The Auschwitz death camp orchestra of 40 women inmates was obliged to perform when prisoners were marched to work or new inmates arrived by train. Bejarano’s sister and parents were killed by the Nazis. She was sent to Auschwitz aged 18 and forced into hard labor, until she heard that SS guards were looking for an accordion player for the camp’s orchestra. Although she couldn’t play the instrument, she volunteered. Bejarano was later transferred to the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women from which she managed to escape.
Esther Bejarano dedicated the rest of her life to educating people about the Holocaust. She died in Hamburg aged 96. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called her an important voice in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism. Bejarano co-founded the International Auschwitz Committee and delivered speeches to schools about her life. She also performed alongside her children, playing Yiddish melodies and songs of the Jewish resistance in a group they called Confidence.