posted on Jan, 1 2004 @ 12:08 PM
Genya, Loughborough, 1997. Written in Risley, 1995, FSBR 2004
On visiting Yad Vashem 1993
We shuffled, shuffled through the displays in silence,
Hundreds of us, staring, helpless, at exhibits, kept neatly in glass cages.
Seeing an enlarged photograph hanging here,
An inmates shapeless uniform draped there.
We were stunned, as cattle are, prior to their slaughter,
By the sheer enormity, bestiality, revealed to our shocked gaze.
But these victims were left fully conscious until their gassing -
Left choking, fighting, gagging for the final killing breath.
"We thought them less than beasts." - was all that we could think.
We shuffled, shuffled, as those humans did in the killing factories,
The slaughterhouses, the abattoirs that were Buchenwald and the rest,
Our minds fighting the urge to withdraw from this awful place.
Desperately, we looked at one another,
Our eyes engorged by the horror scenes before us,
Trying to find relief in our own companionship.
Except there was no relief - there could never be relief.
"We murdered them." - the images filled our minds.
We heard the different voices all around us,
Those hushed, reverent sounds of disbelief, in many dialects, other tongues.
We listened to the sobbing, the cries to God for help,
As those others also begged for God to let them live,
For their children to survive each impending death.
All expressing that self-same thought -
The question needed no answer - had no answer.
"We did." - the only comment that we could make.
A simple text identified each stark picture,
Every aged, dishevelled coat and cast-off ragged garment,
Salvaged from the pile, left carelessly when they showered.
An explanation in Hebrew, German, English of what was shown.
Except it did not explain, could not release the pain -
We had no answer - there was no answer.
"We let it happen." - that's all that we could say.
Expecting visual horror, pornographic snuff movies,
There was nothing sensational, nothing we hadn't seen before.
But this was worse than pictured horror, this worked upon the mind.
Invaded our senses totally, left us numb, racked,
Speechless, as imagination took us to those times.
When others, too, had stood quietly by and said nothing, did nothing,
Did not shout out -
But merely acquiesced by silence and inaction -
Or replied - "Sie sind Juden!"
Genocide, the wholesale slaughter of a people, of a race,
By inhuman human beings, had been institutionalised, mechanised.
Efficiently conducted, displayed in these quiet rooms for all to see.
Calmly commissioned, trains had to run to time to match
Those escalating quotas - deadlines had to be adhered to.
Kapos did not cry out -
They knew - it would be themselves, if not a Jew.
We shuffled, shuffled, drawing ever closer to tears,
Slowly past the fading images, past obscene, discarded, lifeless items
That began the de-humanising of those fellow souls.
Stars of David, yellow asterisks,
Sitting next to those of gypsies, queers - and lunatics.
But aren't we all mad in our own way?
We know - by letting these things continue in our day.
Apologies if this is posted to the wrong forum
Any comments please?