Herbert Nehrlich

Rookie (04 October 1943 / Germany)

Peter F. - In Memoriam - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich

They left him there.
And when the sun had gone
to sleep beyond horizon's border,
his movements ceased.
Forever is so final.

They later said the 85 steel bullets
had found their target, four had missed.
And that it mattered little
which one was the one
that brought some order
back for communists.

His crime had been to seek his freedom,
which East Berlin had never given him.
He swam the river to decide
his future, but someone,
sharp-eyed, had raised his rifle
and his eyes were grim.


'Comrades, don't be tardy,
we must quickly
apprehend this enemy of all,
he intends to turn his back
on justice
and the people's country!
Come. let's roll! '

And the guards put on night goggles,
which well illuminates the prey,
then the sergeant used
the English word 'OKAY'.
And their aim was to prevent a crime.

The crime to want freedom
and to breathe without fear,
and the crime to say
and to write and to hear,
that which humans were given
at birth, it would seem
and the crime to be driven
with your conscience in gear.

Name was Peter, they wrote
in the news account.
His height was 2 metres
and his belly was round.
He was dressed in his suit
and he wore his best shoes,
'cause you'll want a head start
if it's freedom you choose.

And the paper said coldly
that a traitor had tried
to escape from his justice,
that he'd stolen and lied.
That he'd harmed his co-workers
and ignored people's trust.
And there were no tear-jerkers
in this - just disgust.

On the west side a farmer
who had heard all the shots,
and then picked up the moans
and his cries 'Hilf mir Gott! '
So he ran to the fence
to give aid where it's needed,
but the bullets were flying
already anew.
They were buzzing his head
and the bullhorn announced:
'We will soon shoot you too! '
And the next bullet bounced
off his wrist, and it hurt
and he turned himself back
toward home in his house
at the end of the track.

And the bullets had done
what their masters believed
was essential and all of
the soldiers were briefed.
'Shoot to stop or kill
when you see something move,
your reward is a thousand
and promotion your proof.'

So, the days turned to weeks
and the weeks then to months.
And the world had forgotten
the refugee freaks.
Only one man named Hans
went to visit his mother,
in the home with the bars
and this Hans was his brother.

They had coffee and cake
in her small, cluttered room,
overlooking the lake,
with an ambience of doom.
As was always the case
they would talk of past times,
and her wrinkled sweet face
then recited old rhymes.

Then the clock struck the hour
and she said with no sorrow
'I'll see Peter, my good boy,
I'll see Peter tomorrow! '


Part II

And the man's name is Mielke,
the chief of the forces.
He had limitless power
and a love for race horses.
And he owned antique rifles,
and his biggest one had
funny markings, not trifles.
But these markings looked sad.
For each victim he would
carve a new notch that day
and he thought that he should
give a blanket 'okay'
to have ALL people shot
who were looking too bright,
plus those who were not.
And he knew that was right.

When the country united
and the people pulled down
all the fences and wires
from the communist crown.
They took Mielke to prison
for HIS day in court,
he denounced communism
and said 'Praise the Lord'.

All the judges were somber
with the list of the dead
and they asked Mielke whether
truly he had:
Given rules and orders
to the POLIZEI,
that the State has its borders
and no one is FREI!
And to kill those whose noses
were a smidgen to nosy,
also those who liked roses
and their lives to be cozy.
That, in short, he thought slaughter
had NO consequences,
that, like fast running water
it would flow from the senses...

Finally Mielke stood up,
said 'I want to say,
that all of this trouble,
it is in no way
connected with me.
I had nothing to do
with any of this,
and also I knew
only paperwork stuff,
wasn't out in the rough.
As a public servant,
quite pedantic and fervent
I was writing reports
and doing the billings.
Believe me I never
had knowledge of killings.
As a matter of fact
I was planninmg to flee
to the West, to DEFECT,
so now do you see?

So the judges retired
and returned in a week.
Then they quickly adjourned,
the defendant looked meek.
And they ordered a re-trial
as they said they'd not seen
any blood on his hands
and his hands were not red.

And the re-trial was speedy.
Mr. Mielke was ill.
So the judges decided
not to go for their kill.
'Let the old man live out
his last days at rest.
He is too ill to pay
and he WAS going West! '

For Peter F.


Comments about Peter F. - In Memoriam by Herbert Nehrlich

  • (11/18/2004 9:04:00 PM)


    This is a sad story...knowing your poetry I was waiting for Peter to kiss a girl or something...=)
    But it kept my interest until the end. Good poem!
    (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (11/18/2004 3:44:00 PM)


    ...and a sad one, as all of it is absolutely true. Peter went away and Mielke got away. (Report) Reply

  • (11/18/2004 11:21:00 AM)


    An Interesting story (Report) Reply

Read all 3 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: freedom, justice, people, funny, home, running, brother, trust, birth, future, believe, river, sorrow, sad, power, house, mother, red, sleep, fear



Poem Submitted: Thursday, November 18, 2004

Poem Edited: Sunday, November 21, 2004


Famous Poems

  1. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  2. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  3. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  4. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  5. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  6. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  7. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  8. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  9. Television
    Roald Dahl
  10. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
[Report Error]