Music of the Holocaust: Highlights from the Collection

Songs of the ghettos, concentration camps, and World War II partisan outposts

Ghetto Songs

 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
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German and Lithuanian guards search Jewish women returning from forced labor outside the ghetto. Kovno, Lithuania, wartime.
German and Lithuanian guards search Jewish women returning from forced labor outside the ghetto. Kovno, Lithuania, wartime.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
One page from the Kovno diary of Tamara Lazerson. In this entry, Lazerson has transcribed the lyrics of the song <i>By the Ghetto Gate,</i> one of several Yiddish ghetto songs which she recorded in her diary.
One page from the Kovno diary of Tamara Lazerson. In this entry, Lazerson has transcribed the lyrics of the song By the Ghetto Gate, one of several Yiddish ghetto songs which she recorded in her diary.
Tamara Lazerson-Rostovsky
By the Ghetto Gate
(Baym geto toyerl)

Kovno ghetto, Lithuania, September 1941

Lyrics by: Avrom Akselrod

Music by: Mark Warshawsky

Language: Yiddish

 

Performed by an unknown singer, Bavarian displaced persons camp, ca. 1946

A topical song about food smuggling in the Kovno ghetto, By the Ghetto Gate draws on the melody of the much-loved “Yiddish alphabet song,” Oyfn pripetshik (At the Hearth). Lyricist Avrom Akselrod, a refugee who had fled Poland at the start of World War II, wrote a number of parodic verses in the ghetto. He was killed in July 1944, when German militiamen set fire to his underground hiding place.

Recording Source:

Yad Vashem/USHMM recorded sound archive

Related Links:

Kovno (article in the USHMM’s Holocaust Encyclopedia)

Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto (USHMM Online Exhibition)

Oyfn pripetshik (in Yiddish Language and Culture Web site)

Further Reading/Listening:

Dennis B. Klein, ed. Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1997.

Various artists. Hidden History: Songs of the Kovno Ghetto. CD. USHMM.03. Available from the Museum Shop

 

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