Glik, Hirsh

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GLIK, Hirsh

Nationality: Russian. Born: Vilna, Lithuania, 1922. Education: Apprenticed in the paper business. Career: Worked in a hardware store; member, Young Vilna group of poets; editor and publisher, Yungvald, periodical of Young Vilna group; composed poems/songs of resistance, Vilna ghetto, early 1940s; forced to work in Estonian labor camps, c. 1941-43. Died: Presumed murdered, victim of the Holocaust, 1944.



Zog nit keynmol az du geyst dem letsten veg/Song of the Jewish Partisans in the Battle of the Ghetto, music by Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass (score). 1946; as The Hymn of Jewish Resistance, 1972.

Lider un poemes. 1953.

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Best known for his lyrics to the famous partisan song "Zog Nit Keynmol," the Lithuanian poet Hirsh Glik was a prominent poet and lyricist in the Vilna ghetto and related camps prior to his death in 1944. Born in Vilna in 1922, Glik was a member of the Young Vilna group of poets whose membership included Leyzer Volk, Chaim Grade, and Abraham Sutzkever. Writing in Yiddish, the Young Vilna poets were influenced by contemporary social issues (anti-Semitism, poverty) as well as deep connections to Jewish tradition, which were particularly strong in the city known as "the Jerusalem of Lithuania." Before the outbreak of World War II Glik had edited and published four issues of Yungvald (Young Forest), a periodical of the Young Vilna poets group.

Following the German conquest of Lithuania in 1941 Glik and his father were interned in the Vilna ghetto. Later relocated to the forced labor camp of Biala Vaka outside of Vilna, Glik continued to author poetry and song lyrics, and in 1943 he was sent back to the Vilna ghetto upon the liquidation of the forced labor camp. An active supporter of Jewish partisan activities, Glik emphasized in his poetry and song lyrics heroism as a source of identity and the strength of the Jewish community during times of adversity. Indicative of his works during the Holocaust are the lyrics to three songs: "Zog Nit Keynmol" ("Never Say That You Have Reached the Final Road"), "Shtil Di Nakht" ("The Silent Night Was Filled with Stars"), and "Dos Zangl" ("The Cornstalk"). In "Zog Nit Keynmol" and "Shtil Ki Nakht" Glik's lyrics represent Jewish partisans as fearless and determined, knowing that despite the dangers and risks they might encounter, their efforts eventually will lead to victory, such as in this excerpt from Shtil Ki Nakht: "Encouraged by her triumph in the battle,/For our free nation yet to come." "Dos Zangl," likely created in the Biala Vaka labor camp prior to its liquidation in 1943, looks to the future in a different way. A tender lyric about two young lovers whose separation will not weaken their affection for one another, "Dos Zangl" incorporates wedding rituals to emphasize the continuity of Jewish life despite the horrors of the Holocaust: "And the trees between them, too, stand like a wedding canopy." Although frequently ill Glik continued to write poetry and lyrics until the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto in October 1943. Later transferred to the Goldfeld labor camp in Estonia by the Germans, he escaped in 1944 but was not heard from again.

In the broader context of Holocaust literature Glik's work can be seen as an effort to sustain Jewish culture in the face of catastrophe while inspiring the Jewish community to rise up against oppression. Placing Glik's output within the historic development of Jewish poetry, more often than not his works represent a poetic tradition describing the struggles that Jews have endured as a minority group in predominantly Christian and Muslim societies. Less prominent in Glik's poetry, but still evident, are the symbols, rituals, and customs of Jewish life that must be maintained if Judaism is to survive in a hostile and changing world.

—William R. Fernekes

See the essay on Zog nit keynmol.