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24 September 2014
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A general view of Auschwitz

BBC TWO unravels the secrets of Auschwitz

Other BBC programmes

The following programmes are planned for broadcast on or around Holocaust Memorial Day.

Exact transmission details will be available nearer the time.

Holocaust Memorial Event


Holocaust Memorial Day 2005 will see the biggest assembly to date of British-based survivors of the camps and ghettos of Nazi Europe.

All known survivors will be invited to a ceremony in Westminster Hall, London, due to be attended by Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and major political leaders.

At the first Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001, survivors were addressed by big names from the world of theatre, film, television and music, including Emma Thompson, Sir Antony Sher, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Bob Geldof and Sir Trevor MacDonald.

This year will see the world's first performance of Annelies, an original oratorio based on the diaries of Anne Frank performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The event will also introduce Stephen Leas to a wider audience. Stephen is the cantor at Great Portland Street Synagogue, London, and will sing the memorial prayer.

Unusually for a cantor, Stephen has also trained in secular music with the English National Opera.

Holocaust - A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz


For many prisoners in Auschwitz, music played a unique and precious role. Several orchestras and bands were set up, made up entirely of inmates.

Amidst all the horrors, music was a part of daily life: marches were played at the camp gates as labour gangs were led out to work each morning and musicians were called on at all times of the day and night to perform for the SS and Nazi officers.

Now, in a unique tribute to the millions who died in the Nazi genocide and for the first time in its history, the museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau has allowed a number of leading musicians from around the world to come to the camps and perform in a 90-minute film shot entirely on location.

A sequence of carefully chosen music, all connected in some way with the Holocaust, will be interwoven with the powerful accounts of three survivors from the men's and women's orchestras.

The list of world-class musicians taking part in the film includes the acclaimed Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov, the American pianist Emanuel Ax and a number of international singers, including sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian and Kate Royal, mezzo-soprano Tove Dahlberg and bass-baritone Gerald Finlay.

The Sinfonietta Krakowia and Camerata Silesia will be conducted by John Axelrod.

The film includes music from the Jewish liturgy as well as works by Chopin, Górecki, Messiaen, Viktor Ullmann and Bach.

A new work for brass and shofars (a Hebrew instrument made from animal horns) by the sought-after Jewish-Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov has been specially commissioned for the film.

Holocaust - A Music Memorial Film is an international endeavour, with artists coming from as far afield as Poland, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Russia.

The film is a co-production between the BBC, TVP (Poland), CBC (Canada) and ZDF (Germany).

It will be directed by the award-winning Jewish director James Kent, whose credits include The Genius of Mozart and numerous documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4 and HBO.

The executive producer is Peter Maniura and the producer is Ben Weston.

Grandchild of the Holocaust


In 1939, Rene was just 12 years old when she was sent to the Lodz Ghetto and later to Auschwitz and Belsen.

Her 10-year-old sister was killed in Treblinka and her mother died 12 days after Belsen was liberated.

Rene has never discovered what happened to her father. She is the only member of her family to have survived.

Today, Rene, a sprightly 75 year old, lives in a comfortable home in the UK with her husband Charles, who was one of the British volunteers who liberated Belsen.

They have been married for more than 50 years and her pride and joy are her five grandchildren, who she never thought she would live to see.

Like so many survivors, Rene has never been able to express fully the pain of her experiences or expunge the guilt of surviving when so many millions perished.

"Statistics say I shouldn't be here. I survived so many selection processes under the Nazis that I can't believe I am still here today to tell my story," she says.

Rene's son, Martin, has never asked her about what happened to her during the war; it is something she has not talked about for 50 years.

But Martin's own 13-year-old son Adrian is always asking his granny about her war-time experiences.

Now, for the first time, Rene is about to reveal to Adrian what her life was really like when she was growing up in Poland, at the same age as he is now.

Descendants of the Holocaust joins Rene and her family on an emotional voyage of discovery as she passes on to her grandchildren the memory of what she went through in the hope that it will not all be forgotten.

The documentary is a celebration of the continuation of her family, and of families like hers, against all the odds.

Songs of Praise


This special edition of Songs of Praise to mark National Holocaust Memorial Day follows three sixth-form students on a journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Laura, Mark and Asha all have very personal reasons for wanting to visit the camp and learn more about the horrors that unfolded there.

Their visit has been organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, which aims to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust and its relevance today.

Presented by Aled Jones, music comes from Libera and The Zemel Choir and includes Lead Kindly Light and Abide with Me.

Sunday Worship

Radio 4

Sunday Worship on 23 January 2005 comes from Beth Shalom in Newark, on the edge of Sherwood Forest.

Beth Shalom - meaning House of Peace - is Britain's first dedicated Holocaust Memorial and Education Centre.

Since 1995, the centre has provided a peaceful setting in which visitors can learn, remember and reflect.

This ecumenical service will be led by the director of the centre, Dr Stephen D Smith, and includes contributions from member of the local Jewish and Christian communities.

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