The poet and partisan Shmerke Kaczerginski wrote the lyrics for 'Itsik Vitnberg' (Yitzhak Wittenberg) shortly after the Vilna ghetto's underground resistance group withdrew to the surrounding forests. He based his text on the melody of a 1930s Soviet song that celebrated a hero of the Russian Civil War. This song tells of how, in July 1943, the Gestapo arrested the commander of the Vilna ghetto partisans, Yitzhak Wittenberg. Some ghetto inmates managed to free him, but the next day the Gestapo issued an ultimatum: deliver Wittenberg alive, or the ghetto will be destroyed. Wittenberg delivered himself to the Gestapo of his own free will.