V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Umschlagplatz—ugly word, ugly
place. Look. Almost nothing remains
of Umschlagplatz, in the middle
of Warsaw, the middle of Poland,
the middle of a ghetto, the middle
of the starving world of Jews in
the middle of the twentieth century.

Now only a wall, a plaque, a few dead
roses. So little to remember so many,
each soul herded here. Twelve thousand
a day in the blistering heat of summer,
1942. Doctors, lawyers, dancers,
children. Freight straight to Treblinka,
human cargo to be murdered.

We had no help, nothing, and yet,
how could we not resist? Remember
as you leave the square's dying roses,
how we, the ZOB, fought—anything
we could find or make—sticks, pipes,
light bulbs with sulfuric acid, a few guns.
Never enough, yet we fought and fought.

Nazis burned everything. To leave no
evidence. But there were sewers.
Lower and lower we went swimming
our way out with rats and garbage
to bear witness, to remember those
who chose to stand and fall, fighting
in the blistering heat at Umschlagplatz.

    * * *

Zivia Lubetkin Zuckerman: A  founder of the resistance
group ZOB (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa/Jewish Fighting
Organization) who fought in Warsaw ghetto uprising and
escaped to Aryan side as Nazis burned the ghetto in
May, 1943. She was a witness at the trial of Eichmann.


© by Davi Walders


Contributor's note
Next page
Table of contents
VPR home page

[Best read with browser font preferences set at 12 pt. Times New Roman]