On This Day

Politics and Propaganda

Politics and Propaganda

From Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 until the liberation in 1945, music played an integral role in daily life under Nazism. The Nazi Party used music in its publicity, policy, and propaganda, and attempted to 'cleanse' the German musical world of 'degeneracy'.

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Resistance & Exile

Resistance & Exile

While for the vast majority of Nazi inmates armed resistance was almost impossible, isolated groups were able to engage in organised resistance—and music often supported their cause.

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Responses

Responses

The Nazi ghettos and camps housed millions of people from across Europe, and their responses to internment were as diverse as the religions, ages, and nationalities they represented.

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Memory

Memory

Music has played an integral role in Holocaust commemoration since the immediate post-war period. In the late 1940s, Jewish Holocaust survivors established a lively and diverse musical life in Displaced Persons’ camps in Allied-occupied Europe, particularly in the American zone of occupied Germany.

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Featured Articles

Memory

Deggendorf Songbook

The illustrated ‘Deggendorf Songbook’ is both a fascinating artefact and a visual record of cultural life and social rehabilitation in the DP Camps.

Politics & Propaganda
Memory

Jojo Rabbit

Explores the coupling of visual and musical symbolism, focusing on how the film Jojo Rabbit uses popular music and visual and vocal icons of the Holocaust.

Resistance & Exile

Anthems for France

Political regimes use hymns as symbols of their values and aspirations. While France was divided by the war, it adopted three anthems between north and south.

Resistance & Exile

British Internment and Music

In September 1939, the British government established tribunals to evaluate the potential security risk of all UK resident German and Austrian nationals.

Politics & Propaganda

Classical Music Radio in Wartime Britain

For better or worse, BBC radio was the dominant voice of Britain throughout WWII for which classical music was an important and revealing feature.

Politics & Propaganda

Jews and Music in Fascist Italy

The modern nation of Italy had existed for barely more than sixty years when, in October 1922, Benito Mussolini became the country’s prime minister.

Response

Brundibár

Brundibár is a children's opera written in 1938 and composed by Hans Krása with lyrics by Adolf Hoffmeister. Its premiere in Terezín was on 23 September 1943.

Response

Camp System

An overview of the types of internment camps within the camp system of the Third Reich related to major phases of the Nazi regime.

Henech Kon

Singer
Actor

Composer Henech Kon (1890-1970) moved to New York before WWII, where he was one of the immigrant writers and artists who had fled Nazism. He continued to compose pieces commemorating the destruction of Polish Jewry.

Yonas Turkov

Songwriter
Actor
Director

Jonas Turkow (1898-1987) was an actor, stage manager, director and writer. He received the Itzik Manger Prize for his contributions to Yiddish letters.

Diana Blumenfeld

Musician
Singer
Actor

Diana Blumenfeld (1903–1961) was a folksinger, pianist, and actress. Caught in the ghetto along with her husband, family and friends, she continued to sing, performing in cafes and in the ghetto theatre.

Yankl Krimski

Musician
Actor

Yankl Krimski was a theatre artist and musician in the Vilna ghetto. One of his most popular songs was 'Dos Elnte Kind' (The Lonely Child). Krimski’s fate is uncertain, but he is believed to have perished in an Estonian labour camp in 1943.

Mordechai Gebirtig

Poet
Actor
Composer

Poet, actor and songwriter Mordechai Gebirtig (1877-1942) was politically active and called 'the perfect Jewish folk poet'. His songs provide a window into daily Jewish life in inter-war Poland.

Isa Vermehren

Singer
Actor

Isa Vermehren (1918-2009) volunteered to support the German troops as an entertainer between 1940 and 1943. Due to her brother's defection she was taken to Ravensbrück, where she was locked in an isolation cell.

Paul Morgan

Singer
Actor

Actor Paul Morgan (1886-1938) studied theatre and writing, and began performing in small theatres and cabarets before World War I. He died in Buchenwald concentration camp.

Hermann Leopoldi

Actor

One of the few surviving Jewish members of the cabaret scene of 1920s Vienna, Herman Leopoldi (1888-1959) was interned in two of Nazi Germany’s most notorious camps but obtained a last-minute release.

Benzion Moskovits

Cantor

In 1942 Cantor Benzion Moskovitsh (1907-1968) was deported to Westerbork and in 1944 to Buchenwald. There he sang for fellow prisoners and took notes of melodies he heard on a smuggled block-note.

