In memory of Dr. John Nowik z"l who has initiated this web site and who translated Szlengel's poems straight from his bleeding heart, but didn't live to see it on-line...

We thank Sebastian Angres, Edyta Gawron, Josef Holender and Jan Jagelski for their help in this project.

Halina Birenbaum & Ada Holtzman Israel, Spring 2003, 60 Years to the Ghetto Warszawa Uprising.

We Remember What He Read to the Dead!

...These poems-documents I was supposed to read to human beings who believed they will survive, I was supposed to review with them this volume as a diary of a dreadful period, which has passed to our joy, memories from the bottom of hell - but comrades to my wanderings disappeared and the poems became in one hour the poems which I read to the dead... Władysław Szlengel

Władysław Szlengel
1914-Ghetto Warszawa 1943
The photo has the dedication of the poet to a friend date: 11.9.1939

Web Site initiated by Halina Birenbaum and Ada Holtzman April 2003

Selected Poems I (Polish & English & Hebrew)  

Selected Poems II (Polish & Hebrew)

Selected Poems III (Polish & Hebrew)

Selected Poems IV (Polish & Hebrew)

Ce que j’ai lu aux morts… Szlengel Poetry Translated from Polish to French by Jean-Yves Potel


What I Read to the Dead (Polish)

What I Read to the Dead (Hebrew)

What I Read to the Dead (English)

What I Read to the Dead (English -  in Kobos Web Site "SHOAH")

Aftermath (Hebrew) | Note to the Pedantics (Hebrew) | To the Polish Reader (Hebrew)

An Account with God | A Talk with a Child | The Monument | Nihil Nivi |

Kobos' Web Site with Szlengel's Poems in English | Kobos' Web Site with Szlengel's Poems in Polish


Władysław Szlengel 

Mała Stacja Treblinki

Na szlaku Tłuszcz-Warszawa,
z dworca Warschau-Ost
wyjeżdża się szynami
i jedzie sie na wprost...

I podróż trwa czasami
pięć godzin i trzy ćwierci,
a czasami trwa ta jazda
całe życie aż do śmierci...

A stacja jest maleńka
i rosną trzy choinki,
i napis jest zwyczajny:
tu stacja Treblinki.

I nie ma nawet kasy
ani bagażowego,
za milion nie dostaniesz
biletu powrotnego...

Nie czeka nikt na stacji
i nikt nie mach chustką,
i cisza tylko wisi,
i wita głuchą pustką.

I milczy słup stacyjny,
i milczą trzy choinki,
i milczy czarny napis,
że... stacja Treblinki.

I tylko wisi z dawna
(reklama w każdym razie)
zniszczony stary napis:
"Gotujcie na gazie."


Władysław Szlengel

A Small Station Called Treblinka*

On the line between Tluszcz and Warsaw
From the railway station Warsaw - East
You get out of the station
and travel straight…

The journey lasts
sometimes 5 hours and 45 minutes more
and sometimes the same journey lasts
a whole life until your death …

And the station is very small
three fir trees grow there
and a regular signboard saying
here is the small station of Treblinka...
here is the small station of Treblinka...

And not even a cashier
gone is the cargo man
and for a million zloty
you will not get a return ticket

And nobody waits for you in the station
and nobody waves a handkerchief towards you
only silence hung there in the air
to welcome you in the blind wilderness.

And silent are the three fir trees
and silent is the black board
because here is the small station of Treblinka...
here is the small station of Treblinka...

And only a commercial board
 stands still:
"Cook only by gas"

* Translated from Polish to Hebrew by Halina Birenbaum and from Hebrew to English by Ada Holtzman. Yehuda Poliker, son of an Auschwitz Holocaust survivor from Thessaloniki wrote music to the poem and it is in his album: "Ashes and Dust".

 ולאדיסלאב שלנגל


כאן התחנה טרבלינקה


בקו שבין טלושץ – ורשה

מתחנת הרכבת ורשה אוסט

יוצאים ברכבת ונוסעים ישר...

הנסיעה נמשכת לפעמים

חמש שעות ועוד 45 דקות

ולפעמים נמשכת אותה נסיעה

חיים שלמים עד מותך...


והתחנה היא קטנטונת

שלושה אשוחים גדלים בה

וכתובת רגילה אומרת:

כאן התחנה טרבלינקה

כאן התחנה טרבלינקה...


ואין אפילו קופה

גם איש המטענים איננו

ובעבור מיליון

לא תקבל כרטיס חזור...


ואיש לא מחכה בתחנה

ואף אחד לא מנפנף שם המטפחת

רק באוויר תלויה דממה

לקדם פניך בשממה אטומה.


ושותקים שלושת האשוחים

שותקת הכתובת השחורה

כי כאן התחנה טרבלינקה...

כאן התחנה טרבלינקה...


ורק תלויה עוד מאז

סיסמה ישנה ובלויה האומרת

"בשלו בגז".




Yankel Wiernik: A Year in Treblinka, New York 1945


Am I allowed to tell Szlengel?

Am I allowed to tell Szlengel
the poet of Ghetto Warszawa
to wait more and more with his poems
in the drawer

Endless ruins cover him
and his creations
he cannot request or he cannot protest
or he cannot complain

Is it fair to postpone him
because he is silent
silence of eternity

And who will listen to the dead
buried in a foreign land
under clods of earth

I have many comforts
I have life and children and memories
and his poems from there

Am I allowed to be silent
and not transmit them onward?!

