Paul Hartal

Hunger Waltz - Poem by Paul Hartal

In 1868 the famous Austrian musician
Johann Strauss II composed the 'Tales
from the Vienna Woods', Opus 325,
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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Other poems

by Paul Hartal published in, relevant to this story, include, 'The Restaurant Keeper', 'War Memories with Acrostic', 'Travel in a Box Car of the Fuehrer', 'The Exercise', 'The Messiah in Strasshof', 'Grandma', 'Return to Strasshof', 'The Phosphorus Bomb' 'Carpet Bombing' and 'Painting for Hitler'.

Historical Background

On March 19,1944, Hitler's armies occupied Hungary. It did not take long and the then eight year old Paul Hartal and his family were deported to Nazi concentration camps. He was liberated from the Strasshof slave labor lager by the Russians in the spring of 1945. Two weeks earlier, on March 26,1945, the US Air Force bombed the Strasshof marshalling yards in the vicinity of Vienna. Unbeknownst to the pilots that hundreds of Jewish prisoners—among them Paul Hartal, his mother and sister—were locked in box cars of a freight train, the American planes destroyed the marshalling yards in a dreadful carpet bombing raid in which many people died. Ironically, the bombing almost killed the future poet, too, but at the same time it probably also saved his life, because it interfered with the ‘final solution' plans of the Nazis in the camp.

An amazing part of this story pertains to an emotional meeting that took place many years after the war. In the spring of 2004 Paul Hartal met in San Diego with Hal Rout and Larry Rosenberg, American aviators who participated in Mission 203, the bombing of Strasshof. Rout was the co-pilot and Rosenberg the bombardier of a B-24 Liberator in Mission 203. Ironically, Lt. Rosenberg, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, happened to be a Jewish raider of Strasshof. The 'reunion' was reported by Fox News in California on March 27,2004.

For further reading:

Arthur Lightbourn, 'Three men whose lives crossed during WWII meet almost 60 years later in RSF',
Rancho Santa Fe Review, April 8,2004

B. A. Lanman and L.M. Wendling, 'On Heroic Wings', Foreword by President George H.W. Bush, San Diego: The Distinguished Flying Cross Society,2012, pp.64-67

Paul Hartal, 'Liberation', The 461st Liberaider (US Air Force) , June 2002, Vol.19, No.1

Becky Todd York, 'A Veterans Day Remembrance: My Father Survived the War, and Took its Secrets to His Grave', 'The Herald Leader', November 11,2012

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Comments about Hunger Waltz by Paul Hartal

  • (3/24/2013 11:00:00 AM)

    A terrible story, and I find this all fascinating... (Report) Reply

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