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Yankele Hershkowitz
Birth Date
July 1910
Birth Place
Opatov, Czech Republic
Death Date
Death Place
Łódź, Poland

Yankele Hershkowitz  Biography

Yankele Hershkovitsh was born in Opatov, East Bohemia, in July 1910.  His father was a tailor and Yankele accompanied him as he traveled around selling his goods.  In 1940, Yankele was deported to the recently-formed Łódź ghetto. He soon became the much-loved voice of the ghetto, singing in the courtyards and streets, and documenting and commenting on events.

Yankele Hershkovitsh was a one-man cabaret, offering social and political satire, humour and parodies of popular songs in response to daily life in the ghetto.  He was regarded as a troubadour, even a folk hero by an audience hungry not just for bread and potatoes, but also for freedom of expression.

His performances, like those of the ghetto theatre and Culture House, were censored by the Jewish authorities although they persisted until the end of 1942.  After the great deportations that year, Yankele Hershkovitsh could not remain on the streets, as no one could ‘pay’ him with food, so he found work at one of the ghetto factories and also continued his performances there.

Hershkovitsh was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. There he continued composing songs, such as ‘Shtubn Elster’ (Eldest of the Homes), which was eventually published in 1994.  From Auschwitz he was sent to various labour camps.  He was liberated in May 1945, following which he returned to Łódź where he lived until his death in 1972.

Hershkovitsh’s songs survived in manuscript form (though without the music) and 32 of them were published in Paris (in Yiddish) in 1994.  Around 20 other songs were recalled by survivors and published in Gila Flam’s book Singing for Survival.  They found a new audience after the War when they were performed in Europe and the USA.

2 Songs Composed by Yankele Hershkowitz

 2 Tracks Composed   Add songs to playlist
  • Amerike Hot Erklert
  • Vayl Ikh Bin A Yidele

4 thoughts on “Kaminos”

  1. Jim Borman says:

    Was Nicholas related to Alexander Saslavsky who married Celeste Izolee Todd?

  2. Mark Goldman says:

    Anyone have a contact email for Yair Klinger or link to score for Ha-Bayta?

  3. allan wolinsky says:

    wish to have homeland concert video played on the big screen throughout North America.

    can organize here in Santa Barbara California.

    contacts for this needed and any ideas or suggestions welcomed.

  4. Orien McKee says:

    Nat farber is my great grandpa 😊

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