and all their deeds."

There is not one action or activity, not even a somewhat "privileged" status within a camp, that guaranteed safety or life.

"Those who failed to make a niche for themselves were doomed, although exceptional energy or toughness might delay the end. A prisoner who had won a privileged position for herself then had to defend it with efficiency, vitality and iron will...and luck." -Dr. Ella Lingens-Reiner

Overall, Auschwitz-Birkenau itself was a horrible death camp and it is vital to examine the women's orchestra in Auschwitz-Birkenau in that context.