Award for Holocaust music historian


Prestigious award for Holocaust music expert Historian Dr Shirli Gilbert, whose expertise is a driving force behind the creation of World ORTs Music during the Holocaust website, has been honoured by Americas prestigious Jewish Book Council. Dr Gilberts book, Music in the Holocaust: Confronting Life in the Nazi Ghettos and Camps, is runner-up in the Holocaust category of the 2005 National Jewish Book Awards behind Deborah Lipstadts History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving. The awards ceremony will be held at the Centre for Jewish History in New York on April 26. Assistant Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Dr Gilbert, an Israel-born South African, is a concert pianist turned academic who has written extensively on music and resistance, the Holocaust and apartheid. The Jewish Book Councils decision was a high honour, she said, that would help to give the World ORT project even more legitimacy. Im thrilled to have my book recognised by such a body. The National Jewish Book Award is not just an academic award but acknowledges books that can speak to a wider public as well. Dr Shirli Gilbert Music in the Holocaust, which is published by Oxford University Press, is the first large-scale, critical account in English of the role of music among communities imprisoned under Nazism. Dr Gilbert said that music had not received as much exposure in Holocaust-related studies as other aspects of life under Nazi domination yet it offered an accessible way of approaching the era. The music and songs offer a unique insight into how people including those who did not survive understood what was happening to them at the time of the persecution and so offer a valuable addition to the testimonies of survivors after the fact, she said. People are able to get a glimpse into what ordinary people like them experienced, Dr Gilbert added. In place of the huge, faceless number of six million victims, music offers perhaps a more personal way into understanding the Holocaust. Her work as content leader on World ORTs Music during the Holocaust website will help to create a sister site to World ORTs Learning about the Holocaust through Art website (; just as the latter contains teaching tools and class-based activities, so, too, the new website will contain interactive teaching materials. When the website is launched, it is due to contain biographies, performances, portraits and other information on more than 70 composers, musicians and writers, hundreds of samples of music, 20 complete pieces of music, 30 scores and much more. Clive Marks OBE, a long time supporter of World ORT and the originator and sponsor of the Music during the Holocaust project, said the new website would help to fill what is perhaps the largest single gap in understanding the Shoah. World ORT, founded in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organisation with some 270,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries.