Beyond the Walls
Rus Nerwich
: Project Founder and Director, Saxophonist
Andre Peterson: Pianist and Co-Arranger
Dominic Peters: Double Bass
Kevin Gibson: Drums
Belinda Silbert: Featured Vocalist
1.Dos Elnte Kind – The Lonely Child
Music: Yankl Krimski
Lyrics: Shmerke Kaczerginski

Poet and partisan, Shmerke Kaczerginski was perhaps best known for his courageous work in hiding and saving crucial volumes of sacred and scientific Jewish books - while forced to work in the infamous ‘Paper Brigades' that had to identify confiscated Jewish literature. After the war was over he took on the personal responsibility for the preservation of ghetto, partisan and concentration camp songs, and published possibly the first collection of this genre in Warsaw in 1947. This song was written in the ghetto by Kaczerginski and was dedicated to the child of a Jewish teacher who was hidden and raised by Gentiles.

2.Ziamele – Little Seed
Music and Lyrics: Unknown
Ziamele is the Yiddish word for “little seed”. A term of endearment, this name was given to a ghetto orphan whose name was unknown. With so many parents killed and transported to the camps, there were thousands of “Ziameles” wherever one looked, and when one looked again, there were thousands more. People did their best to care for these orphans, and support them. But the everyday struggle for survival was so intense and all-consuming that many Ziameles were left to fend for themselves, and each other.

3.Di Nakht – The Night
Music: Mikhl Gelbart
Lyrics: Aaron Domnits

The song was written by Gelbart and Domnits in New York in 1929, and found its way to European Jews before the War, as did many other Yiddish songs. As they were not allowed to express their experiences openly, Di Nakht's stark metaphoric forebodings of uncertainty, danger and despair carried particular relevance and significance. Significantly, the song was performed publicly by ‘ghetto nightingale' Liuba Levitska at the Vilna ghetto after massacres that had reduced the population of the ghetto to a third of its original size. Survivors remember that when Liuba sang Di Nacht for the stunned mourners at the Vilna ghetto, she had already survived beatings, deprivations, and other humiliations. Her ability to sing in the face of these dehumanizing practices was a unique form of resistance which gave solace and courage to those around her. “Opera is typically a dramatic style, but with this track we tried to capture not the celebrated performance voice of Liuba Levitska, but her introspective, personal empassioned voice. “Our interpretation of the piece - featuring Belinda Silbert, a Cape Town-based opera singer - is very much in tribute to the people like Liuba who used their art to uplift their communities even in the most desperate and horrific of circumstances,” says Rus.

Music: Misha Veksler
Lyrics: Leyb Rosenthal

Eleven-year old Yisrolik is a child peddler in the Vilna ghetto. He risks his life daily by sneaking outside the walls to find food and cigarettes in the city, smuggling the contraband goods back within the walls to give to his family, and to sell on the ghetto streets. There were literally thousands of Yisroliks in the Vilna and Warsaw ghettos, and their contribution to ghetto life cannot be undervalued. For many ghetto-dwellers, Yisrolilks were all that stood between them and starvation. And when the ghetto resistance movement organized their uprising, these Yisroliks bravely served as messengers and arms smugglers.
Yisrolik was the first song to appear in Vilna on a ghetto theme. It captures the brash defiance and courageous moral resistance of the little hero who had no time for tears, complaints, or grief. The lyrics tell us how he has to be tough and keep his spirits going with a song and a whistle. This song's first public performance was on 18 January 1942 in the Vilna ghetto. It was sung by Chayele Rosenthal, sister of Leo Rosenthal, the poet and playright who wrote the lyrics. Chayele survived the war and settled in Cape Town, South Africa.

5.Shtiler Shtiler – Quiet Quiet
Music: Alec Volkoviski
Lyrics: Shmerke Kaczerginski

Before the war, Vilna was a thriving hub of spiritual and cultural life for Eastern European Jewry. Despite the daily horrors and hardships of Nazi occupation, ghetto dwellers refused to let this cultural life die . Unable to protect themselves physically, they nurtured their spirit with poetry readings, lectures, and music. In the Spring of 1943, a musical competition was held in the ghetto. The prizes were extra rations of bread, sugar or eggs. The competition was won by an eleven year-old boy, Alex Volkoviski, with his song Shtiler, Shtiler. It immediately went on to become one of the best known songs of the time.
The pain and suffering of the young composer inspired Kaczerginski to give voice to the pain of a woman whose husband has been taken to Ponar. Ponar was a wooded area just outside Vilna where people used to go for picnics, strolls and weekend outings before the occupation. When the Nazis invaded, they used the area for mass execution and burial sites. The poem also expresses love for a once peaceful Vilna, with its beautiful river Vilya, now enslaved by winter's ice just as its people are enslaved by the enemy's oppression. In the last verse of the song, the mother, through her love, sees freedom's reflection in her child's face. Alex Volkoviski survived the concentration camp, to which he was taken after the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto, and emigrated to Israel. This track features the voice of Mrs Miriam Lichterman, a Cape Town based Holocaust survivor, reciting over an improvised rhythm section accompaniment. The recital is placed in between an interpretation of the original melody, which is at once both haunting and very beautiful.

