Łódź Ghetto, 1944
The lyrics of this song were written by Miriam Harel toward the end of her ghetto period in late 1944. It is based on a Polish folksong, 'Za górami, za lasami' (Behind the mountains and the trees).
Miriam expresses her despair in this song. She learned the original Polish song before the war from the family’s housekeeper. It tells of a girl who goes dancing with some soldiers. Her parents show up at the dance and ask her to come home. The girl tells them: 'I do not want to go home. I want to dance with the soldiers.' The juxtaposition of the new lyrics with a tune that evokes more innocent, pre-war times, contributes to the sense of loss.
In 1944, Miriam felt the need to express the destiny of the Jewish people in the ghetto. She wrote about their lives as prisoners, lacking freedom, food, and hope, everything but the primitive instinct to survive. She wrote this song after her best friend was taken away in a transport. Things were growing worse in the ghetto and the few songs which survive from this time of slave labour, starvation and despair clearly reflect this.