Jewish singer Esther Bejarano, a 92-year-old survivor of the Nazi death camps and founder of the International Auschwitz Committee, is bringing to Cuba her anti-fascist message along with the Microphone Mafia rap group, with whom she will offer concerts starting Saturday in several cities on the island.
Bejarano, one of the last living survivors of the Auschwitz Women's Orchestra, will take the stage on Saturday at the Rumba Palace in Havana to sing and read excerpts from her book as a way of "raising my voice to the young."
"I survived Auschwitz and Ravensbrück. That changed my life and I thought I had to do something," the French-German performer, who saved her life in the infamous Nazi death camps thanks to her musical and singing talents.
The soprano has joined forces with the multicultural rap group Microphone Mafia, founded in 1989 in Germany and currently comprised of Jewish, Muslim and Catholic musicians and singers.
"Rap is a very youthful language and so I knew that my anti-fascist message was going to get to more people," said Bejarano in a meeting with reporters on Saturday.
The group, invited to the communist island by the Cuban Musical Institute, will also perform in the cities of Santa Clara and Camagüey, where they will share the stage with artists registered with the Cuban Rap Agency.
Vital and energetic at age 92, Bejarano said that she is following current events and is "very concerned" and "not very optimistic" in the face of the rise of the extreme right in Europe and the imminent inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump.
"We know that we're expecting difficult times. We can do little against this, just wait and have hope that there will be enough people, like me, anti-fascists, who go against it, who offer resistance," Bejarano told EFE.
She said that "regrettably, throughout the world there are not enough anti-fascists," adding that she considers it her "work" to visit schools and try to "influence the young to continue this struggle."
Regarding the politics of European governments vis-a-vis the situation with refugees and immigrants, Bejarano said that it is "disastrous" and "sad," particularly for someone who experienced "what it means for them to deny you asylum in a country to which you flee from war."
In addition to taking action, the activist and former president of the International Auschwitz Committee will meet in Havana with the Cuban Jewish community, will visit the mausoleum of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Santa Clara and will speak with local cultural authorities.
Bejarano was born in France to Jews murdered by the Nazis in 1941. She was sent to Auschwitz in 1943, where she was made an accordionist with the Women's Orchestra thanks to the fact that there were few women there with musical training, a situation that led to the tapping of Jews for the group.
Later she was transferred to the Ravensbrück women's concentration camp in Germany, from which she managed to escape during one of the so-called "death marches," before the Soviet forces liberated the camp.
She emigrated to Palestine but left for Germany 15 years later with her husband and children because she did not agree with Israel's policies, and it has been in that European nation that she has undertaken the majority of her anti-fascist work, which she says she will continue "with luck, until the end" of her life.