CST Blog

Holocaust Memorial Day

27 January 2014

These two poems are included in the Holocaust Educational Trust's Suggested Readings for Holocaust Memorial Day 2014.

The first poem, The Jewish Shtetl, is by an anonymous writer. The second poem, Shema, is by Primo Levi.

The Jewish Shtetl

And once,
there was a garden,
and a child,
and a tree.

And once,
there was a father,
and a mother,
and a dog.

And once,
there was a house,
and a sister,
and a grandma.

And once,
there was life.


You who live secure
In your warm houses,
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no.

Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold As a frog in winter.

Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you.

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