Friday, April 1, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: The Visit: July 1939

“I’m so glad that you like being there, in a peaceful environment that makes studying fun. If I could only get a glimpse of you!” – Hertha Feiner

Pen and paper lay
abandoned, books
remained stacked
across the shelves.

No letters or lessons
for three weeks.

Berlin wilted in a sweltering
summer slumber; Germany
set its war clock for two months.

Inge and Marion were
passengers on the train
from Switzerland –
their mother waited.

Hours passed until time
arrested with the hiss
of the arriving train

As her schoolchildren
were paroled from studies,
Hertha embraced her
daughters in the belly
of the whale – smoke filled
their lungs before the purge.

All decrees forgotten;
laws twisted and bruised;
religions, countries,
and politics refused
to divide. Life was
basic in the love of a
mother and her daughters.

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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