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January 13, 2016

Famous Jazz musician Coco Schumann is back in the news at age 91

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 6:34 am

I previously blogged about Coco Schumann, the famous jazz musician, known as the “Ghetto swinger”, who played in the Theresienstadt ghetto and later in the Auschwitz “death camp.”

Coco Schumann

Coco Schumann

This quote is from a news article about him:

Begin quote

Known as Germany’s most famous swing guitarist, the now 91 year old Coco Schumann has played with jazz greats like Marlene Dietrich, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong. Yet until the 1980s none of his colleagues knew of his experience in the Holocaust. Coco didn’t speak about “it.” Not even his closest friends knew what had happened to him except for the barest of facts Coco volunteered.

“I was in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz,” he would say and leave it at that.


In 1943, at 19 years old, Coco was turned in by a snitch for being Jewish and playing “forbidden” jazz in underground swing clubs in Berlin. The Nazis deported him to Theresienstadt. In its earlier years, Theresienstadt was not yet a death camp. “It was the flagship-ghetto the Nazis showed the world,” says Coco. Much to his astonishment, Coco discovered a coffeehouse shortly after his arrival.

“A coffee house! In the ghetto! I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

There, Coco found the legendary Ghetto Swingers playing the music of Count Basie and Duke Ellington that the Nazis had long outlawed in the rest of Germany — a surreal background tune to the cataclysm of the war. Because the Ghetto Swingers’ drummer had been deported to Auschwitz a few days before, Coco took his place. They played every day.

“We feigned a normal life. We tried to forget that there was an impenetrable fence all around.”

A well-known German newspaper once printed a headline above a profile of him: “Coco Schumann — the horrible life of a jazz legend.”

Coco has a different perspective. “But that’s not true. No, my dear, I tell myself, looking at this bright planet, it was a wild and colorful ride, at times too long, but always too short, life has shown me its unbelievably mean and terribly beautiful face. But one thing it was and is certainly not: horrible.

Read Coco Schumann`s incredible life story in the forthcoming book The Ghetto Swinger: A Berlin Jazz-Legend Remembers (DoppelHouse Presse, January 2016) and Bouncing Forward: Transforming Bad Breaks into Breakthroughs (Atria/Enliven, October 2015).

End quote


  1. Some one here regrets that there had been survivors who can tell us what happened.
    Clearly a young man, selected for labor, had better chances of survival than middle aged women.
    The Nazis made a darvinian selection where only the strongest had chances to reach the liberation – the defeat of the Nazis.

    Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — January 13, 2016 @ 7:51 am

    • Wolf….Pleeeeeeeeze you’re making me sick. You are such a fraud.No surprises there…..
      Here is a question I think should have some research done on….Jehovahs Witnesses were hated more that the Jews. In fact I’m told that were some who were beheaded for their stand against the war in Germany. They were harshly persecuted the in this the USA they wouldn’t go to war but would go to jail at least they weren’t supposedly beheaded. Have no way of proving that by the way only what was said in the book
      Between Resistance & Martyrdom Jehovahs Witness in the Third Reich, Yet the Jw’s don’t talk about gas chambers, I wonder Why?
      Hmmmm…..So the Jews were the only ones gassed I guess, yet JW’s stand was hated even more so than the pansy Jews who hated to do manual work and complained all the way to the bank. The Jws were strict conscientious objectors, but very much trusted with close personal duties dealing with high ranking officials that the Jews were not privy too because they couldn’t be trusted and they still can’t today and were never trusted even in Bible times. Plain despicable people! Even God hated them. How many times did God say he regretted them?
      You Jews have a severe persecution complex and are just plain frauds admit it.
      Hey Wolf was your father Mel Mermelstein just wondering?

      Comment by jrizoli — January 13, 2016 @ 8:43 am

      • Sorry Jim, you are wrong.
        The Nazis also gassed the disabled, Gypsies and Soviet POWs. The Nazis first gassed Polish disabled in gas vans, then Soviet POWs and Jews. The use of stationary gas chambers occurred in the T-4 program first and Jews and Gypsies later.
        Always happy to help you out.

        Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 8:57 am

        • You often mention these “gas vans”, Jeff. But I’m still unclear how they operated. Was the gassing done while the vehicle was still stationary before departing. Was it done while it was moving, or after it came to a stand-still when it arrived at its destination?

          Comment by Talbot — January 13, 2016 @ 10:55 am

          • To start with the drivers drove the vans while asphyxiating their “passengers,” however, there were issues with the “load” shifting so at Chelmno the gas vans stayed stationary.
            The vans also broke down on occasion, which was embarrassing with screaming “passengers” inside. There was an instance at Chelmno when one caught fire and burned the “passengers”.

            Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 11:31 am

            • I have a whole section on my website about Chelmno:

              I have not visited Chelmno, but from everything that I have read about this camp, I believe that it was a transit camp.
              You can see photos of the Chelmno camp on my website at

              You can read about Chelmno on my website at

              Comment by furtherglory — January 13, 2016 @ 12:03 pm

              • Yes, I believe you’re right, FG – Chelmno was another one of these transit camps, and the “gas vans” were not designed for killing anyone at all. After the Jews had been registered, fumigated, showered, watered and fed in the old disused chateau, then they were carried quite normally by these vans to the nearby mainline railway station at Dabie, which lies about 3 kms east of Chelmno. There, they boarded trains to either the ghettos in the General Government, or labour camps further east.

                Comment by Talbot — January 13, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

                • The gas van hoax was a combination of old atrocity propaganda by the London Daily Telegraph (itself coming from the fear of chemical weapons in world war 1) and real German delousing vans running down the roads of Russia in those days.

                  Comment by hermie — January 13, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

            • Fair enough, but has this information been supplied by named eye-witnesses in a court or tribunal, or has it just been conjured-up by the Poles who needed a lot of horrific war crimes stories to justify their annexation of large amounts of former Reich territory, with the almost total expulsion of the German inhabitants.

              I just can’t believe – in fact, refuse to believe – that the Germans would come up with the idea of converting normal road vehicles into weapons of mass murder. This proposition is ludicrous. No one on this earth would dream of driving along the public highway with the exhaust pipe transferred into the interior of a large, bulky vehicle. The driver would be so consumed with fear of what might happen, that he would be unable to control the vehicle properly. Not only would there be the ever-present danger of explosion or fire, but the “passengers” would become quite desperate that they might start rocking the vehicle to-and-fro, and tipping it over altogether. He would also be apprehensive of being involved in an accident out on the highway, or suffer a puncture or mechanical breakdown. Thus, any SS driver would be a nervous wreck before he even set out on such a journey, thinking about the enormous dangers in the task he was about to perform.

              Comment by Talbot — January 13, 2016 @ 12:22 pm

              • This is why they stopped driving the vans around, Talbot.
                It did cause problems with the “passengers” screaming and pushing against the doors and the sides.
                In one instance, a German forester and his son stopped to assist one of these vans broken down on the side of the road. The SS men guarding the van ordered him off but not before the forester saw what the van was used for.
                Chelmno was the first camp to experience environmental issues, the mass graves began to leak fluids into the water supply. The SS actually complained about drinking “corpse water.”

                Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 12:30 pm

                • Jeff. You say “In one instance, a German forester and his son stopped to assist one of these vans broken down on the side of the road. “Yes, but where exactly did the breakdown occur; on what date did it happen; what were the names of the forester and his son; where and when did they report the incident to the Polish authorities; and were they ever cross-examined in a trial or tribunal where a documented record was made of their testimonies?.

                  Comment by Talbot — January 14, 2016 @ 1:01 pm

              • The ” Nazi homicidal gas vans ” are straight out of the Hansel and Gretel Soviet propaganda textbook. No forensic evidence has shown they ever existed.

                Comment by peter — January 13, 2016 @ 12:33 pm

                • If you say so, Peter.

                  Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 12:37 pm

                • Are you sure you want to talk about the pantechnicon van (a van to transport furniture) – a Magirus-Deutz furniture transport van – brought by the Soviets to ‘prove’ their gas van story, Jeff?

