FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
BERLIN – Music was his life. Music had saved her life. Music kept her alive for up to 96 years. Esther Bjarano died yesterday in Hamburg, at the end of a terrible and extraordinary journey, which saw her survive the hell of Auschwitz.
I was lucky
, he had told me a year and a half ago, welcoming me into his warm apartment like a hug, chock full of things, paintings, furniture, books, sheet music, musical instruments, trinkets and above all many photographs. For her, the German-Jewish she had had his parents and sister massacred by the Nazis, the luck had been to have survived to be able to tell what happened.
L’orchestrina e Mengele
At Auschwitz, where he arrived in April 1943, she was only saved because she could play the accordion. On the Birkenau ramp, Esther together with the orchestra welcomed the new deportees to the music. He remembered well the chief physician, Dr. Mengele, impassive along the track, who, like Minos with his tail, decided everyone’s fate with a simple movement of his hand: It was a terrible pressure for us: when people passed us by, direct to the gas chambers, surely they thought that in a place where music was played it couldn’t be so horrible.
Witness by singing
Testified to the last, Esther Bjarano. In his own way. Singing. First in a band with her children, Edna and Joram. Then with i Microphone Mafia, two rap musicians, one of Turkish origin, the other Italian, touring in Germany and half of Europe, visiting schools and social centers, performing in theaters and squares. After emigrating to Palestine at the end of the war and returning to Germany in 1956, it had taken him decades to find the strength and voice to remember the unspeakable. But when she succeeded twenty years ago, she never stopped singing.
The Italian friend
In 2013, with an Italian friend, Antonella Romeo, she had recounted the abrupt turns and tragedies of her life in a good book. Especially in recent years, Esther was a lot concerned about the resurgence of anti-Semitism: After 1945 – he told me – Germany did not do any denazification. There was silence. No light was shed on criminals, it was only in the 70s that the Holocaust began to be talked about, thanks to an American film. This is the reason why there are so many neo-Nazis around today. Anti-Semitism on the rise: attacks, aggressions. This is why I sing and go to schools to witness what I have lived. Requiem for the girl with the accordion.