Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hannah Roth: Shtil di Nakht iz Oysgeshternt (1942)

“We will not allow them to take us like sheep to the slaughter.”
Motto of the FPO

As promised in yesterday’s post, here is another Jewish partisan song by Hirsch Glick: Shtil di Nakht iz Oysgeshternt (“The Silent Night is Full of Stars”), composed in the summer of 1942 while in the Vilna Ghetto. The song’s hero is the Jewish female partisan, Vitka Kempner-Kovner [1920; Poland–2012; Israel], a founding member, along with her husband Abba Kovner, of the Fareynigte Partizaner Organizatsye, or FPO (United Partisan Organization), dedicated to Jewish armed resistance of the Nazis. The song is set to a Russian melody.

I believe the singer is Hannah Roth, and that she sung this in the 1960s, but I post this without confirmation or certainty of the singer. If this is incorrect, please let me know, and I will make the necessary correction, giving credit where it is due. Even so, I like this version the best of all that I found online. If you know of a better version, please let me know.

Shtil di Nakht iz Oysgeshternt 
by Hirsch Glick
[Yiddish transliteration]

Shtil di nakht iz oysgeshternt
un der frozt hat shtark gebrent,
Tsi gedenkstu vi ikh hob dikh gelernt,
haltn a shpayer in di hent.

A moyd, a peltsl un a beret,
un halt in hant fezt a nagan,
a moyd mit a zametenem ponim,
hit op dem soynes karavan.

Getsilt, geshozn un getrofn,
hot ir kleyninker piztoyl,
an oyto a fulinkn mit vofn,
farhaltn hot zi mit eyn koyl.

Fartog fun vald aroysgekrokhn,
mit shney girlandn oyf di hor,
gemutikt fun kleyninkn nitsokhn,
far undzer nayem frayen dor.

The Quiet Night is Full of Stars

The quiet night is full of stars
and the frost has strongly burned
Do you remember how I have taught you
how to hold a revolver in your hand?

A girl, a little fur coat and a beret
and she holds tight a Nagant pistol in her hand.
A girl with a face of velvet
watches for the enemy’s caravan.

Aimed, shot and met the traget
her little pistol did.
A car, nice and full with weapons
she stopped it with a bullet.

Before daybreak, she crawled out of the woods
with snow-garlands in her hair,
cheered on by the small, dear victory
for our new, free generation.

Hirsch Glick never that saw reality, but the heroine in the song, Vitka Kempner, did. She arrived in Palestine in July 1946, settling in Kibbutz Ein ha-Horesh, in central Israel, north of Netanya. Vitka Kempner and Abba Kovner married and had two children, Michael and Shlomit.

In 1965, almost 20 years after the State of Israel was established, Kempner-Kovner went to Bar Ilan University, studying psychology at the age of 45, completing two degrees in three years. Determination and perseverance. Afterward, she worked as a psychologist on the kibbutz, using her training and experience to educate and counsel children.

As the article in Jewish Women's Archive says, “she describes herself not as a survivor but only as strong. ‘I lived life fully, actively, without dragging grievances and offenses behind me.’ ”


  1. Yes, that's Hannah Roth. Her vocal phrasing is unique. Her CD "Jewish Traditional Songs (I canti del popolo ebraico)" is on itunes. Thank you.


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