In loving memory of Stephanie Brumlik
“I sift through the ashes and what do I find? The lives and dreams and
hopes of those who have died. The survivors have given voice to their
strife – they’ve borne witness to days of torturous life. Some of the
perpetrators have told of their crime – orders were followed without
reason or rhyme. Yet, through it all we have lost stories galore of those
who perished in the madness of the storm. Here, then, I step up to speak
of lives so precious and deaths so bleak. Listen if you dare to the tales
I tell: I speak of what I know and that I know well.
“His name was Hanus Hachenburg born in Prague – Summer’s child with a
poet’sheart. Born July 12, 1929, his fate was sealed first on Sinai and
then atMunich. We chuckle ironically at “Peace in our time” but to
Hanus, dear lad,his laughter and childhood were cut short. He wants to
be heard although his story is long. Dear reader, bear with him, while
he tells you about a 14 year old life at Theresienstadt (Terezin).”
That bit of filth in dirty walls,
And all around barbed wire,
And 30,000 souls who sleep
Who once will wake
And once will see
Their own blood spilled.
I was once a little child,
Three short years ago.
That child who longed for other worlds.
But now I am no more a child
For I have learned to hate.
I am a grown-up person now,
I have known fear.
Bloody words and a dead day then,
That’s something different than bogie men!
But anyway, I still believe I only sleep today,
That I’ll wake up, a child again, and start to laugh
I’ll go back to childhood sweet like a briar rose,
Like a bell which wakes us from a dream,
Like a mother with an ailing child
Loves him with aching woman’s love.
How tragic, then, is youth which lives
With enemies, with gallows ropes,
How tragic, then, for children on your lap
To say: this for the good, that for the bad.
Somewhere, far away out there, childhood sweetly
Along that path among the trees,
There o’er that house
Which was once my pride and joy.
There my mother gave me birth into this world
So I could weep…
In the flame of candles by my bed, I sleep
And once perhaps I’ll understand
That I was such a little thing,
As little as this song.
These 30,000 souls who sleep
Among the trees will wake,
Open an eye
And because they see
They’ll fall asleep again…
“This, then, was Hanus’ life as told in his own words. Poor Hanus never
had a chance to publish any of what he wrote. The train that came took
him away to a different country and camp. On December 18, 1943, the
flames burned bright as Auschwitz released his soul to sing with the
Yis-gad-dal v’yis-kad-dash sh’meh rab-bo. . .”
(Originally published on GEnie: Category 15, Topic 4, Message 312,
Wed Mar 18, 1992, SPEAKER, at 21:27 EST)
Subject: Best of the Speaker: Hanus Hachenburg of Terezin