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Passions in Poetry

Treblinka..................by request

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Balladeer
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0 posted 01-24-2000 06:07 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to Submit your Poem to Passions   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer


( I've been asked to repost this by a friend. )

The old man sat across the table right against the wall.
He didn't smile or say too much of anything at all.
His beer glass, several times refilled, his only company,
And eyes were squeezed shut like a man who didn't want to see.

As time went on, the more it touched my curiosity
To see this old man sitting there who didn't want to see
Till finally I approached him, and with my youthful air
Said, "Speak, man! Grief is easier to handle when it's shared."

"Begone, my son," he gently said. "You cannot share my pain;
You cannot share the memories I keep within my brain;
You cannot share my tragedy nor change our history.
Begone, I say, you cannot use a tired old man like me."

His words did not deter me, though. In fact, I was amazed
To hear his words of tragedy so eloquently phrased.
I signalled to the barman and he filled his cup with ale;
"Speak, man, ", I smiled, "and share with me this grim and ghastly tale."

Very well," he lifted up his glass, "I have just returned
From a visit to a place I knew where men and women burned.
You've asked me so I'll tell you and raise my glass and drink a
Toast to a place we hated most - The one they call Treblinka."

Although he looked straight at me, I felt I was not there
As the old man's mind raced backward and stopped at who-knows-where?
His stare became quite vacant; He pronounced his words with care,
And I knew he was recalling those words he muttered there.

"The country air was beautiful", the old man's voice was gay.
"A warm breeze touched my wrinkled cheek and slowly danced away.
The railroad tracks, deserted now, shone brightly in the light
And flowers blooming in the hills gave color to the sight."

"Looking at this tranquil scene, who could ever think a
Place with such a pretty name as the one they call Treblinka
Could hold the place in history that it possesses now
With Majdanek, Sobibor, Belsec and Birkenau?"

"The odor of the railroad cars they loaded us into
Has lingered in my mind since that July of Forty-two.
Two hundred screaming bodies, all bewildered .... mystified,
Gasped for breath and prayed for air and, fearfully, we cried."

"My wife and I were gathered up and forced into that train,
Trying to keep our wits about in a whole world gone insane.
She put her arms around me and she tried hard not to cry,
The only look upon her face was one that questioned - why?"

"We should have known!" the old man cried. "The answer came too late;
We should have known on Kristalnacht Of nineteen thirty-eight!.
When shops and synagogues were burned we should have sensed the doom
That Europe was being turned into a monstrous Jewish tomb."

"The railroad ties passed quickly as we left our world behind
And memories from days gone came slowly into mind.
Pieces of a puzzle were now falling into place,
Filling out a picture that would shock the human race."

"The Kinderfachabteilungen! Could we have been so blind?
Grafeneck! Hartheim! Hadamar! And, finally, Sonnenstein!
Nitsche! Aktion Reinhardt! and Tiergartenstrasse Four
Set off an anger burning, raging to our very core!"

"But we did nothing in return for we could not believe
A fanatical race of madmen could continue to deceive
The entire world. So we stayed calm and patiently stood by
While, in the meantime, Jewish men and Jewish women died."

"We arrived there late next morning, the twenty-fourth day of July.
Our clothes were torn, our muscles ached, our throats were parched and dry;
And as we looked between the cracks at that little station,
No one suspected we had reached our final destination."

"We were prodded out with rifle butts and forced into the square.
'Men to the right! Women left! Children over there!'
Screams and shouting filled the air; My head reeled with each yell
And I felt I'd been transported to the very depths of Hell!"

"My wife was torn from out my grasp!I tried to get her back
But my arms were pulled behind me by some Nazi maniac.
I saw her lips call out my name as she was dragged away-
A sight, my son, I will remember 'til my dying day."

"We were herded into barracks and they forced us to believe
That, instead of dying aimlessly, we were given a reprieve.
GANZ NACKT! SCHUHE ZUSAMMEN BINDEN! Strip! Shoes together tied!
GELD UND DOKUMENTE MITNEHMEN! Oh, how they must have laughed inside!"

"One guard called,'Are there carpenters? Can anyone read a plan?'
And though I'd never touched a nail, I screamed out, 'Yes! I can!
Thus I was left behind while others were led out through the door
Never to be seen or heard from- never, evermore."

"Those of us behind were forced to gather all the clothes,
Put the shirts and pants and shoes and such in separated rows;
Clothes which had, just hours before, been on the backs of men
Backs which had stood straight and -proud, but never would again."

"After that the trains increased to eight or nine a day;
Thousands came and were undressed and quickly led away.
We stood there waiting, eyes closed tight as they filed out the door,
Then scurried quickly as we could to do our ghastly chore."

"As we saw the victims' faces, so arrogant and proud,
We wanted to scream the truth to them.We wanted to shout out loud,
'Rebel, you fools! For only Death lies just beyond that door!'
But we stood mute so we could live perhaps just one day more."

