World War II in Music

World War II in Music focuses on the meaning of music during World War II in the Kingdom of the Netherlands [the Netherlands, the former Dutch East Indies, Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles]. Banned music, music from camps, propaganda songs, and other works dating from World War II can be heard again on this site. The music, articles, films, photos, and numerous documents tell of the power and powerlessness of music, of life and survival with music.

"To the fighters for justice and peace. And to my boys who died for that justice." Composer Jan van Gilse, score opera "Thijl" (1938-1940)


Hans van Collem (1920-2010), the hidden power of a note
Musician Hans van Collem found himself in the penal barracks at Westerbork a year before liberation. There he put together a Jewish male choir. “I thought, ‘We can’t let them destroy us. We’re going to sing,’” said Hans. During recreational hours in the afternoon and early evening, hundreds of convicts would come and listen to Jewish liturgical hymns and songs. 


Alice Herz-Sommer (1904-2014)
"Music saved my life." Alice Herz- Sommer, the world's oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor, shares her views on how to live a long happy life. She discusses the vital importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life. This powerfully inspirational video tells her amazing story of survival and how she managed to use her time in a Nazi concentration camp to empower herself and others with music. See also: Alice. [Source: trailer Alice, 17 August 2013]

“Do you want to know if a land is well governed and if its people have good morals? Listen to its music,” said Confucius (551–479 BC).

Last update: January, 2016