Song

Our Town is Burning

Original Title: Undzer shtetl brent!

Performer: Daniel Kempin
Lyricist: Mordecai Gebirtig
Composer: Mordecai Gebirtig

Mordecai Gebirtig, born in 1877 in Krakow, Poland, was a Yiddish folk poet and songwriter.

He wrote "Undzer shtetl brent!" in 1936, following a pogrom in the Polish town of Przytyk. During the war, the song became popular in the Krakow ghetto and inspired young people to take up arms against the Nazis. It was sung in many ghettos and camps, and translated into Polish and several other languages. Gebirtig was killed in June 1942 during a roundup for deportation from the Krakow ghetto.

Today, "Undzer shtetl brent!" remains one of the most performed commemorative songs.

It's burning, brothers! It's burning!
Oh, our poor village, brothers, burns!
Evil winds, full of anger,
Rage and ravage, smash and shatter;
Stronger now that wild flames grow --
All around now burns!
And you stand there looking on
With futile, folded arms
And you stand there looking on --
While our village burns!

It's burning, brothers! It's burning!
Oh, our poor village, brothers, burns!
Soon the rabid tongues of fire
Will consume each house entire,
As the wild wind blows and howls --
The whole town's up in flames!
And you stand there looking on
With futile, folded arms,
And you stand there looking on --
While our village burns!

It's burning, brothers! Our town is burning!
Oh, God forbid the moment should arrive,
That our town, with us, together,
Should go up in ash and fire,
Leaving when the slaughter's ended
Charred and empty walls!
And you stand there looking on
With futile, folded arms,
And you stand there looking on --
While our village burns!

It's burning, brothers! Our town is burning!
And our salvation hands on you alone.
If our town is dear to you,
Grab the buckets, douse the fire!
Show that you know how!
Don't stand there, brothers, looking on
With futile, folded arms,
Don't stand there, brothers, douse the fire! --
Our poor village burns!