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Shray, Hertsale, Shray!

Analysis and contextual notes by D. Zisl Slepovitch.
All songs transcribed, translated, scored, arranged, and produced by Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch.

Biography

Morris K. (HVT-1651) was born in Połaniec, Poland in 1917. He recalls escaping with two friends from a forced evacuation of the town in October 1942; being hidden in a cave by farmers (they had been his father’s customers), who also hid a Jewish girl in their home; liberation by Soviet troops in 1944; working for the Soviets; fleeing to Łódź after Jews were killed by soldiers of the Polish underground; marriage to a concentration camp survivor; and emigration to Cuba in 1947, then to the United States in 1961.

Unedited Testimony

Willy F. (HVT-2844) was born in Działoszyce, Poland in 1928. He describes his parents’ move to a small village to run a business; remaining with his grandparents and siblings so they could attend Jewish schools; his parents’ return due to antisemitic violence; their move to Sosnowiec in 1936; traveling to Działoszyce with his grandmother in 1939; German invasion; food shortages; his parents’ and brother’s return (his sister remained in Sosnowiec); hiding with his family during a round-up; joining an uncle in Pinczów; briefly returning to Działoszyce; fleeing to Wodzisław, then the Kraków ghetto; slave labor with his father and cousin doing construction; transfer to Płaszów; his father’s death in May 1943; he and his cousin helping each other when they had typhus; transfer to Skarżysko-Kamienna; slave labor in a HASAG munitions factory; turning yellow from the picric acid; hiding to avoid difficult labor; transfer to Buchenwald; hospitalization; assistance from a prisoner physician and Norwegian prisoners; liberation by United States troops; transfer to an OSE home in Ecouis via Metz and Paris; and learning his mother, brother, and sister and her child did not survive. Mr. F. discusses camp hierarchies; surviving due to help from others and “stealing”; annual visits with his wife, son, and grandchildren to his cousin in Israel; and visiting Poland several times.

Unedited Testimony

Shray, Hertsale, Shray! (Cry, My Heart, Cry!)

Lyrics: anonymous; music: based on Eduardo Bianco’s Tango Oración; arrangement: D. Zisl Slepovitch

In interwar Europe, including the Soviet Union, Latin American music enjoyed immense popularity. One of the obvious reasons for this were numerous touring groups. Within the vast body of the popular Latin American repertoire, Argentinian tango as a new and highly attractive genre played the leading role. It is no surprise that some songs of survival and resistance during and after the war adapted popular tunes to new lyrics and became widespread as new pieces. The musical origins of the so-called ‘Treblinka Song’ lie in Tango ‘Oración,’ composed by the prominent Argentinian composer and tango orchestra director Eduardo Bianco (1892–1959). While the ‘Treblinka Song’ is based on ‘Oración,’ it has its own distinct feel, tempo, and form, which is especially obvious in the introduction that rather contrasts with than resembles the energetic opening of the original.

We find this song in more than one testimony, both in the Fortunoff Video Archive and in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection. It was sung by Morris K. (HVT-1651), which we use as the main reference for this recording, Willy F. (HVT-2844), who presents a short fragment from the song, and Frieda Bursztyn Radasky, who sang a fuller, but also a slightly different version, under the name Treblinke dort (There Lies Treblinka). The song conveys the story of frequent deportations from Warsaw’s Umschlagplatz to Treblinka, as seen and felt by the ghetto prisoners. Despite German propaganda stating that the trains were going to the work camps, many prisoners knew the truth. Warsaw ghetto prisoners, according to Frieda Radasky’s testimony, contributed their own lines to the song, which explains why the song survived in several variants. The song spread far outside the Warsaw ghetto. Morris K., born in 1917, learned it while he was still living with his family in his hometown Połaniec, Swiętokrzyskie Voivodeship, situated more than 230 km (140 miles) south of Warsaw, before they were ordered to leave in October 1942. Frieda Radasky learned the song later, in 1943, while working in the kitchen at a coal depot in the Praga district of Warsaw, outside the ghetto. Another survivor, Willy F., born in Działoszyce in 1928, lived through the Kraków ghetto, Płaszów, Skarżysko-Kamienna, and Buchenwald concentration camps. He learned the song in the Kraków—Płaszów area, which is even farther away—300 km (186 miles) from Warsaw.

Es iz a shturm durkh di velt aropgegangen,
Es hobn felker farvandelt on lender.
On rakhmones yoysherdik khurev gemakht a velt.
Di zin fun himl arupgerisn, in fin tog gemakht nakht.

Dort nisht vayt
Iz der Umschlagplatz far layt
Vi men shtiptsakh in der brayt
Tsu di vagonen.
Dort hert men ayn geshray,
Vi ayn kind shrayt tsu der mamen:
“Vi lozti mikh alayn?
Lomir geyen tsuzamen!”
Di politsay,
Zey hobn gehaysn shneler gayn.
Di vest nit laydn mer kayn noyt.
Di vest bakimen dray broyt.
Zey hobn nisht gevist,
Az zey gayen oyf a shnelen toyt.
Treblinke dort—far yedn yid a gite ort.

Ikh du, du dort.
Men ken nisht shrayen mer kayn vort.
Ver’s kimt ahin, farblaybt men dort.
Dort in Treblinke.
Dos harts tit vay,
Ven me’ tit zikh nor dermanen
Fin tate-mame kayn Treblinke same.

Shray, hertsale, shray
Hertsale, zug nisht oys,
Az di bist a yid.
Shvester in brider, tate-mame,
Ale gayen tsuzamen,
Ale gayen tsu farsamen
Vayl di bist a yid.
Shray, hertsale, shray.
Hertsale, zug nisht oys,
Az di bist a yid.

The storm raged through the world,
Entire nations remained without their countries.
Ruthlessly, the storm equally destroyed the world.
It ripped the sun from the sky and turned day to night.

There, not far,
There’s the deportation site (Umschlagplatz),
Where they hustle far and wide
To the cattle cars.
There one hears a scream,
A child is calling for his mother,
‘How come you’re leaving me alone?
Let us go together!’
The police,
They ordered them to move faster.
You will not suffer any need,
You will receive three loafs of bread.
They didn’t know,
They were going to their deaths.
There’s Treblinka, a fitting place for every Jew.

I’m here, you’re there,
You can’t share another word.
Those who come there, stay there,
There, in Treblinka.
The heart pains
When one starts to remember
The past, mom and dad, and the journey to Treblinka.

Cry, my heart, cry,
Cry, my heart, don’t speak,
Because you are a Jew.
Sisters, brothers, and parents,
They all are going together,
They all are going to be poisoned,
Because they are Jews.
Cry, my heart, cry,
My heart, you won’t express yourself,
Because you are a Jew.