Buchenwald Music: Band and Song

In my post on December 18, 2013 I wrote of the music of Auschwitz, and the camp orchestra that played morning and night right outside the kitchen where Henry worked.
The only reference Henry ever made to a Buchenwald music was a comparison camp orchestra at Buchenwald in comparison to Auschwitz. 

All Henry ever said about the music at Buchenwald was one sentence as compared to Franz Nierchylo, conductor at Auschwitz, who ended the playing as soon as gates were closed, even in the middle of a note:
“ (at Auschwitz) And when the last dead guy was carried in, the SS gave a sign, and the Capo gave a sign and everyone stopped on that note, or he’s kicked out of orchestra, and hits on head.  This was the difference between BuchenwaldBuchenwald orchestra was better because they always finished the music at the end of song/bar, when it was supposed to be finished
The Buchenwald ‘orchestra’ had two things the Auschwitz orchestra didn’t – the identity as a brass band, and uniforms.  Somehow Commandant Koch had commandeered a truckload of circus uniforms – magnificent red dolman sleeves, black jodhpurs and shiny high boots. Camp band members had better food, good quarters and spent whole days in rehearsal. With the uniforms they looked, and sounded good. Given the cultural heritage of Goethe and Weimar, it seemed appropriate a Buchenwald band look and sound good.
Buchenwald’s camp brass band was founded in 1938 as a work commando and reported directly to the commandant.  It was initially 10-12 musicians, Sinti (gypsies) and Jehovah’s Witnesses and one Czech inmate.  The band expanded to about 32 inmates by 1942. It was ordered to play while inmates gathered for roll call, as commandos left the gate for work, and during punishments. They also gave concerts for prisoners, usually on Sunday afternoons.
When I visited Buchenwald I picked up a postcard that had a musical score and the title ‘Buchenwald Lied.”  This Buchenwald song was written by a prisoner in 1938, and became the official song that work commandos sang when they marched out of camp.  
Translation – Buchenwald Song (postcard)
When the day wakes, before the sun laughs, the workers move on
to the day’s efforts in the grey morning. And the
forest is black and the sky is red, and we carry in our bread sack a
small piece of bread; and in our hearts, in our hearts, our worries. Oh,
Buchenwald, I cannot forget you, because you are my fate.
Those who left you, can only fathom how
wonderful freedom is. Oh, Buchenwald, we are not wailing and
complaining. Regardless of what our future may be – we want
to say “yes” to life, because the day will come when we will be
free! We want, come the day, when we are free!

Note – I even found a web site dedicated to music of the Holocaust and found a recording of survivors singing the song. It does sound like a marching kind of song – and since it spoke of freedom – for the prisoners it was a form of resistance to talk of freedom. 

Next Post – the JudenLied or ‘Jew Song’