Archive for pogrom

One Song – Three Pogroms

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The last day of Passover 1903 coincided with Easter that year, and the tragic Kishinev pogrom began on that date. keshenevKishinev, aftermath of the pogrom (YIVO Archives)

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) sang this version of a song about the pogrom which was adapted for other pogroms, or perhaps  was itself already an adaptation of an earlier pogrom song. In this post we note two other pogroms with versions of the song.

A version of the same pogrom song is sung by the actress/singer Miriam Kressyn about Bialystok on the LP record Dos Goldene Land. Kressyn was from Bialystok, and the Bialystoker pogroms took place in 1905 – 1906.  (Thanks to Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archives for providing this recording)

The third pogrom where this song was used was in Volodarka, Ukraine. This pogrom took place in July 1919 amidst the Russian Civil War. The lyrics (as collected by S. Kupershmid) appears in the Tsaytshrift far yidisher geshikhte, demografye un ekonomik literatur-forshung, shprakh-visnshaft un etnografye 2-3 (Minsk, 1928) page 803. It too contains the lines of walking through feathers as through snow in winter, and this emerged as one of the primary pogrom images, as we see in our Kishinev pogrom examples and others.

volodarkaOn the Workmen Circle’s LP “Amol iz geven a mayse”, Sidor Belarsky sings two verses of an abbreviated version of The Kishiniev Pogrom song. The song begins at this link – double click on “Amol iz geven a mayse (cont.)”  and go to 12:30 minutes.

In the chapter “The Pogrom As Poem” in David G. Roskies’ work Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture (1984) the author examines how the same pogrom song was adapted for different pogroms. He remarks “even when the singer invoked historical facts, the relics of the violence were organized into public symbols and thematic formulas, so that the details were applicable anywhere and only the place-name would have to be changed.”

Transliteration/Translation of LSW’s version:

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman “Lid funem Keshenever Pogrom”, recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx, 1954

Akhron Shel Peysekh af der nakht
iz aroys a nayer “rozkaz.”
Az yidn zoln lign bahaltn.
Zey torn zikh nisht dreyen in gas.

Oy, ziser got in himl,
kuk shoyn arop af dr’erd.
Ze nor dem rash un getuml.
Vos hobn di yidn far a vert?

A hoyz fun dray gorn
hot men geleygt biz tsu dem grint.
Betgevant hot men gerisn,
di federn gelozt of dem vint.

In di federn iz men gegangen
azoy vi vinter in shney.
Vayber hot men geshlogn;
mener gerisn of tsvey.
Vayber hot men geshlogn;
Di mener tserisn of tsvey.

Ziser got in himl
kik shoyn arup af dr’erd
Vuz zenen di yidn azoy zindik
Vus zey hobn gur keyn vert?

The last day of Passover
a new regulation was issued.
That Jews should lie hidden;
they aren’t allowed in the street.

Oy sweet God in heaven,
Look already down on the earth.
See the tumult and chaos.
Are the Jews worth anything?

A house three stories high
was destroyed down to the ground.
Bedding was torn apart;
the feathers blew in the wind.

In the feathers they walked
as in winter in snow.
Women were beaten;
men torn in two.

Sweet God in heaven
Look already down to the Earth.
Have the Jews so sinned
that they are of no worth. Lifshe PogromLifshe Pogrom2

“Eykho” Performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

With this entry, we mark one year of the Yiddish Song of the Week blog. Thirty-two songs have been posted to date, and we hope to improve upon that number in the coming year. Once again a sheynem dank to Pete Rushefsky, Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance and our webmaster for this project of CTMD’s An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture, and to all of those who have submitted materials. Please spread the word and send us your field recordings of Yiddish songs!

