Resistance and Partisan Songs
These songs are often derived from pre-war left wing activist songs. They are the sorts of songs meant to inspire courage and even self sacrifice for a cause. Some are from the Yiddish Bund. Some are communist. Sometimes the songs speak of revenge against the enemy .
7. Botvin is Akhtsn (Botvin was Eighteen)
8. Brider mir hobn geshlosn (Brothers We Agreed)
17. Fin di Varshever ganuvim (Of the Warsaw Thieves)
25. Khaver Engel (Comrade Engel)
30. Mir kumen on (We are Coming)
33. Pak zikh ayn (Pack Up)
Imagine an assortment of young and older men, sitting around a lobby, trading funny and often smutty songs and giggling. What a wonderful counterpoint to such a terrible past. Many of the men and women are a in the market for a wife or husband, or at least romance. Many have already married in the DP camps and one can hear the infants in the background. Some of the singers are children. Many of the songs are bawdy, smutty songs that involve a rebbe and his wife. Some of these songs are misogynistic, a product of a certain time and place.
1. Nekhtn bin ikh geven af yene velt (Yesterday I was in Heaven)
19. Ikh gedenk dem tog fun mayn geboyrn (I Remember the Day of My Birth)
20. Ikh bin geboyrn fun a shteyn? (Was I Born of a Stone?)
22. In a gitn pirem bin ikh geboyrn (I Was Born on a Good Purim)
36. Simkhes toyre bay dem tish, iz dos ales freylekh (Simkhes Toyre at the Table, Everything is Joyful)
58. A simkhe a gedile (What a Joy and Celebration)
0109. dos hob ikh gezen af yene velt
0110. A brokh getrofn
0111. Alef bet
0112. Alef beys
0113. Av iz a foter
0114. Bashe Kusak oy der rebe der rebe
0115. Bay dem potchok shteyt a hayzl
0116. Der rebe du dort
0117. Di mame fleg mir zogn az mazl miz men lobn Amerike ganef
0118. Smutty song and mame siz geven a mekhaye
0119. Es iz amol a nes geshen rebetsn
0120. Hob ikh mir an eyntshik daym
0121. In a shtetl nisht vayt fun danen ay ay ay
0122. Kozaynr lebn iz azoy tayer
0123. Mayn waybele antlofen
0124. Mein weibele ant loffen
0125. Moschiakh in tel Aviv
0126. Moyshe kligerman brokh getrofn
0127. O senior si si yo yo
0128. Oy a rebetsn humor
0129. Oy oy baym rebn shtayt
0130. Parody of tumbalalaika
0131. Rabeynu tam
0132. Reb shmaye lebn
0133. Simkhas toyre bay deim tish
0134. Tsipe dvoyre
0135. Vaybelekh un maydlekh bawdy songs
0136.Vayberishe maydelkh hot rakhmunes af man klaynem
0137. Vel shoyn mer nisht ganvenen
0138. Zay freylikh
0139. Zayt freyleikh kadye
0140. A floig iz arop
0141. Der klayner smutty songs mame siz geven a mekhaye
0142. Shabes nukh di kigl
Camp (Katzet) and Ghetto Songs
6. In Shventshin
9. Buziner lebn iz azoy tayer (Buzin Life is Very Dear)
11. Not Available
12. Dort in dem lager in a vinkele bay nakht (There in the Camp in a Corner at Night)
13. Dortn vu ales geyt in mitn veg (There, Where Everything is Going in the Middle of the Road)
14. S’iz geven a gehenem oto do (It was Hell Here)
21. Ikh hob a nayem glock geshafn
37. Vayl ikh bin a yidele
143. 7 gite yur
144. Autos tramvayen torn nit kligen
145. Autos tramvayen
147. Di zelbe gasn un tramvayen
148. Dray Lilien
149. Es iz a klug Lodz ghetto
150. Es iz geven a gehenem
151. Fray shvimen shifn af yamen svet geshen Shmuel Levy
153. In a Litvish derfl
154. In barak
155. Ir zayt nit geven in Treblinke
156. Kozaynr lebn iz azoy tayer
157. Mir shteyen bay di vent Lodz ghetto
158. Mlotek shiye vil nisht zayn in lager vil lebn
159. Nisht kayn tog un nisht kayn nakht
160. Nisht kayn un nisht kayn nakht
161. Oy a shtruf hot mir
162. Oys di felder un shleser di gantsa velt iz nor vi a kholem
163. Shluf mayn kind fun lager in Transnistrea
164. Strassenhofer hymn
165. Talk in lager ina vinkele bay nakht aygene kombinatsye
166. Treblinka dort avrum
167. Treblinke dort
169. Vet zi oysgeyn
170. Vi zenen mayne 7 gite yur
171. Vus iz in Ldz gesheyn
172. Vus shaynstu levune
Songs of Exile and Homelessness
Songs of lost homes, longing, are part of a long tradition of benkshaft lider. Some of these are also Zionist songs and hope for a new home. Most survivors could not return home after the war and longed for memories of home.
