Sunday, February 26, 2012

Requiem: Poems Of The Terezin Ghetto

Janeczko, Paul B. 2011. REQUIEM: POEMS OF THE TEREZIN GHETTO. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763647278 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-10]

REVIEW
“False hope
said those who spoke
of transports and rumors of gas.
You are making music
in the shadow of the gallows.”

Janeczko’s compelling collection of original poems captures the despair and bleak terror of 1941 Terezin, Czechoslovakia. Renamed Ghetto Theresienstadt after the Nazi takeover, Terezin “officially” was a safe haven for the Jewish residents relocated there. They were encouraged by their captors to engage in cultural activities such as music and theater performances. However, the Jewish population were truly prisoners, with few real differences between Terezin and other concentration camps.

Deceptively simple black & white art (actually recovered from Terezin after WWII ended) accentuate and perfectly encapsulate the serene, yet forceful, poetry. Janeczko varies the point of view of each poem, including Nazi soldiers as well as Terezin residents of all backgrounds. The array of voices offers special insight into this painful piece of history.

CONNECTIONS
For teens, pair with the 1987 movie ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR for historically based (though fictionalized) insight into personal experiences of persons under Nazi control during WWII.

RELATED BOOKS
Rubin, Susan Goldman. THE CAT WITH THE YELLOW STAR: COMING OF AGE IN TEREZIN. ISBN 0823418316
Thomson, Ruth. TEREZIN: VOICES FROM THE HOLOCAUST. ISBN 9780763649630
Volavkov√°, Hana. I NEVER SAW ANOTHER BUTTERFLY: CHILDRENS DRAWINGS AND POEMS FROM TEREZIN CONCENTRATION CAMP, 1942-1944. ISBN 0805241159

By Sarah C. Dornback

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