I walked in a dream
Past the empty lot
Where once stood
The simple 1-story synagogue,
Victim of the flames of Christalnight.

I walked past my memories, memories
Of singing, praying, chanting,
Of running, shouting, laughing,
Respectfully dressed in my young boy's finest,
Coming, and going in the House of God.

Now 40 years later,
Not even a wall, rubble or ashes remain,
To validate my childhood,
The lives of those who congregated each Sabbath,
Or the lives of those who destroyed it,
Except the bitter, sweet, awesome memories,
And the sterile, wiped-clean spot
Whose emptiness cannot erase the terrible deed.

The Synagogue of Laudenbach is gone,
But memories linger on,
With Jewish survivors and Nazi collaborators alike,
Those few that are still alive,
Contemplating their own imminent departure,
Their own past, present and future,
And the final judgment being made
In the hereafter of their lives...


I walked past that empty, holy spot,
To the modest cottage across the street,
Where my grandparents once lived,
And crossed the street to pray,
Their house still standing
As a witness to the past,
The sweet and terrible past.

Except for the old man in the doorway,
Who was quizzically eyeing Karl and me.
My German friend and neighbor of my childhood,
Who had driven me to Laudenbach
To help me re-visit my childhood memories.
"He's Jacob's grandson from Amerika,"
Karl explained to the old man,
"He wants to visit his grandfather’s house with your permission;
Could he look inside?"

The old man's face went ashen;
He trembled, tottered, almost collapsed, then shouted
"I paid Jacob for the house in full!"
"I bought it in good faith a long time ago!"
He shut the white picket gate
To keep out the visiting demon from America
Who had come to devour him.

Afterward, my friend Karl explained
No doubt that man had been a loyal Nazi,
Rewarded with the purchase of the house,
Bought cheaply through blackmail and intimidation,
After the terror of "Kristallnacht",
After the synagogue was torched."

I left Laudenbach,
Resolved never to return,
But carrying with me forever
Those bitter -sweet memories
Of a synagogue that once existed.
And the simple, caring country Jews
Who were once part of my life.

Good bye! Auf Nimmersehen!

(No part of this poem may be reproduced without the author's prior approval. 00.01.08)

all rights reserved © 2005-18 Shimon Schwarzchild