Music of the lagers - Philharmonic Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Joanna Borowska (UJ), moc.liamg|kinwotkatnoks#moc.liamg|kinwotkatnoks


In 1947, shortly after the publication of the book Z Otchłani (From the Abyss) by Zofia Kossak, Tadeusz Borowski sharply criticized the lack of thoroughness and instrumental approach to the presentation of eye witnessed events which occurred behind the closed gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp in his essay Alicja w krainie czarów (Alice in Wonderland). He aligned himself with the facts and thus dissociated himself from preaching specific ideologies. However, accusations of nihilism made against the author of the U nas, w Auschwitzu story made us aware of the long tradition of examining samples of naturalistic description of camp life as extremely controversial, and even considered to be unacceptable. The problem of morality and its relative recognition placed in the context of the history of World War II triggers particularly emphatic questions and poses many doubts. In this case, my opinion is most similar to that of Primo Levi; however, I have not made the choice of the way of the development of the following texts because of a desire to prove the superiority of this, and not a different perspective.

I was only trying to indicate that the breakdown that has been made between the writing of Borowski, Levi's, Goldin, or even Szlengel and literature of other writers who have both experienced the horrors of war and documented everyday life of the ghetto or camp at the level of literature can and should also be done on the surface of Polish scientific literature. The latter makes an attempt to provide the next generations, directly unrelated to the Holocaust, and even indirectly quite rolled away from him, with the workshop needed to familiarize oneself with the wide range of literature of witness. For example, Polish researcher, Bozena Karwowska's shows how camp institutions worked in order to ensure entertainment for the camp staff and prisoners, as well. These institutions are brothels, theaters and dance ensembles. Karwowska, using the expertly selected literary descriptions, presents the assessment of the prisoners on the above-mentioned groups or institutions, once again revealing a multitude of different perspectives.

I presented a very versatile selection of materials, prospects, and documents. Their theme is the way in which the camp orchestra functioned in 1941-1944 in Auschwitz-Birkenau and the role it played in the life of the prisoners. Following the words of Tadeusz Borowski:

“Don't try to hesitate - tell at last, how you were purchasing places in the hospital,
the good commandos, how you were pushing Muslims into the gas chambers, how
you purchased men and women, what you did in the unterkunfts, the Kanadas, the
krankenbaums, in the Gypsy camp, tell it, and even many of the other small things,
tell about the everyday life in the camp, the organization, the hierarchy of fear, the
loneliness of every human being.”

I was trying to create a counterweight to such studies of literature of witness that focus on ethics and metaphysics.

On-line presentation:

Further reading

1. Literatura polska wobec zagłady, red. A. Brodzicka-Wald, D. Krawczyńska, J. Leociak, Warsaw, 2000
2. Zagłada i pamięć. Doświadczenie Holocaustu i jego konsekwencje opisane na podstawie relacji autobiograficznych, B. Engelking, Warsaw, 1994
3. H. Grynberg, Prawda nieartystyczna, Wołowiec, 2002
4. J. Jarzębski, Kariera autentyku, in: Powieść jako autokreacja, Cracow, 1984
5. B. Karwowska, Ciało, Seksualność. Obozy zagłady, Cracow 2009.
6. Sz. Laks Gry Oświęcimskie, Oświęcim, 1998
7. Oświęcim w oczach SS, red.I. Polska, Oświęcim ,2001
8. Z. Posmysz Ten sam doktor M. Warsaw, 1981
9. I. Szczepański, Häftlings-kapelle, Warsaw, 1990

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