The song appears twice in Shmerke Kaczerginski’s collection of ghetto and concentration camp songs without the melody. It was sung in the Bialystok region, Borki-Kamionka. It was also sung in Transnistria (between the Dnieper and Bug Rivers) where Jews from Romania, especially from Bessarabia and Bukovina were deported. The ghetto song was based on an earlier song that was sung during the Petlura pogroms in Bessarabia. That text was published in the YIVO Bleter in 1932. Clara Krasner, mother of Molly Freedman, recorded the song in response to our request, which her son-in-law Robert Freedman then submitted to us. The melody was transcribed by the compilers and thus is printed for the first time.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


How? The sky is cloudy;
No rays are seen.
All the streets are stirring —
Blood is flowing.

The synogogues
Have been desecrated;
They make stables of them
And put horses in them.

Why are You silent to the Gentile?
Where is Your compasion, Father?
Look, O Lord!

Look down from Heaven
And cast a glance at the Jews.
Extinguish the fire already,
And let it be enough!

The Holy Books so precious,
They tear pieces from them
And throw them in the garbage.

The littlest children,
Still at their mothers’ breasts,
They tear them away
And throw them in the garbage.

We stand and plead
In the Kamyank concentration camp:
God, have mercy and let us out of his place!

It is better to eat
A crumb of bread,
Than dying in a death camp.

Farvolknt der himl,
Keyn shtraln zet men nisht;
Es royshn ale gasn —
S’kapet mit blut.

Di botey-medroshim,
Ongevorn zeyer vert;
Men makht fun zey shtaln,
M’shtelt in zey arayn ferd.

Eykho — vi azoy?
Far vos shvaygstu dem goy?
Vu iz, tate, dayn rakhmones?
Re’ey ad!

Fun dem himl gib a kik (kuk),
Un oyf di yidn gib a blik,
Lesh shoyn op dos fayer
Un loz shoyn zayn genig! (genug)

Di heylike sforirn,
Zey zaynen tsuker-zis;
M’rayst fun zey shtiker
Un m’varft oyf dem mist.

Di kleyntshinke kinderlekh
Fun der mamas brist;
M’rayst fun zey shtiker
Un m’varft oyf dem mist.

Mir shteyen un betn
In kamyanker lager dort:
Got, hob rakhmones,
Un loz undz aroys fun dem ort!

Es iz beser tsu esn
A trukn shtikl broyt,
Vi eyder tsu shtarbn
Fun lagershn toyt.

פֿאַרװאָלקנט דער הימל,
קײן שטראַלן זעט מען נישט:
עס רױשן אַלע גאַסן —
ס׳קאַפּעט מיט בלוט.

די בתּי־מדרשים
אָנגעװאָרן זײער װערט:
מען מאַכט פֿון זײ שטאַלן,
מ׳שטעלט אין זײ אַרײַן פֿערד.

איכה — װי אַזױ?
פֿאַר װאָס שװײַגסטו דעם גױ?
װוּ איז, טאַטע, דײַן רחמונות:
ראה ד׳!

פֿון דעם הימל גיב אַ קוק
און אױף די ייִדן גיב אַ בליק,
לעש שױן אָפּ דאָס פֿײַער
און לאָז שױן זײַן גענוג!

די הײליקע ספֿרים —
זײ זײַנען צוקער־זיס:
מ׳רײַסט פֿון זײ שטיקער
און מ׳װאַרפֿט אױף דעם מיסט.

די קלײנטשינקע קינדערלעך
פֿון דער מאַמעס־בריסט,
מ׳רײַסט פֿון זײ שטיקער
און מ׳װאַרפֿט אױף דעם מיסט.

מיר שטײען און בעטן
אין קאַמיאָנקער לאַגער דאָרט:
גאָט, האָב רחמנות,
און לאָז אונדז אַרױס פֿון דעם אָרט!

עס איז בעסער צו עסן
אַ טרוקן שטיקל ברױט,
װי אײדער צו שטאַרבן
פֿון אַ לאַגערישן טױט.

Song Title: Eykho

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: Unknown
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Time Period: Unspecified

This Song is Part of a Collection

Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song

The Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song anthology comprises songs that were either never printed before or appeared in rare and inaccessible publications — sometimes in different versions and without proper sources. Most of the songs in this book were submitted by readers of Chana and Yosl’s column “Perl fun der yidisher poezye” (Pearls of Yiddish Poetry) in the Yiddish newspaper Der Forverts (The Forward), initiated in October, 1970. Over 25 years, thousands of songs were collected in correspondence and on cassettes from readers throughout the world, and they represent a veritable national Yiddish song archive. Chana Mlotek, in her introduction, writes, “In the course of years the inquiries, contributions and enthusiasm of these readers have kept our own interest unflagging and have reinforced our dedication to this effort. And in recent years our participants have also been augmented by new readers from the former Soviet Russia, who receive our newspaper there or from newly-arrived immigrants in this country and Israel.”

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