Es iz a klug

The song 'Ez is a Klug' is a commentary on the system of favouritism employed by Khayim Rumkowski, who appointed his favourites for the preferred positions of the Łódź Ghetto.  In so doing, of course, he did not consider relevant qualifications but rather the 'understanding' between himself and the appointee.


This song was sung towards the end of 1940 and was remembered by many survivors because of its satirical but realistic description of 'Uncle Leml'.  'Uncle Leml' rhymes in another version of the song with 'Kuni Leml', one of the stock characters of the Yiddish theatre, from the play Kuni Leml (1870) by Abraham Goldfadn who is known as the father of the modern Yiddish Theater.


The melody, in a minor key, reminds the listener of the tango, thanks to its rhythmic pattern in which all beats are sharply accented and occasionally interrupted by sudden pauses or emphatically syncopated passages.  The tango remained popular throughout the 20th century, and that was probably the reason for its use in this context.

This song was composed and sung by Yankele Hershkowitz in the ghetto.  It was recalled and sung by Yaakov Rotenberg and recorded by Gila Flam in 1984.

Es iz a klug
Es iz a klug
Es iz tsu indz a tsure!
Es iz a klug,
Es helft nisht kayn geshray!
Nur mier Lódzer,
Zenen di kapure!
Es iz a za gebot:
Der kligster blaybt haynt a idiot.
Ikh hob a feter hayst er leml
Er iz kerovnik bay di straz
Er rirt zikh pinkt vi a keml,
A fayer lesht er mit a flash.
Es iz a klug…

It is Our Grief

It is our grief,
It is our problem!
It is our grief,
It won’t help to complain!
But we Łódźers
Are being sacrificed!
It is a sort of logic:
The wise man stays an idiot.

I have an uncle, his name is Leml,
He is the head of the Fire Department.
He moves as swiftly as a camel,
He puts out fires with a bottle.

It is our grief…