March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Defiant Requiem | DVD

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Defiant Requiem. DVD. 85 min. Prod. by Partisan Pictures. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-917-9. $24.99.
Gr 10 Up–When the Nazis invaded the Czech city of Terezinduring World War II, Jewish residents were segregated into an old garrison. Thousands more Jewish prisoners arrived in the already crowded ghetto and were forced to live in miserable conditions. Yet, in Thereseinstadt, artists, musicians, writers, and creative intellects forged a center of cultural activity. Young musical conductor Raphael Schacter inspired prisoners to prepare a choral performance of Verdi’s Requiem as a way to defy the Nazis and create beauty amidst the squalor. This nearly impossible feat required singers to meet stealthily around a small piano in a cellar and commit to memory one of choral music’s most demanding works. While they didn’t know and or have formal musical training, they eagerly worked for Raphi. Nazi officials invited the International Red Cross in September 1943 to demonstrate how well Jews were being treated. Sachter’s Requiem chorus was performed for officers and visitors, while clandestine transports carried Jews to Auschwitz. The cruel hoax fooled the Red Cross into reporting that Jews were well fed and enjoyed a rich cultural life in Thereseinstadt. This powerful film provides first-hand accounts by survivors who sang in the concentration camp and highlights the efforts of conductor Murry Sidlin to bring the Requiem back to Terezin six decades later with full orchestra and his chorus. The four featured soloists are magnificent. For mature students and music enthusiasts, this is a profoundly moving selection.–Robin Levin, US Holocaust Museum Teacher/Fellow, WY

Phyllis Levy Mandell About Phyllis Levy Mandell

Phyllis Mandell was Managing Editor/Multimedia Review Editor for SLJ.