Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hitler's Suicide Day -- April 30

72 years ago today, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Some historians say he killed himself with a cyanide capsule, others say he shot himself first.


My mother didn't know how he killed himself, and she didn't much care.

She was happy that he did it. 

She had never met him, but she had felt his fist across her face, his whip across her back. She was taken to Germany as a Polish slave laborer after watching her mother, her sister Genja, and Genja's baby daughter murdered. My mom escaped by jumping through the window and escaping into a forest. The Nazis caught her pretty soon after that.

My mother didn't talk much about what happened to her and her family. When I was a kid, I thought her silence came from annoyance with my questions about the war. Later, I realized that she didn't talk about her experiences because she wanted to protect me from the terrible things that happened, even though I was a grown man and a teacher.

Here's a poem I wrote about what Hitler did to my mom and her family.

My Mother was 19

Soldiers from nowhere
came to my mom’s farm
killed her sister Genja’s baby
with their heels
shot her momma too

One time in the neck
then for kicks in the face
lots of times

They saw my mother
they didn’t care
she was a virgin
dressed in a blue dress
with tiny white flowers

They raped her
so she couldn’t stand up
couldn’t lie down
couldn’t talk

They broke her teeth
when they shoved
the blue dress
in her mouth

If they had a camera
they would’ve taken her picture
and sent it to her

That’s the kind they were

Years later she said:

Let me tell you,
God doesn’t give
you any favors

He doesn’t say
now you’ve seen
this bad thing
and tomorrow you’ll see
this good thing
and when you see it
you’ll be smiling

That’s bullshit

__________________

The poem appears in my book about my parents, Echoes of Tattered Tongues.

The photo was taken by my wife Linda in 1979 or so. From left to right in the back row, it's my dad, my mom, my sister Donnna, her daughter Denise, and me. In the front row are my sister's daughters Kathie and Cheryl.

If you want to read one of my poems about Hitler's Suicide Day, you can click on this link.

4 comments:

Aitken Drum said...

The horrors of the past must not be forgotten. We must force our memories to persist.

Anonymous said...

Very, very powerful.

bluenun said...

I am so glad to have found your blog. I too was born in 1948 in a Han Munden DP camp.. I also came to the US in 1951 on the USS Taylor. The older I got, the more my mother told me about her transport from the Ukraine to Germany and her work on a German farm. My Polish dad, never talked about his years in the camp.There are a few memories of Germany etched in my mind. I Have not run into any adults who came from the same background, and often wondered if children of DP parents were affected by their parents experiences as I was.






Melissa Lovescoffee said...

Hi- I stumbled across your blog. My Mom was born in Haltern at a DP camp in September 1946. My Polish Grandpa survived Dachau. My Grandma was from Russia and was put on a train at the age of 13 when the Germans were invading. I kept thinking Osterbeiters from the East. but somehow she was taken in by a family near Dachau.

My family on my Mom's side ends with my grandparents. My Grandma was mentally destroyed by her experiences. Her complete breakdown did not happen until my Mom was around 17.

My Grandma and Grandpa have both passed now. I am trying to piece together a more complete picture than what we have, but it is a lonely journey. I am fascinated by history; I'm also horrified.