Just make it go ‘oom-pah,’ already

Yvette Assael-Lennon — survived Holocaust in women’s orchestra

Melville, N.Y. — For Yvette Maria Assael-Lennon, music and the learning and teaching of it was not only a lifelong passion, but it also literally saved her from certain death in the horror of Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi concentration camp.

As a teenager, Yvette Assael, one of thousands of Greek Jews captured by Nazis in World War II, was forced to play in a women’s orchestra as her own parents were marched into a gas chamber, said Assael-Lennon’s daughter, Peggy Clores.


She became a candidate for extermination when the orchestra no longer needed an accordionist, Clores said. Mrs. Assael-Lennon was 15 at the time and played accordion and piano.

Her sister, Lily Assael, also a musician in the 40-member orchestra, convinced Nazi authorities that Yvette Assael could play double bass, a massive instrument for the petite adolescent who had only an elementary grasp of the largest of string instruments.

In a last-ditch effort to save her life, she took lessons from a member of the men’s orchestra, where her brother, Michel, played, and she played well enough for her captors to spare her, Clores said.



by Zachary R. Dowdy, Newsday

Webmaster note: No wonder Germany lost the war, considering that Nazis were so stupid they wouldn’t know an accordian player from a double bass player.