The Womens orchestra of Auschwitz is a group of Jewish musicians women musicians, a form of protection from the death. This orchestra was created in June 1943 on the order of the Schutzstaffel (from German « squadron of protection »); for three years they played one hundred and fifty different pieces of music like, for example, the Johann Strauss’s beautiful blue Danube, the Hungarian dances of Johannes Brahms, and many others…
Drawing of Mieczyslaw Koscielniak illustrating
The womens orchestra of Auschwitz giving the rhythm to the workers.
This orchestra was composed of a lot of different sorts of instruments like the violin, the cello, the piano, the flute, the drums, voices…
The aim of this group of musicians was to:
- play marches to give a rhythm to the Kommando, the workers, to accompany them in the mornings in their job
- be a distraction from the SS in the evenings
- give representations every Sunday afternoon
The orchestra was first managed by Zofia Czajkowska; who was a music professor in Poland. At her death in august 1943, Alma Rosé became the new chief of the orchestra, was a Jew Austrian violinist who managed the group of women until April 1944. The last manager was Sonia Vinogradova.
At the end of the war a lot of these women confessed that “music saved them” which means that if they weren’t musicians, and if they didn’t play in this orchestra, they probably wouldn’t have survived the Shoah.