EICHMANN’S ASHES

 

 

 

 

 

     

     

     The following poem concerns Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who orchestrated the transport of millions of Jews to the death camps in Poland and elsewhere during the Second World War.  He was renowned for his diligence and efficiency in carrying out this task.  After his capture in Argentina in 1960, he was subsequently tried in Israel for his crimes.  It was widely noted at the time how benign an appearance he presented in his glass protective cage during the trial.  The evidence provided, however, made clear the horrifying scope of his criminality, callousness and cruelty.  He remained unrepentant and was executed by hanging. 

     The Israeli government did not wish to bury Eichmann’s remains.  They were determined never to provide a place for veneration of such evil.  He was cremated and at dawn his ashes were taken just beyond the territorial waters of Israel where they were deposited in the Mediterranean Sea.  The man who poured out his ashes was a Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz death camp; a witness to the massive pile of ashes of the dead that once stood in that hellish place.  It is from his perspective that the poem is spoken.

 

 

EICHMANN’S ASHES

           ( Daybreak just beyond the territorial waters of Israel )

 

 

Here is the dust of the Great Slayer

Who once wore the mantle of terror like skin

An agent of murder who walked without shame

Who sat unrepentant at the hour of judgement

Strangely bookish and aloof

Caged for his own protection

But still giving off the scent of evil

 

I pour out this last libation

Onto the watery ground of his grave

I watch it swirl down in a small white cloud

Scattering on the waves

Bound for eternity

And in its cloudy outline I see again

The monstrous ashen mountain

That once had stood at Auschwitz

So here is the tiny sum he has paid

For the countless souls who cried in vain

How can the scales ever be reconciled

 

Back in port

The fishing boats are making way

The morning grows in strength

Breaking the chill of this sad night

Children stir in their quiet beds

As life returns to the Jewish streets

Streets still haunted by their sorrow

Yet in their very being

Somehow made more sweet

 

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