Auschwitz survivors who fought racism in music died at the age of 96

Berlin – Esther Bejarano, a survivor of Auschwitz’s death camp, who devoted much of her life to the fight against anti-Semitism and racism, has died. She was 96 years old.

Meleon Mendel, director of the Anne Frank Education Center in Frankfurt, Germany, said Beharano died overnight on Saturday. The cause of death was not revealed.

Deutsche Presse dpa, citing Helga Obens, chairman of the Auschwitz Commission, reported that he died peacefully at a Jewish hospital in Hamburg.

Beharano emigrated to Israel after World War II, but returned to Germany with her husband in 1960, dpa reported.

Beharano, the daughter of a Jewish canter from Saarbrücken in western Germany, grew up as a piano-learning musician until the Nazis came to power and tore their families.

She was deported to Auschwitz, where she became a member of the girl orchestra, playing an accordion every time a Jewish train from all over Europe arrived at the death camp. Beharano would later say that music helped keep her alive in the infamous German Nazi death camp in occupied Poland, and in the years following the Holocaust.


“We played with tears in our eyes,” she recalled in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press. “The new arrivals waved and applauded, but knew they would be taken directly to the gas chamber.”

Beharano survived, but her parents and sister Ruth were killed by the Nazis.

Decades later, she collaborated with children Edna and Yoram in a Hamburg-based band to perform Yiddish melodies and Jewish resistance songs, and collaborated with hip-hop band Mike Mafia to rebel. Spread the message of anti-racism to young people in Germany.

“We all love music and share a common goal. We are fighting racism and discrimination,” she said.

German Foreign Minister Mars paid tribute to Beharano and called her “an important voice in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism.”

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Auschwitz survivors who fought racism in music died at the age of 96

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