Halina Birenbaum 7.5.1985
Translated by Ada Holtzman


Władysław Szlengel in the School of Commerce, Warsaw before 1930 (first row, first to the left)
Source: Jewish Historical Institute ref 263/a,b

The first collection of Szlengel poems was published by Michal M. Borwicz: Piesn Ujdzie Calo, Antologia Wierszy o Zydach Pod Okupacja Niemiecka, Lodz 1947

A comprehensive collection of Szlengel's poetry was edited by Irena Maciejewska and was published in Warsaw Poland in 1977 "What I Read to the Dead":

Szlengel's book "What I read to the Dead" was translated to Hebrew by Halina Birenbaum and published by the translator in 1987.
Halina Birenbaum dedicated the book "to all those with whom I read Szlengel poems at the threshold of the total destruction of the Warszawa Ghetto"

Władysław Szlengel Kronikarz Tonacych - Andrzej Kobos's web Site (Polish)

Selected Poems

Władysław Szlengel

Kartka z Dziennika Akcji
A Page from the Diary of the Actions -
10 August 1942. A Firsthand Testimony about the Deportation of Janusz Korczak and his Orphan Children to Treblinka

Published in "Mosty" the Newspaper of "HaShomer Hatzair" nr. 4(12), Published after the War
Click to enlarge (Polish)

Hebrew, translated by Halina Birenbaum
Click to enlarge (Hebrew)

A Page from the Diary of the Actions
Translated by Dr. John Nowik and edited by Ada Holtzman

Today I have seen Janusz Korczak,
as he walked with the children on their last procession
and the children wear civil and clean clothes
as though on Saturday walk going to the park

They wore clean aprons of the holidays
but today they could dirty them
Five by five the Home of the  Orphans went across the town
through bushes of pursued people

The city  had  a frightened face
a mass of  naked  and stripped crowd
the streets were watched by empty windows
like skeletal orbits of the dead

Occasionally a cry of a lost bird  demented
a  death knell rung without reason
while  indifferent Messieurs rode in hand driven carts
the Messieurs masters of the situation.

Sometimes  footsteps, scraping  and then a silence
someone in the flight  spoke in a hurry
frightened and speechless in its prayer
stood in the church on
Leszno Street.

And here the children five by five, peacefully,
no one was pulling anyone from the rank,
these are the orphans, no one was offering bribes
into the hands of blue policemen.

There were no interventions on the Umschlagplatz
no one whispered into the ear of  Szmerling
no one  collected family watches
for the drunken  Lithuanians

Janusz Korczak walked with a straight head
with bare head -
by his pocket held him a little chi
and two small ones he  held them in his arms.

Someone rushed exp 
"you can return this a paper from Brandt"
Korczak silently shook his head refusing.

He did not even tried to explain
to those who came with the German offers
how would one  put into those soulless heads
what it means---to leave a child in such an hour all alone....

So many years.... in this  road so steep,
to give in the children's palms the sun's sp,
how  would he leave  the frightened one,
he would go with them... further... till the end of all the roads...

And then he thought about King Matthew,
that the  fortune has deprived him of the same fate.
That King Matthew on the island  among the wild ones
also would act the same.

The children were  went into the cattle trains
as though on a trip on "Lag Ba'omer"
and the little one with the  look of the brave
Felt completely
  like "Hashomer"3).

I thought in this so ordinary moment
Europe nothing had a value
that he for us all was writing history
the most beautiful of pages.

That in this Jewish cursed War,
in the endless humiliation without an end,
in the helpless chaos,
in  that fight for life for any price, without a compromise,

In the depth of  corruption and betrayal
on that front, where the death has no  fame
in this  nightmare of dancing in the night
there  stood a single and a proud soldier
Janusz Korczak, the orphans' caretaker.

Do you hear neighbors from across  the wall
as you  watch our deaths from the other side of the bars?

1) Szmerling: Commander of the Jewish Police in Ghetto Warszawa
2) Lag Ba'omer - The thirty-three day of the counting of the Omer; a festival
3) Hashomer - (Watchman) Jewish self-defense organization founded in 1905. Also name for a member of Hashomer Hatzair (Socialist & Zionist Youth Movement).

The Word Which Never Gets Lost
Polish: " Nowiny Kurier " 21 Oct. 1983
Hebrew: "What I Read to the Dead", Introduction by Halina Birenbaum1987
Translated by Edyta Gawron and Ada Holtzman

The writer Amos Oz in his excellent television program said recently that the word never gets lost, even the one uttered in the desert... I think that what I know and remember about Władysław Szlengel, one of the most popular poet in Warsaw Ghetto, only confirms this deep and extraordinary truth...

The poems of Władysław Szlengel were read in houses of the Ghetto and out of it, in the evenings and were passed on from hand to hand and passed from mouth to mouth. The poems were written in burning passion, while the events, which seemed to last for centuries occurred. They were living reflection of our feelings, thoughts, needs, pains and merciless fight for every moment of life. I recited in the Ghetto some of his poems in many meetings and small performances organized in order to collect some money for starving inhabitants of our houses, streets and for refugees expelled from their small towns, whose number was rising tragically every day. I was 12 years old by then.

Later, when from over half a million Jews in Warsaw Ghetto remained only 30-40 thousands, in January 1943, through workers in the Shop or "Placowki" (factories outside the Ghetto), we managed to get hold of two copies of Szlengel's poems. With profound and bitter emotions my 20-years old sister-in-law, Hela Grynsztejn ne'e Herszberg, read them for us. There were "Treblinka" and "Obrachunek z Bogiem" (An Account with God). In every moment Germans could rumble in their boots on our stairs and kick in our doors and transport us to Treblinka. We expected this to happen and it was our only reality in this world taken by Nazis's dreadfulness. How actual and meaningful sounded than these poet's words! I memorized their contents, atmosphere and "melody" (which was as well mine, ours), and the images of this room at 30 Nowolipie Street, in Schultz's block of flats - forever!

Probably these words soaked then into my blood with this terrible fear of undeserved death waiting everywhere and the whole unexpressed sufferings awaiting us!... They remained inside me forever and became a part of my identity. For the last time in the Ghetto I listened to Szlengel's poems with part of my family (father and most of my relatives were already taken to the Umschlagplatz in previous Actions (Akcja). The poems were recited with passion and inner satisfaction by my younger brother Chilek (20 years old). It was "The Contra-Attack". It was day before the outburst of the uprising in Ghetto, a few hours before going down to the bunker at 3 Mila Street... In the room of some deserted flat, except me, there were my mother Pola Perl Grynsztejn ne'e Kijewska, my sister-in-law Hela, my elder brother Marek and his few friends, last remnants of whole families. The boys were listening in tension and enthusiasm to the poem, throwing toys like they were machine guns up in the air. The atmosphere and the "melody" of this April's day was different - full of some maturity, hope in the hopelessness, terrible miserable joy of people who didn't have anything left except of their own wretched life, which as they knew, would be soon taken from them. They were still going to accomplish something. They were keen on that insane pressure of expectation and preparation for so many crucial and final tasks on this earth!

