Saturday, April 2, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Summer Vacation

“Our vacation starts on Friday, and you can imagine how sad I am that you’re not going to be here… And I will probably have to stay here since I don’t know where else to go. Maybe I’ll still find something.” – Hertha Feiner

The students sat still
in their seats staring
at the window as summer
steamed the glass.

The students had been
grated over the year
with a decade’s worth
of fervor. Their naivety
in chains, they no longer
had the freedom
of childhood— their thoughts
deliberately dictated
in weathered voices.

Thunder growled
like a guard dog—
their feet shuddered
without hesitation.
The year was consumed;
they feared the
repercussions of the
charred summer.

Feiner had no lessons that
would prepare the children.

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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