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
Loading ...

Sarah Krinski with her adoptive mother, Wiktoria Rodziewicz.
Sarah Krinski with her adoptive mother, Wiktoria Rodziewicz.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Shmerke Kaczerginski, Rakhele Pupko-Krinski (mother of the “Lonely Child”), and Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever. Vilna ghetto, ca. 1943.
Shmerke Kaczerginski, Rakhele Pupko-Krinski (mother of the “Lonely Child”), and Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever. Vilna ghetto, ca. 1943.
— From Shmerke Kaczerginski Ondenk-Bukh, Buenos Aires, 1955. All rights reserved.
Sarah Krinski with her adoptive mother, Wiktoria Rodziewicz. Oszmiana, Lithuania.
Sarah Krinski with her adoptive mother, Wiktoria Rodziewicz. Oszmiana, Lithuania.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Lonely Child
(Dos elnte kind)

Vilna ghetto, ca. 1943

Lyrics by: Shmerke Kaczerginski

Music by: Yankl Krimski

Language: Yiddish

 

Performed by Shmerke Kaczerginski, ca. 1946

In the Vilna ghetto, educator Rakhele Pupko-Krinski and poet Shmerke Kaczerginski were members of the “Paper Brigade”—a group of intellectuals who risked their lives to conceal Vilna’s Judaic treasures from Nazi vandals. After learning that Pupko-Krinski had hidden her child, Sarah, outside of the ghetto, Kaczerginski wrote The Lonely Child as a tribute to Sarah and all Jewish children who had been forced into hiding by the war. The poem was set to music by composer Yankl Krimski, a theater artist who is believed to have been murdered in an Estonian labor camp toward the end of the war.

Pupko-Krinski's sympathetic Polish housekeeper, Wiktoria Rodziewicz, raised Sarah as her own. Fearing betrayal by acquaintances, Rodziewicz eventually moved to a nearby village where she could live in relative safety. After years spent in the ghetto and several labor camps, Pupko-Krinski reunited with her daughter, who no longer remembered her. Kaczerginski recorded the song in a displaced persons camp in Bavaria ca. 1946, dedicating his performance to Sarah and Rakhele. Some 50 years later, Sarah heard this recording for the first time while visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Wexner Learning Center.

Recording Source:

Yad Vashem/USHMM recorded sound archive

Related Links:

Vilna (article in the USHMM’s Holocaust Encyclopedia)

Further Reading/Listening:

Shmerke Kaczerginski. Lider fun di getos un lagern. New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, 1948.

Rachel Pupko-Krinsky. “Laurel Trees of Wiwulskiego.” In The Root and the Bough, ed. Leo Schwartz. New York: Reinhart, 1949.

David Fishman. Embers Plucked from the Fire: The Rescue of Jewish Cultural Treasures in Vilna. New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1996.

 

Contents