Native Foreigners: Jewish-Poetry Between the World Wars

By: Gregorek, Jerzy & Gregorek, Aniela

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FOREWORD "These moving poems, which are a part of every Jew's heritage, were written in the period between the wars—one and two—when there was still a slim hope assimilation would prevail, and the Jews wouldn't be considered the enemy. Meanwhile, the Nazis were practicing their extermination techniques, and making plans to eliminate the Jews. The Nazis first plan of attack was to issue hope—the Jews would be allowed to emigrate to Mozambique, as long as they gave up business and turned to farming. Some stereotypes die hard. Farming is a business. The second plan was to strip the Jews of their identity, by issuing severe race laws—collecting all pets owned by Jews, taking away their main means of mobility—stealing the Jews’ bikes. Countries like Canada, the United States, closed their borders to Jews. The dream of a second Exodus where God split the Atlantic Ocean in half, so the Jews could relocate in America died a hard death. The Zionists who made their way to Israel were admitted if they had farming skills. This book is a testament to the Jews who used poetry to help others and themselves. Like the old saying, speaking truth to power, this is what these poems did. They challenged the hegemony of anti-semitism. From the first poem, which reminds me a little of Mick Jagger's classic song, 'Midnight Rambler,' where Mick pretends he is the devil, Wladyslaw Szlemgel, takes on the role of the devilish Jew. It would be a sin not to mention the great illustrations throughout the book. These drawings stress the communal aspects of Judaism. The Jewish religion does not occur in a vacuum but has a community involvement. These pictures remind you of that. Perec Nowomlast's poem, 'Generation,' comes off like a musical score, with the Nazi trucks and cars in the background. For all those who thought the Jews were led like sheep to their own slaughter, poems like these serve as a wake-up call, proving that you can't silent the individual Jew. Irma Kanfer's marvelous poem, 'Jewish Actors,' tells the lonely story of the Jews who were able to escape. I love the line, 'A train schedule is your life.' Leaving Poland for good was not an easy choice. Mieczyslaw Brun's epic poem, 'Refugees,' reminds one of Passover and the son asking the Four Questions. It's about the father trying to protect the son from the evils in the world, an impossible job. Frederyk Bertish’s amazing poem, 'Homeless,' has a fantastic line, "Birds of passage are our friends." It reminds me of Emma Lazarus’s poem on the Statue of Liberty, sentiments proved wrong by American anti-semitism. I hope the reader understands what I am implying: This is great Holocaust literature, which ranks with the classics. It's more realistic than Anne Frank's masterpiece. Celina Becker's astounding poem, 'To the Jewish Language,' shows how difficult it is to change your life. Maurycy Szymel's sad poem, 'About Lost Sabbath,' tells how the Nazis were relentless in undermining the Jewish identity. God took a break from creating the world. The Nazis never took a rest from tormenting the Jews. But in his next poem, "Death," he transforms the deadly atmosphere with verse that is almost biblical: 'And when we nestle face to face, / I understand that there is no death.' Friedman Rafael's 'A Ballad about a Baked Bread' transcends the genre and is as compelling as a Cezanne still life. Stefan Pomer's tragic piece, "The Last Wish," is about a woman with tuberculosis, who clings to life. Saul Wagman's amazing verse, "From Today on I Will Be Ordinary, Simple," is about the Jew destroying his identity before the Nazis could. It shows that the Jews were a witness to their own destruction, but hope dies hard. There are as many alternatives to death as there are ways of life. Juliusz Wit's amazing poem. 'Heinrich Heine,' shows that there was no way to stop the Nazis death machine. I don't see, like Hannah Arendt, the banality of evil. I see, instead, the emergence of hope mixed in with realism. I see the Jews using poetry to fight back to protect their sanity in an insane world. —Hal Sirowitz, author of "Mother Said" 11 December 2014

Title: Native Foreigners: Jewish-Poetry Between the World Wars

Author Name: Gregorek, Jerzy & Gregorek, Aniela

Illustrator: Jerzy Feiner

Categories: Poetry & Art, Jewish/Polish, Holocaust, East European, Bilingual,

Edition: First

Publisher: Merrick, New York, USA, Cross-Cultural Communications: 2015

ISBN Number: 0893049239

ISBN Number 13: 9780893049232

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: New

Type: Poetry & Art

Inscription: To our fellow poets whose generation experienced

Size: 11 5/8 x 9 1/2

Seller ID: CCC987A