Es Falt der Liber Vinter (Here Comes our Beloved Winter)

A song from the Lodz Ghetto. 

The song was composed by Yankele Hershkowitz in the ghetto.  A version of 11 verses of this song was published in the book “Der Gezang fun Lodzer Geto”, 1994, pp. 25-30 (in Yiddish). A shorter version of the song was published by Gila Flam in “Singing for Survival”, 1992, pp. 85-88, who recorded two verses and a refrain from Yaakov Rotenberg (1928- ), a survivor of the Lodz ghetto (includes English translation and musical notes).  In this version recorded for the Jewish Historical Commission, Munich 1946, the singer, Naphtali Freedman, sings 4 verses and a refrain, almost identical to the version published in 1994 (verses 1, 2, 4, and 5).

The song describes the first winter of the ghetto in 1940-1941.With the arrival of winter, the inhabitants broke their furniture to use the wood for heating.  Money ran out and hunger began to eat away at the ghetto’s population. The food distributed in the ghetto included grits and pieces of horsemeat. The issue of horsemeat appears in some of the songs from the ghetto because of the halakhic problem it raised in terms of eating non-kosher meat in life threatening situations. Times have changed in the ghetto, and the festival of “Simchat Torah” (Rejoicing with the Torah) has inauspiciously arrived. The song comments on those who were able to get better jobs and better food since they were more closely affiliated with the ghetto authorities.  Whoever works at the “provision” (food distribution place) gets better food.  One cannot live off of the allowance of 12 marks, and all one can do is wait and hope for better news.

The refrain asks a rhetorical question: what can we Jews do in such times?

The melody is taken from another Yiddish folksong and entails typical Yiddish musical characteristics.

S'falt der liber vinter,
S'khapt a shrek, a moyre.
Nisht keyn gelt un nisht keyn paltn,
S'makht zikh simkhes-toyre.
Kh'hob tsehakt di shenk shoyn
Mit di shvigers betn,
Kh'hob nor bloyz gehat af groypn
Un af ferds-fleysh kotletn.

Vos zol men tun yidn
Az es iz aza min klog.
Vos zol men tun, yidn
Broyt tsu esn yedn tog,
Az der mogn vil nisht visn
Fun keyn geto zakh,
Nor er shrayt un er farlangt
Tsu esn zeyer a sakh.

Mayns a shokhn arbet
In di aprovizatsie,
Ir darft zen bay im est men
A mitog mit a kolatsie.
Na beser tut men esn
Fish mit gute fleyshn,
Un af puter tut men dort
A hindele tsu reyshn.

Vos zol men tun yidn…

Mit di tsvelever markn
Iz dokh shver tsu lebn.
Me volt gedarft di tsvelever markn
Tsvey mol in der vokh tsu gebn
Biz me zet di gazhe
Glotst men mit di oygn,
Biz me zet dem posttreger
Vert men tsugetsoygn.

Vos zol men tun yidn

Holts iz an artikl,
Tayerer vi briliyantn,
S'raysn breter fun di pleter
Groyse fabrikantn.
Anshtot koyln vinter
Vet do zayn vigodes:
Vet men teyln fun vaser
Vos me nitst tsu liyades.