Keep the Memory Alive

By Charles N Whittaker

The poem Keep the Memory Alive was inspired by the Nottingham HMD workshop.

The opening lines of the poem are important because vowels and consonants are the building blocks of language. Without them a person or a people are silenced.

The word ‘you’ symbolises all those who murdered people in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and massacres.

The word ‘extinguished’ gives the reader the idea of a light from a small flame, which when taken, leaves only darkness in its wake. So, the importance of candles to remember the victims is immense.

The ultimate goal of perpetrators of the Holocaust, genocides and massacres is this: to make people forget that their victims ever existed. I deliberately challenge them by stating:

‘I keep the memory alive’.

Keep the memory alive

Voices stripped of consonants

Where vowels don’t exist

And names are wrenched from memory

On each breaking death camp list.


You thought words, sheathed in silence,

Would make us all forget,

The millions you extinguished,

Without shame, without regret.


The lives you took in fields,

And chimney-ash sown ground,

Where conscience has been murdered,

No longer to be found.


You said, according to YOUR will,

They were gone. Deleted. Did Not Survive.

Yet, THEY are here still,

Because I, I keep the memory, alive.

Charles N Whittaker has been writing poetry for twenty years.

This is the second poem Charles has written for Holocaust Memorial Day. His last poem was recorded by actor Olivia Colman. You can read the poem and hear the recording on the HMDT website.

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