Category Archive: Poetry

Rare Anne Frank poem fetches €140,000 at Dutch auction

Eight-line ode to friend penned in March 1942 bought by unnamed online bidder for more than four times reserve price

000_ic1u4-e1479907810149-635x357HAARLEM, Netherlands — A very rare handwritten poem by Jewish diarist Anne Frank was sold for €140,000 (NIS 575,000; $150,000) to an unnamed online bidder Wednesday, fetching more than four times its reserve price.

Auctioneers closed the sale after just two minutes of tense bidding at the Bubb Kuyper auction house in the western Dutch city of Haarlem.

Around 20 collectors took their seats in a sales room decorated with antique books, maps and illustrations while others bid by telephone and online.

The reserve price was set at €30,000 (NIS 123,000; $32,000).

“These things are so rare that I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bubb Kuyper co-director Thys Blankevoort said. “Over the last 40 years, only four or five documents signed by the teenager have gone under the hammer.”

“Any document that’s written by Anne Frank is rare,” he told AFP Monday, “there are some chance finds, some books from the libraries. But these are not manuscripts, they are owner entries,” he added, referring to books which have been found with Frank’s name written inside.

Dedicated to “Dear Cri-cri,” the poem, written in Dutch in black ink on a notebook-size piece of white paper which has slightly discolored with age, is signed “in memory, from Anne Frank.”

Frank wrote the eight-line poem, dated March 28, 1942, in a friendship book belonging to the older sister of her best friend only three months before she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.

The poem was sold by Jacqueline van Maarsen, Frank’s primary school friend, who over the years has worked to keep her pal’s story alive. Frank also wrote a poem in Jacqueline’s book, but she is too attached to it to sell it, Blankevoort said.

While the first four lines of the text are well-known among such poems “written by girls, for girls,” the auction house has so far not traced the origins of the final four lines.

“The second half might possibly even be composed by” Anne Frank, Blankevoort acknowledged. It follows the vein of such poems which often contained a moral about love and friendship, calling on girls to work hard and be diligent.

A series of letters between Anne and her sister Margot with American penpals sold for $165,000 in 1988. And a 1925 edition of Grimm’s fairy tales, with both girls’ names written on the title page, went for $62,500 in May in a New York auction — fetching twice the estimated price.

The text, written in Dutch and translated by the Daily Mail, reads in full:

If you did not finish your work properly,
And lost precious time,
Then once again take up your task
And try harder than before.
If others have reproached you
For what you have done wrong,
Then be sure to amend your mistake.
That is the best memory one can make.

“The Diary of a Young Girl,” which Frank penned while in hiding from June 1942 to August 1944, has sold more than 30 million copies in 67 languages.

She and her sister Margot died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in early 1945 less than a year after the Nazis captured her and just before the end of World War II.

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Yiddish Tomes Go Digital With DIY Scanner

National Yiddish Book Center Device Preserves Works of Literature

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It’s a scenario that the Yiddish writers of yore could never have predicted, and yet by which they likely would have been tickled: Today, their work is being digitized with the help of a home-made scanner built by a former Baptist from Indiana who lives in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.
As of mid June, the scanner is the newest acquisition of the National Yiddish Book Center, in Amherst, Massachusetts. It will be used to digitize the center’s books — some of them a century old — that are stored in a climate-controlled vault.
This is the first scanner owned by the center. Previously it digitized books using a scanner loaned from the Internet Archive, a not-for-profit digital library. Other tomes were scanned at the National Library of Israel and at a factory in Pennsylvania, where “everything was automated and nobody read Yiddish,” said Catherine Madsen, the center’s bibliographer. “They sliced the spine off the books and fed the pages through a machine. It was upsetting that the books had to be destroyed in order to be saved.”
The new scanner, which uses two Canon DSLR cameras to capture the Yiddish text (without cutting books), was donated to the center through circuitous means. A New York software executive (who asked to remain nameless in the Jewish tradition of anonymous giving) originally purchased a kit for the scanner from Daniel Reetz, creator of the do-it-yourself book scanner project. The executive was unsure of what he would do with the scanner. His wife had been in touch with an Australian living on a kibbutz in Israel, who had been involved in digitizing yizkor books — that is, books written by Holocaust survivors to commemorate the communities that were destroyed. The Australian put the executive in touch with Joel Alpert, a retired electrical engineer in Boston who was involved in efforts to publish hard copies of the yizkor books. Alpert was aware of the National Yiddish Book Center’s need for a scanner.