I remember it! I soaked it into my whole self! Those moments are inside me till now and probably they will stay until I die... I am not certain if I have enough words to express it; however, I feel it so clearly and sharply to the extent of pain. My brother was reading: "On the filthy stairs of Jewish Pawia street... an old mother was pulled by hair... the box is sticky by the blood..."Juno sind Rund"... The cigarette "Juno" is round... God before our dying let our eyes not see the rail continues on... Let us see in those insolent hands with fists and whips, our ordinary human's fear..."

I survived. Nearly alone. No one of them survived. But this is known. Later I was always telling about these poems from my "childhood", about their fascinating content, so tragic, so full of expression. After the war I was telling about them to my new friends, my students and my family. I was looking for those poems but for some reasons I haven't found any publication. I even thought that I am the only one who remembers Szlengel... And suddenly after 40 years, I came across a book: "What I Read To the Dead," written by Władysław Szlengel. One woman left in her inheritance a collection of Holocaust books to the "Massua" institution in Kibbutz Tel Icchak. In "Massua" the intensive seminars have been taking place for many years, for high school teenagers from Israel and from abroad in the subject of the Shoah. I have taken part in it. One day, one of the headmasters of "Massua", Sanio, gave me a small book saying: "You probably will like it, read it"... I glanced on the cover and - I trembled: The poems of Szlengel!

I started checking, looking for "my" familiar poems. I found one after another like addresses of houses in which I was living, like dear people whom I haven't seen for years. There were there, all of them. Dizzy with emotions I started to read my familiar, dear words, engraved in my heart! Unintentionally I started reading it loud, straight in Hebrew in order to let people - who surrounded me and who were surprised by my emotions, to understand what made me so excited. I only haven't found "Obrachunek z Bogiem - An Account with God". But at the end of book, Irena Maciejewska, the editor of the collection, wrote that among the notes of the Ghetto historian Ringelblum, the poem "Obrachunek z Bogiem" is mentioned, but the original version didn't survived. Although she repeated some verses, which weresimilbtaken from the poem "There is a time now". They were not able to solve this problem. Reading words,blohit intomy head and my pulse stroke fast. I - ag- wassihalf-dead in the at Nowol30,for boot, while Hela, my sister-in-low, is reading "Obrachunek z Bogiem" "An Account With God", (exactly this first, unknown, "problematic" verse is in the book) and ends the poem more or less in this way: "We were oppressing our bodies... we followed Your commands... and what do You give us in return... the Block, the "Shopy", Treblinka?... You commanded us to fast, so we fasted, You commanded us to pray, so we prayed... and what else do You request from us? Do You want us to tell You Amen, while going to the Prussian gas...?"

These words were not found at that time, didn't get to the editor of the poet's collection of poems. I thought that the War burnt them totally. As well the poet, great in his persistence and faith in the life and in the written word, killed in a bunker during the uprising of the Ghetto Warszawa. All those people who listened to his creations, read and loved his poems were burnt, were choked by gas, were killed by guns. The odor of their burnt bodies and their last scream remained inside of me forever.

I am evidently, in this case that desert of Amos Oz. I am the ghost who carries on these words written by blood in dying, tortured Ghetto Warszawa. The poems still live inside me. I always remember these poems and always talk about them! In the Ghetto, I read from pieces of paper re-written carefully and enthusiastically, later from memory, from the deepest part of the soul - and now again from the pieces of paper in Hebrew. I translated the whole book: "What I read to the dead". I gave copies of the manuscripts to students, researchers, institutions and friends. I decided that the collection of priceless poems-documents would be published in Hebrew and would get to the readers in Israel. People who were reading these translated poems of Szlengel, "Sabres" among them, were very moved by their power and straightforwardness. They said, that this poems are like an injection straight into the vein...

I wanted Szlengel to live where I live, in Israel in a language, which I speak today. I hope that whoever reads these poems will feel what I have felt when reading those poems then, at the Ghetto, while the events took place, until its liquidation. Thus, I did my utmost to be faithful to the original texts and their spirit, written by a poet on the abyss. Szlengel defined his works as "poems - documents" and himself a poet who is writing the chronicle of his days and period on the walls of his grave. "I am a poet type the year 1943", Szlengel defined himself. Me, translator of his poems today, is probably the same desert where his word was absorbed, and survived. He and his "poems-documents" arrived with me to Eretz Israel after the Holocaust, and for that I thank my fate. Szlengel did not know about my existence and my love to his works. I was only a child and had no right to live' to be in the Ghetto which had already became a giant Forced Labor camp for slavery work' in which children, the week and the old were deported to instant death in Treblinka...

Today, these poems are a constant reminder' that everything did happen' and hat all the Jewish people existed once and hoped to survive, or at least leave their traces in the eternity. They lightened the dark days, inspired strength and a feeling that not everything had died, and if there are still persons who wrote as they did and their light shone despite of the cycles of siege and hell in which they were locked in. We were encouraged by Szlengel poems and even disillusioned ourselves that who knows, may be there is a magic power standing behind us and would bring the victory soon, the end to our sufferings... We hoped for a miracle, without realizing that the writing in itself, transmitting the poems in the by the murderers' kept area, and the ability in itself of writing and reading concealed the miracle and the victory.

