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Review: Poetry of the Holocaust, ed. Jean Boase-Beier, Marian de Vooght

Keith Richmond, ASLEF Journal, November 2019

What did the boy do, when the mob came?
Pogrom by Ed Hoornik

Our feature on fascism (Journal, August) argued that it was a pernicious ideology, inspired by philosophers such as Hegel and Nietzsche, preaching ideas of racial purity, and white supremacy, that reached its apogee in Hitler's Germany with the round-up of communists, socialists and trade union activists; Jews, Roma and Jehovah's Witnesses; homosexuals and 'social deviants'; all sent by train to die in the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Treblinka in Poland.

Poetry of the Holocaust... collects work in languages less often associated with the Holocaust, by or about those victimised for perceived disabilities, or because they were gay, or because their political or religious beliefs made them targets of Nazi hatred.

A perfect example is Encounter by Gunvor Hofmo, a Norwegian poet close to Ruth Maier, who fled from Germany to Norway in 1939 and then, in 1942, was deported to Auschwitz where she was sent to the gas chamber:

On such a rainy night
you know it's her,
your Jewish friend they murdered,
whose body they let burn
together with a thousand others.