Auschwitz 1.

Arbeit macht frei” (work set’s you free)


Beneath a winters sun a biting wind blew,

Where nobody saw and nobody knew.

With tears in the eyes of our guide

Shock on our faces no-where to hide.

I couldn’t remove her words from my ear

The ones no decent human wants to  hear.

Watching through a fog knowing the reality

It slid beneath flesh and warped earth’s polarity.

Ramming evil home, planting it deep

like marrow into the bone.

Escape was not made for here,

corrections happened and slaughter… its clear.

They walked towards death one by one,

Without the fear of what was to come.

When water became gas, to help them cope,

they sang the  Hatikvah, their song of hope.

I see piles of  hair when I try to sleep,

the discarded shoes torn from innocents feet.

I see their faces before me as I softly weep,

Brush crematoria soot from a tear stained cheek.

This place bore witness to pure evil that time,

it can not be erased from the depths of my mind.

At the shooting wall I picture them standing that day,

Singing hopeful  prayers they refused to face away.

The Nazi machine, its power so strong,

kept the furnaces burning all night long.

Hundreds were cremated day after day,

Not fast enough to clear the piles of decay.

First their status then their pride

Ripped them apart nowhere to hide.

For all the souls that gather there,

Their fortitude, their pain and despair.

I beseech you all, to stand and see

the shooting wall… just like me.

The rose was placed on one of the beds that held six bodies in the barracks of Auschwitz one. Poignantly positioned, by someone paying respects on March the second 2017.

A  piece of me shifted that day, my eyes clouded and my heart cried. I thought long and hard before posting this and though I hope you leave me a comment I will umderstand if you don’t.


87 thoughts on “Auschwitz 1.

  1. Thank you, Ellen. It is such a poignant poem: fitting as it should be to its horrific subject. I read a true account of The Warsaw Ghetto when quite young and that left an indelible mark too.My husband’s family came from Lodz in Poland.Most emigrated to either the UK, USA or S.A. The few who stayed behind were murdered. We are both Humanists. Peace. x

  2. A very different aspect of Remembrance day. It is so important that future generations know why the Allies were fighting and what the enormous loss of life was for – you have captured the evil, the pain, the terror of all the camps in such a haunting way. I wish these places didn’t have to be memorable, but they do – a reminder of the evil that it is possible for humans to inflict upon each other. But also the lengths that humans will go to in order to eliminate that evil and save others. Thank you for sharing on BUYB x

  3. So poignantly written Ellen it must have been very hard to write…I haven’t been but my daughter has and like you she was saddened and shocked to the core..she said you could still feel the evil. It makes you ashamed of the human some of these acts and we should never forget.

      1. I also wonder that at times Ellen…When I watch films of times past the level of violence is appalling against our fellow man…Hanging, drawing and quartering is my example… The conclusion …man is cruel to its fellow man and it still continues today… It seems man has learnt nothing or has learnt that cruelty begets their chosen result….

  4. Ellen, I can hear the truth and sorrow in your powerful prose. I’ve never been to Auschwitz and while I’ve heard countless stories told to remind us of the cruelty we can never tolerate to repeat, this piece was visceral. Very well-written without lapsing into the maudlin. Will remain with me for a long time.

    1. Thank you, it was juxterposed by the beautiful town, the salt mines that had salt cut crystals in giant chandeliers. Sculptures bigger than any man and pools as green as emeralds. Krakoa has lots more to offer than hate.

  5. A truly moving post, Ellen. It must have been so difficult to write, but I am glad you did. It is something that we must never forget, and hope that never gets repeated. x

  6. Nicely written on such a grim and sordid tale of the part of history which we all will dread to get repeated again…..will wish that such an era never returns ever….

  7. This is truly touching… you’ve done a beautiful job Ellen of covering an ugly subject that we should never forget or ever want to repeat .

  8. “Watching through a fog knowing the reality
    It slid beneath flesh and warped earth’s polarity.”
    You captured my emotional response to walking through Auschwitz/Birkenau perfectly with those lines. Your poem is breath-taking, raw, haunting, and a gift.

