War Requiems

David Drew

Several million television viewers in Europe and America, and who knows how many newspaper-readers everywhere, have watched and heard or been informed about a monumental concert given in Warsaw’s opera house on 1 September to mark the 50th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Despite the personal narrative with which Samuel Pisar – a survivor from Auschwitz – judiciously and movingly linked the musical episodes in Humphrey Burton’s Unitel film (shown the following day on BBC 2), the nature of the occasion was essentially public – which is to say, a prey to those acts of political and social publicity which can render all such occasions, however solemn, profoundly if not atrociously ambiguous.

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