Poem from the Holocaust

            June 2012    
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Lieselotte 1941

By Arthur Weil

  Lieselotte snapped out of her slumber
The nine year old, petite, precocious girl,
Crammed next to Mutti in this stinking cattle car.
The cramped humanity, barely room to sit or lie,
Clothes for three days, no latrine
Old, sick, coughing, indigent
Several had died already as the wagons moved on.
Ever so often they would open up the rolling doors
Somewhere in the country.
Always the uniformed, angry guards
With their rifles, guns, dogs, harsh commands
They said "On the way to the East, Poland!"
The sad, eerie sound of wailing, whining,
The endurance of pain - all but mesmerized
The clatter of the railroad wheels below ever moving.

It was barely fourteen months ago,
Their beautiful large apartment in Berlin
Oriental carpets, book cases with leather bound books
Lots of oil paintings adorned the walls,
An upright piano festooned with music pamphlets
Mutti was a great pianist, she even sang,
And dad, a physician, a skin specialist
Enjoyed a large well-earned practice.
"My room," Lieselotte half dreamt and recalled,
"Had my own wardrobe, a small bookcase,
A wonderfull collection of dolls
A clown picture on the wall.
And even a large dollhouse that Mutti and Vati gave me at Chanukah.
During the holidays aunts and uncles would visit
And Ursula my best friend (she wasn't Jewish)
Would laugh and make up droll stories. But all that was before!"
The clatter of the railroad wheels below ever moving.

One day Mutti said, "You must go to a Jewish day school,
That's a rule and new law.
Vati can't practice at the hospital anymore nor treat non-Jewish patients.
Not allowed to go to the Kino, the movies
To the children's matinee on Saturday,
Or play with the other kids outside.
Our maid Justine had to be let go.”

Many friends left for the United States or Palestine,
or South America - things were getting ugly.
The raucous preaching by Hitler or Goebbels, or Goering
Drowned out any privacy.
The clatter of the railroad wheels below ever moving.

One day, on short order: "Must sell everything
and meet at the Marketplace with one suitcase each."
They say the law is the law.
“Pappi always taught me to be honest and obedient
And so I reluctantly went along.
Our apartment was auctioned off in one day
And now we are headed to the Ghetto in Warsaw,
Everywhere there was poverty, hunger, stern faces.
What did we do? We were all so innocent and overwrought.”
The clatter of the railroad wheels below ever moving.

"Was it my fault that my parents were born Jewish
and taught me the ten commandments as best they could?
I must cover my ears", Lieselotte thought.
"I must close my eyes and think of good things,
Birthday parties, Friday evening dinner with the Sabbath candles,
Vacation at the Ostsee at Nordernei.
I must hope again ready for a festive meal."
But Lieselotte's short life, little did she know,
Was coming to an end. Would it end soon?
After weeks of starvation and deprivation, huddled in Warsaw,
The family was broken up.
The clatter of the railroad wheels below ever moving.

One day they were lined up again,
Suitcase filled with what was left.
And so now she is in the jammed cars of cattle wagons ready for,
Yes, ready for Auschwitz. So much prospect! So much hope!
All vanished under the voice of the Final Solution,
The extermination of all Jews.
The clatter of the railroad wheels below ever moving.

All I can say is, "Auf Wiedersehn Lieselotte -
You and one and half million other innocent
Children; victims of a mad, prejudiced society.

The clatter of the railroad wheels ceased.

* * * * *
Arthur Weil can be found at www.poetrypearls.com and you can purchase his books at  Amazon.com under "Arthur Weil."

The author is a survivor of the Kindertransport to America [1000 children],


from the June 2012 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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