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Brundibár

By H. Krása & A. Hoffmeister

Zeltner Books, Israel 2014.

Brundibár is a children's opera from 1938 by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, originally performed by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. Rehearsals started in 1941 at the Jewish orphanage in Prague, which served as a temporary educational facility for children separated from their parents by the war. A special performance of Brundibár was staged in 1944 for representatives of the Red Cross who came to inspect living conditions in the Theresienstadt camp; what the Red Cross did not know at the time was that what they saw during their visit was a show, and that one of the reasons the Theresienstadt camp seemed comfortable was that many of the residents had been deported to Auschwitz in order to reduce crowding during their visit. Later that year this Brundibár production was filmed for a Nazi propaganda film Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt (The Führer Gives the Jews a City). All of the participants in the production were herded into cattle trucks and sent to Auschwitz as soon as filming was finished. Most were gassed immediately upon arrival, including the children, the composer Krása, the director Kurt Gerron, and the musicians.

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