The Dark Place Under the Stairs

In the main hospital at Terezin concentration camp, the dead bodies were stacked in a dark closet under the stairs, awaiting transport to the Crematorium.  The young boys had a game they played . . .

ovens

The Dark Place Under the Stairs

They put the bodies there,
the dead ones,
in the dark place under the stairs,
To wait their turn
in the crematorium.
No sheet for the dead, nor urn
for the burned.
Naked, whether flesh or ash.
We played games with them,
the dead, we kids.
Creeping in the dark,
hands outstretched,
to keep the dead we had to touch away.
Touching cold and waxen lips and lids,
not a game for young boys to play,
but it was Terezin, after all,
with little else to pass the day.

© 10 August 2017, Walter William Melnyk

The Violinist of Auschwitz

Alma Rose, director of the Auschwitz Women’s Orchestra, plays her violin softly in the night, as, across the train tracks,  diesel trucks ferry the people of the Terezin Family Camp to the Auschwitz gas chambers, 8 March 1944.

gas

The Violinist of Auschwitz

Across the strings a song of sorrow
plays in mourning
for a dark tomorrow,
for an empty morning
that will not come,
that will not ever come again
for the hundreds on their way
to the gas tonight.
No tune can ever after set aright
this wrong,
No tender bowing
ever craft a song of hope
for those whose hope is lost
to death.
Yet still she plays the tender tune
as oily smoke from ovens
clouds the moon;
despairing cries o’erwhelm
the softness of her strings.
She cannot hope, but still she plays,
that even in the darkest days
some beauty might remain
against a final victory of hate.
Against a final victory of hate.

© 10 August 2017, Walter William Melnyk

Words of Praise for “Pavel’s Violin”

terezin transportfrom a Reader:

The story is real, a vivid account of the people who lived through an unthinkable time in our history.

Melnyk writes: “I hope you will not just learn about what happened,, but that you will become part of the story, yourself”…….”I hope that you will not only hear the Violin, but you will experience the playing of it”. Well he (the author) takes you there. You are one with the characters, and experience their pain, suffering, hope, and joy. And you hear the music. The wonderful music. The universal language that heals. The Song of Hope…

The author has selflessly pledged to donate all proceeds from the sale of this book to the United States Holocaust Museum and other Holocaust Memorials.

Escape to Freedom

I am having the great  joy and privilege to be working with Tom Lenda on a sequel to his Holocaust memoir, “Children on Death Row: The Hate and the War.”  Tom’s descriptions of his family’s time in Terezin concentration camp, his father Pavel’s time at Auschwitz and his violin, were the inspiration for my novel, “Pavel’s Violin.”  It is an honor to know Tom and to be working with him.

Tom&PavelsViolin

Tom Lenda (Tommy Lustig) with Lucie Carlson

The new book, “Escape to Freedom,” will be the story of Tom and his wife and daughter, Rose and Hana, as they escape from Communist Czechoslovakia, and make their way around the world, to Germany, Australia, and the United States.

You can go to Amazon today and get Tom’s book, “Children on Death Row,” published under the name he had back then, Tommy Lustig, and also my book, “Pavel’s Violin.”  Then later this year watch for “Escape to Freedom.

Toms Book 2  Pavels_Violin_Cover_for_Kindle

“Pavel’s Violin” Outline

The Tale of “Pavel’s Violin” covers 308 years, from 1637 – 1945. It travels nearly 1,500 kilometers, from Absam near Innsbruck, Austria, to Olomouc, Prague, and the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, and beyond. Here is an out line of the Tale. You can get it now from Amazon and many other online booksellers. (text copyright 2017, Walter William Melnyk. All Rights Reserved.)

Pavel’s Violin
A Song of Hope

cropped-absam_von_westen.jpgPart I – In Absam Prope Oenipontum (1637-1670)
Jakob Stainer and the Making of the Violin

Chapter 1: An Alpine Symphony (1637)
Chapter 2: The Luthier of Absam (1668)
Chapter 3: Heresy and Heartstrings (1668-1669)
Chapter 4: A Far Hope (1668-1669)
Chapter 5: The Voice of An Angel (1669)
Chapter 6: A Lion’s Cub (1670)

Kromeriz Exterior

Part II – Kroměříž Palace (1670 – 1752)
In the Palaces of Bishops and Emperors

Chapter 7: A Farewell in Salzburg (1670)
Chapter 8: The Church’s Greatest Ornament (1678)
Chapter 9: Where There Are Witches (1683)
Chapter 10: A Long Dark Night (1743)
Chapter 11: A New Dawn (1752)
Chapter 12: The Yiddish Fiddle (1758)

Lipník_01_rok 1965

Part III – The Wandering (1758 – 1850)
The Jewish Community of the Moravian Countryside