A few months ago I read an article in "Yediot Achronot" about: "Will any literature exist in year 2000?" and "Is there any future for the poetry?"... It reminded me of Szlengel, who was writing his terrible chronicle of the days of extermination and general destruction of all human rights and concepts. In his presence, thousands of people were dying every day and he wasn't asking if it is worthy, if any literature would exist after the extermination in Treblinka and after the torture of the road to that hell... The creation is created by life; it is as breath of air and mainly in times of great suffering. It is the substitute to all what is human, when the man is thrown to hell. And it was proven in the days of the Holocaust,

Some part of his poetry he, Szlengel, hid in a double tabletop, which after nearly 20 years was found by a Pole in Jozefow (a small town near Warszawa) who was chopping this table probably for winter fuel... Well, poet's fortune and world's fortune - even in the most awful desert of death and total destruction the poems survived.

So the word which never gets lost and works in so many different directions! My excitement from discovering the poetry of Szlengel in the collection "What I Read to the Dead", I described in Polish in the Israeli Polish newspaper "Nowiny Kurier". After one year I received a letter from Mr. Izydor Szulman from Haifa, in which he delivers me a manuscript of the poem "An Account with God"... He didn't even know who was the author... And thus I managed to publish the lost poem, on which I referred to before. It is true that the word never get lost!

Selected Poems

Władysław Szlengel

Pomnik - The Monument
(Quoted from "Will This Date Be Noted? A Dialogue with the Memory of the Holocaust", Massua 1998 - Partial Translation)

To the heroes - poems, rhapsodies!!!
The heroes who the coming generation will honor,
On their tombstones they will engrave names,
And a monument of marble they will erect.
After the noble ones are gone, legends will remain
That they were giant,
The myth will become frozen in time - and turn into
A monument.
And who will tell you, the coming generations,
She was not still and not mythological -
She was taken away - they killed her.
And she is no more.
Do you understand: she was, and she is no more,
In every corner here - the evil eye,
Makes it abundantly clear, she was no more.
And what? A person? No - that is not important -
No statistic will distinguish her,
For the world, for Europe, she is less than a small breadcrumb,
What is important here - her efforts!
But when you were about to mount the stairs,
Before you pushed to open the door, before you even touched the doorknob,
You felt the scent in the air,
A hot soup, of a white hand towel,
As undefined warmth, enveloping,
You sigh...
She was,
But they took her away






Władysław Szlengel; the Commercial School; the first to the left.
Source: Jewish Historical Institute ref 262/a,b





Władysław Szlengel; the commercial School; first row, the first to the right.
Source: Jewish Historical Institute ref 261/a,b,c

Halina Birenbaum

"Szyrim Lefnei Vemitoch Hamabul"

Poems Before and Within the Flood
Hebrew, Ma'ariv Book Guild 1990

Introduction by Halina Birenbaum

Wiersze sprzed i z czasu potopu

Z przedmowy do mojego hebrajskiego tomiku wierszy i tłumaczeń

Lata „potopu" w Shoah zostawiły we mnie niezliczone wspomnienia, ale nie tylko o okropnościach. Wyniosłam stamtąd ludzkie wartości, miłość do ludzi, do życia, i miłość do wierszy poznanych na krawędzi śmie; doich autorów, którzy przez swe utwory dawali nam otuchę i pomagali żyć - pomagali iśćna śmierć z wiecznewartości ży. Pły z największej rozpaczy,ale też głębiludzkiego zrozumienia i włości, jakich doznaje się tylko w chwilach ostatecznych.

Takie były wiersze Icchaka Kacenelsona, Władysława Szlengla, Stefanii Ney (Grodzińskiej), Poli Braun i innych, nieznanych autorów. Staram się nieustannie przekazać ich treść i znaczenie swym bliskim oraz młodzieży, której opowiadam o tamtych czasach.

Wiersze te z mojego dzieciństwa lat Zagłady wracają do mnie niezwykłymi drogami, aż trudno uć, by mogło ę to dziać w rzeczywistości. Wracają chyba po to właśnie, bym moła przekć dalej wraz z moim wzruszeniem i tęsknotą do tych, z którymi je czytałam razem Wtedy.

Przedziwne przypadki sprowadzają też spotkania z towarzyszami losu z tamtych dni. Nazywam je „odkryciami archelogicznymi". Zwracają wspomnienia przebytych doświadczeń, uwiarygodniają zdarzenia zacierane przez c- i w tyicłównznaczenie.

Blumę Babic-Szadur i jej się z getta i obozów, Halinkę Czamarkę-Barman, spotkałam w Izraelu dopiero po 40 latach w szkole w Dniu Pamięci Holocaustu. Ukrywałyśmy się razem w bunkrze na ulicy Miłej 3 w czasie powstania i likwidacji getta warszawskiego. Szłyśmy potem dalej tą samą trasą: Majdanek, Auschwitz, Marsz Smierci - Ravensbruck - Neustadt-Glewe...

Przypomniałyśmy teraz razem tę całą przeszłość, także przedwojenne piosenki i wiersze z getta, które ja akurat tłumaczyłam wtedy na hebrajski. „Zaraziłam" do nich Blumę i Halinkę swym entuzjazmem, co przyniosło nieoczekiwanie do znalezienia utworów „sprzed potopu" Władysława Szlengla.

O przypadkach znalezienia innych jego wierszy zebranych w książce „Co czytałem umarłym", przetłumaczonej na hebrajski i opublikowanej przeze mnie w Tel Avivie napisałam szczegółowo w przedmowie do tej książki. I nagle odnalazły się jego następne wiersze.

Bluma i jej mąż odbyli długą podróż po świecie. Halinka, przybrana siostra Blumy, dołączyła się do nich. Odwiedzili, między innymi kuzyna Halinki w Brazylii.

Mosze Papelbaum, wyemigrował z Warszawy, miasta swego urodzenia, jeszcze przed II wojną światową. Ożenił się w Rio De Janeiro z tubylką, założyli rodzinę. Z czasem oddalił się niemal zupełnie od kultury, którą nasiąknął w domu w Polsce.

