POEMS AND TALES
The pages of VEDEM present a beautiful mosaic of poems, essays and short stories, written by the boys from ŠKID. Their texts not only reflect the soul of the authors and the atmosphere of the time and place, but are often of a high literary value and carry a deep moral message. We present a selection of the most interesting ones, which we intend to expand as time goes by.
Icy mountains, horizons far
Huddles of icebergs and icy fields
Sun, red with the blood of icy giants,
Gleaming ice ring, reflections abundant,
Fulmars follow the southern line.
They leave us for glamour abundant,
Lemon groves and cypress shade
In the south – the landscape there
Has a different, more cheerful tenor.
Farewell, you daring ones.
Who ever walk under the skies
That breathe the charm of distant lands,
Icy mounds and polar mists
Behind the red sun of the horizon
Ever walk north.
-nz- (Petr Ginz)
I envy you a little warmth, my friends,
When, numb with cold, I crawl out of my bed, When nothing else but coldness could I feel Still wrapt in all the lovely dreams I had.
No wish have I to wash under the cold tap Slowly I drown, not in my shame, but filth.
Oh, lovely warmth, oh warmth so dearly purchased, I want to warm myself in your kind lap.
And when at last, with heavy heart, I wake, And know that I am starving, I would weep For all the hope that I must now abandon. I only want to sleep and sleep and sleep.
Orče (Zdeněk Ornest)
In filth and sludge and hunger, we suffer here, Cast into a pit of darkness, of infinite pain,
Held down by our masters, deprived of our rights, Mother mine, we shall walk forever together.
We shall walk toward the sun, though tired and weary We shall walk with courage in our brethren's footsteps, Walk on, though our bodies be numb from the beating, We shall walk to the east through the pools of blood.
We shall walk to a distant place, far beyond mountains, Into a clean world, a world of equality,
Into a world where freedom's tlags fly, And all former ills are long forgotten.
We shall come to our goal, no matter how distant Fresh smiles on our faces, the race we shall win. Dear Mother, we'll be with you forever and ever, In freedom to live, and our rights to enjoy.
Orče (Zdeněk Ornest)
I walk the streets alone and alone Pondering the evil in the world. And thoughts about it fill my mind, As I walk the dark streets
alone and alone.
I remember. Long, long ago, A madman wished to change the world, 'I~rn it upside down and inside out, Fill people and youth with one ideal: Take nothing on trust, let nothing stand, Fight for every inch of land. If something is down, then lift it up, If others stay silent, you must speak up. And so this madman years ago Tried turning the world upside down And walked his cat instead of his dog.
Ca-nz (Petr Ginz)
A huge shoe factory looms over the periphery of a certain Bohemian city. Every day, it exports tens of thousands of products around the world and all the profits go into the pockets of the multimillionaire, Mr. Kohn. One day, he was working in his office, when somebody knocked on the door. Following the invitation, a young man entered. Although he was dressed with uppermost care, it was clear that he was poor. “What do you want?” asked the millionaire coarsely. “Would you be so kind as to admit me as a worker in your factory? I am...” “Impossible! I don’t need anyone. Off with you.” “I beg you; at least for my fellow believer...” He could say no more, for the factory owner pushed him out and slammed the door behind him. In some fifteen minutes, the phone on the factory owner’s table rang. Mr. Kohn lifted the receiver. He would listen for a while and then he said: “Yes, of course, we will certainly find a post for your nephew. Anything for a good old friend. Send him to me. Yes... Goodbye.” He hung up the receiver and sat down.
A long time passed. The times were bad, especially for the Jews. The Jews had to give up their property and move to ghettos. The same happened to the factory owner, Kohn. Lost in the whirlwind of the ghetto, he had to toil like everyone else. Money and friends, he used to rely so much on, were of no use to him here. Used to luxury food, as he was, the food in Terezín was not sufficient for him. He suffered from hunger for a long time, when eventually he did something, which he would never have dreamt of as a millionaire. One day, he came back from a walk with pockets full of potatoes. The raid was successful, so the next day, he set out to steal again. Just as he was standing at the heap o potatoes, he heard a voice behind his back: “Easy, sir. What are you doing here?” He turned around startled and murmured something. A young man in the uniform of Ghettowachmann stood behind him. “O, mister factory owner, don’t tell me the worthy millionaire has ended up stealing potatoes? You know what punishment awaits you? But I won’t treat you as you once treated me. You may go.”
Abcess (Jiří Bruml)
Up we tread
a torch in our hand
to conquer the world
with iron torment.
To win God
for distant lands
To win justice
for minorities countless.
To fight for the world
of work and force
perhaps even fall
The world drives us
on march of creed
perhaps only grenadiers
shall we be
over burial mounds.
