Posted in Free Verse Poetry, Historical Portrait Poetry, Poetry, Sad Poems, Thoughtful Poems, Uncategorized, Woman's Poetry

As Children Cried, All the Way to the Gas Chamber

Back a few years ago, I was touched when someone shared an image of a memorial created by academic sculptor professor, named Marie Uchytilová.  The images of the memorial struck me and, as usual, the words spilled over.  I don’t have the rights to share the image here, but if anyone is interested, you can see the memorial and learn a little more about the story here.


Thinking/imagining/realizing that things like this can happen here or anywhere, at any point in time, is soul shuddering.  And yet, how much of our history has been lain in similar ground?  It matters not the country, but the deed.


To me, it is unfathomable that any people would dispute the value of another human soul… and yet, here we are, making similar mistakes and refusing to see the damage it does.  I am saddened, to say the least… and perhaps, that is all I can say…




Little hands

That should have known

Kindness –

A sweet smile

A pat on the head

And in return,

The sound of merriment

Should ring from their lips

Joy should dance beneath their steps.

Yet a mother’s soul

Put on display

For all the world to see

Lines up for the gas chamber.


You can see fear in their eyes

And though they do not speak,

You can hear their screams

Shattering the silence

And their frightened murmuring


What did I do?

What did I do?


You can still hear the sound

Of their pain

It reverberates

When the wind is just right

You can hear the moaning

Through the trees

Yet there is nothing

You can do

To silence the agonizing pain.


Everything about this place

Reeks of the slaughter

Of humanity

Speaks of the loss

And the terror

Injustice shakes the ground

Beneath our feet

And there is nothing left –

Save a monument to their horror.


I, only a bystander

An observer of history

Feel the monumental tragedy.


Had I been there,

I would have

Held them in my arms

Tried to

Silence their fears

And held brave

Even though my heart

Would thrash and wail

In utter sadness.


I would have tried to share

One last kindness

One last smile

One last kiss

Anything –

For them to avert their gaze

From such malicious cruelty.


My heart

Has become heavy

With the thought of this

That any nation

Could not see the crime

In this, or similar deed.

Yet somehow,

Still many,

Looked aside

As children cried

All the way

To the gas chamber.


© Sumyanna 2016


It is not, to say that all events are similar, but that they all begin in similarity.

Image courtesy of




Writer of poetry and seeker of knowledge. I hope to inspire and be inspired by my words and the world around me.

28 thoughts on “As Children Cried, All the Way to the Gas Chamber

  1. The German Romantic poet (He is Jewish, but I have forgotten his name) said after some of his books were burned, ” society starts by burning books and ends by burning people” A rather chilling truth, said in the early eighteen hundreds. Strangely it was in South Africa, that the first concentration camps were built. During the Anglo-Boer war, the British rounded up thousands of Boer women, children and elderly burned their farms and placed them in these camps, where thousands died, it was only the tireless work of Emily Hobhouse, that saved many lives and had the camps closed and people repatriated to their lands after the war. There were also lots of African people incarcerated as well, and many of them also died in these camps. It is terrible how women and children in particular suffer in war, and even during peacetime. What an interesting and moving poem.


    1. I was not aware of that at all (the first concentration camps being built in South Africa). Wow. So many want to forget their history (brush it under the carpet) but are unwilling to learn from the atrocities.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. By the way I have remembered the German romantic poets name, it is Heinrich Heine. There is a great book written about this terrible episode in British history; it is a biography of Emily Hobhouse, and is called “Emily Hobhouse: beloved traitor. She is still vilified in Britain today as a traitor for helping, first the Boers in the camps, then helping the poor in Leipzig after the 1st world war, and trying to stop the war and negotiate a peace with the Germans. Her name was so disrespected in British society, that the suffragettes refused to allow her to speak out for them, or even to march with them. The book is an eye opener, read it if you can find it and have the time. i think the average South African is so tormented by all the wrongs that have occurred in this country that they are very open to study these topics, more so than many societies. Have had very good rains and snows over the past few weeks, so our dams are filling fast, so hopefully the worst of the drought is over. Best wishes and blessings, Charles.


        1. I am going to see if I can find the book and find more info about the poet. There is so much history we just don’t know. Sadly, we spent so much time in school uselessly remembering dates and facts but never bothered to learn the important lessons. I do hope that the drought is finally over. I also hope that both you and Genevieve are doing well these days. Take care of yourselves!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks, Sumyanna, Genevieve is progressing slowly, and the dams are filling slowly, as we have been having some good rains, but it appears as though the rains are showing signs of letting up already, though we had the heaviest snows in years in the catchment areas of the dams, so the melt off water should help fill the dams, which are about 38% full at the moment. We still have heavy water restrictions in place, and probably will have for the next 2 or 3 years. Hope you are all enjoy your summer break, best wishes and blessings, Charles.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. If you haven’t yet seen it, the movie “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” speaks to this. It’s based on the book with the same title by John Hoyne.



    1. Actually, a few years ago I had my daughter read it for a Literature project. We discussed the history, read the book and discussed it. I found a really wonderful lesson online for it that really made you think. It was a wonderful, though sad, story.


  3. Indeed, a horrific time in history. Yet we see remnants beginning again. in the USA! OMG It’s outrageous! By the way, a beautifully written poem. I felt the pain and reality of the situation though long ago. Thank you Sumyanna!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to write… this has been weighing heavy on my mind. I struggle to see how things like this ever happened, even way back when… but to see them in our time is just shocking, to say the least. It pains me.

      I am back, by the way. I took a month or so off from the computer to enjoy the summer without distraction. It has been nice… but it is also nice to see my friends again 🙂


      1. I’m delighted to see you too. Can’t wait as I’m sure you have stupendous pictures to share (well I hope you do) and learn how much fun you’ve had. Well hopefully at any rate 🙂


        1. I think we have had more peacefulness and rest in our days than normal. It does a body good! We haven’t gone out every day like we have tried to in the past, but instead have tried to go out at least once a week so that we don’t overtax ourselves. Wishing we could go every day, but I think the relaxing part of summer is needed more 🙂


          1. Absolutely. Everyone here is going away for most of July. So I get a bit of a holiday too. They’re going for 7 days, then back for 4 then gone again. I won’t be getting up at 6 daily. I’m not sure my body knows it can sleep it lol.


          2. Oh, please tell me you enjoyed your time off! I don’t know what I’d do with myself and free time! I say that now, but I will probably miss all the responsibilities and activity once they fade away too. I do hope you enjoyed sleeping in too!


          3. You are not alone. I find it so hard to break out of routine and a little secret 🙂 the kiddos here don’t either. If I stay up all night for one sick kiddo, another one will proudly wake me up bright and early. Well, at least bask in the glow of the thought that you could sleep in if you wanted 😉


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