Gorecki – Symphony N0 3 Opus 36



Previous version was entitled ‘the punishment block’.

Dachau near Munich, 1980’s

I visited this, the first Nazi camp for enemies of the state. as a young man in his 20’s. Although not an extermination camp like Auschwitz, it’s inmates, communists, priests, homosexuals etc and no doubt poets, were imprisoned in a place of evil and pain. I had a camera but felt it wasn’t right to use it in such a place. However, I came across a locked room with a peep hole, the punishment block .

The thought immediately struck me ‘how bad must a punishment block be in a place like this !” I left, but quickly returned, dazed and compelled to take a picture, for what reason I don’t know. It was then I noticed how the sunlight was moving down the corridor.

from love shorn

I feel guilt for disturbing this hallowed place,

this odious time trap of tortured recall,

this bleak vestige of depravity’s sport,

with it’s sharp echoes of misery and pain,

forever etched deep in the plaster’s decay.

Though each door is open, nothing can leave.

I am stunned, I do not feel pity or sorrow,

they ooze from me, but like cheap cologne

fail to mask the stench of all pervading evil.

That someone could inflict such suffering

I cannot comprehend. How could hands

that broke skin, bone and soul then be laid,

with a father’s love, on a child’s cheek.

Did they truly hate that much, felt pleasure

in what they did and could justify their deeds.

I pray just one of them, for even a second,

gave pause, when a flicker of humanity

briefly sparked within him.

It is a hell within hell, an inner Hades.

Purest light, slowly works down the corridor

in a futile cleansing gesture. I stare at it,

for to let one’s mind wander is to absorb

tears and nightmares.

To view this place you must leave

a piece of yourself, that is the price.

I hope the bit I left was

from love shorn.


12 thoughts on “FROM LOVE SHORN v2

  1. A poignant and moving account Nigel of a stain on humankind’s history that should never be forgotten. Have you read Victor Frankl’s, Man’s Search For Meaning? Another account of how someone saw light among the darkness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very moving write, Nige. That kind of evil is impossible to fathom. You don’t visit a place like that or even read/listen to accounts without it dramatically affecting you. Your words express the horrors and lend the compassion lost to so many.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I do know, Nige. I can imagine experiencing the horrors in this way and the heightened emotions as the school kids who were there were not grasping the significance. A shame really that such an important part of history seemed to be lost on them. One can hope they developed some emotional intelligence along the way. Recognizing the light in such darkness is indeed an important message. One that should always be remembered as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nigel, I am stunned by your poem. Let me say though, what you left was from love shorn
    and honoured those who suffered beyond our understanding.
    Just now your poem rings too strong and I want it to stand there, being read by many, felt by many.
    Bless you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Miriam, it was a very ‘life changing moment’ for me. There was a school party of Germans visiting at the time, and like all children they were fooling about, laughing, joking. I really lost it and had a bust up with the teacher who tried to make amends saying it was obligatory for the children to be taught the lessons of the past. I replied that being told about these things wasn’t good enough, they needed to understand, feel the horror and laughing and joking while drinking can’s of Fanta in this place was obscene !! The picture on the home page of ‘voices’ is the actual one I took. You can see the band of light, I was unsure at first but there is so much symbolism for good also in the image which reflects my beliefs in poetry I decided to use it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A place of desperation, leaving a deep scar on mankind’s history and a deep wound on those who visit such a place and are made to recognise human frailty, as you have done Nigel. Thanks for such a sensitively expressed experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do understand you reaction and it is sad that the children had not been better prepared before being taken to a place of so much suffering and bravery.
    I am glad you posted your poem, it gave such strength to what was endured.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nigel, you echo so many of my own feelings as I visited Buchenwald, near Weimar in the early 1990s. I was part of a group of university students from the Karl-Marx Univesity in Leipzig where I was an exchange student. The place oozed tragedy and horror. It felt just too much and that day I knew something irrevocably changed in me. The evil is unfathomable but the evidence before my eyes. Students around me were physically sick, in tears and I had to run out of the ‘museum’ exhibiting the collections…history of harrowing terror. We were staying at the youth hostel which was the old camp guards accommodation – I could not sleep a wink; instead tried to imagine how they slept when they were part of what was going on just a few metres away. A powerful poem, Nigel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much for this Annika, if my memory serves me well, Buchenwald was the next camp to be built. What upset me nearly as much as the ‘punishment block’ were the target ranges about a mile from the camp. They were like a concrete stages on which Russian P.O.W’s were placed instead of actors to be shot by the SS. I could here the laughter echoing from the past as they ribbed each other for ‘missing’ a shot. Another shock, that actually made me have to leave, was seeing a book, with notes in it, from Wannsee. It was a time table for the transports, the notes were somebody trying to make it more efficient !

      Liked by 1 person

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