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A day in Buchenwald

The sun is smiling
Above me the sky is bright
But inside, my heart is tight.

How cruelly misplaced
Bird song seems
Where thousands were killed.

This is a place silence demanding
Where every smile must freeze,
A place laughter forbidding.

How much torment endured,
How many lives lost?
So carelessly taken …

What suffering inflicted
Such crimes committed
At one man’s behest!

“To each his own”
sneers the gate above,
a mournful heart is mine.

The feelings that fill me
Are pity and rage,
Helpless anger burns.

How cold, how dull
The hearts of those
Who caused this agony.

A door falling shut
Resounds in these rooms,
An eerie gunshot …

My God, how I thank Thee
That I freedom enjoy,
That you granted this gift.

Never was I forced to suffer
Am still able to laugh
Pain and sorrow pass by me.

And yet I am wistful,
These bloodstained roads
Hold me captive …

Alicia Karlstroem

Written by Alicia Karlstroem, age 16, the day a memorial stone for Jehovah’s Witnesses was unveiled by Max Liebster and Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau, deputy director of the Buchenwald Memorial, at Buchenwald concentration camp, May 9, 2002.