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Dislocated MemoriesJews, Music, and Postwar German Culture$
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Tina Frühauf and Lily Hirsch

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199367481

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199367481.001.0001

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“Vu ahin zol ikh geyn?”

“Vu ahin zol ikh geyn?”

Music Culture of Jewish Displaced Persons

(p.75) 4 “Vu ahin zol ikh geyn?”
Dislocated Memories

Bret Werb

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on how the physical and psychological ordeal of displacement informed and inspired music-related activities among Jewish DPs, from the creation of a sui generis repertoire of topical songs to the drive to collect ghetto and camp songs and the formation of touring performance ensembles. It examines the musical activity in the DP camps in Occupied Germany, particularly the musical repertoire that the DPs created and performed. Recovered from a range of sources–including archival collections, survivor testimonies, memoirs, printed and manuscript songbooks, as well as field and commercial recordings–these works reflect the frustrations and hopes of survivors as they attempt to envision the future and rebuild their lives. Emblematic of this repertoire is the Yiddish song “Vu ahin zol ikh geyn?”, generally regarded as the anthem of the surviving European Jewry. The trauma of dislocation motivated such repertoire, as well as the effort to collect ghetto and camp songs, and the formation of touring ensembles. These music ventures, many unexplored until now, offer insight into the DP experience and culture, and the ways in which DPs coped with the past, particularly the Holocaust and the loss of home through music in the immediate postwar period.

Keywords:   displaced persons camp, DPs, Yiddish song, Zionism, DP camp music, Leonard Bernstein, DP touring ensemble, nostalgia music, memory work

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