Shtiler, Shtiler (Quiet, Quiet)

Lyrics: Shmerke Kaczerginski
Melody: Alexander Volkoviski (Tamir)

Shtiler, Shtiler (Quiet, Quiet)

The song was published by Shmerke Kaczerginski in his anthology, Lider fun di Getos un Lagern (1948): the lyrics appear on page 88, the melody on page 385. The song was also published in Eleanor Mlotek and Malke Gottlieb’s anthology, Mir Zaynen Do (We Are Here, 1983: p. 46) with transliteration, translation to English and musical notes. The song was published in Hebrew translation by the poet Abraham Shlonsky in Moshe Prager’s anthology Min Hametzar Karati (1954: p.95) as well as Ernst Horowitz’s Min Hametzar (1987, p. 44).

The song’s lyrics were written in the Vilna ghetto by Kaczerginski – an educator, author, poet and partisan. The accompanying melody was written by Alexander Volkovitski (today Tamir) when he was 11 years old, winning a Judenrat competition in April 1943 encouraging cultural endeavors in the ghetto.

The song describes the events at Ponary as a mother singing a lullaby to her son. She tells him of the tragedy of Vilna but expresses her hope that from the darkness light will break forth.

The song is a kind of lullaby to the “graves” that were born after the massacre of Vilna’s Jews at Ponary. In the first verse, the mother asks her son not to cry over the disappearance of his father because their enemies would not understand. In the second verse, with the coming of spring, the son is also sent to his death. The third verse and the end of the song finds the mother promising her son that the sun will shine once more, and freedom will come and bring back his missing father.

Lullabies had long been one of the most popular Yiddish song genres. They formed part of the Yiddish theater tradition since Abraham Godfadn’s popular lullaby “Rozhinkes mit mandlen” (Raisins and Almonds), also based on folk lullaby. Most of the lullabies told of a missing father, with the mother soothing her child to sleep and telling him of better days and a brighter future awaiting him. During the Holocaust, this tradition became fertile ground for a new kind of lullaby based either on popular melodies or new ones, as in this case.

According to a note in Kaczerginski’s book, the song was performed in the Vilna ghetto by the choir, conducted by A. Slep, as well as by the partisans. The song won popularity among Holocaust survivors, and became one of the most performed songs on Holocaust remembrance days.

The song is presented here in two performances, from recordings by the Jewish Historical Commission, Munich, 1946.

01. Shmerke Kaczerginski
02. Betty Segal

Shtiler, shtiler, lomir shvaygn
Kvorim vaksn do.
S'hobn zey farflantst si sonim:
Grinen zey tsum blo.
S'firn vegn tsu ponar tsu,
S'firt keyn veg tsurik,
Iz der tate vu farshvundn
Un mit im dos glik.
Shtiler, kind mayns, veyn nit, oytser,
S'helft nit keyn geveyn,
Undzer umglik veln sonim
Say vi nit farshteyn.
S'hobn breges oykh di yamen,
S'hobn oykhet tfises tsamen,
Nor tsu undzer payn
Keyn bisl shayn.

Friling afn land gekumen,
Un undz harbst gebrakht.
Iz der tog haynt ful mit blumen,
Undz zet nor di nakht.
Goldikt shoyn der harbst af shtamen,
Blit in undz der tsar,
Blaybt faryosemt vu a mame,
S'kind geyt af ponar.
Vi di vilye a geshmidte
T'oykh geyokht in payn,
Tsien kries ayz durkh lite
Glaykh in yam arayn.
S'vert der khoyshekh vu tserunen
Fun der fintster layktn zunen
Rayter, kum geshvind
Dikh ruft dayn kind.

Shtiler, shtiler, s'kveln kvaln
Undz in harts arum.
Biz der toyer vet nit faln
Muzn mir zayn shtum.
Frey nit, kind, zikh, s'iz dayn shmeykhl
Itst far undz farrat,
Zol dem friling zen der soyne
Vi in harbst a blat.
Zol der kval zikh ruik flisn
Shtiler zay un hof…
Mit der frayheyt kumt der tate
Shlof zhe,kind mayn, shlof.
Vi der vilye a bafrayte,
Vi di baymer grin banayte
Laykht bald frayheyts-likht
Af dayn gezikht,
Af dayn gezikht.