Elena Rimdžiūtė: Video of Christian Witness to the Holocaust in Šeduva, in Northern Lithuania

VILNIUS—The Lithuanian Yiddish Video Archive (LYVA), a Defending History affiliated project, providing hundreds of Yiddish language video interviews in the “Lithuanian lands” (today’s Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, eastern Ukraine and northeastern Poland), conducted from 1990 to 2020 has just released a Holocaust-history extract from a longer interview, conducted in May 2000 in Šeduva, northern Lithuania, with the town’s last Yiddish speaker, the Christian Lithuanian native of the town, the late Elena Rimdžiūtė. As is evident from the clip, the interviewer, Dovid Katz, was focused on Elena’s Yiddish folksongs, and the Holocaust arises, at first tangentially, when Elena speaks of her friends who are no more.

See DH’s Šeduva section

The clip on Youtube is accompanied by a draft English translation (in the “Description Box”). This remarkable woman’s honesty, integrity, and desire to Just Tell it Straight, makes for a striking contrast with the current Baltic academic establishment’s claptrap about Prague Declarations, equivalence of totalitarian regimes, tale of two Holocausts, and fairy tales about the “uprising against the Soviets” celebrated in Vilnius’s Genocide Museum (recently renamed), and promoted by the state-sponsored Genocide Center and numerous public shrines to local Holocaust murderers of 1941.

Here is Ms. Rimdžiūtė’s genuine Šeduva Yiddish rendition of the beloved song, where a girl explains that she wants neither new clothes from the tailor nor shoes from the shoemaker but expresses her sadness that all the other girls have boys (altered in the final stanza to ‘get married’). The clip is followed by a draft English translation concluding with a transcription of song in Šeduva Yiddish.

Translation of extract of interview of Elena Rimdžiūtė (ER) by Dovid Katz (DK) in May 2000:

DK: Same songs are fine, sure, sing them for us, but the whole song, can you sing it for us?
ER: Nu?
DK: Yes!
ER: But which one?
DK: One moment, let me sit here [near camera] so your eyes will be to [the camera].
ER: I have not spoken Yiddish for a long time! There’s nobody, we have nobody to talk to!
DK: You speak very well!
ER: I’ve forgotten… You mean singing? Well, I with my little dog, we walk in the forest, both of us, and there I sing! Nobody hears and there I enjoy singing. So I like to sing a little bit, and go to the forest, so nobody will hear me and I’m happy. Nobody can hear me, nobody understands me, She [a neighbor] think I’m meshúge. There’s nobody to talk to. Nobody speaks Yiddish here. I had a girlfriend in Panevėžys, she and her mother spoke Yiddish well, we used to speak Yiddish.
DK: Is she not around?
ER: Not around? all the Jews were—boom boom—they were all shot. The Germans [shot them]. No, not Germans. It was Lithuanians who shot them. The Germans only photographed, weren’t over there.
DK Who did the shooting?
ER: Lithuanians.
DK Which ones?
ER: They have now died out. I’m old, they died a long time ago already.
DK: Fascists?
ER Fascists!?! What Fascists!? All of them who did the shooting just wanted to take the fine Jewish possessions. The Jews were richer. They had all kinds of things. They shot everyone. They shot all the rich ones. They came from the nearby villages and shot them.
DK: Okay, sing a few songs! Maybe you can sing ‘Der tepl hot a lekhl’, from beginning to end, slowly, nobody will interrupt, nobody is listening in.
ER: I know others too!
DK: But start with, okay! As you wish!
ER: [sings a local variant of Yóme Yóme, using ‘Yómin’ with final ‘n’, perhaps conflated with ‘m’ of previous syllable = Yómim (?) for historic Benyómen ‘Benjamin’]):

  • Yómim, Yómim, zing a lídale
  • vos di méydale vil
  • Yómim, Yómim, zing a lídale
  • vos di méydale vil.
  • *
  • Di méydale vil shíkhalakh hobn
  • darf men geyn bam shúster zogn
  • *
  • Neyn, máminke neyn!
  • du kenst mir nit farshtéyn!
  • du veyst nisht vos ikh méyn!
  • *
  • Ale méydalakh hobn íngalakh on ikh blayb aleyn
  • Ale méydalakh hobn íngalakh on ikh blayb aleyn
  • *
  • Yómim, Yómim, zing a lídale
  • vos di méydale vil
  • *
  • Di méydale vil a kléydale hobn
  • darf men geyn bam sháynderke zogn
  • *
  • Neyn, máminke neyn
  • du kenst mir nit farshtéyn
  • du veyst nisht vos ikh méyn
  • *
  • Ale méydalakh hobn khásene on ikh blayb aleyn
  • Ale méydalakh hobn khásene on ikh blayb aleyn

This clip is a short excerpt from a May 2000 onsite session. Video by Piotr Ivanov
Read more in the Šeduva section in Defending History.
Part of the Lithuanian Yiddish Video Archive (LYVA).

This entry was posted in Documents, Film, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Šeduva (Sheduva, Shádeve, Shádov) and its Free-of-Jewish-Staff "Museum of the Lost Shtetl" and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
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