Posts Tagged ‘synagogues’


七月 19, 2019


the danube flows
in the evening people sit in the sun
on the southwestern side
in the summer months
there are concerts on the main square
and in the cafés
the views are great from the castle
and from the liberation monument
and cemetery further up
some of the soldiers buried are women
in the summer months
the synagogue is open
as a museum
they have a nice garden
it is a functioning synagogue
all year round
the only one left
they had bigger ones
even after the war
after the holocaust
now this is the only one left
they built a freeway
interstate quality
right through the old city
it’s a functioning freeway
it’s a beautiful city
shabby in places, but proud
somehow still healing
the danube flows

MW July 2019









十一月 2, 2016

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Halloween in Budapest
Do you need to call out the ghosts?
Do you need to call out the ghosts?
In Parliament
Brightly lit along the Danube
Do you need to call out the ghosts?
In Vienna
In Budapest
In many cities
Many, many towns
thousands of towns
thousands of thousands
brightly lit along the Danube
Dohany Synagogue
Greatest in Europe
Status Quo Synagogue
By Otto Wagner
On Rumbach Street
Actually many buildings are left
All over Europe
Yes, there are Jews
In Budapest
Yes, there are people
Do we need to call out the ghosts?
Everyone knows
Along the Danube
Behind the Parliament
Greatest in Europe?
It’s very big
Behind the Parliament
Along the Danube
They lined them up
Several places
Along the Danube
Just a few months
Hungarian Fascists
Finally able
Fall ’44
German troops everywhere
Last few months of the war
Until the first month of ’45
Here in this city
Everyone knows
Hungarian Fascists
Established the ghetto
They passed laws against Jews
In Parliament
In 1920
Basically everyone knows
Hundreds of thousands
in a few months
Around 600,000
Killed in Auschwitz
Along the Danube
Behind the Parliament
Several places
Szabadsag ter
On Freedom Square
There’s a new monument
For the victims
It says
German occupation
Doesn’t say that in German
Doesn’t say that in English
Any other language
For the victims
Only these words
Even in Hebrew
Only the victims
Victims of German occupation
Written in Hungarian
Only in Hungarian
Erected in secret
Protests from the beginning
Pebbles, chairs,
a few wires, photos
pebbles with names
and so on
Everyone knows
Over 300 Million
Hungarian money
Erected in secret
Law passed in Parliament
December 31st, 2013
Protests from the beginning
Szabadsag ter
Liberty Square
Halloween in Budapest
Do you need to call out the ghosts?
There are people enough
In Budapest
In many cities
Many, many cities
Towns and cities
All over Europe
Brightly lit along the Danube
Everyone knows
Actually many buildings are left
All over Europe
Halloween in Budapest
Do we need to call out the ghosts?
Everyone knows
Halloween is for kids
We have kids in Vienna
Kids like to dress up
For Halloween
Let them have fun
Nothing wrong
My daughter knows
Austrian Fascists
Ghosts are alive
Zombies are real
Wish it was all
Pumpkins for kids
Halloween in Budapest
Greatest town
Along the Danube
Since Roman times
Everyone knows

MW October 31st, 2016

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notes from prague (2)

十一月 6, 2011


Čtrnáctiletý Hanuš Hachenburg a s ním i ostatní nově hledají své místo na světě, které jim bylo

„Co jsem?

Ke kterému patřím z národů?

Já děcko bloudící?

Je mojí vlastí hradba ghett,

či země zrající,

spějící, malá, spanilá,

jsou Čechy vlastí, svět?“ [8]

Odpovědí na Hanušovy otázky mohou být verše Františka Basse. Tento chlapec vyjadřuje hrdost na svůj
původ a neochotu poddat se. Promlouvá ke všem Židům, podněcuje je k tomu, aby se nestyděli za to
kým jsou a aby po zemi vždy kráčeli se vzpřímenou hlavou.

“Jsem žid

Jsem žid a židem zůstanu

i když já hlady umírati budu

tak nepodám se národu

Bojovat já vždy budu

za můj národ na mou čest

Nikdy se stydět nebudu

za můj národ na mou čest.

Pyšný já jsem na svůj národ

jakou má ten národ čest

Vždy já budu utlačený

Vždy já budu zase žít.“[9]

Upstairs in the Pinkas Synagogue at the Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague, they have a collection of children’s art works from Theresienstadt (Terezin), where the Jews from Bohemia, Moravia and other regions were imprisoned before further deportation. Very few children, about 100 of 50.000, survived. I don’t remember the exact numbers, please check the links in the pictures, there is a lot of information, and there are pictures of the synagogues in Prague, some of the children’s art works, and so on. At the other end of the Old Jewish cemetery, at the Klausen Synagogue, in a glass case somewhere among the explanations about Jewish holidays, customs and traditions, was a little poem that begins with “Jsem žid“, “I am Jewish”. It was written by František Bass, or Franz Bass, don’t know how they called him at home. Franz Bass sounds very much like Franz Kafka. Many Jews spoke German, or Jiddish, others spoke Czech, many spoke and wrote all three and more. František Bass was 11 years old. The poem is not very long, and rather conventional, as a patriotic poem. It is very forceful, very powerful, in the circumstances. So I wrote it down, in Czech, tried to copy all those letters and symbols exactly. There was an English translation next to the original poem. But although I don’t speak Czech, I could tell that the original was a real poem, there is economy in the words, there are very few words compared to the clumsy translation. I wrote it down, and a few days later I got around to Google the poem. So I found this paper online, a thesis or a dissertation at a Czech university, just a text file. The little poem by Franz Bass is quoted in full, and it is put in context with another poem by the 14-year-old Hanuš Hachenburg. Hanush Hachenburg asks, asks himself and the listener what he his, which country or nation he could belong to. He should be Czech, at least he writes in Czech. But no, Hachenburg is answered by Frantishek Bass, he can only say for certain that he’s Jewish. And you can be proud of being Jewish, says Frantishek Bass. That’s what his poem is about, so I’ve called it patriotic. I think it’s very powerful. Jsem žid a židem zůstanu, i když já hlady umírati budu, tak nepodám se národu. I am Jewish, I will stay Jewish, even if  I die of hunger, I won’t give up my nation. Or I won’t give in to any other nation, it doesn’t really matter, you’ll see. Bojovat já vždy budu, za můj národ na mou čest, Nikdy se stydět nebudu, za můj národ na mou čest. I’ll always be fighting, for my nation, on my honor. I’ll never be ashamed of my nation, on my honor. Big words. I grew up in Austria, and I’ve lived in China for a long while, and there is ample reason in Austria and in China and in many other places to be suspicious of such words. But in this Czech Jewish poem, they are different words, their meaning is different. Pyšný já jsem na svůj národ, jakou má ten národ čest. I am proud of my nation, an honorful nation. Vždy já budu utlačený, Vždy já budu zase žít. I will always be oppressed and killed, and I’ll always live again.

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