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.

Lódz Ghetto 1944
Lyrics: Miraim Haerl
Melody: Polish folksong
Za kolczastym, silnym drutem,
Za kolczastym, silnym druten
Lódzkie getto, lódzkie getto, jest zakute.
Naokolo Niemcy wszedzie
Stad uciekac, stad uciekac nikt nie bedzie.
W getcie dziela zupy garnek,
I do tego sacharyny kilka ziarnek.
Moze dadza rzodkiew zgnila,
By sie w getcie, by sie w getcie jakos zylo.
Wczoraj odszedl transport duzy,
Nic dobrego, nic dobrego to nie wrózy.
Za drutami, za drutami
Wszyscy bedziem, wszyscy bedziem pochowani.

Łódź Ghetto 1944
Lyrics: Miriam Harel
Melody: Polish folksong
Behind a strong barbed wire fence,
Łódź ghetto, Łódź Ghetto is sealed.
Surrounded by Germans everywhere,
Nobody can escape from here.
In the ghetto they portion out a pot of soup,
In addition, some crumbs of saccharine.
Maybe they will give us rotten radishes,
So in the ghetto, in the ghetto, we shall somehow live.
Yesterday, a big transport was sent,
It brings nothing good, nothing good.
Father went, mother went,
I stayed behind alone, I will remain alone, until the end.
Behind a barbed wire fence
We shall all be buried.