A Day in the Life….

The sun half-heartedly crawls out of bed
And very reluctantly slides overhead.
A veil of ice crystals is covering his face –
One more loathful witness to what will take place.

The Doctor now cheerfully strides down the line
Then gives me a wink to say all will be fine.
Through snow, slush and filth, still the railroad tracks gleam,
The train then appears, as if shrouded in steam.

The chill in the air has invaded my bones
And through the barbed wire, the icy wind moans.
When I ask my Sergeant what all of this means,
“Do your damn duty!” he angrily screams.

The train has arrived and the doors are forced open;
Out fall the people, exhausted and frozen.
With shouting and wailing, selection begins –
The Doctor continues to seek out the twins.

Oh! How did I come to be part of all this,
Since studying music was my source of bliss?
These people did nothing but sadly be born.
The fit and the healthy are stripped and then shorn.

There’s no way, it seems, to escape from this place
Without bringing me and my unit disgrace.
The air here is fetid and really does stink,
And I, when off duty, rely on the drink.

Stephen Tomkins
5 November 2015

 Author’s note:
I would like to clarify that this poem is not an attempt to justify the actions of those who inflicted the Holocaust upon the world. They cannot be justified. Rather the poem is an attempt to find humanity where little, if any, existed.

6 thoughts on “A Day in the Life….

  1. The link to this poem was at the bottom of your most recent publication, so I clicked on it out of curiosity (having recognized the featured image). I totally forgot I had read it when you first published it!

    Anyhow, I think humanity can exist in the darkest of places. It’s why some Holocaust prisoners would urge others not to commit suicide, and its why such a plethora of powerful Holocaust literature and film (e.g. “Night”, “Schindler’s List”, and “Sophie’s Choice”) exists…artists are constantly looking to find the humanity in the Holocausts’ darkness. I find it hard to believe that all Nazi’s were heartless sociopaths. I don’t think it’s justifying anyone’s actions to say that National Socialist leaders were master manipulators or to suggest that certain concentrations camp guards and staff felt deep remorse for their actions. People will commit outrageous actions in order to keep in line with the dominant train of thought, even if keeping in line with that dominant train of thought means participating in genocide.

    I love this poem. What happened during the Holocaust can never be justified. Yet, I think it’s also important to remember that human beings don’t always have the courage to stand up for what’s right, or are too far deep into injustice before they find that courage. We live in a complex, confusing, and sometimes very dark world—and this poem exemplifies that quite nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for taking the time to reread this poem. I completely agree with you.

      It’s easy to forget that the changes that led to the Holocaust took place slowly over a number of years. Also antisemitism was not unique to Germany. And, as you rightly say, it’s very hard to be the one to go against the flow – especially when the consequences are so severe.

      Thank you for your kind comments and I’m glad you liked the poem.

      Best wishes, Stephen

      Liked by 1 person

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