Songs in Camps

Question:

I am doing a school project on the Holocaust and I was wondering if you knew of any songs that the Jews sang in the concentration camps? This information would be very helpful. Thank you so very much.

Sara Salzman Responds:

Thanks for writing to the Holocaust History Project. I'm one of the volunteers who answers questions. You may also receive replies from other volunteers.

I know of two songs that were sung in the concentration camps. One was a song about the Passover holiday called "In the Land of the Pyramids," which told the story of how the jews were enslaved by the evil Pharoh, and then escaped to freedom. The last verse said something like "who will save us now that we are in slavery again?"

The song was sung in Yiddish.

The other song, also in Yiddish was called "Peat Bog Soldiers," It was written in one of the camps, about the inmates who were marched out of camp every day to cut peat. The Yiddish name is "Moorsoldaten." The words go something like this:

"Far and wide as the eye can wander, peat and bog are everywhere. Not a bird sings out to cheer us, oaks are standing, gaunt and bare.

(Chorus): We are the peat bog soldiers, marching with our spades to the bog.

Up and down the guards are pacing, no one, no one can go through. Flight would mean a sure death facing guns and barbed wire greet our view.

(Chorus)

But for us there is no complaining, winter will in time be passed. One day we will cry rejoicing, 'Homeland, dear, you're mine at last.'

Then will the peat bog soldiers march no more with their spades to the bog.

Interestingly, if you want to know how the tune to this one goes, listen to the music at the beginning of the film "The Great Escape." They combined the music from Peat Bog Soldiers with a more upbeat, "patriotic-sounding" theme.

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me.

Sara Salzman

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