There is something in us all that isn’t quite civilised — a gap between what we are and the basic requirements of humanity. Before 1945 it was possible, convenient even, to pretend that it didn’t matter, or that progress and education and secular wisdom would render this gap obsolete. In 1945 there were many who thought nothing so bad could ever happen again, as long as the memory was kept alive. Since 1945 the gap, a radical expression of what theologians call the Fall, has opened wide again, all over the world. Where does this leave us? How aware of the roots of it within ourselves?
Shoah is the first of a sequence of seven memorial poems called Menorah by Don Barnard written in 2005.
In the beginning was the Word and the word was Jew.
And the word said Other, the word said Them. Not Me, not You.
Then the ploughing of the minds and the sowing of the lies
and the lies said Rapists and the lies said Thieves
and the lies said Evil in disguise.
And the Word was Demonise.
Then the growing of the Weeds. And the Weeds were Greed.
And the Weeds were Spite and the Weeds were Schadenfreude
and folk passed by on the other side.
And the Word was Bleed.
Then the writing of the Laws.
And the Laws said Jews
are not as other men.
No loving of your neighbour.
No Jews as citizens.
And the Word was Cleanse.
Then the packing into trucks and the tracks led east.
People carried like beasts and harried like beasts
and herded like beasts into pens.
And the Word was Untermensch.
Then the Words became a sentence and it sent them to their death
by burdening the strong, who earned another breath
before they died,
and murdering the rest, who simply died.
And the Word was Genocide.