Friday, May 11, 2007

Bergen Belsen, 1945

Scott Simon of NPR reports on a rare recording of "Hatikva " from almost 62 years ago. If this doesn't give you goosebumps I don't know what will.

It was recorded by a British reporter on April 20, 1945 in Bergen-Belsen when the British army liberated the few thousand survivors in the concentration camp, half of which were Jewish, most of them at the extremes of their strength. It was recently discovered and apparently was loaned to NPR by the Smithsonian Institute.

The British priest organized prayers for Kabbalat Shabbat for the Jews. It was the first time after six years of war and after more than 10 years of persecution. With a lot of effort the Jews organized themselves and, knowing they were recorded, sang "Hatikva".

As you can hear they sang the original version as it was written by Naftali Imber. Picturing them in the midst of the concentration camp singing after all they had been through renders this a very moving scenario.

Click on the link to hear the moving recording:

Courtesy of Sandy Disler

So many words could be used to describe this 'song'. But perhaps there are no real words to do it justice. Six years had left world Jewry on crutches, and yet despite that, they managed to sing a song. A song that would become the Israeli national anthem. A song whose title means hope. A hope that despite it all managed to burn within each and everyone of them. May we never lose that hope ...

No comments: