Music as Oppression and Resistance: Prisoners of WWII Concentration Camps and Their Daily Encounters with Music

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Hickman, Lillian
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
In this paper, I explore the role played by music in the Holocaust provides an important understanding of the Holocaust. This research consists of looking into how music was used as a form of oppression and resistance in concentration camps during World War II. The detailed accounts of survivors who both experienced music as torture and used it as resistance are the foundation for this research. Understanding the connection between human emotions and music is important to be able to further understand music itself and the history of music within the Holocaust. Prisoners in the concentration camps took music and used it to validate and give meaning to their existence against the oppressive forces of the Nazis through original compositions, performances, and underlying subliminal messages within the musical works. To build upon the foundation of survivor memoirs, I employ ideas from ethnomusicologists, archivists in music and Holocaust history, and lyrical analysis of the music.