Death is a Master from Germany


         

German execution of Jews

 
 
 
 

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From an Interview with Leon Greenman

Selma Stern 2005

Death Fugue
by Paul Celan

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown

we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night

we drink it and drink it

we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined

A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes

he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete

he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are flashing he whistles his

pack out

he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a grave

he commands us strike up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at sundown

we drink and we drink you

A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes

he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete

you ashen hair Sulamith we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies

unconfined

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you others sing now and play

he grabs at the iron in his belt he waves it his eyes are blue

jab deeper you lot with your spades you others play on for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you at noon in the morning we drink you at sundown

we drink and we drink you

a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with serpents

He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master from Germany

he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then as smoke you will rise

into air

then a grave you will have in the clouds there one lies unconfined

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany

we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink and we drink you

death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue

he strikes you with leaden bullets his arm is true

a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete

he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in the air

He plays with the serpents and daydreams death is a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Shulamith

_________________________________________

Leon Greenman was born in London in 1910. He lost his wife Esther, his son Barney and numerous relatives and friends in the holocaust. Greenman himself survived Auschwitz and five further camps as well as a 90 km death march.

Today, having released a book, An Englishman in Auschwitz, Vallentine Mitchell London, Portland, Or, (2001, reprinted 2001, 2003) and a film about his life during World War II, he is teaching about the holocaust and taking people to Auschwitz as a warning to young and old alike.

Greenman performed as professional singer after the war. Since years, he has been drawing and painting pictures that show his traumatic experiences in the camps of the 3rd Reich.

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