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The Barbarians Were Beaten Down But Too Late

When Max walked he tottered
the left leg shriveled at birth
a good six inches
blamed the Germans
because they tortured
his grandfather at Bergen- Belson
the tormented genes
never recovering
tainting his father, now him
said I didn’t see the connection
told me the story:
a guy took some rubber
from a broken conveyor belt
for the bottom his tattered shoe
the SS found him
bitter cold that day
stripped him naked
feet seized by a pail of water
the prisoners watching all this
at twilight
left him there
at dawn
liquid now solid ice
incredibly the man still alive
then blew a hole through his heart
no blood
too frigid to flow
Max’s grandfather
unable to breathe
terror too much for him
more to come
a simple death not enough
for the SS
so shot off the dead man’s ear
and crippled Max
for life.

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Comments (3)

My Grandfather fought in world war 2 and mentioned alot about these happenings. Of course he was a bomber pilot he said it happened alot in the American camps as well as the German. We were not always the 'good guys' at times.
Excellent, Charles. I agree with Tai, it is a shame that the most extreme form of violence is the most traummatic to the individuals taking part. That de-humanisation, that you hint at; having the prisoners watching.. perhaps, goes some way to explaining why many veterans do not want to talk about the war.
This Poem demonstrates vividly the effect of closed down emotions to me Charles. It just may be the key to bring peace in our time. Our minds protect us against trauma, by numbing us. It is so important not to allow that to happen imo. From my experience, it is far better to get it out and dealt with, at the time that's right for the individual, than ignore it and hope it will go away. It never does, just festers and turns in the extreme, into the sort of horrors your poem so clearly shows us. Forgiveness is the other Key! Thanks for sharing 10 from keeping on trying Tai