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The only known collection of its kind currently in print, this important volume includes the work of 59 poets--among them Auden, Brecht, Celan, Jarrell, Levi, Milosz, Plath, Sexton, Spender, Wiesel, and Yevtushenko--writing on a range of subjects that are indelibly linked with the Holocaust. Collecting 119 poems in all, Holocaust Poetry commemorates the sanctity of those w The only known collection of its kind currently in print, this important volume includes the work of 59 poets--among them Auden, Brecht, Celan, Jarrell, Levi, Milosz, Plath, Sexton, Spender, Wiesel, and Yevtushenko--writing on a range of subjects that are indelibly linked with the Holocaust. Collecting 119 poems in all, Holocaust Poetry commemorates the sanctity of those who died--both Jews and non-Jews--as a result of this unimaginably horrible crime. Yet Schiff's anthology is also a solemn affirmation of humanity's survival, for it pays homage to the past while also attesting to the often brutal struggles that we as a species still face in this world, day in and day out. Also preserved here are poems written by those who themselves perished in the Shoah, the final testaments and eternal lessons of unknown soldiers, unheralded heroes, unsilenced voices.


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The only known collection of its kind currently in print, this important volume includes the work of 59 poets--among them Auden, Brecht, Celan, Jarrell, Levi, Milosz, Plath, Sexton, Spender, Wiesel, and Yevtushenko--writing on a range of subjects that are indelibly linked with the Holocaust. Collecting 119 poems in all, Holocaust Poetry commemorates the sanctity of those w The only known collection of its kind currently in print, this important volume includes the work of 59 poets--among them Auden, Brecht, Celan, Jarrell, Levi, Milosz, Plath, Sexton, Spender, Wiesel, and Yevtushenko--writing on a range of subjects that are indelibly linked with the Holocaust. Collecting 119 poems in all, Holocaust Poetry commemorates the sanctity of those who died--both Jews and non-Jews--as a result of this unimaginably horrible crime. Yet Schiff's anthology is also a solemn affirmation of humanity's survival, for it pays homage to the past while also attesting to the often brutal struggles that we as a species still face in this world, day in and day out. Also preserved here are poems written by those who themselves perished in the Shoah, the final testaments and eternal lessons of unknown soldiers, unheralded heroes, unsilenced voices.

30 review for Holocaust Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Serena