"At night the place wherein we slept was full of cries and moans,
All of us together yet each one so alone,
Trying to keep a spark of hope in our otherwise futile lives
And we'd learned now what had happened to our families and wives."

"Beyond that door of no return there was a narrow lane
Where men were lined in rows of five and forced to run in vain.
The path stopped at the showers where all were forced inside,
And, seconds after entering, six million people died."

"The showers! After thirty years my flesh still crawls inside
When I think about the evil way so many people died.
Six million prayers for miracles that their lives would be spared.
Six million bodies lying in a common grave they shared."

"The Jewish SONDERKOMMANDOS were forced to carry them out side
And heap them into lime pits where they placed them side by side.
Thousands upon thousands in their final resting place -
All because of a madman who despised the Jewish race."

"It was done with cruel efficiency and in such cold-bloodedness
That I slept nights in a cold, cold sweat and I really must confess
One could almost marvel at the simplicity of their plan.
The final ultimatum-man's inhumanity to man."

At those last words he held the mug and drank till it was dry;
Tiny teardrops glistened from the corner of his eye.
The bar was strictly quiet now and all eyes in the place
Were riveted directly on the old man's wrinkled face.

"Days to weeks; weeks to months," the old man's voice went on.
"Spring to summer, then to fall - a wink and they were gone.
The trains kept coming, hour by hour. Was there to be no end?
Tens of thousands, endlessly. It sickened me, my friend."

"You're kind to listen to the ramblings of a weary man,
But I could speak forever of that village of the damned.
I could speak until my lungs gave out, until my voice was gruff;
I could speak till I could speak no more and still not say enough!"

Toward the beginning of Forty-three, The Nazis changed their minds.
Facing defeat, they tried to erase the sins they left behind.
The trains were coming less and less, the graves were overturned,
The bodies placed on giant roasts, and guiltily, were burned."

"Day and night the fanatics worked with fires kept burning bright,
Sending smoke in giant clouds to fill the Polish night.
Like lepers they labored furiously to burn away their sores,
But the guilt and blood spilled on their hands would remain forevermore."

"Those of us remaining there could see the end in sight,
And after weeks of planning, one historic August night --
After years of seeing torture, death, brutality and rape,
We overpowered the 'master race' and made good our escape."

"I know you may not quite believe these words I am relating,
And think instead, this poor old man must be exaggerating,
But, if you still don't grasp my words, then here's a thought for you-
Millions of Jews entered five Polish camps - the survivors were 82."

"Yes, I went back there just last week to where those years were spent,
And instead of camps or buildings there now stands a monument.
Thousands and thousands of granite slabs lie buried in the ground
Representing each victim's nationality and town."

"The size of each slab represents the number of lives that were lost,
Massacred unmercifully in the Nazi holocaust,
And one great slab in the center dwarfs the others by its side
Representing Warsaw, from which three hundred thousand died."

"I stood there on that platform until a fog came rolling by,
And with the giant clouds above me, covering the Polish sky,
A curious thought came to me and it sparked my imagination.
As I watched the clouds and heavy fog, I felt the strange sensationÖ."

"That they were the smoke from all the fires where the Jewish had been burned,
And frantic to let the whole world know, they constantly returned
Crying out their message to The Earth and every member;
They travel the world, whispering 'Remember the Jews! Remember!'

With those last words the old man smiled. He quietly stood up,
And with a toast held toward the sky, he drained his final cup,
Leaving us there, mesmerized by the story we had heard.
He bowed and slipped into the night without another word.

Many years have passed now since I heard the old man's tale;
I tried to find him everywhere but searched to no avail.
The years have been quite good to me--I've lead a pleasant life;
My businesses have prospered and I have a lovely wife.

I live a life of relative ease with a great variety
Of labor-saving gadgets in this computer society.
Surely in this great day and age it couldn't happen and never will.
The thought of it seems quite absurd. Impossible! Yet stillÖÖ.....

Every now and then I find I'm thinking of him yet,
As I see the white smoke rising skyward from my cigarette;
His wrinkled face comes into mind and haunts my memory,
And I think about the little man who didn't want to see.

Or sitting at my fireplace in my cozy living room --
Mind at ease and peaceful with no doubts or thoughts of gloom--
I see the smoke rise up from each and every dying ember,
And the old man's words come back to me, "Remember the Jews. Remember!"


© Copyright 2000 Michael Mack - All Rights Reserved
Meadowmuse
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since 12-27-1999
Posts 3317


1 posted 01-24-2000 06:24 PM       View Profile for Meadowmuse   Email Meadowmuse   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Meadowmuse's Home Page   View IP for Meadowmuse

Balladeer...now THIS is one to save for this evening when all is quiet! Can't wait to read this one in a bit! Wow!

