Arbeitsstelle „Verfolgte Musiker und Musikerinnen der NS-Zeit“ [The Working Group for Musicians Persecuted under National Socialism]

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Arbeitsstelle „Verfolgte Musiker und Musikerinnen der NS-Zeit“ Institut für Historische Musikwissenschaft Universität Hamburg

Neue Rabenstraße 13

20354 Hamburg

Arbeitsstelle „Verfolgte Musiker und Musikerinnen der NS-Zeit“ [The Working Group for Musicians Persecuted under National Socialism]

The Section

The section, which is assigned to the Institut für Historische Musikwissenschaft at the University of Hamburg, is responsible for developing the online Lexikon verfolgter Musiker und Musikerinnen der NS-Zeit (LexMDictionary of Persecuted Musicians of the NAZI Era). This has been issued since 2005 as "work in progress" by Claudia Maurer Zenck, Peter Petersen and (since July 2014) Sophia Fetthauer in collaboration with Nicole Ristow. Upon completion, it is expected to contain roughly 1000 biographical articles and 4500 short entries.

The LexM

The LexM, which has been released as a work in progress since 2006, is a thematic, biographical lexicon of music. The people whose names appear in the Lexicon were persecuted by the Nazis in Germany and Austria. Thanks to the LexM, their lives and works remain unforgotten and now occupy a new place in the public awareness of musical culture. Musicians who were persecuted by the Nazis are given little or no mention as victims of persecution or as forced émigrés in the music history books of the 20th century. The fundamental research into musical biographies that is carried out by the LexM plays a vital role as the basis for continuing research into musical, cultural and social history. In addition to the aspect of forced exile, LexM also looks at other forms of repression and exclusion, as well as cases of active or passive resistance which, had they been discovered, would have led to persecution. The core areas seen as musical professions are composition, playing an instrument, singing, conducting and music education, but also of relevance are activities in academia, the press, radio, writing, publishing and music management, as well as writing libretti, directing operas, music for the stage, dance, music therapy and so on. Neither the age of the individual while suffering persecution nor how famous an artist was play a role in the inclusion of a person with a musical profession. In order to rule out falsified biographies, mainly ‘hard’ sources such as documents from contemporary contexts (e.g. estates, personnel files from musical institutions, Nazi authorities, aid organisations, etc.) are used. 

The origin of LexM

The idea to create a lexicon­ of exiled musicians was first proposed in 1975 when a submission was made to the German Research Foundation by the Musikwissenschaftliche Institut of FU Berlin for the funding of a music history project in the field ­of "exile research". The idea could not be realised then because there were insufficient staffing resources for using the very limited research possibilities at that time.­ Instead, the "Composer and Musician Exile" project was funded; this resulted in the first publication in the field of musicological exile research­, Claudia Maurer Zenck's study entitled Ernst Krenek – ein Komponist im Exil published in 1980 in Vienna.

Five years later, Peter Petersen at the Musicological Institute of the University of Hamburg set up the "Musik und Nationalsozialismus" project group (later "Arbeitsgruppe Exilmusik" which existed until 2012) to develop both this research field and that of musicians in exile. A large number of Master's and PhD theses on these areas were prepared as a result. These have been edited by Peter Petersen and published by Bockel Verlag since 1996 in the Musik im "Dritten Reich" und im Exil series of publications ( The resulting collection of names of persecuted musicians constituted the basis of the eventual LexM, planned on a long-term basis and initiated by Claudia Maurer Zenck and Peter Petersen.

The sponsors of LexM

After start-up and interim financing by the University of Hamburg, the online Lexikon verfolgter Musiker und Musikerinnen der NS-Zeit was funded from 2005 to 2010 by the DFG. Since then­ it has been supported by the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F. V. S. (Hamburg), the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung (Essen), the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung (Zug, Switzerland), the Mariann Steegmann Foundation zur Förderung von Frauen in Kunst und Musik (Panama), the Authority for Science and Research (Hamburg), the ZEIT-Stiftung Gerd und Ebelin Bucerius (Hamburg) and by private funding.


Lexikon verfolgter Musiker und Musikerinnen der NS-Zeit [Lexicon of Musicians Persecuted under National Socialism], ed. Claudia Maurer Zenck and Peter Petersen with the collaboration of Sophie Fetthauer, Hamburg: University of Hamburg, 2005 ff., Online publication: