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Steve E Ralph

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by Steve E Ralph

Friday, February 17, 2012
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
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An imaginary look at the average,
ordinary German citizen
before and during world war two.






I was born outside of Munich

Just as the First World War was lost

Our Kaiser had surrendered

But at far too great a cost,


The conditions of surrender

Left us nothing but our name

No Navy, Army nor Air force

Just a few home guards remained,


Our cities were in ruins

Our economy collapsed

My father brought his wages home

In a massive dewlap sack,


The deutsche mark became worthless

Inflation levels soared

Until our nation was a shadow

Of itself before the war,


There were million mark notes printed

Then ten million and the like

Not worth the paper they were printed on

Children used them to make kites,


These were my early memories

Of a father that worked himself to death

To feed his starving family

Until he had nothing left,


And a mother that became too frail

To even leave her bed

Until a politician’s rhetoric

Put ideas into our heads,


Ideas that led a broken race

To believe they could be great

And bequeathed a nations dignity

To the twisted hands of fate,


He promised us prosperity

Industry and pride

A strong industrious Germany

And a military besides,


And he delivered on those promises

Each word he spoke, the truth

Not surprising then

So many joined the Hitler Youth,


Yes this man was Adolph Hitler

Today we shudder at his name

For the six million souls he slaughtered

And the monster he became,


But back then he was a leader

Unafraid to take a stance

Who gave us back the Hinterlands

Then Poland, Belgium, France,


Our Navy grew unchallenged

Our Air force became supreme

And a million German soldiers marched

Like and endless sea of green,


It seems naïve I realize

To say we never knew

About the ultimate solution

And what was happening to the Jews,


Oh we knew that they’d been dispossessed

And we’d done nothing, to our shame

And we knew they were dehumanised

And for that we’re all to blame,


But murdered in their thousands?

Men, Women, Children, young and old

A cruel attempt at genocide

Of this we were never told,


Though the world thinks that all Germans

Were complicit in this crime

In truth our propaganda war machine

Had kept our population blind,


We were told that Jews were rounded up

To relocate somewhere else

Where they would help in our war effort

And would all be treated well,


Our newsreels showed the women

Sewing uniforms and things

While the Jewish men grew vegetables

Well fed and smiling,


And it was only at the close of war

The true horror came to light

That the Holocaust had happened

And the actual Jewish plight,


Of course many still deny it

But then what would you expect?

For the shame hangs like an Albatross

Forever round our necks,


And there’s nothing we can do or say

To change what has been done

And all our guilt and shame

Cannot bring back a single one,


Of those poor souls that perished

For a power mad despot

Those Gypsies, Jews and others

That were beaten, gassed or shot,


No more than it will resurrect

The Germans that refused

To take part in this lunacy

And gross, wholesale abuse,


For they too became the victims

Of this mass insanity

Executed by their comrades

Or denied their liberty,


Branded cowards or as traitors,

Because their consciences were strong,

The few among the many

To condemn these things as wrong,


Proving there is good and bad

In every race and creed

And good men doing nothing

Will help evil to succeed.




By S.E.Ralph




Copyright © Steve Ralph 2011



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Reviewed by pat medlin 3/29/2012
'good men doing nothing' perfect, applicable ending for a great reminder piece of poetry.

you dealt with the questions i asked my german family when i was younger...'why didn't they do something' 'how could they not have known' ' why weren't we their children, allowed to speak german too'

thank you steve,,,so glad i found you or you found me ...whatever way it was. pmedlin
Reviewed by Kay P Devenish 3/13/2012
Deep...sad...tugged at my heart...the Jewish people had it bad there is no doubt of that I hope humans never let that sort of thing happen again.I know many good German people but you are right Steve
they still carry that 'Albatross Forever round our necks'...a great poem!
Reviewed by Ronald Hull 2/18/2012
You captured history the way I know it. Back in the 1960s, I was fortunate to work for a man named Wilhelm Hemminghaus. in the German Navy at 17, Bill was the communication officer in the ship off Italy that was blown up and he ended up in the water, being strafed by US fighter pilots. Later, he was strafed by US fighter pilots while traveling between cities with his father. They hid in the bushes and survived.

Bill came first to Canada after the war because there was no work. He joined Honeywell in Minnesota and was the supervisor of about thirty in process quality control women inspectors at our GTE LenKurt plant in California.

Bill was kind and gentle with the women and very generous, mentoring me and offering to buy me a Mercedes in Germany during his vacation back home. I didn't realize his racist feelings until we were viewing a movie one time and he asked me to leave because he thought that a black man was going to have sex with a white woman. My great uncle felt the same way.

Reviewed by jude forese 2/18/2012
informative &well written ...
Reviewed by Annabel Sheila 2/17/2012
That last stanza makes a powerful statement, Steve! Such a horrible tragedy...we'll never forget. Still, if we look around the world today...what have we really learned? very sad....Very well done, Steve!

Reviewed by Paul Berube 2/17/2012
"Proving there is good and bad, In every race and creed;
And good men doing nothing, Will help evil to succeed."
Amen! Those last four lines say it all. Nice job, Steve.

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