A Million Thoughts

Based on the Holocaust testimony of Bertha Haberfeld

By Surina Patel

A million thoughts are rushing through my brain,
The looming gas chamber ahead of me,
The sounds I hear and the sights that I see,
The mud beneath my numb feet from the rain,

Everything feels unreal—all of this pain,
Living as a Jew, I could not foresee,
Taking my last breath—death comes upon me,
What did I deserve to go down this lane?

I open my eyes and let out a scream,
The sights—the sounds—the feelings—it felt so real,
So afraid now, I don’t know what to do,
When will these nightmares end—all of these dreams?
I can’t escape all the feelings I feel,
Fear is controlling me—all I’ve been through

 

A Home Bid Farewell

Based on the Holocaust testimony of Joseph Aleksander

By Juliana Phan

Bid farewell to home—to games in the yard,
to Friday night cholent, its wafting scent—
Watch the smoke of extinguished hearth ascend,
leaving behind a dwindling warmth and scars

By neighbors’ hands, the home is torn apart
School bullies that attacked without relent
return as laws and priests that lack dissent
and distinguish only by yellow stars

Hate burns the home, reason, and one’s dreaming;
Ships off hope to either death or labor
in railroads that screech to unknown futures
To those who’ve lost their homes and life’s meaning
faith and strength don’t matter. Their sole savior
is the kindness hate has not yet fractured

 

Now

By Bill Feng

Based on the Holocaust testimony of Nathan Shapow

Think only of Now and save yourself lament.
In Magdeburg- slouch and pow! Another person dead.
There is no time for even mere content.

The planes come, with no German’s consent,
everyone just runs, nothing to be said.
Think only of Now and save yourself lament.

The Germans claim of a well-planned event,
and say that we shall be relocated.
There is no time for even mere content.

Rumors of inevitable death start to ferment,
jump the electrical fence because of increasing dread.
Think only of Now and save yourself lament.

In the sewers we stay with one intent,
to make sure the camp will not be our deathbed,
there is no time for even mere content.

The hours pass, to my torment,
until the Americans win and our problems shed.
Think only of Now and save yourself lament,
Now is the time for everlasting content.

 

The Descent down the Mountain

Based on the Holocaust testimony of Natan Gipsman

By Edward Kim

Dante says heaven’s on top of a purgatory mound
Men will fight to rise away from punishment’s might
But the height we go up to only leads to hellish ground

Even as we workers of light survive underground
To face down is sometimes better than to see man’s worst plight
Dante says heaven’s on top of a purgatory mound

Guards shove us in; with whips the guards pound
The squashed strain upwards to escape from death’s sight
But the height we go up to only leads to hellish ground

We feel the trial of pain; we fall with blue stripes all around
For every escapee, punishment by tenfold will ignite
Dante says heaven’s on top of a purgatory mound

Even as I rise up from stars, my sight unsteady, unsound
Thoughts of pain worse than hell will make others take flight
But the height we go up to only leads to hellish ground

With the world upside down, I know that some may have found
A place with no sorrows where one could wait for daylight
Dante says heaven’s on top of a purgatory mound
But the height we go up to only leads to hellish ground

 

The above are all students of Oxford Academy, in Orange County, California.

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