Poem Research

I’m trying to write a poem about Birkenau that combines a sort of infernal glee on the part of the Nazis and infernal terror on the part of the Jews, Roma and homosexuals in their power. This is very hard, and made harder by the fact that I’m trying to use the arrangement of the words to indicate the intimacy caused by this madness. Coupled with the fact that I have no detailed knowledge of either Nazi ideology and indoctrinization or the functioning of a concentration camp from a prisoner’s point of view; this is an exercise in empathy [on all sides] that is currently beyond my capacity. Library, ho. This is the first poem I’m actually going to have to do research on. Any book recommendations from y’all?

8 thoughts on “Poem Research

  1. It’s difficult to attribute infernal glee to anybody who’s a human being–you just can’t make the assumption that the Nazi himself wasn’t at least a bit horrified, too, or at least remorseful after lighting the match. That’s why we invented Satan and Lucifer and that whole crew, I guess–to personify the pure evil we couldn’t stick or project onto a fellow human, credibly. You’ve given yourself a tough assignment.

    I might talk to some of the WWII vets still around, notably those who participated in the lecture series (I saw a few at the South Euclid library, and I think they were recorded) a few years back that essentially said that war is a piss-poor way to settle our differences.

    Participants I recall offhand were Dr. Joe Foley of Cleveland Heights and Robert Madison the architect, who may still be from Cleveland Heights, so you could probably start there.

  2. Thanks for the direction! I’m mainly trying to work with the form, but without a sense of content it won’t be effective. I could possibly drop the specifics altogether and work at it from another angle. I’ll think about it on my drive home.

  3. Shalom Adam,

    Start with Maus and Maus II. Then plan a trip to the Matlz Museum here in Cleveland. And anything by Ellie Wiesel, specially Night, is an excellent source.



  4. Adam,

    I get touch by visual and Euro movies particurlarly the Italians and French of the post war era were excellent at communicating the spirit and emotions of that time. Some of these movies by De Sica, Visconti and Rossellini are authentic but may be difficult to see.

    My favorites were:

    Two Women with Sophia Loren director Victorio De Sica

    I would recommend you to see “Life is Beautiful” and “The Pianist” which are easily avail. in DVD

    “Sophie’s Choice” and “Schindler’s List” are also very good but I prefered “Sophie” Vanessa Redgrave was incredible in “Playing for Time” about female prisoners spared from death in return for performing music for their Nazi captors. It was based on a true story.

  5. I’ve seen most of those, Daniella, but I’m looking for something more historical rather than cinematic coping mechanisms, which are what most Holocaust and Vietnam movies end up being, no matter how well intentioned. Schindler’s List is a particularly appropriate example in that context.

  6. Yeah, the cinematography is incredible. Unfortunately the Jews are effeminized and their deaths made into beautiful things, and a Nazi war profiteer is idolized. A pretty bad showing for a movie made by a Jewish man. If I wanted to dig through boxes of computer paraphrenalia I might be able to find the paper I wrote on it back in college. Unfortunately I don’t have a 3″ floppy drive anymore, so I wouldn’t be able to get to it anyway.

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