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Our Story

GHOST BROTHERS is the story, told in song, of the experience of the second generation of the Holocaust, that is, the children of survivors born after the war.  This group itself is now reaching late middle age.

The song cycle is largely the story of one woman, the composer, but it is also generally about the experience of Transylvanian Jews born in the late 1940’s when their parents returned from the camps. 

 

The title refers to the fact that some survivors had children before the war who perished in the Holocaust.  These full or half siblings were ever-present “ghosts” in the new family.  The composer’s father lost his first wife and three young sons.

While having siblings that they never knew gave these children of survivors a unique story, much of their experience is shared by most of the second generation.  The themes explored in the song cycle include:

  • Parental over-protectiveness

  • Secrets

  • Having to make up for a dead sibling

  • Life without grandparents

  • Re-locating at a young age

  • Repressed anger/pressure to be “happy”

  • Coping with being over valued

  • Responsibility for your parent’s happiness

  • Survivor guilt in the second generation

  • Difficulty separating from parents

  • Pressure to be successful

The experience of Transylvanian Jews had its own special characteristics.  Hungarian and Transylvanian Jews were taken relatively late in the war, so most survivors had homes and communities to come home to.  Many of the men, and most of the men who survived, were forced into slave labor camps. 

The women, the elderly, and the children were sent to death camps, primarily Auschwitz.  They arrived there when Auschwitz had reached the peak of its killing capacity.  Of the one million Jews killed there, just under half were Hungarian speakers.

 

Most of the survivors returned to Transylvania after the war, avoiding the horrors of the displaced persons camps, and many had relatives and Jewish friends who were not deported because they were in the Romanian part of Transylvania.  Most, though not all of them, left Romania in the mid to late 1950’s when the now Soviet satellite allowed Jews to emigrate to Israel.  Some stayed but many immigrated to other parts of the globe, primarily America.