Monday, April 4, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Time to Think

“We don’t want to believe that the time might come when I would not hear from you or you from me, but as long as we still have the chance, let’s write to each other as often and in as much detail as possible.” – Hertha Feiner

Absence filled the void
where Mutti awaited 
an update from her daughters.
Her memories began to
wander during her brisk
dusk walk back home.

Grass pressed through a crack
only to be stamped against
concrete and bruised
under Hertha’s bare foot.

All Jewish schools in Berlin
lay in rubble; pages scattered
from shredded books.

Her student’s thoughts chipped
with every shovel of snow.
Her new appointment stagnated,
weighted by official neglect;
her lessons left to rust
under worried sweat.

The routine of sleep now tedious
and exhaustion common,
thoughts of her daughters’
peaceful slumber uncoiled
her crippled nerves.

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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