Partisans' of the Vilno (Vilniuss) Ghetto battle anthem

Zog Nit Keynmol | Песня Еврейских Партизан | Never Say

‘Zog nit keynmol...', also known as ‘The Song of the Jewish Partisans’, is perhaps the best-known Yiddish song created during the Holocaust, it was written by the young Vilna poet Hirsh Glik, and based on a pre-existing melody by the Soviet-Jewish composer Dimitri Pokrass. Inspired by the news of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, the song was adopted as the official anthem of the Vilna partisans shortly after it was composed in 1943, and spread with remarkable rapidity to other ghettos and camps.  The song is powerful and defiantly optimistic, acknowledging Jewish suffering in the past and present, and urging the Jewish people to continue fighting for their survival.

"Zog nit keymol" became a worldwide known song a few years after the war. The hymn has been translated into dozens of languages.

Paul Robeson - famous Black communist singer from the U.S. unexpectedly performed this song in Moscow in 1949, called "Song of the Warsaw Ghetto" - half in English, half in Yiddish - right in the midst of the "fight against cosmopolitanism." His gesture was not accidental - during his visit, Robeson was persistently interested in the fate of two of his comrades from the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee: Solomon Mikhoels*, who had been shot by that time, and Itzik Fefer** who was in prison. Together they have been fundraising in support of the the Red Army in 1943 in the U.S. This gesture of singing this song complicated the Robeson's relationship with the Soviet elite.

The militant life of the song continued in 2019, when more than 1,000 of Jewish activists and sympathizers blocked the traffic in downtown Boston, protesting against migrant prisons. Referring to the history of humiliation, wanderings, deportations of Jews, they chanted "Never again" and sang "Zog Nit Keynmol".

For the Partisan Jam version we have invited a virtuoso percussionist from Salento - maestro Vito de Lorenzi, who who's grandfather was an Italian partisan fighting in a regiment in Albania. The video accompanying the song is based on a series of drawings by Moscow-based artist Haim Sokol, elaborating on his father's partisan memoirs .

Zog Nit Keynmol

text by Hirsh Glik

translation: unknown

Never say that you are walking the final road,
Though leaden skies obscure blue days;
The hour we have been longing for will still come,
Our steps will drum – we are here!

From green palm-land to distant land of snow,
We arrive with our pain, with our sorrow,
And where a spurt of our blood has fallen,
There will sprout our strength, our courage.

The morning sun will tinge our today with gold,
And yesterday will vanish with the enemy,
But if the sun and the dawn are delayed –
Like a watchword this song will go from generation to generation.

This song is written with blood and not with lead,
It’s not a song about a bird that is free,
A people, between falling walls,
Sang this song with pistols in their hands.

So never say that you are walking the final road
Though leaden skies obscure blue days.
The hour we have been longing for will still come –
Our steps will drum – we are here!


* Solomon (Shloyme) Mikhoels (Yiddish:שלמה מיכאעלס‎ [also spelled שלוימע מיכאעלס during the Soviet era], Russian:Cоломон (Шлойме) Михоэлс, 16 March [O.S.4 March] 1890 – 13 January 1948) was a SovietJewish actor and the artistic director of the Moscow State Jewish Theater. Mikhoels served as the chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee during World War II. However, as Joseph Stalin pursued an increasingly anti-Semitic line after the War, Mikhoels's position as a leader of the Jewish community led to increasing persecution from the Soviet state. He was assassinated in Minsk in 1948 by order of Stalin

** Itzik Feffer(10 September 1900 – 12 August 1952), also Fefer (Yiddishאיציק פֿעפֿער,Russian Ицик Фефер, Исаàк Соломòнович Фèфер) was a SovietYiddish poet executed on the Night of the Murdered Poets during Joseph Stalin'spurges.



Haim Sokol | Moscow

Haim Sokol | Moscow

Haim is an artist and professor at the Moscow Rodchenko School of Photography and Multimedia, School of Design at the Higher School of Economics and member of the editorial board at the Moscow Art Magazine. He was born and grew up in...
Haim Sokol: The Uprising, 2018

Haim Sokol: The Uprising, 2018

For the Partizan Jam Haim Sokol proposed a series of 85 graphic works. With black ink-like expressive strokes on the standard A3 paper sheets artist "writes" a nightmarish story in which peoples' masses and wild creatures are struggling and fighting against brutal forces (or all against all). Crowds, haunted by the animals, are marching, lining up at the burials. And there is always an image of a little boy with a tiny sword and a square shield - apparently the protagonist of an unknown epos.

For Haim, the practice of drawing is a form of writing down - écrivez. That's also why the characters of his black and white graphic artworks often appear like written letters, characters of a phantasmal alphabet. His written down drawings are filled with encrypted actual stories. Thus The Uprising is based on the memories of artist's father, Dolik Sokol.

Haim tells: My father, as an 11-year-old boy, ended up in a ghetto in German-occupied Ukraine, narrowly escaped being shot, he fled, he hid and wandered, and eventually reunited with his parents, Nekha and Froym, in a partisan squad. As part of a partisan brigade, my future father fought until the liberation of Ukraine from the Nazis.

In The Uprising the enliven memories are mixed with live imagination. The true story of a little boy takes a shape of a myth or a fairytale, and turns into an epic. Here, as in a palimpsest, the anti-Roman uprising of Bar-Kokhba, the October Revolution and the World War II are mixed together. That's why the boy is holding a sword, and instead of a shield - a Black Square of Malevich.