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Poems about the Second World War

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War Baby

He has not even seen you, he
Who gave you your mortality;
And you, so small, how can you guess
His courage or his loveliness? 

Yet in my quiet mind I pray
He passed you on the darkling way -
His death, your birth, so much the same -
And holding you, breathed once your name.

- Pamela Holmes


We played, we laughed
we were loved.
We were ripped from the arms of our
parents and thrown into the fire.
We were nothing more than children.
We had a future. 
We were going to be doctors, lawyers, 
rabbis, wives, teachers, mothers. 
We had dreams, then we had no hope. 
We were taken away in the dead of night 
like cattle in cars, no air to breathe smothering, 
crying, starving, dying. 
Separated from the world to be no more. 
From the ashes, hear our plea. 
This atrocity to mankind can not happen again. 
Remember us, for we were the children 
whose dreams and lives were stolen away. 

- Barbara Sonek

Roll Call Thoughts 
This poem was found in the photo album of a Stalag Luft I German intelligence officer, Heinrich Haslob known as "Henry, the butcher" to the POWs.  Henry had lived in New York prior to the war and had worked as a butcher.  The author is unknown.

We've stood in the rain, the snow and the sleet,
We've stood there for hours with nothing to eat
And why have we stood there, so "Browned off" and mad?
Because Unterofficer Noyes just couldn't add.

We've dug nice long tunnels through miles of sand.
Made fancy clothes and hid in tin cans.
But why have we failed to leave "Kriegie" Land?
Because Henry the "Butcher Boy" is always on hand. 

We don't like this camp, so windy, so bleak,
And the barking of watch-dogs that bother our sleep.
Oh, Major Von Muller please give us a break;
Just call of your Blood-hounds and let us escape!


The Dead


These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,

      Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.

The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,

      And sunset, and the colours of the earth.

These had seen movement, and heard music; known

      Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;

Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;

      Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter

And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,

      Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance

And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white

      Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,

A width, a shining peace, under the night.

To Germany


You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,

And no man claimed the conquest of your land.

But gropers both through fields of thought confined

We stumble and we do not understand.

You only saw your future bigly planned,

And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,

And in each other's dearest ways we stand,

And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.

When it is peace, then we may view again

With new-won eyes each other's truer form

And wonder. Grown more loving-kind and warm

We'll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,

When it is peace. But until peace, the storm

The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

Frozen Jews

Have you seen, in fields of snow, 
frozen Jews, row on row? 
Blue marble forms lying, 
not breathing, not dying.

Somewhere a flicker of a frozen soul - 
glint of fish in an icy swell. 
All brood. Speech and silence are one. 
Night snow encases the sun.

A smile glows immobile 
from a rose lip's chill. 
Baby and mother, side by side. 
Odd that her nipple's dried.

Fist, fixed in ice, of a naked old man: 
the power's undone in his hand. 
I've sampled death in all guises. 
Nothing surprises.

Yet a frost in July in this heat - 
a crazy assault in the street. 
I and blue carrion, face to face. 
Frozen Jews in a snowy space.

Marble shrouds my skin. 
Words ebb. Light grows thin. 
I'm frozen, I'm rooted in place like the naked 
old man enfeebled by ice. 

- Avrom Sutzkever


After the fall of France in 1940, 
The Germans soon began their own blockade, 
With most their efforts in the Atlantic, 
Hoping to cut Britain's flow of war trade. 
With fast surface raiders like the Bismarck, 
Merchant ships caught at sea, had little chance. 
The German's small navy sank ship after ship, 
Till the British Navy destroyed war's romance. 
Shipping losses from German U-boats increased, 
And the battle of the Atlantic seemed lost. 
But soon America would enter the war, 
To defeat freedom's enemies at all cost. 
Multitudes would die and their families cry, 
Before World War II would be fought to its end. 
What a waste of mankind, which had lost its mind, 
Though now, our enemy is our friend. 

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