Time shall win
and cool off the wounds.
Ha- (Hanuš Hachenburg)
In every heart, in a nameless corner
There's probably a tiny room
Where a man cherishes his
"I" Like a ring on his little finger.
A terrible burden I cherish there,
So many feelings without a name
And I cannot express them.
I am an echo in the wind.
My child, when he is born,
Eager to live, will be a man
May he never live through
What I have seen and suffered.
I do not know what name to give
To my small room with its small door,
Perhaps a bird will whisper a message
In my ear like an echo.
Perhaps my child will say: "Dad, I know how
you are: ' My heart is so cruel to me
It will not let me dream,
But always says:
"My good man
How would you put me into words?"
Today I said: the heart is a fire,
I have no strength to put it out.
Academy (Hanuš Hachenburg)
The air was damp and cold. A tattered steelgray fog hung just above the waves, almost touching it. Miserable weather. The undulating green mass vanished and merged with the fog at about a hundred yards distance. Augustus sat in the cabin of the Boniface. They called him Mad Augustus but the young seaman Peter had faith in him. "He's not mad," he said, "he's just different, a little strange, that's all. He probably knows some great secret that you do not and cannot understand: "You are slowly getting to be like him. You'll go mad for sure if you keep talking to him," said the other sailors.
"They don't know," Augustus used to say, and his eyes - it seemed to Peter - seemed to be looking down from a great mountain hidden behind clouds. No, Augustus was not mad, certainly not, since he could talk so persuasively. And Peter was fond of him, this madman with the deep eyes, and believed in him. Augustus spoke so strangely. "Nobody else in the whole world talks like that," Peter thought. "Never in my life have I heard the captain, the helmsman, the sailors or the people in port talk so strangely." That was his whole world, he knew no other. It was night. Everybody was asleep, only on deck you could hear the footfall of the guard dog. Peter was dozing off, his muscles soft and relaxed. His whole body seemed free and light and with his body, his soul relaxed and his senses were dulled by the bluish mist of sleep. He lost consciousness. Suddenly, like a very weak electric shock, he felt a light touch. With difficulty Peter sat up in his hammock, looked round and saw the figure of mad Augustus bending over him. "Come with me!" he said. Peter roused himself and stretched.
"Come quickly," Augustus's voice prompted. Without a word Peter got up, though it was warm under the blanket and cold outside. He followed Augustus without a sound. They went below. Augustus lit a candle. Its weak light could scarcely drive away the darkness that lurked in every corner, in every crack. They came to a small room in the hold. Mad Augustus entered and Peter followed. The key rattled in the lock and then disappeared in Augustut's pocket. He put the candle down in front of him, sat down on a barrel and put his head in his hands. Peter squatted down because he was cold. Augustus raised his head. His expressive face shone in the candlelight. The reflection flickered in his eyes like small fires. Some time passed. Tiny flies fluttered in circles around the flame. Then Augustus spoke, his voice breaking the dead silence. "Life. What is life? It's like the flame of this candle in which foolish insects singe their wings:' There was silence again, broken only by the spluttering of the tlame. "Poor flies. Why do they swarm so eagerly round this flame?" He spoke slowly to himself, as if deep in thought. "It's habit... the drive towards individual existence and... uncertainty..." Again he put his head in his hands and said through his teeth, "They fly fascinated round the tlame till it burns them and they fall to the ground, destroyed. Fools! Fools? Habit and uncertainty are too strong, they cannot overcome that. Poor insects!"... They bothrkness spread through the room. The insects could be heard flying away, no longer fascinated by the flame. They buzzed a little longer, but soon the sound of their wings died out. They must have flown away through some crack. "Did you see, did you see?" Augustus's voice said in the dark. "Did you take it all in, boy?" he asked again, as he removed the lid from the powder barrel. "Once more, Flamarion," the captain's voice could be heard as if coming from far away. He was playing cards."Deliverance..." Augustus whispered. He raised his hand and threw a burning match into the powder barrel. The room lit up with tremendous brightness and in the fiire of the explosion, Peter saw the gleam of a Great Fusion.sat in silence. Peter wondered why he was here instead of sleeping safely in his cabin."Think about life, my boy," said Augustus. "Look, it's like this flame. Can you see? Can you understand? Out of habit, we circle round it, and we must die. We want to express our `I' and for that we sacrifice everything!" He reached out and extinguished the candle. Darkness spread through the room. The insects could be heard flying away, no longer fascinated by the flame. They buzzed a little longer, but soon the sound of their wings died out. They must have flown away through some crack."Did you see, did you see?" Augustus's voice said in the dark. "Did you take it all in, boy?" he asked again, as he removed the lid from the powder barrel."Once more, Flamarion," the captain's voice could be heard as if coming from far away. He was playing cards.
