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Music and Death – “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

April 9th, 2012 · No Comments · Genocide, Music, Totalitarianism, WW2

In Auschwitz:

People in camps, people in prisons, people who have escaped from prision, people going to their death, know the extraordinary power of music. No one else can experience music in quite the same way.

What music resurrects in the soul of a man about to die is neither hope nor thought, but simply the blind, heart-breaking miracle of life itself. A sob passed down the column. Everything seemed transformed, everything had come together; everything scattered and fragmented – home, peace, the journey, the umble of wheels, thirst, terror, the city rising out of the mist, the wan red dawn – fused together, not into a memory or a picture but into the blind, fierce ache of life itself. Here in the glow of the gas ovens, people knew that life was more than happiness – it was also grief. And the freedom was both painful and difficult; it was life itself.

Music had the power to express the last turmoil of a soul in whose blind depths every experience, every moment of joy and grief, had fused with this misty morning, this glow hanging over their heads. Or perhaps it wasn’t like that at all. Perhaps music was just the key to a man’s feelings, not what filled him at this terrible moment, but the key that unlocked his innermost core.

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