    Holocaust Poetry compiled by and introduced by Hilda Schiff is a collection of poetry dealing with World War II and the Holocaust. The compilation is divided into six sections: Alienation; Persecution; Rescuers, Bystanders, Perpetrators; Afterwards; Second Generation; and Lessons. There are well-known poems in this collection and poems from young children. A few of the poems in this collection already have been featured on Savvy Verse & Wit's Virtual Poetry Circle; check out "If" by Edward Bond Holocaust Poetry compiled by and introduced by Hilda Schiff is a collection of poetry dealing with World War II and the Holocaust. The compilation is divided into six sections: Alienation; Persecution; Rescuers, Bystanders, Perpetrators; Afterwards; Second Generation; and Lessons. There are well-known poems in this collection and poems from young children. A few of the poems in this collection already have been featured on Savvy Verse & Wit's Virtual Poetry Circle; check out "If" by Edward Bond and "The Butterfly" by Pavel Friedmann. Each poem in the collection uses all-too-familiar images to demonstrate connections with family, friends, and strangers. and as each poem unfolds readers feel the devastation and hopelessness of each narrator. Schiff says in the introduction, "The more or less contemporaneous literature of any period of history is not only an integral part of that period, but it also allows us to understand historical events and experiences better than the bare facts alone can do because they enable us to absorb them inwardly." More or less, readers of poetry will find these observations valid, as will readers of fiction. However, there are moments of levity when narrators poke fun at the devastating events of Nazi Germany's actions. The Burning of the Books (Page 8) When the Regime commanded that books with harmful knowledge Should be publicly burned on all sides Oxen were forced to drag cart loads of books To the bonfires, a banished Writer, one of the best, scanning the list of the Burned, was shocked to find that his Books had been passed over. He rushed to his desk On wings of wrath, and wrote a letter to those in power. Burn me! he wrote with flying pen, burn me. Haven't my books Always reported the truth? And here you are Treating me like a liar! I command you: Burn me! Beyond the poems in the collection depicting the horrors and the losses of persecuted people in Germany, the poems of bystanders, perpetrators, and others are surprising. They talk of how they stood by and did nothing, how they want to help even if they are too late. Despite the time for help being long passed, these narrators express not guilt so much as regret -- a deep regret at having been so paralyzed by fear that they did nothing or acted contrary to who they believed themselves to be. I Did Not Manage to Save (page 86) I did not manage to save a single life I did not know how to stop a single bullet and I wander round cemeteries which are not there I look for words which are not there I run to help where no one called to rescue after the event I want to be on time even if I am too late The poems selected for the "Second Generation" section will tug at readers heart strings, deepening the sense of loss. An emptiness is present in some of these poems. Short biographies are included at the back of the book for readers interested in the poets' lives and connections to WWII and the Holocaust. Holocaust Poetry is a collection that should be read in chunks rather than all at once. Readers may succumb to sorrow if they attempt to read the entire collection in once sitting, but even then, readers will fall into the darkness and emerge in the light. Overall, the collection is a must have for anyone interested in this time period and learning more about how WWII and the Holocaust impact individual lives and families.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    Such an intense book. I found it interesting that everyone who saw me with this book, opened their eyes really wide and looked sort of sarcastically at me--eyebrows lifted with a "really?" look on their faces. Part of this I am sure is because I have suffered from depression for many years and they were thinking "wow, way to wallow"...but I honestly did not feel that way reading this. It grabbed my attention immediately when I saw it at the library. I find the Holocaust fascinating, but not in Such an intense book. I found it interesting that everyone who saw me with this book, opened their eyes really wide and looked sort of sarcastically at me--eyebrows lifted with a "really?" look on their faces. Part of this I am sure is because I have suffered from depression for many years and they were thinking "wow, way to wallow"...but I honestly did not feel that way reading this. It grabbed my attention immediately when I saw it at the library. I find the Holocaust fascinating, but not in a morbid way---it's much more complex--I think wanting to understand man's inhumanity to man, man's ability to survive and how something so awful could come to be. The subject has always been of interest to me since I was a child and we were shown films in school from the war, including scenes of starving and abused prisoners of concentration camps. Obviously that left a deep mark on me. This book truly amazes--ranging from aching beauty to anger to hopelessness to triumph. Reading the author biographies after was as much a revelation as the book itself. After reading the entire book, finding out which authors had survived the Holocaust (of those that were there), and which ones had survived only to commit suicide later added such sadness and depth to their works. One poet in particular, Miklos Radnoti was actually found in a mass grave with his poems stuffed inside his pocket. This was particularly painful as one of his poems in the book is written in such a way as to suggest it could have been written as he was shot--it was that descriptive and similar to what happened to him and was written in the same year he was found dead. With these darker poems were many others that showed the strong faith of many of the poets, even in the face of such evil. Uplifting poems which make you shake your head in wonder at the ability to fight and bounce back many humans have. Survivor guilt runs deep in many of the poems, especially those by Primo Levi and Paul Celan, both survivors who later committed suicide. There is a sense of urgency and a need to tell the story of what they saw in both of these authors--heartbreaking yet valiant in light of how their lives ended. My favorite poem of the entire book is written by Elie Wiesel, the brilliant author of Night and so many other amazing works. It is a piece taken from a dramatic poem set to music based on the Hebrew Prayer "I Believe in the Coming of the Messiah", called Ani Maamin, A Song Lost and Found Again. It is beautiful, complex, rife with symbolism, beauty, and anger. Like many of the others, this poem will stay with me a very long time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lissa

