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

In December 1938, Lagerführer Arthur Rödl ordered that a camp song be composed, promising a prize that was never paid to the winners. The Buchenwaldlied was composed in three days by Hermann Leopoldi on a text by Franz Lehár’s librettist, Fritz Löhner-Beda. Aimed at sustaining the will to resist, the song pleased Rödl so much that he ordered numerous and exhausting hours of collective rehearsals in the camp, accompanied by the orchestra. Still, for others like Robert Leibbrand, 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."