An Evening in Terezin

terezin transport

Evening

Original German by Ilse Weber  in Terezin, c. 1943
translated by Walter William Melnyk, 2016

When we leave work in the evening,
home lures us with no colorful, shimmering lamplight.
We stand, hesitating, before the door
at the horror of our darkened room.

They have taken our light in punishment,
because someone has done something wrong;
what, exactly, the camp has not learned.
We’ve been living in the dark now for weeks.

So you stand on the porch
looking up at the sky with all the stars.
The evenings are now so beautiful and long –
the whole barrack agrees.

Thus we have only now learned to understand
how wonderfully the golden stars shine.
And above all that you should go to sleep,
so you will not have to cry all night.

The Way to Theresienstadt

As it appears in “Pavel’s Violin”

This is the Way to Theresienstadt
original German by Ilse Weber c. 1943
Translation by Walter William Melnyk, 2017

This is the road to Theresienstadt
trodden laboriously by a thousand,
and every one of the thousand has
suffered the same injustice:

They marched him with bowed head,
the Star of David over his heart,
his tired feet sore and dirty,
his soul tormented with pain,

hands bruised with a heavy burden,
driven by harsh commands,
an endless road in the burning sun,
his throat tormented with thirst.

This is the road to Thereseinstadt,
which has drunk our lifeblood,
where many a weary old man collapsed
and died on the rocky road.

It is a road full of misery and darkness
where streams of tears flow;
complaints of children, and moans of women,
are shed in helpless yammering.

Here an old man with poor sight stumbles
in the ruts of the herd.
How many never again return,
because the earth encloses them.

Where Is My Home?

“Where Is My Home?” is the National Anthem of the Czech Republic.  This English translation is by Walter William Melnyk.

Where is my home, where is my home?
Streams are rushing through the meadows,
Midst the rocks sigh fragrant pine groves,
Orchards decked in spring’s array,
Scenes of Paradise portray.
And this land of wondrous beauty,
Is the Czech land, my home!