Edited By Wojciech Klimczyk and Agata Świerzowska
Afterword: Genocide, Music, and the Name
To begin, to end, by repeating a key point: The question of music and genocide is not the same as the question of music and the Holocaust, though at first it may seem otherwise. There are good reasons for that. A certain classical music, at any rate, shadowed the Nazi barbarity because of the unique place this music was felt, perhaps above all by the victims, to hold in European life, especially German life; because the Nazis systematically sought to purge music and music history from “degenerate” Jewish influence; because from the outset, with the war barely ended, music was part of Holocaust memory—literally in Arnold Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw (1947), figuratively in Paul Celan’s “Todesfuge” (1948); because such memory could even take the form of the future tense inside the concentration camps: Viktor Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis (Terezin,1943; first performed 1975).
To the extent that the Holocaust remains the paradigm of all genocide, this relationship is unavoidable and inexhaustible. The dismal genius of the Nazis was to make genocide neither an event nor even a program but a system. The system was unique, but one of its unintended consequences was to expose system as the hidden principle on which all genocides rely. Genocide never just happens. No wonder, then, that the Holocaust has already taken up more space here than my opening sentence should have allowed, and that it will take up more below. It has necessarily played a majority role...
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