Carol Tellerman

Carol Tellerman was born on 15 December 1922 in Chelm Lubelsky, Poland. She is the oldest survivor of the renowned Hazomir Chorale of Lodz, Poland.  A Jewish choir, Hazomir was founded in 1899 and was the pre-eminent choir in Poland, singing classical repertoire including Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Handel's Samson, Verdi's Requiem and La Traviata (in Yiddish), and Vivaldi's Four Seasons.  The last remnants of the choir performed in the Lodz Ghetto in 1941.

Carol was separated from her husband, Morris, during the war and buried their child, Pearl, alone. They were miraculously reunited in 1945 in the Feldafing Displaced Persons Camp, where she learned the song ‘Ghetto’ from her cousin Abraham Zygielbaum, an actor and brother of Arthur ‘Szmul’ Zygielbaum. In 1947, Carol and Morris immigrated to the United States. Thirty-two members of their immediate family had been murdered.

In 1998, aged 75, Carol sang Kasriel Broydo’s ‘Ghetto’ at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The occasion was a ceremony by the Polish Secretary of State to posthumously award her cousin Arthur ‘Szmul’ Zygielbaum the Chancellor’s Medal, the country’s highest honour.  Carol has subsequently appeared in the PBS documentary, Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland. She has been a volunteer at the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center of North Miami, Florida for 18 years and the Songstress Leader of Yiddish Culture Groups at Temple Beth El in Hollywood, Florida for 10 years.

Arthur 'Szmul' Zygielbaum was a leader of the Underground in the Warsaw Ghetto and was smuggled out to seek help from the Allied Governments. Despite his efforts he was not able to secure any assistance, and martyred himself in an attempt to save the last of Europe’s Jews. His final letter, dated 11 May 1943, read as follows:

The responsibility for the crime of murdering the entire Jewish population in Poland resides in the first instance on the perpetrators, but indirectly it also weighs upon all of humanity, the peoples and governments of the Allied states, which thus far have not taken any concrete action to stop this crime … I cannot be silent and cannot continue to live any more while the remnants of the Jewish nation of Poland, whom I represent, are perishing … My life belongs to the Jewish people of Poland and so I give it to them … Let my death be an energetic cry of protest against the indifference of the world which witnesses the extermination of the Jewish people without taking any steps to prevent it. In our day and age human life is of little value; having failed to achieve success in my life, I hope that my death may jolt the indifference of those who, perhaps even in this extreme moment, could save the Jews who are still alive in Poland … I bid farewell to everyone and everything that was dear to me and loved by me.


The song 'Ghetto' was composed in Vilna by Kasriel Broydo, one of the ghetto's most prolific writers and composers. It was performed as part of the musical revue 'Men ken gornit visn' (You can never know).

Mir shteyen bay di vent 
Mit hertser mit farklemte 
Mit aropgelozte hent, 
Vi bay a veynendiker verbe. 
Es kukn oygn shtar
Un zinken ayn tif in der vatkeyt 
Un s'blaybt in zey der tzaar
Di eybikeyt...

Shver tsu zen di velt durkh enge moyern 
Di shayn hobn farshtelt
Di geto - toyern 
Farmakhst di oygn nor,
Dan zestu alts vi in a kholem 
S'dershaynt vi oyfn der vor
Di groyse velt

Dikh fargesn vel ikh ken mol nit 
Iz dayn hartzike,
Dayn troerik lid
Kh'ze do dayne trern
Dayne umet un dayn payn
K'her do dayn gebet:
Vos vet zayn? Vos vet zayn?

In dayne geto - geslekh iz mir eng
Dos hartz azoy batribt
Un khotsch kh'farshtey s'tut vey - 
Dokh iz mir azoy lib...
Dikh fargesn vel ikh keyn mol nit!

We're standing by the walls, 
With heartache, lost defenseless, 
With our hands that hang and fall
Just like the weeping willow branches.
Into the void eyes stare, 
Peering blindly through the denseness
Only pain is there —
The infinite.

Hard to view the world through crowded dwellings,
Tall gates of ghetto walls all light dispelling
Yet when you close your eyes,
Then everything appears like dreaming, 
And you almost surmise
The great wide world.

In my memory you will never die
My dirge —
Is your heartful,
And your mournful song.
I see all your weeping,
Your sadness I see,
and I hear your pleas,
What will be, what will be?
Within the ghetto alleys there's no room, 
Sadness the heart sustains,
Although I know the hurt —
The love always remains...
In my memory you will never die!