Liberation of Auschwitz 75 years later – a poem

Liberation of Auschwitz 75 years later - Holocaust SurvivorAs the world commemorates the Liberation of Auschwitz after 75 years, strange things are happening. At Remember.org we focus on people’s history, not the political games or storytelling surrounding the events at Auschwitz, especially in recent years.

In one of the original interviews for Remember.org, Yehuda Bauer of Hebrew University at that time shared:

Liberation of Auschwitz – Holocaust as Code Concept

“So there is a tremendous credibility crisis for Christianity, there is another credibility crisis for Judaism too, because where was God at Auschwitz? The usual question, but for both these monotheistic religions there are tremendous crises, out of this event, so the importance of the Jew in Western civilization is another reason why this has become a
code, a code concept.”

Holocaust has become a code concept for many political leaders, and as this poem by Alan Forrest Smith shares, we need to move beyond this code concept.


 

Knock knock
Who is this
It is I please open the door
Who is I
It is I and I have to speak with you

The door opened
A long face of an old Jewish man peers from the space between the door frame and the door

Are you Isaac?
Yes I am he

Isaac you and your family must come with me must come with us
Who are you?
I am, we are death and we have to come to devour you?
Death identify yourself

We are fear
We are hatred
We are nationalist
We are populist
We are those that follow a command of a man to do as he commands.
We are nazi
We are the final solution

Death why do you do the things?
We are saved and our salvation belongs to our leader
Come quickly and die
The millennial reign has begun

The guns pointed to my face
I called my family
As one we left our home and followed death

We walked in the cold
We starved in the cold
We traveled in the cold until the train reached its deathly destination

Once the train stopped all I could hear were the sounds of the birds outside
Fear had prevented all occupants of the train from making a single sound despite some of us sitting next to the corpses of travelers that had to leave early

Death finally opened the door of the cart
It is I death again
Follow me in shame
Prepare for your glorious moment in pain but glorious all the same

This was the moment they took my wife
“Eve I love you my darling”
I never saw her again.
This was the moment they took my children
My sons and daughters I love you”
I never saw them again

Death asked me …

Isaac what do you do?

I make things

What kind of things?
I make people look and feel wonderful I am a tailor

A tailor of fine clothes?

Yes I replied to death

Death then took me away from the vanishing and set me to work on a new suit for death and the friends of death

More arrived
More were torn apart
More died
Death was busy and still waiting for me

Now look at me
The years have passed and death forget about me
I am found
I am alive
My skin is all that holds my body together
I am devoured and worn and eaten and degraded

Sir who are you asked a man

I am a son of Adam
A son of Abraham
A son of God
Where was God when you needed him?
Are you death?
No I am here to help you
Where is your God?
Are you life?
No I am just a soldier, why did your God allow this?

God never left me
God never left anyone
God is here right now
I am a son of Adam
A son of Abraham
A son of God

I saw the man look at me as if I was crazy. Perhaps I was, perhaps I have become crazy, perhaps I am crazy itself.
All I know is death brought me to hell
I lost everything
My Eve
My children
My everything
Yet I cannot allow death to remove all I had and that was my faith

I am a son of Adam
A son of Abraham
A son of God

Copyright Alan Forrest Smith AFS28012020


 

Liberation of Auschwitz
We are the Children of the Holocaust – poem by Rudi Raab

The Holocaust has a way to bring us together as well, to remember so those lives lost are not repeated. Of course we are not close, though if you honoring the memories and the humanity lost is the goal, we have to keep trying.

Compare that understanding that the Holocaust can bring us together, instead of divide us, no matter where we live.

For example, this week commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,

It is hard to imagine a more succinct description of the meeting that took place, this past Thursday, in Israel. Some forty heads of state or state representatives—Vice-President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Prince Charles; Presidents Vladimir Putin, of Russia, Emmanuel Macron, of France, and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, of Germany (though, significantly, not Andrzej Duda, of Poland)—travelled to Jerusalem to attend the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, and to participate in the fifth World Holocaust Forum, hosted by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum and historical institute. The Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, speaking at a welcoming reception on Wednesday evening, said, “Tomorrow we will gather to remember and to promise: Never again!” Ilona would not have doubted Rivlin’s sincerity or his erudition, yet she grasped that, for anyone born at a distance from, or after, the war’s atrocities, the claim “to remember”—to present oneself as scarred—is to engage in a kind of anachronistic moral positioning. For liberal writers and politicians, “to remember” is a cue to invoke the supreme cruelty of the Holocaust and to commit to institutions that promote tolerance. But, for nationalist writers and politicians, “to remember” is also an opportunity to appropriate moral prestige, adding to their distinction or shielding their cause from scrutiny.The New Yorker

Vladimir Putin upped the Holocaust ante last week by claiming 1.4 million Jews died in the Ukrained alone. Russian armies basically created some of the most important reminders we have at Auschwitz, after blowing up many original buildings and replacing them later.

“The Israeli, Polish, and Russian governments, all custodians of grim histories, are also reactionary populists—all using memory to make their nations dangerously self-justifying. For Israel, this means insisting that Polish anti-Semitism is endemic; for Poland, it means seeing Polish anti-Semitism as episodic. But this is not a real fight over history. It is a rival ‘memory’ in the service of a similar politics.”

Amos Goldberg, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Liberation of Auschwitz 75th Commemoration

Instead of allowing the memory of the Holocaust to be used for political purposes, today let’s remember that it’s about the people, not the politics. That using history in this way denies so much of what was created by the act of survival itself.

So many seemed interested in reshaping the history of the Holocaust instead of moving to compassion and understanding. In a way, it is our own kind of Holocaust denial.

“Well that is a fairly obvious reaction; the denial of the
Holocaust stems from the incapability of a society to accept what
it did. In a broader sense, not in an American sense, also all
these professors who stand up and say what you said they say, are
really aiming at American democracy, let’s become Hitlerites you
know, turn America into a well ordered, law and order society and
for that we don’t need the Jews. And how wonderful the Nazi
society was, they never did anything to the Jews. So the aim is
not the Jews actually, the aim is American society.” Yehuda Bauer