Music From Testimonies

The open-ended format of our testimonies allowed for survivors and witnesses to tell their stories the way they want. Several of those interviewed recalled songs that were sung in ghettos, labor camps, and concentration camps and sang them on camera. The Fortunoff Archive is making a collection of these songs available, composed and arranged by musicologist and musician D. Zisl Slepovitch

Performers:
Sasha Lurje (vocals)
Joshua Camp (accordion, piano)
Dmitry Ishenko (contrabass)
D. Zisl Slepovitch (composition, arrangements, artistic direction, clarinet, alto saxophone, flute).

Liubov K.

Liubov K. (HVT-3280) was born in 1921 in Zvenigorodka, Ukraine. She was a teacher of Russian and German when Zvenigorodka was invaded and occupied in June 1941. She was forced to move into the town ghetto where she performed forced labor. She was later brought to a concentration camp in the village where she was forced to build roads and sort through the clothing of people who were murdered. She was treated very cruelly by the guards (one of them, Stepan, figures in two of the songs), but she and other prisoners were able to receive food from villagers outside the camp. Liubov and four of her friends were able to escape and a villager hid them until liberation. After the war, she worked a great deal towards the building of monuments at mass grave sites to commemorate the dead.

Composer and arranger D. Zisl Slepovitch writes:

The four pieces — two songs and two poems — performed by Liubov N. are unique historical documents telling the story of everyday struggle for survival at the Zvenigorodka concentration camp in Ukraine. The camp itself, the nearby village where the inmates used to escape to get food, and the name of their guard, Ukrainian collaborationist Stepan, consistently appear in two of the four texts.

The three Russian texts are quite poor, both grammatically and stylistically. That is an indicator of lyrics composed by non-native speakers who cannot always distinguish between phonetically similar words and therefore make syntactic and stylistic mistakes. One of the songs is written in macaronic German-Yiddish. It was likely an attempt to write in German by the Yiddish-speakers as the text is full of Yiddishisms.

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