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Meet StandWithUs 2023-24 Emerson Fellow Ahava Kirwan

Ahava Kirwan, a 2023-24 StandWithUs Emerson Fellow from the University of Texas in San Antonio, wrote this powerful poem published in the university newspaper, The Paisano. She says, "My entire family, except for my great-grandparents, were murdered in the Holocaust. I have family who were killed in the Svisloch Massacre in Belarus, where the Nazis invaded Belarus and killed almost the entire Jewish population."

Here is her poem "Remember"


Do you remember

The six million

The ones who celebrated

Those strange holidays

The ones just like us

Who did not go to school or work on Fridays

But were still a bit different

The people with the yellow stars

The ones with the curfews

Who did not like the man with

The ideas that seemed so plausible

“Die Juden sind unser Unglück” (1)

The ones in the ghettos

Who owned the shops

That were destroyed in the Kristallnacht (2)

The empty shops with those stars, again

The missing people

Do you remember

The nomads

With the colorful clothing

And the deep, rich skin

Who were called “dirty”

Who were called “thieves”

The ones who weaved the baskets

Who wore the black patches

Who were called

Die Zigeuner (3)

You laughed and jeered

Upon seeing them being rounded up

Like cattle

Walking through the streets

With chains around their ankles

Their jewelry ripped from their ears

The rings from their fingers

The haunting of

The empty houses

You did not know about

Those who were killed in the villages

As the monsters penetrated the forests

Where they dwelled

Bekämpfung der Zigeuner Belästigung (4)


And deported

This is what happens

When you are ein Zigeuner (5)

You did not see them

In the boxcars

Crowded together

Struggling to breathe

Their arrival on the Judenrampe (6)

Or brought in the caravans

To the Zigeunerlager (7)

Or the separation

Of man and woman

Of husband and wife

Of father and daughter

Of mother and son

The babies still suckling


The shaving of heads

The numbers on their arms

The labor that killed many

Arbeit macht frei (8)

Nobody saw

The final solution

Abrechnung mit der rassisch Unreinen (9)

You never saw

The ones in the showers

The gas

The suffocation

And afterward

The bodies discarded


The evidence gone

Judenfrei (11)

Zigeunerfrei (12)

Their stories are still here

But nobody listens

Some say “never forget”

But others

The conspiracies

The apathy

The disregard

For the lives lost

For the six million lost in the Shoah (13)

Or the ones lost

In the Porajmos (14)

And the surviving ones

Do you remember

The forgotten ones

(1) “Die Juden sind unser Unglück”

(German) “The Jews are our misfortune”

(2) Kristallnacht

(German) “Night of Broken Glass”

A pogrom against Jews carried out by Nazi officials in which synagogues and shops owned by Jewish people were destroyed, burned, and desecrated.

(3) Die Zigeuner

(German) “The Gypsies”

Used by the Nazi Party as a pejorative, this word refers to Roma people.

(4) Bekämpfung der Zigeuner Belästigung

(German) “Combatting the Gypsy Nuisance”

(5) ein Zigeuner

(German) “a Gypsy”

(6) Judenrampe

The railroad tracks where boxcars full of undesirables, mainly Jews, would arrive at concentration camps before being separated into either the barracks or the gas chambers.

(7) Zigeunerlager

(German) “Gypsy camp”

The section of the concentration camp where Roma was placed.

(8) Arbeit macht frei

(German) “Work sets you free”

A German slogan known for appearing at the entrance of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

(9) Abrechnung mit der rassisch Unreinen

(German) “Resettlement of the racially impure”

(11) Judenfrei

(German) “Free of Jews”

(12) Zigeunerfrei

(German) “Free of Gypsies”

(13) Shoah

(Hebrew) “disaster” or “catastrophe”

This is the Hebrew word used to refer to the genocide of the Jewish people.

(14) Porajmos

(Romani) “Devouring”

This is the Romani word used to refer to the genocide of the Roma people.


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