press release
Published: 24 January 2024

Lost melodies of the Holocaust: Leon Kaczmarek's music rediscovered

Music composed by a Polish prisoner during the Holocaust has been rediscovered by PhD student Manuel Cini from the University of Surrey.

The music was written by Leon Kaczmarek while he was held captive in the Dachau concentration camp during the Second World War.

Manuel found Kaczmarek’s compositions in the Alexander Kulisiewicz Collection, an archive preserved at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Rediscovering Kaczmarek's artistic heritage, long overlooked, is a privilege and a duty for me. It's crucial to remember the events of this bleak chapter in our history, and this music adds even more emotional depth. I greatly respect these compositions, as they echo the voice of the composer and his fellow inmates who contributed alongside him.

No one has played these compositions since 1945, and when you see the manuscripts and play them, the music comes alive – I'm resurrecting his voice through this process, it’s really moving to perform his music.
Manuel Cini, PhD student

Kaczmarek was captured by the Gestapo in early 1940 after the Nazis invaded Poland. He was taken to Dachau concentration camp, where he led a men's choir and wrote many songs and pieces of music. He also endured and survived two cruel experiments by the Nazis. After the war, he went back to Poland and led a men's choir as its artistic director from 1965 until he passed away.

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