Kazett-Lyrik - Research on Poems from a German Concentration Camp
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Bernd das Brot Team
N 52° 46.009 E 013° 15.738
33U E 382759 N 5847746
Quick Description: A book analyzing Poems written by inmates of the Nazi Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen.
Location: Brandenburg, Germany
Date Posted: 7/3/2013 11:18:17 PM
Waymark Code: WMHF8Y
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member Bryan
Views: 5

Long Description:

Gate to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp with the cynical slogan "Work will set you free.

Sachsenhausen was one of the largest concentration camps in Nazi Germany. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people died here, about half of them Russian prisoners of war.

We paid a visit to the camp - which is now a memorial - during our latest trip to Germany, and here is one of the most touching stories we found:

The building above used to be the camp's laundry. A plaque at the building (right) informs us, that this building was the secret meeting place of the illegal anti-fascist camp committee.

This committee, consisting of patriots of 20 European countries, tried to make life bearable for the inmates by organizing support for those who suffered the most.

After liberation, members of the committee stayed in touch, organizing reunions of former inmates and keeping alive the memory of those who perished.

In 1958, Survivors of the Ilegal Kommittee received a letter from Norway from fromer prisoner Martin Gausla, describing a place where he had hidden “important doccuments.” The letter lead to the discovery of a small notebook, hidden under a plank in one of the barracks. It contained more than 40 poems in Russian language, written by concentration camp inmates. There were no names and in spite of massive research in Germany and Russia, it is still not known, if all poems were written by the same author or if a group of people was involved. Most likely, these poems are the last, lasting legacy of one or more of the 18,000 Russian prisoners of war who were executed in the camp.

On April 22, 1995, at the 50th anniversary of the camp's liberation, Katja Klein, a German scholar of literature published a book called

Untersuchungen zu Gedichten und Liedern
aus dem Konzentrationslager Sachsenhausen.

KAZETT was the short version of Konzentrationslager (concentration camp in German), thus translated, the title would be be

Research on poems and songs
from the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

The book contains German translations of the poems found in the notebook, together with other poems and songs, found in different locations or passed on by word of mouth, along with an in-depth analysis of the artwork and background information on the still ongoing search for the authors.

The following poem - honoring a comrade who was about to be executed - was discovered in the late 1950s. It was hidden in a bottle buried under the floor of the laundry building and came with the following note, written by a member of the Illegal Committee:

Heute ist der 19. September 1941. Eben erfahren wir, dass wieder 400 Rotgardisten zur Ermordung eingeliefert wurden. Wir stehen alle unter dem erschütternden Eindruck der Massenmorde, die die Zahl 1000 bereits überschritten haben.

Today is September 19, 1941. We just found out that another 400 comrades have been scheduled for execution. We are all shocked an shattered by the ongoing mass-murder, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives already.

Die Menschen balancieren
Im Wechselspiel der Zeit
Lavieren und jonglieren,
Zum Schwanken stets bereit.

Doch Du hast nie gewechselt
Und du hast nie geschwankt.
Hast niemals feig und heuchelnd
Um Position gebangt.

Nach unten nie getreten,
Nach oben nie gebückt.
Dein Wesen umzuketen,
Ist ihnen nie geglückt.

Den Rücken deinen graden,
Den hast Du oft geneigt,
Hast Deinen Kameraden
Erläutert und gezeigt.

Doch kamen die von oben,
dann blieb Dein Rücken grad.
Sie mochten drohen, toben –
Du bliebest Kamerad.

Wir spürten Deine Nähe
Und machten uns nichts draus,
Weil Du zu uns gehalten,
Drum hielten wir auch aus.

Life is a balancing act
In the changing tides of time.
People become turncoats,
Whenever it may fit.

But you never turned
And you never faulted.
You never feigned or canted
To save your back.

You never kicked those below you,
You never bowed to those above you.
They tried to turn you,
But they never succeed.

But you often bowed,
To your comrades,
Explained our situation
To those who lost faith.

But when they came from up above,
You remained straight and strong.
They threatened and they rant –
But you remained faithful.

We still feel your presence
And we won’t bow,
Because you believed in us,
We will survive!

Today, the former laundry building and secret meeting place is part of the Sachsenhausen Memorial. The building is called "Room of Nations" and displays artwork of former inmates.

This portrait (left) of an unknown prisoner could very well show the author of the poem - or the man the poem was dedicated to.

Unfortunately, we will never know.

A complete transcript of the book (in German language) can be found at Google Books.

ISBN Number: 3826010574

Author(s): Katja Klein

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