In honor of National Poetry Month, as well as Genocide Awareness Month, we would like to drawn attention to our beloved local Holocaust survivor and poet, Solange Lebovitz, whose evocative and passionate writing inspires artful reflection and honors the victims.

Solange Lebovitz was born in Paris, France, the youngest of six children. Her parents, Rosa and Eizik Dratler, born in Sighet, Transylvania, immigrated to Paris with their four children in the mid-twenties.During World War II, Solange was separated from her family and lived with an older Catholic couple in Couterne, Normandy. She was reunited with her family at the end of December 1944.She came to the United States in 1952 after marrying Larry Lebovitz, a Holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia. At the age of 42, while raising their two children, Michele and Marvin, she decided to resume her education and graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a double major in English and French literature. She wrote the story of her family, soon to be published, and poetry.

 

What are the forces at work

In the universe?

Are they all good

Like the light breeze in the Spring

That caresses your face,

Or contradictory

Like the fierce winds

That cause violent tempests

And utter destruction.

 

What is the force

That promotes life,

The need to grow, to expand

Its potentialities

And then, lets it wither.

 

What are the forces

That unite men and beasts

Into common cruel traits

While allowing them

Parental care.

 

What are the forces

That distinguish the sublimity

In some people

While revealing the base instincts

In others,

Why such a divergence in nature.

 

Why can’t the wolf play with the lamb

And humanity live in peace.

January, 1984

In souvenir of the children of Izieu, of the Rafle du Vel D’Hiv, and also of my cousins

Joseph and Bella Hershkovitz, Michel Gleizer and his parents Ida and Isaac Gleizer, Rosalia Dratler, her husband Philipe Roiter, and my grand-father Shimshon Hershkovitz, all deported. Also in gratitude for having been spared their fate.

To use poetry to immortalize

Names of Death camps

Seems incongruous.

Poetry evokes images

Of the beauty of spirit,

Intellectual imagination

Depicting feelings, observations,

Freedom of the mind soaring

To elevate the humblest subject.

Poetry lives in the hearts

Of people who resort to it

In their desperate attempt

To cry out their anguish,

Hoping to be heard,

Useless verses of faith

Offering thanks for being alive

Under the constant threat

Of annihilation,

Turning to G-d whose silence

Protects the monsters.

How ironic, the perpetrators of crime

Feeling safe and justified

For having eluded punishment.

Where do you work , Justice?

Have you been asleep, corrupted?

Can we wait for the Messiah

To repair the wrongs?

Work is to be done,

Justice is here now!

Men, women with a sense of integrity,

Fairness and humanity

Must commit themselves

To seek Evil, to eradicate it,

To annihilate it,

At the foot of the innocent victims

Martyrized  in the Dantesque pits

Of Naziism,

Auschwitz, Treblinka, Dachau, Sobibor,

And the others….

Infamous remnants of inhuman madness

Of one group of people

Immortalized til the end of Time

For its abject role in the heinous

Crimes against the Jews, against Mankind.

Poetry, freedom of the mind

Must live a new chapter

Echoing the feelings

Of every single soul

That infused each name

In the Book of the Dead,

Decrying heartless group anonymity,

To remember the helpless children,

Each man, woman

Whose fatal destiny

Could have been avoided.

Poetry, sing the praises of Goodness

Raise the spirit of the Just,

Confound the aims of Evil,

Do not fear the heights of utopia

Reach for it and present it

As a solace and a salvation

To an imperfect world.

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