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Art was their weapon. Music, their resistance. Defiant Requiem tells the remarkable story of Rafael Schchter, a brilliant young and passionate Czech opera-choral conductor who was arrested and sent to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt (Terez'n) in 1941. Under the most brutal of circumstances, and determined to sustain dignity, humanity, and hope within his fellow prisoners, he recruited 150 prisoners and taught them Verdi's Requiem by rote in a dank cellar using a smuggled score, after grueling days of forced labor. They performed on 16 occasions for fellow prisoners, with the last, most infamous performance on June 23, 1944, in front of high-ranking SS officers from Berlin and the International Red Cross. This forced performance, as part of the Nazi charade to assure the world that prisoners were well-treated, allowed the choir to sing to the Nazis what they dared not say through the Latin liturgy of the Requiem that promised redemption for the innocent and punishment for the wicked. The documentary also chronicles how six decades later, conductor Murry Sidlin and a new choir bring Verdi's Requiem back to Terez'n to reawaken this little-known story about the resilience of the human spirit. Defiant Requiem highlights how a rare form of courage, hope, and survival sparked an entirely unique method of fighting Nazi oppression, battling the worst of mankind with the best of mankind. This program contains material that may not be appropriate for all viewers. Viewer discretion is advised. Subtitles: English SDH (Subtitles for Deaf and Hearing Impaired).
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