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Bathroom Music I-IV

Sky of Blue Fishes
The Thirteen Roses

Desires, Stones, Sky in Shreds
Republican Women in Resistance

flying without wings

Flowering Landscape
Forced Labour under National Socialism





Flowering Landscape - Forced Labour under National Socialism
Scenic composition for ensemble and video, 1997

Premiere: Weiße Rose Cultural Centre, Berlin 1998
Susanne Kukies-voice, Kirsten Reese-flutes, Günter Heinz-trombone,
Robin Hayward-tuba, Veronika Otto-cello, Matthias Bauer-double bass

Inspired by a writer friend who gave me an opera libretto she had written on the subject of emigration during National Socialism, I began to research this period, and was surprised to discover how little concrete knowledge I had. I wanted to learn more and began to read numerous books.

Repeatedly I came across the topic of forced labour under the Nazi regime, without finding a comprehensive publication on the subject. So I started to collect information from various sources on the subject of forced labour under the Nazi regime and got in direct contact with former forced labourers and their organisations.

The composition Flowering Landscape deals musically and gesturally with the subject of forced labour in individual scenes and illuminates it from different perspectives: 6 musicians stand around the audience and start breathing loudly, getting louder and quieter, accentuating the rhythm, ending abruptly. Then only a sleeping person is seen lying on the stage, dazzlingly illuminated by a spotlight.


These opening scenes are inspired by William G. Niederland, who introduced the term "survivor syndrome". He used it to refer to the psychological sequelae due to persecution that can continue to have an effect even after the physical persecution has ceased to exist, a decisive argument in compensation claims after World War II.

Another scene is based on a map showing all concentration camps, subcamps and satellite camps: Staff lines cover the map and individual signs are assigned certain performance instructions: individual notes with different dynamics as well as scraping and sweeping sounds.

Street names are glimpsed in the silence: the streets on which forced labourers were forced to work are listed. Then the hall goes dark and only a soft sound is heard, which is unexpectedly interrupted by a loud outburst from all the musicians. In the outbursts, individual legal texts are shouted, justifying the rejection of the compensation claims.

At the end of the performance, which lasts about 35 minutes, a video is shown listing more than 1,000 companies and businesses that exploited forced labourers, such as AEG, Bosch and Siemens, but also smaller companies such as Weleda. I have compiled this list from various sources: it is now known that forced labourers were exploited by more than 90% of German companies and in agriculture, but also by municipalities and church institutions.

trabajos forzados II
Susanne Kuckies - voice, Robin Hayward-tuba, Veronika Otto-chelo


The presentation of Flowering Landscape took place as part of the Day of Action against Racism and Neo-Nazism at the Weiße Rose cultural centre in Berlin. Numerous initiatives provided information about forced labour in the foyer on the occasion of the event, among them the Berlin History Workshop, the Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionäre und Aktionärinnen, the Interessengemeinschaft ehemaliger Zwangsarbeiter unter dem NS-Regime and the German Youth Association.

My thanks go above all to the former forced labourers, without whose support I would not have been able to produce this composition. I would particularly like to mention Irmgard Konrad, Schura Terletska and Lisl Jäger, who, among other things, agreed to tell the 6 premiere musicians about their experiences.

The premiere of Flowering Landscape in 1998 came at a time when, after more than 50 years, the subject of forced labour under National Socialism was finally beginning to be discussed by the German public. The composition Flowering Landscape was part of a worldwide campaign that supported the demand for recognition and compensation of former forced labourers and brought it to the public's attention.

trabajos forzados 01
Matthias Bauer - double bass, Kirsten Reese - flutes, Günter Heinz - trombone