    It's hard for me to review a book like this. On the one hand, I found some poets who were new to me and I definitely plan on trying to track down collections of their work (some are out of print; others have never been translated properly into English, which makes me sad). On the other hand, there didn't seem to be much of a theme here, except that the poems mentioned the Holocaust somehow. I was surprised by some of the poems contained here, particularly the one by Sylvia Plath, which I didn't It's hard for me to review a book like this. On the one hand, I found some poets who were new to me and I definitely plan on trying to track down collections of their work (some are out of print; others have never been translated properly into English, which makes me sad). On the other hand, there didn't seem to be much of a theme here, except that the poems mentioned the Holocaust somehow. I was surprised by some of the poems contained here, particularly the one by Sylvia Plath, which I didn't feel fit at all (and may have been added to the cover for "buy me, I have a poem by Sylvia Plath in me!" appeal). But there are some gems contained in this book that gutted me. Miklos Radnoti, Boris Slutsky, Janos Pilinszky, Jerzy Ficowski, Tadeusz Rozewicz, Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi...give me ALL of their poems, please. I think the story of Miklos Radnoti touched me the most; some of the poems included in this collection were found on his body, where he was shot and buried in a mass grave in 1944. Talk about chilling. I instantly bought as many books as I could find that contained his poetry, and I haven't been disappointed yet. I'm also looking forward to buying Boris Slutsky's Glas 19 (it's currently out of stock); his poem about how his grandmother was killed while he was fighting on the front was breathtaking and heartbreaking and courageous and EVERYTHING. Recommended? Yes. Just be prepared for a wide range of poetry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Zecker

    An excellent compilation that was given to me by a friend visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Washington. This beautiful volume speaks a great deal about the human condition and the poetic response to an atrocity that is completely indescribable. Where there weren't any words remaining, Hilda Schiff cherry picked a great deal of works that use words in their most eloquent and bold manifestation to allow for the emotion and limits of the human mind to touch upon what and where and how these events An excellent compilation that was given to me by a friend visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Washington. This beautiful volume speaks a great deal about the human condition and the poetic response to an atrocity that is completely indescribable. Where there weren't any words remaining, Hilda Schiff cherry picked a great deal of works that use words in their most eloquent and bold manifestation to allow for the emotion and limits of the human mind to touch upon what and where and how these events so boldly and irreversibly shaped the 20th century and the Jewish people. A great addition to any library, this book allows for so much in a very little amount of time, and it can only be enjoyed by those members of the human race who have experienced love, family, loss, and any number of other emotions that this text evokes. A great book that allows for considerable reflection on the human condition, mortality, family, and existence.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pippa

    I was not listening when it happened. Now I hear nothing else. Hilda Schiff A collection of mourning and memory that I, as a poetry novice, feel no right to rating or reviewing. Here are some of the excerpts that affected me the most: Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us. W. H. Auden How can I ever sing A requiem In silent, dark despair, Transfiguring Your calvary of nails And gas and graves. Lotte Kramer At the border at last, he did, he didn’t, Expect the difficulties. He was, he I was not listening when it happened. Now I hear nothing else. Hilda Schiff A collection of mourning and memory that I, as a poetry novice, feel no right to rating or reviewing. Here are some of the excerpts that affected me the most: Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us. W. H. Auden How can I ever sing A requiem In silent, dark despair, Transfiguring Your calvary of nails And gas and graves. Lotte Kramer At the border at last, he did, he didn’t, Expect the difficulties. He was, he wasn’t Prepared for the arrest. He did, he didn’t Anticipate the arrangements: the jam-packed trains, The sweat, the stench, the gas, the horror. Hilda Schiff Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Elie Wiesel Close your eyes, now; take your death. Once we slapped you to take breath. W.D. Snodgrass Bees build around the honeycomb of lungs, Ants build around bone. Torn is paper, rubber, linen, leather, flax Fibre, fabrics, cellulose, snakeskin, wire. Czeslaw Milosz And I myself am one massive soundless scream above the thousand thousand buried here. I am each old man here shot dead. I am every child here shot dead. Nothing in me shall ever forget! Yevgeny Yevtushenko Here men were drunk like water, burnt like wood. Randall Jarrell No prayers or incense rose up in those hours Which grew to be years, and every day came mute Ghosts from the ovens, sifting through crisp air, And settled upon his eyes in a black soot. Anthony Hecht Our strength did not give out, only the earth below gave out. Abba Kovner There you were mine. Your body covered in scabies and boils, rose up like a cloud. There you were mine, from heaven, from fire. Now it’s over. Tadeusz Borowski I believe in the sun though it is late in rising I believe in love though it is absent I believe in God though he is silent... Unsigned, found in a cave in Cologne where Jews had been hiding Now count those heads by the millions of the dead. Around You the stars go dark. Our memory of You obscured. Jacob Glatstein God of silence, speak. God of cruelty, smile. Elie Wiesel

