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The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV

(23 customer reviews)
Authors: Jaci Byrne
WWII, Auschwitz
153mm x 234mm

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The inspirational true story of an Allied POW appointed Kapellmeister to the Nazis in Auschwitz.

When called up to fight in yet another World War, Drum Major Jackson promised his beloved wife Mabel that he would return to lead his band and play for her once more.
In May 1940, he was captured at Dunkirk and interned in several German forced labour camps throughout Poland. Two years later he was transferred to Auschwitz IV, part of the notorious concentration camp complex where it is not widely known held Allied POWs.

When his captors appointed Jackson their ‘Kapellmeister’ (man in charge of music), he seized the opportunity to provide entertainment for his fellow prisoners at rehearsals, and cover for escapees during concerts.
Finally liberated in May 1945, malnourished and gravely ill, Jackson carried his secret war diary—an incredible exposé on five years of life and death in Nazi concentration camps.

THE MUSIC MAKER OF AUSCHWITZ IV, based on Jackson’s diary, is written by his granddaughter. It is a thrilling testament to the resilience one man found in the darkest of times through his two greatest loves—music and the woman who waited for him.

Jaci Byrne

Jaci Byrne

Jaci Byrne is the granddaughter of The Music Maker, the late Drum Major Henry Barnes Jackson. A full-time writer, Jaci has published four novels and a series of children’s books. This is her first work of non-fiction. She lives in Avalon Beach, Sydney.

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23 reviews for The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV

  1. I was gripped by this book. It is a must-read.

  2. Byrne has developed her grandfather’s war diary to return a book that enhances his extraordinary strength of mind. In the second part of the book all the talent of the writer Jaci Byrne is highlighted, who with sensitivity and measure describes well the life of women at home.

  3. I am an avid reader and enjoy many genres, but it’s rare that a book captivates me to the extent that this one did. I was absorbed in the story and amazed to discover there were Allied soldiers in Auschwitz, let alone that this diary survived! A diary that, quite frankly, dispels so many historical myths. It is an invaluable piece of recorded history and definitely compelling reading.

  4. What a story and what a moving book! Having just finished it, I am still in a bit of a state of shock… This is an outstanding book.

  5. From the moment I picked up this book I was immersed in “Drummie’s” world and the immense courage he showed. It made me appreciate the world my own grandfather faced, locked up in a POW camp in Korea before liberation. I could not put this book down and I agree that it is a must read!

  6. My congratulations go to the author Jaci Byrne on what is the most wonderful read. An inspirational tale of survival in a POW camp during WW2, and the fact that Harry was able to keep a diary for all that time to document what would have been an incredible ordeal in itself is amazing. I laughed and I cried. Well done.

  7. The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV, is a story of a strong and simple man who found himself in two world wars, with two great passions, the one for music that helped him survive and the one for his wife who, perhaps, helped him to live.

  8. I found this book the most harrowing and emotional I have ever read. To read something like this from the diary of a man taken prisoner by the Germans and spending almost six years at WWII and five as a POW, is heart-wrenching. The courage, strength, determination, and downright guts it took for these men (and women) to survive is incredible. Personally, I think this story should be compulsory reading in high schools both here and overseas. For students to read a story like this, one actually from the mouth of a POW, I am sure would keep in their minds just the sacrifices these men and women made for their freedom. From the POWs who withstood capture, torture, starvation and more, to the women back home who kept our countries running, and those who sacrificed their lives for their freedom, I feel this beautifully written book is a must-read for everyone.

  9. I am in my eighties and my daughter bought me The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV. I am not a big reader, but I started the book one morning soon after receiving it and I did not look up until the following afternoon. I could not put it down, so much so that my wife kept checking on me! I loved the fact that it was easy to read and so engaging. I’m an Australian and most of the literature on WWII I have read has been pertaining to the Pacific theatre, so it was fascinating to read about the war in Europe from this amazing man’s perspective. Absolutely 5 stars from me!