"Deliverance..." Augustus whispered. He raised his hand and threw a burning match into the powder barrel. The room lit up with tremendous brightness and in the fiire of the explosion, Peter saw the gleam of a Great Fusion.
-nz (Petr Ginz))
Cars with cannons towed behind them were driving through the city. Tanks, infantry, cavalry. One, two, one, two. With no enthusiasm and no passion; simply because they had to. The streets are empty and somewhere Eva, a 6 year old girl, stands by a window and looks down. She doesn't know what to think. One, two …
It lasted all day. Cars, guns, people, tanks, orders and otherwise an oppressive silence. In the evening Eva sat down to dinner with her grandmother.
How come the soldiers always went by our windows? -
You don't understand this yet, have some bread and butter, eat. -
But grandma, where are all those soldiers going? -
What's happening to Eva's grandmother? She stood up and left. The kerosene lamp is slowly burning out and Eva, tired from all the commotion, fell asleep...
Grandmother sat next door in the sitting room, randomly turning pages in the Bible, her eyes full of tears. Her lips were trembling silently. Someone rang. The figure of an old man came in softly, his eyes so bright they almost shone in the darkness.
Marta, he spoke. Grandmother slowly lifted her head. We have to run away. Government forces are shooting at homes in the workers' neighborhoods, take only the most essential food. Some money, blankets. Hopefully we'll save at least Eva's life. -
Grandmother didn't cry. She got up, pressed her lips together and went.
Bssss – boom …
Eva woke up. Bsss bum … What could that be? She looked around. She was alone... Bsss boom... Did you hear me, Eva? Again … Crash … the windows blew away and part of the wall exploded. Eva was desperate.
Nothing... Only ssss boom … She sat on the ground and fell asleep again, but her eyes were full of tears.
The house next door was only smoke...
Grandmother and grandfather had a flour bag and they were putting their livelihood into it: A small amount of peas, bread, flour, coffee, onions and caraway seeds...
Grandfather took 40 piasters, wrapped them up in a handkerchief and stuffed them into his pocket. He took down from the wall the picture of his father and mother, a measly photograph, and although he didn't want to, he cried a little bit and his heart felt as if it would break.
A hole opened up in the roof and bricks and pieces of furniture came tumbling down...
Come, for the love of God, we'll lose our lives. -
Grandfather got up. He went to get Eva.
Eva raised her head, Eva, don't ask any questions and come over here.-
Smoke started coming in through the cracks.
Quickly, Marta, run. - Three beggars ran though burning ruins into the night. Beyond the town stood twenty people, twenty policemen with walrus-like beards and a squad of soldiers with buglemen. And the ones that were the people, those twenty against the wall had their eyes blindfolded. Further off stood women, who were crying. Nothing more ...
They cried out to God for help.
Little Eva tore away from her grandmother. She weaved her way through the people who were weeping and tightening their fists. Someone blew a horn, said: Weapons up, fire, now. And a small cloud of smoke rose up. Eva saw twenty dead bodies, saw the blood and the smoking guns and she understood, albeit in a very naive way, what was at stake. LIFE. - And she also wept and tightened her fists. For the others had infected her.
Bang … Someone from the crowd fired. Nobody was hit.
Bang …. bang, bang, bang …. Two soldiers collapsed. The others were trying to run away.
It rippled through the crowd. Shouts. A man in overalls with a revolver came forward: Hurray, after them. Hurray, forward. - The ones in the back pushed against the ones in front.
A light tank appeared from a cross street, the crowd dispersed.
Here Little Eva realized that all soldiers are her enemies. She swore revenge against everything with a uniform. Grandfather and grandmother stood further away and they stood as if they had no soul. She pushed grandpa and grandma. She neither saw, heard nor felt the slap on the head her grandpa dealt her. She went...
They went past villages with no inhabitants, they saw dragoons. Eva spat on them. One of them whipped her in the face. She smiled furiously and spat on him again. This time he moved away. She spat on the horses and the soldiers and before they could strike her, she left. She laughed terribly, terribly maliciously. And she went...
Eva, grandmother, grandfather ….
- We're safe.
Grandmother got up. Eva looked around. She saw three figures on horseback with bayonets on a nearby hill. She threw a stone at them. But she couldn't throw the stone a kilometer far. Grandpa slapped her. She took another stone and threw it again. It fell into a nearby stream. Grandma pulled her and Eva angrily spat all around her. They reached the town in the evening. The town was occupied by insurgents. Ruins, workers, soldiers, cannons, horses, machine-guns and cars. Grandma rested a little and cooked six potatoes over a fire in the field. Grandpa went and dug trenches. Eva was crazy with rage. She threw all of grandma's remaining potatoes at the soldiers. A division of workers drove by in cars. She had a pile of stones ready; she threw them at them and laughed horribly. A woman walked by and called out to her:
- You're crazy.
