by | 22 November 2023 | Events, Exhibitions

Public Performance: Yiddish Glory and Songs from Testimonies

September 6 @ 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm


As part of the closed “Bloody Folklore” Workshop on New Research on Music, Archives and the Holocaust, The Wiener Holocaust Library, the Yale Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, The Holocaust Research Institute at Royal Holloway, University of London, World ORT Music and the Holocaust, the Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre and the UCL Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies are delighted to host two musical performances by Yiddish Glory and Songs from Testimonies. Attendance is free, but because space is limited and registration below is required.


The Yale Fortunoff Songs From Testimonies project collects and records songs and poems discovered in our testimonies. Zisl Slepovitch took the songs, conducted research about their origins, then arranged and recorded versions with his ensemble, featuring Sasha Lurje. The songs and poems you will hear were sung or recounted in a number of testimonies and reflect the richness of these documents. They are songs from the interwar period and from the ghettos and the camps. Originally, these songs were sung individually and collectively, but in survivors’ testimonies they are recounted or performed by individuals. They thus remind us that the survivor singing them represents all those who did not survive to sing again, and remind us of the absence of the original audience.


Historian Anna Shternshis (University of Toronto) and singer/violinist Alice Zawadzki, bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado, and pianist Bruno Heinen bring to life long lost Yiddish songs of World War II in this all-new concert and lecture program. Collected by Moisei Beregovsky and other academics of the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture, these previously unknown Yiddish songs were confiscated and hidden by the Soviet government in 1949, and have only recently come to light. They tell stories of how Soviet Jews lived and died under the German occupation, used music to document Nazi atrocities, fought in the Red Army, worked in the home front in Central Asia, and made sense of it all through Yiddish music. None of these songs was known until they were accidentally discovered in the basement of the Ukrainian National Library in the 1990s. The lecture/concert features the performance of these previously unknown materials, thus giving voices to Soviet Jewish women, children, and men who never got to tell their stories, but left us their incredible songs.