Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: Requiem - Poems of the Terezin Ghetto

I have a fascination with everything related to World War II. Everyone has their own special interest area - this happens to be my special interest area. I tend to read a lot of fiction and nonfiction related to World War II. A new teen novel struck my attention when I first saw it came out. The title is Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto. Originally, Nazis created the Terezin Ghetto as a waylay for Czechslovakian Jews. It was a place where culture and art of the Jews was still to "thrive." "Beautification" and "normalization" procedures were undertaken for when the Red Cross were to visit the Terezin Ghetto. What the Red Cross viewed and the actual state of the ghetto were two extremely different perspectivies. Ultimately, the ghetto was a waiting station for the Jews to be shipped out to various concentration camps.

This book holds poetry from the various people who lived or worked in the Terezin Ghetto while it was open and functioning. Some are very touching; others very shocking, but all were very worthwhile to read.


Paul B. Janeczko’s stirring new collection of poems goes inside the walls of the notorious camp to portray the indomitable spirit of those incarcerated there.

Hitler hailed Terezín (Theresienstadt) as a haven for artistic Jews, when in reality the Czech concentration camp was little more than a way station to the gas chambers. In his second book inspired by devastating history, acclaimed poet Paul B. Janeczko gives voice to this heartrending creative community: its dignity, resilience, and commitment to art and music in the face of great brutality. The many memorable characters he conjures include a child who performs in the camp’s now famed production of Brundibár, a man who lectures on bedbugs, and a boy known as "Professor," who keeps a notebook hidden in his shoe. Accented with dramatic illustrations by prisoners, found after WW II, Janeczko’s spare and powerful poems convey Terezín’s tragic legacy on an intimate, profoundly moving scale.

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