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Holocaust - The Auschwitz Orchestra

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Summary

In this Key Stage 3 history classroom resource, Esther Bejarano, a survivor of the Holocaust, tells how she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and survived by joining the camp's orchestra.

Secondary pupils can learn how Esther was born in 1924 to a German Jewish family. Aged 15 she tried to emigrate to Palestine, but instead was sent to the Fuerstenwald Labour Camp for two years' hard labour. On 20 April 1943, all inmates of this camp were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

There, Esther was again forced to do hard labour until someone asked if she could play the accordion. Despite never having picked up the instrument, Esther said 'yes' and she joined the camp orchestra.

The musicians had to play to new arrivals, knowing that many of them would be killed in the camp's gas chambers.

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