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Holocaust Memorial Day: The Numbers Had Names

January 27, 2012
Today marks the 12th anniversary of Holocaust Memorial Day, an opportunity to commemorate those who died and remember those who survived and are still alive today – in our thoughts and in our prayers.
In 2009, I visited Auschwitz as part of the Lessons from Auschwitz Project, a Holocaust Educational Trust initiative. Although it was impossible to put into words what I saw that day, I nevertheless wrote down my thoughts and questions in an attempt to come to terms with the tragedy.
Some of these thoughts were strung together to form the following poem:
The numbers had names
They had faces,
Eyes, beautiful Jewish hazel eyes
And tears which flowed freely from them
And a barbed wire mass of stolen glasses
They had hair, unmercifully cut off, leaving bare injured heads
Feet, which wore shoes – so many different kinds – taken from them
Families, who they were either separated from, or watched die, or died with
They are remembered as numbers
But they had names.
(© RV 2009)
I hope that you, too, find the time over this weekend (the 29th marks Holocaust Memorial Sunday) to commemorate and to reflect on the tragedy of the Holocaust – and to resolve that such racism and anti-Semitism never be repeated. 
2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2012 22:19

    This poem is beautiful – I was just talking with someone about how when confronted with numbers and statistics of suffering and tragedy we can forget that it was or is a real person’s reality. Thanks for reminding us that they had names, they had stories just like us. Bless you x

  2. March 11, 2012 01:58

    Powerful poem that reminds us that human tragedy cannot be hidden behind surrealistic body counts but it the souls crying out in torment towards a forgetful world.

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