Poets of the Warsaw Ghetto

Solomon “of Smotche,” 1929 ? -1942 ?
Very little is know about the author of this poem. The untitled fragment found in the Ringelblum Archive identifies him as Solomon Age 13, Smotche June 2, 1942.

Raisl (Rachel) Zhikhlinski, 1910-2001
Zhikhlinski was born in Gombin, Poland. Her father was a tanner. He went to America for the third time in 1924 and died in Chicago in 1928. Her religious mother did not want to emigrate to a land where her children would work on Sabbath. Raisl’s mother and her children and grandchildren were gassed in Chelmno. Raisl studied with private teachers in a Polish folkshul. In 1935 she worked in an orphanage in Vlotslavek. During WWII she left Warsaw and with her husband, an MD, fled to Russia. In 1947 they went back to Poland and then Lodz. She lived in Paris, 1948 to 1951 and since 1951 in America where she worked in a factory then finished High School and City College in New York. She was published in “Haynt” and “Moment” among other journals. Her first book Lider, (“Poems) was also published by the Yiddish Pen Club in 1936 in Warsaw, and was published widely after coming to Canada. She also produced seven books in Yiddish. A collection of her poems, God Hid His Face was published in 1997. It consists of her Yiddish poems translated to English.

Simkha Bunin Shayevitch, 1907-1944
Born in Letshitz Poland into a poor religious family that moved to Lodz, Simkha learned to make gloves. His father and mother died soon after being in the Lodz Ghetto. His poetic talent blossomed in the most impoverished circumstances of Ghetto life. His poem, Lekh Lekha, (“Go Forth”) in which he tells his little girl Blimele, (“Little Flower”), that it is time to go to the trains is one of the most moving and famous pieces of Holocaust poetry in Yiddish. Much of his writing in the Ghetto, including his diary, were never found. His wife and small daughter were taken to Auschwitz from the Ghetto in 1942. He was taken in 1944 to Auschwitz, then to the concentration camp “Kaufering”, where he died of typhus. Shayevitch wrote stories and poetry. A book was published and printed in 1939, but never could be distributed under Nazi occupation. It disappeared.

Zusman Segalovitch, 1884-1949
Segalovitch was born in Bialystock, Russian Poland to a family of Rabbis. He went to private school and studied at home. He worked in an iron business and chalk factory and was active in “Bund” organizing workers and strikes in Bialystock. He was arrested often and served time in prisons. He began writing in Russian, then Yiddish. After the pogrom in Bialystock in 1904 he moved with his parents to Lodz where he published many poems which were well received. His poem Reyzele dem Shoikhets, (“The Butcher’s Daughter”) became a popular song . His poems appeared in many newspapers: Warsaw Haynt, (“Today”), Lodz Tsayt, (“Times”), New York Tog, (“Day”) and London Tsayt (“Times”) as well as in poetry collections. He wrote popular novellas and became vice president and president of the Yiddishe Shrayber Fareyn, (“Yiddish Literary Union”) in Warsaw at 13 Tlomatskie St. In 1939 he left Warsaw on the same railroad car as other Yiddish writers. He then wandered through Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Syria and arrived in Palestine (Israel) in 1941.There he published his famous poem of mourning Dortn, (“There”). His once light hearted voice was muted as he became a powerful mourner for those he had left behind to tragic fate. He came to New York in 1947 and was officially welcomed there. But he wrote about being isolated and alone there and on September 9, 1948, he died suddenly, alone in his hotel room. The destruction of European Jewry was the nightmare he carried.

Source: www.poetryinhell.org

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