Sunday, May 1, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Bar Mitzvah

“Our life of isolation continued. For, although we did not realize this at first, we had become privy to a secret and were no longer allowed to come into contact with other prisoners or with SS men not in the know. That was why we no longer attended roll-call.” – Filip Müller

In the illuminated darkness two
candles sizzled in the humid air
struggling to maintain their flame.

The youngest girl in the room
stood watch by the window
to make sure that silence
was all the guards could hear.

David hunched over his Torah portion
trying to remember the rhythm of the chant.

He shivered as his voice
quivered his whispers.
Slowly, the Hebrew
was liberated from his lips.

The Rabbi stood and shook his hand
welcoming him as part
of the shrinking minyan.

Filip listened from across the camp
as shouts of “Mazel Tov” echoed
from one building to another
as the guards turned their heads
in the direction of the celebration.
Some troops smiled and enjoyed
the rare moment of happiness
while others grinned knowing
they would all be quiet soon enough.

About Filip Müller

Deported from Sered, Czechoslovakia, Filip Muller (#29236) worked for three years as a prisoner in the “Sonderkommando” in the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz. Every day he saw the flames extinguished of many, now forgotten, candles. Frequently writing notes about his experiences, Müller spent years after his liberation trying to educate all those who would listen to his account but he did not compile and publish his testimony until 1970 under the title Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers (Ivan R. Dee, Publishers: Chicago (IL), 1979). Müller has lived in Western Europe since 1969.

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