March of the Living Well

As a third-generation Holocaust survivor, I find the subject surprisingly unresolved to me, often pondering about different aspects of it. One example is my criticism of the Holocaust commemoration in Israel, which emphasizes the uniqueness of the tragedy in a way that makes contemporary acts of genocide not really matter.

[singlepic id=16 w=250 h=240 float=right]I find it refreshing to stumble upon art that tries to discuss the Holocaust, as the subject is somewhat of a taboo in Israel and intelligent discussions are often brushed-off with the ‘there is no comparison’ sentence, useful for all occasions. Noam Akotonas is an Israeli singer/songwriter whose debut album ‘Sweeter than Blood’ (2004) includes a song to my liking: ‘A Trip to Poland’ discusses the practice of sending high school students to WWII extermination camps to ‘bear witness’ quote unquote. Noam, like myself, is very critical of these programs, ran by Israel’s Ministry of Education, raising the oh-so-important question: What are we teaching our children?

Noam was kind enough to send me an ad-hoc English translation to the original Hebrew lyrics. Have a listen:

Noam Akotonas and the Salvation Army – A Trip to Poland – Lyrics:

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We traveled to Poland, Mummy
We were sent to get memories
I wrote everything, Yes Mummy
Listen to what we got here
We arrived at Auschwitz, Mummy
And saw the gas chambers in rows
We were in a shock that Mummy
We had to invite two go-gos

We visited the ghetto, Mummy
And what remains from the wall
I spent so much money, Yes Mummy
Suffering has its price say they all

It was so dreadful, Mummy
As we got to the crematorium hall
And in the evening when we had a moment
We spent some good time at the mall
We also toured at Treblinka
With flows of tears we held flags
We were so in pain, Dear Mummy
That at night we exchanged fluids and rags

I came back from Poland, Mummy
I have almost made it all right
But tell if it’s possible Mummy
Could I have fun in Eilat?
But tell if it’s possible Mummy
To send me at once to Eilat

נסענו לפולין אמא
נשלחנו לספוג רשמים
כתבתי הכל כן אמא
בואי שמעי איזה קטעים
הגענו לאושוויץ אמא
לראות את תאי הגזים
במלון מרוב זעזוע
הזמנו גם שני חשפנים

ביקרנו בגטו אמא
או מה שנשאר מהקיר
ביזבזתי המון כן אמא
לסבל יש גם מחיר

היה מחריד הו אמא
נכנסנו למשרפות
ובערב היה לנו רגע
עשינו בקניון קניות
סיירנו גם בטרבלינקה
בדמעות הנפנו דגלים
ומרוב שכאב לנו אמא
בלילה החלפנו נוזלים

חזרתי מפולין אמא
הפכתי לגבר כמעט
אבל אם אפשר אז אמא
אני רוצה גם לאילת
אבל אם אפשר שוב אמא
אני רוצה גם לאילת

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