Rediscovering Suppressed Musical Treasures of the Twentith Century

By James Conlon

“Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate…Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?” - Siegfried Sassoon

After 1945, those who performed, wrote or taught classical music worked in a culture scarred by omissions. These were not of their making, but were part of the legacy of atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. With its racist ideology and systematic suppression particularly, although not exclusively, of Jewish musicians, artists and writers, the Third Reich silenced two generations of composers and, with them, an entire musical heritage. Many, who perished in concentration camps, and others, whose freedom and productivity were curtailed, were fated to be forgotten after the war. Their music seemed to have passed with them, lost in endless silence.

By Michael Haas

With Hitler's election on January 30, 1933, most of the political opposition optimistically assumed that things would proceed through established constitutional and democratic processes. An unpopular government would last only until it was voted out again. Checks and balances meant that there was no immediate danger to most Communists, Social Democrats or even Jews, although anyone who had read Hitler's Mein Kampf suspected that he might be ruthless enough to rid himself of the constitution and rule by decree. Such suspicions were confirmed in less than a month, with the burning of the Reichstag and the beginning of numerous draconian measures. One of these was the dismissal of all Jews from publicly funded bodies.