Paulina Braun was a song writer and composer in the Warsaw ghetto.  Before the Nazi invasion forced all Jews to live in the ghetto’s cramped quarters, she had established a name for herself as a composer in the Polish theatre world of Warsaw.  Writing in both Yiddish and Polish, she composed works of musical theatre, and also wrote the songs ‘Hots Rakhmones Yidishe Hertser’ (Have Compassion, Jewish Hearts) and the well-known ‘A yid’ (A Jew), later translated from the Polish.

When Braun was forced into the ghetto, her themes turned to the concerns of the Polish Jews suffering under the unbearable conditions of internment.  Her songs were emotional and poignant, telling of the pain of mothers and children, and pleading with the people of the ghetto not to grow inured to the suffering around them.  Some of her most famous songs are ‘Tsurik Aheym’ (Back Home), ‘Hots Rakhmones’ (Have Compassion) and ‘A Kholem’ (A Dream).  Although her songs were sung by many in the ghetto, they were best known through the performances of one of the most talented young singers of the ghetto, Diana Blumenfeld. The two women established an excellent working relationship, Braun composing many of her best pieces specifically for Blumenfeld’s alto voice.

Rounded up and deported during one of the many ghetto actions, Braun died in Majdanek in November 1943.

Sources

Fater, Y., 1970. Yidishe muzik in poyln tsvishn beyde velt-milkohmes, Tel Aviv: Velt federatsye fun poylishe yidn.  

Katsherginski, S. & Leivick, H. eds., Lider fun di Getos un Lagern, New York: Alveltlekher Yidisher Kultur-Kongres.

Gilbert, S., 2005. Music in the Holocaust: Confronting Life in the Nazi Ghettos and Camps, Oxford: Oxford University Press.