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Fania Fenelon is a Jewish cabaret singer in Paris during the Nazi invasion. Fania and thousands of other Jewish and political prisoners are sent to the Auschwitz death camp. She and a group of other classical musicians are spared from death in exchange for performing music for their captors. They are also ordered to play for the thousands being herded to the gas chambers, a 'humane' means of easing the condemned into the next world.