Chapter 13: Lekhaim (1758)
Chapter 14: Two Surprises (1758)
Chapter 15: Hodele’s Wedding (1784)
Chapter 16: Pints and Petticoats (1792)
Chapter 17: I Want to Be a Czech (1800)
Chapter 18: Where Is My Home? (1850)

olomouc synagogue

Part IV – This Sought-For Peace (1897 – 1942)
The Olomouc Synagogue

Chapter 19: By the Theresien Gate (1897)
Chapter 20: A Guardian in Domazlice (1904)
Chapter 21: In a Wagon from Galicia (1914)
Chapter 22: Sudetenland (1933)
Chapter 23: A Dark Fire Burning (1939)
Chapter 24: Transport (1942)

Terezin Attic Drawing

Part V – Terezin (1942 – 1944)
In Terezin Concentration Camp

Chapter 25: Fear in Every Heart (October 1942)
Chapter 26: In the Ruts of the Herd (January 1943)
Chapter 27: A Violin in Paradise (Spring 1943)
Chapter 28: Out of Ivory Palaces (23 August 1943)
Chapter 29: Touching the Dead (November 1933)
Chapter 30: Naked in the Night (8 March 1944)

Birkenau_gate

Part VI – Auschwitz (1944 – 1945)
In Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

Chapter 31: With0ut the Will to Live (5 April 1944)
Chapter 32: Whatever It Takes (22 September 1944)
Chapter 33: The Wind In The Lyre (6 October 1944)
Chapter 34: When The Music Dies (26 October 1944)
Chapter 35: Your Neighbor In Need (3 October)
Chapter 36: Death March (19 January 1945)

Bruntal

 

Part VII – Pavel’s Violin (January – September 1945)
The Violin Comes to Pavel

Chapter 37: Welcome Home (22 January 1945)
Chapter 38: The Survivor (27 January 1945)
Chapter 39: Return of the Partisan (February 1945)
Chapter 40: A Nice Violin (March 1945)
Chapter 41: Sorrow’s End (March 1945)
Chapter 42: A Song of Hope (September 1945)

Three for the Price of One

When you purchase a copy of “Pavel’s Violin: A Song of Praise,” you make the world world a better place in three ways:

  • You get an exciting historical novel, that traces the journey of a special Violin from its inception in the Austrian Alps, through palaces of Emperors and Bishops, the countryside of Jewish Moravia, the Great Synagogue of Olomouc (AH-luh-moats), the horrors of the the Terezin and Auschwits concentration camps, until, after liberation, it finds its way to a survivor of those camps and becomes – “Pavel’s Violin.
  • You learn some European history, and experience first hand the camps, transport trains, and gas chambers of the Holocaust.
  • You contribute to Holocaust Awareness, that this might never happen again.  All the authors royalties are contributed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Survivors and Victims Resource Center. (Per book that is $6.73 for each paperback, or $5.52 for each Kindle version.)

Get Your Copy Today

Pavels_Violin_Cover_for_Kindle

 

The Prague Shoah Memorial

bubny 4THE MEMORIAL OF SILENCE
About the project
The sculpture “The Gate of Infinity”

THE MEMORIAL OF SILENCE is the planned transformation of Bubny railway station into a center for discussing the legacy of the past as a stigma of the present. The project is being realized by the non-profit Prague Shoah Memorial (Památník šoa Praha o.p.s.). The organization is currently focused on producing the architectural plans and exhibition script for the memorial’s future permanent exhibition, and also organizes exhibitions and events for the general public.

In coordination with its wide range of partner organizations, the Prague Shoah Memorial has been working to develop the educational program for the future memorial.

During the Second World War, Bubny Station was the departure point for transports carrying tens of thousands of Prague’s Jewish inhabitants to the Nazi ghettoes, concentration camps, and extermination camps. After liberation, the city saw the expulsion of its German population. This stigmatized place will now become a memorial with a modern exhibition commemorating the complex history of the 20th century, and also a space for discussion and critical reflection of the recent past.

The subject of the “Shoah within us” is one of the central themes of the proposed permanent exhibition. The memorial’s aim is to engage in a timeless dialogue in order to remember not only the victims of deportation, but to also focus on the stigma of those of organized the Final Solution and to remember the role of the passive silent majority that did nothing to stop them… For these reasons, we have chosen to call our project the Memorial of Silence.

If we can succeed in preserving Bubny station as a place of memory even as this part of the city sees massive development, then its tumultuous history will be sufficiently remembered and nobody will ever be able to erase this “gate of no return.” Nevertheless, the central theme for the Memorial of Silence’s permanent exhibition will be a timeless approach to dangerous social phenomena that appear again and again throughout history. We hope to call attention to the face of prejudice, xenophobia, racial enmity, and discrimination on the basis of “otherness” in the world today. Our seasonal projects and educational program will focus primarily on contemporary issues whose roots lie in this complicated history.

After signing a fifty-year lease with Czech Railways in 2013, the project is ready to move to the phase of renovating the train station building. We are also working with a wide range of partners the educational programs for the future memorial and the surrounding space associated with it.

The project has gained increasing awareness among the general public and currently enjoys broad support from the cultural and political spheres. In 2013, an Honorary Board was established, whose members include former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Special Adviser on Holocaust Issues at the U.S. State Department Stuart Eizenstat, former Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg, founder of Art for Amnesty International Bill Shipsey, Lord Alf Dubs, and professor Philip Zimbardo.

Go to the Memorial of Silence