Piesn Obozowa (Camp Song)

Lyricist: Zbigniew Koczanowicz
Composer: Ludwik Zuk-Skarszewski
Translated from the Polish

The music and text were written in April 1945 at Falkensee, a subcamp of Sachsenhausen. The piece was associated with a clandestine “camp patrol” that prisoners, including Koczanowicz and Zuk-Skarszewski, formed in 1945. As their liberation neared, the patrol stole arms from a camp arsenal to defend themselves against camp guards.

Separated from the world by barbed wire,
We’re rounded up from everywhere
The longing woven into our hearts,
Throbs like a ringing bell.

You with the striped rag on your back,
Could you forget who you are—and where?
They stitched a number to your breast,
A red triangle and the letter “P”.

And your shaved head reminds you,
Of your burden of sins unknown,
And you yearn for the day
When your will and your purpose return.

Neither stars nor sun bring you happiness,
Neither day nor night yields joy.
You stand and wait, dressed in stripes and shaved bare;
With thousands of others like you.

The words of this song are stained with our blood,
Within them are sorrow and grief,
Yet your camp song will carry beyond these barbed wires
To a distant place unknown to you.

Yet your camp song will carry beyond these barbed wires
To a distant place unknown to you.

Visitors to the Wexner Learning Center can hear a performance in the original Polish of this piece, and many others from the Museum’s Aleksander Kulisiewicz Collection. A Polish poet and musician, Kulisiewicz himself wrote many songs during his imprisonment in Sachsenhausen from 1939 to 1945.