Shortly after the 1938 annexation of Austria by the Nazis, Herbert Zipper and two of his brothers were sent to Dachau concentration camp. Despite the horribly adverse conditions, Herbert volunteered for demeaning jobs, where he could steal wood and other materials to make musical instruments for himself and his fellow prisoners. He assembled a small, secret orchestra that performed for the other inmates. Herbert composed “Dachau Song,” which was performed in secret and eventually would find its way to other camps.
Through his father’s persistence, Herbert was released in 1939. He was offered the position of conductor of the Manila Symphony Orchestra in the Philippines, which he accepted. He was imprisoned once again when the Japanese army invaded the Philippines. He was released after four months. After his release, he worked secretly for the Allies, transmitting shipping information by radio.
In 1946, Herbert emigrated to the United States. He became an advocate for music education, teaching at several respected schools in Chicago and in Southern California. He remained active until his death in 1997 at age 92.