The relaunch of ORT’s world-leading Music and the Holocaust resource is complete following years of redevelopment.
The Music and the Holocaust website brings to life the story of what happened to music in Europe between 1933 and 1945 – and especially what happened to musicians, composers and performers.
It also delves into the history of music created in concentration camps and ghettoes and throughout the Jewish world during the Shoah. The website contains hundreds of articles, pieces of music and learning materials suitable for all audiences and available in English, Russian and Spanish, with translation into other languages continuing to be added in the future.
Among the historical items researched and discussed on the site are articles revealing details of the prisoners’ orchestra at Auschwitz, an exploration of the quality and quantity of music at Theresienstadt, and hundreds of personal stories and biographical details.
Articles on the site were largely produced by a core research team and guest writers, including academic Dr Shirli Gilbert, whose book Music in the Holocaust: Confronting Life in the Nazi Ghettos and Camps was the basis for the website.
Dr Gilbert (pictured with Clive Marks OBE in 2017) said: “It’s wonderful to be celebrating the launch of the new, revamped Music and the Holocaust website almost 15 years after its modest beginnings.
“The research on this rich topic has grown substantially over the past two decades and we are delighted to be able to include on the site contributions from the most prominent scholars and experts in the field.
“The site was, and is, intended as a resource for secondary school and university students as well as musicians, concert and commemoration organizers and the wider public. We have been gratified over the years to learn about the diverse audiences that have benefited from our work.
“We hope that, in its new and improved version, the site will continue to be an inspiring and stimulating resource to be enjoyed by audiences across the world.”
Fifty new articles have been added to the site for the relaunch. The new ‘on this day’ feature – prominent on the homepage – links to stories and information relating to around 1,000 individuals within the site and other web resources.
Produced and updated by World ORT staff in London in cooperation with ORT Russia and ORT Argentina, the website was first devised in 2008. It has since received millions of hits from around the world.
The redesign has made the site more responsive to work better on mobile devices and has adopted ORT’s new branding introduced in 2018. User experience has been improved and the refreshed home page displays links to articles and biographies as well as the Holocaust Music Twitter feed. Google maps are used to locate camps and ghettos referred to on the site. Music which is featured in articles streams to your device as you read the piece.
Sadler Johnson of World ORT’s Education Department, who co-ordinated the site relaunch, said: “The Music and the Holocaust project has been growing for 15 years. Since its inception it has been the primary resource on the topic and continues to lead web search results.
“The website was created to educate, document, and memorialize how music and composers, musicians and performers were affected in Nazi-occupied Europe and beyond.
“It has been well received in secondary education, academic research and by the general public. We aim to reach a broad audience to tell these people’s stories – from the most accomplished composers to the poorest bard.
“We try to give an accessible yet rigorous and balanced perspective on the situation that Jewish composers found themselves in as victims of the camps and ghettos or as exiles. In this way we provide an engaging path into Holocaust education and evidence in the fight against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.”
Clive Marks OBE, who has lectured over four decades on the subject of music in the Third Reich and who chaired the London College of Music for 15 years, was one of the driving forces behind the site, alongside the late Dr Gideon Meyer, who was Deputy Director General of World ORT between 1999 and 2006.
The ORT Marks Fellowship Program launched in 2017, pledging £100,000 of funding for 20 post-graduate students’ work on the subject of music during the Holocaust over ten years to 2027. Part of their work includes adding new content to the website.