This recording, recreated by Gustavo Beytelmann, is from the CD, Tangele: The Pulse of Yiddish Tango available worldwide. The accompanying booklet contains translations of all lyrics to English. Courtesy of Tzadik and Tangele.

Original Polish lyrics from Niewolnicze tango (‘Slave Tango’), by an unknown author; translated into Yiddish by P.M. and Shmerke Kaczerginsky (1908-1954) / Music of a pre-war Polish tango.

English translations by Lloica Czackis and Bella Klein. All lyrics have been adapted and transliterated according to the standardized YIVO Yiddish, except for where is required by rhyme.

English

Verse 1:
Even before the war, we sang and we danced tangos, foxtrots and melodies.
These tender songs, resonant and filled with longing,
Used to make our heads sway with love.
And now, in wartime, no one creates any songs
About those youthful years in the city.
Sing, oh girl, another little song
About days and nights in the camp behind the wires.

Refrain:
Our slave tango – under the whip of the beater,
Our slave tango from the Auschwitz camp.
Spears of steel from the guards, those animals,
Oh, freedom and liberty call!

Verse 2:
The black man soon takes up his mandolin,
And will soon start to strum his little tune here,
And the Englishman and Frenchman sing a melody,
So a trio will arise out of this sadness.
And also the Pole soon takes up his whistle
And he will emote to the world –
The song will light up the hearts
Who are longing for the freedom they miss.    

Refrain:
Our slave tango – under the whip of the beater…

Yiddish

Mir hobn tangos, fokstrotn, un melodyes
Gezungen un getantst nokh far dem krig.
Di tsarte lider, tseklungene, farbenkte,
Hobn mit libe undz dem kop farvigt.
Un itst milkhome, keyner shaft keyn lider
Fun yene yunge yorn in der shtot.
Zing oyf, o meydl, an ander lidl,
Fun teg un nekht in lager hinter drot.

Undzer shklafn-tango - unter knut fun shleger,
O der shklafn-tango fun dem Oshvientshimer lager.
Shtolene shpizn fun di vekhter khayes -
O, es ruft di frayhayt un di tsayt di fraye.

Der neger nemt bald aher zayn mandoline,
Un vet bald oyfdrimplen zayn lidl do,
Un der englender, frantsoyz zingen a nign,
Vet fun troyer vern a trio.
Un oykh der polak a nem tut bald zayn fayfl
Un er vet gebn filn gor der velt, -
Vet dos gezang dan ontsindn di hertser,
Vos lekhtsn nokh der frayhayt vos zey felt.

Undzer shklafn-tango - unter knut fun shleger…