…To the left

Despite the fact that I first published this here over three years ago, it seems imperative to reblog it now given current events in Virginia and elsewhere. 

“This is the biggest cemetery for Jews, Poles, Roma and Sinti. It must tell us that we have to come back here again and again. We must keep the memory of the worst crime in human history alive for those who were born later.”   –  Horst Koehler, Germany President

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”    –  Martin Niemöller 

This post is dedicated to the memories of Claire Magnani (who wanted it read but couldn’t hear it anymore), Manya and Meyer Korenblit, Chaim Nagelstein and too many others.


…To the left

Naked they cling to each other

Husband and wife parent to child

Lovers embrace

O mother, with infant at your breast

You must be cleansed

To the side of the large stone building

Lay the belongings

Of those who are to be cleansed

You who wear a yellow star

You shall be cleansed

Soldiers rummage through mounds of clothing

Items are catalogued

By the hundreds

They line up for the showers

Men, women, children

With paralyzing fear

They are herded through large doors

A small boy of five

With piercing brown eyes

Clutches his mother’s arm

As the gas permeates the room

Amid the screams

Comes the cry

“Hush mien kindelein hashem is with us”

And they are cleansed

And Germany is cleansed

And the ovens are cleansed

Made ready for those who will follow

Skeletal remnants of men

Must remove the remains

Of their brothers and sisters

Must pry the gold from their mouths

Must fill German coffers

Must kindle the fires with the bones

Of those they love

Germany must be



Pile another corpse into the ovens

Those hollow cheeks the vacant stares

Fire will purify

Cold grey ashes will not tell

Of what has been done

Thick black smoke fills the nostrils

With deaths stench

And violates the skies of Europe

Rich German soil harbors mass graves

And Germany will not be cleansed





Author: Léa

A wanderer who has found home and herself in the South of France.

22 thoughts on “…To the left”

  1. Raw and almost unreadable Lea, because it is too much to bear thinking about. Beautifully (if that doesn’t sound wrong) written. It frightens me what the human being is capable of. I want to run away from this poem; that’s how powerful it is.


    1. Merci beaucoup Christine. I am grateful for your support.
      Now back to the latest battle with WordPress. They are demanding my mobile number and can’t comprehend that I don’t have one! 🙂


      1. Search me. It seems to be “needed” for notification purposes? I really couldn’t say but it came up when I had to sign back in to WP.

    1. Perhaps like many companies, they sell lists of phone numbers so are requiring them from those who have them? I really don’t have a clue. Xxx

  2. I recall when the movie Schindler’s List came out, I couldn’t get my friends to go and see it because they thought it too depressing and heartbreaking a topic. It was one of the most moving films I’ve seen. If there’s any redemption at all from horror it can only come from telling the truth, keeping the truth before us. That’s the major job of art, as I see it; and that’s what you are doing here. Thank you.

    1. Yes Cynthia. Perhaps it is a bit strange to read it when Spring is bursting forth will new life. However, a promise was made and it will be kept. There are still many who like to say that it all never happened. We know better. I remember my friends and many that I will never know and say NEVER AGAIN! Thank you.

  3. i’ve been to berlin and visited the topography of terror… i was in tears and numb with pain when i left – i pray that something like this never happens again… did you read the book “the hiding place” by corrie ten boom – one of my fav books about that time

    1. I wrote the piece at the Simon Wiesenthal museum in Los Angeles. The friend I went with found me in the hallway on the floor across from a painting by a survivor. The poem was in my hand but the trance was so complete I don’t recall writing it. I’ve not been to Germany yet. I do believe I read “the hiding place” many years ago and was humbled by it and the author. Have you read The Book Thief? Different but also excellent. Thank you!

  4. Wow, this is an amazing piece. You are connected with the moment…. hope to see you soon. 


  5. Powerful, poignant and incredibly moving Lea. It sounds wrong but the pain with which you write is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this x

  6. Léa, the power of emotion with these words are as raw and sensitive and sadly so beautiful… the best of who we can be as humans coming head on with the worst humanity has to offer. Such words do not only take my breath away but slowly along with the defenseless and helpless souls, I feel pieces of my life being drawn away as well until I’m awash in tears by the end. My spirit knows to never forget, to promise never again.

    And yet, my faith in mankind is shaken, a fear the damage will never, ever be repaired. This is a powerful poem, words that need to be shared around the globe, as we still have not fully learned.

    Wishing you peace Léa ~ thank you!

    1. Randall, I share your fears and hopes. You are very generous with your kind words. I posted it on one of my blogs two years ago. However, it got little attention. Yet, attention is not something I seek. I do agree its message is vital. Shalom, Léa

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