She threw a stone at her. She prepared another pile of stones. Among them a nicely egg-shaped one with a holder. She placed it into her hand. Another car went by. Guns, UNIFORMS! She screamed and threw the egg at the car with all her might… A blast, smoke. A patrol hurried to the scene… Little Eva lies with a broken head. With her last bit of strength she bit the nearest petty officer in the leg. He kicked her. She cried out with rage… While Little Eva was dying, grandfather and grandmother rushed to her side. Grandmother prayed and grandfather tightened his fists.
Ha- (Hanuš Hachenburg)
As most of us know, an inanimate object can never, under any circumstances, enjoy life. Only an object in constant contact with people can change, because it is really a part of their lives. Only such an object may be referred to as living. One such object is a curse. "You stupid idiot, you cess pit ..." I still remember clearly how Volk's first welcoming speech affected me after the arrival of the DQ transport. It was as though, for a little while, I could feel Prague breathing on me, with her well-lit streets, her silent embankments, and the glittering Vltava river. It was then that I realized there was something to a swearword, that it mirrors its origin the same way national costumes, customs and art do.
There are elegant and vulgar swearwords. Some are civilized, others are what I would almost call prehistoric. We don't have to look far for civilized swearwords. We hear them wherever we go: Idiot, cretin, primitive fool! It may be observed that such curses draw on modern scientific discoveries. On the other hand I once listened to a negro who let off steam in the following way: he rolled his eyes, flared his nostrils and was heard to croak: Bovo, vire capscu! (May you be eaten by an ox!)
I chose these two examples deliberately. Let us look at Terezín swearwords. (I did not make these up, I heard them with my own ears): You f....g primitive oaf, you faded cretin, you materialistic, egoistic swine! Here we may notice two features: one a sign of civilization and the other not unlike that of the negro. The explanation is simple. Terezín is a town where superficial civilization is more
and more suppressed by the instinct for selfpreservation, by egoism, the law of the fist, and many more aspects which the outside world has already succeeded in eliminating to a certain degree.
You can know the world through its curses. I dream of hearing the coolies curse in Shanghai and Singapore, the fishermen in Newfoundland, the farmers in Ceylon, the geishas in Japan, the pearl fishers in the Bay of Bengal. And one day, having learnt about the world and its people through their swearwords, I would return home by steamer across the Pacific. The noise of the ship's screw would lull me and, satisfied, I would fall asleep and in my mind the throbbing of the propeller would scan Homer's verses: Soundly he slept throughout the night Sweet dreams his only fetters.
-nz (Petr Ginz)
No more than water are we all
water that behind the eyelid falls
and it just wants to run
and grab a bit of sun
and ever beat the islands
that shatter our Times.
We are but water green
of mud and spirit spun
hurled by storm onto the rocks
beaten by gale and thunderbolts
roaring through debris strewn
driving us forward. We sing our tune!
So hums the sea, of love it sings
against the waves it breaks.
But time and us – peace do we desire
although you die, we set the world on fire.
And fresh water, new wave
gnaws at the dam digging a cave
and ever under the thunder rage
we break the dams, ourselves, the age.
Thus, one last gust, boom and blast
till willows fall and the gloss of leafs has passed
and the world will perish in the mouth of lies
and temper the difference between land and sea
the sun will kiss us on the lips of cries.
No more than water is each one of us
that water runs and loves.
That water shall vapor and nothing say
do not look at the watch today
stars whirl in a strange commotion
night swallows you in desperation.
We flow through coffin lid hard
to embrace the world
there, into the vineyard.
Early today, when fall we might
but the riverbed – that shall abide!
The Academy (Hanuš Hachenburg)
Wistful time on waters rides
Clouds roll in remoteness
Dead stones on the sides
Grey filter through darkness.
Under the eye landscape flows tardily
fiddling some unknown songs
a ripples’ lazy family
rolls in the unease of banks.
White farmsteads under the woods
suckle from grayish mass
above, a group of trees,
a brown dead moss.
World, you grey and green
flesh that eternally plays!
From her life has grown
from life you came – fairness!
Wistful time rides on souls
dawn shines with blood
the sun rises out of darkness
not the first – but a new world.
Under the eyes a blissful flare
like woman most dear
lighting the spark of war
and looking for her peer.
That spark kindles, flames ever higher
phantoms again it destructs.
River, we go, hurling fire
but that spark – that is inside of us.
Ha- (Hanuš Hachenburg)