Aleksander Herszkowicz collection

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2002.209.1
1 Jan 1930 - 31 Dec 1949
Level of Description
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium




Biographical History

Jankel Herszkowicz (1910-1972) was born on July 22, 1910 in Opatów, Poland. His father, Liber Herszkowicz and his mother Ruchla Bluma Szwarcman Herszkowicz moved to Łódź with their five sons and two daughters. In 1940 the Herszkowicz family was forced into the Łódź ghetto and only one brother, Majer, managed to escape to Russia. In March 1942 Liber, Ruchla Bluma and their youngest son, Aba Lajb, were deported to the Chełmno death camp where they were murdered on arrival. Jankel worked as a tailor, but also composed satirical songs, and became a street singer in the ghetto. He used popular Jewish melodies and wrote satirical songs about the ghetto realities. He performed together with Karol Rozenzweig, who accompanied Jankel on a zither. Jankel sang songs about the food rations, about the abuse of power by the Chairman of the Jewish Council, Chaim Rumkowski, and about soup kitchens. He was loved by the public, who also protected him. In one instance Jankel composed a song about “three Chaims”, which angered the chairman. He was arrested and imprisoned on Franciszkanska Street, but the crowd demanded his release and the next day he was indeed let free. Jankel’s street singer’s career is described in the “Łódź ghetto Chronicle”; entry on December 5, 1941 entitled “Es geyt a yeke mit a teke”. The song described the arrival of German Jews into the ghetto. In August 1944 Jankel was deported to Auschwitz and after a short while he was transferred to Braunschweig labor camp. In May 1945 the camp was liberated by the US Army and Jankel returned to Łódź. He was reunited with his brother Majer (d. 1947), the only other member of his family who survived. In 1953 Jankel married Bogumila and they had two sons: Jurek (b. 1954) and Aleksander (b. 1955.)

Archival History

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


The collection was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Aleksander Herskowicz Cohen in 2002.

Scope and Content

Consists of three handwritten songs written and performed by Jankel Herszkowicz in the Łódź ghetto; ten group photographic portraits of Jankel Herszkowicz with his family and friends in Łódź, Poland, circa 1960; three photographs of Jankel Herszkowicz with Josef Wajsblat and friends at the Łódź Jewish cemetery, circa 1960; an ID photograph of Majer Herszkowicz, Jankel’s brother; a photographic portrait of Cudyk Herszkowicz, Jankel’s brother; c. 1930, in Opatow, Poland; a military ID; issued to Jankiel Herszkowicz in 1949 in Łódź, Poland; and two audio cassettes consisting of recordings of Jankel Herszkowicz and Josef Waisblat of the songs which Jankel sung in the Łódź ghetto; and a book, published in Paris 1994 with texts of Jankel Herszkowicz's songs.


Corporate Bodies


This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.