The HyperTexts

Holocaust Poetry, Prose, Translations, Art and Essays

The Hebrew word for the Holocaust is Shoah; thus poems written by Jewish poets may be called Shoah poetry. We have also published Holocaust writings by Germans who opposed the Nazis, a Romani Gypsy, an Estonian refugee, two Hiroshima survivors, and Pope John Paul II. You can find an extensive index of writings by victims and survivors of the Holocaust below, along with poems about racism, intolerance, war, genocide and ethnic cleansing. Also included are essays by Nobel laureates Albert Einstein and Elie Wiesel, both survivors of the Holocaust.—Michael R. Burch, editor, The HyperTexts

Related pages: Darfur Poems, Gaza Poems, Nakba Poems, Haiti Poems, Hiroshima Poems, Holocaust Poems, 9-11 Poems, Trail of Tears Poems, Best Poems about the Holocaust

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles;
they sleep alike—diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the "surgeons."
                                               Sleeping, all ...

The poem "Auschwitz Rose" is dedicated to all victims and survivors of the Holocaust. To read the full poem, please click the picture above. In Mary Rae's painting, the Rose is thornless, representing women and children who are defenseless unless we choose to protect them. As we read the Witnesses who follow, let's all say "Never again!" and pledge to protect all women and all children from all such atrocities.

Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps. In the poem above, the term "surgeons" appears in quotation marks for purposes of irony because German doctors disobeyed their oaths to conduct experiments on prisoners, one of the ghastlier aspects of the Holocaust. The most notorious Nazi "surgeon" was Josef Mengele, the Todesengel (Death Angel). Mengele conducted macabre experiments on children and sent many completely innocent women and children to the gas chambers. Rudolf Höss testified at the Nuremberg Trials that up to three million people died at Auschwitz alone.

Holocaust Children Skeletons Emaciated

Speechless at Auschwitz
by Ko Un
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

At Auschwitz
piles of glasses
mountains of shoes
returning, we stared out different windows.

Ko Un speaks for all of us, by not knowing what to say about the evidence of the Holocaust, and man's inhumanity to man.

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of the Holocaust and Nakba

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable ...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this—
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss ...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears ...

When we consider man's inhumanity to man, few images are as stark as the one of Nazi "surgeons" conducting horrific experiments on innocent children.

by Michael R. Burch

for the children of the Holocaust and Nakba

Something inescapable is lost—
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone—
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past—
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which denial has swept into a corner, where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

Unnecessary cruelty and brutality are horrible enough, but when innocent children are the victims, words begin to fail us. The poem "Something" tries to capture something of the heartbreaking loss of young lives cut short, even as the poet admits his inability to do anything more than preserve a brief flicker of remembrance, an increasingly ethereal memory. What happened to millions of children during the Holocaust was a horror beyond imagining. Children who had been "born wrong" according to the Nazis—whether Jewish, Polish, Gypsy, Slavic, Russian or otherwise "inferior"—were either killed outright or stripped of their human rights and consigned to abysmal conditions in concentration camps and walled ghettoes. But as the poem below points out, even to this day completely innocent children continue to be stripped of their human rights and consigned to abysmal, terrifying conditions in refugee camps and walled ghettoes, while the world watches and does little or nothing to help them.

Epitaph for a Child of the Nakba
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

The Hebrew word for the Holocaust is Shoah; it means "Catastrophe." The Arabic word Nakba also means "Catastrophe." Today millions of completely innocent Palestinian children and their mothers and grandparents languish within the walled ghetto of Gaza, the walled bantustans of Occupied Palestine (the West Bank) and refugee camps across the Middle East. Why are people who are obviously not "terrorists" being collectively punished for the "crime" of having been "born wrong," just as Jews  were once collectively punished by the Nazis? If it concerns you that such things continue to happen today, and in this case are being funded and supported by the government of the United States, please visit our Nakba Index and read what great humanitarians and Nobel Peace Prize winners like Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter have said on the subject. The most admired Jewish intellectual of all time, the man most responsible for the advent of modern nonviolent resistance, the two men best known for ending South African apartheid, and the president who helped negotiate peace between Israel and Palestinians have all spoken firmly and eloquently against the racism and injustices that resulted in this new catastrophe, the Nakba. If you are a Christian, or have an interest in such things, you may want to read Did a Misinterpretation of the Bible lead to the Trail of Tears, American Slavery and the Holocaust?

January 27, 2023:  The Numb Heart
by Bob Zisk

The architecture, drab, decays in silence,
Except for wind that shakes the teetering balance
Of Themis. Under onyx wings of ravens
Whose squawks protest indifference in the heavens,
God and Satan nod in disbelief,
And Furies muffle screams of useless grief.

Themis was the goddess and personification of wisdom, justice, law and order, fairness, and custom. Her symbols include the famous Scales of Justice.

by Michael R. Burch

Walk here among the walking specters. Learn
inhuman patience. Flesh can only cleave
to bone this tightly if their hearts believe
that God is good, and never mind the Urn.

