Three Poems: The Kretschmar Child, Gerhardt, and Crazy Marie

Schönbrunn Psychiatric Hospital, 1934. Photo b...

Schönbrunn Psychiatric Hospital, 1934. Photo by SS photographer Franz Bauer (via Wikipedia)

UCity Review has published three poems from my Aktion T4 sequence: The Kretschmar Child, Gerhardt, and Crazy Marie. In each of these pieces, I have fictionalized the stories to a different degree. The first, in the voice of the first victim of the Nazi “euthanasia” campaign required the least amount of invention. The third takes the first stanza from the history of a real victim, but the rest comes from my attempts to imagine who she might have been. The middle piece is essentially invented.

In titling these pieces, I have avoided full names because I have to rely so much on imagination and do not want to do violence to any specific person’s memory in reconciling the gaps in the historical record and the demands of poetics. In the full sequence, I go so far as to take away the name-titles because I want to create the effect of an anonymized chorus of the dead who still had their individual existences (made manifest by the details of their lives that they speak). That these unnamed fragments will co-exist in the world with the individual named poems adds to the effect of something being taken away from these people.

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