Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Westerbork Serenade Shares Info with Doctoral Candidate

Emmy Kreilkamp is a PHD candidate in Philosophy in Theatre and Drama, at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. The title of her dissertation is: "Performing in Dark Times: Theatre in Nazi Concentration Camps."
Emmy got hold of me through the web site. I shared recordings from interviews I had conducted in 1997 and 1998 with Westerbork survivors: Hans Margules, Hannelore Eisinger and Louis Dewijze.
Here is Professor Kreilkamp's thesis statement:

"Survivor testimony,memoirs,and extant performance texts are utilized in this study,which examines the significance of theatrical performances given in Nazi transit,labor, and death camps during the Second World War. Using a Marxist perspective,the work addresses whether there were any quantifiable material changes in the prisoners’living conditions which aided inmates’physical survival,whether there were psychological effects of performances which aided inmates’mental survival,and whether there were opportunities to subvert the official Nazi purposes of performances,thereby undermining the power structure of the camp."

Emmy had many follow up questions for me about what I understood about privilege for performers in the Westerbork reviews; the effects of the shows on audiences in the camp; and what, if any, satirical propaganda appeared in the performances.
I told her that the stars of the shows such as Max Ehrlich, Willy Rosen and Camilla Spira were not only delayed from transport, but also lived in private cottages as opposed to the massive barracks.
Some mild ridicule appeared in the camp with such satirical songs as, "The Westerbork Serenade," by Dutch singers, Johnny and Jones.
I mentioned that audiences were not compelled to attend the performances at Westerbork. Infact, though many were opposed to entertainment in this crisis, the shows were always sold out. In the end, of course, grim fate was sealed for most of the Westerbork artists and audiences, famous or not.
Emmy's other research interests are listed as: Theatre and the Holocaust, theatre and war, theatre for social change, Bertolt Brecht, Augusto Boal,women and the theatre, 1960s American experimental theatre, cabaret, improvisation, directing,dramaturgy, theatre history, dramatic literature, theory and criticism.
for more info on Professor Kreilkamp go to
We wish you all the best on your dissertation defense scheduled for spring 2016!