A lentil and a bean might plump their skin
with mothers’ bounteous, soft-dimpled fat
(and call it “health”), might quickly build again
the muscles of dead menfolk. Dream, like that,

and call it courage. Cry, and be deceived,
and so endure. Or burn, made wholly pure.
If one prayer is answered,
                                         “G-d” must be believed.

No holy pyre thisdeath’s hissing chamber.
Two thousand years agoa starlit manger,
weird Herod’s cries for vengeance on the meek,
the children slaughtered. Fear, when angels speak,

the prophesies of man.
                                    Do what you "can,"
not what you must, or should.
                                               They call you “good,”

dead eyes devoid of tears; how shall they speak
except in blankness? Fear, then, how they weep.
Escape the gentle clutching stickfolk. Creep
away in shame to retch and flush away

your vomit from their ashes. Learn to pray.

Holocaust Poetry, Testimonies and Essays by Holocaust Victims and Survivors, and Great Humanitarians

Miklós Radnóti (translations of a Hungarian Jewish poet; perhaps the greatest of the Holocaust poets)
Louis Emanuel Fynaut (a Flemish resistance fighter with a keen eye and a keener pen)
Terezín Children's Holocaust Poems (poems by child poets of a Nazi concentration camp)
Martin Niemöller (he wrote the most famous of all Holocaust poems: "First they came for the Jews ...")
Einstein on Palestine (Albert Einstein was both a victim and survivor of the Holocaust)
Mahmoud Darwish (the preeminent Palestinian Holocaust poet of his day)
Erich Fried(one of the better forthright, blunt-spoken Holocaust poets)
Mary Elizabeth Frye (she penned one of the best-loved poems of the English language, under mysterious circumstances)
Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) (poetry by Pope John Paul II, a Holocaust victim and survivor)
Paul Celan (translations of a German Jewish poet, including his famous poem "Todesfuge" or "Death Fugue")
The Ghetto Poets (translations of Polish Jewish ghetto poets by Yala Korwin)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (revisit the ringing words of the man whose impossible dream of equality became a reality)
Mohandas Gandhi (please read and consider what the great advocate of non-violent resistance had to say about the Nakba)
Nayef Hashlamoun (a prize-winning Reuters journalist shares pictures of Hebron)

As you explore these pages, please keep in mind that if Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals and other people deemed "inferior" by the Nazis had not been denied access to fair laws and courts, the Holocaust could never have happened. The Holocaust was, essentially, a failure of justice that led to the disintegration of the moral foundations of society. In order to prevent other Holocausts, we must ensure that every child is protected by fair laws and courts. There can be no exceptions, because every exception begins life as a defenseless baby. And so please pay particular attention to our Nakba pages, because while the Nazi Holocaust has thankfully ended, multitudes of innocent children are now suffering and dying in this new Holocaust. Now is the time to ensure that all children are protected by equal rights, fair laws and fair courts. Then we can write celebratory poetry, rather than mournful laments and dirges. 

Reuven Moskovitz (a Jewish Holocaust survivor who received the Mount Zion Award and the Aachen Peace Prize)
Bertolt Brecht (a German poet who opposed the Nazis)
Chaim Nachman Bialik (considered by many to be Israel's national poet)
Avraham Burg: the Prophet-Poet of Judaism (Holocaust writings by a Jewish politician and peace activist)
Dahlia Ravikovitch (Holocaust poetry by one of Israel's foremost poets)
What I learned from Elie Wiesel and other Jewish Holocaust Survivors (an essay by Michael R. Burch)
Dan Almagor (a Holocaust poem by an Israeli poet)
Bronislawa Wajs "Papusza" (one translation of a Romani Gypsy poet, by Yala Korwin)
Iqbal Tamimi (a Palestinian poet who lives in exile, dreaming of a free, independent, democratic Palestine)

If you are a student, teacher, educator, peace activist or just someone who cares and wants to help, please read two very important articles: What Was the Holocaust and Why Did It Happen? and How Can We End Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide Forever? If you want to do something to end one of the worst ongoing holocausts, and help prevent such things from ever happening again, please read and consider supporting the Burch-Elberry Peace Initiative.

Holocaust Mass Graves

Associated Pages: Hiroshima, 9-11, the NAKBA, Darfur, the Trail of Tears, Bosnia, etc.

Ogaden Poetry
Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Poetry
Hiroshima Poetry, Prose and Art
9-11 Poetry
Child of 9-11, a poem for Christina-Taylor Green
"The Whirlwinds of Revolt will continue to Shake the Foundations of our Nation ..."
The Children of Gaza Speak
Frail Envelope of Flesh, a poem for the children of Gaza
Poems for Gaza
At Death's Door: a Story of Gaza
The Nakba ("Catastrophe"): The Holocaust of the Palestinians
Palestinian Poetry, Art and Photography
Night Labor, a poem for Rachel Corrie, a young peace activist who died in Rafah
Vanessa Redgrave: A Passion for Justice
In the Shadow of Rachel's Tomb
Who the hell was Furkan Dogan, and why should we care?
"Does Jesus Love Me?"
For Darfur: Poetry about the Holocaust and Genocide in Darfur
Bloodshed in the Sahara: the Plight of the Sahrawi People
Poems for Haiti
The Holocaust of the Homeless
The Trail of Tears
Nadia Anjuman: the personal holocaust of an Afghani poet
David Burnham's "Bosnian Morning"
Le Trio Joubran
In Peace's Arms, Not War's: the Poets speak for Peace, not War