  9. Such a difficult experience to convey, yet your poem and reflection probes deeply at the confrontation of the worst in humanity. Turning away is to deny. And that’s why we keep saying we can never forget.

    1. Yes, we must not diminish the facts, there is power in keeping atrocities in the forefront; verified by history. Maybe to tweak the consciences of the rulers of many regimes.

    1. There lies the dilemma , as the author you want it loved , to be a good piece of work, it lifts me to know you think it beautifully written. But the subject, you want it to stab the reader, make them hate the barbarity of it. I think/hope I captured both. Thank you for your lovely comments.

  10. I visited Auschwitz in the summer. It was truly harrowing. I wish I could’ve fully wrapped my head around it all as I was walking around, but I just couldn’t. The sheer scale of the atrocities was just too much. Walking around on a summers day with a cafe across the road, you just can’t imagine the grotesque, crippling, torturous pain millions of people had to endure. There were flickering moments I got a sense of the reality, but for the most part it was very factual and educational (which was a good thing). The most important message I took away from the camp that day was that we must do everything in our power to NEVER let this happen again. Awareness is key. Thank you for posting this xx

      1. The cafe was on the other side of the road from the entrance. Where our tour bus parked. It was a really horrible cafe that we only bought a drink in, but I suppose that’s quite fitting xx

  11. My heart aches for those that endured that. It saddens me deep to my core. I don’t know that I could ever visit, as an empath I have a hard enough time watching the news. Going to such a place would probably be too much to bare. I will honor their memory by living a kind and compassionate life, standing up for others, and being a voice for the voiceless.

  12. I didn’t hit Like, Ellen, because I felt this too deeply. I have been reading about WWII for four or five years now, fiction, non-fiction, whatever I run across. And I’ve been to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. three times. The first time I totally broke down at the exhibit of a pile of shoes — mostly belonging to young children. I am so drawn to that museum. I sincerely doubt I could do Auschwitz…

    1. It changes you, the experience of walking where so much evil trod, so little thought for any human before them. Our world needs to be very aware of how that began.

  13. Beautifully written, Ellen, if such a word can be used for so sad a piece. I believe it’s our duty to continue to lament man’s inhumanity toward man with these reminders. Otherwise, sadly. we are not above committing them again.

  14. I knew Holocaust survivors when I was a kid, too young to really understand what they had gone through. It was a horrific period of history, one that I fear would be too easy to repeat. I agree with you in wishing heads of state (and others) would see what you saw. Well said.

  15. such horribly unbelievable cruelty. Very difficult to imagine that fellow humans can and have done such atrocities to one another. We can’t knowingly allow this to ever happen again.

    1. I was asked “if you were ordered to would you” before i could spit out ‘never’ she said “on fear of condemning your family, your friends and acquaintances to torture and death”.

  16. Ellen, you expressed your feeling with such clarity and beauty. It is so very difficult to wrap your head around the murder and torture that was the Nazi regime and to believe that we humans are capable of being the murderers or being the humans who ignored what was happening. If you want to life your spirits, read the Zookeeper’s Wife. It is the true story of a woman and her husband in Warsaw who helped many people.

    1. Thanks Bernadette I will do that, Loving books as I do it won’t be hard, but the film comes out this month 31st March in USA.
      I have studied, read and watched so much in the past that I thought I was prepared; and I would be going to pay my respects. I wasn’t prepared for learning more and I will never forget.

      1. I will probably go see the movie but the book is very special. The author uses her own words and there are some personal photographs. I hope the movie moves people in the USA to think about what our government is doing and perhaps realize the importance of protecting all people.

  17. You did a great job writing about this. The most emotional I ever got was visiting Dachau-horrific. I love the rose, too.

  18. I love the tribute of a single rose on that bed where so much pain and sorrow must have lain. I can only imagine how moving it would have been to visit in person. We must never let this happen again.

  19. I ticked like because I support what you say. Those dark times are always just a heart beat away. Oppressors are always around as are the oppressed. Lest we forget!

  20. Heartfelt from someone who has seen and felt the present evil of the perpetrators and the terror of the victims.

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