  10. Well, I’ve just finished The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV…. what a wretched, emotional journey I’ve been on with Harry Jackson and his fellow prisoners. To display such stout-heartedness and resilience in the face of such adversity shows the backbone of men of their day, the love of music and performance transcending both sides of the war and allowing Jackson to keep his sanity intact (although performing for the enemy was to be endured not enjoyed). Drum Major Henry Barnes Jackson went to hell and back, the love of his wife and family sustaining him through all. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to swim into the depths of your family’s fortitude, Jaci Byrne

  11. I have just finished The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV by Jaci Byrne, and what a read! A true account of life as a prisoner of war in WWII, this gripping, heart-wrenching story is so beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down & now feel sad it is finished. Such a privilege to read about this wonderful man.

  12. The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV is an incredible story, an inspiring book based on Drum Major Jackson’s treasured WWII POW diaries. Written for all audiences, Jaci Byrne has written this story with truth & sensitivity which will resonate to everyone who reads it. Good on you Jaci Byrne.

  13. My hubby Kel and I have just read the book The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV. Wow! 🤩 brilliant, what a great read. It was so good to read about family and also how the author’s grandfather kept his diary in those years was truly amazing.

  14. After reading this book, it is still with tears in my eyes that I write this review. I would truly like to congratulate Jaci Byrne on this heart rending and true story and thank her for it. I was a small child in WW2 (now aged 80) but “Lest we forget” is as pertinent as ever.

  15. A superb biopic about one man whose passion for music gained the respect of his captors as he took over the entertainment of fellow prisoners of war in Auschwitz, then was appointed kapellmeister to his captors. He survived such horrors and after the war went on to make a career for himself in the music industry. A larger-than-life man, an extraordinary story.

  16. It’s not often that a book captures your attention right from the outset. It can sometimes take time to get into the author’s pace and thinking, but that is not the case with The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV. From the outset we are drawn immediately into the amazing and heart-wrenching experiences of Drum Major Henry Barnes Jackson as a prisoner of war over the span of World War II. It is truly remarkable that in the face of such dire circumstances an individual can find the energy to record events to such an extent that the arrogance, the cruelty and, the absolute misery afforded him by his captors is brought into stark reality, and he did so with complete determination over the five years of his captivity.
    The book also provides an insight as to how an individual can motivate his fellow captives to carry on in the face of such adversity. In the case of Drum Major Jackson, he used music as a vehicle for shifting the focus from the day-to-day misery to lifting the spirits of his fellow captives, whether they were participants in, or spectators at musical events. There are few examples of day-to-day prisoner of war experiences such as those documented in this well constructed book by Drum Major Jackson’s granddaughter Jaci Byrne. In acknowledging the astonishing daily discipline he exercised to capture his and others’ experiences I must also acknowledge Byrne’s ability to craft a living record from often-minimal recordings. The author provides a rare insight into the motivation necessary to endure years of a miserable existence at the hands of a cruel captor, and separation from family and loved ones.
    Jaci Byrne’s book has given us an opportunity to comprehend the misery that many experienced but were unable to articulate in the way her grandfather did. Well done!

  17. Dear Jaci Byrne, I have just finished reading your book about Harry Jackson, your grandfather. I enjoyed it immensely. My wife bought it for me, as she saw some similarity in the topic with a relative of mine who was a POW of the Japanese from 1942-45.
    Uncle Jack, took an accordion with him to Singapore when he went there with 8th Australian Infantry Div as a driver and was captured when the city fell in February 1942. He became a member of a concert party within the huge complex referred to as Changi, although he was never held in the actual Changi Prison itself. When the accordion eventually disintegrated due to the humidity and harsh conditions, two British airmen fitters cobbled together a banjo from a tea chest and aircraft wreckage metal to allow him to continue to perform in the concert party. This group was a collection of multi-faceted musicians, performers and stage folk who were slightly better treated by the Japanese who loved the music. It was the reason he survived, he often said when he got back to Australia. Near the end of the war, when conditions were much worse for the POWs Jack buried his banjo and recovered it only after the surrender before being repatriated home to Australia. He went onto a career in tennis and squash. At his funeral seven years ago, on the coffin was his banjo and a squash racquet.
    I just wanted to let you know that as your book tugged at my heart strings despite being set so far away and sufficiently different circumstances but with a string of similarities all the same.
    Being an ex-military man myself and a self-confessed military history tragic, I read many books but this one struck a chord unlike anything I’ve read before.
    Thank you for putting this wonderful story to print and sharing your family’s characters and conflicts so splendidly.

