Jim Kennedy © 2016
Henry Flescher told me that he was rescued from the holocaust in 1945, he felt as if he’d been born again.
A plague was sweeping Europe, but the victims’ plaintiff tears
were falling onto barren ground – their cries fell on deaf ears.
But now, today, when Nature’s creatures come alive each Spring,
‘round Bergen-Belsen prison camp, the birds no longer sing.
“One double-seven, one-five-three, from now on that’s your name!
You now belong to Deutschland, and your life won’t be the same!
The old, the young, the frail have been …er “deleted” from our list.
You have a choice – you work or die. No way can you resist!”
When Henry heard those chilling words, he guessed what was in store.
His mother, father, sister …. gone! He’d seen the signs before.
Crowds herded into cattle trains on journeys into hell.
Three years in squalid labour camps – near forty to a cell.
Sadistic guards, whose brutal beatings wreaked a deathly toll.
Their hapless victims tossed aside – mere numbers on a roll.
There seemed no chance they’d find relief from this barbaric curse –
Each day of torture followed by another even worse.
“Nine hundred days, more endless toil, my body stressed and numb.
I focused on those nightmares, and I vowed to overcome
the thought of fighting for cold soup, the struggles for stale bread,
the guns, the dogs, the sickly smoke, the sight of those near-dead.
I prayed for my salvation – for some sign to show the way.
One day I must escape from this. One day, please God. One day.
I want to dance. I want to sing, when I am free from here.
I want to run. I want to fly, where I am free from fear.
One double-seven, one-five-three won’t be condemned to dust,
I’ll fight the hunger and the pain, the freezing cold. I must!
I’ll fight those demons with my mind. I’ll fight to stay alive.
My faith is stronger than their guns – this way I shall survive.
I won’t forget those evil men. I can’t forgive them still.
They took away my youth, but they can never break my will.
So when I can be ME again, revenge won’t play a role.
Those nightmares won’t define me, or my life’s enduring goal.
If I have thoughts of cattle trains, a smoking chimney stack,
the snarling of a savage dog, the scars upon my back,
I’ll drive those torments from my mind, and dance to life’s refrain.
I owe it to six million souls who’ll never dance again.”
The tide of war was turning, ‘though they had no way to know.
Retreating on a three day tramp through rain, and sleet, and snow –
exhausted, starving, freezing – at the dawning of each day,
the ones who couldn’t rise were shot, and left just where they lay.
He crept away, fell to his knees, his strength was almost done.
A bulky form blocked out the sky ….a shadow….with a gun!
Six years he’d lived in Death’s dark shade, was this to be his end?
The shadow paused, held out a hand, and whispered one word – “Friend!”
That April day in ’45, when he was born again,
One double-seven, one-five-three could overcome the pain –
ignore the numbers on his arm – his new life had begun.
“I have a name! I’m Henry! ….I have fought the fight, and won!”