Readers Write: The Holocaust. Not long ago. Not far away.

The Island Now
Anne Frank by Dr. Francine Mayran

Six million Jews perished in German-occupied Europe during World War II.

Though Jews were in the gas chambers with all kinds of other people — the gypsies, gays, political opponents of the Nazi regime — but only the Jewish people were targeted for “The Final Solution”: the destruction of the Jewish people from the entire planet.

No such plan was ever devised in the annuals of humanity,” said Rabbi Israel Zoberman, founder of Temple Lev Tikvah in Virginia Beach.

It is estimated that 90 percent of Europe’s Jewish children perished in the Holocaust. Women and children were often the first victims of the Nazi’s and their collaborators in the concentration and death camps, often within days of arrival.

There were more than a thousand concentration camps, with no lull or let up to wholesale debasement and murder until the Nazis were defeated and forced to abandon the evil handiwork of their systematic, industrialized evil.

Nothing can rationalize such wanton destruction, pain, suffering, tragedy and death on a mass scale. The Holocaust challenges our ideas about humanity, good and evil, silence and justice. It tests our ideas about bigotry, hate, and the evil of anti-Semitism combined with power.

If unchecked we know the ultimate outcome, silence and inaction cannot be the answer.

I wrote “Joanna” describing my daughter’s coming to terms with the “Diary of Anne Frank” and what happened during the Holocaust.

The poem is coupled with my friend’s touching portrait of Anne Frank who perished at a young age in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne’s family fled Germany for the Netherlands when the Nazis began the wholesale persecution of German Jews.

In 1942 the family went into hiding when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, where they remained until betrayed in 1944. Anne’s father, Otto, was the only one of the eight people in hiding to survive.

“Joanna” appeared in 2014 in Yeshiva University’s seminal “PRISM: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators.” I read Joanna at the 2015 New York City Federal Commemoration Day of Remembrance in the U.S. Court of International Trade, the only poet invited to read.


At 12 she’s become obsessed with the Holocaust,
with the thought of children her age
who in the soft evening did not
go to bed tucked in with pleasant dreams
and fluffy play animals at their feet.
She knows about the children
bathed in seething gas and
turned to ash and cinders.

Her dreaming eye sees Anne Frank:
stuffed into tight attics,
hiding under tables,
herded into cattle cars,
separated from her family,
reduced to skin and bones,
ravaged by typhus,
freezing to death,
her small body unceremoniously dumped
into a mass grave,
and an indelible yellow star
stitched through her heart.

Information about Anne Frank and the personal impact of the Holocaust can be found here:
Information on the Holocaust, and about the most infamous camp Auschwitz where approximately one million Jews were murdered can be found at The Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Heritage to the Holocaust in at Battery Place, NYC:
Scholarly articles and interdisciplinary resources can be found here:
And on the Wikipedia:

Stephen Cipot

Garden City Park

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