Lost Youth and Old Age
There a quite a few songs, reflecting a mood of loss and the fragility of life. None of these are translated here but there are quite a few mps in the files.
Love and Courtship
Many of the survivors were young and courtship was on their minds.
Lullabies, Mothers, Orphans and Children
Many of the survivors had lost children and most had lost parents and grandparents. So it is little wonder that many songs touch on these particular losses.
Many of the singers come from religious backgrounds and the corpus includes a variety of songs that touch on religion. There are cantorial songs and other songs that employ a cantorial style. Some songs are about yeshiva life, sometime critical or mocking of that world and other times turning to religion for support and comfort. Some of the songs are traditional songs one knows from Jewish holiday cycles.
10. Der rebbe hot gevolt nokh eretz yisroel forn (The Rabbi Wanted to Travel to Israel)
15. Eyns eyns (One, One)
18. Ven der rebe zugt zayn toyre (When the Rabbi Says His Torah)
31. Mir zenen vi feygelekh fraye (We are Like Free Birds)
32. Miysratzeh berakhamim (Who can pity?)
Social Statements and Philosophizing
These songs reflect the complex and troubled process for the survivor who is trying to come to terms with what has happened. These are people in the process of reconsidering the fundamentals. For example, do ideologies hold up? What about Zionism? This is just after the State of Israel had been declared as these songs were sung. Left wing ideologies were also to be rethought in the context of anti-Red menace America and disillusionment with the Soviet regime and Stalin’s murderous persecution of Yiddish writers and intellectuals in the USSR. As communism took hold in Poland, many survivors had fled, under continued anti-Semitism, yet the songs remained as did many of the egalitarian principles of socialism. Some songs are fundamental, considering what it means to be a Jew in the world, how dangerous and yet how precious. Another set of songs express cynicism about corruption. And then, there are those who questioned God, how a just God could allow such destruction of the innocent.
2. Ayeder mentsh darf dus gut farstheyn (Every Person Must Understand This)
3. Az men shlogt mikh tut es nisht vey (When They Beat Me, It Does Not Hurt)
37. Vayl ikh bin a yidele (Because I’m a Jew)
23. In a sheyne zumer nakht (On a Beautiful Summer Night)
29. Mir khalutsim (We Scouts)
About the Singers
Most of the singers are young, in their twenties and some are children. There are babies crying in the background. There are women and men, religious and secular. Some have good voices and others do not. They are not professionals but ordinary people who gathered in their free time to enjoy recording some songs. One hears laughter, cars honking, conversations and children crying. When a singer gets stuck, another often help each other out with lyrics or comments.
Two of the singers are professional. Shmerke Kaczerginski had just published a book of Ghetto Songs and was singing songs from that volume (Geto un Katset Lider, Buenos Aires: 1948). He tragically perished in a plane crash in 1954. Click here for a list of songs associated with Kaczerginski. Diana Blumenfeld was a noted actress on the Yiddish stage, click here for a list of songs associated with Blumenfeld.
Who Were the Rest of the Singers?
We only have the names of the singers on occasion. Some singers come back to the mike again and again and after a while their voices are familiar. Some give Stonehill information on themselves, at least the first time they sing. He at times asks them where they come from and where they learned the songs. Many do not choose to give names or only give one name. I write the names as they sound, in YIVO phonetic standard for Yiddish. In the following listing, I give the names of singers rendered phonetically. In his list of songs, Stonehill did not write down their names but in recording he did often ask their names but they did not always comply. As a result, I more often than do not know who sings what songs.
