Austrian parliament bars Holocaust song by Theodorakis

Earlier this year 'Zorba the Greek' composer publicly described himself as ‘anti-Israel and anti-Semitic,’ blamed ‘Zionists’ for Greece’s economic woes.

May 15, 2011 03:21
3 minute read.

MIKIS THEODORAKIS 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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BERLIN – The president of Austria’s National Council pulled the plug on the song “Mauthausen Trilogy,” which was slated to be sung at a Holocaust remembrance event in Vienna on May 5, because of the songwriter’s anti-Jewish statements.

Barbara Prammer said that she was “made aware of alleged anti-Semitic statements from Mr. Theodorakis,” and that “without being able to examine the content” decided to change the music program, Austrian media reported late last week.

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'Zorba the Greek' composer: I’m anti-Semitic

Mikis Theodorakis achieved global fame with his musical score to the 1964 film Zorba the Greek. Earlier this year, he declared on Greek television that he was “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.”

“Everything that happens today in the world has to do with the Zionists,” the composer said. He asserted that “American Jews are behind the world economic crisis that has hit Greece also.”

Theodorakis also slammed Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for establishing closer relations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was guilty, he said, of “war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.”

The “Mauthausen Trilogy” was composed by the 86-year-old member of the Greek Communist Party in 1965 to the poem by Mauthausen death camp survivor Iakovos Kambanellis (1922-2011). Recordings of the “Trilogy” have been translated into Hebrew.

Victor Eliezer, a spokesman for the Greek Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, “After the cancellation, the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece issued an announcement expressing respect for Theodorakis’s composition of “Mauthausen,” but also grief because of his recent anti- Semitic remarks.”


The composer published an open letter defending his hatred of Zionism, but denied that he was anti- Semitic, according to Eliezer.

“Theodorakis sent a letter to the board, that was published in the Greek media, in which he tried to prove that he is not an anti-Semite, he is a friend of the Jewish people and he hates anti-Semitism as he hates Zionism. At the end of his letter he claims that his recent remark during an interview that ‘I am anti- Semite’ was just a wrong use of word,” Eliezer wrote.

Karl Pfeifer, an Austrian Jewish journalist and a leading expert on modern anti- Semitism in Central Europe, told the Post, “Theodorakis is a self-confessed anti-Semite. But at the same time he is also a great composer. So it is justified to oppose his anti-Semitism. But how about his music? Should we also reject the music of Chopin because he was an anti-Semite?

“Should we not concentrate on really important issues? Is it a victory that his music will not be played in a city where the city council one year ago unanimously condemned Israel because of the killing of nine violent Turkish Islamists? So many questions and no answer.”

Pfeifer’s reference was to the Vienna city council’s resolution blasting Israel for its seizure of the Gaza protest flotilla last May.

The council was the first European legislative body to unanimously blast Israel’s measures against violent jihadists aboard the Mavi Marmara. Israeli Ambassador Aviv Shir-On told the Post at the time he told the speaker of the Vienna city council that the resolution was “onesided” and that “if the the Arab countries in the UN said the earth was flat, they would take it as part of their resolution.”

The resolution prompted a number of Jews to resign from the Austrian Social Democratic party.

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