Sunday, April 10, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: A Night Without a Letter

“I’m unhappy about many things, but more than anything it hurts to hear so rarely from you. True, people have come between us, but in spite of everything, we must not lose touch. Let’s talk to one another again, the way we used to…” – Hertha Feiner

Hertha was meshugga le-davar
over her daughters. She softly
squeezed the patch on her dress
sewn by Inge and Marion.

Hertha had not been able to sleep
for what seemed like decades.

In the silhouette of body and bed,
muzzle flashes echoed – piercing
light across the divided city.
With singeing heat of darkness
and her vision blurred from tears,
she could no longer find their
faces on the back of her eye lids.

Shuddered from slumber,
her eyes were burdened by
the fragments of fractured night.

The stars shined bright
in the powerless night but upon
the breath of the sun they dimmed
to sparks of their former brilliance…
darkness in a Nazi city.

Like Moses gazing across the river
to the Promised Land, Hertha knew
she would not be a part
of her children’s future—
Mutti could no longer be their guide.

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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