Paul Hartal


Return To Strasshof - Poem by Paul Hartal

I get off the train where a sign greets me:
Welcome to Strasshof! I feel strange and
Curious, detraining unbounded on a sunny
Day of July in this suburb of Vienna
Where as a small boy during the war,
I was a prisoner.

The town is quite charming
But hardly anyone here knows
About the concentration camp.
Finally, an Albanian guest worker takes me
To the camp site. Hitler's lager was here,
He says.

The place is a tangle of shrubs
And woodland and the old guard tower
Rises in its middle.

I take pictures, when suddenly
A tall and furious man runs out of a house.
He gesticulates and yells,
Why I take photographs of this place?

History, because of history, I tell him.

Strasshof has a railway museum. However,
No memorial commemorates what happened
Here in the war years. Only the enduring
Silence speaks of the eroding remembrance:

The execution of memory.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Poem Edited: Wednesday, January 9, 2013


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