Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Partisan Anthem of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

One of the submissions in The Nation's contest on the Top Ten Protest Songs Ever. According to Wikipedia:
"Zog Nit Keyn Mol" (Yiddish: זאָג ניט קיין מאָל) (also referred to as "Partizaner Lid" or "Partisan song", though it shares this title with other works) is the name of a Yiddish song written in 1943 by Hirsh Glick, a young Jewish inmate of the Vilna Ghetto. The song is considered one of the chief anthems of Holocaust survivors and is sung in memorial services around the world. During World War II, it was the anthem of various Jewish partisan brigades.

The lyrics Glick wrote were later set to music by Dmitri Pokrass. The music was actually written earlier than the lyrics, in 1935, for the song "Одесская Походная" (Odessa March), also known as "То не тучи - грозовые облака" (those aren't just clouds - they are storm clouds) about the Russian Civil War. That song was first performed by the well known Soviet Jewish singer Leonid Utyosov.

Hirsch was inspired to write the song by news of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Note, one of the commenters at YouTube reports the front page of the NY Times in the video is a fake.

As for protest songs, my vote is for Bob Dylan's "Masters of War".

Lyrics to "Zog Nit Keyn Mol" (from Wikipedia page linked above)
Never say this is the final road for you,
Though leaden skies may cover over days of blue.
As the hour that we longed for is so near,
Our step beats out the message: we are here!

From lands so green with palms to lands all white with snow.
We shall be coming with our anguish and our woe,
And where a spurt of our blood fell on the earth,
There our courage and our spirit have rebirth!

The early morning sun will brighten our day,
And yesterday with our foe will fade away,
But if the sun delays and in the east remains –
This song as password generations must remain.

This song was written with our blood and not with lead,
It's not a little tune that birds sing overhead,
This song a people sang amid collapsing walls,
With pistols in hand [1] they heeded to the call.

Therefore never say the road now ends for you,
Though leaden skies may cover over days of blue.
As the hour that we longed for is so near,
Our step beats out the message: we are here!

[1] The actual words used are "with naganes in the hand", a reference to either the Nagant M1895 pistol or the Mosin–Nagant rifle, both widely used in the Soviet Union and both having a reputation for ruggedness, making them especially fitted for the conditions of partisan life.
H/T Greg Mitchell

1 comment:

world summary said...

thanks for sharing

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