Claire

Martie
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2 posted 01-24-2000 06:31 PM       View Profile for Martie   Email Martie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Martie's Home Page   View IP for Martie

Oh deer, you are just toooo much.  Wow!
Denise
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Posts 23002


3 posted 01-24-2000 06:44 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

I can't even begin to imagine the depth of the pain and suffering inflicted on so many......like the old man, I have to 'shut my eyes' in the face of such tremendous suffering and inhumanity......but never forget. Your piece had the impact of actually being there....very painful.
Excellent writing, Balladeer.

Denise
HelmutB
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since 01-06-2000
Posts 989
Canada


4 posted 01-24-2000 07:02 PM       View Profile for HelmutB   Email HelmutB   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit HelmutB's Home Page   View IP for HelmutB

I know to well what the poem is all about.
Thanks for keeping the memory alive, for this should never happen again. Never.
I am a German and to this day I can never repay. I'm so sorry.

 The ability to describe life with words is similar to painting a picture; both can be powerful tools.

Balladeer
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Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA


5 posted 01-24-2000 07:26 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Than you, good friends.

Helmut, you have no reason to be sorry simply by being German. Germany is a great country and the German people are a proud, hard-working race. I lived there several years. This was just a case of the wrong man being in the right place at the right time, for him. It has happened in other countries, as well. The main thing, as you say, is just to recognize it to prevent it from happening somewhere again.
Seymour Tabin
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since 07-07-99
Posts 32119
Tamarac Fla


6 posted 01-24-2000 07:31 PM       View Profile for Seymour Tabin   Email Seymour Tabin   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Seymour Tabin

Balladeer,
There is no way I can praise this poem,
Except that it be read, in every home.
And reread to each generation.
To the end of our civilization.
And if I myself did not propfecy doom
I would come myself and stick up a broom.
To get you to publish this epopee
But doom or no watch out for me. Sy
Deb Lynne
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since 08-19-99
Posts 181
Where blue skies meet blue oce


7 posted 01-24-2000 08:34 PM       View Profile for Deb Lynne   Email Deb Lynne   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Deb Lynne

MM....this one speaks volumns. Thank you for reminding us how blessed we are & of those who sacrificed for us.  
Deb
WhtDove
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since 07-22-99
Posts 9561
Illinois


8 posted 01-24-2000 11:41 PM       View Profile for WhtDove   Email WhtDove   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit WhtDove's Home Page   View IP for WhtDove

Leaving us there, mesmerized by the story we had heard......that is exactly what you've done to me!  A very tragic story told so well!  It puts sorrow to one's heart, and tears to one's eyes! Very, very well done!

 <*\\\><
Where there is faith,
there is love.
Where there is love,
there is peace.
Where there is peace,
there is GOD.
Where there is GOD,
there is no need.

Hallmark


One Who Understands
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since 01-20-2000
Posts 252
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9 posted 01-25-2000 12:49 AM       View Profile for One Who Understands   Email One Who Understands   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for One Who Understands

It is hard to believe that one man could create such a beautiful poem.  Balledeer I am speechless.  I am going to save this heartfelt creation of yours to read when ever I forget the power of the poem

Thank you so very much!
Marge Tindal
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10 posted 01-25-2000 01:51 AM       View Profile for Marge Tindal   Email Marge Tindal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Marge Tindal's Home Page   View IP for Marge Tindal

Balladeer
One
tear
for
each
time
I
read
this
heartbreaking
piece
~*Marge*~


 ~*The pen of the poet never runs out of ink, as long as we breathe.*~
noles1@totcon.com

suthern
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on the threshold of a dream


11 posted 01-25-2000 07:23 AM       View Profile for suthern   Email suthern   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for suthern

I've long since given up trying to pick a favorite poem of yours... but there are three... the priceless gift in the fragile box, the soldier with the small pain, and this one... that I will always REMEMBER!!
Toerag
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since 07-29-99
Posts 5839
Ala bam a


12 posted 01-25-2000 07:43 AM       View Profile for Toerag   Email Toerag   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toerag

I too am impressed....It's hard to imagine somebody like you could write something like this?....It's hard to believe you can think like this?....It's hard to believe you really have a "friend?".....It's hard to believe you don't write a book of poetry?.....
RainbowGirl
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since 07-31-99
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13 posted 01-25-2000 08:14 AM       View Profile for RainbowGirl   Email RainbowGirl   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit RainbowGirl's Home Page   View IP for RainbowGirl

Bal: I'm lost for words

HUSG

 Don't ask me where I'm going, just listen when I'm gone and far away you'll hear me singing softly to the dawn.

