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[Page 21]

The Song of
the Murdered Jewish People

Icchok Kacenelson

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Ostroff-Goldstein

Translation donated by Jane Prawda

How can I sing – so that the world will know?
How can I play with broken hands?
Where are my dead? G-d, I am searching for my dead,
In every hill of ash: - Oh, tell me, where are they?

Shout out from the sand, from under every stone,
From all the dust, shout, from all the flames, from all the smoke –
It is your blood and sap, it is the marrow from your bones,
It is your body and your life! Shout, Scream, loud!

Shout out from animal entrails in the forest, from fish in the river –
I want a shriek, an outcry, a voice from you,
They ate you. Scream from the lime kiln, scream small and big,
Scream murdered Jewish people, shout out!

Oh, alas, my people appear. Raise your hands
Out of the deep, mile long graves and sealed shut,
Layer upon layer, doused with lime and burned,
Up! Up! Ascend from the obstacle, the deepest layer!

Everybody come, from Treblinka, from Sobibor, from Ostrolenka,
From Belzec come, come from Ponar and from others, from others, from other!
With eyes torn open, raise a cry and without a voice,
Come from the swamps, from deep in the mud, from Poland -

Come, you who are drained, ground down, crushed. Come. Stand up,
In a circle, a large circle around me, one large ring –
Grandfathers, grandmothers, mothers with babies in their wombs –
Come, Jewish babies of powder, of a bit of soap.

I am the man who watched, who saw
How men threw my children, my wives, my young, my old
Into wagons, like stones you were flung in there, like discards,
And they beat you without pity and spoke to you as wantons.

And now? You see wagons, trucks now, you watch,
You silent witness of such burdens and of such pain and of such distress!
Silent and closed, you watched, Oh, tell me wagons, where
You are traveling to. You the people, the Jewish people, have departed to death?

The first killed were the children, forlorn, little orphans. They are called
The best of the world, the most beautiful that the dark earth possesses!
Oh, from the loneliest little orphans and children's homes should grow our comfort, from the cheerless, mute, little faces, the gloominess will not be allowed to take us!

They were the first to be taken to their deaths, the first ones on the wagon,
Men threw all of them in the wagons, like a handful of garbage, like rubbish –
And took them away, murdered them, destroyed them, there is no trace
Of them, of my best, no more remains! Akh, alas, woe is me!

The sun will rise once more over small villages in Lithuania and Poland never to meet a Jew again
A light in the dark, an old man, a man reciting a chapter of Psalms, a man going into the synagogue -
After all, the peasants will travel in wagons on all the roads, they will travel to the fair after all,
So many gentiles – good gracious! Yet more than before! And the market, the market is dead. The market is full and is not full!

There is no longer a Jew to beautify the fair for great distances around, they are no longer lively, there is no longer any spirit
And no longer will a Jewish long, black coat flap over the market with a sack of potatoes, flour and grain, and a Jewish hand
Will no longer raise a pot, a soft chicken, caress a calf…the peasant a drunk, whips
His horse in grief pulls the full wagon back to the village… gone! Gone, there are no longer any Jews in the country!

And Jewish children – they will not wake up from sleeping, from dreams, every one of them bright in the morning –
They will no longer go to school, no longer let their minds wander, no longer play pranks, no longer play in the sand,
Oh, you Jewish youngsters, oh, bright eyes! Little angels…where are you from? From here, in this town? And not from here!
Oh, beautiful young girl, your brightness, your neatness, everything in order, your little face is not messy.

They are gone already! Oh, on the other side of the ocean, do not ask, do not search in Kasrylewka, nor in Jehupiec…leave it alone!
Do not search for any one…not the Menachem-Mendels, the Tuwia Milkhikers, the Szlama Nagids, the Motke ganefs, oh, do not search!
Like your prophets, Jeshaja, Jermia, Jehezkiel, Hosza and Amos, from the eternal Bible
They will cry out to you from Bialik, speak to you from Scholem Aleichem, from Scholem Ash, from one of their books.

It is that lost voice from the Torah no longer heard from any yeshivas, from any study house and pale yeshiva students,
Noble in learning, poring over the Talmud,deep in thought…no, no, not pale, there is such a glow!
Already extinguished…rabbis, heads of yeshivas, Jews studying, geniuses thin, dry, weak and full of Talmud,
With post Talmudic commentators, small Jews with large heads, with high foreheads, clear eyes, they are already gone, they will no longer be.






[Page 29]

Introduction

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Ostroff Goldstein


The subjective element, those who experienced events and automatically, the individual manner of seeing events – puts a stamp on all the descriptions of the Czyzewer Jews and are factors, as they do not pretend to be all encompassing and answer all the problems that emerged in various eras.

Only the first articles about one-time Czyzewo are an attempt to find the synthesis of the economic development process of the Jewish community in Czyzewo. In all the articles, which are in the part “Between The Two World Wars”, there is a tendency to analyze the facts and events. These are imparted as memories, warm and simple. It is important to mention the proficiency, in all cases, of the people who wrote articles. Examples of this are the works about the Jewish Community Council and about Tzentos (children's homes/orphanages) and the Merchant's Union. They bring out important scholarly problems that first had to be systematically and fundamentally elaborated.

The memories about the Zionist youth organizations are told with love and enthusiasm. They can be useful not only in studies of the shtetl, but also in studying the Zionist movement in Poland.

The part “Way of Life” and Folklore takes you further into the large feuds caused by the Hasidim and Mitnagdim (those opposed to Hassidism) shoykhet (ritual slaughterer) and the various institutions, types of people and images that created the flavor of the village.

The important entries are the eyewitness accounts by those who miraculously were survivors and who describe clearly everything that happened during the Holocaust in the Czyzewo ghetto.

From the ghetto material you can see that the Germans were in no small measure responsible for precipitating the annihilation of morality. People forced Jews into physical closeness, in order to intensify their spiritual distance. It is true there was a moral decline by those who worked on behalf of the Germans. But there was no stealing and looting, no scenes of Jewish cruelty, of detachment from the suffering of brothers. There were also no cases of suicide.

There is an interesting description by I. Dawidowicz of the town today, almost twenty years after its destruction. “The screams of the murdered hang over the houses and people. The confusion that has been visited on the Poles is seen in all the misfortune that came to the town, the hand of justice and persecution for helping murder the Jews who truly built the town.”

One senses in the articles the reliability of the various people who brought out facts from oblivion.

The entire town was used as an important and valuable source of material. It serves the historian as a basis for research and scholarly synthesis and as a source to create material to illuminate our fundamental problems, but does not give any clear answers.

Despite the lack of analysis, these simple people created descriptions that give us a picture of life and death of the Jewish population in Czyzewo. The historian can learn about the way of life and the struggle led by the Czyzewo Jews to exist. Small articles, facts and figures give an idea about community activities that were of course led by parties (political) and organizations. The immense vitality, the great will to live and endure which existed even in the worst ghetto conditions will be found in these pages.

The characteristic common to all the articles, even the drier, documentary material, is the warmth with which they are written. This is the warmth of the Czyzewo Jew that he guards even in far off places.
Szymon Kanc



Shma Yisroel

(Hear, O Israel)

czy029.jpg [22 KB]

Take a look and see, there is such suffering here,
my suffering, that is my burden. (Lamentations)




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