Historical focus    


The Songs They Sang has taken four years to complete and involves a feature documentary and a 27 track CD.

The documentary is an Australian independent production and its duration is 94 minutes. It was filmed in five countries by director Rohan Spong and these include Israel, France, Lithuania and America. The Songs They Sang was produced by Anna Monea and Amadeo Marquez-Perez.

The Songs They Sang CD contains 12 songs written in the Vilna Ghetto, Lithuania during the Holocaust, 10 of which were arranged/recomposed by Australian composer Joseph Giovinazzo. In addition to the songs, Joseph also wrote 13 original compositions.

The majority of the tracks were performed by the following Australian musicians: Deborah Kayser (soprano), Michael Kieran Harvey (piano), Caerwen Martin (cello) and Aaron Barnden (violin).


The Songs They Sang
is the true story of the performances, which took place inside the Vilna ghetto, Lithuania, during World War 11. These performances brought hope to the Jewish people during the horror of the Holocaust.

The film centers on Avrom Sutzkever and Shmerke Kaczerginski, who wrote startling and poetic accounts of Vilna, some of which were set to music and performed in the ghetto. Survivors recall these songs and how the performances provided critical hours of “forgetfulness.”

Survivors provide eyewitness accounts of the events on June 1941 when the German soldiers first invaded Vilna and terror engulfed its citizens. Within days the persecutions began and from an estimated Jewish population of 80,000 about 35,000 were murdered in the Ponar Forest nearby. Those remaining were forced into what became known as the Vilna ghetto.

During the nearly two years of its existence, starvation, disease, mass executions at Ponar and deportations to concentration camps reduced the ghetto’s population from an estimated 40,000 people to a few hundred. The documentary also considers the various people preserving the musical legacies: A young Jewish community leader who struggles to retain the culture and history of his forebears in Lithuania today and a number of people who have a connection to these evocative songs.


An Education Kit based on The Songs They Sang documentary and CD is available as a download. Click here


The Songs They Sang DVD is available at: