We left the camp singing Project

**What is We left the camp singing?** Made by Sofia Tapinassi, it is a divulgation project that wants to share the little known
**What is We left the camp singing?** Made by Sofia Tapinassi, it is a divulgation project that wants to share the little known

A divulgation project and documentary about music in Theresienstadt concentration camp

What is We left the camp singing?

We left the camp singing is a divulgation project, articulated both in a piano concert and a documentary, by Sofia Tapinassi, a 26 year old pianist from Florence, Italy. Sofia’s aims are to bring to the general public something intensely beautiful but little known that emerged from the darkest heart of the Holocaust.

**What is We left the camp singing?** Made by Sofia Tapinassi, it is a divulgation project that wants to share the little known

This project is about Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia’s main concentration camp during the Second World War, where more then 150.000 Czech Jews were deported.
The camp was inhabited by many famous people: artists, musicians, conductors, actors, poets. The artistic activities, which started secretly at first, were then officially authorised by the SS so that they could make propaganda out of it. In the concentration camp of Terezín it then became customary to listen daily to concerts by soloists and chamber ensembles, symphonic and choral works, and theatrical performances, while the living conditions in the camp steadily became more and more inhuman.

Sofia has decided not only to play the music of the composers who were deported to Theresienstadt, such as Gideon Klein, Pavel Haas and Hans Winterberg, but also to introduce her public to their particular story through the production of a documentary. This film, due for release in summer 2021, is the result of in-depth research Sofia has carried out over the last two years, during which she had the honor to meet a few survivors and their relatives. She has travelled, and plans to travel again, to many places in Europe to discover more about the people who were prisoners in Theresienstadt and to find out more about the music which was played there.

The project will narrate a story which, in its tragedy, found through Art some moments of comfort.

Sofia is very grateful to her friends and collaborators:
John Williams - Main producer
Douglas MacRae Brown - associate producer


**What is We left the camp singing?** Made by Sofia Tapinassi, it is a divulgation project that wants to share the little known

About Sofia

I’m an Italian pianist who is passionate about discovering every art form that is connected with music and history of music. After my studies at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini of Florence, I have found that my mission, as a musician, is to dedicate myself to lesser known composers whose stories and music deserve to be brought to light.



We Left The Camp Singing © 2020


sofiatapinassi@gmail.com

tel: +393392506769


About Theresienstadt

**Theresienstadt**

The fortress town of Terezin, 60 km from Prague, was built between 1780 and 1790 as part of the anti-Prussian fortification project decreed by Joseph II of Habsburg- Lorraine and dedicated to his mother Theresa.

There were two main structures, the great fortress and the small fortress. In 1941 the Nazi authorities transformed the town into a ghetto, where they started to concentrate people of Jewish origin from all over Czechoslovakia, and later from Austria and Germany too. Many were the uses this town, now renamed Theresienstadt, was put to.

As well as being an excellent showcase for Nazi propaganda, it was actually used to create an complete and utter hoax. The objective was to convince the international authorities that here was an ordinary town, in which people lived in a perfectly happy way. And in 1944 the International Red Cross came to make their important visit. For this occasion, and for the production of a documentary entitled “The Führer grants a town to the Jews as a gift”, the place was cleaned up and beautified. The Nazis worked hard to show the world a comfortable place to live, and a carefree lifestyle based on leisure.
In reality, living conditions were utterly appalling due to overcrowding and lack of hygiene and basic necessities; the inhabitants were debilitated through malnutrition, the spread of diseases, forced labour and the ill-treatment they were subjected to.

The particular thing to highlight is how this ghetto became home to many famous people from the fields of art, literature and music, who, far from being forbidden to pursue their creative mission, were on the contrary allowed to continue their work. The main function of this town was, however, to be a sorting centre for transport towards the real concentration camps in the east.

The Red Army liberated Theresienstadt on 8th May 1945 and found about 17,500 of the 150,000 people who had been deported there in roughly three years.


The Propaganda Film

**Theresienstadt**

August 1944 - the Nazis started to produce a propaganda film to show how well the Jews lived in Theresienstadt. The film had the title “Terezín: A Documentary Film from the Jewish Settlement Area” but is better known under the title “The Führer Gives the Jews a City”.

To prepare the town for the realization of the film, the camp was improved in certain key areas. Some living spaces were enlarged and painted, drapes were hung and furniture added. Grass and flowers were planted. A playground and a sport field were built. Over 7,500 inmates — mostly orphans, sick and elderly people — were sent to Auschwitz, so Theresienstadt would appear less crowded. Scenes of an orchestral concert and a soccer match would demonstrate how many recreational activities the inhabitants were experiencing in the ghetto.

The people who appeared in the propaganda movie were sent to Auschwitz as soon as filming was completed, in October 1944. Most were gassed upon arrival including the children, the composer Krása, director Gerron and the musicians.



We Left The Camp Singing © 2020

Composers

**Theresienstadt**

Pavel Haas was born in Brno in 1899. He studied both Piano and Composition at the Brno Conservatory, where he distinguished himself as a remarkable student of Leos Janácek. His music contains both folk and jazz elements.
In 1941, he was deported to Theresienstadt, where he continued to compose even in those difficult life conditions.
He appears in the propaganda film made by the Nazis to convince the world that to live in the camp was more a gift then a torture. Transported to Auschwitz in October 1944, he was immediately sent to the gas chambers.

**Theresienstadt**

Gideon Klein was an incredibly gifted musician. He was born in Prerov, Cezchoslovakia. After his piano and composition studies in Prague, he was invited to study at the Royal College of Music in London, but due to racist laws he couldn’t leave his country. He was deported to Theresienstadt in December 1941.
When he was in the camp, he continued his musical activities. In additional, he made all the efforts to ensure the ghetto’s children would maintain a good level of education, even if teaching was forbidden. This kind of clandestine school had place in the barracks and Gideon gave lessons of Czech, history, literature and many other subjects.

**Theresienstadt**

Hans Winterberg studied composition in Prague. Due to his classification as a Jew, he was deported to Theresienstadt in January 1945 and he stayed there until the liberation of the camp in May.
He spent the following years recollecting the manuscripts of the works he had written in those very difficult months of imprisonment.



We Left The Camp Singing © 2020

Documentary's voices

**Theresienstadt**

Zdenka Fantlova is an amazing woman of 99 years old. Born in Czechoslovakia, she was deported to Theresienstadt when she was 17. There, she worked in the kitchen and made her debut as an actress.
She always repeated herself “calmness is strength”, the last words she heard by her father, who was arrested because he was listening to the English radio.
She kindly accepted to share some stories about her life in Theresienstadt, which was only the first of 6 concentration camps she survived to. Zdenka has been in contact with many musicians who were prisoners in the camp: Gideon and Eliska Klein, Alice Herz Sommer, Viktor Ullmann, Rafael Schäcter and many others.
Nowadays she lives in London and she can’t wait to celebrate her 100th birthday!



We Left The Camp Singing © 2020