Bunalied (Song of Buna)

Bunalied was written in 1942 in the Buna-Monowitz subcamp of Auschwitz. The lyrics were written by Fritz Löhner-Beda and the music by Anton Geppert. Löhner-Beda was 60 years old when he arrived at Auschwitz, deeply affected by four years of very harsh imprisonment and the destruction of his family, and he had little time to write this song before his brutal murder on 4 December 1942.

A prisoner Raymond van den Straaten reported on Löhner-Beda's death at the Nuremberg trials against IG Farben:

"One day, two Buna prisoners, Dr. Raymond van den Straaten and Dr. Fritz Löhner-Beda, went to work when a group of visitors consisting of IG Farben bigwigs came along. One of the directors pointed to Dr. Löhner-Beda and said to his SS companion: 'This Jewish pig could work faster.' Another IG director then remarked: 'If they can't work anymore, they should die in the gas chamber .' After the inspection was over, Dr. Löhner-Beda was taken from the work detail , beaten and kicked so much that he returned to his camp friend as a dying man and died in the IG factory in Auschwitz."

Handwritten score for "Buna song" composed in Auschwitz-Buna by Fritz Lohner Beda. Courtesy of the Auschwitz Museum.


Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of the European Jews . Frankfurt am Main: Fischer 1990.

Auschwitz Museum Photo Archive, Bunalied score.

Steht am Himmel noch freundlich Frau Luna,
erwacht das Lager der Buna,
steigt empor die schlesische Sonne,
marschiert die Arbeitskolonne.
und auf Schritt und Tritt geht das Heimweh mit
und das schwere Leid dieser schweren Zeit,
doch die Arbeit winkt
und das Lied erklingt:

      Nur die Arbeit macht uns frei,
      an ihr geh’n die Sorgen vorbei,
      nur die Arbeit lässt uns vergessen
      alles das, was wir einst besessen.
      Nur die Arbeit macht uns hart,
      wenn uns das Schicksal genarrt,
      und die Zeit vergeht und das Leid verweht,
      nur das Werk unsrer Hände besteht.

If Mrs Luna still stands friendly in the sky,
the camp of Buna awakes,
the Silesian sun rises high,
the work crew marches on.
And at every turn homesickness accompanies them
and the heavy song of this heavy time,
but work waves to us
and the song resounds:

      Through work our sorrows will pass,
      only work will let us forget
      everything that we once possessed.
      Only work will make us tough,
      when fate has had the best of us,
      And when time has passed and suffering blown over,
      only the work of our hands will remain.