Most of the archive consists of singing, but there is a spoken element. Most notable is a recording of Stonehill’s lecture at YIVO in 1964, where he describes, in English, his process, what he saw and felt. He also sings some of the songs. I have made a separate folder of tracks that consist only or mainly of talk.
Someone who calls himself “Avrumshe” sings songs of the Bund. Marsha Bernshtayn, a child, sings several. She spent 4 years in Canada and had been in a children’s home in Warsaw before, where she learned those songs. She came at the end of 1939 or early 1940 at age 3, which makes her 8 or 9 years of age. Moyshe Herzog age 12; Yakov Herzog age 14; Ernest Hertzog 14 from Czechoslovakia? (the Herzongs are possibly brothers). Here are additional names of singers: Avrum Berkovits (from Khust), Mendl Yitzkhok, Dov Baratz, Dovid Baygelman (from Lodz), Yosef Cohen, Yosef Grosman, Nakha Ginsberg (from Lodz), David Yeger, Yisrol Moskovitch, Nakha Ginsberg, Lazar Ginsberg (from Pinsk), Aaron Goldman (from Slutsk), Rachman (from Muntaksh in Ukraine, once Romania), Pinchas Tale (Czechoslovakia, age 27), S. Korntayer (from Warsaw), Alexander Kraus, Morris Kashuv (15 Months in US, from Kresivitse in Kutne), Peretz Bialik (Slonim), Moyshe Kligerman, Zalmen Shvimer (Prague, born in Doha in Carpathia), Avrom Priling (Poland, Tshenishev, Galitsye age 22), Karp from Lublin, Bert Mayer from Shlesien, Avrum Berkovitz, Edith Fridman, from Khust, Gita Fridman, Laybe Lieber, Shoshana Royzshe, Hayim Viner from Shteshuv, age 23, Nakha Ginsberg, Lodz, Moyshe Herzog, age 16, Shlagman, Yankev Cohen, Alex Wolkoviski, Rome Yakhtse from Krakow. Max Mesing. Menakhem Riger of Tarnov, Leon Rosenberg, Kobe Tsuman , Haim Shapiro, Yuda Sheydi, aged ten Romania, Pinchas Kozlovski, Moyshe Shvimer, Shmuel Levy, Yankl Zats. Morris Zalmen, Lazar Ginsbeg, Nakhe Ginsberg, Israel Moskovitch, Ernest Goldman, William Yelin, Wolf Haber (23), Yafa Aksenfeld, age 9. We are grateful to Itzik Gottesman who put us in touch with Masha Leon, singer of song #28 – Tuk, tuk, tuk. Leon writes about singing for Stonehill in this article published in the Forward.
Notes on Transcriptions and Translations
Of the thousand songs, I here present, the transcriptions and translations of only about sixty from the thousand fifty-two that Stonehill gathered. It is my hope that others will step in and add more of the songs. For the future, also, there should be traditional Yiddish script, they are now in YIVO standard format. The songs are transcribed in the dialect in which they are spoken or sung. Musical notation would be good. Translations are not singable, but meant to convey the meanings of the songs. I do not add what country the town and cities are in since these changed so much.
Links to press coverage of the Stonehill Jewish Song Collection:
I want to thank the Center for Traditional Music and Dance for making this web site possible, Ethel Raim and Peter Rushefsky. I also want to thank the Marinus and Minna B. Koster Foundation for funding for this project through Yiddish of Greater Washington, Bret Werb of US Holocaust Memorial Museum and their Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Craig Packard, who has put in lots of time and thought, Lorin Sklamberg of YIVO, and translators Itzik Gottesman and Perl Teitelbaum. Additionally, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance has received support for its An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture from the Marinus and Minna B. Koster Foundation, the Atran Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Many of the songs are currently not transliterated/translated. We are grateful for any assistance in this work, please contact Pete Rushefsky if you are willing to donate a transliteration/translation. If you enjoy this website also be sure to visit CTMD’s Yiddish Song of the Week blog edited by Itzik Gottesman.