Yehoshua Wieder

Cantor

Cantor Yehoshua Wieder and his family were deported to Auschwitz, where his wife Chana and three youngest children were killed. Wieder and his three other children survived.

Charles Lowy

Cantor

Cantor Charles Lowy (1911-1998) escaped Munich after Kristallnacht to Hungary and became chief cantor in Szolnok. From 1942 he was subjected to forced labour and liberated by the Red Army in 1945. His wife and son were killed in Auschwitz.

Gershon Sirota

Cantor

Gershon Sirota (1874-1943) was one of the leading cantors of Europe during the "Golden Age of Hazzanut", sometimes referred to as the "Jewish Caruso". He and his family died together in the Warsaw uprising in 1943.

Joseph Schmidt

Emigré
Singer
Actor
Cantor

When the war broke out Joseph Schmidt (1904-1942) fled to France then retreated to Switzerland. Although in possession of an American visa and well known, he was interned and, owing to a lack of medical attention, he died on 16 November 1942.

Viktor Ullmann

Music Teacher
Composer
Conductor

Composer Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) grew up and was educated in Vienna. He was trapped in Prague on the German invasion in March 1939 after trying unsuccessfully to find work in London or South Africa. In 1942 he was deported to Terezin.

Carlo Taube

Musician
Composer
Conductor

In December 1941, pianist, composer and conductor Carlo Sigmund Taube (1897-1944) was deported to Theresienstadt with his wife and child.

James Simon

Composer

In spring 1944, composer, pianist and musicologist James Simon (1880-1944) was sent to Westerbork. On April 4 he was deported with 1000 other inmates to Terezín. On 12 October 1944 he boarded the transport to Auschwitz.

Zikmund Schul

Composer

The composer and violinist Zikmund Schul (1916-1944) and his father left Germany in October 1933, taking residence in Prague. He was transported to Terezín on 11 November 1941 where he continued to compose pieces, few of which survive.

Rafael Schächter

Musician
Composer
Conductor

Rafael Schächter (1905-1944) made his name as an accompanist and vocal coach, working in opera and theatre before deportation to Terezin in Nov 1941. A pioneer of cultural life in the ghetto, he was deported to Auschwitz on 16 Oct 1944.

Egon Ledeč

Musician
Composer

Egon Ledeč (1889-1944) was a Czech violinist and composer sent to Theresienstadt. He appears as the concertmaster in Karel Ančerl’s orchestra in the Nazi propaganda film of the camp.

Hans Krása

Composer

After spending several years in Terezin being active in its musical life, Hans Krasa (1899-1944) left for Auschwitz on 16 October 1944 with his fellow composers Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas and Gideon Klein.

Gideon Klein

Composer

At age 6, Gideon Klein's (1919-1945) precocious musicality was evident and he began to study piano with the head of the Přerov conservatory. He was an organiser of cultural life at Theresienstadt.

Dovid Ayznshtat

Composer
Conductor

Dovid Ayznshtat (1890–1942) continued to compose, conduct, perform, and train aspiring musicians, in the Warsaw Ghetto, despite the limitations and dangers of ghetto life.

Misha Veksler

Composer
Conductor

The conductor and composer Misha Veksler (1907-1943) became an important figure in the musical world of the Vilna ghetto, serving as the conductor of the theatre orchestra and composing music for many of the revues that were performed there.

Wolf Durmashkin

Musician
Composer
Conductor

Wolf Durmashkin (1914–1944) was a Jewish composer, conductor and pianist in Vilnius. He was deported to Klooga during the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto and was killed one day before liberation.

Teodor Ryder

Musician
Conductor

Conductor and pianist Teodor Ryder (1881-1944) was deportated to the Łódź ghetto in 1940. He continued to perform and organise even after the death of his wife and gave his final concert in the summer of 1943.

Alma Rosé

Musician
Conductor

The violinist Alma Rosé (1906-1944) luck came to an end when she was arrested in France and sent to Drancy for several months. In July 1943, she was transported to Auschwitz.

Zofia Czajkowska

Music Teacher
Musician
Conductor

The Polish music teacher Zofia Czajkowska arrived in Auschwitz on 27 April 1942 on a transport from her home town of Tarnow. She was to become the original organiser and first conductor of the Birkenau women’s orchestra.

