Holocaust Poetry

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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 who died—both Jews and non-Jews—as a result of this unimaginably horrible crime.

Yet Schiff's anthology is also...

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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 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.

The only known collection of its kind, this volume includes the work of 85 poets on subjects that are indelibly linked with the Holocaust. The contributors range from world-renowned writers to those who are relatively unknown. On this the 50th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, this timeless book of poetry commemorates the meaning of life and death.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The power of verse to encompass a topic of mammoth scope and render it into painstakingly personal detail is keenly demonstrated in this absorbing and well thought-out anthology of grief."—Publishers Weekly

"Can there be poetry about the Holocaust? Isn't this kind of writing an attempt to escape—or to exploit—the suffering of millions? Poet and anthologist Schiff confronts these questions in her eloquent introduction. One answer she finds is that to remain silent is also to lie. Fifty years after the liberation of Auschwitz, great literature about the Holocaust has grown to a flood . . . The pieces here are of astonishing power. In English and in translation from many languages, [nearly 60] poets—including Wiesel, Fink, Brecht, Yevtushenko, Auden, and Sachs—give voice to what seems unspeakable. Schiff points out that compelling historical accounts document the facts and numbers, but a poem, like a story, makes us imagine how it felt for one person. These poems are stark and deceptively simple. No one can read them all at once. Each poem leaves you with an indelible memory. In words of one syllable, the Polish poet Rozewicz writes about having to reinvent language after Auschwitz ("this is a man / this is a tree this is bread" ). There's no healing in this tragedy: the last poem, by Primo Levi, is like a shout of rage to us to remember."—Hazel Rochman, Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312143572
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1996
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 472,646
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.57 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Hilda Schiff is a renowned translator, author, anthologist, poet, and scholar. An annual Hilda Schiff Prize in Holocaust Studies is awarded by the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Oxford University.

