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Examining the Holocaust through Found Poems

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Mea cupla, my fault, mea maxima culpa” is the staggering opening line of Olga Lengyel’s witness testimony of the Holocaust, Five Chimneys. In it, she chronicles the truly horrifying trials she endured at the infamous extermination camp Auschwitz near the end of World War II and the aftermath effects of that experience on her life. The disturbing images she describes through her words convey only one message: don’t allow this to ever happen again.

Mrs. Gascho’s Examining the Holocaust Through Literature class was very moved by this memoir. In an attempt to express the impact Olga’s words had on them, each student wrote a found poem using her testimony. The students picked out quotes from the book and selected words that stood out to them the most. They then rearranged the words to create a poem that conveyed a specific theme: hope, inhumanity, defiance, etc.

The poems were sent to the Memorial Library, a Holocaust education center founded by Olga Lengyel in 1962 in New York City, in order to honor Olga’s memory. The students hope that their poems will be displayed for all who visit the Memorial Library so that they can both serve as a reminder of the importance of human connectedness as well as preserve Olga’s message for future generations.Human Beings I Human Beings II Human Beings III Human Beings IV

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Examining the Holocaust through Found Poems