Adam Kopyciński

Conductor

Polish musician Adam Kopyciński (1907-1982) was conductor of the men's orchestra in Auschwitz. He struggled with the morality of a death camp orchestra knowing that rejecting a musician could well mean his death.

Otto Klemperer

Composer
Conductor

Otto Klemperer (1885-1973) was a Jewish German-born conductor and composer, described as "the last of the few really great conductors of his generation." In April 1933, he fled to Austria, leaving his wife and children behind, to follow when he had secured a permanent residence.

Martin Rosenberg

Director

In 1933, Rosebury D’Arguto’s activities with his Gesangsgemeinschaft was banned. On a return trip to Germany to settle some personal matters in September 1939, he was arrested by the Gestapo, and taken to Sachsenhausen where he organized a Jewish choir.

Kurt Gerron

Actor
Director

A cabaret artist, theatre and film actor and director of theatre and early sound movies, Kurt Gerron (1897-1944) was a successful entertainer of the 1920s and early 1930s. He directed the Terezin propaganda film and was killed soon after.

Wolfgang Langhoff

Actor
Director

Actor, director and leftist activist Wolfgang Langhoff (1901-1966) engaged in cultural activities in Börgemoor, organising the ‘Zirkus Konzentrazani’, as well as co-creating the song ‘Moorsoldatenlied’.

Walter Starkie & the British Institute in Madrid

Director

Musician Walter Starkie who set up 'El British' and met with General Franco to formalise cultural exchange between Britain and Spain. Starkie's efforts helped keep Spain neutral during WWII.

Portrait of Dame Myra Hess

Myra Hess

Musician
Director

Dame Julia Myra Hess, DBE (1890-1965) was an English pianist, best known for her performances of the works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann. During WWII, she put on concerts at the National Gallery to raise morale.

Bruno Walter

Emigré

By 1898 Bruno Walter Schlesinger (1879-1962) was a musical theatre director and a few years later director of the Bavarian state opera. Blacklisted by the Nazis, he left for the US in 1938 where he conducted the New York Philharmonic.

Kurt Weill

Emigré
Composer

Like few others, Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) are synonymous with the cultural innovation of the Weimar Republic. Most famously with their Die Dreigroschenoper, the duo represented everything that the Nazis declared its enemy.

Arnold Schoenberg

Emigré
Composer

Composer Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951) together with Berg and Webern, are known as the Second Viennese School. His revolutionary musical technique of dodecaphony (twelve tones) was his signature creation.

Ernst Krenek

Composer
Emigré

Austrian composer of the famed Jazz opera Jonny Spielt Auf, Enrst Krenek (1900-1991) emigrated to the US in 1938, after his music was banned by Nazi Regime. He taught at several universities and continued to compose until his death in 1991.

Berthold Goldschmidt

Emigré
Composer

Emigre composer Berthold Goldschmidt (1903-1996) died in London at the age of 93. He had lived at the same ground floor flat since leaving Germany to flee the Nazis in October 1935.

Hanns Eisler

Emigré
Composer

Marxist composer Hanns Eisler (1898-1962) was in Vienna in January 1933 when Hitler became German Chancellor. Eisler stayed true to his Communist ideals, fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s and America in the 1940s.

British Internment and Music

Emigré
Composer

Hans Gál (1890-1987) enjoyed professional success prior to 1933. When the Nazis came to power, he served as director of the Mainz Conservatory but was dismissed and his work was banned from both performance and publication.

Paul Arma

Composer
Emigré

Paul Arma (1905-1987) is a crucial figure in the history of French Resistance music, both because of the songs he composed and because of his efforts to preserve the enormous body of music created during the war. Arma saw Resistance songs not just as sources of hope and acts of wartime courage, but also as important artefacts to be saved.

Alfred Rosenberg

Nazi

Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946) wrote Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts (The Myth of the 20th Century) in 1934, which argued for the supremacy of the 'Aryan' race and the threat posed by Jews. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and executed.

Hans Pfitzner

Nazi
Composer

The composer Hans Pfitzner (1869-1949) saw himself as a defender of the German nation, its values, and its culture against a ‘degenerate’ and ‘corrupt’ France. During his denazification trial, along with Furtwängler, Egk and Strauss, he was found not guilty.

Hans Joachim Moser

Musicologist
Nazi

Hans Joachim Moser (1889-1967) blamed America and the Jews for commercialising music. His commitment to celebrating Germany won him Nazi approval and was promoted to general secretary of the Ministry of Propaganda.