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Table of Contents


The Poems


"Heritage," Hayim Gouri

"Europe, Late," Dan Pagis

"The Shoemaker's Wife," Lotte Kramer

"The Burning of the Books," Bertolt Brecht

"First They Came for the Jews," Pastor Niemöller

"A Footnote Extended," Dannie Abse

"Refugee Blues," W. H. Auden

"How Can I See You, Love," David Vogel


"1940," Bertolt Brecht

"The Red Cross Telegram," Lotte Kramer

"The German Frontier at Basel," Hilda Schiff

"He Was Lucky," Anna Swirszczynska

"I Saw My Father Drowning," David Vogel

"There Is a Last, Solitary Coach," David Vogel

"Clouded Sky," Miklós Radnóti

"The Butterfly," Pavel Friedmann

"Elegy," Antoni Slonimski

"A Cartload of Shoes," Abraham Sutzkever

"How They Killed My Grandmother," Boris Slutsky

(from) "Holocaust," Charles Reznikoff

"The Assumption of Miriam," Jerzy Ficowski



"Death Fugue," Paul Celan

"O the Chimneys," Nelly Sachs

"Never Shall I Forget," Elie Wiesel

"Testimony," Dan Pagis

"The Roll Call," Dan Pagis

"Be Seeing You," Vasko Popa

"Forced March," Miklós Radnóti

"Postcards," Miklós Radnóti

"Harbach 1944," János Pilinszky

"Passion of Ravensbrück," János Pilinszky

"On the Wall of a KZ-Lager," János Pilinszky

"Fable, Detail from his KZ-Oratorio: Dark Heaven," János Pilinszky

"Roads," Peter Huchel

"A Poem of Death," George Macbeth

"Night over Birkenau," Tadeusz Borowski

"Treblinka," Michael Hamburger

"Shipment to Maidanek," Ephraim Fogel

"Remembering Dresden," Van K. Brock


"Passover: the Injections," William Heyen

"A Girl of Six from the Ghetto," Jerzy Ficowski

"5.8.1942, In Memory of Janusz Korczak," Jerzy Ficowski

(from) "Holocaust," Charles Reznikoff

"A Dead Child Speaks," Nelly Sachs

"Already Embraced by the Arm of Heavenly Solace," Nelly Sachs

"O the Night of the Weeping Children!," Nelly Sachs

"Massacre of the Boys," Tadeusz Rózewicz

"Pigtail," Tadeusz Rózewicz

"In the Camp There Was One Alive," Randall Jarrell

"Magda Goebbels," W. D. Snodgrass


"Burnt," Boris Slutsky

"Innocence," Thom Gunn

(from) "Holocaust," Charles Reznikoff

Rescuers, Bystanders, Perpetrators

"Both Your Mothers," Jerzy Ficowski

"1980," Abraham Sutzkever

"I Did Not Manage to Save," Jerzy Ficowski

"A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto," Czeslaw Milosz

"History and Reality," Stephen Spender

"Babii Yar," Yevgeny Yevtushenko

"Ovid in the Third Reich," Geoffrey Hill

"September Song," Geoffrey Hill

"A Camp in the Prussian Forest," Randall Jarrell

"'More Light, More Light,'" Anthony Hecht

"Between the Lines," Michael Hamburger

"A German Requiem," James Fenton


"Archive Film Material," Ruth Fainlight

"Far, Far a City Lies (from 'My Little Sister')," Abba Kovner

"Auschwitz, 1987," Adam Zych

"Memento," Stephen Spender

"Leave Us," Tadeusz Rózewicz

"Reveille," Primo Levi

"The Survivor," Primo Levi

"The Sun of Auschwitz," Tadeusz Borowski

"Farewell to Maria," Tadeusz Borowski

"The Execution of Memory," Jerzy Ficowski

"My Mother's Friend," Lily Brett

"La Pathetique," Lily Brett

"I, the Survivor," Bertolt Brecht

"The Retum," Tadeusz Rózewicz

Second Generation

"Almost a Love Poem," Yehuda Amichai

"Draft of a Reparations Agreement," Dan Pagis

"I Was Not There," Karen Gershon

"When it Happened," Hilda Schiff

"I Keep Forgetting," Lily Brett

"Leaving You," Lily Brett

"Holocaust 1944," Anne Ranasinghe

"The Book of Yolek," Anthony Hecht

"Daddy," Sylvia Plath

"Against Parting," Natan Zach


"Annotations of Auschwitz," Peter Porter

"If," Edward Bond

"How We See," Edward Bond

"The Survivor," Tadeusz Rózewicz

"In the Midst of Life," Tadeusz Rózewicz

"Race," Karen Gershon

"Synagogue in Prague," Alan Sillitoe

"During the Eichmann Trial," Denise Levertov

"Campo dei Fiori," Czeslaw Milosz

"Posthumous Rehabilitation," Tadeusz Rózewicz

"May, 1945," Peter Porter

"War Has Been Given a Bad Name," Bertolt Brecht

"Portrait of a House Detective," Hans Magnus Enzenberger

"Riddle," William Heyen

"Annus Mirabilis 1989," Elaine Feinstein



"Smoke Rose," Itamar Yaoz-Kest

"Written in Pencil," Dan Pagis

"Zürich, the Stork Inn," Paul Celan

"Who Am I?," Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"I Believe," Anonymous

"What Luck," Tadeusz Rózewicz


"Without Jews," Jacob Glatstein

"Experiments With God," Karen Gershon

"The Jugs," Paul Celan

"Psalm," Paul Celan

"After Auschwitz," Anne Sexton

"Discovery," Hilda Schiff

"Ani Maamin," Elie Wiesel

"Shemá," Primo Levi

Biographical Details of Poets

Index of Poets

Index of Translators

Index of Titles

Index of First Lines


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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2001

    Holocaust poetry

    This is one of the most interesting books I have ever read. It shows a point of view from individuals and groups that were actually at a death camp, as well as those who were not even alive during that time. Most people who pick up this book would probably realize that their life wasn't that bad. This book could have added something that George Orwell had written or said. (read 1984- it is a great book)

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