Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Requiem of Defiance: What a Jew Hears When Listening to the Verdi Requiem

In 1944 inmates of the Terezin concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia gave a performance of the Verdi Requiem in front of an audience that included high-ranking Nazi officials, including Adolf Eichmann. The Requiem contains the lines:

What dread there will be
When the Judge shall come
To judge all things strictly.

A trumpet, spreading a wondrous sound
Through the graves of all lands,
Will drive mankind before the throne.

Death and Nature shall be astonished
When all creation rises again
To answer to the Judge.

A book, written in, will be brought forth
In which is contained everything that is,
Out of which the world shall be judged.

When therefore the Judge takes His seat
Whatever is hidden will reveal itself.
Nothing will remain unavenged.

What the Jewish choristers at Terezin could not tell the Nazi officials directly -- that one day the the Nazi regime would be judged and their crimes would be avenged -- they were able to communicate obliquely through the words of the Requiem.


Gary Freedman said...

The Nazi officials at Terezin were too stupid to see what the Jews were doing.

I'm not that dumb:

DHR Finding of Fact 4(h)

(h) On or about early August 1991 an employee, Lutheria Harrison, who at that time was assigned to a work cubicle adjacent to the Complainant, was talking to another employee, Beatrice Spates, about her July telephone bill, emphasizing the word at her desk, stated in a markedly audible tone of voice the children’s rhyme, “liar, liar, pants on fire.” On another occasion a brief time later, Lutheria Harrison, upon entering Chris Robertson’s office to attend a weekly Litigation Support staff meeting, sighed the Yiddish phrase, Oy, veh.”

Complainant told Messrs. Race and Lassman that he interpreted the word “July” as a homophone for the phrase “Jew Lie,” and that these anecdotes suggested that some of his coworkers may have had an anti-semitic animus. Mr. Lassman requested that Complainant provide additional anecdotes that might suggest an anti-Semitic bias by employees. In response to Mr. Lassman’s question, and not on Complainant’s initiative, Complainant mentioned that the mascot of the Litigation Support group was a pig. (At this point Mr. Lassman turned to Mr. Race and said, “Dennis, you’re not Jewish. Jews aren’t allowed to eat pork.”)

Gary Freedman said...

The complete Verdi Requiem:

Gary Freedman said...

And, by the way, I'm not talking about John Gotti here:

Gary Freedman said...

The Verdi Requiem performed at Masada in Israel: