This concert is a commemoration of the Holocaust. It is dedicated to the 6 million Jewish people who were murdered by the National Socialists and their collaborators. It is also dedicated to the victims of racism and anti-Semitism after the Holocaust through even the present day.
“I survived Auschwitz, but really I died in Auschwitz—my soul died.”
After the liberation of the camps, victims faced another unbearable situation. All of their family members and friends were killed. They had no home, no country to go back to, and no one to talk to—they were left alone with their unbearable memories of witnessing death and torture, alone with their sorrow and guilt of even having survived. The world wanted to move on after World War II and close this book to open new chapters of progress. The world had no ears for the survivors.
Only a few were able to gather their thoughts and have enough courage to document the horror. Shmerke Kaczerginski, who had survived as a partisan in Lithuania, collected hundreds of songs right after the war—songs written in the ghettos and concentration camps, songs delivered by word of mouth, and through hidden and smuggled charts, through the memory of eternity. These were the songs sung in the long lines while waiting for a cup of watery soup, sung in the squares of the ghettos and to the children to give hope. These were the songs that reflected the face of death that happened every day in the camps. In 1948, Kaczerginski published his first edition of Songs Never Silenced. Velvel Pasternak followed with several additional editions.
On January 27, 2015—the day of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz—I was invited to Rome to participate in a commemoration concert. It was there that I met Francesco Lotoro, who had dedicated his life to researching songs written in concentration camps. I continued my own research through the year and was so touched by the stories behind these songs.
With a great pain in my heart and a great belief in the necessity of this concert, let’s hear these Songs for Eternity.