Won't Be Silent

A haunting melody of Nazi resistance written in a concentration camp is becoming a modern-day anthem for hope and social justice.

    “Let’s be silent.  Let’s be silent, and not a word be said.”

      Lomir Shvaygn (Stay Silent)
      Composed by Wolf Durmashkin

The Yiddish music, Lomir Shvaygn (Stay Silent), was never meant to be found — or heard.  It was lost for 7 decades, along with memory of its composer, Wolf Durmashkin.

But when it was unexpectedly rediscovered in 2017, it launched a mystery and, in turn, a movement.

Vladimir "Wolf" Durmashkin was a renowned composer, pianist, and the youngest conductor of the Vilna Philharmonic Orchestra.   When the Nazis overtook Lithuania in 1941, all Jews, including Wolf and his family were thrown into the Vilna Ghetto.  In spite of his captivity, Wolf received a dispensation to continue conducting the orchestra.  But he was forced to return to the Vilna Ghetto nightly.

In a heroic effort to keep hope and culture alive for Vilna’s Ghetto residents, Wolf and his fellow musicians started the Ghetto Orchestra by smuggling in every instrument – including a piano, which they dismantled and reassembled piece-by-piece.  The Vilna Ghetto Orchestra performed 35 concerts, infusing a sense of normalcy, culture, and hope into the lives of Vilna's captive residents.

But in 1943, Wolf and other Vilna Jews were transferred to the infamous Klooga Concentration Camp in Estonia.  There, he wrote the melody to the Nazi resitance song Lomir Shvaygn (Stay Silent).  Tragically, Wolf was killed just hours before the camp was liberated – silencing his life and his music.

But the remarkable 2017 discovery of a manuscript of Lomir Shvaygn in a rare book at the U.S. Holocaust Museum is keeping Wolf's memory and music alive.  Wolf's nephew, Abe Gurko, realized an opportunity to create a legacy for his uncle and a new mission for his music.  Abe convinced his friend, Grammy-nominated songwriter Kara DioGuardi, to pen new lyrics, transforming Wolf's message of resistance into a song of hope for a modern world challenged by a new age of intolerance and upheaval.

    “We won't be silent, won't be silent, not for one more day.
      We’ll speak out so future generations will be saved."

The new song, Won't Be Silent, struck a chord and launched a mission for Abe.  He’s placing the new song in the hands of contemporary artists who can match the message “Won’t Be Silent” to address the many social action issues that impact our society.

WON'T BE SILENT examines the power of music and its ability to motivate people to find hope and truth to voice social action.  The film traces the journey of a healing piece of music as it’s introduced and reinterpreted by current artists and social rights activists to become a rallying cry for social action.

Among the featured artists are:  Kara DioGuardi (American Idol), the Resistance Revival Chorus (New York), R&B artist and environmentalist Antonique Smith (Los Angeles), violinist Isolde Fair, Bavarian Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir (Munich), Israeli pianist Guy Mintus, and Mexican singer/songwiriter Jaime Kohen.

WON'T BE SILENT is in-production with preliminary taping in the U.S., Germany, and Mexico — and continued production to take place in Germany, Estonia (Klooga Concentration Camp), Lithuania, and Israel.

WON'T BE SILENT traces an improbable, dramatic tale of creative wonder, cruel Nazi oppression, daring heroics, and an enduring drive to inspire hope amidst despair – past…and present.

View All Productions

Wof Portrait

Vilna Orchestra

Stay Silent