Can one bring the horror to the stage?

On 27 January 1945, the Russian army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp – they found only a few thousand survivors. About 60,000 of the other prisoners had been sent on death marches to other death camps before.

At 9.00 am the soldiers of the 1st Ukrainian Front reached the camp. Between barracks and barbed wire they saw the consequences of the Nazi extermination policy: corpses, dying people and mountains of shoes, glasses, prostheses and other belongings of the victims. Only about 7,600 people could be saved, most of whom were too weak to clear the camp. They were supposed to have been killed by SS members, but this never happened again.

Is it possible to bring these gruesome images to the stage? I myself have often dealt with these events, as there was a subcamp of Mauthausen concentration camp in my home town Ebensee. Thousands of prisoners had to dig tunnels here, which were intended for the production of V2 rockets. Ebensee concentration camp was liberated by the Americans on May 6, 1945.

So if you look at the story a little bit, you quickly come to a conclusion: Hell cannot be described musically. But you can remind us, as the words of the survivors remind us, not to forget what happened. As one Holocaust survivor said: “Those born after 1945 can’t help the terrible, but they are guilty if they are not interested in this history.

Here is a list of works that deal with the Holocaust.