Spotkanie z Blumą i Halinką obudziło przeszłość z lat młodości, tęsknotę. Zaczęli przypominać także piosenki śpiewane przed wojną - polskie i żydowskie przeboje, popularną piosenką: Dziś panna Ańdzia ma wychodne, Jadziem Panie Zielonka!..."

Bluma zawołała w uniesieniu: „a wiesz, że te słowa napisał Władysław Szlengel, poeta warszawskiego getta, który zginął w czasie pw kwietniu 1943 roku?"

Papelbaum ujął głowę w ręce i zapłakał na dźwięk wypowiedzianego nazwiska. Szlengel był jego przyjacielem młodości, kolegą z ławy szkolnej jego brata, Ignaca, zgladzonego w Shoah.

Wyjął z szafy plik pożółkłych gazet i zdięć, dał je Blumie. Zdięcia swego brata ze Szlenglem w przedwojennej Warszawie, z letniska w Otwocku; gazety z lat 1937 - 1939 ( Nasz Przegląd, Szpilki), gdzie publikowano wiersze, satyry i humorestki Szlengla. Przechowywał je w ciągu dziesiątek lat, choć jego brazylijskiej rodzinie one były obce. Teraz te przedwojenne wiersze z pożółkłych, rozpadających się niemal gazet przemówiły nagle, jak proroctwo. Własne doświadczenia i czas dokazały tego na jakże bolesnych faktach!

Bluma przywiozła mi te gazety i zdięcia - skarb z Brazylii: powinnaś je przetłumaczyć, by nie zginęły, by te wiersze poznano w Izraelu! Nie musiała mi o tym napominać. Było to moim wewnętrznym poczuciem obowiązku, celem.

Część wierszy Szlengla odnalazło się w archiwum Emanuela Ringelbluma pod gruzami getta. Kilka wierszy znalazł pewien Polak z Józefowa, gdy rozrąbał stół przyniesiony z getta - niektóre wiersze ludzie odtworzyli z pamięci.

Tak też z wierszami Poli Braun i Stefanii Ney, które występowały razem ze Szlenglem w getcie w kawiarni „Sztuka". Steafania Ney i Pola Braun występowały również jako śpiewaczki i recytatorki w getcie warszawskim w teatrze Femina.

Pola Braun pisała teksty i komponowała muzykę do swych piosenek, śpiewała je też więźniarkom na konspiracyjnych spotkaniach w obozie na Majdanku. Polę Braun rozstrzelano wraz z 18.500 Zydami w środę, 3 listopada 1943 roku. Miała dwudzieściekilka lat.

Wiersze Szlengla, Ney i Braun opublikowano po wojnie w antologii „Pieśń ujdzie cało". Komitet żydowski zorganizowany jeszcze w czasie wojny, wydał tę antologię w roku 1947 pod redakcją pisarza i poety Michała Borwicza.

Kilka wierszy Szlengla w gazetach warszawskich sprzed wojny odnalazła w archiwum uniwersytetu w Jerozolimie i przekazała mi badaczka literatury z Tel Avivu, Ruth Szejnfeld. Mnie się udało odnaleźć zapamiętany z getta Obrachunek z Bogiem przez artykuł, który opublikowałam o tym wierszu w gazecie polskiej w Izraelu, Nowiny i Kurier.

Wiersze Płyną okręty i Szukam człowieka przyniosła mi Fira Slańska z Jerozolimy. Zdążyła przepisać je z gazety Nasz przegląd jeszcze w 1939 roku, na krótko przed swoim przyjazdem do Palestyny, przed wybuchem wojny. Fira skontaktowała się ze mną po przeczytaniu mojej książki Nadzieja umiera ostatnia, odtąd zaczęła się i trwa do dziś nasza przyjaźń.

Halina Migdan z Aschkelonu zwróciła się do mnie po przeczytaniu hebrajskiej wersji mojego tłumaczenia Co czytałem umarłym. Opowiedziała mi, że przed wydostaniem się na „aryjską" stronę na początku akcji wysyłki Zydów na stracenie do Treblinki pewien mężczyzna podał jej rękopisy pięciu wierszy, błagając, żeby je wzięła z sobą i przekazała światu, jeśli przeżyje.

Halina nie wiedziała nic o Szlenglu, ani kim był ten, który przekazał jej jego rękopisy. Przechowywała je przez całe życie wraz z najważniejszymi dokumentami.

Spotkanie z Haliną Migdan jest jednym z dowodów, że w getcie liczyły się nie mniej dzieła kultury od własnego życia - narażano życie dla ich ocalenia i przekazu..

Pisane w gettach i obozach wiersze były wyrazem życia i cierpień, największym pragnieniem pozostawienia ich śladów, zachowania człowieczeństwa w piekle - , pomagały tam żyć i umierać. One mogą nam opowiedzieć dziś wiernie, co myśleli i czuli ludzie w latach „potopu" w Shoah.

Halina Birenbaum

Historia Odnalezionego Wiersza
(z moich pamiętników: Każdy odzyskany dzień)


Gdybym była wierząca, musiałabym powiedzieć chyba, iż jest w tym ręka Boża. Jednak w cuda wierzę, chociaż sprawiają je lud, a raczej dobro istniejące w nich w głębiach duszy, dobro, które na różne sposoby zostaje pobudzane poprzez rozmaite ucznki, pozytywne działania.

Władysław Szlengel, niezmiernie popularny poeta warszawski, napisał jeden ze swych krążących po osierociałym getcie, czekającym wiosną 1943 roku na ostateczną zagładę, wiersz Obrachunek z Bogiem. Czytało się wtedy te wiersze, podawane w odpisach z rąk do rąk, z niewypowiedzianą, głodną zachłannością, jak wchłania się soki ożywcze, żeby nie skonać.Widziało się w samym ich istnieniu, w chęci możliwości tworzenia w takich chwilach - siłę życia i jego nie ocenioną wartość. Poprzez wiersze poety o tak aktualnej, trafnie określonej treści czuło się niezbicie, że potęga życia ludzkiego silniejsza jest od śmierci, Niemców, Hitlera!

