Behind Barbed Wire: Poems about the Terezin Ghetto


There were cafes and shops where the Jewish people could buy clothes and food.

There were cafes and shops where the Jewish people could buy clothes and food. There were playgrounds and parks, and a synagogue and a library, and a social club where music recitals and lectures were performed. This town doesn't really seem so bad, does it? In reality, it was the Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia,where the Jews were forced to live during World War II. Nearly 100,000 people died from starvation and sickness, including 15,000 children.


But then why was their town so lovely? It wasn't. The Danish Red Cross came to inspect the concentration camp. The Nazis made the Jews build a pretend village that was supposed to convince the Danish Red Cross that the Jews were treated in a civilized manner. Only the strongest, healthiest Jews were allowed to stay. The rest were sent off to die in the gas chambers. When the Danish Red Cross came, they looked around the town and saw the many shops, the library and the synagogue, and the people who were pretending to be happy. They thought the town was perfect.


Most people don't know what exactly happened behind the barbed wire in the Terezin Ghetto. However, Paul B. Janezko's book, "Requiem" will give you a better understanding of the horrors that the Jews faced in the camp. Horrific and sad, this heart-rending book of poems will change your life forever. The author imagined he was different people within the concentration camp, such as young children, imprisoned musicians and artists, and even Nazis. He wrote the poems from their point of view. He also wrote poems not about people, but about different aspects of the concentration camp.


One of my favorite poems is this:"Magnolia blossoms riot over the fence of the home of the Kommandant. What could they want on this side?"This poem makes me sad, and thoughtful at the same time. Who would want to go in a concentration camp? No one, not even flowers, would. Another of my favorite poems is this:"Blue sky beyond barbed wire. I wish I were sky."


These poems, and many others like them, make you feel a rush of emotions all at once: sorrow, anger, pain and empathy. It made me wish I could go backwards in time and stop the Nazis from doing these horrible things to the Jews.


I would recommend these poems to seventh and eighth graders, and maybe even high schoolers. However, you must like reading poetry, not a story with a set plot. You don't need to know everything about the Holocaust to understand these poems. They will shed a new light on this terrible time in the world's history.Paul B. Janezko's book of poems is a very sad, but unfortunately accurate, story of life beyond the barbed wire. It makes you feel sorrow and sadness for the millions of Jews that suffered through the concentration camps.