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Esther Bejarano

Auschwitz survivor who fought racism with music dies at 96!

Esther Bejarano, a survivor of the Auschwitz casualty home who wielded the energy of symphony to battle antisemitism and discrimination in Germany, has died. She was 96.

Bejarano departed peacefully in the earlier hours of Saturday at the Jewish Hospital in Hamburg, German information DPA referred to Helga Opens, a committee member of the Auschwitz Committee in Germany, as letting out. A reason for death was not given.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas delivered a homage to Bejarano, naming her “a valuable vocalist in the battle against discrimination and antisemitism.”

Born in 1924 as the daughter of Jewish cantor Rudolf Loewy in what was the French-occupied Saarlouis, the household later shifted to Saarbrucken, where Bejarano celebrated harmonious and secluded upbringing until the Nazis came to sovereignty and the town was reimbursed to Germany in 1935.

In a biography, Bejarano remembered her liberation by U.S. battalions who gave her an accordion, which she took advantage of the day American combatants and concentration camp survivors danced around a burning painting of Adolf Hitler to commemorate the Allied accomplishment over the Nazis.

Bejarano migrated to Israel after the conflict and wedded Nissim Bejarano. The pair had two kids, Edna and Joram, before retreating to Germany in 1960.

After once again experiencing clear antisemitism, Bejarano agreed to evolve politically active, co-founding the Auschwitz Committee in 1986 to give survivors a forum for their tales.

She associated with her kids to play with Yiddish hymns and Jewish opposition hymns in a Hamburg-based band they called Coincidence, and also with hip-hop group Microphone Mafia to dissipate an anti-racism statement to German teenagers.

“We all love song and share a familiar goal: We’re combatting against discrimination and intolerance,” she said to the AP of her affiliations across societies and ages.

Bejarano earned several prizes, comprising Germany’s Order of Merit, for her activism against what she named the “old and modern Nazis,” referring to fellow Holocaust survivor Primo Levi’s alarm that “it occurred, thus it can occur again.”

While meeting inexperienced people in Germany and beyond, Bejarano would tell, “You are not culpable of what occurred back then. But you become sinful if you refuse to hear what happened.”

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