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hank Francom

    This book is a very sad but true book. I knew that the holocaust was a horrible thing but this book really opened my eyes a little more. It must have been so sad to be alive during the holocaust. Not just the perecuted but also the pursecutors- the Nazis. Maybe the Nazis felt bad about it or maybe they felt like Hitler forced them to do what they did. The holocaust was horrible: It was when Hitler tried to kill all the Jewish people and all the people who didn't fit this stereotype of tall, blon This book is a very sad but true book. I knew that the holocaust was a horrible thing but this book really opened my eyes a little more. It must have been so sad to be alive during the holocaust. Not just the perecuted but also the pursecutors- the Nazis. Maybe the Nazis felt bad about it or maybe they felt like Hitler forced them to do what they did. The holocaust was horrible: It was when Hitler tried to kill all the Jewish people and all the people who didn't fit this stereotype of tall, blonde, blue eyed, and heterosexual. this was called the arian race. This book has poems from people who thought they where going to die the next day so it has a ton of deep literature. this one stood out to me the most. "A woman came with her little daughter and SS men where there one morning and took the child away: a mother was forbidden to keep her child with her. later, the woman found out the child had been thrown into the fire in which the dead where being burnt and that night threw herself against the electrified barbed wire fence around the camp(from holocaust 79)" that just shows how terrible the holocaust was. I like this book because it taught me a lot about how bad the Holocaust was. I think that the author is trying to tell you what it felt lik to live during the holocaust, or how awful it was.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Adams

    This amazing collection is able to destroy all faith in humanity and then entirely rebuild it only a few pages later. It is truly amazing to see the wonderful art that is able to come out of such a horrible time in history. The poems are wonderfully divided into sections dealing with various aspects and ramifications of the holocaust. One of my favorite poems from this collection is "Riddle" by William Heyen. In this poem he masterfully poses the question of who is truly responsible for the atro This amazing collection is able to destroy all faith in humanity and then entirely rebuild it only a few pages later. It is truly amazing to see the wonderful art that is able to come out of such a horrible time in history. The poems are wonderfully divided into sections dealing with various aspects and ramifications of the holocaust. One of my favorite poems from this collection is "Riddle" by William Heyen. In this poem he masterfully poses the question of who is truly responsible for the atrocities committed. I would highly recommend this book to any lover of poetry, history, or the human condition.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a book to be savored. I found I needed to mull over many of the poems, chew on them, reflect on them. My favorite is “In the Midst of Life”. “After the end of the world After death I found myself in the midst of life creating myself building life people animals landscapes ...” The poem goes on to identify and reconnect with the ordinary objects and people in his life. The writer finds new value in those people and objects and questions his own selfhood (in my opinion). Perhaps he is th This is a book to be savored. I found I needed to mull over many of the poems, chew on them, reflect on them. My favorite is “In the Midst of Life”. “After the end of the world After death I found myself in the midst of life creating myself building life people animals landscapes ...” The poem goes on to identify and reconnect with the ordinary objects and people in his life. The writer finds new value in those people and objects and questions his own selfhood (in my opinion). Perhaps he is the one who is new and strange. Another favorite was “Riddle” that asks over and over, “Who killed the Jews?” without an answer.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jodie Flandinette

    A wonderful collection of thoughts and insights from the people who lived through one the most startling and destructive events in history. For any level of reader, the choices of poetry samples stretch from before the Holocaust, during, and the aftermath on the human psyche long after the camps. You will cry. Your hair will stand on end. You will put the book down after being emotionally taxed.. and just as quickly, pick it back up to continue in the torture. A strong reminder to learn from the A wonderful collection of thoughts and insights from the people who lived through one the most startling and destructive events in history. For any level of reader, the choices of poetry samples stretch from before the Holocaust, during, and the aftermath on the human psyche long after the camps. You will cry. Your hair will stand on end. You will put the book down after being emotionally taxed.. and just as quickly, pick it back up to continue in the torture. A strong reminder to learn from the past and to always respect the journeys of those who became an example for the rest of the world.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew William

