Vera's Story: A Holocaust Remembrance

Apr 9, 2018

Vera Herman Goodkin was just shy of her 9th birthday when her hometown in Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany. She spent the next four years in hiding, until she was finally rescued and taken to freedom thanks to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, and for many years now she has shared her story with young people to warn them of the dangers of hate and mistrust. Join Host Bill Zagorski as Vera tells her story.

The program also includes music by composers who fled Europe during the war or perished during the War, as well as works written in memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust. 

The music of Vera’s Story represents the repertoire of music written by artists who perished during the Holocaust, fled their homes because of the rising Nazi threat, or those who wished to memorialize the victims through these compositions.

1. Opening and closing theme - Requiem Ebraico by Eric Zeisl.

Zeisl fled Vienna before the war and wrote the piece in memory of his father and others who perished in the Holocaust. The piece is based on Psalm 92. Recording: The Song of Terezin; The Radio Symphony Orchestra, choir and children’s choir of Berlin, Lawrence Foster conducting.

2. Rejoice, Make Merry, and Farewell, My Krakow from The Krakow Notebook and other arrangements by Mordecai Gebirtig.

Gebirtig, a folk singer and composer, was forced into the Krakow Ghetto, where he died along with his wife and daughters. Recording:  Krakow Ghetto Notebook; Daniel Kempen, vocals and guitar.

3. On a Sunny Evening, from The Song of Terezin by Franz Waxman.

Waxman fled Germany and wrote this piece based on the poetry from Terezin, the so-called 'model camp' used for propaganda purposes by the Nazis. Recording:  Rundfunkchor und  Kinderchor Berlin and Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Lawrence Foster)

4.  Lullaby, by Gideon Klein.

Born in Moravia, Klein was deported to Terezin, where he continued to perform and participate in the cultural life of the town. He was sent to Auschwitz and then a camp in Furstengrube, where he was killed in 1945. Recording:  Wolfgang Holzmair, baritone, Russell Ryan, piano

5. Excerpts from an English language version of the children’s opera Brundibar by Hans Krasa.

This piece was written shortly after the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and staged 55 times in Terezin, where Krasa reorchestrated it as head of music for Terezin's so-called Free Time Activities Administration. He was killed in Auschwitz in October 1944. Recording:  English libretto by Tony Kushner; Northwest Boychoir and Music of Remembrance, Gerard Schwarz

6.   The Butterfly from Lori Laitman’s I Never Saw Another Butterfly, based on children’s poetry of Terezin. Recording:  Maureen McKay, soprano, Laura DeLuca, clarinet

7.         Passacaille for Cello and Piano (1946) by Szymon Laks. 

Laks was born in Warsaw and deported to Aushwitz-Buchenwald, where he became director of the prisoner orchestra. He was liberated from Dachau. Recording:  Steven Honigberg, cello, Carol Honigberg, piano.