Część utwrów Szlengla odnalazła się po wojnie pod gruzami getta warszawskiego wraz z archiwum historyka E. Ringelbluma i została opublikowana w Warszawie w tomiku Co czytałem umarłym.

W wyjaśnieniach na końcu tej książki podano, że w notatkach Ringenbluma jest mowa o wierszu „Obrachunek z Bogiem", ale go nie odnaleziono. Istnieje tylko pewna strofka, która treść taką przypomina, ale może to również być część innego utworu poety. Szlengel, jak wiadomo, zginął w bunkrze podczas powstania w getcie warszawskim i nawet wiek jego nie był dokładnie znany.

Po przeczytaniu Co czytałem umarłym napisałam i opublikowałam w „Nowinach Kurierze" artykuł: Słowo, które nie ginie nigdy, gdzie opisałam obszernie, w jakich okolicznościach zapoznałam się z wierszami Szlengla. W owej niewiadomej strofce natychmiast rozpoznałam „Obrachunek z Bogiem" i przytoczyłam kilka zdań utworu, które szczególnie wryły mi się w pamięć.

Kilku ców po otego zwróciło się do mnie. Nawiązałaz nimi kontak, a potem i przyjźń, gdyż okazło się, że wiele mze sobą wólnego,co nas serdecznie łęczy.

Wzeszłym tygodniu, po upływie przeszło roku od tej publikacji otrzymałam list z Hajfy, od p. Izydora Szulmana, który doniósł mi, że po przeczytaniu mego artykułu w „Nowiny" przypomniał sobie, iż zazaz po wojnie znajomy wręczył mu otrzymany od kogoś z Warszawy odpis ręczny: Obrachunek z Bogiem. Dopiero teraz udało mu się wygrzebać go w swych papierach i jeśli jestem jeszcze, zainteresowana, chętnie mi prześle kopię...

Pan Szulman jest także warszawianinem, przeżył wojnę wraz żoną i córką w Rosji. Oczywiście, ście natychmizatelefonowałam. Otrzymałam z jego rąk calutki wiersz! Miałam niespełna trzynaście lat, gdy w domu na Nowolipiu 30, w bloku Szulca przeczytano mi go po raz pierwszy, na krótko przed rozpoczęciem powstania w getcie. Przeżyłam, zapamiętałam tak nam wtedy bliskie treści. Jestem wdzięczna losowi za możliwość wzięcia udziału w wydaniu na światło, w czterdzieści dwa lata po jego napisaniu. Jednak w cuda wierzę.

A więc istnieją cuda i dobrzy ludzie, dzięki którym dotarło jeszcze jedno Wołanie w nocy Władysława Szlengla.

A może Bóg zawstydził się i nie chcąc pozostawić „karty" poety - czystej, pomógł w tym odnalezieniu, aby na czystej karcie obrachunku dopiasano jakiś czyn...

Z odnalezionego obecnie wiersza dowiadujemy się, że poeta w chśmmiał 32 lata.

Halina Birenbaum:

The Newly Found Poem of Władysław Szlengel
"Nowiny Kurier" (Friday, Feb.22, 1985)
Translated by Edyta Gawron

Władysław Szlengel, a very popular poet from Warsaw entitled one of his poems, that was circulating in the orphaned ghetto, expecting in spring 1943 the final extermination - ”An Account With God”.

Part of the Szlengel’s poetry was found after the war under the ruins of the ghetto of Warsaw together with the archive of the historian E. Ringelblum and was published in Warsaw, in a volume entitled “What I Was Reading to Dead”. At the end of the volume it was explained that the poem „An Account With God” was mentioned in the notes of Ringelblum, but was never found. What’s known was only one stanza, which might remind the content of such a composition; it might also be a part of another poem of the poet. Szlengel perished in a bunker during the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto and even his age wasn’t precisely known.

„After I had read “What I Was Reading to Dead” I wrote and published in the „Nowiny” newspaper an article called ”A Word that Never Dies” (21.10.83), where I described the circumstances in which I got acquainted with the Szlengel’s poems. In this stanza I immediately recognized „An Account with God” and I quoted several sentences of the poem, which particularly were engraved in my memory” - wrote Halina Birenbaum in the letter to the editor.

„After more than a year I received a letter from Haifa, from Mr. I. Szulman, where he informed me, that after reading my article in the „N.K.”, he remembered that right after the war his acquaintance gave him a hand-written copy of the poem „An Account with God” which he received from someone from Warsaw. Only now he succeeded in finding it in his papers and if I was interested he would gladly give it to me...

Mr. Szulman is from Warsaw, together with his wife and a daughter he survived the war in Russia.

With emotions that are hard to describe I took the poem out of his hands. I am grateful to the Fate for this great honor of taking an accidental part in retrieving the poem, 42 years after it had been written.

If I were religious I would probably have to say there was a God’s hand in it. However I believe in miracles, though these are just people who make them, or rather the goodness that they carry in.” - writes to us Mrs. Halina Birenbaum.

Out the found poem we have learned that the poet wrote the verses when he was 32 years old, which was in the years 1942-1943.

The editorial staff of "Nowiny Kurier” wish to thank Mrs. Halina Birenbaum and Mr. I. Szulman for making available the publication the newly found poem of Władysław Szlengel.

Władysław Szlengel

Wołanie w nocy Wiersze lipiec - wrzesień 1942

Wiersze te, napisane między jednym A drugim Wstrząsem, w dniach konania
Największej w Europie Gminy Zydowskiej
Między końcem lipca a wrześniem 1942,
Poświęcam ludziom, o kt
órych mogłem się
Oprzeć w godzinach zawiei i kompletnego chaosu.
Tym nielicznym, kt
órzy umieli w wirze zdarzeń,
W tańcu przypadku śmierci i protekcyjek
Pamiętać, że nie tylko rodzina... nie tylko
Koligacje... Nie tylko pieniądze...
Ale należy ratować tych nielicznych ostatnich
ów, których całym kapitałem i jedyną
Bronią jest słowo.
Do tych, do których dotarło moje...


w nocy...