    Such a powerful read. I'm normally not big on poetry, but I just couldn't put this book down. To imagine the fear, suffering, and pain the Jewish people had to endure during this time. And this is but a handful of thoughts of the millions and millions who perished. Just wow... Such a powerful read. I'm normally not big on poetry, but I just couldn't put this book down. To imagine the fear, suffering, and pain the Jewish people had to endure during this time. And this is but a handful of thoughts of the millions and millions who perished. Just wow...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    The translations are not always the best choice, but it's an interesting collection and includes some good and important but less-known works. A strange mix of survivor and non-survivor poetry though and rarely indicated. The translations are not always the best choice, but it's an interesting collection and includes some good and important but less-known works. A strange mix of survivor and non-survivor poetry though and rarely indicated.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    It is as heartbreaking and disturbing as you imagine it to be. A vast majority of the poems are written by survivors, a lot of the time while they were in the concentration camps. It is a horrific look into what the world let happen.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    over the few hours of the bloodstream / over the dirty river of time I do not know what did Charon of his own free will / the ferryman without an oar do

  14. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    These poems are beautiful but sad

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    I knew going into this particular collection that I would find it an unpleasant experience, which is largely why this didn't get one star. I am not a fan of poetry of any sort. I don't get the deeper meaning of poets and do not looking for those hidden nuances that are intended. Here while all the pieces reflect an overarching theme I can't say one in particular stood out for me. It was interesting to see another way of conveying ones thoughts about this horrible point of history, but it is just I knew going into this particular collection that I would find it an unpleasant experience, which is largely why this didn't get one star. I am not a fan of poetry of any sort. I don't get the deeper meaning of poets and do not looking for those hidden nuances that are intended. Here while all the pieces reflect an overarching theme I can't say one in particular stood out for me. It was interesting to see another way of conveying ones thoughts about this horrible point of history, but it is just one that didn't work effectively for me in particular. I would, however, recommend this to individuals that actually enjoy reading poetry in some format.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lovebell

    A most most depressing read. Yet at the same time, a most important one because it teaches us to treasure what we have. The words are also testimony to the strength of humanity and also reminds us of humanity. A must read for everyone. While it's easy to breeze through, the imagery and cadence of the poems will stay with you for some time to come. A most most depressing read. Yet at the same time, a most important one because it teaches us to treasure what we have. The words are also testimony to the strength of humanity and also reminds us of humanity. A must read for everyone. While it's easy to breeze through, the imagery and cadence of the poems will stay with you for some time to come.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Revelle

    I felt this book so deeply, so intensely, that I honestly have no words for it. Tears ran down my face and my heart hurt. I heard family members I never got to know, cousins that were never born, friends that were kept from time- all whispering through the pages of this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shelby

    Beautiful and emotional. Now I'm a huge fan of war poetry! Review to come. Beautiful and emotional. Now I'm a huge fan of war poetry! Review to come.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Snow

    Some very moving pieces, some disturbing. A very good range of emotional work, which of course the Holocaust birthed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    This is an excellent collection of poetry that really captures some of the raw emotions of the Holocaust; a must-have supplement to any purely historical or narrative text.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I am very interested in the Holocaust and this made it even more emotional for me. I could only read one a night.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    A critical addition to any study of World War II or the Holocaust.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Read as part of the class project I was doing on death poetry (because the teacher thought I shouldn't do a project just about suicide poetry). Read as part of the class project I was doing on death poetry (because the teacher thought I shouldn't do a project just about suicide poetry).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jayne

    A variety of poetry related to the Holocaust. Some are great read alouds for students to help build their background knowledge of the time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Gomez

  26. 5 out of 5

    Di

  27. 4 out of 5

    Svenja

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wickie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 4 out of 5

    Claire

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