                  Comment by hermie — January 13, 2016 @ 4:12 pm

          • The “gas vans”, however in singular, was created in 1937 by NKVD/KGB officer by the name Isaiah Berg. There was only one van which made a few trips before being proven as a failure for the purpose of mass execution purposes.
            NKVD/KGB officer Isaiah Berg was executed as “the enemy of the people” in 1939.
            And yes! He was a Jew.

            Comment by Gasan — January 13, 2016 @ 9:37 pm

            • From what I know, Isaiah Berg’s alleged gas van is as ‘proved’ as the alleged Nazi gas vans of WW2: i.e. by unconvincing lousy ‘evidence’…

              Comment by hermie — January 14, 2016 @ 5:29 am

        • The “NATZEEHS” gassed nobody.
          You have no proof of even a single “gassing”

          Comment by Gasan — January 13, 2016 @ 7:14 pm

          • Show me forensically and the name of one person that was gas in a homicidal gas chamber.

            Comment by jrizoli — January 13, 2016 @ 7:18 pm

          • According to ‘The Polish Commission for Nazi War Crimes’ dated 1946/47, it is claimed that these alleged “gas vans” at Chelmno were serviced and maintained by an ordinary civilian garage in the nearby town of Kolo. So, we are expected to believe that the SS did not attempt to hide their “top secret murder weapon” in a hidden military compound where their own mechanics and technicians could work on the vehicles. No, instead, they drove them down to the local “Kwik Fit” garage in a built-up area where they could be viewed by all and sundry, and be inspected and serviced by civilian mechanics and other personnel.

            But of course, the very fact that these vehicles were serviced in this way, proves that they were not being used for any nefarious purpose at all.

            Comment by Talbot — January 14, 2016 @ 12:42 pm

    • “Some one here regrets that there had been survivors who can tell us what happened.”

      Only one, Wolf?

      Comment by Schlageter — January 13, 2016 @ 1:20 pm

      • Thank you for your kind words earlier, Schlageter.
        By the way, did you ever get that tramp stamp in the small of your back with the arrow pointing down that says “Property of the Hitler Youth?”
        Just curious, I’m not going to judge.

        Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 1:38 pm

  2. Schumann was not “turned in” – he received a draft notification on his 19th birthday. He refused to serve (too dangerous, unpleasant) so, as he knew he would be, he was sent to a “concentration camp” (which Theresienstadt hardly was). There he rode out that nasty war, strumming his guitar in coffee shops instead of getting machine-gunned after living in trenches full of mud and ice for months on end on the eastern front.

    Smart guy. A concentration camp beats combat (even for a cause/country you believe in) every time. In the concentration camps, he EVEN avoided the bombings he would have had to undergo had he stayed home with his parents. Best place to be during (that) war.

    Comment by Jett Rucker — January 13, 2016 @ 7:47 am

    • The worse thing that happened to him was he couldn’t find the sugar for his 3rd cup of coffee one day and he survived the experience.

      Comment by jrizoli — January 13, 2016 @ 8:17 am

      • The prisoners in the concentration camps had to drink “ersatz coffee,” as I wrote in this blog post:

        Comment by furtherglory — January 13, 2016 @ 8:42 am

        • Poor babies! Could’t have the best coffee one at the time….LOL
          But they had food room and board at Hotel Auschwitz.

          Comment by jrizoli — January 13, 2016 @ 9:06 am

        • Out of curiosity, does anyone know what “ersatz” coffee is?

          Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 11:35 am

          • “ersatz” coffee means fake coffee. The most favorite brand in America was Postum:

            “ersatz” is a German word that means artificial, not the real thing. This word can be used for other things besides coffee.

            Comment by furtherglory — January 13, 2016 @ 11:56 am

            • Thanks.
              I’ve always wondered but usually when I am wondering I don’t bother to look it up then I forget about it.

              Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

              • Ersatz Kaffee
                This type of coffee was invented by a catholic priest Dr. Frank and basicly he had roasted WHEAT which was later commercially produced and packed in one pound paper bags (ein Pfund) with his picture on them and sold in most grocery stores long before the war. It was considered healthier than coffee beans as it did not contain caffeine.
                The expression ‘Ersatz Kaffe’ is a post war term by the Allies and their liberated inmates and journalist and writers now put a slant to it .

                Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — January 13, 2016 @ 7:49 pm


              Comment by hermie — January 14, 2016 @ 5:36 am

      • I thought I’d reply to you comment about the six million here, Jim.
        Actually only deniers squeak on and on about the six million like its some type of magical incantation, Jim.
        Davidowicz placed the number at 5.9 million, Snyder places the number at 5.5 million, Hillberg at 5.1 million. I’ve seen a number at 4.8 million.
        So, in fact, the number is not 6 million. People have a tendency to round up when talking about numbers. I myself prefer 5-6 million because that encompasses most of the estimates I’ve seen but even I say 6 million out of laziness.
        So, again, I’m happy to help you out.

        Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 10:01 am

        • This website lists the number of times that the famous 6 million number was used before the Holocaust:

          It is not deniers who “squeak on and on about the six million.” The whole world has been squeaking on and on about the six million for many years.

          Comment by furtherglory — January 13, 2016 @ 10:13 am

          • Sorry, I still can’t take a website named “Zion Crime Factory” seriously.
            Anything named “Zion Crime Factory” is certainly not an unbiased reporter.
            All of the authors I listed are respected historians of the Holocaust.
            There are others but that’s who I could think of off the top of my head.
            On a personal note, I didn’t like
            Davidowicz’s book on the Holocaust. Call it a problem with her style of writing, I do know that Wolf recommends the book.

            Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 10:30 am

            • The name of that website doesn’t sound academic enough for you? Is this all what you’ve found, Jeff?

              You’re demolishing your carefully-constructed disguise of fair-minded truthseeker and debater faster than wolfie drops the A-word bomb on any opponent unimpressed by his emotional jeremiads… 😉

              Comment by hermie — January 13, 2016 @ 1:36 pm

              • I actually think I’ve been more than fair about things, Hermie.
                I did click the link FG provided for the website once. I don’t think I need to go back.
                I joined the CODOH forum, went to Inconvenient History, read some of the Holocaust Handbooks, been to both Yeager and Rizoli’s website, watched some of Rizoli’s videos and even read some of the books that Rizoli suggested.
                What else can I do?

                Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 2:00 pm

                • Jeff you done quite a bit of reading its hard to believe you’re not seeing the truth from it all must be something stuck in your brain from opening up have no clue what’s going on there.
                  I’ve had some people that became Holo Revisionism after watching one video.

                  Comment by jrizoli — January 13, 2016 @ 2:03 pm

                • Assuming you have indeed done all those things, you could at least show an ounce of respect for the hard labor of those men and women, or at least provide us with analysis more reasoned than “the whole thing is just bullshit” and “this specific ‘researcher’ lacks the proper diplomas and credentials”.

                  Comment by hermie — January 14, 2016 @ 5:45 am

              • Um, did I say bullshit at any point during my comment?
                Or make a comment regarding anyone’s credentials?
                I simply told you where I’ve been and what I looked at.
                The fact that I don’t believe it is based upon my knowledge of the history involved.
                I don’t think the comment I made is insulting to anyone.

                Comment by Jeff K. — January 14, 2016 @ 9:19 am

  3. I find it interesting that every everyone that went to Auschwitz was gassed on arrival except the person that’s telling the story so who was gassed if all these people who are telling the story survived

    Comment by jrizoli — January 13, 2016 @ 7:05 am

    • I find it interesting that there were so many survivors who have lived to advanced age. How can anyone account for that? Did they live to an advanced age because they had a meager diet in their youth? Or did they live to advanced age because they had a good diet in their youth, including lots of turnips, which are supposed to prolong life.

      Comment by furtherglory — January 13, 2016 @ 7:13 am

      • I would think they did very well in the camps, a lot better than those on the outside.
        So working and living in the camps actually saved them.

        Comment by jrizoli — January 13, 2016 @ 7:34 am

    • Jim:
      The people you claim you converted to Holocaust denial obviously know nothing about history.
      Unfortunately for you I do.
      Obviously you feel very strongly you are right. That is your right to feel that way.

      Comment by Jeff K. — January 13, 2016 @ 3:00 pm

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