sung by Karsten Troyke
Forgotten Yiddish Songs
And now, these songs are no longer forgotten. Actually, they never were, for a young girl kept them in her memory for a long lifetime.
Sara Sliwka was still a child, 13 years old, when she was taken away from home by German soldiers and dragged to a camp. Home underwent terrible changes - at that time it meant the ghetto. Her few memories from the time before that are bound up with songs: "Brinnele", "Dus Äppele", "Effn Hantchele", "Surele".
Sara Tenenberg and her sons
in Israel in the fifties.
Zwischn goldene Sangen
Treblinka These songs brought her closer to her mother. But not really, just as she was never really able to say goodbye to her. Or to ask her what it means to start a family. And she knows only one song that her father sang: "Die ganze Welt is mehr nischt wie a Maissele...(Ein Ballade fîn Hînger în Noit)" - the whole world is no more than a story.
Eine Ballade fin Hinger in Noit
Thinking about her parents today means thinking about Treblinka.
Cestochowa, Poland, was Sara´s hometown. Moniek Tenenberg, a neighborhood friend from there became her husband. She still remembers his songs from the ghetto. He was the only one she met on her return, who knew where they had lived -- her house was no longer standing, there was no longer anyone there, this town was no longer her hometown.
They walked hundreds of kilometers to Ainring, Bavaria, to a Displaced Persons Camp. People were crowded into a tiny space, but songs were still sung. Here she heard such songs as "Neshumele dî mains". Muniek sang a lot -- and he sang wonderfully: "Ahaim, ahaim", "Zwischn goldene Sangen", Wail asoi mîss es sain... Sara heard some songs only once, but they stayed in her head.
Neshumele dî mains
Wail asoi mîss es sain
She also heard "Jidisher Tango" only once, sung by Mizzi Spielmann. Like Sara she was a prisoner in Division 7 of the Groß Rosen concentration camp. This Viennese opera singer had to sing for the camp commanders and the SS. Once, however, nobody was watching and Mizzi was able to sing for her fellow prisoners -- the only song she sang in Yiddish.
It is impossible to trace all the twists and turns of Sara's life. She heard songs in Paris, in Israel, she sang with her husband, with friends and always remembered the years of her lost childhood in Poland. She knows old folksongs, also in Polish and French, communist and zionist songs of battle, Hebrew songs of hope -- hundreds of songs that she never forgot. Of all her songs, those in Yiddish were the most forlorn, because they no longer had a home. "Budapescht" for example or the little "Gassn Singer" which she found in a 10 groszy (approximately a cent) song book. Those 10 groszys were like a pocket full of money for a little girl, and at that time a Yiddish hit in Poland was as exciting as a hit from the Backstreet Boys is today. And what should she do with these songs after the war? Where should they be sung? In the kitchen for the children.
Sara Bialas-Tenenberg has just turned 70 years old. I am happy that she sings at the beginning and at the end of the CD. If her life had been easier, perhaps she would have made a record decades ago. For the little girl invested all her money consisting of 10 groszy in a little song book. Back then -- before Germany attacked Poland. And when there were no more song books, all the words and melodies remained in her head.
On May 9, 1995 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of her liberation from the concentration camp. And we also sang: "Sug nischt kainmul as dî gaist dem letztn Weg".
I am grateful for what Karsten and his friends have done: keeping my songs alive. I am one of the few of my generation who grew up with Yiddish and experienced the horror of the extermination camps. And now, perhaps, the songs will remain when I am no longer around.