Sunday Afternoon. Treblinka. 1942

By David Beaumont

This poem is part of a collection I have published around the theme of the Holocaust and particularly about my great uncle.


Sunday Afternoon. Treblinka. 1942

The day is bright shining beautiful.

Yes…even here…in this other world

The chairs have been set up in a half circle.

They sit.

We stand.

 

We were tailors and shoemakers.

carpenters and cabinetmakers.

We were doctors and lawyers

bankers and businessmen.

We were Rabbis and atheists

rich men and paupers.

 

Today…a concert.

Artura Gold and members of his orchestra

will entertain…

will provide some relaxation

for the officers and the guards,

diversions from their daily duties.

First…there is a march.

Kommandant Stangl leans back in his chair.

Ein…zwei…drei…

he taps his foot

Ein..zwei…drei..

he gently beats time against the top of his boot,

with his riding whip.

The Germans are a musical people.

 

And now…something special.

A new arrival amongst a recent transport,

a cantor, said to have been the best in Warsaw.

He slowly steps forward.

there is a moment of pure and absolute silence.

Here even the birds do not sing.

 

Gold raises his violin and begins to play.

and then …at first quietly and slowly becoming stronger,

Cavaradossi’s aria from Tosca…

“E muoio disperato.

E non ho amato mai tanto la vita.

Tanto la vita.” *

*And I die in desperation.
And I never before loved life so much.
Loved life so much.


My great uncle was Artur Gold a famous Warsaw musician. When he arrived in Treblinka he was put in charge of the group of musicians who formed the camp orchestra. The incident that is the subject of the poem actually happened and was recorded by survivors. Artur Gold was killed in the Treblinka uprising.

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