Saturday 18 April 2009

a conversation about trains

a little bit of history
never forget
the cattle truck

on his nineteenth birthday
my husband was sent out of Germany
his father sent him
his birthday, April 1933
the first year of the nazis
how those laws became harsher

(got his family out
father imprisoned Kristallnacht 1938
but that comes later)

33 the police were not allowed
to investigate crimes against Jews
I was born Berlin 1920
my parents perished in Auschwitz

(you’re too young, you don’t remember
not to buy goods from Jews
kosher slaughters banned
SA men standing in the door)

forever marching
before it’s too late, get them out
Kindertransport, Department of Racial Hygiene
people did not realise it was a matter of life
and death’ll blow over
1934 smoothed over for me
1935 remove human rights for Jews
it was badly reported

I was a funny little girl, liked adult conversation
I remember strange things
two people getting married because one had a permit
there was a war looming
forever marching
the storm troopers

exiled from school because I was Jewish
expelled from school because I was Jewish
of those not-pure
of the less-than-people
at school, just the Jewish children
the teacher who did the measuring
said it was necessary
I hated it, the measuring

the seeds:
never forget
the cattle truck

internment camps and work camps
the heart had shrunk
when you starve people to that degree
the heart will shrink
sun snow storm
greyish blue army in the snow

prejudice first
then the science to do it
the study of a person’s character
by the shape of the head
some people would say
every era is an era of pseudo-science
take you to ?
where the Jews were separated
either to Auschwitz, or ?
my parents to ?

(my father was a very wise man
we went to Holland)

we all come from tribes
the fact that we are here means that we come from
a successful tribe
very successful, made a lot of money
didn’t marry and intermingle
people you mark as

(ah but we are all children of Abraham)

to Hitler
people started to get rounded up
this one’s gone, this one’s gone

ask yourself: why are we here?
because we have evolved

(why do armies behave as they do - forever marching?)

the fact that we are here means that we come from
a successful tribe
this is one step of evolution
now what is the next?
I remember – I hated it
that I was being measured

why did I survive and they didn’t
why did I survive and others couldn’t
a wound that will never heal

every era is an era of pseudo-science
to understand how people can do terrible things
in the 1920s no money, afraid
a uniform had a huge amount of power
his hatred
did not become a passion until later
he was a loser and this is why
this badness

wasn’t good for anything
recovering from gas in a hospital when he hears of
the stab in the back
Mein Kampf in prison
writing in isolation:
in Germany I think the hatred of Jews is in-born
I’ve had it
callipers were used
a map of the head
phrenology, character and race
March 1941: Jews forbidden to leave
the final decision has been made
storm troopers
my brother didn’t want to join the last transport

it was shouted at him who killed Christ?
a little bit of history
lately as my life goes to the end
I think about it

Group poem
Morris Feinmann Home
28th November 2008

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