Wednesday 30 September 2015


            She was born in Lodz, Poland, into a prominent Zionist family.  Her father, V. Nayman, a brother of the Yiddish writer Yekhezkiel-Moyshe Nayman, was a long-time leader and councilor in the Lodz Jewish community, selected by the Mizrachi Party.  She graduated from a Polish Jewish high school in Lodz.  She studied literature and chemistry at Warsaw University.  In 1937 she married the Yiddish writer Yerakhmiel Grin and settled in Warsaw, where they lived until WWII.  During the German seizure of Poland, she left for the Russian-occupied zone of Poland, lived for a time in Kuty (Kitev) and later in Lemberg, where she worked as a teacher until the German invasion of Russia.  She began publishing Yiddish and Polish poetry in 1934, initially in Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) in Lodz.  She contributed to Haynt (Today), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Foroys (Onward), and Vokhnshrift (Weekly writings) in Warsaw, as well as in the Polish Jewish Nasz Przeglad (Our overview) and Opinia (Opinion) in Warsaw.  She wrote a novel about Jewish student life, which was set to appear in 1939, but remained in manuscript throughout the war.  From 1942 she and her husband were in the Nazi concentration camp at Janów, near Lemberg, where she wrote a number of ghetto songs that were sung in various camps.  Her song “Mir zitsn bam zamdbreg tsufusns un trinken lekhayim mitn toyt” (We’re sitting by the edge of the sand and drinking “to life” with the dead) was one of the most popular songs, sung a many death camps.  The full text was published in Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter) in New York (May 16, 1946) and was reprinted in the anthology Kidesh hashem (Sanctification of the name) (New York, 1947) and in Sh. Katsherginski’s Lider fun getos un lagern (Songs from ghettos and camps) (New York, 1948), p. 252.  She died with her husband in Janów Concentration Camp.  She also published under the pen names: Hinde Nayman, Hele Grin, and Helene.

Sources: Dr. M. Borvitsh, Literatura w obozie (Literature in the camps) (Cracow, 1946), pp. 23-24, 27-28; Shmuel Niger, Kidesh hashem (New York, 1947), pp. 322, 564-65; B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), pp. 205-6; Kh. L. Fuks, in Fun noentn over 3 (New York, 1957).

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