Poems Express Dimensions of Genocide

Eleven Lines for Elie Wiesel
By Chris Cook
Cold Spring Harbor High School, New York

When one child knows what he can mean.
When the sun rises in his brain and he sees
That a well placed rock can upset the ocean;
That is the beginning of the quest;
The dawn of things known:
The conception of a thought
That can never be destroyed
By the hottest fire
Or the coldest heart

I Was Not There
By Judith A. Billings
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington

I was not there.

I did not share the mental walk
from disbelief to palpable despair.

I did not bear the loss of home and freedom,
Hunted, herded, forced behind
the ghetto walls.

I did not wear the yellow star.
I did not see the synagogues destroyed
Nor watch the ghetto burned,
turned into ashes as I fled.

For me, no journey crammed with others
in cattle cars,
No camp with barracks, guards and barbed wire bars,

No rattling guns and pits, no chambers,
gas and fire at life's end.

I was not there.

Why do I -- MUST I -- care?

Judith A. Billings, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of Washington, participated in the 1994 March of the Living, going to Poland's Holocaust memorial sites. In addition, she and Dr. William Randolph, Superintendent of Public Instruction for Colorado, were invited by I*EARN, the International Education and Resource Network, to continue their trip on to Israel. As a result of Ms. Billings' experience, she agreed to share this poem with students and teachers on the Holocaust/Genocide Project conference <iearn.hgp>. This poem was written in April of 1994.

A Little Girl
By Amy Balfour
Heschel Day School, California

A Little Girl
A tear on her cheek
A photograph in her boot
The face long gone
Her mother's eyes
Once live now still
Footsteps sound
They're coming now
No Darkness, No Light

My Dream
By Margaret Parkins
Spokane Valley High School, Washington

Three tears I cry: one for my family,
one for my pride,
one for my hunger.

How can I have faith
when life seems to fall apart?

When uniforms come and take them away,
"Who are they taking," I ask myself --
"My friends!"

It is hard to recall those days
when you were judged by your ways,
when cries came from all ways you look.

A prayer is my hope,
my mother's words
which I so much love to hear again.

And then I woke up,
it was all a bad dream.

I wrote this poem because of a dream I had. When I got up, I never wanted to sleep again. My dream was that I was in a concentration camp, and I heard my friends crying, asking for my help. I put out my hand, and they would crumble to the ground like ashes. Then I woke up scared, and I promised myself that I would never stand by and watch something like that again.

[ Back to AETI 1994 Table of Contents ]

Copyright © 1994-2005 by iEARN. All rights reserved.

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