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[Page 215 - Yiddish] [Page 7 - Hebrew]

A word from the editor

by M.K.

Translated by Moses Milstein

Quietly they lived, and quietly they died, the martyrs of the Jewish community of Krasnobrod, near Zamosc.

Quietly lived the shtetl and the Jewish community within, so quietly, like hundreds and thousands of other Jewish communities in Europe.

Quietly the martyrs perished in her, as quietly as hundreds and thousands of other Jewish communities in Europe.

Quietly they lived, the ordinary Jews, the kindhearted Jewish common people, storekeepers, businessmen, workers, musicians, teachers, grocers, and peddlers.

Quietly they perished while the whole world was in chaos, while mighty powers were engaged in a struggle to the death, and turned a blind eye to the disappearance of the Jewish people.

Quietly they lived, the kind and true Jewish mothers, and the still greater Jewish mothers who gave their lives to save their children.

Quietly they perished while the smell of their burning flesh issued from the ovens of the crematoria and spread over the whole world, and the mighty did not turn away and ask: who is it that is being burned alive?

Quietly they lived, the rabbis and scholars who subsisted on little, and devoted their days and nights to the Jewish Torah–moral foundation of the world.

Quietly they died, and the death throes of their bodies made the freshly dug earth heave.

Quietly they lived, the illiterate, the poor, butchers and their young helpers, the carriage drivers and horse handlers who loved to drink and break into a Hasidic dance.

Quietly they perished while the gas, which filled their lungs, crept into the palaces of the victors, and the “saviors of mankind” covered their nostrils with silk handkerchiefs and refused to ask whose lungs are being devoured.

Quietly they lived, the Jewish boys and girls who pined for revolutions, measured themselves against traditions thousands of years old, who yearned for a homeland, and left for lands far away.

Quietly they died while their brothers and sisters in other ghettoes raised the flag of revolt against the Nazi beasts.

Quietly there lived a Jewish congregation with simple longings; bread for wife and child, a book for the soul.

Quietly they perished, and quiet Europe became without Jews.

But in their quiet death they left us their will; to deliver their helpless cry to the world, and to deny rest to those who, with full knowledge, eliminated Jewish life in Europe.

We must not forget their lives and martyrdom. May it shine in our memories, and give strength to all those who lived through it without losing their humanity, and emerged alive from the fiery furnace.

Do not look for fine literature, or thrilling narratives in this book. Ordinary people wrote this, about ordinary lives that quietly passed away. Quiet lives, but very simple and beautiful.

These quiet lives, cut short before their time, demand: Remember them, pray for the exaltation of their souls.

––Yitgadal v'yitkadash


[Page 217 - Yiddish] [Page 9 - Hebrew]

Sing![1]
(fragment)

by Itzchak Katznelson

Translated by Moses Milstein

“Sing, sing it one last time still here on the earth, throw back
your head, fix your eyes hard upon it
and sing it one last time, play it on the harp:
There are no more Jews! Murdered and gone for good!”

-- How can I sing? How can I raise the staring eyes
in my head? A frozen tear
has gathered in my eye…it struggles, struggles
to fall from my eye–but it cannot fall, God, my God!

“Sing, sing, raise your gaze to the blind heavens high above
As if there was a God there in the sky…wink at him, wink–
As if good fortune still shone its light upon us there!
Sit on the ruins of our murdered people and sing!

How can I sing–when the world is desolate for me?
How can I play with wringing hands?
Where are my dead? I search for my dead, God, in every pile of dirt
In every hill of ashes–O tell me where you are?

Shout out from every heap of sand, from under every rock,
From every bit of dust, from all the flames, from every wisp of smoke–
It is your blood and sap, it is the marrow from your bones,
It is your skin and bone! Shout it out, shout loud!

[Page 218]

Shout from entrails of the animals in the forest, from fish in the river–
They consumed you, shout from the crematoria, young and old shout,
I want a shriek, a cry of woe, a voice, I want your voice,
Shout, murdered Jewish people, shout, shout it out!

Don't cry to heaven–He hears you like the earth, like a heap of refuse,
Don't cry to the sun, nor speak to the light…ach, if I could
Extinguish it as one extinguishes a lamp in the miserable murderer's cave!
My people, you shone more, you shone brighter!

O appear to me my people, show yourselves, stretch out your hands
From the graves deep and miles long and densely packed
Layer upon layer, covered with lime and burned,
Up! Up! Arise from the deepest, bottom-most layer!

Come you all from Treblinka, from Sobibor, from Auschwitz
From Belzec come, come from Ponary and from yet more, from more, from more!
With eyes wide open, a frozen cry, a shriek without a voice,
Come from the earth, from deep sunken mud, from rotted moss–

Come the desiccated, the mutilated, the ground-up, array yourselves,
In a circle-dance, a large circle around me, a giant hoop–
Grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers with children on their laps–
Come Jewish bones from powders, from pieces of soap.

Show yourselves, all of you, to me, all come, come
I want to see you all, I want to look at you, I want
To look at my murdered people, in silence, silenced–
And I will sing…yes…bring me the harp–I am playing!

3”5.10.1943


Translator's note

  1. Itzchak Katznelson was a well known and beloved poet in Yiddish and Hebrew. This fragment is from his poem, “Dos Lied Funem Oisgehargetn Yiddishen Folk,” “The Song of the Murdered Jewish people.” He was murdered by the Germans in Auschwitz in 1944. return


[Page 219 - Yiddish] [Page 11 - Hebrew]

Introduction

Translated by Moses Milstein

With feelings of apprehension and reverence, we pass on this book–dedicated to the martyrs of our shtetl, Krasnobrod–to all those who were connected by an unbreakable bond to the Jewish community of Krasnobrod.

With some financial help, and the work of dedicated assistants, we succeeded in putting out this book. We tried our best to transmit and portray the life of our parents going back several generations, up to the last days of destruction.

With love and respect, and in plain language, we endeavored to pass on the stories from our parents about the generations that lived long ago. We have gathered together every memory about them, every legend, every occurrence, and memorialized them in this book.

The book fulfills another important task by gathering together the testimony and materials relating to the terrible Hitler years, the years of death and destruction. We are aware of how important it is to forever remember this era, to tell the terrible truth about the suffering our people endured in the Hitler years.

We believe that with this book, we have accomplished two things: to make sure that the greater, non–Jewish world will not forget what they have done to us; and that we will never forget what the Amalek–German did to us.

The book is published in the two languages near and dear to our people: In Hebrew, so that the younger generation who were raised in that language can look into the past, and derive inspiration from Jewish tradition, beliefs, and morality. And in Yiddish, to enable those brought up in the language to return to those wonderful years of their youth. To walk again around the little shtetl streets, to meet those near and dear people, to feel the atmosphere of love and devotion, and to better understand and feel the pain and tragedy that afflicted us all.

We believe that this book will be received with thanks and veneration, as a cherished reminder of everything that has now disappeared. Just as our parents and grandparents used to write the yohrzeits of the departed on the title pages of holy books, this book will remind us of the yohrzeit of the martyrs. With the yohrzeit light shining, anyone turning the pages of this book will remember, with holy trembling, the martyrs who died “al kiddush–haShem v'ha'am.”

 

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