S'iz geven a zumertog

'S'iz Geven a Zumertog' (It Was a Summer's Day) was written by the 18-year-old Vilna ghetto inmate Rikle Glezer, and based on the melody of the popular pre-war Yiddish theatre song 'Papirosn' (Cigarettes). The song chronicles in painful detail how Jews were driven into the Vilna ghetto, their pleas for help, and the killings that were taking place both en route to the ghetto, and in the nearby forest of Ponar.

This recording is available worldwide. The accompanying booklet contains translations of all lyrics to English. English translations by Lloica Czackis and Bella Klein. All lyrics have been adapted and transliterated according to the standardized YIVO Yiddish, except for where is required by rhyme.

It was a summer’s day,
As always beautifully sunny,
And nature had within it
So much charm.
Birds were singing
Cheerfully hopping around,
As we were ordered into the ghetto.
     Oh, imagine what became of us!
     We understood: all is lost,
     Our pleas were of no help
     Asking for someone to rescue us,
     We had deserted our home.
[...]  We were too many -
The master ordered
Jews to be brought from the vicinity,
And be shot at Ponar.
The houses were emptied,
But the ditches were filled.
The enemy had attained his desired goal.
     Now at Ponar one can see on the roads
     Things, hats soaked by the rain.
     These are the belongings of the victims.
     Of the holy souls,
     Which the earth has covered forever.
And now, once more, it is beautifully sunny,
A wonderful smell all around,
And we are full of grief,
And we all suffer in silence.
Cut off from the world,
Hidden behind high walls,
A ray of hope barely stirs.

Es iz geven a zumer-tog
Vi shtendik zunik-sheyn,
Un di natur hot dan gehat
In zikh azoyfil kheyn,
Es hobn feygelekh gezungen,
Freylekh zikh arumgeshprungen,
In geto hot men undz geheysn geyn.
     Okh shtelt zikh far vos s’iz fun undz gevorn!
     Farshtanen hobn mir: s’iz alts farloyrn.
     Nisht geholfn undzer betn,
     Az s’zol emitser undz retn-
     Farlozn hobn mir dokh undzer heym.
[...]  Gevezn zaynen mir tsufil –
Bafoyln hot der har
Tsu brengen yidn fun arum
Un shisn oyf Ponar.
Pust zaynen gevorn shtiber,
Ober ful derfar di griber.
Der soyne hot dergreykht zayn groysn tsil.
     Oyf Ponar itst zet men oyf di vegn
     Zakhn, hitlen durkhgenetst fun regn,
     Dos zaynen zakhn fun karbones,
     Fun di heylike neshomes,
     Di erd hot zey oyf eybik tsugedrekt.
Un itst iz vider zunik-sheyn,
Shmekt prakhtful alts arum,
Un mir zaynen farpaynikte
Un laydn ale shtum.
Opgeshnitn fun der velt,
Mit hoykhe moyern farshtelt,
A shtral fun hofnung dervekt zikh koym.