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Gallery 7: Holocaust, 1939–1944

Jews resisted the dehumanizing conditions of the Warsaw ghetto in many ways, among them in poetry and song. Coolies describes the plight of Jewish rickshaw drivers in the ghetto: “A Jew can be a coolie, too … He’s been tested by good and bad … [He] stands tall despite his troubles. He pulls it all around.” Sh. Sheynkinder wrote the YiddishYiddishthe historic Jewish vernacular of Ashkenazi Jews, a fusion of German dialects, Hebrew and Aramaic, and Judeo-Romance and Slavic languages. The beginnings of Yiddish are in the Rhineland in the Middle Ages. About 13 million people spoke Yiddish before the Second World War. words, which were sung to a prewar “Chinese” tune. Diana Blumenfeld, who performed this song in the Warsaw ghetto, ghetto theaters, sang this song on Polish radio right after the war. Her performance can be heard here, accompanied by German film footage of bicycle rickshaws in the Warsaw ghetto.