Requiem: poems of the Terezin Ghetto
Paul B. Janeczko
from Candlewick Press..
Hitler hailed Terezin (Theresienstadt) as a haven for artistic Jews, when in reality the Czech concentration camp was little more than a way station to the gas chambers. In his second book inspired by devastating history, acclaimed poet Paul B. Janeczko gives voice to this heartrending creative community - its dignity, resilience, and commitment to art and music in the face of great brutality. The many memorable characters he conjures include a child who performs in the camp’s now famed production of Brundibar, a man who lectures on bedbugs, and a boy, known as “The Professor,” who keeps a notebook hidden in his shoe. Accented with dramatic illustrations by the inmates, found after WW I’s end, Janeczko’s spare and powerful poems convey Terezin’s tragic legacy on an intimate, profoundly moving scale.
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I know you are hungry too
But I need more
More than crumbs
To fill my belly
This was my favourite poem from Requiem, an anthology of poems by Paul Janeczko that are written based upon the Holocaust. Most of the poems were written in the Terezin Ghetto of Czechoslovakia, a camp that prided itself in being filled with intellectual Jews, who performed music and created art during their captivity. These performances were applauded by the Nazis who displayed these cultural acts to try and prove the humane treatment of Jews.
Many of the poems were written by children who had watched their friends and family leave on trains that lead them to Auschwitz, a concentration camp. These poems show what a devastating event the Holocaust was, not simply to the world as a whole but to individual people. Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, each one of those six million had the potential to change the world. Each one of those killings caused a life to be cut short. Each concentration camp ended thousands of stories too early.
I genuinely believe that this anthology of poems has the potential to change your view on the Holocaust, because it gives a raw insight into typical life then, something that is difficult to show in a textbook. I recommend this book to anyone interested in broadening their minds and I hope that you will enjoy reading this book as much as I did.
Emily-Jane, age 14, Canberra, Australia