Monday, May 2, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Baruch Hashem

“Even before the bottom bar had been unbolted both wings of the double doors were bulging to the outside under the weight of the bodies.” – Filip Müller

The Hasidim seemed to stroll
from the crammed cattle cars.
The black dressed crowd was three,
if not four, generations deep.
They walked knowing what
was going to happen but without
any final words passed from
father to son or from son to father.
Their last words were reserved
for G-d, “Baruch Hashem.”

Two brief words repeated
every three steps – stated simply
without anger or fear or hatred or
remorse to quiver their voices.
The only audible emotion was relief.

Filip watched in disbelief as these
learned and faithful men walked
with deliberate steps; following
orders without having to be told twice.
Their somber gait announced
the knowledge of their fate.

The men disappeared as Filip
sealed the gas chamber door.

The hissing pipes rattled and
screaming coughs commenced.
Echoes faded to faithful whispers
giving way to last exhaled
gasps which rang in Filip’s ears.

He broke the seal to the chamber and
continued the work that gave him breath
but took away his life. It took thirty
minutes to clear the mounds
of humanity pressing their lips
to the door for one last breath.

There was not a single body
in these mangled mounds
which was not bruised, scraped,
cut, crushed, or broken. But now
they lay without pain or pulse.

Once the last of these piles had been
removed, Filip peered into the shattered
room. Near the middle generations
of Hasidim lay on their backs with
their faces, calm and clean,
peacefully facing G-d.

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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