“Buchenwaldlied" taken from the Boder Collection at the USHMM, courtesy of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (www.ushmm.org).

Early on in Buchenwald's existence, the leadership organised a competition for the best camp song.  The winning entry, which became the official ‘Buchenwaldlied’ (Buchenwald song), was as much loved by the prisoners as by the guards who forced them to sing it.  Set to an energetic march, its rousing chorus focused on the freedom that awaited the inmates beyond the camp walls.  For many of the prisoners, singing the song felt like an act of resistance: 'When the order came to sing, our eyes sought out the crematorium, from whose chimney the flames rose to the sky.  We put all our hatred into the song.  As the hot coals burned we shouted the “free” of the chorus so that the forest resounded with it.'