Holocaust Child Skeleton

Other Holocaust Poets, Writers and Artists

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi (poems by a tireless campaigner for Palestinian human rights)
Yala Korwin (Holocaust poetry and art by a Jewish Holocaust survivor)
Salomon N. Meisels (translations of her father's poems by Yala Korwin)
Anita Dorn (poems by an Estonian poet who fled the advancing Red Armies as a young girl)
Takashi Tanemori (poems, prose and art by a Hiroshima survivor)
Chaya Feldman (she wrote one of the most poignant poems of the Holocaust: "93 Daughters of Israel")
Tawfik Zayyad (a Palestinian poet)
Fadwa Tuqan (she has been called the Grand Dame of Palestinian poets)
Nahida Izzat (a Jerusalem-born Palestinian refugee who has lived in exile for over forty years)
A Page from the Deportation Diary (a poem about Janusz Korczak by Wladyslaw Szlengel)
Wladyslaw Szlengel (translations of a Jewish poet who died in the Warsaw ghetto)
Janusz Korczak (translations of a hero of the Holocaust by Esther Cameron)
Primo Levi (translations of an Italian Jewish Holocaust survivor)
Anthony Hecht (a poet of German-Jewish descent who helped liberate a concentration camp)
Nakba (the pseudonym of a Palestinian American poet who speaks very bluntly about his people's plight)
Ber Horvitz (an unknown Jewish Holocaust poet who can only be known today by the poems he left us)
Miryam (Miriam) Ulinover (a Jewish writer who wrote prose in Polish, German and Russian and poetry in Yiddish)
Itzhak (Yitzkhak) Viner (translations of a Polish Jewish poet who was imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto)
Jerzy Ficowski (translations of a Polish Christian poet by Yala Korwin)
Vilem Pollak (one translation of a Czech poet by Martin Rocek and Colin Ward)
Allama Iqbāl (translations of a poet who is considered by many to be the founder of the modern state of Pakistan)
Moishe (Moshe) Kaufman (a Jewish Holocaust survivor who fled to Buenos Aires)
Peretz Opochinski (he began writing poetry at age twelve, only to die in the Warsaw Ghetto along with his wife and child)
Gideon Levy (he has been called the "most hated man in Israel," for speaking out against an ongoing holocaust, the Nakba)
Hershele Danielovitch (two Holocaust poems by a Jewish poet who died in the Warsaw Ghetto)
Kalman Lis (a poem by a Polish Jew who died during the Holocaust)
Kim Nguyen (two letters about the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli settlers and the IDF)
Saul Tchernichovsky (two poems by a Russian Jew who immigrated to Palestine)

German Nazi Soldier Shooting Jews

Contemporary Poets and other Writers on the Holocaust

Yakov Azriel (a Holocaust poem by an Israeli poet)
Peter Austin (Holocaust poetry by an American poet)
Michael R. Burch (Holocaust poetry by an American poet)
Charles Adés Fishman (Holocaust poetry by an American poet)
Dr. John Z. Guzlowski (Holocaust poetry by an American poet)
Roger Hecht (a Holocaust poem by an American poet)
Peggy Landsman (Holocaust poetry by an American poet who was touched by pictures of the "little boy with his hands up")
Christina Pacosz (Holocaust poems by an American poet)
Elie Wiesel (Holocaust essays by a Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
Joseph McDonough (poetry by a stockbroker who worked in the World Trade Center prior to 9-11)
Edward Nudelman (a Holocaust poem by an American poet)
Sean M. Teaford (Holocaust poems by an American poet)

Holocaust Children

Students on the Holocaust

Brian Coleman (a tribute page to an American student who reached out to Holocaust survivors)
Fardin Mohammadi (a Muslim student writes about his feelings on the anniversary of 9-11)
Holocaust Poetry and Art (Holocaust poetry and art by students Victoria Lassen and Meidema Sanchez)

Other Holocaust Writings

The Path to Peace in the Middle East
Wrestling Angels and Chimeras
Roll Call of Shame
The Aftermath of the Flotilla
Independence Day Madness
Osama bin Laden and the Twin Terrors
The Curious Blindness of Abba Eban
Israeli Apartheid
How Palestine Became Divided
Logic 101
Parables of Zion
The Night the Stars Aligned

Contemporary Poets on the Holocaust

The second edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust, edited by Charles Fishman, is an important book. Please click here to read a review of the book.

Main Index

Related pages: Sandy Hook Poems, Aurora Poetry, Columbine Poems, Courtni Webb's Sandy Hook Poem and Possible Expulsion, Darfur Poems, Gaza Poems, Haiti Poems, Hiroshima Poems, Holocaust Poems, Nakba Poems, 911 Poems, Trail of Tears, Best Poems about the Holocaust

The HyperTexts