  18. This book is so beautifully written; the truth in it and actually seeing the strength and the pain these men endured, through the author’s grandfather’s own words is just so incredible! Harry must have been an amazing man and his love for his family is ‘tear-making’. The book made the horror of war so personal. I loved it!

  19. Having just read The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV I would like to say I really enjoyed it. It made me think how hard it was living back then, especially in war time. I have read quite a few books about Auschwitz and the prisoners’ conditions, especially the Jews. Thank you, author Jaci Byrne for this great story.

  20. What a journey! I grew up in wartime Brisbane and was acutely aware of the war. Although our privations cannot be compared with the UK, the “in your face” presence of the Americans, the air-raid shelters and sirens for air-raid drill, and rationing never let us forget that there was a war on. Over the years I have devoured many books of war history and personal experiences, including a number of war diaries. THE MUSIC MAKER is at least the equal of the best of them. I found it almost impossible to detect where then author had editorialised and/or overwritten the original. Thank you for a great read.

  21. First and foremost, this is a true story.

    The main character, Harry Jackson is a bit of an anomaly. He did his time during the Great War and was called up when Hitler decided to wield his sword and spread National Socialism through Europe, North Africa, the Balkans and Eastern Europe. At 41, he was a bit ripe for combat so he was placed in the medical corp. Not a taxing job but still demanding. Being a professional musician it was a bit out of his ballywich, but he kept a stiff upper lip and embraced the assignment.

    By a turn of bad fate and a wrong turn, which he told the driver about, he was captured at Dunkirk and spent the next five years in captivity. This isn’t the comedy you see on “Hogan’s Heroes” or “The Great Escape,” this is more reminiscent of “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” In regards to how POW’s were treated.

    Through the years there have been many arguments of the treatment dealt out by the Wehrmacht versus the SS. In summary, both were horrendous.

    Harry and his mates are forced to march 170 miles on foot with only meager rations being dolled out. If not for the locals, many more of the men would have died. For those that couldn’t continue with the march, they were shot and left to rot in the fields.

    I will admit, at the 27% completion point, I as beginning to doze off. His diary entries became monotonous and repetitive. Seriously, what could be so captivating on the day-t0-day life of a POW and harsh treatment their captors kept inflicting on them? The author, Jaci, asked me stick with it. I am so glad I did!

    While his time in captivity is beastly, it’s what happens when he is finally liberate and returns home to a world that has completely changed. Women are no longer second-class citizens and while Harry believed he had it rough, he was going to find out how his wife and children dealt with his absence. It was very enlightening when his wife, Mable, who he simply adored, informed him should could carry on with out him, if that was his choice.

    I have no problem admitting that as the story began winding down, my eyes teared-up more than once!

    This is an excellent addition to any World War Two library. Well done Jaci. A brilliant tribute to your late grand-father.

  22. A beautiful, poignant and emotive read.

  23. Byrne does an impressive job of making the reader feel as if they knew her grandfather. She notes in the author’s note that “men in those days simply didn’t express their emotions, and certainly not in war diaries.” One could then deduce that the tug of heart strings felt in the words of longing for Jackson’s family, and the care and consideration for his mates, are Byrne’s brilliant inputs into the journal entries. The voice of Drum Major Jackson is also remarkably carried beyond the journals and into an unwritten story about his post-war life which was heavily researched and eloquently written by Byrne.

    It is no secret this book contains a lot of heavy content. Yet, if you can look beyond that and to the resilience and ingenuity of people during World War II, you will certainly enjoy The Music Maker of Auschwitz IV.

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