The Pink Triangle Project is a multi-faceted artistic endeavor, undertaken by Valdosta State University Professor of Oboe Dr. Susan Eischeid, to commemorate the homosexual victims of the Holocaust through the commission and premiere of a new musical composition.
Although many compositions exist that commemorate other victims of the Holocaust, none – to our knowledge- detail through music the experience and travails of the Pink Triangle prisoners. These individuals (forced by the Nazi regime to wear a pink triangle on their uniforms in the camps) faced inhuman conditions of brutality and persecution, resulting in one of the highest mortality rates for any group of prisoners during the Third Reich. Compounding the lack of attention given to these victims is the inability or unwillingness of the few survivors to share their experiences due to persecution after the war and continuing societal prejudices.
The Pink Triangle Project, brainchild of VSU professor Susan Eischeid, has been initiated as a logical outgrowth of her continuing research into music of the Holocaust period which began in 1987. Since then she has commercially released her first compact disc of Holocaust music, Mystic Chords of Genocide, interviewed over 65 survivors of the Holocaust period, and is currently writing a book about SS officer Maria Mandl and the Auschwitz Women’s Orchestra. To date, she has presented over 200 lecture/recitals of Holocaust music throughout the United States and Europe. Through these activities she became acquainted with German composer Stefan Heucke, who recently completed and produced an opera about the Auschwitz orchestra to international acclaim. Mr. Heucke has agreed to accept this commission for a new work and will score the piece for oboe, men’s voices and piano. The performances will feature Dr. Eischeid as oboe soloist. Poetry commemorating the Pink Triangle prisoners will be written and performed by Canadian poet Gina Roitman, herself a survivor of the Displaced Person’s Camps in Germany after the war. Dr. Paul Neal, Director of Choral Activities at Valdosta State University, will conduct the premiere performance slated to take place in San Francisco, CA in spring of 2010. The two weeks before the premiere will include master classes and open rehearsals at Valdosta State University which will be open to the community and local schools in an effort to promote the arts in south Georgia and north Florida as well as to educate people in this region about this little known aspect of human history.
The premiere will involve performers from both Georgia and California, thus providing wider exposure to the new work in two distinct regions of the United States. In Valdosta and San Francisco, the performance week will also include public lectures on the topic of the Pink Triangle prisoners given by Dr. Eischeid and hosted by the VSU Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and the San Francisco GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, transgender) Historical Society respectively. The premiere will take place as part of the Old First Concerts Artist’s Series in Old First Church in San Francisco.
We anticipate that the premiere of, and resultant publicity surrounding this work, will draw attention to the largely forgotten experiences of these prisoners. We also hope to draw attention to the struggles still faced by many persons in our own society who continue to deal with issues of discrimination and prejudice, be it towards gender, sexual orientation, or simply for being different. Certainly, the experiences of the Pink Triangle victims reveal to us all the logical outcomes of such governmental policies of hate, while the resultant reluctance of the victims to speak openly of their experiences highlights the continued reluctance in our own society for an open dialogue and accepting attitude towards differences of sexual orientation and gender. Thus, the performance will give an artistic voice to victims no longer alive to be heard and to those still living whose voices society is not yet willing to hear.