Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Mailing Letters

“I’m gradually getting used to this different way of life. Today I had a good rest, and that makes the world look a little rosier.” – Hertha Feiner

Hertha walked swiftly
to the post office, eyes
tracing the trickle of the gutter.

The dogs that devoured
Jezebel were now trained
and prodded to attack
those who did not comply—
the city, in SS eyes,
now the open field.

Sparks of scraping shovels
singed her bare legs as her
shoes soaked in gray slush.

Spilled grammar tests
woven like inked marble
in six-foot drifts.
She never had time
to pass them back.

The corner of the stamp
flapped in the breeze
of a slamming door.

Finally, the envelope was sealed;
its contents, stamped by the censors,
had passed inspection.

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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