Makh tsi di eygelekh
'Makh tsi di eygelekh' (Close your eyes) was composed for the ghetto theatre, and performed in the ghetto by the singer Ella Diament. The song was written by Isaiah Shpigl, a writer-poet-essayist-teacher who survived the Łódź ghetto and Auschwitz (1906-1990) and by the composer-conductor Dovid Beyglman (1887-1944). None of the survivors interviewed by Gila Flam for her book on songs of the Łódź ghetto could recall the song. The songs was published in several collections, including the collection of Shmerke Kaczerginsky (1948:92), and the recording here was also made by him for the Munich Historical Committee of 1946. The reason that survivors of Łódź could not recall the song is because Rumkowski censored the song, and Isaiah Shpigl was threatened with deportation. The song was not performed again.
The song is a lullaby, which was one of the most popular song genres of Yiddish folk and theatre music. In a typical Jewish lullaby, the mother soothens the child to sleep with promises of pleasant times to come. The father is usually absent, off making money for the child’s education; his return, however, is said to be imminent. Shpigl’s composition, turns this concept upside down: father will never come home. The child lies down to sleep in an open field at the mercy of the elements, his parents’ house been burned to the ground.
This is one of the hopeless songs composed for a public audience in the Łódź ghetto. Nature does not smile, God has brought night into the little boy’s world, and wind and hail accompany the child and the singer into the depths of the earth.
The music is a rare form of musical hybrid, a tango-lullaby. Evidently, tango melodies were very popular during the period, and the contrast between the horrifying lyrics and the sweet melody make the song even darker and more frightening.