I have never previously heard Eykho, a powerful pogrom-song written about the plight of the Ukrainian Jews who were escaping the pogroms in the Ukraine in 1919. In the Yiddish of this area, (see Sholem-Aleichem) the word „goy‟ refers specifically to a Ukrainian peasant. I believe Crasner means this in her song, but am not sure. In any case I find it remarkable that the song rhymes one of the holy names for God – „a-donay‟ with „goy.‟

In Eleanor and Joseph Mlotek‘s song collection Songs of Generation, they include a version of the song as it was adapted during the Holocaust (see pages 277-278 attached below). It differs textually from this version in most verses. Where I was not sure about certain words, I placed a question mark in brackets. For the last line of the refrain the Mloteks wrote „Re‘ey ad‘‟ [Look God!] I could not hear that in this version. She also sings here “Cast a glance at the Ukrainians‟ but in the Mlotek songbook it says “Cast a glance at the Jews.‟ But when she sings “Ukrainians‟ in this sentence, she means Ukrainian Jews.

„Eykho‟ is also the Hebrew name for the Book of Lamentations.  This is the first recording available of the song and it was made by Crasner’s son-in-law Bob Freedman. Cick here for more information about the singer, Clara Crasner.

Clara Crasner: I went I came over the border to Romania, and – You listening? and wanting to continue onto other towns – I had no passport, so I traveled with the impoverished ones from one …. Every day we were in a different town until I came to Yedinitz.
Bob Freedman: What year?
Crasner: 1919.
Freedman: Who is talking now?
Crasner: Clara Crasner, born in Sharagrod.
Freedman: Which territory?
Crasner: Podolya
Freedman: And the song?
Crasner: The song is from Bessarabia; Jews sang if for us from the Ukraine, describing how we felt upon arriving to Romania.

Farvolknt der himl, keyn shtral zet men nit,
Es royshn nor himlen, es regnt mit blit.
Es royshn di himlen, es regnt, es gist.
Karbones un retsikhes in di merderishe hent.

The sky is cloudy; no ray could be seen.
The skies are rushing, it‘s raining blood.
The skies are rushing, it‘s raining, it‘s pouring.
Victims and cruelties are in the murderer‘s hands.

REFRAIN

Eykho, vi azoy? Vos shvaygstu dem goy?
Vu iz tate dayn rakhmones, .A..[?} A – donay/
Fun dem himl gib a kik,
af di Ukrainer a blik.
Lesh shoyn oys dos fayer un
Zol shoyn zayn genig.

Eykho, how could it be?
Why are you quiet against the non-Jew?
Where, father, is your pity….A-donay.. [God]
From the heavens take a look
Cast a glance at the Ukrainians,
Extinguish already the fire and
let it come to an end.

Shvesterlekh, briderlekh fun yener zayt taykh,
hot af undz rakhmones un nemt undz tsun aykh.
Mir veln zikh banugenen mit a trukn shtikl broyt.
Abi nit tsu zen far zikh dem shendlekhn toyt.

Dear sisters and brothers from the other side of the river,
take pity on us and take us in.
We will be satisfied with a dry piece of bread.
As long as we don‘t see in front of us a shameful death.

REFRAIN

Kleyninke kinderlekh fun zeyer muters brist.
me shindt zey vi di rinder un me varft zey afn dem mist.
Altinke yidn mit zeyer grue berd,
zey lign nebekh oysgetsoygn mit di penimer tsu der erd.

Little children taken from their mother‘s breast.
are skinned as if they were cattle and thrown in the trash.
Old Jews with grey beards
are now lying stretched out with their faces to the ground.

REFRAIN

Undzere shvesterlekh, geshendet hot men zey azoy;
zey hobn nebekh zikh nit gekent oysraysn fun dem merderishn goy.
Vu a boydem, vu a keler, vu a fentster, vu s‘dort [?}
Dortn ligt der Ukrainer yid un zogt a yidish vort.

Our sisters were raped
they could not, alas, get free from the murderous non-Jew.
In an attic, at a window, wherever [?]
There lay the Ukrainian Jews and says a Yiddish word.

REFRAIN