Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Walking to Work Monday Morning

“I am sad not to be with my schoolchildren anymore, even more so because they now have a teacher who is over sixty and does not like teaching. I didn’t even say good-bye to the children, since I was dismissed on Sunday and my new work began on Monday at 7:00 A.M.” – Hertha Feiner

Her lips lay level,
the corners of her mouth
tilted toward the ground.

Wet hair glazed her face
as sweat and snow
froze her expression.

She had seen the last
of her students and her
bloodshot eyes squinted
with every prick
from crystallized tears.

All of her lessons
would now be in letters
to her daughters.

But, later, she would
once again decide
who passes,
who stays,
who will

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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