Colin Ian Jeffery
Auschwitz - Poem by Colin Ian Jeffery
(Nazi death camp)
In Poland, during the Second World War,160 miles south-west of Warsaw the Nazis built their most notorious death camp. At one time over ten thousand were passing through the gas chamber daily, and not less than three million died there. There was a scroll above the main gate ‘Arbeit macht frel' (Work makes you free) . It was bad Nazi joke.
Only death could make those who entered free.
Chimneys billowing white smoke
Ovens fired and ready
For the train now arriving
Cattle wagons packed with Jews.
The orchestra of prisoners
Weep as they play Mozart
Performing the Nazi scheme
Calming people in the trucks.
Guards with snapping dogs
Herd people from the wagons
Shouting for them to hurry
Moving on towards the camp.
Haughty SS officers are waiting
With doctors in white coats
Ready to select and divide
Those to live and those who die
The fit and strong, mostly men live
To be worked until they drop
Then sent to the gas chambers
Bodies loaded into the ovens.
The sick, weak, elderly and children
Are sent directly to the showers
Where they are told to strip
And be deloused and bathed.
Some women try to hide children
Under clothes they hung on pegs.
But the prisoners' Kommando
Search clothing supervised by the SS.
They stand naked, embarrassed
As the shower doors are closed
Gas hisses through a ceiling vent
And panicking they scream in terror.
Choking gas overcomes them
As they fight desperately for air
Building up a human pyramid
Almost reaching to the ceiling.
When the doors are opened
The bodies are removed
By the prisoners' Kommando
And gold teeth and rings removed.
Death has taken ten minutes
Bodies are put in lifts
Then fed into the waiting ovens
Now the chimney smoke is black.
The Kommando work quickly
For another train is coming
Cattle wagons packed with Jews
Ready to be selected who lives or dies.
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