Music of the Holocaust: Highlights from the Collection

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

Individuals

 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
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Two destitute children share a bowl of food on the streets of the Lodz ghetto.
Two destitute children share a bowl of food on the streets of the Lodz ghetto.
USHMM #02697, courtesy of Nachman Zonabend
Potato
(Kartofl)

Lodz ghetto, ca 1942

Lyrics by: Jankiel Herszkowicz

Music by: traditional

 

Performed by Jankiel Herszkowicz

Hunger is the theme of many songs from Lodz ghetto. In Potato, Herszkowicz, characteristically finding farce within misfortune, addresses the precious vegetable in the mock-intimate tones of a badkhn (Jewish traditional wedding entertainer) crooning to an anxious bride. The ghetto audience would have understood the line “Instead I'll get a visa” (stanza 2) to mean “Instead, I'll go to the graveyard,” or, still less euphemistically, “I'll starve to death.” Herszkowicz recorded the song for Polish radio in 1965.

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Related Links:

Jankiel Herszkowicz

Lodz (article in the USHMM’s Holocaust Encyclopedia)

 

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