Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beyond poignant

Requiem: poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul B. Janeczko  (811.JaR 2011) is a beautiful collection of poems written “as solemn songs to the memory of the people who died within the walls of Theresienstadt.” (p.94) 
For some, this will read much like a novel written in narrative verse.  Janeczko writes poems from the perspective of  different people, most are Jewish prisoners, some are Nazi guards, and others are by local town’s people telling some aspect of what has happened to them because of the Terezin Ghetto.  Janeczko informs us that the poems are based on his research and include events that did transpire but the characters are derived from this imagination.  Except for one.  The poem by Valtr Eisinger/11956 (p.38) was found amongst letters Eisinger had written and Janeczko located published elsewhere. (See the author’s note and list of selected sources for more information.) 
Peppered throughout are sketches and drawings that were drawn by inmates from Theresienstadt and found after the war. The Terezin Ghetto was where many artists, musicians and intellectuals from Prague were sent.  Nazis were somewhat lenient about inmates producing art, as it served their interests to purport that Jewish culture was being encouraged to flourish.
The poems and drawings that comprise this slim volume are haunting and unforgettable.
I highly recommend this book for grades 8 and up.  
To learn more about the Terezin Ghetto and art produced during the Holocaust, look to some of the following titles for additional information:
 As seen through these eyes: a Hilary Helstein film (700.458 As 2009 DVD)
Brundibar by Tony Kusher, illustrated by Maurice Sendak (782.1 KuB 2003 PIC BK)
The Cat with the yellow star: coming of age in Terezin by Susan Goldman Rubin (940.5318 RuC 2006)
Hana’s suitcase: a true story by Karen Levine (940.5318 LeH 2002)
Terezin: voices from the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson (940.5318 ThT 2011)


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