A Cry in the Night
Poems Written Between July and September 1942

Translated by John Nowik and Ada Holtzman

These poems were written between the first
And second  upheavals,
In the last dying days of agony
Of the largest Jewish community in Europe
Between July and September 1942,
I dedicate it to people on whom I could lean
Myself in the hours of blizzard and complete chaos
To those few  who knew in the whirlpool of events,
In the dance of fate death and protectionism
Remember, that not only family...not only
Connections... not only money...
But also must be saved those few and the last of the Mohicans,
Whose entire capital and
Entire arms is only the word,
To those to whom my cry has reached...

My cry...

in the night...

Władysław Szlengel - The Ghetto Poet, Alive, Dying, Fighting
Natan Gross
Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman

Władysław Szlengel was born at Warszawa in 1914. His father - a painter who made a living from painting boards and announcements for the cinema. He sent his son to school of Commerce but Władysław, who helped his father in his work' discovered already in school his talent for rhyming and he found, very quickly, a way to reach newspapers and weeklies, and another path he took was his access to theaters and "Review Theaters.

At the same time Szlengel published poems and satirical prose in the satirical newspaper "Szpilki", "Pins", but also in the Jewish newspaper "Nasz Przegląd" ("Our Review") he published gloomy prophetic poems which foreboded the approaching storm - the Hitlerian danger which threats the whole human kind. Also these poems tended to a publicist style - and they clearly send their message, without metaphors or literary ornaments, see his pessimist poems like "Don't Buy the New Year Calendar" or "A Frightened Generation".

The separation from the Polish environment was very painful to Szlengel. We learn about it from his poems full of nostalgia to Warszawa. In one of them, "The Telephone", he tells how while sitting near the telephone, he wanted to speak to one of his Polish friends behind the wall of the Ghetto. To his amazement, he found out that he has nobody to call, as their ways were completely separated during the Ghetto times. This poem was probably among the first ones he wrote after the erection of the Ghetto.

The next poems are rather a chronicle of the Ghetto life and its future. His poetry was written to the literary crowd, which had gathered in "Sztuka" (art) coffee-shop on Leszno Street. There Szlengel gave a show on the stage, together with other satirical writers, such as Leonid Fukszanski, "Mecenas Wacus (Waclaw Tajtelbaum), Andrzej Wlast - very well known names before the War - and also Pola Braun, the singers Wera GGran and Marysia Ajzenstadt, the piansit Władysław Szpilman and others.

The poems were not written only to the actual crowd of the "living diary", or lovers of his poetry, recited in many parties and special evenings in private homes, Szlengel was aware of the fact that he was writing for history and also to the future reader. For this reason he assembled his poems in files which he distributed in various hiding place in the Ghetto and outside the Ghetto.

To mark the 35th anniversary of Ghetto Warszawa's uprising, Irena Maciejewska published all the poems, which she managed to find - excepone: " The key at the Concierge ". This is an ironic poem, aimed at all those whowere the first to tathe opportunitgiven to them by the Germans, to rob the Jewish property and also the first to serve the new Masters. This poem was not included in the collection published in Warszawa, but we learn that Szlengel himself refrained from including it in his collection. And thus he wrote to the "pedants" who would come one day and publish his poetry: "I didn't include my poem "The key at the Concierge" because I wait with publication of this drastic subject (the title should not be taken as simple as it sounds) to days when the nationalist instincts which were inflamed by the brown shirts will fade, and with peace we will make the account with the sins of our neighbors." The poem was published in the anthology of Michal Borwicz ("Piesn ujdzie calo" - The song will sourvive, 1947) and also in the anthology of the satirical Polish poetry of Leon Pasternak and Jan Spiwak (1950).

Szlengel does not explicitly to these subjects. There is no exact key to the chronology of Szlengel's poems. But we can assume according to the contents of the poem, when they were written. So is the poem "Things", which is a rather living history of the deportations and decreasing the Ghetto's space, or "A Page from the Diary of the Actions" which describes the heroic expel of Janusz Korczak and his orphan children to the Umschlagplatz - a rare document of an eye-witness - and "Kontratak", (Counterattack) a giant testimony page to the Jewish armed uprising on 19 April 1943.

Władysław Szlengel lived all the Ghetto period and he perished during the Warszawa Ghetto uprising in April, in the bunker of Szymon Kac on 36 Swietojenska Street, and with his sharp brilliant pen, he brought into expression the tragedy which occurred there. He didn't refrain from attacking the masters from the Jewish Police, by writing names and incidents.

Szlengel erected a memorial to the simple man and he left a very unique description of the Jewish revolt. He writes under all circumstances and see himself as the diarist in a sinking ship, the poet of the dying and the murdered. His opening lines to the collection of his poems - "What I Read to the Dead" is so shocking and explain the situation of the Ghetto's prisoners,in such truthfulness that compared to it, thousand of papers written about the subject since then become pale.


Ziuta... Asia... Eli... Fanja... Siuma... Do they tell you anything? Nothing.

People... unnecessary people. They were thousands of them. In thousands they were driven to the Umschlagplatz, in thousands they were bitten by the whip, torn apart from their families, loaded into the cargo trucks, poisoned by gas. Not important. The Statistics will not mark them , they will not be given any  commendation.

Names. Empty sounds. For me they were living people, relatives, tangible, these are human lives whom I have known from events in which I participated. These tragedies intensified by feelings are more important for me than the fate of Europe.

They are gone...

As a farewell, the S.S. officer shoots at the group who was realeased.