Fred Hobbs
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since 06-08-99
Posts 353
Tallahassee, Florida, US


14 posted 01-25-2000 09:45 AM       View Profile for Fred Hobbs   Email Fred Hobbs   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Fred Hobbs's Home Page   View IP for Fred Hobbs

Balladeer,

I could never forget this poem.  But I hadn't remembered it well enough.  Thanks for reposting it.

fh
Balladeer
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15 posted 01-25-2000 03:45 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Sy....No need for fisticuffs on this one. It is on display in the national holocaust museum in Israel.

Deb Lynne..I thank you for reading.

WhtDove...Thank you for allowing me to move you.

One Who Understands...I appreciate your wonderful reply. Yes, words do have a lot of power.

Marge....What can I say? Thank you, sweet person.

Suthern...I am happy to be listed anywhere among your favorites.

Toerag..can't believe I have a friend? ROTFLMAO!! Toe, my friend, you are a man I would give my last Bud Light to.

Rainbow...your reply speaks loudly and clearly. Thank you, my friend.

Fred....Thanks for participating in the resurrection. I appreciate your words.
HelmutB
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since 01-06-2000
Posts 989
Canada


16 posted 01-25-2000 04:20 PM       View Profile for HelmutB   Email HelmutB   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit HelmutB's Home Page   View IP for HelmutB

Hello Balladeer
I thank you for your words towards myself in your reply at "Treblinka". What I said, I meant. I know I was born long after the war that left it's gruesome trail. Fact is that still today I am confronted with an arm thrown in the air.
The words ďSiegĒ or ďHeilĒ are thrown at me. Sometimes these people think this is funny (sad mistake). Sometimes it reflects the fact that Iím simply German and the hate is within their eyes. And some idiots even think itís good (Neo-Nazis). Throughout my working life, I traveled a lot. I have seen many different countries around the globe. Sometimes the only thing people think about when they hear German is this sad piece of our history. I donít blame them for it.

Things like your poem keeping this history alive and ensures that other know. Therefore, we all can hope that history doesnít repeat itself, as it happens too often.

Living in Canada now, I have access to information that werenít available in Germany. I watched every movie there is, trying to understand. My father was a soldier in WW2, captured at a young age and was POW for 5 years, a teen he was. (I made a poem about my father, what he went through and with thisÖ.me). I read books that I couldnít get in Germany; itís still hard to understand.

Youíre right, the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place. As long as we can keep this alive and made known we all can hope that such a terrible thing will never happened again.

Thatís why I donít mind to say Iím sorry. To help that this will never be forgotten. Unlike others who donít want to deal with their history, I will.

I hope I didnít bother you with this, but I think highly of you and hope you understand why I did write this note to you.

In any case, thank you for your time and the kind words you have left me with

HelmutB
Elizabeth Santos
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since 11-08-1999
Posts 9405
Pennsylvania


17 posted 01-25-2000 04:31 PM       View Profile for Elizabeth Santos   Email Elizabeth Santos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Elizabeth Santos

I am speechless. This is a treasure of a poem, which should be required reading in every school. I'm so glad to know that it is on display at the Holocaust Museum, which is a place I have so wanted to visit and will soon.
Liz
Meadowmuse
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18 posted 01-25-2000 05:53 PM       View Profile for Meadowmuse   Email Meadowmuse   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Meadowmuse's Home Page   View IP for Meadowmuse

remember...remember.

Denise
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19 posted 01-25-2000 08:16 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Congratulations, Balladeer, what an honor to have it on display at the Holocaust Museum in Israel! I don't wonder why.

Denise
John Yaws
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since 10-09-1999
Posts 865
Texas


20 posted 01-25-2000 10:15 PM       View Profile for John Yaws   Email John Yaws   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit John Yaws's Home Page   View IP for John Yaws

"His blood be upon us, and our children"...
a tragic choice and a curse passed on. I am not sure how to respond to the poem, Balladeer, other than: Yes, remember the Jews.
Gemini
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since 12-15-1999
Posts 1223
Wisconsin, USA


21 posted 01-25-2000 11:37 PM       View Profile for Gemini   Email Gemini   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Gemini

A very heartfelt and fantastically written  poinant piece.  Yes, I remember the Jews, the Palistinians, Northern Ireland and lastly the Yugoslavians.  That humanity can perform such attrocities to one another in the name of ethnic cleansing is still too much beyond belief or comprehension.
Mysteria
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British Columbia, Canada


22 posted 04-30-2002 01:30 AM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

I am speechless! Look for an email.

Imagination is more important that knowledge
~* Einstein *~

suthern
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Posts 20770
on the threshold of a dream


23 posted 04-30-2002 08:58 AM       View Profile for suthern   Email suthern   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for suthern

If the day ever comes when this doesn't bring chills to my spine and tears to my eyes, it will be the day I've stopped breathing.
Balladeer
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24 posted 04-30-2002 10:30 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Thank you, Sharon

Suthern gal, don't stop breathing! We've got fireworks in our future!!!!
 
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