DONNA DONNA – history of a song

Donna Donna, once introduced by Joan Baez: the song was a political statement in Israel during WWII to encourage resistance vs. Nazi racism … read more at
below: me playing the melody on my guitar …

lyrics written by Aaron Zeitlin, translation by Kevess & Schwartz, the music was composed by Sholom Secunda
title=”Auschwitz/Birkenau” – photo by stevieboyuk, click on the picture to enter his galleries on Flickr
Itzhak Katzenelson, who performed the protest song, was killed by the Nazis in Auschwitz 1944. – Lyrics, written by Aaron Zeitlin:
“On a wagon bound for market
There’s a calf with a mournful eye.
High above him there’s a swallow
Winging swiftly through the sky.
“Stop complaining,” said the farmer,
“Who told you a calf to be?
Why don’t you have wings to fly with
Like the swallow so proud and free?”
Calves are easily bound and slaughtered
Never knowing the reason why.
But whoever treasures freedom,
Like the swallow has learned to fly.”
me singing:

if interested read more about the topic at


About frizztext

writer, photographer, guitarist

25 responses to “DONNA DONNA – history of a song

  1. We were taught this one in school! I didn’t know the story behind this song. Thanks.


  2. I’m traveling this week, and the connection is too poor to pull up anything except text. i look forward to enjoying this and stand by me soon! z


  3. peters154

    A very interesting story. I had heard a version by Donovan, but did not know the history of the song. Makes me interested in learning about other songs from WWII.


  4. I know this song since a camp in 1972. I like it and actually it was one of the first songs I played on guitar. To me it was a bit melancholic but reading about the true story makes me realize there is an extra depth behind the lines. Thanks for sharing!


  5. I grew up singing this song. It is a powerful piece, and you play it well.


  6. Ah, beautiful rendition Frizz 🙂


  7. I didn’t know the story behind the song. Music is a great force for resistance. thank you for sharing this.


  8. thank you for putting up this song and the story behind it. very moving.


  9. So pleased to have this info that Joan Baez did this anti-Nazi song!


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  13. Anonymous

    Not so much anti-Nazi as anti-passivity. Pro-resistance…or just pro flying the hell out of Germany.


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  16. I like both versions. I was never a big fan of this song, but certainly it is a good one. And you play it very well.


  17. Real informative… I enjoy learning cool facts about things most people would just assume sounded good.. the history of songs can tell the meaning as well… thankso for the new info….


  18. Makes me want to start playing again. Very nice!


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