The ambiguity of audio

Auschwitz, a video by Ravensteinstudio: accessed at

The use of sounds to evoke the horror of this death-camp include sounds that are ambiguous to the ear/brain and therefore enhance the horror by this tension between what we are hearing and what we understand we are hearing.
The film opens with a lowering dark music sound akin to a factory machine turning over. This hypnotic sound is suddenly and shockingly interrupted by a sound that could be either the sound of train wheels along rails or a human scream of terror which is then layered over with a repeated sound that could either be the puffs of a steam train or a factory machine or the pants of a very frightened human being. Then an electric dynamo sound as we see the electric fences that keep the prisoners locked in and on which some would suicidally throw themselves. This is followed by various sounds: industrial music sounds, a bleak wind; and people speaking about killing on an industrial scale and other pronouncements pointing to life as a bleak and horrific experience.
‘Some Holocaust survivors have said that not only did the barbed-wire surrounding Auschwitz tremble and howl, but also the tortured earth itself moaned with the voices of the victims.’ (accessed at
This film, to me, moves towards re-creating that sound
that, of course, could never be successfully fully captured.

This effective use of sound to contribute to the telling of the story and reinforce the mood of that story is something I hope to use in my project.


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