ORT relaunches leading online resource on music and the Holocaust


To mark Yom HaShoah, ORT is relaunching its Music and the Holocaust website.

One of the world’s leading resources on the subject, the website has undergone substantial redevelopment over the past year and will be available from today as a beta site.

The Music and the Holocaust website brings to life the story of what happened to music between 1933 and 1945 in Europe – 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.

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 biographical details and stories of hundreds of musicians, composers and performers.

Produced and updated by ORT staff in London, the website was first devised in 2008 and is one of the world’s leading resources of information on music during the Holocaust. It receives hundreds of thousands of hits every year.

As part of the redesign the site has been made 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. Work has also started on translating new content into Russian. 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.

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.

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.

Mr Marks said: “I am very proud of the website and its continuing progress. The new version of the site is always what we have been aiming for. Approaching 15 years now, we recall the site’s excellent reception at the Music, Oppression and Exile conference at SOAS in 2008, at my and Dr Shirli Gilbert’s presentation for the United Nations International Holocaust Memorial event in New York in 2014, and at a packed concert entitled Music on the Brink of Destruction at the Wigmore Hall in London in 2016.

“We didn’t expect such success and the widespread appreciation from the public, students and academics alike.

“I did not believe when we started this project that we could find out as much as we have done, and I now realise that our work will never be completed. We intend to continue adding to and improving the site and discovering the people and encouraging performance of the music that we thought had been lost forever.

“I hope that when the pandemic dust has settled, we can continue to present our work through concerts and lectures.”