I cannot take credit
for these verses,
these stanzas,
these rhymes.
Not even a smidgeon of it.

This poem
was entirely inspired
by the survivor
of the true events
that unfolded
during the Holocaust.

It is a forceful,
significant account
lost in orbit,
if not for Ben Lesser,
his persistence
to forewarn the world,
like one shouting
from the rooftop:
“Zachor! Remember!”

No, I cannot take credit
for this literature,
not one dot of an “i”
or one cross of a “t”
since all I’ve done
is taken from his own words
and made it rhyme.

No, I am merely
the delivery boy
of a real-life story
that needs to be told,
that must be told,
that needs to be heard,
that must be heard.

My version taken
from the autobiography,
Living A Life That Matters,
does little or no justice
to the true story—
what Ben Lesser
is really like
as a human person
and all that
Ben Lesser endured
as a survivor.

my words
fall short,
fall flat,
like a stringed instrument
out of tune.

For how could I
even attempt
to articulate, depict,
portray, illustrate
what started (1933)
89 years ago
and ended (1945)
20 years
before I was born?

Ben Lesser
was liberated
from Dachau
concentration camp
in Upper Bavaria,
Southern Germany.
He is among the few
that is left
from the Class of ‘45
and, dare I say,
a dying breed of
living witnesses
and surviving sufferers
of the Holocaust.
By the time
I came into this world,
Ben Lesser’s life
had already
changed the world.

By 11 years old,
Ben Lesser saw
what none of us
should ever see.
By 18 years old,
Ben Lesser had
already lived
a lifetime—
from Nazi nightmare
to American Dream.

No, my writing
comes from inspiration,
from Ben Lesser,
the true story-teller
who lived through
the horrors of the Holocaust
and found the courage
to tell and retell
his story—history—
and to return to
a place he wished
never existed
and a time he wished
never happened.

Yet, regrettably, sadly,
the Holocaust happened.
It happened
to Ben Lesser
and to his entire
immediate family,
as it happened
to countless millions
of families, fragmented
by indifference and hate.
Only that Ben Lesser
lived to tell his story.
How he lived
and why he lived
will never be answered,
fully appreciated,
and understood
in this lifetime.
But at nearly 94 years old,
Ben Lesser insists on living—
to defy the Nazis
and to honor their victims—
in order that we might
never forget
what Ben Lesser remembers.

At one time
it was on survivors
to tell and teach the world
what happened,
and what we must do
to prevent it
from ever happening again.
Today it is on us—
you and me—
to tell and teach the world
what happened,
and what we must do
to prevent it
from ever happening again.

Today it is on us
to promote values,
to prevent violence,
and to protect the future
from history’s faults and failings.

May we take
to heart
the remembrances
of Ben Lesser’s times
as a forewarning
in our present time,
so as not to be
off guard
this time
as so many were
in that time.


© Written by Holocaust survivor Ben Lesser
with a little rhyme from Michael Botermans