Gustav Havemann

Musician
Nazi
Conductor

Violinist and conductor Gustav Havemann (1882-1960) moved from being a modernist musician and friend of radical Jewish composers, to becoming a committed Nazi music ideologue and finally a fervent anti-fascist after the war.

Herbert Gerigk

Nazi
Musicologist

Herbert Gerigk’s (1905-1996) Lexikon der Juden in der Musik was so popular that by 1943 thousands of copies were circulating throughout the German Reich. Even within the framework of Nazi ideology Gerigk was known as being particularly conservative and critical.

Karl Blessinger

Nazi
Composer

Author of the 1939 book Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Mahler: Three Chapters of Jewry in Music as the Key to Music History of the 19th Century, established Karl Blessinger's (1888-1962) reputation as one of the most prominent anti-Semitic musicologists of the Third Reich.

Joseph Goebbels

Nazi

Joseph Goebbels wanted to promote all works demonstrating German hegemony in music; that is, paradoxically, why he initially protected composers or conductors opposed to the application of anti-Semitic laws, even obscuring the Jewish origins of some talented composers or protecting their wives.

Wladyslaw Szlengel

Poet

Władysław Szlengel (1912-1943) was a Jewish-Polish poet, lyricist, journalist, and stage actor. He was shot along with his wife at the age of 28.

Avraham Sutzkever

Partisan
Poet

Avraham Sutzkever (1913-2010) is one of the most important contemporary Yiddish poets. During the war, Sutzkever was involved in many acts of resistance and helped save many important texts. He escaped to Moscow with his wife.

Leah Rudnitski

Partisan
Poet

Leah Rudnitski (1916-1943) wrote one of the most beautiful lullabies to have survived the Vilna ghetto, entitled ‘Dremlen feygl oyf di tsvaygn’ (Birds doze on the boughs). She was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Treblinka, where she was murdered.

Shmerke Kaczerginski

Musician
Partisan
Poet

Poet and partisan fighter Shmerke Kaczerginski (1908-1954) was a collector of Yiddish Shoah song. He was sent to the Vilna ghetto in early 1942 where he crafted songs to console prisoners and encourage resistance.

Hirsh Glick

Partisan
Poet

Hirsch Glick (1922-1944) was a Jewish poet and partisan. He began to write Yiddish poetry in his teens and became co-founder of Yungvald, a group of young Jewish poets.

Isaiah Shpigl

Poet

Writer, poet and teacher of Yiddish literature, Isaiah Spiegel (1906-1990), was an inmate of the Lodz Ghetto from its inception in 1940 until its liquidation in 1945. In August 1944, Shpigl hid some of his writings in a cellar and took the rest with him to Auschwitz.

Moshe Diskant

Poet

An important poet and song writer in the Kovno ghetto, Moshe Diskant was critical of the divisions between wealthy and poor in the ghetto.

Avrom Akselrod

Poet
Composer

Avrom Akselrod was a well-known poet and songwriter in the Kovno ghetto, known for his cynical, humorous and realistic depictions of the misery and occasional joys of ghetto life.

Karel Berman

Singer

Bass singer Karel Berman (1919-1995) was deported to Terezin on 6 Mar 1943. He sang in operas and recitals and was cast as 'Death' in Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis. Transported to Auschwitz on 28 Sep 1944 and liberated from the Allach camp.

Marysia Ayznshtat

Singer

Marysia Ayznshtat (1921–1942) was one of the best-loved musical figures of the Warsaw ghetto. She was shot dead by an SS officer aged twenty-one.

Khayele Rozental

Singer

Khayele Rozental (1924-1979) was one of the most popular singers in the Vilna ghetto. She established her talents in drama and singing aged 16, when she was chosen to represent Vilna at the Festival of Songs in Moscow.

Lyube Levitski

Singer

Soprano Lyube Levitski's beautiful voice made her a star at the age of 21. In the Vilna ghetto she was lashed, kept in solitary confinement for a month, and eventually killed at Ponar.

Kasriel Broydo

Songwriter
Singer

Kasriel Broydo (1907-1945) was a songwriter, singer and coupletist. He was born in Vilnius and played in various troupes and marionette-theaters.

Yankele Hershkovitsh

Singer

In 1940, Yankele Hershkovitsh (1910-1972) was deported to the Łódź ghetto. He became the much-loved voice of the ghetto, singing in the courtyards and streets, and documenting and commenting on events.

