The Little Boy With His Hands Up: A Haunting Tribute to the Innocent Victims of the Holocaust
Author of one of the most remembered poems of the Holocaust, “The Little Boy with His Hands Up,” Yala Korwin, was born in Poland. She was interned in a concentration camp in Germany during the war. Following liberation she went to France as a refugee and stayed there for 10 years. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1965. Her book, To Tell the Story: Poems of the Holocaust, was published in 1987. She is a frequent contributor to journals including Midstream, Blue Unicorn, Orphic Lute and Piedmont Literary Review. Her work also appears in the Shoah project and a number of anthologies. Korwin is also a visual artist.
The Little Boy with His Hands Up
Your open palms raised in the air
like two white doves
frame your meager face,
your face contorted with fear,
grown old with knowledge beyond your years.
Not yet ten. Eight? Seven?
Not yet compelled to mark
with a blue star on white badge
No need to brand the very young.
They will meekly follow their mothers.
You are standing apart
Against the flock of women and their brood
With blank, resigned stares.
All the torments of this harassed crowd
Are written on your face.
In your dark eyes—a vision of horror.
You have seen Death already
On the ghetto streets, haven’t you?
Do you recognize it in the emblems
Of the SS-man facing you with his camera?
Like a lost lamb you are standing
Apart and forlorn beholding your own fate.
Where is your mother, little boy?
Is she the woman glancing over her shoulder
At the gunmen at the bunker’s entrance?
Is it she who lovingly, though in haste,
Buttoned your coat, straightened your cap,
Pulled up your socks?
Is it her dreams of you, her dreams
Of a future Einstein, a Spinoza,
Another Heine or Halévy
They will murder soon?
Or are you orphaned already?
But even if you still have a mother,
She won’t be allowed to comfort you
In her arms.
Her tired arms loaded with useless bundles
Must remain up in submission.
Alone you will march
Among other lonely wretches
Toward your martyrdom.
Your image will remain with us
And grow and grow
To immense proportions,
To haunt the callous world,
To accuse it, with ever stronger voice,
In the name of the million youngsters
Who lie, pitiful rag-dolls,
Their eyes forever closed.
The Little Boy With His Hands Up is a powerful poem that speaks to the heart of the human condition. The poem is a response to the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. Specifically, the poem is a tribute to the millions of innocent children who were killed during the Nazi regime.
To the Little Polish Boy is a poem for little boys that captures the innocence and vulnerability of childhood. The poem begins with an image of a little boy standing with his hands up, as if surrendering to an unseen force. The boy is described as being small and frightened, with tears in his eyes.
The poem then goes on to describe the horrors that the little Polish boy is facing. The boy is surrounded by death and destruction, with bombs exploding all around him. He is alone and helpless, with no one to protect him from the violence and chaos that surround him.
Despite the darkness and despair of the situation, the poem offers a message of hope and resilience. The little boy is portrayed as a symbol of the human spirit, and his ability to endure in the face of unimaginable hardship. The poem ends with the image of the little boy still standing with his hands up, but now with a look of defiance and strength in his eyes.
The Little Boy With His Hands Up is a testament to the power of poetry to bear witness to history and to speak truth to power. The poem is a powerful reminder of the human cost of war and conflict, and of the importance of compassion and empathy in times of crisis.
The poem has been widely praised for its haunting beauty and emotional impact. It is often cited as one of the most powerful and moving poems about the Holocaust, and has been translated into multiple languages.
In conclusion, The Little Boy With His Hands Up is a powerful and moving poem that speaks to the heart of the human experience. It is a tribute to the millions of innocent children who lost their lives during the Holocaust, and a reminder of the importance of empathy and compassion in times of crisis. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to bear witness to history and to speak truth to power, and will continue to be a source of inspiration and hope for generations to come.