by Shelly Blankman
Dedicated to the family of my grandmother, Regina Wallenstein, and the millions slaughtered by the Nazis while the world turned a blind eye.
I’ve walked these halls before,
seen the dimmed faces of those
born to die because they were Juden,
Time-tattered images of people
frozen in time, matted on walls
like cheap paper.
Eyes of the innocent open.
Eyes of the world shut.
Now I’m left wondering,
in a world once again
parasites of hate,
if this could ever happen
We cannot forget
those who now live
only on walls.
Previously published in The Ekphrastic Review and Silver Birch Press.
PHOTO: The Tower of Faces—photographs of Holocaust victims—at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC. Photo by D.S. Dugan, used by permission.
NOTE: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) is the United States’ official memorial to the Holocaust. On Nov. 1, 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter established the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, chaired by Elie Wiesel, a prominent author, activist, and Holocaust survivor. Its mandate was to investigate the creation and maintenance of a memorial to victims of the Holocaust and an appropriate annual commemoration to them. On September 27, 1979, the Commission recommended the establishment of a national Holocaust memorial museum in Washington, DC. Nearly $190 million was raised from private sources for building design, artifact acquisition, and exhibition creation. In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan helped lay the cornerstone of the building, designed by architect James Ingo Freed. Dedication ceremonies on April 22, 1993 included speeches by U.S. President Bill Clinton, Israeli President Chaim Herzog, and Elie Wiesel. On April 26, 1993, the Museum opened to the general public. Its first visitor was the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
PHOTO: The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC, with the Washington Monument visible on the right. Photo by Timothy Hursley for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When my family visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC a few years ago, I felt like I was walking in the shadow of my grandmother, whose parents and siblings had been murdered by the Nazis. They were trapped in a world of hatred, where Jews suffered, were punished, and died for being Jewish. This haunts me even more now, as we see an escalation in this country of anti-Semitism, racism, and every other form of hatred that results in despair and death. I left the museum after about three hours. It has never left me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Blankman and her husband are empty nesters who live in Columbia, Maryland, with their three cat rescues and one dog. They have two sons— Richard, 36, of New York, and Joshua, 34, of San Antonio, Texas. Shelly’s first love has always been poetry, although her career has generally followed the path of public relations/ journalism. Her poetry has been published by First Literary Review, Verse-Virtual, and The Ekphrastic Review among other publications. Recently, Richard and Joshua surprised her by publishing a book of her poetry, Pumpkinhead, now available on Amazon.