Esther Bejarano

(born 1924 in Saarlouis – died 2021 in Hamburg)

"Keep silent no longer when injustice happens. Show solidarity! Help each other! Take heed of the weakest! Stay brave! I trust in the youth, I trust in you! Never again fascism—never again war!"*

Esther Bejarano survived Auschwitz, fought into old age against fascism and came to be involved in Rap gegen Rechts (Rap Against the Right). Esther Bejarano was born into a German-Jewish family in the mid-1920s. When the Nazis seized power, her father Rudolf Loewy was convinced that Adolf Hitler would not hold on to it for long and that the spectre of fascism would soon be over. While her two older siblings fled to Palestine and the USA in 1937, Bejarano stayed behind with her parents. The situation of the German Jews continued to deteriorate, however, and soon it was no longer possible to leave the country. In 1939, Bejarano’s parents were murdered in Kovno by the Nazis. On 20 April 1943, Esther Bejarano was deported from Berlin to Auschwitz; here, the prisoner number 41948 was tattooed on her arm, and she was forced to play for the block elders, becoming part of the “girls’ orchestra”. Eventually, the Nazis transferred them from Auschwitz to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, sending them on a death march shortly before the end of the war. On 3 May 1945, Bejarano was liberated by American troops and emigrated to Israel in the same year. She returned to Germany in 1960 and settled in Hamburg, where she joined the Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes – Bund der Antifaschistinnen und Antifaschisten (abbr.: VVN-BdA, Eng.: Union of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime) and became an active anti-fascist. Together with the Cologne rap group “Microphone Mafia”, she recorded the album per la vita in 2012; another album followed shortly thereafter. Within three years, the band gave more than 150 concerts. Esther Bejarano died surrounded by family and friends on 10 July 2021.

*Hein, F. and Stoll, S.: “Ihre Stimme wird uns mangel” (Her Voice Will Be Missed), in:Jüdische Allgemeine, 10/07/2021.

Credits: Senatskanzlei Hamburg