Yad Vashem Heartstrings. Music of the Holocaust

Es brent - Fire

Lyrics and Music: Mordkhay Gebirtig

Es brent - Fire

The song was recorded for the Jewish Historical Commission, Munich, 1946. The name of the singer was not recorded.

Kaczerginski published the song in his book “Lider fun di Ghettos un Lagern” (1948, lyrics p. 330, music p. 424).  The song was published with an English translation by Mlotek and Gottlieb, “Mir Seinen Da” (1983, p. 12).  The song was also published with a Hebrew translation by Z. Barmeir under the title “Our Town Burns” in Prager, “Min Hametzar Karati” (1954, p. 194), and with the translation of Abraham Levinson in Horwitz, “Min Hametzar” (1987, p. 10-11), and in several other anthologies.

The song became one of the most well-known and performed songs in Holocaust memorial ceremonies along with the Partisans’ Hymn. 

The song was composed by Mordkhay Gebirtig (1877-1942) in 1938. It was written in response to a pogrom in the Polish town of Przytyk. The song became a prophetic song of the impending Holocaust. Gebirtig was murdered in the Cracow ghetto in June 1942.

The song describes the burning of the Jewish town. The poet calls upon the Jews not to stand idly by, but to be proactive and put out the fire that is consuming their precious town. They should extinguish the fire and demonstrate to the world that they can take care of themselves!


Es brent

S'brent! briderlekh, s'brent!
Oy, undzer orem shtetl nebekh brent!
Beyze vintn mit yirgozn
Raytn, brekhn un tseblozn
Shtarker nokh di vilde flamen,
Alts arum shoyn brent.

Un ir shteyt un kukt azoy zikh
Mit farleygte hent,
Un ir shteyt un kukt azoy zikh –
Undzer shtetl brent!

S'brent! briderlekh, s'brent!
Oy, undzer orem shtetl nebekh brent!
S'hobn shoyn di fayertsungen
Dos gantse shtetl ayngeshlungen –
Un di beyze vintn huzhen,
Undzer shtetl brent!

Un ir shteyt un kukt azoy zikh...

S'brent! briderlekh, s'brent!
Oy, es ken kholile kumen der moment,
Undzer shtot mit undz tsuzamen
Zol af ash avek in flamen,
Blaybn zol - vi nokh a shlakht,
Nor puste, shvartse vent.

Un ir shteyt un kukt azoy zikh...

S'brent! briderlekh, s'brent!
Di hilf iz nor in aykh aleyn gevendt,
Oyb dos shtetl iz aykh tayer,
Nemt di keylim, lesht dos fayer,
Lesht mit ayer eygn blut,
Bavayzt, az ir dos kent.

Shteyt nisht brider, ot azoy zikh
Mit farleygte hent,
Shteyt nit, brider, lesht dos fayer – Undzer shtetl brent!

The online exhibition was made possible through the generous support of:

Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.

Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria, other governments, and certain industry; recovered unclaimed German Jewish property; and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.