Monday, April 11, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: A Final Lesson

“Oh, if only everything were different! Your chairs here are always empty; will we ever again sit at our table together, having a cozy talk.” – Hertha Feiner

Feiner’s words rang in their ears—
informing them of her departure.
The children knew what
her shallow breaths meant.

Her students latched to her side
tighter than her own children—
her limbs numbed by their grasp.

She wrote to her daughters—
her train would soon be leaving;
but that was all she said.

Hertha wanted their memories to be
of a mother’s strength and embrace;
branded thoughts of their final visit
before gray rain began to fall.

About Hertha Feiner

Hertha Feiner was a divorced (from a gentile) mother of two daughters, Inge and Marion. She was a teacher in a Jewish day school in Berlin before the Nazi’s came to power and taught until she was forced to work elsewhere (she was later assigned by the SS to type the deportation lists). Feiner’s passion was teaching her students but her love was for her daughters whom she had sent to boarding school in Gland, Switzerland (Les Reyons) to save them from the Nazi’s inevitable atrocities. Hertha wrote to her daughters as frequently as she could – many of these letters were collected in the book Before Deportation: Letters from a Mother to Her Daughters: January 1939 – December 1942 (Northwestern University Press: Evanston (IL), 1999). Feiner committed suicide while on a train making its way to Auschwitz.

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