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. Above the main gates was a scroll ‘Arbeit macht frel' (works makes you free) . It was a bad Nazi joke. Only death could make those who entered free.
Chimneys billowing white smoke
Ovens fired and ready
For the train now arriving
With cattle wagons packed with Jews.
The orchestra of prisoners
Weep as they play Mozart
Performing the Nazi scheme
Calming the people in the trucks.
Guards with snapping dogs
Herd people out from the wagons
Shouting for them to hurry
Moving them on towards the camp.
Haughty SS officers waiting
With doctors in white coats
Ready to select and divide
Those who to live and those to die.
The fit and strong, mostly men live
Worked until they drop
Then sent to the gas chamber
And bodies loaded into 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 their children
Under clothes they hung on pegs
But the prisoners' Kommando
Search the clothing supervised by the SS.
They stand naked and embarrassed
As the shower doors are closed
Gas hissing 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 takes ten minutes
And bodies are carried into lifts
Then fed into waiting ovens
And the chimney smoke turns black.
The Kommando work quickly
For another train is coming
Cattle wagons packed with Jews
Ready to be selected to live or die.
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