Fania Fénelon

Musician
Singer
Composer

Fania Fénelon (1922-1983) was a French pianist, composer and cabaret singer whose contested 1976 memoir, Sursis pour l'orchestre, about survival in the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz during the Holocaust was adapted as the 1980 television film, Playing for Time.

Aleksander Kulisiewicz

Musician
Poet
Singer

Alexander Kulisiewicz (1918-1982) was a poet, player, and songwriter of ballads in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp that often evoked his native Poland with nostalgia and patriotic zeal.

Partisans

Partisan

During World War II, many European Jews defied their Nazi oppressors by actively resisting. This partisan warfare, carried out by clandestine, irregular forces operating inside enemy territory, was particularly widespread in the dense forests and marshlands of Eastern Europe.

Jozef Kropinski

Musician
Partisan
Composer

The Polish musician Jozef Kropinski was born on 28 December 1913 in Berlin. On 7 May 1940, Kropinski was arrested by the Gestapo for publishing an underground newspaper, and sent to Auschwitz.

Jan Vala

Musician
Partisan

Jan Vala was a self-taught guitarist, singer and composer. He had been the owner of a popular bar in Ostravia, where he had entertained his patrons with comedy sketches and musical performances. He spent 2,060 days in German prisons and camps.

The Troubadours of the French Resistance

Partisan

Songs of the French resistance were collected by Paul Arma with his wife Edmée to rescue from obscurity the numerous songs that were written as acts of resistance during World War II, and to recognise the efforts made and dangers faced by their creators.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witness

Erich Hugo Frost

Musician
Jehovah's Witness

Composer and musician Erich Hugo Frost (1900-1987) was imprisoned several times in prisons and concentration camps between 1934 and 1945. He composed ‘Fest steht in großer, schwerer Zeit (Stand Fast in Great and Hard Times) in the spring of 1941.

Leo Strauss

Songwriter
Musician

Leo Straus (1897-1944) was arrested along with his wife Myra and sent to Theresienstadt where he was involved in cabaret productions, both as a librettist and performer. In October 1944, they were deported to Auschwitz and killed.

Artur Gold

Musician

Artur Gold (1897-1943) was a Polish violinist and composer. He collaborated with his brother Henryk Gold and with Jerzy Petersburski with whom he arranged music. He and his fellow musicians were murdered during Treblinka’s final weeks.

Wladyslaw Szpilman

Musician

The musical career of Wladyslaw Szpilman (1911-2000) was interrupted by the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. Szpilman and his family were driven, along with hundreds of thousands of other Jews, into the Warsaw ghetto.

Avrom Brudno

Musician
Composer

Avrom Brudno was a musician and composer in the Vilna ghetto. He created many of the ghetto’s most successful songs including the melody for ‘Friling’. He died in Klooga.

Dovid Beyglman

Musician

David Beigelman (1887–1945) was a Polish violinist, orchestra leader, and composer of Yiddish songs. In the Łódź ghetto established a small theatre where he composed prolifically and wrote his own lyrics.

Michael Hofmekler

Musician

One of the remarkable reunions to take place in the immediate aftermath of the war was that of the Jewish brothers Michael (1898-1994) and Robert Hofmekler (1905-1994), in June 1945, at the Saint Ottilien Displaced Persons’ camp.

Henry Meyer

Musician

A doctor put Henry Meyer’s ID on a corpse and hid the violinist. Meyer (1923-2006) was transferred to Birkenau, where he played in the orchestra. After brief time in other camps and surviving a death march, he survived and emigrated to the US.

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch

Musician

Anita Lasker-Walfisch (1925-present) was arrested with her sister and sent to Auschwitz where she played in the orchestra. In 1996 she published her memoir "Inherit the Truth 1939-1945".

Arno Nadel

Musicologist
Poet
Composer

Jewish musicologist, composer, playwright, poet, and painter Arno Nadel (1878-1943) had an exit visa to England but he was too weak to make the journey. On 12th March 1943 he was deported to Auschwitz where he was murdered the same year.

Hans Keller

Emigré
Musicologist

Austrian-born British musicologist and music critic Hans Keller (1919-1985), who made significant contributions to musicology and music criticism, was arrested by the Nazis and forced to leave Austria following the Anschluss in 1938.

