Show Less
Restricted access

Music and Genocide


Edited By Wojciech Klimczyk and Agata Świerzowska

At first glance, no two experiences could be further apart than genocide and music. Yet real, live culture usually goes beyond rational divisions. It is now fairly commonly known that art is not absent from the sites of mass killings. Both victims and prosecutors engage in artistic activities in prisons and camps, as well as at other places where genocides take place. What is the music of genocide? Can the experience of ultimate terror be expressed in music? How does music reflect on genocide? How do we perceive music after genocide? What is music and what is silence in a world marked by mass killings? Is post-genocidal silence really possible or appropriate? The goal of the volume is to reveal and, maybe even to some extent, resolve the most profound dilemma that was expressed by Theodor W. Adorno when he asked «whether it is even permissible for someone who accidentally escaped and by all rights ought to have been murdered, to go on living after Auschwitz.» It is not for the sake of pure curiosity that the relation between music and genocide is examined. In a sense we are all survivors who accidentally escaped genocide. It might have happened to us. It may still happen.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Music, the “Third Reich”, and “The 8 Stages of Genocide”



In recent years, a hugely significant body of research has investigated various ways in which music was used to promote National Socialist (NS) ideology, to justify the systematic exclusion and persecution of people viewed as “undesirable” or enemies of the state, to prepare and promote war, and ultimately, to commit genocide – a term first coined in this context. Musicologists and historians alike have looked in detail at the role of musical institutions at local, national and international level, at music in the mass media, music in schools and youth organisations, musical aspects of National Socialist events and celebrations, and at music in concentration camps and in the ghettos.

The purpose of this essay is to explore some of the implications of this literature for genocide studies, and conversely to look at how insights from genocide studies could inform our interpretation of musical activities and practices under National Socialism. To do this, we shall employ what Gregory Stanton presented in 1996 as the conceptual framework of how genocides are prepared, organised, and committed. Titled “The 8 Stages of Genocide”, and originally written as a briefing paper for the US State Department, Stanton’s model posits that a number of distinct but overlapping stages can be identified in most genocides which, therefore, may be used to develop an early warning model enabling timely action and intervention.1 Stanton elaborated his model with particular reference to the Holocaust and to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In this article, we...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.