Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day


Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day



All wars are brutal but World War II resulted in suffering and atrocities of such magnitude that the loss of 50 to 75 million casualties is still beyond belief. The worst of these atrocities was inflicted on innocent people, most notably the Holocaust where 6 million Jews and countless others who confronted Nazi brutality were slaughtered. The Germans surrendered unconditionally in May of 1945. Then the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and on Nagasaki August 9, 1945 ending the war on all fronts. But did it?

We are left with images that will haunt mankind forever, the living cadavers in the concentration camps liberated by the American army, the naked child running alone on a road after the atomic blast that obliterated her history.

There are many, still alive today to tell the stories, and those who have known, like myself, human beings who had the courage and the willingness to stand up against evil. I was saved by being hidden in a Catholic convent, then placed with a loving family in the Belgian countryside. My father survived but my mother, baby sister, two older sisters and a brother did not.

This Sunday April 7,2013 is Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day of remembrance for those who do not know. A day like any other day for those of us who carry the loss and memory forever sealed in our hearts.
I dedicate this poem and this day to the memory of all THAT, to my loving “aunts” who saved my life and to my father who suffered silently the loss of his beloved wife and children.



A Poem for Abele – my father

Oh poppa, poppa

In the morning

Especially in the morning

When the hour tells me

Time is rushing

On its way

I see ancient thoughts

Silently appearing

Etching your face

In graven solitude

Oh poppa, poppa

Every morning

Especially at that appointed hour

When you and I sat

Facing each other’s soul

Over a cup of coffee

I mutter your name

Poppa, poppa

Only to hear an echo

Striking the empty chair

That hyphenated space

Molding your absence


Oh poppa, oh poppa

It is all too quickly gone

But for the spaces

Filled with lingering

Gestures that remain

And sometimes

The depth of a memory

Striking back at me

When in the mirror

I see

Not me

But the reflection of

That desperate flame

And  those endless questions

Filling your eyes

In the morning

When you and I sat

Before a cup of coffee


Our sanity


Poppa, poppa

I mutter your name in vain

Poppa, poppa, poppa

I want to know so much more…

Tell me about


Was she beautiful?

And Rebecca

Did she look like me?

And Frieda too?

But you couldn’t tell

She was only a baby


And Zelik, my brother

Where did he disappear?

Was it called


Birkenau, Sobibor, Majdanek…


Was Zyzla my mother

As sweet as her name?

Poppa, poppa

All those biblical sounds

Echoing in my mind

Are striking  against

your empty chair


Oh poppa, poppa

It is all too quickly gone

Yet, I remain…

To explain

To whom?

For what?

Spaces once filled

With gestures

Laughter that bore names

Faces with loving eyes

Caresses sealed in the depth

Of memory

Now looking back at me

When in the mirror I see

Not me, not you

But the family

Whose reflection

Filled your eyes

In the morning when

You and I sat in silence

Before a cup of coffee

© Mariette Bermowitz 2013

To accompany this poem is a pencil drawing by Edith Newman, a student of Mariette’s, who was 15 at the time.


Edith Newman – A Poem for Abele

I would like to thank the artist Vebjørn Sand whose gallery I discovered while walking on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village. His paintings of scenes from the Second World War are deeply moving and question every man’s responsibility when confronted by the challenges of evil.

I am grateful that such paintings will remain as a reminder that “there are human beings that accepted the responsibility to think for themselves and had the courage to stand up against a violent dictatorship.”

Mariette Bermowitz is the author of “Mindele’s Journey: Memoir of a Hidden Child of the Holocaust”, available on Amazon. Her story is a testament to a guiding force instilled in her by the nuns who sheltered her during the war. “I know what it’s like to give up hope, but something always drove me on.” says Bermowitz.

2 responses »

  1. C un superbe poème dédié a votre famille , merci de le partager avec nous afin de ne jamais oublier . Connaissez-vous le livre de Boris Cyrulnik ( sauve-toi , la vie t’appelle ) une histoire bouleversante . Amitiés . Mauricette

      De : Mindele’s Journey À : mrambeaud@yahoo.fr Envoyé le : Jeudi 4 avril 2013 21h09 Objet : [New post] Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day

    Mariette posted: “Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day All wars are brutal but World War II resulted in suffering and atrocities of such magnitude that the loss of 50 to 75 million casualties is still beyond belief. The worst of these atrocities was inflicted o”

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