Komitas Vardapet

Musicologist
Composer

Composer and ethnomusicologist Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935) was not protected by his esteemed cultural reputation and was sent into exile along with 800 intellectuals by the Young Turks. He was one of the few to survive the Armenian Genocide.

Paulina Braun

Songwriter
Composer

Paulina Braun (1915-1943) was a songwriter and composer in the Warsaw ghetto. Before being forced into ghetto’s cramped quarters, she had established a name for herself as a composer in the Polish theatre world of Warsaw.

Alek Volkoviski

Songwriter
Composer

Pianist and song writer Alek Volkoviski (1931-2019) won a competition in 1943 at age eleven in the Vilna ghetto for his lullaby ‘Shtiler, shtiler’.

Yankl Trupyanski

Songwriter
Music Teacher

Yankl Trupyanski was (1909-1944) a music teacher and composer of children's songs in Warsaw and Vilna. He composed many of the songs sung by children in the Yiddish schools of the inter-war years.

Leyb Rozental

Songwriter

Leyb Rozental (1916-1945) was a poet, publishing his first poetry book at the age of 14. In the Vilna ghetto he became one of the most successful writers of musicals and theatre revues.

Rikle Glezer

Songwriter

Rikle Glezer (1924-) was only 16 when the Nazis invaded her home city of Vilna. She wrote several songs during her years of imprisonment in the Vilna ghetto. She escaped during deportation and joined the partisans in the forests around Vilna.

Khane Khaytin

Songwriter

Khane Khaytin (1925-2004) was a Lithuanian-Jewish songwriter who wrote many popular songs in the Shavli ghetto.

Salomon Kannewasser

Songwriter
Musician
Singer

Salomon Meijer Kannewasser (1916-1945) was the lead singer in a popular young musical duo from Amsterdam known as Johnny & Jones. Their popularity began in 1938 and they went on to record six albums under the Panachord music label.

Arnold Simeon van Wesel

Songwriter
Musician
Singer

Arnold Simeon van Wesel (1918-1945) played guitar in a popular young musical duo from Amsterdam known as Johnny & Jones. Their popularity began in 1938 and they went on to record six albums under the Panachord music label.

Hans Neumeyer

Music Teacher
Composer

From the age of fourteen, Hans Neumeyer (1887-1944), a composer and teacher of musical composition, was completely blind. He died whilst interned in Theresienstadt on 19 May 1944.

Peter Gellhorn

Emigré
Music Teacher
Musician
Composer
Conductor

German conductor, composer and pianist Peter Gellhorn (1912-2004) fled Germany during the 1930s and settled in London. He conducted at the Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells and Glyndebourne.

Walter Bricht

Emigré
Music Teacher
Musician
Composer

Walter Bricht (1904-1970) was an Austrian composer whose years as a professional composer coincided with Hitler’s rise and the onset of Austro-fascism in 1933.

Featured Music

Name
Artist
Category
Time

'Heveti shalom aleykhem' (I bring you greetings of peace), also often titled in the plural, is one of the best-known and -loved Hebrew folk songs. In this rare recording it is sung by surviving Polish children in postwar France, in a recording taken by the Latvian-American psychologist David Boder in September 1946.

Moes, moes is courtesy of Traditional Crossroads (www.traditionalcrossroads.com).
Recorded: Kampo, New York, USA
ISBN: CD 4297
Accession Number: CD213
Singing is Adrienne Cooper accompanied by Zalmen Mlotek playing Piano.

Lyrics

1940.
On my birthday
The Germans walked-walked into Holland
Germans invaded Hungary
I was in 2nd grade
I had a teacher
A very tall man, his head was completely plastered smooth
He said, "Black Crows-
Black Crows invaded our country many years ago"
And he pointed right at me
No more school
You must go away
And she said, "Quick, go!"
And he said, "Don't breathe"
Into the cattle wagons
And for four days and four nights
And then we went through…

The idea for the piece comes from my childhood. [Due to my parent’s divorce], I travelled back and forth by train frequently between New York and Los Angeles from 1939 to 1942. […] While these trips were exciting and romantic at the time, I now look back and think that, if I had been in Europe during this period, as a Jew I would have had to ride on very different trains. With this in mind, I wanted to make a piece that would accurately reflect the whole situation.

