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Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto    by Paul B. Janeczko order for
by Paul B. Janeczko
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2011 (2011)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In his Afterword, Janeczko tells us that in Fall 1941, the Nazis made Terezin, Czechyoslovakia 'into a collection and transport camp for Jews.' Its inmates were 'many of the Jewish intellectials and artists of Prague' and 'Classical music and opera performances were commonplace, despite the horrors and cruelty of captivity.' But 'Musicians who performed beautifully one night were packed into cattle cars the next, transported to the gas chambers.'

Janeczko's poems address this terrible place from all perspectives. There's the journey there in cattle cars, 'a current of shuffling feet, sobs and whimpers / that crept past dark mouths / of archways and wondows / to Terezin.' A Jew is rejected by a very old friend who fears to be seen with him. An SS Captain revels in brutality. Artists play 'a final performance / for it was always a final performance / for some in the orchestra.' There's anguish and hatred for the opressor. And there's a show put on for inspectors while 'the ovens of Auschwitz waited.'

Paul B. Janeczko's Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto is painful to read, because his lyrical verses evoke their terrible subject so very well.

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