Edgar and Hana Krasa.

Edgar and Hana Krasa. Photo credit: Michael J. Lutch

The Defiant Requiem Foundation Board of Directors and the entire Defiant Requiem family mourn the loss of our beloved friend and teacher, Edgar Krasa, who passed away on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, surrounded by family. He and his beloved late wife, Hana, shared personal recollections about their time in Terezín with us and treated all of us who worked with them as family.

Foundation president and creative director, Murry Sidlin, said, “Edgar provided living testimony to the extraordinary events that unfolded in Rafael Schächter’s choir at Terezín. He was my first teacher, the foundation of our Foundation, and we owe a great deal to him. We will miss him terribly and his indomitable spirit lives on in each of us and inspires our work every day.”

Edgar Krasa was born in 1924 in Karlsbad, in the German part of Czechoslovakia. In 1941 he went voluntarily, though reluctantly, to the Terezín Concentration Camp, to help set up the kitchens in this new Jewish ghetto. The conductor and pianist Rafael Schächter was his roommate and close friend there. With Edgar as the first volunteer, Schächter gathered over a hundred of his fellow prisoners at the camp and formed a choir, ultimately teaching them the great Requiem Mass by Giuseppe Verdi. Edgar sang in all 16 of the performances of the masterpiece. He was eventually deported to Auschwitz and later escaped during a death march. After the war, Edgar settled in Israel with his wife Hana and then moved to the United States in the 1960s.

Edgar’s courage and determination allowed him to transcend the horror he witnessed as young man to go on to lead a fulfilling, loving, and successful life with a close knit family. We will hold his zest for life, passion and forgiveness in our hearts forever and will miss him dearly.

Over the years Edgar has spoken to thousands of students across New England, dedicating his life to educating young people about the horrors of the Holocaust and recounting the story of Rafael Schächter’s courage and defiance in performing the Verdi Requiem in Terezín. When the German premiere of the concert-drama Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín was given in Berlin in 2014, Edgar was there with his family, visiting schools, telling students about his imprisonment, and passionately sharing the story of Schächter’s mission with characteristic enthusiasm and warmth. May he rest in peace and may his teachings continue to inspire everyone whose life he touched.