John F. McCullagh

(09/28/1954 / Flushing)

Himmelstrasse 10/14/43


Here was age and here was beauty,
The nearly young and very old-
women standing, stripped stark naked
there were forty in all told.
That cold early morn
In Sobior, the SS planned to test
Their newest means of murder
On these Jewesses undressed.
First robed of everything they’d owned,
Then compelled to disrobe-
Forced into the chamber
Where monoxide soon took hold.
First the banging on the door
That was securely locked
Screams and imprecations
Then silence borne of shock.
Ten minutes it was over
The last of them had passed
An open pit would be their grave
Their fortunes had been cast..

The path that led up from the camp
To where they breathed their last,
We Germans called the “Himmelstrasse”
For even villains need a laugh.
But on this day in Forty three
The sheep did more than mutter
They killed a dozen guards then fled.
They would not yield like the others.

Submitted: Monday, October 14, 2013
Edited: Friday, October 25, 2013
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Poet's Notes about The Poem

This is the 70th anniversary of a successful uprising by Jewish slave labor at the extermination camp of Sobior in Poland. Himmelstrasse (the Road to Heaven) is what the SS guards called the path that led from the camp to the gas chambers.

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