Mark Ludwig, Author - Our Will to Live

Mark Ludwig, Author
Our Will to Live


My first story, covering the Serb war against Croats and Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s, confronted me with first-hand accounts of survivors of two notorious prison camps in northern Bosnia, Trnopolje and Omarska. They made clear to me a shattering distinction. Trnolpolje, they told me, was a concentration camp, a place where mostly Muslim men, women and children were unjustly held in appalling conditions. Omarska, on the other hand, was a death camp, where selected prisoners from Trnopolje were sent to be tortured, questioned and killed.

The first war crimes trial of the United Nations Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia convicted a notoriously vicious guard from Omarska.  Prosecutors gathered testimony partly based on interviews I had done for Nightline in October and November of 1992.

That awful distinction is all-too-relevant to this edition of HERE & THERE.  It is another tale told by survivors and by records left by those did not survive captivity in a camp set up in 1940 by Hitler’s Gestapo in the fortress of a 19th century Czech garrison town, Terezin.

Terezin, like Trnopolje, was a concentration camp, not a death camp, although of the more than 150,000 Jews who were sent there, including 15,000 children, more than 33,000 died there.  Another 88,000 were transported to death camps like Treblinka and Auschwitz, where few of them survived. Terezin, also known by its German name as Theresienstadt, held primarily Jews from Czechoslovakia, as well as Jews deported chiefly from Germany and Austria, as well as hundreds from the Netherlands and Denmark.

It became famous, in part through Nazi propaganda, in part through post-war testimonies, for its music.  How something as heavenly as music, from performances of grand opera, symphonies and chamber music, to jazz and cabaret were produced under such hellish conditions is the subject of a book Our Will to Live by our guest today, the violist emeritus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Mark Ludwig.



Mark Ludwig is violist emeritus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; he enjoyed a thirty-six-year career with the BSO. He is an accomplished chamber musician who as a member of the Hawthorne String Quartet, has performed and recorded extensively with concert tours in the United States, South America, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. For more than three decades, Mr. Ludwig has established fundraising and rescue programs and performed on stage and CD to benefit causes in the U.S., the Czech Republic, Bosnia, Dafur, Tibet, and Central Europe’s Roma communities. He founded the renowned Terezín Music Foundation and directs its international concerts, commissions, recordings, publications, and Holocaust education programs and published the book Our Will to Live.



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