Friday, May 6, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Rachmones IV

“But what I could not imagine was how so many people could have been killed at one time.” – Filip Müller

Would Kaddish be said for those
who passed before his eyes?
Was it his duty to say Kaddish?

He would say Kaddish every evening;
pray for forgiveness every morning;
and ask to die on his way to work.
He lived on the hope that, someday,
his prayers would be answered…
all of them. But when he placed
the bodies in the furnace he knew
that if he did not do it someone else
would have to – for good or bad –
this was his job.

* * * *

The scars on his hands from
the furnace door still carried the smell
of flesh years after Auschwitz.

* * * *

At first he believed G-d had a plan;
then, a plan without G-d; now, G-d
will grant his people life but will not
save the life of each person – he knew
they must save each other and save themselves.

He passed time with hope – maybe
his wife has survived, maybe
his children are still alive – but
the hours felt different. Each
minute had something absent;
each second contained a void.
Somehow he knew his family
was shattered but hope was all
he had and they could not
take that away from him.

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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