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"The Little Boy with His Hands Up"
Transcript of "The Little Boy with His Hands Up"
The Little Boy with His Hands Up By: Yala Korwin Your open palms raised in the air
like two white doves
frame your meager face,
your face contorted with fear,
grown old with knowledge beyond your years
Not yet ten. Eight? Seven?
Not yet compelled to mark
with a blue star on white badge
your Jewishness. No need to brand the very young.
They will meekly follow their mothers. You are standing apart
Against the flock of women and their brood
With blank, resigned stares,
All the torments of this harassed crowd
Are written on your face.
In your dark eyes -- a vision of horror.
You have seen Death already
On the ghetto streets, haven't you?
Do you recognize it in the emblems
Of the SS-man facing you with his camera? Like a lost lamb you are standing
Apart and forlorn beholding your own fate. Where is your mother, little boy?
Is she the woman glancing over her sholder
At the gunmen at the bunker's entrance?
Is it she who lovingly, though in haste,
Buttoned your coat, straightened your cap,
Pulled up your socks?
Is it her dreams of you, her dreams
Of a future Einstein, a Spinoza,
Another Heine or Halevy
They will murder soon?
Or are you orphaned already?
But even if you still have a mother,
She won't be allowed to comfort you
In her arms.
Her tired arms loaded with useless bundles
Must remain up in submission. Alone you will march
Among other lonely wretches
Toward your martyrdom. Your image will remain with us
And grow and grow
To haunt the callous world,
To accuse it, with ever stronger voice,
In the name of the million youngsters
Who lie, pitiful rag-dolls,
Their eyes forever closed.
According to her website, www.yalakorwin.com, the author of this poem is a Polish artist. She survived a work camp in Germany during WWII. In 1956, she emigrated to the United States. The Star of David In 1939, Jewish people in Poland were required to wear white armbands with a blue Star of David on it. To read more about how badges were used during the holocaust visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/badges.html The SS, or Schutzstaffel, were
a kind of police force for the Nazi
government. Visit the following website
to learn more about the SS: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007400 Do you see any other police-like men
in the photograph of the boy? What do you think the boy in the photograph
would think about having his picture
taken by an SS-man? Why might an SS-man want
to take a picture like this one? How do the questions in this stanza
compare to the questions and observations you had when you first saw the photograph? What is martyrdom? For the poem, the
word martyrdom means death.
A martyr is someone who is killed because of their faith and beliefs.
Another Poem about
"To the Little Polish Boy Standing
with His Arms Up" by Peter Fischl