Holocaust Survivor, Jazz Musician, Author Dies at 93

January 29, 2018Jan 29, 2018

On Sunday, a Jazz musician and Holocaust survivor passed away. Jakob "Coco" Schumann passed away at the age of 93. 

Schumann was born in 1924 in Berlin to a Jewish mother and a father who had converted to Judaism. In the early 1930s as a young boy, he became very interested in music.

In 1936 at the Berlin Olympics, Schumann reportedly became a big fan of swing music. As a young teen, he trained himself to play the drums and the guitar and started his first band. According to BBC, Schumann became popular in Berlin's underground jazz music scene. 

While his given name was "Jakob," he had a French girlfriend who had difficulty pronouncing his name and thus he became known by his nickname, "Coco." 

In 1943, authorities learned about Schumann's heritage. He was arrested and sent to a concentration camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia called Theresienstadt. While there, the musician reportedly played in a band called the "Ghetto Swingers." 

In 1944, Schumann was transferred to the Auschwitz "death camp." He continued to play music for guards, fellow prisoners, and those who were a part of the forced labor. He said that music "saved my life," and thankfully, he was able to return safely home at the end of World War II. 

After his time in concentration camps, Schumann continued to play music. He made several records and in 1954 toured with Coco Schumann Quartet. According to BBC, Schumann became one of Germany's first "prominent electric guitar players."

The musician opened up about not placing his identity in the fact that he had survived the Holocaust. 

He said, "I am a musician who was imprisoned in concentration camps...not a concentration camp prisoner who plays music."

In 1997, Schumann's autobiography, "The Ghetto Swinger: A Berlin Jazz-Legend Remembers," was published. It quickly became a bestseller. Years later, it became a musical in Hamburg, Germany. 

Schumann's record company confirmed that he passed away on Sunday in Berlin. Please pray for everyone who knew and loved Schumann during this time. In other important news, a popular vegetable was just recalled in 21 states and 7 brands. Throw it away if you have it!

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