Kupiskis Wall of Memory Holocaust Memorial - Day 5

by Ann Rabinowitz

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

We left Panevezys early in the morning and traveled towards Vilnius once again towards the end to our journey. As we passed through the countryside, we stopped by the side of the road to purchase fresh strawberries, so small, sweet and tart, and blueberries, and watched storks feed their young high on towering nests in the trees. The fields were ablaze in vivid shades of yellows, purples, and other colors as the farmers were seen with ancient scythes cutting their crops and loading them onto worn wooden wagons drawn by sway-backed horses. It was a scene from our grandparents’ time, little changed, the placid beauty of a summer day, covering the horrible final solution that had brought us all to this place.

All of us had our minds on what we had just experienced and the final end to the journey when we would all part. We were a family, a special family brought together by ties of blood, comradeship and love. We reminisced about our experiences and realized that we had fittingly commemorated our ancestors’ lives and memorialized their deaths. We had also given charity to other Jews and learned of our Jewish heritage. Most importantly, we had left a reminder of what happens when society allows the excesses of hatred to succeed.

On this last leg of our journey back to Vilnius and our regular everyday lives, we discussed what we might accomplish to further leave evidence that Jews had lived in Lithuania, that they had made a great contribution to the society and that they had died because of envy, intolerance and hatred. Something that we prayed would never occur again. These plans would be worked on upon our return.

A fitting memorial for the end of the trip was a poem written in Hebrew which has been translated into English by Noem Rogow. This strong and emotionally emotive piece expresses what many of us felt as we visited and prayed at the many sites of the destruction of our people, the Jews of Kupiskis and Lithuania:

מסע לשורשים

נעם רוגוב
ברחובות וילניוס חיפשתי להבין
הלכתי עד הרחוב שכל יום חצו אותו
ילדי האיזור, כשצעדו לבית הספר,
הרופאים הרבים, הרוכלים ועורכי הדין
כולם היו פה וכולם נעלמו.
"מי ראה, מי שמע?"

בקרן הרחוב עמדה לה מרפסת מרוצפת קורות עץ
שאלתי אותה – "תגידי ראית מה קרה?"
והיא דוממה, איננה עונה.

התרחקתי עד ליער פנאר, איזור נופש מיוער.......
השקט המצמרר הזה חלחל באויר
ואני חשתי מחנק אדיר
התחננתי לעצים – "תגידו, איך כל זה קרה?"
"למה התרחשה הזוועה?"
אך הם בשלהם, כאילו שומרים על זכות השתיקה
ניערתי אותם לכל הרוחות, אך רק השקט הופר
לכמה דקות מעטות.

ברחובות ללא שם חיפשתי להבין,
ואז, עם קרן שמש חמימה
מבעד לחלון של בית כנסת של בני אדם יהודים
הבנתי שלעולם לא אבין.

כי להרגיש את הפחד האין סופי – לעולם לא אבין.
כי להפרד מילדך לעולמי עולמים – לעולם לא אבין
כי לאמר שלום לאבא, אמא, אח אחות
ולהבין ששום שלום לא יצמח מזה – את זה לעולם לא אבין

כי אי אפשר להבין.

A Journey to Roots

By Noam Rogow

In the streets of Vilnius I sought to understand,
I went to the road which was crossed each day
By the local children on their way to school,
The doctors, the tradesmen and the lawyers,
They were all here and now they are all gone,
"Who saw, who heard?"

On the corner of the street is a veranda with wooden floor boards,
I asked her "Tell me, did you see what happened here?"
She remained mute. No response.

I went as far as the forest of Ponare, a densely wooded recreation retreat,
A chilling silence permeated the air,
And I felt an unbearable suffocation.
I entreated the trees – "Tell me how could all this happen?"
"Why did these unspeakable horrors occur?"
But they retreated unto themselves, and chose the right to remain silent.
I shook them to kingdom come, but only the stillness was shattered
For a few, brief moments.

In the streets with no names I tried to comprehend
And then, by the warmth of a sun beam
Shining through the window pane of a synagogue of human beings that are Jewish,
I understood, that I will never understand.

For, to feel infinite fear – I shall never understand.
For, to be parted from your child for ever and ever – I shall never understand.
For to say farewell to a mother, father, sister, brother when no well can spring from it – I shall never understand.

For it is impossible to understand.

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