In 1943 a women’s orchestra was formed at one of the most brutal death camps ever created, on the order of German SS officers. Some forty-seven or so young girls played in this hotch-potch band of hurriedly assembled instruments. For almost all of them it saved their lives.
Amidst all the horrors how did such things come to exist? Was it aimed at masking the atrocities in the camps, or to provide solace to the perpetrators? And what was the effect on those who owe their survival to being a part of this project and the inevitable compromises that were made? In The Auschwitz Women’s Orchestra Anne Sebba examines these tangled questions of deep moral complexity as she tells the remarkable story of these women for the first time.
Jenny Lord, Executive Publisher of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Clare Alexander at Aitken Alexander Associates.
The Auschwitz Women’s Orchestra by Anne Sebba will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in hardback, trade paperback, audio and eBook in 2025.
Jenny Lord says: ‘The story of the women’s orchestra at Auschwitz stopped us in our tracks at W&N. It is a tale of remarkable resilience and determination that also asks us to consider vital moral questions. With her impeccable research and narrative skills, I can’t imagine an author who is better placed to tell this story than Anne and we are thrilled to be publishing the book’
Anne Sebba says: ‘I feel privileged to tell the stories of these women and girls who faced unimaginable choices on a daily basis. Speaking many different languages and with a wide variation in musical ability, the group faced constant possibilities for friction among themselves, irrespective of the horrors outside their block. But their support for each other and instinct for survival were inspirational.’
Anne Sebba is one of Britain’s most distinguished biographers. Formerly a Reuters correspondent, she has written ten works of non-fiction, mostly about iconic women, and presented BBC radio documentaries. She is the author of the international bestsellers That Woman, an acclaimed biography of Wallis Simpson, and Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died Under Nazi Occupation.