And The Band Played On

His eyes danced over the words and he couldn’t help shaking. He cried for his wife to come quickly. Shocked she sat in the nearest chair. Would this mean they were safe?

The letter contained an invitation to the most important concert of the year. He would be playing in front of the man himself. Surely they would be granted special status as a result?

Despite the restrictions they had been coping. He didn’t work in one of the newly imposed no-go zones so they still had some money. Being forced to give their car to the authorities had been difficult, and not being able to use public transport severely limited their freedom. Giving up the radio meant it was difficult to keep abreast of world events. The girls had cried when their bikes had been taken.

But what could they do? They just had to get on with it. The rations, though less than what others got, were still enough to live on. Just. And for that, at least, they had something to be thankful for. Maybe, with this invite, they would be safe?

The day came when he was to travel to the capital. He held his wife and daughters tightly. Tears were flowing and he made them promise they would stay behind locked doors until he returned.

The hall was full, the lights dimmed and the crowd hushed. The world renowned conductor tapped the lectern and the music began to flow.

The first movement finished with rapturous applause. He had played with a passion and a joy he thought he’d lost. In his mind’s eye his wife and two wonderful daughters were on the front row. He stood when motioned to receive the adulation.

The front door was kicked in and the young recruits eager to impress their captain stormed in. It didn’t take long to find the woman and children. As they were herded onto the waiting lorry she knew she must ask. Where to? Someone spat out the dreaded word. Auschwitz.

And the band played on.

© 2008 Mark Bateman

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Star Twister 28 Entry – max 350 words, prompt was ‘and the band played on’

Version 2!

© Mark Bateman 2008

Background info for this story here


band, war, auschwitz, germany, orchestra, jews, rations, ttst29

I enjoy taking photos, and writing. I live at the southern tip of the foothills of the Peak District (think Derby, central England). I had a Nikon D80 with various lenses (now a Sony NEX5N, a dog who tries hard to get into every photo and two lovely daughters :)

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  • Paul Tupman
    Paul Tupmanover 5 years ago

    Bittersweet little story Mark. An open ended piece with a well thought out twist where I would rather not know the outcome of the characters…

  • Thanks Paul for your comment

    – Mark Bateman

  • lightsmith
    lightsmithover 5 years ago

    What a torturous turn for them. Excellent piece but horrific.

  • Thanks lightsmith – please be aware that after a critique I’ve redrafted it..

    – Mark Bateman

  • OwlMountain
    OwlMountainover 5 years ago

    …hmm… been to Auschwitz, saw it with my own eyes, and most likely the sceen you’re describing here actually happend many times around Europe at that time. Beautiful story ad great tribute…

  • Many thanks OwlMountain! I’ve not been yet, but may one day..

    – Mark Bateman

  • Bob Fox
    Bob Foxover 5 years ago

    Powerful reminders set with a mix of hope and horror. Interesting how we can hear music or a song that will take us right to a specific memory or time. Hopefully we have all learned from this tragedy!

  • Thx Robert. Ref voting ;) please be aware that after a critique I’ve redrafted it..

    – Mark Bateman

  • Zolton
    Zoltonover 5 years ago

    Oh no! What a horrible time that we all need to remember. Nicely written, Mark.

  • Thanks very much Zolton :D

    – Mark Bateman

  • iAN Derrick
    iAN Derrickover 5 years ago

    Sorry this time Mark…I know it is just another well written story.
    But I never seem to be able to accommodate sad tales. That is what comes because of me being the, Village Idiot….The Mad Hatter… The lower case [i].

  • Village idiot? Mad Hatter? You on a downer today? Thanks for the comment..

    – Mark Bateman

  • Lensman2008
    Lensman2008over 5 years ago

    Hmmm, sounds like a scene from ’Schindler’s List’, and all too often there were talented musicians, probably Jewish, who were forced to play for Hitler, and God forbid if they played a bum note.
    Well written, even though the it had an unfortunate ending.

  • Thanks very much Lensman. I guess it’s like the black sprinter who won at the Berlin Olympics? (if my memory serves me correctly!)

    – Mark Bateman

  • Matthew Dalton
    Matthew Daltonover 5 years ago

    Powerful Mark. This piece has really stuck in my mind.

    People with power or money get things they can’t create themselves. They have the artefact without the art.

    Great write.

  • Thanks Matthew – and after your gratefully received critique I’ve redrafted..

    – Mark Bateman

  • Cameron  Allen Lamond
    Cameron Allen...over 5 years ago

    Way to go, Mark. 350 words is not a lot of ink to wet characters and a story line. Well done.

  • Thanks very much Lamond of Cowal!

    – Mark Bateman

  • Bob Fox
    Bob Foxover 5 years ago

    Thanx for reminding me of Jesse Owens.

    I think edits are a fine idea! And it is good that you are inspired.

    I always read all the contributions again before choosing favorites.

  • That’s him!

    And thanks.

    – Mark Bateman

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