Paul J. Sifler, born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, immigrated to the United States at the age of 11, and following his studies at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, led a long and prolific career as a composer and organist. The Despair and Agony of Dachau has been performed at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and in Sifler's native Ljubljana, performances which were preceded by a reading of Psalm 22. Phrases from the Psalm beginning "My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?" are used to depict the tragedy of the concentration camp at Dachau. Among the traumas represented are the furnaces, described by a "mighty roar," the scurrying of rats and barking of dogs. This work was composed to provide a history lesson for the future, and to offer the fervent prayer that mankind will never again be involved in such an atrocity.