The Train Cars Groan

The train-cars groan as they are
filled to capacity and beyond
with men
with women
with children
who are being relocated to
their new home
their new jobs
their new reality

The train-cars groan
but not from the weight of the load

The train-cars groan as they
speed along the track
click click
click click
click click
progressing from the start
to the eventual finish of the journey
knowing that this is
merely one trip of many

The train-cars groan
but not from the weariness of many miles

The train-cars groan
as the passengers disembark
and as they are met
by the men who came to meet them

The train-cars groan
but not because not one passenger thanked them

The train-cars groan
as they read the sign
above the gates of the new town:
Arbeit Macht Frei

The train-cars groan
because they know
that there will be “work”
but the “free” is quite clearly a lie


Arbeit Macht Frei – The sign above the Nazi deathcamp of Auschwitz.  Translation is “work makes free”.  This sign could not have been further from the truth for the countless number of men, women, and children who walked through those gates – many of whom were murdered in the gas chambers before they were even given a chance to “work”.  And those who were sent to do labour were worked, literally, to death.

NaBloPoMo Day 12 – Written in light of the fact that yesterday was Remembrance Day – and written in dedication to the millions of innocent men, women, and children who were casualties of hatred during Hitler’s reign of terror over anyone whom he didn’t like.


Sharing this with dVerse for Open Link Night on Nov.17


17 thoughts on “The Train Cars Groan

  1. Wow. Piignant and moving poem about horrors that are still with us. I thought at first you were going to go the usual refugee route but you took it so much farther. Excellent write and powerful.

  2. I wonder if it is useful to humanity to have so much projected onto the Germans when horrors existed before and since and we are distracted from the horrors of today through looking so far back in history. The Germans under the Nazis were not the first, not the last and not even the worst in terms of atrocities committed, but they have been talked about more than the others and blamed for longer. So are myths made by human beings, with scrappings of facts fried up with beliefs, fears and even propaganda.

    As the saying goes, the first casualty of war is truth, and that remains constant and often endures beyond. Poetry and history hold the soul of humanity and poetry in recent times has seen an upsurge, perhaps as interest in and teaching of broad, fact-based history has declined.

    Having said that, powerfully done.

    • indeed, atrocities have taken place both before and since. However, it is hardly “so far back in history” when there are still survivors of the Holocaust living today. I am actually struck with the fact that genocide of this magnitude was able to take place so *recently*, and in a so-called developed nation at that! If we do NOT look at the atrocities of the so-recent past, I am worried that similar crimes of hatred will be repeated. In fact, one only needs to look at current news stories to see that crimes spawned by racism and other forms of hatred are all too common. We need to look at the events of the past that horrify the majority of us, in order that we might be willing to take action when such crimes occur again.

      • I agree with you in general but there has been and still seems to be an obsession with the Germans and their Nazi experience, and for a particular group, with the many millions of others who suffered under the Nazis, ignored.

        If we only look back at one atrocity, and only look at the effect that atrocity had on one particular group, then we are not gaining perspective.

        Atrocities before the Nazis and since them should also be studied and discussed.

        I also think it is an assumption that the ‘majority of us’ represents anything. Who is this ‘us?’

        Having lived in four African countries and India I know that the Nazis are not an issue which horrifies the majority of us and with more than 7 billion people in the world, the horror may well only be with a minority, i.e. the societies which are subjected to this particular focus of history.

        And as to looking at the past to ensure such horrors do not happen again, the tragic irony is that Israel, in the name of Jews who died under the Nazis, is doing similar things to the indigenous Palestinians, so they who should have learned most, clearly learned nothing.

        In addition, the Western world has been remembering the horrors in general of the First and Second WorldWars and yet in the decades since the last have embarked on other equallyhorrific wars against others, in Asia and the Middle East.

        And perhaps this is because we are not looking at atrocities in general, but selecting particular ones which ‘let us off the hook.’

        Genocide and war exist as potential in all of us and that is the lesson overlooked.

  3. I also thought you were going the refugee route as I know our country has taken a lot for the last year ~ But this is a darker write, more sinister and hauntingly it doesn’t seem too far away ~ Really well done Bryan ~ I can tell you that racism is very much alive these days ~

  4. This just made me think of all of the propaganda that is still being spread by so many and how quickly it can make the rounds on all of our available social media. Each of us has a responsibility to try our best not to follow along like sheep, literally to slaughter. I admire you writing from the perspective of the trains that carried their human cargo to such a destination.

  5. I’ve stood in one of these transport train cars at the Holocaust Museum in DC – haunting! I’ve watched many documentaries and read many a book on this topic – I knew right where you were going. Powerful and thank you for writing such a powerful poem in remembrance…

  6. At first I thought it was about ‘The Beast’ and then about the current refugees in Europe. By the end, the groan had become a shriek of lost lives and fascist justification for extermination on an industrial scale. Chilling both from the aspect of the past and present.

  7. It is horrifying to think this could happen again. There are an awful lot of us who refuse to see this happen. It is important to shout this out to everyone again and again. Standing for right- count me in

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