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October 22, 2009 by · 1 comment

Molly Weinberg (this poem was written while she was in camp during World War II)

Foto: Allie_Caulfield

I am the Jewish Press Agency,
I know all sorts of things about the Lager,
Everything from primary sources,
From the best informed places,
Perhaps you doubt this?
Listen to the latest camp report.

They’re having a lottery in the Lager
With an unheard of prize.
The winner of the unheard of prize,
The first prize winner,
Gets to move into a private cottage.

Edilein’s youngest son
He’s the one who heard it from the police:
They’re cooking us up a goulash
From boneless whale meat.

This is what I hear of the war at sea.
Bolivia has declared war,
And already sunk
Two heavy cruisers in Switzerland.

The moat around the Lager
Is needed for the winter festival.
As soon as the ice is hard,
Ice skating starts.

Last week came the offer,
Three blue stamps for one red,
But today the terms are:
One green for two Stammlist places.

Someone who has worked all day
Comes to the canteen with his last ounce of strength,
They throw open the doors,
They show him what is for sale,
The boss says proudly
“This we’ve set aside for you,
because nobody who’s worked all day,
Should have to stand in line at night.”
(Of all the JPA’s I know,
this one takes the cake.)

A new camp decree declares
That in the future it’s forbidden
To send packets to town
When people have too much to eat here.

They’re digging all around the Lager,
The ground around is all torn up,
People ask me “Why? Warum?”
We’re drilling for petroleum.

The moral of the story?
Nobody believes anybody.
If peace broke out tomorrow
And we could all go home immediately,
Everyone would say “JPA fakery”
And stay on behind the barbed wire.

Translated from German by Jack Miles


(This biography was written by Amelie’s granddaughter Georgia Jones-Davis)

Amelie Matzner was born in Vienna, Austria in 1892. Shortly after World War I she moved to Germany where she met and married Joseph Weinberg, a Polish citizen who was in the men’s apparel business. The couple settled in Cologne. They had tw daughters, Fanny (my mother, born in 1924) and Margot (born in 1929) and one son, who died in infancy.

In 1939 after Kristalnacht, Amelie and Joseph Weinberg put Fanny and Margot on a train to Paris to join Amelie’s two brother’s in Paris. Sam and Max Matzner settled in France in the early 1920s. The Weinbergs then fled to Amsterdam.

Margot was young enough to be spirited out of Europe by a group of American Quakers and ended up living with a family named Halprin in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Fanny remained in France. Uncles Sam and Max, who joined the French army, became prisoners of war. Fanny moved around with the French underground. She lived with a French family, in various group homes and at the end of the war was actually living in a convent. She went by the name Francoise Vincent.

Meanwhile Amelie and Joseph were put into a camp in Holland, Westerbork. Then they were sent to Thereisenstadt, the”show case” camp in Czechoslovakia. My grandmother worked in a sewing and in a mica factory. I do not know what work Joseph did. But he was sent on one of the last transports to Auschwitz, where he was gassed. Molly survived the camp. The poems that she wrote about the weird and strange way she and others lived through this experienced survived as well.

The Matzner family reunited in Paris after the war. Amelie came to Los Angeles to join both of her daughters in 1951 and died there in 1977.

Categories: Frontpage · poetry


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