Władysław Szlengel

Władysław Szlengel: Selected Poems
Translated and Edited by Halina Birenbaum & Ada Holtzman

(Spis treści - partial list)

 Co czytałem umarłym – What I Read to the Dead (Polish)        Hebrew    אשר קראתי למתים

   Posłowie  Epilogue (Hebrew) |  Notatka dla pedantów     Note to the Pedants (Hebrew) |  Do polskiego czytelnika   To the Polish Reader (Hebrew)

 Szałasy (Nasz Przeglad - (Our Review) 20.09.1937) - Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacle) –סוכות

 Wiosna na ulicy Pawiej (18.04. 1937) - Spring on the Pawia Street – אביב ברח' פאביה

 Wiersz na temat nieżydowski , ("Nasz Przeglad", 5.10. 1937) - A Poem not about a Jewish Theme שיחה  על נושא לא-יהודי

 Samolot (6.04.1937) - An Aeroplane - אוירון

 Nihil Novi (1937)

 Warszawa III (25.04. 1937) - (na marginesie felietonu Pierrota:"Warszawa II") - On the margins of a Feuilleton by Pierrot „Warsaw II")

 Sklepiki (18.12.1938) - Small Shops – קטנות חנויות

  Płyną okręty (Quasi una Fantasia) 1938 - Ships are Sailing (almost a Fantasy) הספינות מפליגות (כמעט פאנטסיה)

 Szukam cłowieka (1938) - I'm looking for a Human Beinמחפש בן אדם

 Przerażone pokolenie (25.01. 1939) - Frightened Genaration דור מבוהל

 Prima Aprilis (1939) - "Nasz Przeglad" (Our Review) - 1st Aprilראשון באפריל

  Niemowlę ( 1.01.1939) - An Infant - 1939 תינוק

 Kol Nidrei (14.09.1937כל נדרי-  (

 Malzenstwo Dyktatora, Szpilki (1939) - Pins, The Marriage of the Dictator (a Feuilleton חתונת הדיקטטור – פלייטון - (

 Cisza (Akwarela letnia) (13.08.1939) - Silence (Summer Aquarelle) שקט -  (אקוורל קיצי)

 Tobuł tułaczy 5.02.1939 - A Bundle of a Vagabond – שק של נדודים

The Warsaw Ghetto Poems ( From the Book of Irena Maciejewska)

Co Czytalem Umarlym- What I read to Dead

Co czytałem umarłym – What I Read to the Dead (Polish)     

  Hebrew    אשר קראתי למתים

What I Read to the Dead (English)

   Posłowie  Epilogue (Hebrew) |  Notatka dla pedantów     Note to the Pedants (Hebrew) |  Do polskiego czytelnika   To the Polish Reader (Hebrew)

 Wołanie w nocy - A Cry in the Nightבכי בלילה -

 Okno na tamtą stronę - The Window to the Other Side – חלון הפונה לצד ההוא

 Telefon - The Telephone - הטלפון

 Legendy wigilijne - Legends of the Eve of Christmas – אגדות ליל חג המולד

 Dwaj panowie na śniegu - Two Men on the Snow – שני אדונים בשלג

 Paszporty - The Passports - דרⳫונים

 List - The Letter - מכתב

 Alarm - אזעקה

 Klucz u Stróża - The Key is at the Concierge – המפתח אצל השוער

 Mała stacja Treblinki - The Small Station of Treblinka – התחנה הקטנה טרבלינקה

 Obrachunek z BogiemAn  Account with God, Warsaw Ghetto 1943 – חשבון עם אלוהים

 Kartka z dziennika akcji - A Page from the Diary of the Actions – דף מיומן האקציה

 Okolice Warszawy - Warsaw Suburbs – פרוורי וארשה

 Pomnik - The Monument - אנדרטה

 Dzwonki – Bells - הצילצולים

 Rozmowa z dzieckiem - Talking with a Child – שיחה עם ילד

 Nowe święto - A New Holiday – חג חדש

 Ostatnia legenda o Golemie - The Last Legend about the "Golem" of Prague – האגדה האחרונה אודות הגולם

 Cylinder - A Cylinder (Top Cap) - הצילינדר

 Wiersz o dziesięciu kieliszkach - A Poem about Ten "Chalices" (Wine Glasses) – שיר אודות עשר כוסות

 Cyrk - A Cyrcus - הקרקס

 Zahlen bitte! - You Have to Pay Please! – נא לשלם בבקשה!

 Dwie śmierci - Two Deaths – שתי מיתות

 W ten dzień - At This Day – באותו היום

 Piękna niedziela - The Beautiful Sunday – יום ראשון היפה

 Romans współczesny - A Contemporary Romance – רומן בן זמננו

 Erotyk anno domini 1943 - An Eroticist Year 1943 - ארוטיקן שנת 1943

 Dajcie mi spokój - Leave Me in Peace - עיזבוני במנוחה

 Bardzo przepraszam - I Beg Your Pardon - סליחה רבה

 Rzeczy - Things - החפצים

 Już czas - It's Time  - זה הזמן

 Za pięć dwunasta - Five minutes to Midnight - חמש דקות לחצות

 Kontratak (wersja II)  - Counterattack  - התקפת נגד

Varia - Various - שונות

 Résumé, czyli Krakowiaki makabryczne - Resume of the Macabre Krakoviacs - תקציר קרקוביקים מקבריים

 Pamiętają o mnie (Piosenka Majera Mlinczyka) - They Remember Me (A poem by Majer Mlinczyk) - זוⳫרים אותי

 Fraszki - Trifles - זוטות

 Trzy listy o wąsach i bródce - Three Letters about a Moustache and a Short Beard - שלושה מכתבים על אודות השפם והזקנקן

 Pożegnanie z czapką - Parting from a Cap - פרידה מכובע

Selected Poems I (Polish & English)

Selected Poems II (Polish & Hebrew)

Selected Poems III (Polish & Hebrew)

Selected Poems IV (Polish & Hebrew)

Ce que j’ai lu aux morts… Szlengel Poetry Translated from Polish to French by Jean-Yves Potel


What I Read to the Dead (Polish) 

What I Read to the Dead (Hebrew)

What I Read to the Dead (English)

What I Read to the Dead (English -  in Kobos Web Site "SHOAH") 

We Remember Władysław Szlengel, The Ghetto Poet! We Shall Not Forget!

This web page was first posted in April 2003, 60 years after the Warsaw ghetto uprising

It was last updated on April 6th, 2013 (update nr. 34)


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