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The Lost Poems of Ka-Tzetnik 135633

Auction house offering Auschwitz survivor’s elusive pre-war book for $7,000; copies also available at several libraries

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The most significant moment at the Eichmann Trial occurred when the Polish-born writer Yehiel Feiner collapsed while testifying on the stand in Jerusalem, after he was asked a simple procedural question at the beginning of his testimony—the reason why he concealed his identify behind the pseudonym Ka-Tzetnik 135633 (Ka-Tzetnik is the Yiddish term for a concentration camp inmate).

He responded:

“It was not a pen name. I do not regard myself as a writer and a composer of literary material. This is a chronicle of the planet of Auschwitz. I was there for about two years. Time there was not like it is here on earth. Every fraction of a minute there passed on a different scale of time. And the inhabitants of this planet had no names, they had no parents nor did they have children. There they did not dress in the way we dress here; they were not born there and they did not give birth; they breathed according to different laws of nature; they did not live—nor did they die—according to the laws of this world. Their name was the number Ka-Tzetnik.”

Later in his testimony, Ka-Tzetnik stood and turned around, and he then collapsed on the ground.

Several years ago in Tablet, David Mikics explored the literary legacy of Yehiel Feiner, with a particular focus on his post-Holocaust works of Salamandra (1946) and House of Dolls (1953), written under his name of Ka-Tzetnik 135633, and noted, almost in passing, a small book of Yiddish poetry that he published in 1931. Before the Holocaust, Feiner was a musician, writer, and poet, who contributed articles to local Yiddish newspapers and, in 1931, published a volume of twenty-two Yiddish poems. However, as historian Tom Segev writes in The Seventh Million, “[a]fter Auschwitz, [he] made every effort to consign his early work to oblivion, going so far as to personally remove it from libraries. He also discarded his original name. Auschwitz, having robbed him of his family, also robbed him of his identity, leaving only the prisoner.”

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Poland remembers transports from Warsaw ghetto

WARSAW, Poland – Poland marked the 70th anniversary of the first deportations from the Warsaw ghetto in 1942 with a memorial march through the city.
Although Poland regularly marks major Holocaust anniversaries, like the liberation of Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, there have never been major commemorations for the start of deportations to death camps on July 22, 1942.
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A New Proposal for Settling Holocaust Survivors’ Insurance Claims

The debate on what to do about the unclaimed life insurance policies of Holocaust survivors and their descendants bore the first new idea in years, with a proposal from the World Jewish Congress breaking what many in the Jewish community feel was a deadlock of disagreeable compromises.
The proposal, written by WJC general counsel Menachem Rosensaft and published by the Jewish Telegraph Agency, would require German insurance companies to hire an independent monitor to ensure all still-unresolved claims are being dealt with fairly and judged under relaxed standards agreed to at an earlier conference.
In the U.S., a bill proposed in Congress would allow survivors or their families to sue these companies in U.S. federal court. The Senate judiciary committee heard testimony in June from both proponents and detractors of the bill. Supporters say the bill would allow them their day in court; Rosensaft and others say, however well intentioned, the bill would give survivors false hope.
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Poland reopens investigations into Nazi-era crimes

WARSAW – Poland has reopened investigations into crimes committed at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz during World War Two, in an effort to track down any surviving camp employees before they die. Up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Nazi German hands at Auschwitz, near the city of Krakow in southern Poland, during the war that ended in 1945. In the postwar communist era, Warsaw launched probes into crimes committed at Auschwitz, but closed them in the 1980s because questioning witnesses and perpetrators based abroad was too hard at a time when Poland was part of the Soviet bloc.

Poetry by Borys Zinger: World, Let History be Your Teacher!

By Borys Zinger

I wish to have good news,
And because it’s lacking,
I’m compelled to turn to the blues
By neat conception making.
I try to hold on to happiness,
Aim to hum a song from the old times.
It