pulverized teeth, plucked from gaped mouths, ground to calcium.
bones, taken from ash heaps,
of charred brothers, and burnt sons,
used to fertilize the vegetables that grow,
to feed the workers,
whose teeth gnash the calcium of their neighbors,
to strengthen the weak body,
to grow the food,
to taunt the laborers,
who cut the crop,
who die to provide nutrients for the men,
who lay the bricks,
to house the Saxons,
who sit behind the gun, in the gatehouse,
and drive the men,
to eat one another,
over and over until the people are made of only bones,
and only calcium.
made strong by the flesh of their own fathers.
maybe they consumed each other’s dreams too.
and that is how you survive a place that wants to kill you.
subsisting off of the hopes of those before and after.
This poem is based on my visit to the first German concentration camp, Sachsenhausen. Sachsenhausen was originally designed to be a labor camp for male prisoners of war during WWII. It was used as a model for all following labor, concentration, and death camps in WWII. The site trained 98% of all SS officers, was designed to be a testing facility for gas chambers, crematoriums, prison torture tactics, and was entirely self sufficient. Prisoners were expected to grow their own food, carry and incinerate their own dead, produce brick and morter, then build the houses of their supervising officers, self-police one another inside their bunks, and serve the food. To say this place was the root of much evil, is an understatement.
Our tour guide told us that amongst the many atrocities committed here, that the teeth and even bones of the dead were ground and used as fertilizer in the same vegetable fields on the premisses. Patches of land used to feed both the prisoners and officers. The cyclical, psychological, and deeply disturbing nature of this single fact struck me to the core.