I recently watched Terezin, an inspiring project integrating music written by composers in Theresienstadt with the stories of survivors.
The musicians are Annie Sofie von Otter and Daniel Hope, and the film is by Dorothee Binding and Benedict Mirow. Made at the Bayerische Akademie der Schonen Kunste, and released on Deutsche Grammophon.
Like my project, the film integrates performances with accounts of the history of the composers involved. Daniel Hope, also a musician with German-Jewish roots, was interested in examining the music that was written at the time of the tyrannical Nazi regime, and in showcasing the incredible will to survive that is apparent in the music written by the many artists imprisoned in the camps.
From the film's notes:
"Whether serious and high-brow or invested with an entertaining gallows humour, the music composed and performed at Theresienstadt was the expression of an unbroken will to survive and, as such, a form of resistance to the National Socialist killing machine. That the Nazis were able to misuse even this moral act of self-assertion on the part of these artists and use it for their own propaganda purposes is merely one more exampled of the perfidious logic of their reign of terror.
…The outside world failed to see through the subterfuge. This was a slap in the face for artists such as Viktor Ullman, who had consciously chosen not to go into exile but to remain at home and offer his intellectual resistance to the regime. When the German armies marched into Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939, Ullman – a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg and for a time assistant conductor under Alexander von Zemlinsky in Prague – was immediately subjected to a ban on all public performances of his music.
Daniel Hope: “What fascinates me are the passion and will to survive that speak to us from this music.”