Du kleiner Kasten, den ich flüchtend trug,
Daß meine Lampen mir auch nicht zerbrächen,
Besorgt vom Haus zum Schiff, vom Schiff zum Zug,
Daß meine Feinde weiter zu mir sprächen,
An meinem Lager und zu meiner Pein,
Der letzten nachts, der ersten in der Früh,
Von ihren Siegen und von meiner Müh:
Versprich mir, nicht auf einmal stumm zu sein!

Oh, you little box I carried as I fled
Carefully so that no valve breaks
Fleeing from house to train, from train to ship
So that my enemies might still address me.
At my bedside and to torment me
From dawn until last thing at night,
Shouting their victories and my worst fears:
Promise at least you won't go silent again!

Translation by Daniel Kahn & Yeva Lapsker.

In the little village Smilchyntsi
In the camp the Jews are living miserably
Hear the women crying
Crying without end
Where is our homeland?
When will we return?

In the stall we live like pigs
Hungry as dogs are we
A child without a mother
A mother without child
Where is our homeland?
When will we return?

Jews, o Jews, o how we suffer
Nothing like it was ever known
The tears we’ve wept
Could be rivers
The blood we’ve spilled
Could be an ocean
The tears we’ve wept
Could be rivers
The blood we’ve spilled
Could be an ocean

In dem kleinem Dorf in Smiltchynti
wohnen Juden in dem Lager umgliklikh
Und die Frauen weinen,
weinen on ein grunt:
Voy ist unser haymayt,
wann zaynen wir zuhaus?

In der Stall wie Schweinen leben wir
und wie Hunde hungrig zaynen wir,
das Kind hat keine Mutter,
die Mutter hat kein Kind
Voy ist unser haymayt,
wann zaynen wir zuhaus?

Juden, Juden Leid ist uns
was von dem wusst kein Mann
Von di treren unzere
kanen Flüssen sein
fun dem Blut fun uns’ren
kann sein an okean.
Von di treren uns’re
keinen Fluessen sein
fun dem Blut fun uns’ren
kann sein an okean.

Translation by Daniel Kahn & Yeva Lapsker.

One, two, three, one, two, three
Couples spinning round—couples spinning round—
Do you know how?—Do you know how?
Trees in the woods are spinning round,
When you ride by—in a passing train.
One, two, three, one, two, three
When the fiddle plays—she spreads out the trails.
Do you know which ones? – Do you know which ones?—
A girl’s soft hands—under your feet—
spins you up in the air like rising smoke.
One, two, three, one, two, three.
When the mandolin—is ringing just like that—
Do you know what she does?—Do you know what she does? —
Your young days, those that are left behind—
She crumbles them one over the other—she crumbles them…
One, two, three, one, two, three.
When the little flute fifes—When the little flute fifes—
Do you know what you hear?—Do you know what you hear?—
The dead in the ground—they cry that way—
Why are they crying? —Why are they crying?
One, two, three, one, two, three.
When the drum sounds,—When the drum sounds,—
Do you know what it is?—Do you know what it is?—
That’s just the noise—the noise of the world—
That deafens in you—the fear of death.
One, two, three, one, two, three,
As the life is—such a spin.—
The cello is crying, “One—two—three.”
Everyone will leave this world.—
It pains me so, it pains me so!

Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Porlekh dreyen zikh – porlekh dreyen zikh –
Veystu vi azoy, veystu vi azoy?
Beymer in vald dreyen zikh azoy –
Ven du forst farbay, in a ban farbay
Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az di fidl shpilt—shpreyt zi vegn oys—
Veystu vosere?—Veystu vosere?
Vaykhe meydl hent—unter dayne fis
Kroyzlen zikh aruf—vi a roy’kh aruf.
Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az di mandolin—tsimblt ot azoy—
Veystu vos zi tut?—Veystu vos zi tut?
Dayne yunge teg—di fargangenen
Breklt zi fanand, —breklt zi fanand.
Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az dos fleytl fayft,—az dos fleytl fayft,—
Veystu vos du herst?—Veystu vos du herst?
Toyte in der erd—veynen dos azoy,
Vos-zhe veynen zey?—Vos-zhe veynen zey?
Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az di poyk baroysht,—az di poyk baroysht,
Veystu vos dos iz?—Veystu vos dos iz?
Dos iz dokh der roysh—ot der velt-geroysh—
Vos fartoybt in dir—pakhed farn toyt.
Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az dos lebn iz—a gedrey aza.—
Veynt di vilontshel: eyns, tsvey, dray.
Veln fun der velt—ale zikh tsegeyn.
Tut mir azoy vey, tut mir azoy vey….

