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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 35, New Delhi, August 14, 2021

The Train of Thought | Sagari Chhabra

Friday 13 August 2021


Eichmann said, he only organized the trains;
He was able to dictate
A meticulous timetable,
For the mass transfer of the Jews;
They left as per schedule
To their destinations:
Auschwitz, Birkenau and Dachau;
Of their fate he did not know,
That they went to the concentration camps
He could not tell;
For his job was well,
Only to organize the trains;
Just the trains.
Did he heed his voice of conscience;
Or for that matter his brains,
To ask where the Jews were going;
What fate befell them?
Eichmann chose to ignore their mass extinction,
He had the distinction
Of pleading innocence,
While some call him
An architect of the Holocaust;
No one asked,
When you stated blandly,
‘No death occurred
Due to the lack of oxygen’;
When we did see our very own
Gasping for breath,
Relatives pleading for a hospital bed,
Yet you hid behind a bureaucratic form,
A perfunctory proforma;
Cause of death:
Cardiac, respiratory arrest;
The rest is history.
The crematoriums burned so much
The iron melted,
Some threw the bodies into the Ganga,
She returned them in a sorrowful ebb,
She would not carry the dead
Without the rites of dignity,
Further from the city
Into the vast ocean,
But she washed them with due devotion.
The Ganga does not lie;
But you tell us:
‘For the lack of oxygen
No one did die.’
I ask you to come out
With the truth;
It is not about numbers
But of human lives,
The light of someone’s life
Got extinguished,
As humanity diminished.
I ask you to seek maafi –
Forgiveness with folded hands;
Introspect your own refrain;
Did no one die for want of oxygen,
Or did you like Eichmann claim,
You prepared only the schedules
For the departing trains?

Sagari Chhabra Is an award-winning author & film-maker. She is the director of the ‘Hamaara Itihaas’ archives.

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