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Video Archives: Lazar Burshtein

Lazar Burshtein

Lazar Burshtein

born in Goworowo , 1929


Lazar Burshtein was born in Goworowo (Poland; Yiddish: Govrove) in 1929, where he lived until the 1939 German invasion of Poland. He had five siblings and went to religious school (kheyder) and then studied at a Polish school. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, he fled with his family into Soviet occupied Belorussia, first to Bialystok and then to Bobruisk, where he lived until the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union. After He then fled with his family further east toward the Urals, where he lived in evacuation in Chusovaya for the duration of the war, during which time his parents died. There he met some other Jews from Zhytomyr, and decided in 1944, to settle with them in Zhytomyr.

Current Video: Oreme pleytim (Poor Refugees)

Lazar Burshtein told us when we visited him in 2002 that he remembered hearing this song from German refugees in Poland. The song likely originated among refugees from the First World War.

Another, apparently fuller version of this song, entitled "Gasn zinger," appears in the commercially recorded "Jidische Vergessene Lieder" by Karsten Troyke (1997/98). The details of that album can be viewed here. The text of the song appears on p. 25 of the album's liner notes and was also reproduced online. Karsten tells in his introduction to the liner notes (pp. 6-7), that this song was found by his Yiddish language and Yiddish song mentor Sara Bialas-Tenenberg "in a 10 groszy song book" which she got as a little girl in prewar Poland, when this song was "a Yiddish hit" in the Polish Republic.

Elnt un eynzam bin ikh yung geblibn
On a tatn-mamen
On a heym
Shtark tsu der arbet hot men mikh getribn
Gevolt a mentsh zol fun mir zayn

Oreme pleytim
Farloyrn af der velt
Oreme pleytim
On ayn groshn on an ayn getselt
A gasn-zinger gevorn bin ikh fun noyt
Tsulib a froy gekumen bin ikh tsu dem broyt

Mayn veytog ti ikh aykh atsind oyszingen
In batrakht mayne verter atsind
Tsu vos a froy ken alts tsu brengen
Ven zi hot a man mit a kind

S'iz oys milyonen
Ayn kaptsn bin ikh shoyn tsurik
S'iz oys milyonen
Farloyrn hob ikh mayn glik
Ayn gasn-zinger gevorn bin ikh fun noyt
Tsulib a froy gekumen bin ikh tsu dem broyt.

When I was young I was alone and miserable.
Without a mother and father.
Without a home.
I was pushed to work very hard
As a mentsh I deserved more.

Poor refugees
Lost in the big wide world.
Poor refugees
Without a penny or a roof over my head.
I have become a street singer out of need.
A woman drove me to this profession.

Let me sing to you about my suffering.
Looking at my words now.
And realizing what you can sacrifice for a woman,
when she has a husband and a child.

Are the millions gone.
I was left behind as a beggar.
Are the millions gone.
I lost my fortune.
I became a street singer out of need.
A woman drove me to this profession.