Translation by Daniel Kahn & Yeva Lapsker.

PART 1:
When we arrived in Auschwitz,
They took away the women and the children.
A great tumult happened there:
“In half an hour we will be in heaven.”

At night, on the plank-beds,
We put away our skinny bones.
We sleep with a hole in our hearts.
We will be set free shortly.

PART 2:
Heavens, oh heavens, where is my luck?
The moon and the snow are hidden by your look.
Where are our children? In what country are they?
In Auschwitz, in Treblinka, torn apart and disgraced.

PART 1:
Azoy vi mir zaynen nokh Oyshvits gekimen,
Froyen in kinder hot men tsigenimen
Iz dort gevorn a groyser timl
“In a halbe shu veln mir zayn in himl.”

In di nakht oyf di nares
Leygn mir avek di beyndelakh di dare.
Shlofn mit ofenung oyfn hertsn.
Oyf der fray veln mir zayn in kertsn.

PART 2:
O himlen, o himlen, a vu iz mayn glik?
Levone in shneyern bahaltn mit ayer blik.
Vu zenen undzere kinder? In velkhn land?
In Oyshvits, in Treblinke, tseshpolt in tsushand.

Courtesy of Traditional Crossroads (www.traditionalcrossroads.com).
Recorded: Kampo, New York, USA
ISBN: CD 4297
Accession Number: CD213
Singing is Adrienne Cooper accompanied by Zalmen Mlotek playing Piano.

Yid, du partizaner is courtesy of Traditional Crossroads (www.traditionalcrossroads.com).
Recorded: Kampo, New York, USA
ISBN: CD 4297
Singing is Adrienne Cooper accompanied by Zalmen Mlotek playing Piano.

Original Yiddish

Oyfn pripetshik brent a fayerl,
Un in shtub iz heys,
Un der rebe lernt kleyne kinderlekh,
Dem alef-beys.

Zet zhe kinderlekh, gedenkt zhe, tayere,
Vos ir lernt do;
Zogt zhe nokh a mol un take nokh a mol:
Komets-alef: o!

Lernt, kinder, mit groys kheyshek,
Azoy zog ikh aykh on;
Ver s’vet gikher fun aykh kenen ivre –
Der bakumt a fon.

Lernt, kinder, hot nit moyre,
Yeder onheyb iz shver;
Gliklekh der vos hot gelernt toyre,
Tsi darf der mentsh nokh mer?

Ir vet, kinder, elter vern,
Vet ir aleyn farshteyn,
Vifl in di oysyes lign trern,
Un vi fil geveyn

Az ir vet, kinder, dem goles shlepn,
Oysgemutshet zayn,
Zolt ir fun di oysyes koyekh shepn,
Kukt in zey arayn!

English Translation by Translation by Professor David Shneer, University of Colorado—Boulder, December 5, 2019

On the stove, a fire burns,
And in the house it is warm.
And the rabbi is teaching little children,
The alphabet.

See, children, remember, dear ones,
What you learn here;
Repeat and repeat yet again,
“Komets-alef: o!”

Learn, children, with great enthusiasm.
So I instruct you;
He among you who learns Hebrew pronunciation faster
He will receive a flag.

Learn children, don’t be afraid,
Every beginning is hard;
Lucky is the one has learned Torah,
What more does a person need?

When you grow older, children,
You will understand by yourselves,
How many tears lie in these letters,
And how much lament

When you, children, will bear the Exile,
And will be exhausted,
May you derive strength from these letters,
Look in at them!

Sur l'aile de la liberté
Par les cités et les compagnes.
Nos pas, nos coeurs sont emportés
Au loin de nos cheres compagnes,
Mais on les reverra,
L'heure H arrivera

Car nous sauvons la France
Nous les amis, nous les amis,
Car nous sauvons la France
Nous les amis
Du maquis.

On the wings of Freedom
By the cities and the countryside
Our feet, our hearts are carried
Far away by our dear friends
But we see them again
Zero hour arrives

Because we are saving France
Us friends
of the Maquis.

Au jardin d’Angleterre, les bobards ont fleuri.
Tous les menteurs du monde parlent à la BBC.
Au gre de ces ondes, qu’il fait bon mentir

In the garden of England, deception has flourished.
All the liars of the world speak on the BBC.
As the radio waves welcome it, they tell good lies.