Auschwitz

I visited Auschwitz today
Under a coal sky
And myriad
Autumn leaves.

 

I visited Auschwitz today
Under a coal sky
And myriad
Autumn leaves.

I lived in Krakow for two years
Before getting up the nerve.

The concrete rooms
Stank of evil
Watchtowers stood
In defiance of time.

Each barbed wire fence
A shadow of our worst selves.

Nationalism and racism
Are powerful drugs,
Destroying compassion,
Changing our compasses.

But I saw no well-intentioned roads there,
Only sorrow and a multitude of names.

I wondered what it felt like
Being forced to march
Towards a wall
Or into a concrete room.

But what I should fear instead,
Is not that I will be marched somewhere,

But that someday,
Somehow,
I could be the one
Forcing others to march.

Mieczyslaw Koscielniak, “Roll Call at Auschwitz,” 1944

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