July 1943 edition of "The American Mercury"
magazine, David Pinski delivered a striking yet
poignant message about the Holocaust that had
befallen so many in Europe, at a time when it was
said that the United States had no knowledge of what
was happening to the Jews of Europe.
"We lament the two million Jews who have perished at
the hand of the murderer, the two million who were
brutally torn out of our life. The two million men
and women, old and young, children, infants at their
mother's breast and babes yet unborn. The thousands
upon thousands who perished by water and fire, by
whip and bayonet, by hunger and thirst and the
living grave, by slow torture and sudden death. We
lament the thousands who gasped their last agonized
breath in close-packed trains filled with fumes of
chloride of lime, the thousands who were suffocated
by the deadly gases of the sulphur mines into which
they were forced and the lethal death chambers into
which they were herded. The thousands who were
burned to death in crematoriums reserved for the
dead, the thousands who died a slow agonizing death
from air bubbles injected into their veins. We
lament the hundreds of sick children who were slain
in their hospital beds, together with their nurses
and teachers. We lament the two million Jews who
perished amid all the agonies of our martyrs of ages
past and amid new ones invented by Hitler's fiends.
Woe to us!
2. We lament ourselves, who live here in security and hide
ourselves in towers of ivory, who seek daily our pleasures and
diversions and lie snugly at night in our beds. Ourselves, who
passed by the death of these two million, and on the day of
mourning forgot to mourn, and let that day be as all other days.
Ourselves who forget the three million still in the talons of
our arch fiend, and close our ears to their cries of agony.
Ourselves, bickering, disunited, without leadership or plan,
without strength or will, when three million more souls are to
be wiped out. Ourselves who were not aroused by this Jewish
tragedy and are doing nothing to arouse the world. Ourselves,
who do not even know our shame. Woe to us!"
"Lamentations" was translated from the Yiddish by Anna K.