Evelyn Posamentier The 2River View, 8.3 (Spring 2004)
Heinz Rosenberg on the Platform

Late at Night

went out again in history
looking for grandfather, asking for
grandmother, really just any clues
at all.

in a footnote i meet
heinz rosenberg of hamburg
who saw grandmother & grandfather
(he said so)
arrive in the minsk ghetto
in december of ’41.

this is when i stop the film
say i’ve had enough, befriend the future:
their grandchildren shimmer at the end
of the century.

i take the footnote north
from vienna with that train to minsk.
heinz rosenberg is on the platform

of the trains that came, he says, that one
was the worst. all elderly, these jews, in shock.
any food brought with them was seized
at the station, eight days in transit.

their faces remember him & visit him
in hollow dreams down the years.
they rely on him, who else but
this heinz rosenberg of hamburg

to tell how he saw us?


there is a portrait of heinz rosenberg that hangs
at the holocaust museum website, an identity photo
to match the man i met in a footnote, the boy
from hamburg deported to minsk in ’41
just weeks before grandmother & grandfather.
the youngest of three, he could be my uncle.
arriving in minsk, he said, i saw guards
throwing loaves of bread into open cattle cars
full of soviet POWs. as the starving men fought
over the food, german guards shot at them.
i then realized we were never going to return.
you can visit heinz rosenberg by following
the holocaust museum’s outreach link.


heinz rosenberg was at the platform
when your train pulled in.
meine güte, tell me it isn't true.
finding this out i am learning my name
for the first time.
what is the low moan of 1,000
old jews? in forty below
zero? in a winter
that broke records. in the winter
of my grandparents. let them
have that.

heinz rosenberg on the platform.
this was the train that left vienna
on november 28, 1941.
eight days in transit.
i consider time travel.
want to touch grandmother’s
skin, her fine cheek, a face
with a memory of mine &
all future possibility.
i will be with you forever.
promise me you will feel no pain.

CoverPrevious PoemNext Poem
Cover AuthorsPoemsPDF2River