6.Munitn Fun Bitokhn – Moments of Confidence
Music and Lyrics: Mordechai Gebirtig
Carpenter-poet Mordechai Gebirtig was well known for his gentle tone before he endured the horrors of the Nazi regime. A growing bitterness and realisation of the need for courage and resistance resulted in ‘Moments of Confidence', a song inspired by the fervent spirit of Hassidic melodies. His melody instilled the courage to prevail, and contempt towards the oppressor. Gebirtig was killed in Krakow's Bloody Thursday, as the Nazis marched the Jews to waiting cattle cars. “Moments of Confidence draws rhythmically from a traditional bossa-nova but is influenced by the style of a cantor,” says Rus. “It has a strong rhythmic feel but also exhibits the type of fragile hesitation that one experiences in such moments, from a feeling of ‘I know I'm going to win' to that of ‘I have no choice but to win'.”

Music and Lyrics: Unknown
Built just 60 km east of Warsaw, the death camp at Treblinka was designed to be the ultimate human extermination facility. No one deported there was ever supposed to leave, dead or alive.
Only specially trained guards were allowed access, and even German airplanes were forbidden to fly over this territory. From the moment they arrived at the nearby Malkinia station in cattle cars, to the moment they were gassed in the sealed “shower” chambers, Treblinka inmates endured the most extreme physical and emotional torture. The ruthlessness and calculated efficiency of Treblinka has no precedent in human history. Human hair was used for stuffing mattresses, human skin for making lampshades. Records tell us that more than 10 000 Jews were killed, and processed, daily in Treblinka from May 1942 to August 1943. Then, on 2 August 1943 Dr Leichert and Dr Galewski - a former captain in the Polish army and a construction engineer – organized a revolt. They had dug an underground passage to the German arsenal and made off with hand grenades, machine guns and pistols. They knew all along that the revolt would be suicidal, but they felt that death in battle would be preferable to the tortures of Treblinka. And they were determined to destroy the place before they fell. As they led the attack on the guards and soldiers, petrol was poured over the barracks, storehouses and gas chambers - and they were torched. By the time the uprising was brutally quelled six hours later, forty rebels had escaped into the woods and Treblinka was razed to the ground. It was never rebuilt.
In all, only 70 people, and this anonymous song, survived to tell the tale. “With this piece, we had to deal with two very contrasting themes,” says Rus. “The first is the horror of Treblinka; and the second is a simple cry, mixed with rage, confusion, loneliness and desperation, from an unknown soul for his loved ones. “As far as we know, this is the first ever recording of this melody.”

8.Mayn Mame Hot Gevolt Zayn Af Mayn Khasene – My Mother Longed to Be There On My Wedding Day
Music: Emil Gorovets
Lyrics: David Bromberg
Written after the war, this moving melody recalls the intense feelings of loss of home and family most survivors experienced after losing many loved ones. A profound bitterness and sadness suffuses the melody, which features a moving saxophone and piano duet. The track expresses one person's emotions and experiences in a post-Holocaust situation. The immediate horrors may have been over but individuals still had to deal with their loss, despair and grief.

9.Zol Shoyn Kumen Di Geule – Let Salvation Come
Music: Abraham Isaac Kook
Lyrics: Shmerke Kaczerginski
Written after the war, this moving melody recalls the intense feelings of loss of home and family most survivors experienced after losing many loved ones. A profound bitterness and sadness suffuses the melody, which features a moving saxophone and piano duet. The track expresses one person's emotions and experiences in a post-Holocaust situation. The immediate horrors may have been over but individuals still had to deal with their loss, despair and grief.

10.Niggun for Rememberance
Music: Rus Nerwich
This is an original melody written by Rus in the style of a nigun - in memory of the artists, musicians and poets whose lives were taken before they could achieve their creative destinies. A niggun is a cyclic, melodic form of song used in communal Hassidic meditation and prayer.