Songs of survival: They lost homes, families and countries, but Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution still had their music

“He said little to share his stories of upheaval. What many people in our family remember, they had smiles on their faces, was the music.”

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Fortunately, they survived the madness of Hitler’s Germany that began in the 1930s. Others, such as Bernie’s paternal family, all of whom, except his father, Max, perished in the Holocaust, were not as fortunate.

Asking him about his horrific experiences for the safety of himself and his family was his last wish to be in a calm environment. His answers were always tied to his desire to improve his family’s life. We wanted to better understand the reasons for leaving. But no one will remember the horror of being caught in anti-Semitic riots. It was painful for him to relive those days and asked little to share his tales of upheaval.


What many in our family remember, the smiles on their faces, was the music. Despite the poverty, the carnage, the daily struggle to survive, the music was constant. Whether at…