Hamburg (dpa) – With a moving funeral service, family, friends and politicians said goodbye to concentration camp survivor Esther Bejarano on Sunday in Hamburg. The musician and activist died on July 10 from a short and serious illness at the age of 96 in her adopted home in Hamburg.
Only a few guests were able to enter the chapel in the Jewish cemetery in Ohlsdorf. Among them were Hamburg Mayor Carola Veit, Mayor Peter Tschentscher and Berlin State Secretary Sawsan Chebli (all from the SPD). Hundreds of people were watching a program outside.
A large photo commemorates the courageous woman who campaigned against right-wing extremism and racism. The coffin stood in the chapel, surrounded by lighted candles and many wreaths. “With her extraordinary commitment, Esther Bejarano has provided important impulses for democracy, a culture of remembrance and equality in Germany for many decades,” Tschentscher said at the ceremony. “We will honor your memory and work to get your message across.”
On the occasion of the memorial service, Veit underlined: “As a survivor of the Auschwitz and Ravensbrück concentration camps, she carried out the most important educational work in schools and universities.
With tears, actor Rolf Becker remembered his girlfriend Bejarano. “Don’t back down – Esther led by example,” said the 86-year-old. Bejarano had received many awards in his life. Together with her son Joram and daughter Edna, she has performed Jewish and anti-fascist songs, most recently touring Germany with the Cologne hip-hop group Microphone Mafia. In May of that year, she gave a reading to commemorate the National Socialists’ fire-burning fire in Hamburg.
Bejarano was, among other things, chairman of the Auschwitz Committee and honorary chairman of the Association of Victims of the Nazi Regime – Association of Antifascists. “Your struggle continues,” read a wreath of anti-fascist youth.
Bejarano was born on December 15, 1924 in Saarlouis as the daughter of a Jewish chief cantor. In 2014, she was elected honorary citizen of the city. His parents were killed by the Nazis in Lithuania in 1941. Bejarano was deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in early 1943.
When an accordionist was sought for the Camp Girls’ Orchestra, she volunteered – never having had such an instrument in hand. She still managed to play. It saved her life, as she reported in her book “Memories”, published in 2013 (Laika Verlag).
In a long funeral procession, the guests walked to the tomb behind the coffin. Bejarano was buried there next to her husband Nissim, who died in 1999. Her son Joram said the Jewish funeral prayer Kaddish. Bejarano leaves behind two children, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.