HIRSH GLIK (HIRSCH GLICK) (April 24, 1922-1944)
He was born in Vilna, by the city gates in the district of Shnipeshok (Šnipiškis). His father Velvl dealt in old iron, rags, and used bottles. The family, four sons and a daughter, lived in great poverty. Their home, though, was a warm, Jewish one—a synthesis of Jewish tradition, piety, and worldliness. He studied at the Tarbut school “Beit Yehuda” and was an extremely capable student. In 1938 he was forced to leave school to help his family earn a living. He worked with a bookbinder and in a paper mill. From his early youth, he was a member of the Young Pioneers. In 1935 he began writing poetry in Hebrew. Later, under the influence of the poets of the Yung-vilne (Young Vilna) group, he turned to writing in Yiddish. He gathered around him a group of young writers, little more than children, neighbors in the Shnipeshok area, who each read their creations before the others aloud. Later they assembled around their much more experienced neighbor, Leyzer Volf, one of the founders of Young Vilna. With his help, in 1939 over a period of four consecutive months they published the journal Yungvald (Young forest). This was also the name of the new, youthful literary group which would later be considered the offspring of Young Vilna. Glik was the most important and most promising poet in the Yungvald group. He published his poetry in Yungvald and later, in 1940, when the Bolsheviks occupied Vilna, in Vilner emes (Vilna truth) and in Di naye bleter (The new pages) in Kovno. When Vilna was taken by the Nazis in 1941, he and his father were taken to work in the peat bogs at Biala-Waka and Rzesza, fourteen and fifteen miles from Vilna. He worked with his father under difficult conditions and became ill. He wrote a great deal in the camps, and his poems were a source of strength for the several hundred internees there. He managed to have his compositions sent into a friend in the Vilna ghetto. The literary association convinced the ghetto management committee to offer him help. In the Vilna ghetto, his poems had such success that on two occasions they were awarded prizes in competitions. Among other works, he wrote in the Rzesza camp “Di balade fun broynem teater” (The ballad of the brown theater), published later in Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) 4 (1949) in Tel Aviv and “Tifus-balade” (Typhus ballad); and the songs: “Dos zangl” (The ear of corn), “Shtil, di nakht iz oysgeshternt” (Quite, the night is star-studded), “Vayse toybn” (White doves), and “Dos torflid” (Song of the peat) which was later published in Di goldene keyt 15 (1953). In May 1943 when the peat camp in Rzesza was liquidated, because of links made with the partisans, Glik was sent to the Vilna ghetto. From May until September of the following year, he continued to write poems.
At roughly this time, Glik also wrote his song “Zog nit keyn mol, az du geyst dem letstn veg” (Never say that this is the final road for you). On January 4, 1943, on the anniversary of the founding of the F. P. O. (Fareynikte partizaner organizatsye, United Partisan Organization), partisan headquarters decided to make this poem the anthem of their organization. It was fated to become the symbol of the heroic uprisings in the forests, ghettos, and camps. After the great Holocaust of European Jewry, this song reached all Jewish communities across borders and oceans. It was sung at all great congresses and conferences. To this day it is sung at all memorial services on behalf of the millions of victims. It was translated into Hebrew by the poet Avraham Shlonsky. There are six translations into English by: Arn Kremer, Marie Syrkin, Nathan Ausubel, Ruth Rubin, Dr. A. A. Roback, and Molly Picon. There are three Polish translations, and others into Romanian, Dutch, Spanish, Bulgarian, and other languages. From this partisans’ anthem a color film with the Jewish artist Khayele Goldshteyn in the main role was also made by the Dutch film society Niderland Film. Hirsh Glik’s figure served as an inspiration for the work of such poets as: Perets Markish, Avrom Sutskever, Schmerke Kaczerginski, and others. After the Holocaust, Glik’s poems and songs were compiled and published in various newspapers and journals, and they were included in poetry anthologies from the ghettos and camps. They were published in book form in Lider un poemes (Songs and poems) (New York: Ikuf, 1953), 62 pp., with an introduction by Nokhum Mayzil.
During the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto (October 1943), Glik tried to break through the Nazi encirclement, with the aim of running to reach the partisans in the woods. He fell into the hands of the Gestapo, however, and he was dispatched to the concentration camp at Goldfields (Kohtla) in Estonia. In the summer of 1944, when the Red Army began its assault on the Baltic states, Glik escaped, with some partisans, from the camp; he died in the fight against the Germans in the forests around Goldfields.
Sources: Sh. Katsherginski (Schmerke Kaczerginski), Ikh bin geven a partisan (I was a partisan) (Buenos Aires, 1947), pp. 104-7; Katsherginski, Dos gezang fun vilner geto (The song of the Vilna ghetto) (Paris, 1947), pp. 47, 47, 52; Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), pp. 185-86; Katsherginski, Lider fun di getos un lagern (Poems from the ghettos and camps) (New York, 1948), pp. 248, 249, 348, 349; Dr. M. Dvorzhetski (Mark Dvorzetsky), Yerusholayim delite in kamf un umkum (The Jerusalem of Lithuania in struggle and death) (Paris, 1948), see index; N. Mayzil, Hirsh glik un zayn lid “zog nisht keyn mol” (Hirsh Glik and his song, “Zog nisht keyn mol”) (New York, 1949), 63 pp.; Mayzil, introduction to Lider un poemes (New York, 1953); A. Sutskever, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 4 (1949); N. Blumental, in Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) 4 (1949); M. Ravitsh, in Yorbukh (Buenos Aires, 1949); Sh. Lastik, Mitn ponem tsum morgn (Facing morning) (Warsaw, 1952), pp. 157-58; B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), pp. 215-16; M. Gurin, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (February 1954); Sefer milḥamot hagetaot (The fighting ghettos) (Tel Aviv, 1954), p. 717; Shmerke katsherginski ondenk-bukh (Shmerke Katsherginski memory book) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 221-23, 308; N. Mayzil, Noente un eygene (Close by and one’s own) (New York, 1957).
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